Just The Rules: Organizer Blues

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Affiliates

Our rulebook has scant wording regarding chess tournament organizers. In contrast, Tournament Directors (TDs) get an entire chapter to themselves. But organizers only get Rule 23.

The first sentence of that directive puts to rest the idea that individuals are the organizers of rated chess events. Only US Chess Affiliates get that official privilege. You can sign up for an Affiliate Membership here. Rule 23 tells us what expectations come with that Affiliate Membership. Without an affiliate, a TD cannot submit a tournament ratings report. In practice there is even more to know about affiliates than rule 23. Check out these top four things that you might not about affiliates:


1. The TD and the Organizer are two separate jobs that can be done by two different people.

Many TDs also wear the organizer’s hat, but those two jobs don’t need to be fulfilled by the same person. Affiliates can authorize TDs to be their onsite official. It has been observed that smaller events — especially club tournaments — often are directed by a TD that happens to also be the affiliate. This has led many a player to mistakenly conclude that a single person must always be both the TD and organizer. At Super Swisses, organizers are the ones that take care of pre-event publicity, event details, site rental, staffing, etc. Then, once the tournament starts, the TD takes over. At smaller events, one person likely wears both the TD and the organizer hats at once. The larger an event gets the more likely that the TD and organizer are not the same individual. All the same, it is still difficult for the average tournament wood-pusher to tell the difference between those two jobs.


2. Organizers can submit rating reports to US Chess too.

An affiliate — i.e., the organizer — on a routine basis authorizes a TD, or several TDs, to submit official rating reports to US Chess for them. If a TD releases the ratings report directly to an affiliate, the affiliate — instead of the TD — submits the rating report directly to US Chess.


3. Organizers are responsible for paying the prize fund, not the TD.

Affiliates, not their designated TDs, are responsible for seeing that the prizes and all other chess bills — like new and renewed US Chess memberships — get paid. Sometimes one of their TDs has access to the affiliate’s accounts. That allows that TD to hand out prize gold directly to the tournament winners. Other times all a TD can do is calculate the prize money and pass that list along to the affiliate for payment.

TDs must have an affiliate’s consent to file rating reports. To avoid securing an affiliate membership, some TDs simply have an affiliate add their name to an existing affiliate’s approved TD list. That-a-way, those extraneous TDs can submit rating reports using that affiliate’s ID. Those onsite officials typically do their own leg work in securing a site, creating event details, publicizing the tournament and paying prizes; however, if that TD fails to pay the prizes, submit a ratings report, or collect US Chess dues, then it's the affiliate on the hook. Those affiliates could then experience US Chess sanctions as well as possible civil liabilities.


4. There is more than one kind of affiliate.

While the rulebook does not list them, there are four kinds of affiliates: College, School, Prison, and General. Those names alone signal the specific interests, and privileges, for each kind of “affiliateship.” State affiliates get pulled from the General affiliate category via US Chess/Delegates. They have extra duties and responsibilities to US Chess: naming delegates — via some process — to the yearly Delegate’s convention, determining various state champions (typically via sanctioned events), etc.

Any affiliate’s US Chess sign-up needs to designate a manager, or managers. Only those managers are allowed to make any changes to the affiliate’s US Chess data such as designating TDs, official addresses, adding and deleting managers plus TDs.  In other words, the paperwork! Those managers do not need to be the ones responsible for the event-to-event details. Clubs (affiliates) change leadership upon occasion and those new details need to be noted to US Chess.


If you are interested in which affiliates are in your area click here.



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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.