Just the Rules: A Prize Fund Quiz

Test your knowledge of prize fund rules in this baker’s dozen True or False quiz by Tim Just. 

1. A tournament advertising a “Guaranteed Prize Fund” must pay the entire advertised prize fund amount, no matter what.

2. A tournament advertising a “Based On” prize fund must pay the entire “Based On” dollar amount, no matter what.

3. When a prize fund for a tournament is advertised as “$2000 Based on 125 players,” and only 75 players enter the event, the organizer may reduce the prize fund to $1200.

4.“Based-On” prize funds of $500 or less must pay out prizes in proportion to the number of players that enter a tournament compared to the number of players expected.

5. When an event advertises a Class (not Under) $100 prize for first place in the Expert Class, and only one Expert rated player enters the event, only that lone Expert may claim the $100 Expert prize.

6. When a tournament publicizes an “Under 2200” prize and only one Expert rated player enters the tournament, only that lone Expert may claim the “Under 2200” prize.

7. All of the prizes an individual qualifies for can be claimed by that one person.

8. When there are ties for place prizes the players in the tie may place all of the funds they qualify for into a pot that they will be split with the other tied players.

9. Organizers must award all prizes at the tournament site.

10. Tie breaks should never be used to determine money prizes.

11. Special prizes are not counted when it comes to awarding prize $$$.

12. When an organizer makes a profit at a tournament they must increase prizes appropriately.

13. You can withdraw from a tournament and still claim your prize!

The US Chess Rules (Chapters 1-2+11 from the 7th edition rulebook) are now downloadable and available on-line.

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 new column, exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” will help clarify potentially confusing regulations.


  1. Two slight quibbles: Question 1 should talk about “act of God” or “emergency” (meaning natural disaster type of emergency as an exception for guaranteed prizes. Question 13 should mention that TDs MAY grant a zero point bye to players to maintain prize eligibility (even though that is not explicitly covered in the rulebook). Other than that an excellent quiz. (I think I passed)

    • I think helping a player or players to “maintain prize eligibility” smacks like bias to me. No player must ever receive any favoritism of any kind. All players are on their own when in competition and must follow all rules, policies, and procedures. The last round is totally off limits if a bye was not requested in the fashion prescribed by the organizer. There can never be any exception.

      • I think it’s fairly common practice to treat a “withdraw” and taking a zero point bye for the last round as the same thing. There is no bias involved. 99% of the time (and probably even higher) players who withdraw aren’t in the running for a prize, so this is a moot point. Once in a while it does happen.

        Not that long ago I had a player with 4 points out of 5 decide to leave early and skip the last round. 4 points was enough for one of the place prizes. Do you not pay him just because he skipped the last round? That seems unfair. On the other hand, if he just didn’t show up and forfeited the game…

        • I agree that players who aren’t going to win any prizes and drop out the last round just get a 0 point bye for the last round.
          Players in prize contention and already will win a prize based on the standings before the last round is played and drop out get a 0 point bye as well but will receive no prize. It’s very important that players not quit the tournament which is what they are doing when they do not finish the tournament. I cannot reward that type of unsporting behavior. If for instance they do play the last round and lose they may well lose more of a cash prize or even get knocked out. I played sports all my life and no individual or team event ever allowed a missed last round and then rewarded that individual or team a place or prize. Chess which is a complex game of the mind must be in the same category as all professional sports. I do tell any player wanting to drop out that if you drop out the last round you forfeit any forthcoming prize. Most of those players end up playing in the last round.
          The other problem is that players who do indeed finish the tournament are wondering why did so and so get a prize for not finishing. No I can’t reward a player who quits.

          • The important thing is to make your bye and withdrawal policies known to all players well ahead of time. When I was running the club on Lunt Avenue in Chicago, I would post a notice (during registration and throughout the tournament) along the following lines:

            Half-point byes are available in any round. No limit on the number of byes. Round 1 byes must be requested with entry or may be assigned to players arriving late. Round 2 and 3 byes must be requested before pairings are made and before all previous round games finish, whichever occurs first. Round 4 byes must be requested before round 3 starts. Deadline for un-requesting a previously requested half-point bye: Same as above.

            Players must complete the tournament to win a prize. No prizes for drop-outs!

            The above would be for a 4-round Plus-Score event. As you can see, my bye policy was more liberal than most, but I agree with you that I don’t want players taking zero-point byes if they expect to win a prize — it’s just my thing.

  2. I have a problem with #1. Let’s say that all prizes are guaranteed, there is an expert prize, and only one expert shows up. Let’s say the expert wins the tournament. The expert prize need not be paid, right?

    • Since the Expert received the prestigious title of Champion and the prize that went along with it there is no one else who qualifies for the Expert prize. You could do as I have and just give the Expert prize to the next qualified in line or divide it up equally in the next higher or lower prize section. I think that shows good form for the organizer.

    • The answer to #5 did cover that. I can see having a concise answer that covers 99.9% of the cases instead of a full answer that risks confusing people, particularly when the answers to later questions cover the bulk of the 0.1% remaining.

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