General Chess Tournament Info. & Rules

1.)-- First and Foremost, HAVE FUN!
-- Secondly...


3.) No talking, smoking or analysis in tournament hall.

4.) USCF membership is REQUIRED to play in USCF-rated events.

5.) The tournament director has a wide range of options and powers -- his/her decision is FINAL!

6.) The Official Rules of Chess, 5th edition and Addendum, will govern the tournament and, any modifications or clarifications to these rules, are noted below.

7.) Both players are required to write down the moves of the game--both your own and your opponent’s--as each move is made.

8.) We will not show pairings OR registrations to anyone before they are officially posted in the tournament hall.

9.) In order to receive a bye for any round, you must commit before round three and before the pairings are posted for round three.

10.) If you do not have a clock, borrow one from another player. If this is not possible, start without it; borrow one as soon as you can, splitting the elapsed time. Directors do not furnish equipment.

11.) Both opponents must hit the clock with same hand that moves pieces, if not you may be penalized one minute, which will be added to opponent‘s time (at Directors discretion).

12.) If both players have clocks, digital time-delay clocks with the time delay in effect take precedence, regardless of whether the player has White or Black. If each player wishes to use a different clock of the same type, Black has the choice.

13.) If a player wishes to use a digital clock, it is his responsibility to set the clock and explain all of its functions to the opponent. Setting the clock is not the responsibility of the directing staff. If the player is unable to do so, he may not require that his opponent use the clock, regardless of type or whether he has White or Black.

14.) Start clock promptly when round begins. Set Analog clock to expire at 6:00. Digital time-delay clock should be set for 5-second delay for entire game and 5 minutes will be deducted from each side at start of game.

15.) If opponent is late you must wait a time period equal to the time control of the game up to 60 minutes as measured by your clock, you may then claim a win on time.

16.) If both players arrive late, the first player to set up the equipment should split the elapsed time and then start his opponent’s clock.

17.) If you touch a piece, you must move it. If you touch an opponent’s piece, you must take it.

18.) Whichever player’s flag fall first loses the game on time. To claim a win on time, stop both clocks--your flag must still be standing and you must have mating material.

19.) If both flags are down, the game is drawn.

20.) Proper timing of draw offer. A proposal of draw offer should be made after move and before punching clock. (Make the offer of draw while your clock is running) The opponent may accept or reject it. Any opponent who makes an improper draw offer may be penalized one minute added to opponent’s time. (Do not make draw offer while opponent’s clock is running.)

21.) In order to claim a draw by threefold repetition, the claimant must present a score sheet demonstrating that the same position: A) is about to occur or B) has occurred, with the same player to move. It must be your move to make such a claim; if you make a move and stop your clock, the claim will be ruled invalid.

22.) Both players are required to write down the moves of the game, both your own and your opponent’s, as each move is made. If either player has less than 5 minutes remaining, neither player is required to keep score. However, failure to keep score may result in losing the right to claim a draw by three-fold repetition or 50-move rule. Players who do not keep score will have ten minutes taken off their clock.

23.) Inexperienced players may be excused from writing down the moves.

24.) A player with less than 2 minutes remaining in the sudden-death time control may attempt to claim a draw by “insufficient losing chances,” defined as a position which a C-player could be expected to draw against a Master with adequate time for both sides. This claim is equivalent to a draw offer, which the opponent may accept. If he does not, the Director may: A) uphold the claim and score the game as a draw; B) Reject the claim, in which case he may at his discretion impose a 2-minute time penalty on the claimant; C) Order the game to continue while he watches for progress (in this case he may declare the game a draw at any point); or D) Insert a time-delay clock (in this case both players receive a 5-second time delay, but the claimant loses half his remaining time.) No claim of “insufficient losing chances” may be made if a time-delay clock is already in use. If you are already using a time-delay clock and you want a draw, you must claim under the threefold-repetition rule, the 50-move rule, or the 175-move rule.

25.) A player with less than 5 minutes remaining in the sudden-death time control who has ceased keeping score may request that the Director observe the game for the 50-move rule. If the Director elects to do so and observes 50 moves having been made without a pawn having been moved or any capture made, he will declare the game a draw. Note that the Director is not required to observe and count, and that by ceasing to keep score and making this request, the player forfeits any right to dispute the director’s count.

26.) If there is a dispute, or if a player wishes to make a claim of any kind, the player should stop both clocks, advise your opponent of your claim, and summon a director. When in doubt, ask the tournament director. Note that if you let the clock run and your flag falls, you lose on time.

27.) Pawn promotion. It is improper to punch your clock while the pawn is still on the board. As soon as the new piece is placed on board punch your clock. Improper punching of clock will be penalized one minute added to opponent’s time (at Director’s discretion).

28.) If you make an illegal move and punch the clock, two minutes will be added to opponent’s time. The player must also move the piece that he touched, if legal. If someone makes an illegal move during the game, the position may be put back to what it was before the illegal move, if it can be shown that less than ten moves have gone by since the illegal move was made (Exception: If it’s pointed out after move ten).

29.) Both players are responsible for reporting the results of the game on the wall chart (pairing sheet). Failure to report your result may lead to a double forfeit.

30.) If you withdraw from the tournament or if you do not want to play next round, notify the director at least 30 minutes before the next round begins. Any players who do not withdraw properly will NOT be paired for future rounds and will be fined and barred from future tournaments until the fine is paid.

31.) Any player absent from the playing room or board for more than fifteen minutes without permission from the tournament director may have his or her game forfeited due to unsportsmanlike conduct (at Directors discretion).

32.) An improperly rated player, who provided intentionally false information on his USCF rating, will be expelled and will be reported to the USCF.

33.) All players are to conduct themselves in an orderly fashion, and to compete in a spirit of good sportsmanship; any player who does not will be asked to leave.

-- Cajun Chess


$$G: Guaranteed prizes.

b/ or $$b/: Based-on prizes; number of entries needed to pay full prize fund follows. USCF rules specify that at least 50% of the advertised prize fund must be guaranteed if over $500 is advertised.  Some Cajun Chess tournaments have guaranteed prizes while others use the based-on method; those using the latter usually guarantee more than the required 50% (see announcement of each tournament for the exact guarantee).

Blitz: Five-minute chess (G/5).  This is not rated by USCF.  

BYE:  Indicates which rounds players who find it inconvenient to play may take half point byes (draws without play) instead.  For example, BYE: 1 indicates the bye is available in round 1.  Most Cajun Chess tournaments allow byes in all rounds, but those in the latter part of the tournament must be committed to early (see details of each event).

CC: Chess club.

EF: Entry fee.

Ent:Where to mail entries.

FIDE: Top section results submitted to FIDE for probable rating.

G/: Game in.  For instance, G/75 means each player has 75 minutes for the entire game.

GPP: Grand Prix Points.  The USCF Grand Prix is a year long contest, primarily for Masters.

HR: Hotel rates.  For example, 60-65-70-75 means $60 for a single, $65 for a double, $70 for three in room, $75 for four in room.  The three and four to a room rates usually include only two beds.

Memb req:  Membership required; cost follows.  Usually refers to state affiliate.

NC: Computers are not allowed to enter.  Standard at all Cajun Chess tournaments, so usually not listed.

Norms:  Results needed to qualify for the FIDE titles of International Master or International Grandmaster.  Only tournaments of at least nine rounds can offer norms, and even with this many rounds, the tournament must also have sufficient foreign, titled, and FIDE rated players for a player to have a chance for a norm. 

NS:  No smoking.  Standard at all Cajun Chess tournaments, so usually not listed.

Open Section:  A section open to all.  Often has very strong players, but some who are eligible for lower sections choose to play for the learning experience.

Play up: To play in a higher section than necessary.  For instance, a player rated 1700 who enters the Under 2000 Section (or Under 2200 Section or Open Section) when an Under 1800 Section is offered is "playing up."

QC: Quick Chess (Game/10 to Game/29).  USCF rates these events with a separate Quick rating system. 

Quad: 4-player round robin sections with similar strength players.

Rds:  Rounds; scheduled game starting times follow.  For example, Rds Sat 11-2-5:30, Sun 10-4:15 means rounds begin Saturday at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5:30 pm, and on Sunday at 10 am and 4:15 pm.

Reg:  Late registration at site (not necessary at Cajun Chess tournaments if you have entered in advance; we have no "check-in"). 

RR: Round robin (preceded by number of rounds).

SD/: Sudden death time control (time for rest of game follows).  For example, 40/2, SD/1 means each player has 2 hours for the first 40 moves, then 1 hour for the rest of the game.

Section:  A division of a tournament, usually excluding players above a specified rating. Players in a section face only each other, not those in other sections.

SS: Swiss System pairings (preceded by number of rounds).

U:  Under.  For example, U1200 means Under 1200.

Unr: Unrated.  Note that players with foreign ratings or categories are not unrated, and provisionally rated players are not unrated.  Also, you never lose your rating, so if you were rated 40 years ago, you are not unrated.


ONLINE ENTRYusing our secure server is now available for all Cajun Chess tournaments. There are many good reasons to enter online, for many events, it costs less.  If you establish a password (optional), it is faster.  If you use our secure server, it is safer than entering by phone, as your entry is processed online and we do not receive your full credit card number.

Entering  a chess tournament in advance is easier for both you and the tournament organizer, and often costs less. Along with entry fee, send full name, address, USCF ID number, schedule (number of days) if more than one is offered, and section desired (if any). Also give your last official rating from your magazine label if you know it (first 4 numbers on top row of your Chess Life label, or see the USCF website).

Make entry fee checks payable to Cajun Chess.  Checks are accepted only if mailed by the listed deadline.  We do not accept checks at the tournament site.  Do not mail entries after the deadline as they may not arrive on time. Click here for Mail-in/FAX Tournament Registration Form which may be printed out and mailed or faxed.

There is really little reason to worry about an entry being received.  More than 99% of all entries mailed 8 days before the tournament reach us in time.

For credit card phone entries qualifying for a discount, you MUST ask for the discount when calling, or you will be charged full price.  We do not maintain files of players' dates of birth, and have no way of knowing you qualify for the discount unless you say so!

Updated ratings appearing on the USCF website will not be used unless they are official "rating supplement" ratings, or the player would otherwise be unrated.

If you are unrated, or have a rating from many years ago, be sure to indicate this.  Old ratings are still valid- you never lose your rating.  




"Provisional" ratings, based on 4 to 25 games, are eligible for all prizes unless otherwise stated in the tournament publicity.  Provisionally rated players are not unrated.


If you have an old rating- even 20 or 30 years old- you are not unrated.  Your old rating is still valid, and will be used. Please enter in advance if possible and give us the approximate date you last played, so we have time to do research on your rating.


For foreign players with multiple ratings (USCF, FIDE, CFC, FQE, other foreign) the highest of the ratings (plus possible adjustment points) is used.

FIDE or foreign ratings may be rejected or have adjustment points added.  Cajun Chess policy is to accept CFC ratings at face value, add 100 points to FIDE, 100 points to FQE, and 200 or more points to most other foreign ratings.  For players with FIDE ratings of 2350 or over, we may add only 50 points.

The Tournament Director may assign an estimated rating to any player, and may expel an improperly rated player from an event in progress. 


In most events, you don't have to win the tournament to win a prize- you can win a class prize as a top scorer of your rating group, or a section prize in a section restricted to your rating group.  These groups are:

Senior Master 2400 & up, Master 2200-2399, Expert 2000-2199, Class A 1800-1999, Class B 1600-1799, Class C 1400-1599, Class D 1200-1399, Class E 1000-1199, Class F 800-999, Class G 600-799, Class H 400-599, Class I 200-399, Class J Under 200.

Many tournaments have "under" prizes or sections including all under a specified rating. For instance, an "Under 2000" prize or section may be won by players in any class from Class A down to Class J.  However, a "Class A" prize may be won only by players in Class A (1800-1999).  Some prizes or sections have different groups, such as Under 1500 or 2350-2499.

Sections are not the same as class prizes.  If a tournament announcement says:

Under 1200: $600-400-200-100, top U1000 $300-150

This means that the first four prizes in the Under 1200 Section are $600, $400, $200 and $100, and the top two scorers rated Under 1000 win $300 and $150.  However, the Under 1000 players do not play in their own section and do not face only each other; they are in the Under 1200 Section.  

What happens if an Under 1000 player wins the Under 1200 Section?  That player would win the larger of the two prizes ($600 in this case).  The second Under 1000 player would win the top Under 1000 prize of $300, and the third Under 1000 player would get the second Under 1000 prize of $150.


Bring a set, board, and clock to every tournament if you have them, plus a pen or pencil for keeping score and posting your result on the pairing sheet. If you need tournament supplies, you may order them online at or purchase on site.
It is also a good idea to bring your USCF card or a current Chess Life with your mailing label, in case any question arises regarding your USCF membership.


Many foreign players require invitations from us in order to obtain a visa. To maximize the chances that you will receive your invitation in time, please observe the following guidelines.  

Also, please note that NO "CONDITIONS" ARE OFFERED for Grandmasters, other than free entry (if specified in the tournament publicity).

1.  Request your invitation as early as possible- preferably at least one month before the tournament.

2.  Send your invitation request by:

  • e-mail to
  • Fax: (504)-244-1417
  • Phone: (504)-240-2228, (504)-905-2971, (504)-905-2970

3.  Specify which tournament or tournaments you are interested in (or a date-range), and include the full list of persons needing an invitation to that tournament.  Please try to give us full information that will not have to be revised later, which adds to our work load. If in doubt, ask for more tournaments to be included on the same invitation.  We can invite you to a whole year's worth of tournaments if you wish.

4.  If you get no reply to your invitation request for one week or more, please email, fax or call us again.

5.  We try to list all significant details regarding each tournament on this website, so there will be no need for players to inquire.  Inquiries with questions already answered on this site add to our workload and interfere with the sending of invitations, so please try to avoid them.


If you enter in advance and cannot attend, it is very importantthat you give notice before first round pairings are started!  The best way to give notice of withdrawal is to call the hotel 3 hours before the first round and ask for the chess tournament.  If giving notice by mail, you must send this at least 8 days before the tournament.  Notice by fax or e-mail should be given at least 3 days before, or the Tournament Director may not have access to it.  

Try to avoid leaving withdrawal messages with hotel employees, as these are frequently not delivered in time.  Often, they are placed under the door of the Director's hotel room after he has left his room for the day to direct the tournament, and thus received several rounds too late.



Money prizes are split on ties.  Let's say a section in a 5-round tournament has prizes of $600 1st, $400 2nd, $200 3rd and $100 4th, and the results are:

No one scores 5
3 players score 4½
1 player scores 4

The players with 4½ tie for first, second and third prizes, and each receives $600 + $400 + $200 divided by three, or $400.  The player with 4 points is fourth and receives $100.    

Some newcomers to tournament chess think that in this situation, the three players scoring 4½ points split only first prize of $600, so each receive $200, while the player with 4 points is "second" and gets $400, and those with 3½ points are "third."  Of course, it doesn't work that way- what would be the point of penalizing players for scoring an extra half point?  

If three players score more points than you do, you are fourth.  The fact that these players are tied with each other does not promote you to second! Consider baseball or football standings- if three teams were tied for first in a 4-team division, would anyone say that the last place team was "second"?  





Checks will be issued 1/2 hour after the last round, If you fail to claim your prize at the tournament it will be mailed. Allow two weeks to receive your prize. (NO EXCEPTIONS)

For prizes of $600 or over, bring your U.S. Social Security card.  If you have no Social Security number, the organizer must deduct 31% from your prize.  This includes foreigners, unless they provide written evidence of exemption due to a tax treaty.

REFUND POLICY: If you cannot attend any of our tournaments, call the tournament location 3 hours before the first round and ask for the chess tournament.  You can apply the fee to a future tournament, or purchase chess products at  You may also withdraw and obtain a refund by writing us at least 10 days before the first round, or by email to at least 48 hours before the first round.  No refund, full or partial, is ever given once you have started playing your game in the first round.