Just the Rules: Adjournment Rules of Thumb

Tim Just, CLO columnist


You may recall a mention of adjournments in last month’s “Remember When...” column. In the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, our heroine would sometimes call for her move to be sealed in an envelope while having the game halted. She finished the contest at a later time—typically, the next day. Why? She could go off and do some home-brewed analysis for her current board position.  

Some readers have only been around since the inception of the faster, delayed or incremented time controls. Adjournments are simply not on their radar, despite the fact that an adjournment might rarely be needed for a game with an increment time control. The details of those game recesses are covered in rules 18 through 19—spread out over six pages—in our rulebook (see also rule 11E). That is a lot of information for anyone to digest.

Here are a few rules of thumb that are easier to recall if you get caught in the labyrinth of an adjournment:  

 •    If you are the player sealing the move, do not make your move on the board. Your opponent has to guess what your sealed move will be and analyze from there. You only need to calculate your opponent’s response(s).    

•    If you are sealing the move, write it only—and clearly—on your scoresheet. If it is illegible, or an illegal move, you might not like the TDs ruling when the game resumes.   

•    The TD will seal the scoresheets from both players in an envelope. The move can still be changed before the envelope is sealed.  

•    Check the info on the envelope for accuracy: position, clock times, names, move number, etc. Any inaccurately recorded data can cause all sorts of headaches when the game is resumed.  

•    The TD keeps the envelope secured. There is a lot of info recorded on the outside of that envelope, which will be needed to resume the game—not to mention the actual move inside the envelope. A lost envelope becomes a messy business.   

•    Know when you have to show up to finish the game. If either player is late for the start of the resumed game, all sorts of rules kick in regarding the clock, opening the sealed envelope, etc. Everything is easier if both woodpushers show up on time.  

•    At any time before the game resumes, the players may agree to a draw, or either player may resign. If either outcome happens, the game continuation is no longer necessary. Don’t forget to inform the TD about this result.   

•    The TD will take care of the details when the game resumes. There are all kinds of procedures that need to be followed when the game starts up again—that is TD territory (and you wondered why adjournment rules are printed over six different pages).  


One small item for your consideration: TDs sometimes ask each player (separately and discreetly) for which result they are playing. The pairings for the next round take this information into consideration for pairing purposes. If both participants are playing for a draw, the TD usually declares the game a “draw” on the spot.  



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 recently 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. Tim is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee. His column Just the Rules, exclusive to US Chess, will help clarify potentially confusing regulations. 

The free, updated US Chess Rules (Chapters 1+2 + 10 +11 from the 7th edition rulebook) are now downloadable and available online. Past “Just the Rules” columns can be viewed here. Plus listen to Tim when he was a guest on the US Chess podcast “One Move at a Time.” 

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