Difference of Playing Chess Tournaments in the United States and Abroad

by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin







Playing Chess against Krygstan Pavillion Staff Member at Dubai Expo 2020

I have been to 25 countries and have played tournaments 11 of those, in places ranging from Jerusalem to Buenos Aires to Ho Chi Minh City. Read about my chess travels in this US Chess article I wrote in 2018, entitled “Evan Rabin’s Premier Five Chess Travel Tips.”  I have lots of global chess connections, like three of our amazing podcast guests Grandmaster Nigel Short, Former World Championship Candidate, Grandmaster Boris Alterman and Christhian Ortiz Elizabeth, Human Capital Senior Consultant at Deloitte Peru . While it is great to play chess abroad, Americans should be aware of some of the differences between playing in The U.S and abroad before they go:

  1. Tournaments are usually one game per day, which means it is important to prepare one’s openings as the next day’s pairings usually comes out the night before. To the contrary, in the U.S, players may have as little as 30-minutes between games.
  2. Unlike in U.S Chess rules when a cell phone rings and one get’s a time penalty, according to FIDE (international) rules, one forfeits the game.
  3. International tournaments typically use increment, rather than time delay. Increment means after each move one gains a few seconds. Time delay means before one’s time starts ticking on each move, there will be a delay for a few seconds. While increment and time delay are similar, they have nuances.
  4. In FIDE rules, the arbiter is supposed to claim forfeits by time. Under the US Chess rules, it is the responsiblity of the player to realize his opponent overstepped on time.
  5. In U.S tournaments, a player usually forfeits his game for not showing up to the round after 60-minutes. Abroad, one usually forfeits at the 30- minute mark.
  6. At some of the major US tournaments, including World Open, Chicago Open and National Open, class players can expect to recieve big monetary prizes. The most money I won in a tournament was $2500, when I tied for second place in the U-2200 section of the 2011 World Open with five other players, including “Gotham Chess” Levy Rozman. To the contrary, abroad, class players mostly play for experience.
  7. Almost all tournaments abroad provide equipment, unlike in the United States, where you need to bring everything, except for scoresheets.
  8. In the U.S, top players can usually expect free entry but not much more. Abroad, they will often get free hotel rooms, food, travel, etc. Sometimes they will even get appearance fees.
at the Burj Khalifa, Tallest Building in the World, during the 2021 World Chess Championship

If you live in the United States and have never played abroad, you definitely should give it a shot. Check out the FIDE calendar, pick a tournament in a place you have never been to and leave time in your itinerary for sightseeing. Just be mindful of the differences in rules and organization.



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