Saturday, November 8

Tournament Etiquette 101

Today's tournament at the Mechanics' Institute brought to light issues of sportsmanship and etiquette amongst chess players. Some players seem to lack proper schooling in the standards of behavior for adult tournaments. (Clarification: I do not wish to single out any player. I have at least four in mind just from this weekend. In the past, I have even seen some adults act like jerks.) To many, this is a black and white issue, like the squares of the chessboard. However, a few immature players ruin it for everyone else. Here are guidelines to make chess tournaments more enjoyable for participants of all ages.
  • Know the rules! If you don't, buy or borrow the USCF's Official Rules of Chess.
  • Follow the Golden Rule.
  • Be polite to your opponent before and after the game.
  • Always shake hands at both the beginning and end of a chess match.
  • Be quiet as a courtesy to others!
  • Turn off cell phones and other noise makers.
  • If you must talk in the playing hall, keep your voice down.
  • While talking with friends, never discuss your game in progress.
  • Avoid making faces or other forms of nonverbal communication.
  • Do not distract your opponent (and other players) in any way!
  • The only words you should say to your opponent are "I resign", "I offer draw" or "I adjust". Any other issues should be addressed to the TD.
  • Resign when your position is hopeless. Don't waste your opponent's time. Players over 1200 won't accidentally stalemate, except possibly in time pressure.
  • Refrain from repetitive draw offers. Etiquette says you should never offer draw twice unless the position changed substantially.
  • Do not offer or discuss a draw before a serious contest has begun (move 1).
  • Avoid eating at the board, except for a light snack (no noisy wrappers).
  • Dress appropriately for public. Avoid skimpy clothes or controversial messages.
  • Walk slowly in the playing hall. Do not run or chase others.
  • After your game ends, do not analyze in the playing hall.
  • To minimize cheating suspicions, don't leave the playing site without permission.
Sometimes the worst transgressions are not by the players but by parents who aren't serious chess players. Here's a list specially for chess moms and chess dads.
  • Emphasize sportsmanship at chess tournaments and in other arenas of life.
  • Do not make noise in the playing hall during the round.
  • Turn off cell phones and other noise makers.
  • Always be polite to your child's opponents and their parents.
  • Do not speak with your child during the round, unless he or she needs something.
  • To minimize cheating suspicions, don't stand near the board for a long time.
  • Be courteous to the TD. Note that he or she is often a volunteer or underpaid.
  • In case of a dispute, be mature--like an adult. Set a good example!
  • Encourage your child's competitiveness in a positive way.
  • Always support your child after a loss. Never scold him or her just because of the result. It is better to teach your lesson later when the child is ready to listen.
  • Remember that chess players only improve if they have fun as well!
Parents may also wish to read my May 13th post on the related topic: How should a parent behave at a chess tournament?

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