Rules of Tournament Chess

When in doubt, ask!

Never hesitate to ask a tournament director to clarify any confusion you may have about the rules. If you and an opponent have a disagreement, stop the clocks, find a director, and ask them to make a ruling.

If you touch a piece, you must move it.

This is known as the touch move rule, and is difficult for players new to tournaments. It also requires you to capture an opponent’s piece if you touch it-take rule. This rule only applies if you can make a legal move with the piece you touched.

There are some exceptions. If you accidentally touch a piece, you are not required to move it. If a piece is awkwardly placed, you can adjust it; simply say “I adjust” before touching the piece to make it clear to your opponent that you don’t intend to move it.

Most tournaments require players to record their moves.

This helps provide evidence of what has occurred during the game in case of a dispute. In order to record your game, you will need to learn how to read and write chess notation.

Never interfere with a game in progress.

In chess tournaments  you are allowed to walk around the playing area and watch other games, provided you do so quietly without interfering with games in progress . Observers,Spectators and Coaches are forbidden from telling players anything about their games, even if they notice a violation of the rules. Director of Tournament at Venues should see that this rule is observed.

Turn off your Mobile phone.

If your phone rings in the playing area, you will likely be subject to a penalty or  may forfeit your game.

Understand how to use a chess clock.

Tournament chess is played with time limits, which vary by event. Time is kept by using a chess clock. Our Events are mostly run on 15 min per player Time Control. It is 30 min total for the whole Game.

Remember to hit your clock after each move you make – this stops your clock and starts your opponent’s time.  Use the same hand to move your pieces and hit the clock.


If your King is in check you must get out of check. This can be by:

If a player makes a move which leaves the King in check ( Illegal move) you must  allow your opponent to take back that move, and let him to get his King to safety.
The King can't be  captured but only checkmated.
Checkmate is when the King is in check and there is no way out of check-Game is won.