Just the Rules: The Re-Entry Gambit

Tim Just, Chief Editor of the 5th, 6th, and brand new 7th edition of the rule book.

You worked hard for weeks. You understand your opening systems. Your middle game and end game are the sharpest they have ever been. Your attitude is upbeat. Then it happens—one little misstep in time pressure. Now you have lost your round 1 tournament game. Your entry fee seems like a waste. Your travel and lodging feel like money pits. Your hunt for prize money seems like a distant dream. What can you do? You might be able to re-enter the event! Some tournaments allow you to re-enter the event just as if you were a brand-new player. Now you are once again in the hunt for prize money! Your old score is usually discarded when it comes time to divvy up the prize money. Ask the TD if you can re-enter. Understanding the Re-Entry Gambit: An Example You enter a tournament and choose to play in the three-day schedule—one game on Friday, two games on Saturday, and two games on Sunday. You lose your first contest on Friday. You withdraw from the three-day game schedule and enter into the two-day schedule—three games on Saturday and two games on Sunday. You pay the reduced re-entry fee and get to start the tournament all over again with a new round 1—with a faster time control—on Saturday. The two playing schedules merge—or combine—all the players from both playing schedules starting with round 3 on Saturday night. You win all of your games and tie with no one for prizes. The first-place guaranteed prize is $2,000. You take home all of the top place gold. But remember, a re-entry simply gives you a second chance to pick up some pocket change along with some rating points—like in this example. It is not a guarantee of either one. Because There Are Two of You… When you re-enter a tournament, your old score and your old entry still appear on the wall chart, as if you played a round and then withdrew. That score is not used for pairings, and it is usually not used for calculating your final score. Your new entry (the new you) is used for pairings and prizes. On a wallchart it is easy to mix up your old withdrawn entry and your brand-new re-entry—after all they are both you. To help you, and others, to keep the two of you straight, many TDs indicate your new entry by adding something to your name, such as an asterisk or the letters RE. And when the new you gets paired, you usually are not paired against any opponent whom you faced as your old withdrawn self. And A Few More Things Some events, with only one playing schedule, only allow you to re-enter with an appropriate number of byes for the games you missed. Other events don’t allow re-entries at all. There is no chess law that forces tournaments to allow re-entries. Most re-entries require an additional, though discounted, entry fee. You are not limited to re-entering only after round 1. You can also re-enter after any other round—like after your round 2 game. This strategy works best in the early stages of the tournament. Sometimes, rarely, your original entry score trumps your re-entry score. Then the rule book allows you to switch back and use that original entry score for the start of the next round and the rest of the event—for pairings, prizes, etc.! One example: Your original entry score after the first two rounds is a mere one point. You re-enter into a different round schedule and score only a half-point for those two new rounds. You are allowed to go back and use the one-point score from your original entry for the rest of the event. Your re-entry score is frozen and not used any future games. A Super Swiss Myth? After failing to gain the game point in round 1 on the Friday of a four-day Super Swiss event, a player re-entered this big money tournament. He started all over again essaying a different round 1 game on the Saturday three-day schedule. He tripped all over himself and lost his starting contest again. So…he re-entered into the two-day schedule that started with a new round 1 on Sunday. The third time was a charm. He scored victory after victory and only lost his last round match after the three tournament playing schedules merged. His score got him a tie with several others for a share of third place gold. He took home enough cash to pay for his entry, two re-entries, travel, food, and lodging. Plus, he had a few $$$ profit left over. Did this really happen? Can anyone verify this? Becoming A Believer I was introduced to re-entries at my own Winter Open. I knew they existed but my attitude was “meh.” This event is two days and five rounds long. There is only one playing schedule. After losing the first round, one unhappy wood pusher wanted to re-enter. I pointed out there was no advertised re-entry. Besides, there was no other schedule for him to re-enter into. He plopped down half of his entry fee and asked to be re-entered into round 2—with a ½ point bye in his new re-entry schedule replacing the goose egg from round 1 (in his old schedule). Since the tournament was only breaking even $$$ wise, this re-entry was profit. I accepted his cash and paired him as per his request. The customer is always right. The free, updated as of 1-1-20, US Chess Rules (Chapters 1+2+11 from the 7th edition rulebook) are now downloadable and available on-line. Past “Just the Rules” columns can be viewed here. 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.