First Rated Tournament Help

This page is for people who are playing in their first ever rated tournament soon. I will describe how most rated tournaments will be set up.

Most rated tournaments will require you to bring equipment. While most of your opponents will have boards and clocks, it is recommended to bring your own in case your opponent forgets to bring them. When the tournament starts, you go to your board and set up your equipment (or your opponent's). The player who has the black pieces gets to choose whose equipment is used. After your game, you take your equipment with you. In order to find your board and who you are playing, you are to look at the pairings. Below is an example of what tournament pairings look like.

After your game is over, you will come over to this paper and write a "1" next to your name for a win, a "0" for a loss, or a ".5" for a draw. After your game is over, you are allowed to leave the venue as long as you are back in time for the next round.

Rules During Games

Being at the Table: During your rated game, you can leave the table at any time. You may not pause the clock when you leave the table. It is acceptable to leave to go to the bathroom or to spectate while your opponent is thinking. Be mindful that if you leave the table too frequently, especially when it is your move, people might begin to think you are cheating.

Notation: In a rated tournament you must notate, which is referred to as keeping score, during your game. If you do not notate your games, the tournament director can forfeit you.

Food/Drinks: You are allowed to have drinks at the table, but food is not allowed.

Cell Phones: Cell phones must be completely powered off and placed in a bag next to you. Your phone really should not be on your person, but if you have nowhere else to put it, then make sure that you leave your phone upside-down on the table if you leave. If your phone goes off once, you are penalized half your remaining time or some proportion of time control that will be determined by the tournament director. Whichever is the least amount of time will be deducted from your clock. The second time your phone goes off, you lose your game. The third time, you will be removed from the tournament. Using your phone at all invokes the same consequences as allowing it to go off.

Touch Rule: If you touch a piece in a fashion that looks like the beginning of a move, then you have to move that piece if it is legal to do so. This does not include accidentally bumping a piece. If you touch an opponent's piece you must capture it if legal to do so.

Other: Please be quiet while any games are still in progress. Tournament directors can remove you if you fail to follow the rules. If you have a question, or if something happens during your game, pause the clock and raise your hand or go find the tournament director if they are not in the room.

Understanding the Tournament Info and Registration

Every tournament director has a different registration process. Some use Chess Register, and the Georgia Chess Association uses their own system. Many others just have you send info and fee through PayPal. If there is a prize fund, its notation is probably b/x. This means that the prizes listed are based on x amount of entries. Time controls can be written as G/40 +10 or 40+10; this means that after every move, the player receives 10 extra seconds. Most tournaments have something like G/40 d5. This means you have five seconds before your clock starts counting after every move. Big tournaments might have something like 40/90 SD 30 + 30. This means that the first 40 moves have to be made in 90 minutes, giving each player 90 minutes to make 40 moves. After move 40, they will have 30 minutes added to both sides. The entire time, 30 seconds are added after every move.