Three Distractions that Many Tournament Players Do

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I do almost every President’s Day Weekend, I played in the United States Amateur Team East this past weekend.

In this tournament and some other recent onces I played, I noticed three common distracting actions that many players (kids and adults) do: whispering in the tournament hall, adjusting on their opponents’ time and eating in the tournament hall/unwrapping food items. 

The tournament hall needs to be as close as possible to silent at all times. While some whispering may be required ocassionally for draw offers, short explanations from tournament directors, etc, players should not whisper for any reason beyond that. When one finishes a game, he could whisper “good game” or the alike but absolutely no analysis should be done in the tournament hall. While players often think others don’t hear them when they quietly whisper, they do. A few times this weekend, I would hear players whispering about their games, 2-3 aisles away from my board. The better thing to do is to walk out with your opponent and ask if they want to do a post mortem. Also, players and spectators will often whisper conversations as they are in the aisles. In some cases, I will hear people straight-up talking, which is even worse. At the Amateur Team every year, there are several young ‘ssssshhers’ outside the tournament people, trying to get people to quiet down but there is never anyone in the tournament hall itself to police against whispering. Seveal times this weekend I have heard people whispering conversations in the tournament hall but not once did I hear anyone outside talking.

The second common distracting action that a lot of players do, which is against US Chess rules, is adjusting on their opponents’ time. If one needs to adjust a piece, he must do it when his time is running. One bad habit a lot of players have is they will make a move, press the clock and then fix the piece in the middle of the square, which is not correct. One needs to make any adjustments needed while his own time is ticking.

Often players will eat in the tournament hall and unwrap food items, which are unnecessary distractions. If one is hungry during the game, he should take a snack break, outside of the tournament hall. During one of my games this weekend, my opponent ate a bagel at the board. He had a 15-minute time advantage and was far from in time pressure. On Sunday and yesterday I didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast before the first game of the day, so to stay nourished, I had snacks (cashews one day and Icelandic yogurt the other), just outside of the tournament hall. While some chess teachers say you should remain at the board the whole time, it is good to get up to relax and get the blood flowing a bit, anyways.

Next time you play a tournament, please be mindful and avoid these three common distractions: whispering in the tournament hall, adjusting on your opponents’ time and eating in the tournament hall/unwrapping food items. When these distractions do unfortunately come up, what do you suggest for not letting them affect your game? What other annoying distractions have you had to deal with?

 

 

8 thoughts on “Three Distractions that Many Tournament Players Do”

  1. Eating at the tables at Team East is not allowed. Summoning a TD will result in an instruction that the person stop and put away their food items. (I was a TD there.)

    1. Correct; honestly I would have said something at that point if I wasn’t a few moves away from him getting checkmated already.

      I do think tournament staff should be a lot stricter against whispering in the tournament room; I already told Doyle this. I saw directors right nearby people audibly whispering and no one said anything.

  2. What about the guy who hears a pin drop or whisper across the tournament hall and then proceeds to scream “QUIET” at the top of his lungs unnerving everybody within a square mile? LOL

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  4. As always, if you have a problem which needs to be resolved, pause the clock and summon a Tournament Director or an Arbiter.

  5. Once as a TD at the Chicago Open I was on one side of the table where two players were still playing their game. One the other side and another row away a GM & his dad were whispering. As I could hear the whispering naturally I figured both players could hear the whispering. After I went shush the GM gave me a dagger look, as if to say how dare I shush him.

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