Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tournament Etiquette

I did a quick google to answere a few lingering questions I had and learned a few things in the process:

-I had no idea its not required to say 'Check'. Seems to me the proper thing to do is say it, but I guess not. That'll be news to my best friend who about bit my head of a few years back in a casual game!
-It is the opponent's responsibility to point out a flag fall- I resigned the game my time ran out (I had thought this the case, but it seems to be in my interest ot not point it out in the future)

The one thing I didn't find a clear answer to is what to do when my opponent doesn't push the clock?

In the game I resigned on time, there were several times my opponent didn't push the clock. He was not a beginner, which I have seen it advised to remind the opponent to push their clock. In a couple cases, I hadn't realized he didn't push it until I went to hit the button and discovered a free move. (Too bad I didn't make better use of the time!)

But in two instances, iirc, I noticed, pondered a bit and made my move anyway. I didn't wan to sit there and stew over propriety.

What's the correct response?


  1. This is a weird issue but one that comes up quite a bit in actual play. When my opponent doesn't hit the clock, I usually will allow it to run and will not make a move until they notice. Although there have been cases where I have politely reminded them to hit their clock. I also usually play on a clock that counts moves, which means that sometimes I have ended up hitting my opponents clock just to count the move and then hitting my clock to start counting their time again.

    I would say that if you are getting distracted by the fact that they have not hit the clock, remind them and then focus on your move. If you can focus properly while their time is winding down then there is no reason to alert them to the fact that you are thinking on their time and when you have decided upon a move you can get up and get some water, maybe look at a couple other games, your opponent will usually figure out why you are not moving.

    I also have a couple things to add to your list of tournament etiquette that I didn't know for a long time. Both have to do with draws.

    If you offer a draw, do it as you move, the offer stands until your opponent makes a move. If you offer a draw on your turn, there is no obligation for your opponent to respond until it is his turn, so you will most likely still have to move. Find your move, then offer a draw.

    The other thing has to do with three-fold repetition. Let's say that you are about to make a move that creates the same position for the third time (does not have to be the third consecutive time). It is not sufficient to make the move and then claim a draw. At that point your opponent can still move and even if you went and got the director he would say the game should continue. What you have to do is stop the clock and claim a draw BEFORE moving. Then explain that this move creates the same position for the third time and you are claiming a draw by three-fold repetition.

  2. In tournament chess, many players will actually be annoyed if you say "Check", considering it a distraction. 99% of the time, your opponent will notice immediately.

    If you're playing a casual game against a non-serious player, it is probably more polite to say check, since there's actually a decent chance he won't see the check.

  3. One is not obligated to point out the unhit clock. I have a tendency to point it out, especially if I'm playing an inexperienced player. I might not say anything if I'm replying to the move immediately. This is typical in the opening when we're both rattling off book moves. Sometimes I might not even notice that they haven't hit the clock.

    If the position is complex, and I know I'm heading into a deep think I will point out the clock. Maybe it's just because I'm Mrs. Nice Guy, and think it's unsporting to burn the opponent's time up like that. The only exception might be if I'm playing an obnoxious SOB. Then I might let the jerk's time run down. :-Þ I certainly would not do that to someone I know and respect.

    I got very pissed off at a college kid that I know very well who let my time run for several minutes in the opening. As soon as I noticed the clock and pressed it, he immediately castled. It bothered me that he would do that to someone who has known him since he was little, had given him rides home after tournaments, attended his father's memorial service, and been a friend of the family.

    I just think it's a cheap shot to take. I'd like to say that it didn't matter, but the game came down to a time scramble that I ended out on short end of. It still would have pissed me off even if I had won. And yes I did give him a piece of my mind afterwards.