Just The Rules: Did You Ever Notice That...

No fancy studies are needed. No complicated math is necessary. All that is necessary is for us to see something time after time before we make it a generalized “getting along in life” rule. For example: way more often than we would like, we buy something only to see it go on sale a week late for a lot less moola. Here is a list of chess tournament generalizations that seem to occur over and over again. 

Did you ever notice that despite the number of signs posted at a tournament, many players fail to read them? There are signs with round times for each day of an event; yet TDs constantly get asked about the next round time. Some events post their own “for this event only” rules Those posts go begging for readers. “Use the Other Door” is a sign that gets disregarded by a small percentage of event participants. Those door signs are often there to help keep the noise level generated by foot traffic, hallway chatter and squeaky doors to a minimum inside the playing area.

Did you ever notice that the number of pairing disputes has plummeted since the advent of computer-generated match-ups? In the past, especially at Super Swisses, making pairings by hand was subject to TD fatigue coupled with many wide-ranging rulebook dictates. Computers changed all of that.

Did you ever notice that too many players fail to stop their clock when making a claim? If the clock is still running while the claim is being processed, the odds increase that someone is going to lose on time before there is a resolution to the dispute.

Did you ever notice that, “I used to be rated…,” is the most common response to the question, “What’s your rating?” That was something the late NTD and IA Wayne Clark observed.

Did you ever notice that players want tournaments with five-to-six rounds all played in one day using long time controls (like two-to-three hours)? And, of course, round one does not start until 11 AM with the last round finishing around 9 PM. Another of Wayne Clark’s Chess Universe perceptions.  

Did you ever notice that chess players think TDs can set every brand of chess clock, even the obscure ones? There are only very few major brands of timers that TDs might be able to set; however, those off-brand clocks are probably not in the tournament official’s skillset. Also, consider that TDs can’t afford to purchase every brand of clock just to learn how to set them. And what if the TD rules that you deserve an extra two minutes when your claim is upheld? If neither the TD nor you can adjust the game clock, then it becomes a problem. Check out rule 5F7. It basically says players, not TDs, are in charge of setting their own chess timers. As a matter of practice most TDs will help a wood pusher set their clock anyhow. Well, if it is in their wheelhouse, that is.

Did you ever notice that at least one chess warrior per tournament still manages to ignore the Bye and Withdrawal sign-up sheets? Talk about messing up pairings and scores for other players, not to mention that a fellow chess-lover will need to sit and wait for a no-show opponent!

Did you ever notice that chess warriors sometimes forget to post their results? The rules do say that both wood pushers are responsible for this task. There is an air of excitement when a game ends. The desire to analyze the moves is understandable. Realistically — despite attempts by event officials and rulebook instructions — game-concluding emotions sometimes outweigh getting this necessary game ender task done. When the game contestants do not report their results, it opens the door for a lot of potential, avoidable, pairing and prize problems.

Did you ever notice that wall charts seem to not be checked for accuracy as often as they should be by the event’s competitors? Having correct results and player info benefits everyone.

Did you ever notice that way too many post-mortems take place in the tournament room?

Do you have any additions to this list?

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.