Just the Rules: 2022 Delegate Rulebook Roundup

just the Rules by Tim Just


What did the Delegates do this year at their annual meeting rulebook-wise? Some proposed rules were passed. Some proposed rules were put on hold. Some proposed rules got a thumbs down.

(1) First up is an oldie but goodie — there was a motion proposing to eliminate the variation that allows touching the rook first while castling.

Many moons ago the US Chess rule for castling was changed to essentially mirror the FIDE rule — players must touch the king first when starting that maneuver. In US Chess practice that “you must touch the king first” version of the rule flopped. It was extremely unpopular among the troops. Countless American wood pushers had grabbed their rook first at the start of castling for years and years. They were upset for being punished for their lifelong habit.

There were attempts to change the new rule back to its original wording. Those tries never mustered up enough votes among the Delegates to take a trip in Mr. Peabody’s “Wayback Machine.” The debate carried on, and finally, a compromise was reached that seemed to end the debate. The new “touch the king first when castling” wording stayed put with an added variation. That variation allowed for the rook to be touched first. The debate was over, or was it?

One of this year’s Delegate motions aimed at eliminating that “rook touched first” variation. Did it get a thumbs up from the lawgivers? The motion was not exactly voted down by the delegates, but in a parliamentary move it was buried by a “postponed indefinitely” maneuver. Is the debate finally over? We shall see. Right now, we are keeping the current “rook can be touched first in castling” variation.

(2) Allowing US Chess TDs to call the flag.

The motion to give “calling the flag” authority to tournament directors was well researched. Every spot in the rules impacted by this possible change got the proper wording modification(s).

In past discussions about allowing our rulebook to reflect this FIDE type of rule some interesting points were considered. Among them: FIDE events were better staffed. More staff means more eyes watching clocks with hanging flags. It seems unfair to have the TD call the game on some boards but not on others. There is also the point that some TDs might appear to be secretly influenced by one of the players. And what about the concept that in our rules a wood pusher with their flag down may remain silent until their opponent’s flag also falls — right now that game is draw. If TDs call flags that opportunity is lost.

This motion also suffered the “postponed indefinitely” fate. Players, not TDs, are still responsible for making their own flag fall claims.

(3) The Delegates sent a list of amendments to rule 28I (Opponents of expelled players) to the Rules Committee.

The committee will dive into this one for possible implementation on January 1, 2023. The amendments are mostly variations on what scores can be award the opponents of players expelled from an event—which includes being expelled for receiving assistance. Watch for news on this one.

(4) Beginning January 1, 2023, new wording will be added to rule 21L1: A reasonable explanation for any late filing of an appeal to US Chess will be required.

Late appeals make gathering testimony and evidence problematical. Sidebar: 21L1 was discussed in an earlier column titled Wiggle Room Rules.


The free, updated US Chess Rules (Chapters 1+2 + 9 + 10 +11 from the 7th edition rulebook) are now downloadable and available online.
Want more? Past columns can be found here or by searching the Chess Life Online archives.
Plus, listen to Tim when he was a guest on the US Chess podcast “One Move at a Time.”


Tim Just is a National Tournament Director, FIDE National Arbiter, and editor of the 5th, 6th, and 7th editions of the US Chess Rulebook. He is also the author of My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut & Just Law, which are both available from US Chess Sales and Amazon/Kindle. Additionally, Tim revised The Guide To Scholastic Chess, a guide created to help teachers and scholastic organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program. US Chess awarded the 2022 Tournament Director Lifetime Achievement Award to Tim. He is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee plus the Tournament Director Certification Committee (TDCC). His new column, exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” will help clarify potentially confusing regulations.