A TD Story

To become a Tournament Director (TD) in chess, it is advisable first become an Assistant Tournament Director (ATD). I’ve been both. And while I found the experience to be both interesting and enjoyable, I also knew that I didn’t have time to pursue everything in chess, so I had to concentrate more on writing (which is a BIG reason for this blog).


Here is a story from that experience.


I was working as an Assistant Tournament Director (ATD) at a National JHS Championship. My job was to walk around the tournament hall and solving small problems on the games as necessary. The players were instructed to raise their hand if they needed some help.




Sure enough, about half-hour after they games had started, I saw a hand go up. I jogged to the board where two kids were playing. To be more accurate, there was only one kid playing; he was ahead a queen, a rook, a bishop, and several pawns. His opponent had his head on the table, and not really doing anything else other than breathing.


The kid who was winning said, “My opponent is asleep. Can you help?”. The rules, by the way, forbid anyone disturbing any of the players while the game is still going on. That rule appears to cover players who are awake, asleep, or in deep meditation. And I wasn’t even sure if his opponent was asleep or not (my gut feeling told me he wasn’t).


Now, one thing almost all kids in common is impatience. It didn’t seem fair to have the winning player have to sit there until his opponent’s clock run out (the clock indicated it would be at least another hour – they apparently started the game late).


So, the onus was on me to solve the problem.


I came up with a unique solution. I spoke to the kid who was winning, and loud enough so his opponent could hear me. I told him (both of them!), “If your opponent does not wake up in the next 10 seconds, I will award the game to you.” And I started counting: “10”, “9”, “8”, and then suddenly, and miraculously, his opponent “woke up”.


The kid who was winning had a beaming smile while his opponent feigned waking up.


I told them to keep playing and wished them both good luck in their continuing game.

A First

My friend, A., started a writing class. Her first assignment was to make a list 10 things of her “firsts”, and then write about them.


Intrigued by this idea, I decided to write about one of my “firsts”.







I was in grade school in the early 1970’s and in the fourth grade.


I played a simple Scholar’s Mate [For those who don’t know the moves, they are 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4? (played to attack White’ queen and threaten …Nxc2+, but actually loses) 4.Qxf7mate].


I was joyful. Happy. My dad played it against me and I thought it was the best way to win and why did people need chess books?


Then doubt.


Was this it? Was this the best one could achieve in chess? To win a game in four moves? Was this the only, or at least the best, way to win? Why did Grandmasters Fischer and Spassky take so long to move in their match?


Spassky Fischer


Didn’t they know about Scholar’s Mate?


It was only later I discovered that the game of chess is incredibly complex.


And what I have learned in the last 40+ years of studying this game is;


(1) Black does not have to respond 1…e5 to White’s first move.


(2) There are opening variations that go past the 10th, the 20th moves.


(3) There is usually a middle game.


(4) There are endings to learn.


(5) Books exist to help the beginner, the novice, the merely good player, the experienced player, the expert and the master.


(6) And Grandmasters know Scholar’s Mate.

Winning the Game

How many ways can you, as a player, win a game of chess? Think about it before you read further. We’ll give you the first one, “(1) You can win by checkmate. This is the main, and ultimate, goal of the game.” Now let’s see how many other ways to win you can think of.






(1) You can win by checkmate. This is the main, and ultimate, goal of the game.


(2) You can win by your opponent resigning. It also shortens the game.


(3) You can win by your opponent exceeding the time limit for specified number of moves. Usually referred to as a time loss.


(4) You can win by your opponent not showing up for the start of the game. This differs from the above as no moves are necessary.


(5) Adjourning a game used to be more popular years ago. It consists of Tournament Director (TD) stopping the game and requesting a player to write down his next move on a card (without his opponent know what the move it is, of course), sealing that card in an envelope, and then sealing that envelope, the scoresheets, and the clock times in a larger envelope. The game is resumed at a later time.

If upon resumption, a player’s sealed move is found to be illegal or missing, then the opponent is awarded the game.


(6) If a correspondence game is in danger of going over a prearranged time limit (e.g. three years), then the game score is to be submitted to an arbitrator for adjudication who will determine the winner of the game. If he decides that with best play you would win the game, then you win the game.


(7) If during a thematic tournament, an opponent refuses to play the specified opening, he can be forfeited. Rarely happens as players who enter a thematic tournament do so because they WANT to play that opening.


(8) Any action that a TD determines to be cheating, disruptive, or anything other action that violates the laws or ethics of the game, can be declared a loss of the game by the player who is guilty of the offence. GM So recently lost a game because he kept writing positive affirmations on his score sheet, even after repeated warnings. The rules of chess state only chess moves (and other necessary items, like the opponent’s name), may be written on the score sheet.





How many did you get? Do you agree with this list?