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As used in these rules, the term “electronic devices” refers to cell phones or other devices capable of communication or chess analysis.

While their game is in progress, players are not allowed to leave the playing venue without permission from the tournament director. The playing venue is defined as the playing area, restrooms, adjacent hallways and other areas. A map of the playing venue will be posted at the tournament (Rules of Chess, Rule 20N*).

Possession of an electronic device in the playing venue is forbidden from the time a round is begun until all play in the round is completed, except as follows:

  • Electronic devices must be switched OFF (not set to vibrate, silent, or sleep mode); and

  • The device may not be on the player’s person; and

  • The device must be stored in a bag or case and turned off, placed under the player’s chair or in a

    location out of reach of the player, and must remain there until the player completes play and is

    outside the playing venue.

  • The penalty for violations of this rule is usually loss of the game unless the Tournament Director

    decides otherwise.

  • Any deviation from these rules must be approved by the Tournament Director (for example players

    who need to make or receive a call during play must get the Tournament Director’s permission first).

  • Chess scorekeeping devices may be used only if pre-approved by TD.

    Penalty for phone ringing when not on your person: 1) first offense – time deduction of 10 minutes or half the remaining time, whichever is less, 2) Second offense – loss of current game.

    Spectators and others not playing in the tournament MUST have their phones switched OFF when inside the playing room. The TD may bar anyone violating this rule from the playing venue.

    Players are expected to be in the tournament room when the round is scheduled to begin. In particular, use of an electronic device is not an excuse to delay reporting to the tournament room or to delay the start of a game.

    Regardless of their location, players are prohibited from using electronic devices from the time the Tournament Director announces play in the round begins until the player’s game is completed. Use of an electronic device after play begins in a round subjects the player to penalties at the Tournament Director’s discretion, including loss of the game.

*US Chess rule 20N forbids a player from having a “mobile phone or other electronic means of communication” in the playing venue unless it is completely switched off. Rule 20N does not specify the penalty for having such a device, leaving it to the tournament director's discretion.


In essence, players are no longer allowed to have electronic devices ON THEIR PERSON at all during play, even if they are switched off. This is mainly to prevent suspicion when a player with a cellphone in his pocket goes to the restroom or otherwise leaves the tournament room (a common complaint TDs get, due to the obvious potential for cheating).


A player should either not bring a phone to the venue at all (leaving it in the car or hotel room) or otherwise must have it switched off and placed inside a bag (chess bag or purse, etc.) and placed off their person under their chair or elsewhere out of reach. The players are also not allowed to leave the “tournament venue,” which will be defined for each tournament location.


Finally, these new rules apply immediately after each round is officially begun by the TD. Players doing last-minute prep need to get used to finishing that before the next round is officially started; (you can’t be using your phone after the round started even if you haven’t yet played your first move). The penalty for having a phone on your person during the round is usually forfeiture of the game. Players who need to make or receive a call during a round can simply ask the TD for permission to do it, and the TD can allow other exceptions to the main rules such as pre-approved scorekeeping devices.

The bottom-line change of behavior here will be that players must not only turn OFF their phones but place them in their chess bag or purse and store them underneath their chair, and leave them there until they’ve finished their game.

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