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Essential Rules and Guidelines of Scholastic Chess

Sportsmanship and Etiquette:

  • Be polite, and get off to a good start. Greet your opponent in a pleasant way with a handshake. You may say, “Hi, my name is…” or “It’s a pleasure to meet you, my name is…” or something similar.

  • Don’t boast, talk trash, or try to intimidate your opponent. Some players brag about their ratings, comment on their opponents’ ratings, or play psychological games (“I played a guy last month with a rating like yours and blew him away.”) Don’t. Do not say anything that may offend your opponent. Also, avoid expressions, body language or gestures that may offend.

  • Don’t use outside materials during games. Use of any notes, printed material, recordings, an additional chessboard or a computer is strictly prohibited.

  • Don’t try to trick your opponent by pretending to have made a bad move (gasping or faking dismay) or falsely announcing check, checkmate, or stalemate.

  • Do not rush your opponent by saying “hurry up!,” “go!,” “move!” or anything similar.

  • After your game, be a good winner or loser. Either way, thank your opponent for a good game with a handshake. If you win, do not celebrate in front of your opponent nor belittle your opponent. If you lose, consider your loss a learning opportunity and think about what you might have done differently. Win or lose, immediately after the game, analyze your written moves with your coach. This is more productive than getting upset. You will learn much more from a loss than a win, and when you learn - you really win.

  • Be as polite, as clear, and as calm as possible when talking to a Tournament Director. This will make you more effective in making your point. Keep in mind that Tournament Directors, although specially trained, are human beings trying their best to enforce the rules and make discretionary rulings. All serve on a volunteer basis to make the tournament a good experience for you. If you disagree with a ruling by an Assistant Tournament Director, you will usually be permitted to speak to your coach or parent and can ask to appeal the ruling to the Chief Tournament Director.

Questions, Disagreements, and Disputes:

  • Speak with a Tournament Director immediately about any question, disagreement, or dispute that you have with your opponent by raising your hand to call a Tournament Director to your chess board.

  • Your opponent or other players may not know the correct rules.

  • All conflicts must be resolved at the time they occur. If you proceed with the game, nothing can be done later.

  •  Following this one rule will provide the best playing experience for everyone!

Talking:

  • Do not talk during the game except to say "check", "checkmate", "it is your move", "do you want a draw?", to claim a draw, to claim a win by time forfeit, etc.

  • Do not give or receive any advice to your opponent of other players during the game.

  • Saying “check” is not required, but is considered polite, especially if you are playing with an inexperienced player. If you or your opponent announces checkmate, make sure both of you agree before resetting the board and going to the scorer’s table.  If there is a question, call for a Tournament Director by raising your hand.

  • It is against the rules to annoy or distract your opponent by your behavior.

Illegal move (a move against the rules):

  • Whenever an illegal move is made, it must be taken back (and also any moves made after it) and replaced with a legal move.

Check and capturing the king:

  • Capturing the king is an illegal move.

  •  Moving the king into check or making a move that does not get the king out of check is an illegal move. 

  • If a player cannot get their king out of check, the game is over and the opponent trapping the king wins the game.

Stalemate:

  • If a player, whose turn it is to move, is not in check but has no legal move, it is a stalemate and a draw.

Draws:

  • There are several types of draws.

  • Stalemate is one.

  • The two players can agree to a draw.

  • Some positions such as king versus a king and bishop or knight; king and bishop versus king and bishop with the bishops on the same color, also result in a draw.

  • A player also may claim a draw if the same position has occurred three successive times with the same player to move; or if in the last 50 moves by each side, there has been no capture and no pawn has moved.

  • If disputed by the opponent, three move repetitions and 50 moves with no captures/no pawn movement is difficult to substantiate if neither player has notated the game.

Pawn Promotion:

  • When a pawn reaches the other side of the board, it is replaced with a queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color.

  • If you promote a pawn to a queen and a queen of the same is not available, you can use an upside down rook or borrow one from another board.

  • You may call a Tournament Director to get you a piece.

Castling:

  • There can be no pieces between the king and the rook on the side to which you want to castle.

  • The king always moves two squares towards the chosen rook and the rook goes directly on the other side of the king.

  • The king and the rook you are castling with cannot have moved previously, even if they move back to their original square.

  • You may not castle if you are in check.

  • You may not move into check or move the king over a square where it would be in check.

  • The king should be moved first, then the rook.

Clocks:

  • If about 20 minutes are left for the rest of the game, clocks will be put on the game, giving each player 10 minutes for the rest of his/her moves.

  • This does NOT mean that you have to play fast!  Use your time wisely.

  • All of the usual ways to end a game still apply.

  • If a player's time runs out, his opponent wins the game if he has enough material to checkmate, i.e. at least any of: (1) a queen, (2) a rook, (3) a pawn (because it is a potential queen), (4) two bishops, (5) a bishop and a knight, or (6) two knights if the opponent has a pawn.  Looking at it the other way, the following piece combinations are insufficient to win on time: (1) king only, (2) king and a bishop, (3) king and a knight, and (4) king and two knights - if the opponent does not have a pawn.

Touch-move and "adjust":

  • You may not touch the pieces on the board when it is your opponent's turn to move.

  • You may not move your opponent's pieces (except to capture them when it is your move or to replace a promoted pawn).

  • When it is your turn, if you touch one of your pieces on the board with the intention of moving it, (e.g. with your thumb and fingers) you must move it, if it has a legal move.

  • If you touch one of the opposing pieces, you must capture it if you can with a legal move.

  • Accidentally touching a piece, say if you brush it with the back of your hand when reaching for another piece, does NOT count as an intentional touch.

  • If you intend to move one piece but accidentally touch another piece as if to move it, that does count as an intentional touch.

  • Accidentally knocking over the king does not mean that you are resigning the game.

  • If you need to adjust a piece on its square, you can do it only when it is your turn to move and you must say "adjust" (or the French "j'adoube") before touching the piece - then you are not required to move it.