Tournament Guidelines

Piermont Chess is more informal than most chess clubs, and we’d like to keep it that way. Chess is challenging enough. Still, we expect that all players, regardless of age, will behave appropriately at all times. We have included a list of some common basic USCF tournament rules all should know, and codes of conduct to help make these experiences pleasant for everyone.

*Note: All of our tournaments are managed by certified US Chess Tournament Directors who follow the United States Chess Federation Rule Book. In matters not explicitly covered by the applicable rules, Directors will use their discretion and judgment.


Tournament Rules and Procedures

This is a list of common rules & procedures for USCF tournaments and some house rules for Piermont Chess that may differ at other clubs:


Note: Piermont Chess Club provides notations sheets, pencils, and all necessary equipment for casual play and tournaments.

  • All boards must be of US Chess certified design with 2-2.25″ squares and notation in the margins.
  • All pieces must be of US Chess certified design, wood or plastic, with standard 3.75″ king height, and weighted, easily identifiable pieces.
  • All game clocks must be of US Chess certified design, with digital display, variable time settings, and increment and delay options.
  • A player may bring their own equipment as long as it meets the standard requirements. Piermont Chess Club reserves the right to deny the use of any equipment.
  • The player with black pieces may choose which equipment they prefer to use if there is an option (example: if they brought their own). Tournament Directors can overrule.
  • Respect the equipment. Players will be charged full retail price for replacement of any damaged boards, pieces, clocks, chairs or tables etc.
  • The TD will post the round pairings. Find your name and go to your assigned table.
  • When everyone is settled the TD will announce the start of the round.
  • To begin the game, white’s clock lever must be “up.” Black presses the “play” button to begin the game.
  • A player loses on time when their clock shows no time remaining and it is declared by either player. The opponent must have sufficient material remaining to create a checkmate, or the outcome is a draw.
  • If both players run out of time before either player has declared a win on time, the game is ruled a draw.
  • Players may pause the clock to ask the tournament director for assistance at any time.
  • Players must use one hand for any action on the board, for instance, the hand that moves a piece should also operate the clock.
  • A player’s move is over only when they operate the clock. The opponent may not move until their opponent’s turn is over.
  • All tournaments use the “Touch Move” rule. If a player touches a piece it must be moved, unless it can not do so legally (in which case another piece may be moved.) The player may hold and move their piece until they release it on a legal square. Once placed it must stay on that square.
  • All tournaments also follow the “Touch Take” rule. Players can capture pieces in any touch order, example: white removes the black piece to be captured before moving their attacking piece, and vice versa. If a player touches an opponent’s piece, which can be captured legally, it must be captured. If more than one piece can make the capture, the player may use any of those pieces to finish the capture.
  • All game results: Checkmates, Stalemates, Draws are not final until confirmed by both players. (Don’t declare “checkmate” and walk away. You may be mistaken.)
  • Confirm the results and choose one player to report the results to the Director. Please DO NOT enter results into the computer yourself.
  • All players must record their moves in regular rapid and classical time control categories. Blitz and bullet chess do not require notation.
  • During most games, players may stop taking notation when either player’s clock reaches 5 minutes or less.
  • Notation may be made at any time, before, or after a player makes a move.
  • Any games with a 30 second increment must be notated through out the entire game.
  • A player may borrow, on their own time, the opponent’s notation during the round to correct an error in notation.
Illegal Moves
  • Illegal moves are any move that violates the standard rules of piece movement (bishop on wrong color, etc), including failing to meet the requirements of pawn promotion or exposing the king to capture. A move is not considered illegal until it is completed by pressing the clock. A player may correct an illegal move before they press the clock.
  • Illegal moves must be declared by the opponent before they complete their following move in order to incur a penalty or forfeit. For example, if one player makes an illegal move but it is not noticed, and the opponent then takes a turn and also makes an illegal move but it IS noticed, THEY will incur the penalty.
  • Illegal moves incur a time penalty (additional time for opponent) and a reset to a position before the move was made. Pause the clock and call a tournament director in the event of any alleged illegal moves.
  • In blitz and bullet time controls, the game ends immediately upon an illegal move being discovered.
  • When castling, players must move the king first, then the rook, using one hand.
  • If a player castles illegally, they must reset the king and rook and make another king move because castling is considered a king move.
  • When promoting a pawn, the player should move the pawn to the last rank, remove the pawn from the board and then replace it with the promoted piece, all with the same hand.
  • Captured pieces are out of play and can be held by players and placed anywhere on the game table.
Check-in and Byes
  • Check in with the TD before the first pairing so we know you are here and ready to play. If you know you will be late please contact us by phone or text at (914) 719-1970 so we can give you a bye or start your clock. If we don’t hear from you by the first pairing, you will be withdrawn. No refunds.
  • Requested byes due to conflict or illness receive 1/2 a point and should be made in advance of the tournament by contacting the club if possible.
  • Assigned byes are given to the lowest rated player with the fewest wins who hasn’t had a bye already (the computer figures this out). The player is awarded 1 full point for lack of an opponent because of an odd number of players.
  • If a player is late to a game their opponent may start the clock. (If Black is late, White will start the clock, make a move, operate the clock, and wait. If white is late, Black will start the clock and wait.)
  • Show respect to all opponents. Shake hands, or bump fists, with your opponent at the beginning and end of each game.
  • You may, but do not have to, say “check” or “checkmate.”
  • Both players must turn off the clock and set up the pieces for the next round.
  • Ties in the standings are resolved with “tie breaks.” The pairing software makes these determinations based on multiple factors.
  • Tie breaks DO NOT apply to cash prizes. In the event of a tie, the prize is split evenly between all tied players.

Conduct at Piermont Chess Club

Here is a list of expected conduct at Piermont Chess Club for both tournaments and casual play. Piermont Chess meets in a large class room where noise can easily get out of control. Please be considerate and as quiet as possible at all times.

  • Please do not come if you are ill.
  • Please use basic hygiene, and dress appropriately.
  • No talking during tournaments.
  • No gratuitous or vulgar language.
  • No slamming of pieces or clocks.
  • No inappropriate trash talk, arguing, gloating, or intimidation with words or actions.
  • No violent outbursts. (Do not kick or hit doors, tables, chairs, windows, garbage cans, toilets, sinks etc. You will be charged the full replacement cost for anything you damage and/or face possible legal action.)
  • No weapons, drugs, or alcohol on the premises.
  • Food and drink IS allowed as long as it is not disruptive or distracting (messy, smelly, noisy.)
  • You may go to the bathroom, stand, stretch, walk around, and watch other games at any time, including during your game, but do so quietly.
  • Please open and close the door to the room quietly. If you exit after your game is over, avoid re-entry until the round is over. Please walk around quietly.
  • If your game is over you may watch other games, keep your distance, and do not distract other players.
  • Cell phones ARE allowed, but they must be SILENT. Do not use them to talk in the game room. Texting is tolerated but should be minimized. Please stop if your opponent asks you to.
  • Headphones and other electronic devices (watches, tablets etc.) ARE allowed here. We trust no one is cheating.
  • No cheating. You may be barred from attending in the future.
  • Do not give, or ask for, advice.
  • Do not discuss or analyze games in the game room. Leave the room. And still, be quiet even in the hall.
  • We often have more boards set up than needed. If you finish a game early, and a game board is available, you may play a casual game, but, please do so quietly.

  • Repeated violations of the above conduct may be grounds for removal from the premises and/or banning from the club.
  • ANYONE may request a cease of ANY behavior at ANY time with no explanation, and their request MUST be obliged.
  • If a member of our volunteer staff asks you to leave, you must leave.
  • If you have ANY concerns during a tournament, or problems with another player, do not hesitate to involve a Tournament Director immediately.
  • If you experience any bullying, or sexual harassment etc. please report to a TD immediately. TDs are required by law and USCF to be trained in Safeplay procedures and to handle these issues and report them to authorities.
  • In general, please use common sense, and simply be polite and considerate of those around you.
  • Remember, it’s just a game.

We truly hope this had been unnecessary and that everyone enjoys their tournament experience at Piermont Chess Club. Contact us at (914) 719 1970 or if you have any further questions.