Rules of Etiquette

Last Updated: April 6th, 2012 by Daniel Rensch
  • Parents, Coaches, and Teammates should generally stand behind their child, student, friend, etc. Spectators should also, as a general rule, not go in between the aisles of play. Remaining on the outer periphery of the tables is commonly accepted as proper etiquette.
  • When observing a game, keeping at least 1-2 feet back from the table so as to not disturb the players is greatly appreciated. Never, under any circumstances, should a spectator touch the board, or even the table, while a game is still in progress.
  • It is generally known that announcing “Check” is unnecessary; furthermore, announcing “Check” in tournament play at the expense and bother of your opponent can and will be penalized if warranted. If your opponent doesn’t see that he or she is in “Check” it is his or her mistake, and they must deal with the consequences.
  • When offering a draw, there is only one correct form to do it: A player must first make his move on the board, announce to his or her opponent that a draw is being offered, and then complete the move by pressing the clock. Any other form, especially those that offer a draw on their opponent’s time, can be penalized.
  • Upon making your move, a player should only press the clock one time. Touching the clock repeatedly is unethical and, in some cases, punishable due to the distraction this may cause to your opponent as well as the chance that the clock could be tampered with.
  • All “Beeps” and “Buzzers” of any kind should be removed from your clock before the start of play. Unnecessary sounds can cause distraction to not only you and your opponent, but also those around you.
  • Absolutely, under NO circumstances should you engage in conversation with your opponent or any of the players (whether their games are still in progress or not) at any time. Kibitzing and “chatting” is a distraction to your opponent, the other players near you, and yourself!
  • NO CELL PHONES! In all major U.S.C.F. and FIDE tournaments around the world, if your cell phone goes off in the middle of your game, you will be deducted 10 minutes or half your remaining time. Upon a second ring, your game can and will be forfeited. If a spectator’s cell phone rings while in the tournament hall, the spectator will be asked not to return to the tournament hall for the remainder of the tournament.


Above is a short list of rules of etiquette, but all U.S.C.F. rules are not included. Rules regarding touch move claims, insufficient losing chances, as well as many other more advanced rules are also recommended to know before beginning serious tournament play. Any questions regarding what some of the more important rules might be, should be taken to a parent, coach, or ACE Chess Tournament Director.