Guide to Participating in Your First Chess Tournament

1. Preparation 


Q. How can I participate in the tournament?


A. First, you need to become a member of Japan Chess Federation (link). Next, select the tournament you wish to participate in by referring to the information on domestic tournaments (link). From the page for the tournament, register for participation.


Q. What tournament should I participate in?


A. For beginners, we recommend “Rookies Chess” and “Step-Up Chess Tournament”, both aimed for beginners, and open tournaments with short time controls. In the page of domestic tournaments, there is a grading on the level of tournaments, so please take that into consideration.


Q. What should I bring with me?


A. You must bring a ballpoint pen. It is a good idea to have two or three ballpoint pens with you so that you do not worry about running out of ink. You will also need to turn off your phone and put it in your bag, so bring your bag as well.


Q. Do I need to bring my own chess set?


A. Please check the regulations for each tournament.  In general, Japan Chess Federation will provide boards , pieces and chess for the tournaments. You may bring your own chess set for postmortem .


Q. I have never written a game record.


A. Please check the tournament guidelines. Except for rapid tournaments and beginner tournaments, you need to write a game record. We recommend that you practice how to write a game record in advance.


Q. I might miss a game or two because of a sudden accident. Where should I tell?


A. Please contact the organizer of the tournament as soon as you find that out. If the tournament is held by Japan Chess Federation, please send an e-mail to

2. Reception


Q. What happens on the day of the tournament?


A. Most tournaments have the following flow: reception, opening ceremony, first round, postmortem, rest, second round, and so on. After the final round, there will be an award ceremony.


Q. How many minutes before the start of the tournament should I arrive at the venue?


A. You should arrive within the reception time indicated in the tournament regulation.


3. At the Start of Each Round


Q. How can I check the game pairings?


A. Before the start of each round, a pairing sheet will be posted.


Q. Are there any instructions for seating?


A. Except for ballpoint pens and drinks necessary for the game, put everything away in your bag. In particular, smartphones must be turned off and put away in your bag or you will lose the game.


Q. What should I fill in on the game record sheet?


A. Before the game begins, fill in the information about the game. The name of the tournament, your opponent and your name are required, but you should also fill in the number of rounds and board number.


4. During the Game


Q. Can I go to the restroom during the game?


A. Yes. You may leave the board during your opponent’s turn and go to the restroom during that time. You may not leave the board during your turn, but if you have to leave the table due to illness or other reasons, please call the arbiter and ask for permission before leaving the board.


Q. Can I bring in drinks and snacks during the game?


A. Yes, you can bring your own drinks. For Japan Chess Federation tournaments, only candy, tablets, and other snacks that can be eaten while wearing a mask are allowed, in order to prevent infectious diseases.


Q. Can I talk to my opponent during the game?


A. Talking is strictly prohibited during the game, regardless of whether it is your opponent’s turn or your own.


Q. What should I do when something went wrong during the game?


A. Common troubles are illegal moves, chess clock problems, flaws in the original placement of the pieces, etc. Please stop the clock and raise your hand to call the arbiter (if you don’t know how to stop the clock, simply call the arbiter). The arbiter will stop the clock and fix it, so please follow the directions.


Q. In the middle of a game, I don’t know how to record the moves. What should I do?


A. Raise your hand and call the arbiter. After that, follow the arbiter’s instructions and use your own time to complete the game record by, for example, copying your opponent’s game record. Even if you cannot reproduce the complete game record, you will not be penalized, so please keep in mind to write the game record as much as you can.


5. At the End of the Game


Q. What should I do when I want to resign?


A. You should show your intention to resign by saying “I resign,” and stop the chess clock . If you do not know how to stop the clock, it is no problem because the arbiter will stop the clock later. Instead of vocalization, you can also indicate your intention to tipping over your king.


Q. What should I do when I draw?


A. When you make a draw offer, you must first make a move on your turn, say something like, “I offer a draw”, and then press the clock. If the player agrees to the draw offer, he or she says, “I accept the draw,” and the chess clock is stopped. If you do not agree to the draw, you can either say “I decline.” or silently make your next move and continue the game.


Q. What should I do when the game is over?


A. Raise your hand and call the arbiter. After checking the game record, first sign the player’s column of your game record paper, then exchange the score sheet and sign the player’s column of your opponent’s score sheet. Finally, the arbiter checks the game result and the game record, and signs in the arbiter’s column. Since the score sheet has multiple sheets, the arbiter collects the original and the player takes the copy.


Q. What should I do after submitting the score sheet?


A. Put away your belongings and quietly leave the board. As a matter of etiquette, you are recommended to return the pieces to their initial positions, but be careful not to make any noise when doing so. You may spend your time as you like, as going over your games or eating lunch in the resting room, until the next round starts.


A. May I leave the venue during the tournament?


Q. Definitely. It is free to leave the venue between rounds.


Q. I had a good time in my first tournament. Is there any way to get further in?


A. There are many ways to enjoy, such as communicating with other beginners either face to face or online, participating in higher-graded tournaments, joining meetings in local chess clubs, watching video or text contents about chess, and so on (Japan Chess Federation has an official Youtube channel and a magazine for chess information). For further information, please contact !