This version (April 2010) requires updating, should be considered provisional.
Original version by Herbert Scarry, 1990.
These regulations apply to Swiss System tournaments which are
registered with the ICU and which will be submitted to the ICU Rating
Officer. They should also be applied where appropriate to other
events being submitted for rating, including all-play-alls, knockout
tournaments, club championships, etc.
Where a tournament has been registered with FIDE for rating purposes,
FIDE regulations take precedence over ICU regulations where a
These regulations are not intended to apply to one-day or rapid chess
events. However the organisers of such tournaments may adapt them as
they see fit to suit their needs.
These regulations are effective from 1 May 1990.
The tournament organising committee should appoint a tournament
director who is responsible for the overall organisation and
administration of the tournament, and an arbiter or controller who is
responsible for the day-to-day running of the event, including:
ensuring that conditions of play are suitable, making Swiss System
pairings, and ruling on questions of the Laws of Chess. Where the
tournament director and the controller are one and the same person,
this should be clearly stated in publicity material.
Advance notice of tournaments scheduled for each season commencing 1
May should be forwarded to the ICU Tournament Director by 1 February
to facilitate the production of a tournament calendar. Approximate
dates are acceptable.
Tournaments which it is intended will be submitted for rating to the
ICU rating officer should be registered with the ICU Tournament
Director at least one month before the start of the event. The
publicity material for the tournament should accompany such
notification. No rating fee or tournament levy is payable in respect
of registered tournaments.
No tournaments will be allowed on consecutive weekends except in
exceptional circumstances such as Chess Festival Weeks or in cases
where in the opinion of the ICU Tournament Director there is no
conflict between the tournaments. In the case of competing claims,
precedence will decide.
Publicity material or entry forms should contain details of the venue,
the timetable, the sections, the prize fund, the entry fee, the
closing date for receipt of entries, the equipment provided, the name
of the tournament director and the controller, and the address for
entries. Other information may be added, such as the expected time of
prizegiving, details of accommodation available, etc.
Tournaments cannot provide for an overall upper or lower rating limit.
Any player must be able to enter one section of any tournament.
Where a tournament contains different sections, players should not be
entered in a section where their current rating is in excess of the
announced upper limit of that section.
Players whose current rating is below that of the announced lower
limit of a section should only be entered in that section at their
request in the following circumstances:
if in the opinion of the tournament director or ICU Tournament
Director his playing strength is adequate for that section on
the basis of his rating history.
if in the opinion of the tournament director or ICU Tournament
Director the player's rate of development warrants his entry in
where the tournament director, before a tournament starts, wishes
to create an even number of players in different sections in
order to eliminate byes, this may be effected by transferring a
player from a lower to a higher section, provided his rating is
within 50 points of the lower limit of the higher section. Such
a proposed transfer is not compulsory on any player.
An "open" section is one which any player can enter irrespective of his rating.
To maintain comparability, the ICU Rating List should be applied to
Irish players in preference to the FIDE Rating List. However the FIDE
rating of foreign players should be preferred to their domestic
rating, where there is a choice.
Where the tournament schedule provides for playing sessions of 3 hours
or more, the break between rounds should be a minimum of 1 hour. If
necessary, an earlier morning start should be considered to ensure the
implementation of this rule.
In principle, a half point travelling bye may be granted for any round
except the last. A request for a travelling bye must be made before
the start of the tournament and cannot be withdrawn after that time.
One computer may be entered in any tournament, at the discretion of
the organisers, provided the number of participants exceeds 50. In
this case, the FIDE "Playing Rules for Computers" should be applied.
A computer cannot share in the prize fund.
Only ICU registered players should be accepted for entry to any tournament.
Application of Rules
All tournament games should be conducted in accordance with the
Laws of Chess, and the allegro finish rules if applicable.
In Swiss System events, pairings should be made according to the FIDE
Regulations for Swiss System Tournaments. Pairings may be made by
computer; in such cases the computer is regarded as an aid to the
arbiter; he may accept or change the output.
It is recommended that cash prizes be shared equally in
the event of a tie, however tie-breaking methods may be necessary in
the case of deciding who will hold a perpetual trophy or obtain a
prize available only to one person. Where tie-breaking is deemed
necessary, the following methods should be adopted in order of
Buchholz Score: the sum of the final scores of the player's opponents;
Median Buchholz score: the sum of the final score of the player's
opponents, excluding the highest and the lowest of these;
the individual results between the tied players, but only if they
have both or all played each other;
the sum of opponent's ratings, excluding the lowest of these. If
still tied, eliminate the rating of the next lowest rated
opponent(s) until a decision is possible.
In the determination of the Buchholz scores (a) and (b) above, each
player's score is adjusted where applicable as follows: 1/2 point is
awarded for each unplayed player game whether this is because of a
bye, forfeit, or unplayed round because of the withdrawal of a
participant. A player awarded a bye counts the bye as an opponent
who has drawn his game in every round.
Any tournament committee which wishes to vary from the above standard
should state so clearly in their publicity material.
Players' Appeal Committees:
Appeals committees are mandatory in tournaments containing 30
or more players, whether they are divided into sections or not, and
in national and provincial championships. The statement "the
controller's decision is final" has no validity in registered
The Appeal Committee should be chosen by the tournament director or
arbiter before or during the first round. It should consist of three
players in the tournament, chosen with reference to (a) controlling
experience, (b) ICU or provincial union officer, (c) balance of
playing strength, (d) regional representation. If any of the three
members are materially involved in an appeal to be heard, they should
A player may appeal any decision of the arbiter to the Appeal
Committee, within one hour of that decision being made. At the
discretion of the arbiter, he may pay an appeal fee of two pounds,
which is returnable at the direction of the Appeal Committee.
Where a player withdraws before the end of a tournament, his results
stand both in the tournament table and for rating purposes.
If a game begins with reversed colours, the mistake should be
corrected provided it is discovered within 15 minutes of the start of
the round. The arbiter may impose a time penalty if he feels it is
If a result is reported wrongly and the pairing for the next round
made on that basis, then the result should be corrected. Pairings for
any rounds already played should remain, but pairings for all later
rounds should be based on the true results.
Unplayed games should not be rated. Only the correct result of games
should be rated. Therefore the arbiter should ensure the accuracy of
records he submits to the ICU Rating Officer.
The tournament director should ensure that the event is conducted in
an environment suitable for playing chess. There should be
sufficient space for players and spectators, and adequate lighting,
heating and ventilation to ensure the comfort of participants.
All chess boards and sets used in a tournament, whether provided by
the tournament organisers or by the players themselves, should be of
standard design and size. No player is obliged to use a non-standard
board and set, unless through his own omission in possessing suitable
If players are required to provide their own boards and sets, this
fact should be clearly stated in publicity material relating to the
tournament. However players should always assume that they are
required to provide their own chess clock, whether the publicity
material states this or not.
Tournament organisers are responsible for the provision of
scoresheets. Where duplicate scoresheets are provided, one copy
should be returned to the arbiter by each player, with the result of
the game clearly recorded and signed.
Smoking: tournament organisers are free to impose such restrictions
on smoking as they see fit, whether for all or part of the playing
session. However where they do impose such restrictions or where
local ordinances totally prohibit smoking within the premises,
players should be provided with a separate smoking area to which they
have easy access.
Duties of Arbiter
The duties of the tournament arbiter are as follows:
to make the pairings in accordance with the FIDE Regulations for
Swiss System tournaments.
to keep a record of each round, and to ensure that the
tournament wallchart is up to date.
to control the working of the chess clocks. These should be set
at the start of the game so that the time control is at six
o'clock. They should be placed to the right of the player with
the black pieces, or to his left if he prefers, with the
overriding requirement that they are always easily visible to the
to maintain order in the playing room and to ensure the comfort
of the participants.
to set up an Appeal Committee.
to see that the Laws of Chess are observed. He should act
against any infraction of the laws by one of the players which
is against the interest of his opponent or against the interest
of the competition. Therefore he should establish, even in the
absence of a claim, whether the time-limit has been exceeded,
that the touch-move rule is observed, that the players keep
score of the game, etc. This requires the continuous supervision
of the playing area by the arbiter and his assistants,
particularly of games involving time shortage. However he should
not intervene in cases where his intervention could be
interpreted as aid to one of the players or where one of the
players only has neglected his own interest (for instance in
failing to press his clock after making a move).
to deal with any disputes which may arise. Where these cannot
be resolved by reconciliation, and where they are not
specifically covered by the Laws of Chess, the arbiter should
use his judgment and competence to arrive at a solution indicated
by fairness and logic. In doing so, he has discretionary powers
to impose penalties as follows, for infractions of rules and to
issue a formal warning,
advance the time on a player's clock or give his opponent additional time,
declare a game lost by a player and won for his opponent,
declare a game lost by both players,
cancel a game and rule that a new one be played in its stead, in circumstances such as those outlined in below,
expel a player from the competition,
warn a spectator or expel him from the tournament room if he interferes in the games.
However the arbiter should bear in mind that the evidence of an
independent third party is required to support any claim by a
player that his opponent has violated one of the Laws of Chess.
An unsubstantiated claim in any single instance must be
where one or both players in a game receive unsolicited advice,
to order the game replayed if in his opinion this is at all
possible. He should take into account whether the players are
from the same locality, whether a convenient date and venue are
available, the effect on the prizegiving, etc. The result of the
game if it cannot be replayed should be recorded as a half point
to each player but it should not be submitted for rating. The
third party may incur penalties even to the extent of expulsion
from the tournament and exclusion from the tournament hall.
to submit to the ICU Rating Officer all pairing cards,
crosstables or printouts necessary for him to rate the
tournament, and to submit to the ICU Tournament Director a brief
report on the tournament, including list of prizewinners,
incidents or disputes arising, warnings or penalties imposed,
players who have withdrawn without notification etc. It is also
good practice to submit reports to the Irish Chess Journal and
the national newspapers.
Conduct of Players
All players should conduct themselves in a sporting manner, and act
at all times in accordance with the Laws of Chess.
Players are responsible for providing their own pens and chess clocks
and, where indicated by the tournament organisers, their own chess
set and board. Where a game cannot be played due to absence of a
clock, the arbiter may declare it lost by both players.
Players are recommended to use the algebraic system of notation in
recording games, but use of the descriptive system will not be
penalised. In novice events, the arbiter may waive the requirement to
keep score for an unrated player.
Players cannot refuse to play an opponent with whom they have been
paired, including a computer.
Players who withdraw from a tournament must provide the arbiter with
a valid reason for their withdrawal.
Players who withdraw from a tournament without directly notifying the
arbiter will incur an automatic one month suspension from ICU events.
Any appeal must be made to the ICU Tournament Director.
Players should not seek assistance in the course of their own games,
or provide advice to anyone on the course of any games in progress
during a tournament.
Any material contravention of these regulations may result in
sanctions being imposed by the ICU, including the non-rating of a
Any queries or comments arising out of the application of these
regulations should be addressed to the ICU Tournament Director.
Guidelines for Appeal Committees
The task of the Appeal Committee is to decide whether or not the
arbiter has made a correct decision. In some cases it will be a
simple matter of establishing if he has applied the Laws correctly or
not. But in others he may have had to interpret the Laws in a certain
way, or he may have had to deal with a situation not covered at all
by the Laws. Here the Appeal Committee is being called on to verify
The Committee should appoint a spokesman. It should hear the appelant
first, then the arbiter. The arbiter may be consulted as necessary
regarding the Laws. The Committee should deliberate privately before
the spokesman announces its conclusion to both parties. The spokesman
should ensure that the meeting is conducted efficiently in view of
the time constraint likely to apply.
The Committee should uphold the Laws of Chess to the best of its
ability. It must disregard unsubstantiated claims; the evidence of an
independent third party is required to support any claim by a player
that his opponent has violated the Laws. In examining an arbiter's
judgment it should see if justice has been done as far as possible.
The Committee should direct that the appeal fee be returned if they
regard the appeal as being of merit, even if it is not upheld.