Annex Chess Club

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Weekly Tournament
  • May 27, 2024 7:30 PM
    918 Bathurst Street, Toronto ON M5R 3G5

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Chess For Everyone!

Tournament Etiquette

There are a few things to know about tournament play.

No Phones (or other Devices)

Your phone must be off, silent, and face-down on the table or stored away in a bag or backpack, unless the arbiter permits an exception. This eliminates suspicions of cheating, and also reduces disturbances. 

A player leaving the playing hall must leave all devices behind, unless the arbiter allows an exception. A player found looking at a phone or other device during a game, either at the board or anywhere else, will receive a penalty, up to and including loss of game.

If a player’s phone sounds or vibrates during a game, their game is lost.

Distracting Behaviour

No one may behave in a way that distracts or annoys their opponent or other players. This includes talking, humming, drumming fingers and the like. It also includes things like looming over the chessboard or the opponent, making excessive draw offers, and so on.

A player is only allowed to speak to their opponent to announce an adjustment, or to offer a draw. (It is not necessary to announce check.)

A player may summon an arbiter to make a complaint about their opponent, or other players. The arbiter may give a warning, a penalty, award loss of game, or even eject the offender from the tournament altogether.

Food is not allowed in the playing hall, but drinks are permitted.

Touch Move, Touch Take, and Adjustment

Players may not touch anything on the board when it is not their move.

If a player touches their own piece, it must be moved if it can be legally moved. If that piece was moved illegally, a legal move must be made if possible. If no legal move is possible, the player is free to move any piece.

If a player touches an opponent’s piece, it must be captured if it can be legally captured. If no capture is possible, the player is free to move any piece.

Once a piece has been legally placed on a square and the hand is taken away, the move is made and cannot be altered.

A poorly-placed piece (straddling two squares, for example) may be adjusted by a player only when it is their move. When it is not your move, you may not touch anything on the board.

To adjust, a player must say “Adjust” or “J’adoube” prior to touching the piece. This indicates the intent to adjust, not move, the piece.

One Hand (For the Move and the Clock)

Only one hand may be used to make a move, including castling and capturing moves. Using two hands is improper. (The arbiter may be lenient with young people with small hands.)

Castling must start by moving the king two squares towards the rook. Place the king, and with the same hand move the rook. Castling by picking up both king and rook with two hands is considered an illegal move by FIDE.

Only the hand that makes the move may touch the clock.

Illegal Moves

It happens. Even experienced players sometimes make moves that are illegal, like moving into check, ignoring a check, or moving a light-square bishop to a dark square.

When an illegal move is made, an arbiter should be summoned. If it’s the player’s first illegal move in the game, the game is restored to the last legal position, the opponent is awarded two extra minutes, the increment is removed from the player’s clock, and the game continues.

If it is the player’s second illegal move in the game, the game is lost.

(There are different rules for rapid play. In rapid or blitz play, an illegal move can end the game immediately.)

Draw Offers

You may only offer a draw on your time, and only after having made a move, but before completing the move by pressing the clock.

So the proper order is: 1) make a move, 2) say “Draw?” to your opponent, and 3) press your clock.

Offering a draw when it is not your move can result in a penalty if your opponent complains about distraction.

If your opponent accepts the draw offer, the game ends in a draw.

A player can decline a draw offer verbally or simply by continuing to play.

When a draw offer is made, it should be noted on both score sheets with the sign (=).

If your opponent offers a draw and hasn’t moved, you should insist that they make a move before considering the draw offer. (What if your opponent's next move is good for you? What if they're in zugzwang?)

The use of the word “draw" in any way can be taken as a draw offer. If you say to your opponent: “Are you playing for a draw?” they're well within their rights to accept your draw offer! (By the way, no talking!)

Extending your hand is not a draw offer. This gesture is typically made to resign. The word “draw” must be spoken.

It is considered unsporting to offer a draw in a clearly losing position. Repeatedly offering draws can result in a penalty for distracting behaviour.

A draw offer should only be made sincerely.

Claiming a Draw

A player may claim a draw by threefold repetition (the identical position occurring three times) or the fifty-move rule (fifty moves made without a pawn move or a capture.) You can learn more about these here.

The onus is on the claimant to prove their claim. The arbiter is not involved in this process. This is one of the main reasons to maintain an accurate scoresheet.

An arbiter may declare a game drawn if the same position occurs five times (fivefold repetition), or if seventy-five moves are made without a pawn move or a capture.

Stalemate (the player with the move is not in check, but has no legal move) is also a draw. If the situation is unclear, please summon an arbiter.

How Are Tournaments Organized?

Our club usually uses the Swiss system in our tournaments. A Swiss system allows for a clear winner to be determined in a minimal number of rounds. It functions a bit like a knock-out tournament without the knock-outs, so everyone plays in every round. There are three basic rules to a Swiss tournament.

1. Players are paired with opponents who have the same (or nearly same) score.

2. Players have roughly the same number of games as White and Black. (This does not mean that you will always alternate colours, although that is ideal. Sometimes a player will get the same colour in two consecutive rounds, but never three.)

3. Players never face the same opponent twice in the same tournament.


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918 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON M5R 3G5