Just The Rules: Some Rulebook Updates Coming in 2024

Not all of the rulebook updates passed by the delegates at their annual meeting were major. There will be some minor housekeeping rules changes that will clear up any real and potential language confusion. Of course, there will be some big changes. Here is a list of adjustments that will probably be noticed the most:


Notation required for both 30-second delay and 30-second increment.

In recent times, games with a 30-second delay followed the rules for delay time controls: no notation in time pressure. Not scribbling down your moves with a hanging flag works great for shorter time delay controls. It flops big time for longer time controls. What is the notation difference in a 30-second delay and a 30-second increment time control? Currently, a 30-second increment requires notation, but a 30-second delay does not.

However, the point of both long-delay and long-increment time controls is to give the wood-pusher enough time to bang out the moves and notate them, especially at the end of time control. Shorter time delay and shorter increment time rules will remain the same. But in 2024, the 30-second—or greater—time controls for both delay and increment will require jotting down all of your moves, even in a time crunch.


Chess computers banned from tournament play!

The first time computers were allowed to essay rated games in an OTB tournament appeared in Tim Redman’s fourth edition of the rulebook (1987). That regulation, and all of its references, will be gone, erased and eliminated starting in 2024. In reality, there has not even been a US Chess computer membership purchased for several years. In the past, those hunks of wires, diodes and circuits were not quite as strong as our top-notched human wood-pushers. Some upper-echelon players looked forward to being paired with those electronic wonders: it was like getting a free point. The days of weak chess-playing computers is long gone.

Another real problem developed in the past when players were allowed to sign the “Do not pair me with a computer” list. That “no-play” list created wacky pairings. As a result, organizers individually started to not allow computers to enter their event. Eliminating the rule simply reflects the current reality of chess-playing computers not entering — and not being wanted at — rated tournaments.


Use of the reasonably complete scoresheet rule gets cleared up.

An adequate scoresheet is not the same as a “reasonably complete” one. Some claims — other than time forfeits — only need an adequate scoresheet: triple repetition draw claims, director counting moves in sudden death and 50 consecutive move claims, to name a few.

For the triple repetition claim, for example, the entire scoresheet is simply not needed. All that is required is the notational evidence that proves the three-peat claim. With a reference to a reasonably complete scoresheet embedded in the three-time position rule, some claims were denied. Why? Several stumbles in notation early in the game deep-sixed the three-position claim. That early shortfall should not deny an adequate triple position claim much later in the game.

To clear up when the use of an adequate score can be used, those references to “a reasonably complete scoresheet (13C7)” are going to be removed from the appropriate rules to avoid any misunderstanding. For some rules only the small accurate portion of the score will do as evidence in some claims.

NOTE: Still in effect in 2024, with no changes, is rule 13C7 (“Definition of a reasonably complete scoresheet”). It outlines what is and is not acceptable when using a scoresheet to make a non-sudden death time forfeit claim.

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.


“The first time computers were allowed to essay rated games in an OTB tournament appeared in Tim Redman’s fourth edition of the rulebook (1987)” might accurately describe the rulebook history, but is inaccurate as far as tournament practice goes. Several rated OTB tournament reports from the 1970s, 60s, and maybe even earlier, included computer entrants. See for instance “MacHack VI” — a 1960s chess computer that competed in several tournaments and, if (carbon-based) memory serves, had a USCF rating in the 1500s.

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