Comments on Withdrawing

08.26.08 There have been a number of comments generated on regarding the issue of withdrawing from a tournament that represent valid albeit different opinions. We bring you these comments, some pertinent rules from the USCF's Official Rules of Chess 5th Edition and a link to a new chess blog in Maine that takes on this issue. We encourage you to weigh in with your opinion.

Has my opponent withdrawn?

Rules Related to Withdrawals

13G. Players must give notice if withdrawing or skipping a round.
A player who does not notify the tournament director well in advance of the inability to play in any round and then defaults the game under 13D, Late arrival for the game, may be ejected from the tournament, and may be fined a sum up to the amout of the entry fee, payable to the organizer. The player may be barred from any of the organizer's tournaments until the fine is payed. On request, the player may be retained in or readmitted to the tournament at the director's discretion.

30D. Penalties for Withdrawals.
Players who withdraw without sufficient reason or who repeatedly withdraw from round robins may be denied entry in future such events, or may be charged a special deposit, which will be refunded upon completion of all games. The latter is in addition to any deposit the organizer may choose to require of all players in an effort to minimize withdrawals.

32C1. Withdrawals.
Unless the director decides otherwise, players who fail to complete the tournament are not entitled to prizes.

Reader Comments:

I'd like to use this forum for this time to address players who loose and then drop out, especially higher rated ones. It's most uncourteous and disrespectful to the t.d. and to other players who would like to play you. I suggest a 20 dollar fee to anyone doing this. Of course there are legitament reasons for leaving that would nullify this ruling. I do hope this trend stops. Roger Morin

I have to take exception to former state champion and always a gentleman Roger Morin's comment about withdrawing before the tournament is completed. Once you pay your entry fee you are not under any obligations to finish the tournament. The only discourteous and unsportsmanlike way to withdraw is to not notify the TD that you are withdrawing because that leaves a player paired with an invisible opponent. Players withdraw for a myriad of reasons i.e., "I want to play golf tomorrow", "I have a bad case of the flu", "I just fell in love with the girl who made my Italian sandwitch" etc. The TD has a lot of authority in a tournament but requiring a player to sit down at the board and play when he or she doesn't desire to is not one of them. Phil Lowell

This site is such a great place to exchange chess ideas. I thank Phil for his insight and of course I agree with the points he makes. I admit that when I was in my 20s I also withdrew from tournaments after a disheartning loss. Oh the pain of it all. I gave up chess for 6 months once because I lost. I found out that quiting gets easier and easier the more you do it and can become a bad habit to carry on later in life. Maine players are the most courteous players I ever met and I hope I get to play all of you many times. Roger Morin

This from Andy Bryan the web editor of Maine's newest chess blog

Are Players Obligated to Play All Rounds?
On the discussion has arisen that addresses whether or not high rated players in particular are obligated to play all rounds especially if they happen to be upset early in the tournament. I understand that it would be nice if all players stayed throughout the duration of a tournament. If a TD believes that it could cause some difficulties, then the tournament flier should include penalties for those who withdraw that follow USCF rules.

I believe that players who pay an entry fee have the right to withdraw at anytime. As a TD I want to encourage high rated players to play. It is difficult for them to have to play in Opens that include all shapes and sizes of ratings; there is not much to gain by playing lower rated opposition all the time.

In Maine we need to encourage those with high ratings to play. We also need them to play our young guns who have lower ratings. The best way to encourage participation will be better purses, and this will only happen if we can find sponsors. It takes effort and will be difficult. I hope that we can find a way to tap into the increasing interest that is happening in Maine to find sponsors. It can happen. has rekindled interest in the game with the constant publicity on the web. The next step is to tap into more mainstream media outlets. Newspaper contacts are important. The weekly posting of the chess club results in the Ellsworth American has drawn more people; more publicity in the Bangor Daily couldn't hurt.

In the end players should try to be respectful and make decisions that don't harm future tournaments, while tournament organizers should encourage players to participate by trying to raise purses, hold tournaments in player-friendly venues, and using and applying computers correctly in carrying out pairings. Andy Bryan

So what do you think? We'd like to hear from you.


I've been playing competitive chess for over 30 years and offer these observations...the only obligation ANY player has is to the laws and rules of chess, not to the tourney itself--that is the job of the TD. If a player wishes to withdraw, and does so within these rules and laws, none of us can gainsay him. The games are between 2 individuals and are not to be interefered with by anyone except the TD. Our game requires huge amounts of energy and commitment, very much so on the part of the higher ranking players. These players are the sole judge of whether or not to withdraw, after suffering a loss, that precludes them achieving a win of the tourney. It might seem like sour grapes to some, but it is practical. I have long prided myself in sticking the length of a tourney. Indeed, I have only withrawn twice in all my years. But, I am a low-rated player and seldom in contention for other than class prizes. There are many factors that go into a player's decision to withdraw. My only regret when that happens is a wistful one as I enjoy players who are really good at this game of ours. We cannot control what others do.

First let me explain a few things about me before I offer my opinion. I am returning to chess after a thirty year break. I have never played in a tournament before but I have signed up to play at Bowdin College, October 11. From my point of view, it is very clear what is expected of me when I signed up to play at Bowdin. I will play in all of the games. I would be insulted if an experienced player decided to quit the tournament because he or she was loosing games. I would be very understanding if there was an emergency or illness. I have no idea how common it is to have players drop out of tounaments. If it is common in Maine for experienced players to drop out of tournaments then I and possibly others are not likely to compete in Maine.

I appreciate the frustration that a TD must experience as he has to pair people in the late rounds when several people have dropped out. However, I believe that the structure of the tournaments contributes to this situation. For example, the Downeast Open was four 3 hour games in one day. Way beyond the capacity of this 60+ year old to handle (especially with sudden death time controls). I miss those days when we played over the entire weekend, with longer time controls. 2 games a day, a night time bye. I play better and stay for the entire tourney.

These are the same questions and answers that I dealt with some 50 years ago when I ran tournaments and it will be the same in another 50 years. It is good to talk about it and get it to resurface. As usual good job Dan. PJD

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