Club Rules

This page describes the conditions particular to tournament play at the Vassar-Chadwick Chess Club.  The rules align with those currently stated in the sixth edition of the Official Rules of Chess.

Time Controls

The Vassar-Chadwick Chess Club uses sudden death time controls exclusively in our tournaments, ranging from Game/3 with a 2 second delay to Game/90 with a 10 second delay. Sudden death means one time period to complete the game.  A delay incorporates a separate timer for each move of the game before the main timed period begins.

Rated Blitz Rules

For our blitz tournaments and blitz championship, USCF blitz rules are used.  The most common rules are noted below, a complete set of rules are always available on site with the TD.

  • Digital clocks are preferred over analog clocks, with black’s clock taking preference when both players have digital clocks.
  • The standard time control for rated blitz tournaments is Game 3, with a 2 second delay or increment.
  • Both players are responsible for the correct placement of pieces on the board, as after a completed move by both sides is made, an incorrectly set board or clock shall stand as legal. Castling is still allowed, even in that circumstance (with queenside being short and kingside being long castling).
  • You must use the same hand to move your piece and touch the clock. A player must be allowed to press the clock after each move made.
  • A win can be claimed with a clock’s flag falling and sufficient mating material by the claimant.
  • A player can also win by capturing the king (illegal move while king in check).
  • Touch move rules are still in effect, a legal move is completed when the hand leaves the piece moved.
  • An illegal move is completed when the clock is pressed, and the opponent can claim a win immediately if they notice it.
  • You may correct an illegal move if you did not press your clock yet, however touch move rules still apply.
  • You may stop both clocks to locate and place a new piece on the board when a pawn is promoted.
  • A TD penalty may consist of an initial warning, or one minute added to the opponent’s clock, depending on the severity of the infraction.
  • Cell phones must be powered off or on vibrate, in accordance with the rules below.

Equipment (Chess sets, boards and clocks)

Unless noted otherwise (see Clocks), the player with the Black pieces gets the choice on what equipment (board, pieces, clock) to use, and what side of the board to sit at, provided the equipment matches the USCF standard and is approved by the TD [39A]. Black forfeits this first choice if he is not at the board when the game has started [39A1].

Chess Clocks

The owner of a chess clock is required to know how it functions, and how to set it correctly for the various time controls we run.  It is not the TD’s job to set the clock for any player.  Clocks with the ability for delay or increment are always preferred over clocks that do not have this feature. In sudden death time controls, this means that if Black has an analog clock (or a clock without the appropriate delay/increment feature), and White has a clock with the appropriate feature, White’s clock should be used [17; 42D]. The player who provides the clock is responsible for knowing how to properly set it (including making time adjustments, if penalties have to be assessed) [16B].


Both players are required to accurately keep score until either player drops below 5 minutes remaining in the time control.  Notation is required for all games with a total playing time (main time + delay) of 30 minutes each player or more.  We have provided 10 second delay to assist our players with keeping score without losing any time in the main time control.  Notation is optional for games under 30 minutes, however claiming a draw on threefold repetition of position requires an accurate, up-to-date score sheet or in rare cases TD observation prior to the claim…


For those registered to play in a Swiss tournament, but who are not able to play a particular round, half-point byes are available [22C] during the first half (and middle) of a tournament [22C1]. Half-point byes are NOT available for the 2nd half of a tournament, unless posted in the Tournaments listing for that event or announced by the TD prior to the start of the first round [22C]. For example, in a 4 round Swiss 1/2 point byes are available in rounds 1 and 2. In a 5 round Swiss 1/2 point byes are available in rounds 1, 2, and 3. If a player is unavailable to play a round in the 2nd half of the tournament, zero point byes are available (as an alternative to withdrawal). Byes are not available in Round-Robin tournaments (including Quads); non-appearance for a round will result in a forfeit [22A].  Byes will often be assigned automatically by the TD, although it is of good manner to inform him or her if absence from a later round is known.

For those who have not registered at the start but wish to join a currently running tournament, half point byes may be awarded for unplayed rounds, at the discretion of the TD [22C, 28K]. Consideration for byes will be based on the entrant’s playing strength to ensure equitable pairing in subsequent rounds.

House Player

To avoid full point byes awarded to the odd player in a round, who then does not get to play a game, a house player will be added (when possible) to the tournament pairing [28M1]. Half point byes will be assigned to the house player during rounds where he is not used. This is done to ensure a reasonable pairing; the house player is not eligible for prizes. The exception is if the house player is used in all rounds in the tournament (no byes); in such cases, the house player is indistinguishable from any other player, and will be treated as a regular player (for purposes of prize allocation and the like).  The house player for our club is the TD on duty that evening.


If an infraction of the rules has occurred, and the TD has been properly and promptly notified (see TD Assistance), the TD may (at his or her discretion) apply the standard penalty of two minutes added to the opponent of the player who did not follow the rules [1C2a]. Depending on the circumstances, either a warning or (for multiple infractions) harsher penalties may be imposed [1C2b].
An exception to this standard penalty is for disruptive noises, such as cell phone ringing. In such cases, first offense is 10 minutes or half the remaining time (whichever is less) subtracted from the offending player’s clock; second offense is loss of the game for the offending player [14; 20N1].

TD Assistance

If a situation at the board requires a ruling by the TD, the player wishing to obtain the ruling should stop both clocks (ideally when it is their move) and (quietly) get the TD’s attention [21F]. If the TD is also in the middle of a game, he will stop both clocks in his game and address the situation [21E].

Cell Phones

Cell phones must be off or on vibrate for all events – including blitz tournaments – and must not be answered during play.  Penalties are at the discretion of the TD, and can range from time being added to the opponents clock, removed from the offending player’s clock up to an including forfeiture of the game.  Cheating will be handled accordingly, including being banned from all events at the club.