A game of chess doesn’t need a lot of physical effort. Still, that doesn’t mean you can play it however you want to.
Chess players are required to follow a set of regulations during tournaments, from touching the pieces to the draw conditions. Enforcing these rules ensures a fair match and keeps disputes to a minimum.
Below are some basic chess tournament rules you need to keep in mind.
1. Use One Hand Only When Moving Your Piece
According to the Fide Laws of Chess, you can only use one hand when making moves during a chess game. It’s a technical requirement to keep in mind when moving your piece, capturing your opponent’s piece, or hitting the chess clock.
Although it might sound a bit limiting, the one-hand rule ensures players move the first piece they touch. It removes any confusion caused by two hands touching different pieces.
Yet another reason for this rule is to ensure that you don’t press the chess clock before you’re done making your move. Of course, pressing the clock early is an illegal tactic because it shortens the opponent’s time.
2. You Need to Move the Piece You Touch
The touch move is one of the most basic chess rules. As simple as it seems, it’s probably the one that gets violated the most by players, especially amateur ones.
As soon as it’s your turn, you need to move the first piece you touch as long as there is a legal move to do so. Moreover, touching an opponent’s piece means you need to capture it.
It’s not uncommon for players to realize they have touched the wrong piece. When this happens, they tend to do one of four things:
- Brush it off and make a different move. This approach is a form of cheating, though.
- Say “j’adoube.” This method is also a form of cheating if you have intentionally touched and moved one of your pieces already.
- Continue the match and try to come up with a different strategy to offset the bad move.
- Resign from the match.
When You Should Say “J’adoube”
Let’s get one thing out of the way: “j’adoube” or “I adjust” isn’t a loophole.
It’s the internationally recognized word to use if you want to adjust any of your chess pieces. So, it can be an opportunity for you to touch your chess pieces without violating the touch move rule.
However, you can’t use “j’adoube” to justify a bad move and get a chance to make a different one.
The best thing to do? Sit on your hands and think carefully about your next move before you touch any piece.
3. Remember to Use the Chess Clock
Time is a critical element of a chess match. In the past, it wasn’t entirely uncommon for a chess match to last for 10 hours. Some players used this tactic to exhaust one another into making a sloppy move and losing.
As the game evolved, tournament organizers started implementing time restrictions. It was in the 1880s that chess clocks made their first appearance.
A chess clock is a countdown timer. It’s set at the start of the game according to the agreed chess time control in each tournament.
That sounds simple, but the catch is that during the match, you have to hit your clock after each move. This signals to your opponent that his time to make a move has started.
4. Fill Out Your Scoresheets
If any or both of the players are unable to fill out their scoresheets, the arbiter or tournament director approves an assistant to do it for them.
At the end of the match, both players look the records over and sign each other’s scoresheets. This step is vital because the sheet serves as their agreement on the accuracy of the moves and, most importantly, the result of the game.
5. Draw by the 50-Move Rule
Yet, you can claim the match as a draw if there’s no capture made or there’s no movement of the pawn in the last 50 moves. This usually happens when the only piece left with a legal move is the king.
The 50-move rule prevents players from prolonging the game and tiring out the players.
Keep in mind that even if no player claims a draw from the last 50 consecutive moves without a capture, the arbiter may call a draw after 75 moves.
6. Draw by the Threefold-Repetition Rule
Another way to end a chess match via a draw is by forcing your opponent to reach the same position three times. Like the 50-move rule, the purpose of the threefold repetition rule is to avoid prolonging the game aimlessly.
So, if you are on track to win, make sure your next moves aren’t setting you up to break this rule.
In situations where players didn’t call a draw, the game may continue. The trick here is that the arbiter still can interfere and stop the game on the fifth repetition.
The touch move, one hand, recording, and clock presses are some of the most common chess tournament rules. Yet, there are more regulations to keep in mind as a chess player.
So, before joining a tournament, it might be a good idea to review all the rules and regulations.
Committing multiple violations during a tournament match could lead to warnings, forfeiture of the game, and possible disqualifications. While all the technicalities might seem complex at first, compliance with the rules will only help increase your chances of winning!
If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the tournament director for clarification.
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