US Chess Releases Safe Play Guidelines

As announced during the 2019 US Open in Orlando, the US Chess Executive Board adopted “Safe Play Guidelines” for US Chess National Events. Covered events include both US Chess-organized events and events bid out to and organized by member affiliates. The guidelines are in effect September 1, 2019, with additional requirements effective September 1, 2020. (Download the Guidelines)

The primary purpose of these guidelines is to offer procedures on what to do when a violation of the Safe Play Guidelines occurs or is alleged. The Safe Play Guidelines do not supplant the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct adopted by other US Chess bodies; rather, the Safe Play Guidelines provide additional guidance about unacceptable behavior not covered by existing policies within US Chess. The following classes of individuals are covered by the guidelines:

  • Players
  • Tournament Directors
  • Other Event Staff
  • Contractors
  • Spectators
  • Official Attendees

Venue staff and guests of the venue are not covered by these guidelines.

The guidelines cover the following types of conduct:

  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Bullying
  • Hazing
  • Harassment
  • Emotional Misconduct
  • Physical Misconduct

The guidelines, which are based off of work done by the US Tennis Association (USTA) and the US Center for Safe Sport, offer common sense guidance to help both youth and adults avoid situations that might lead to misconduct. Combined with mandatory background screening for regular employees and tournament staff, US Chess has taken steps to grow awareness and implement safeguards to minimize the potential for misconduct. US Chess will be sharing important information for organizers of National Events, such as a list of Tournament Directors who have been screened by US Chess.

As with all allegations of misconduct, these guidelines provide for response strategies during the event or after an event. For offenses that are a violation of local law, law enforcement should be contacted.

The US Chess Executive Board is offering these guidelines as a ‘soft release’, requesting feedback from covered individuals. The guidelines will be phased in over the next 24 months while appropriate training and testing of the policies have occurred. If you have questions about the guidelines, please direct them to Carol Meyer, Executive Director,


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A much needed product for the protection of players and event attendees or participants from a wide variety of physical, mental and sexual abuses at our National events. Thanks to our Executive Director’s leadership for working this through legal reviews and reviews by the Executive Board. The Guidelines mention a “Hotline” for reporting abuses. That number, according to the Guidelines, is not for issues that members would resolve using the Claims or Appeals process. The Hotline is for the kinds of problems described in the Guidelines. State Affiliates should take a look at this too and consider adopting something similar. Mike Hoffpauir NTD, FA Virginia

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hopefully spectators will be protected from bullying as much as players are. I find that at times the paying of the entry fee makes players feel superior and when they start losing their games some show their frustration over losing rating points by taking it out on spectators who have been standing nearby for hours patiently waiting for the quality of the moves to improve. Spectators stand in an area they’ve been used to - it needs to be close enough to analyze the position and should not change to further away merely based on the loser’s bad attitude. Sometimes this type of committee meets and agrees to make general pronouncements saying something is bad, for example bullying, without actually making clear all the forms the bad behavior might take and what the proposed penalties are or how it will be investigated. Questions going to one person is only ok if only one person needs to know the answer, but frequently one person asks the question while many others are interested in both the question and the answer.

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