How to Become a Chess Arbiter (Explained!)

Would you like to turn your love for chess into a rewarding and fulfilling career?

Behind every chess tournament is a team of officials known as arbiters. They help ensure the games are fair and conducted according to the rules. But what if you want to be one? How to become a chess arbiter?

Aside from experience playing chess competitively, you also need to pass an exam to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to apply the rules.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to become a chess arbiter and everything you need to know. So read on!

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Chess Arbiter?

A chess arbiter is responsible for maintaining order, settling disputes, and enforcing the game’s rules. Hence, you need the following qualifications:

1. Knowledge of the Game

A good understanding of chess and its rules is essential. You must have some experience playing chess competitively, as well as an understanding of chess notation.

2. Certification

If you like to become an arbiter for international or rated games, passing the certification requirements from FIDE is the only way to go.

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Once you’ve obtained FIDE certifications, you can start to officiate at international chess events and earn higher fees.

It’s important to note that FIDE certification requires ongoing education and training. Keep up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations to maintain your certification.

3. Age

The minimum age requirement for becoming a chess arbiter varies depending on the organization. FIDE Arbiter applicants must be at least 19 years old.

4. Experience

You should have some experience organizing and managing chess tournaments. This can include volunteering at local events or helping organize tournaments at your club.

5. Communication Skills

As a chess arbiter, you’ll need to communicate effectively with players, coaches, and other officials.

Therefore, having excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, will be a great trait for the role.

6. Organizational Skills

Strong organizational skills are a must for chess arbiters. You’ll be responsible for scheduling games, managing the tournament, and keeping track of scores and results.

7. Patience

Patience is an essential skill for chess arbiters.

You may have to deal with difficult players or settle disputes. So, it’s important to remain calm and patient at all times.

8. Attention to Detail

Chess arbiters must have a keen eye for detail. You’ll need to ensure that the games are conducted by the rules.

Additionally, you need to record all the scores accurately.

9. Ability to Remain Calm Under Pressure

Chess tournaments can be stressful, and you may have to deal with unexpected situations. The ability to remain calm under pressure is essential for a successful chess arbiter.

10. Continuing Education

Once qualified as a chess arbiter, the learning doesn’t stop. You may be required to attend seminars and events that will help you hone your skills.

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7 Steps to Become a Chess Arbiter

Becoming a FIDE-certified chess arbiter can take several years of dedication and hard work. However, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for those passionate about chess.

Here’s how to become a chess arbiter:

1. Gain Experience

The first step to becoming a chess arbiter is to gain experience in tournament organization and management.

Start networking with other arbiters. You may also offer to assist high-level arbiters.

2. Learn the Rules

Study the rules and regulations of chess. You can find tournament rules online and in books.

Additionally, you can familiarize yourself with chess notation, as it’s an essential part of the game. Practice officiating at local tournaments and events. This will help you gain experience and confidence in your abilities as an arbiter.

3. Attend a FIDE-Approved Arbitration Course

FIDE-approved arbitration courses are available from various organizations around the world. Check the FIDE website portal for a list of approved courses in your area.

4. Pass the Exam

After attending the arbitration course, you’ll need to pass an exam to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to apply the rules in real-life situations.

The exam consists of written and practical components.

5. Officiate at Tournaments

To become a FIDE-certified arbiter, you must have experience officiating at chess tournaments. This includes FIDE-rated events.

You can gain this experience by volunteering at local events or helping to organize tournaments in chess clubs.

6. Apply for Certification

Once you meet all the qualifications, you can apply for certification through your national chess federation or FIDE directly. This process requires careful preparation.

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Make sure to gather all the necessary documents required by the organization. Submit a complete and accurate application to improve your chances of approval.

7. Maintain Your Certification

To maintain your FIDE certification, complete continuing education requirements and renew your certification periodically. This may include attending workshops, seminars, or other training programs.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Chess Arbiter?

It may take several months or years to become a certified chess arbiter. The time it takes can vary depending on several factors.

This includes the level of certification one is seeking, prior knowledge and experience in chess, and the availability of training opportunities.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Chess Arbiter?

The responsibilities of a chess arbiter can vary depending on the tournament and the level of certification. In general, a chess arbiter is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the players are following the rules.
  • Resolving disputes between players.
  • Monitoring the players to ensure that they’re not cheating.
  • Maintaining order and discipline at the moment.
  • Scheduling games and managing the tournament.

How Much Does a Chess Arbiter Earn?

Organizers typically pay around $50 to $100 per tournament with a travel allowance.

The salary for a chess arbiter can vary widely depending on the level of certification and the organization they’re working for. In general, however, most chess arbiters are paid per tournament.


You now know how to become a chess arbiter and can start moving toward your career path.

By developing your knowledge of the rules, organizational skills, and ability to communicate effectively, you can become a successful arbiter.

Through this, you can help ensure the game is played fairly and according to the rules.