Every once in a while you will be playing a chess game and notice you set up the board wrong (oops!). If you’re just playing a friendly game, there’s little harm done. But … what if it’s a tournament game?
Do you fix the problem mid-game? Restart the game? Flip the board over and run out of the playing hall???? Don’t panic! Everyone accidentally incorrectly sets up the board incorrectly once in a while.
First things first, pause your clock and call the tournament director to your board by calmly raising your hand. Even if you have memorized the USCF rule 11F and 11G and know exactly what to do, you can’t start messing with the position without letting the TD know otherwise you could be accused of cheating.
To save you some reading, I have summarized the below rules here:
In case you’re interested, here are the official rules the Tournament Director will follow from the US Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess, 7th ed.
“If, before the completion of Black’s 10th move, it is found that the initial position of the pieces was incorrect, or thatSection 11F
the game began with the colors reversed, then the game shall be annulled and a new game played. However, the
players shall begin the new game with their clocks still reflecting the elapsed time each player used in the annulled
game; however, move counters on clocks that have them may be readjusted. If the error is discovered after the
completion of Black’s 10th move, the game shall continue.
“If, during a game, it is found that the board has been placed contrary to 2C, Placement, which requires a whiteSection 11G
square in the nearer corner to the right of each player, then the position reached shall be transferred to a board
correctly placed and the game continued.”
It’s important to avoid setting up the board incorrectly as much as possible. The following section is from “Basics of the Board” where you can learn about the board, notation, and how to set-up the pieces properly.
At the start of the game, each player has 16 pieces consisting of 8 pawns in front of 2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, and 1 King and Queen. [Learn more about the pieces]