Do the rules of chess permit a player to refer to certain reference materials during a match?

For example, it is clear that materials which would assist a player with strategy are not permitted. A player cannot use another chess board to analyze the game or make notes about the game other than recording his or her moves.

However, is a player permitted to refer to a copy of the rules of chess while playing a game? What other reference materials are allowed? Is there a standard or a test for determining whether a reference material is permitted or prohibited? Can a player refer to permitted materials in electronic form or must they be printed out?

If reference materials are not permitted, must all rule inquiries then be addressed to a tournament director?

I am interested in FIDE rules and/or United States Chess Federation rules.

1 Answer 1


In a word: No.


12.3 a. During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse on another chessboard.

12.3 b. Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off.

The USCF scholastic rules similarly disallow electronics, but do not explicitly address the topic of notes. (Section 21.6)

As noted in the comments, this is because the scholastic rules are just a supplement to the USCF rules. Unfortunately, the USCF rules themselves are not available on the USCF site.

However, section 20C of the USCF rules do prohibit the use of notes. And that prohibition is quite strict (or was in 2014), according to section 15A of this link.

  • For completeness, would you be willing to add the USCF rules regarding this as well, given that the OP was interested in that too? Aug 27, 2018 at 2:01
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    Yeah, that's what I found. I'll add it to my answer, but I don't think it would really qualify as answering the OP's question in the formal/declarative way he wants. Aug 27, 2018 at 2:38
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    It's still a correct answer to say "The USCF doesn't explicitly say anything about this". Heck, the consensus on this forum is that the USCF is "behind with everything" about codifying rules regarding cell phones, and that most USCF tournaments don't enforce penalties for them going off during a game. Aug 27, 2018 at 2:40
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    The link actually goes to the scholastic tournament regulations, which in section 1.1 says "These regulations supplement the US Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess". Unfortunately the USCF official rules are not available online due to copyright issues, but I'm pretty sure it prohibits notes.
    – DanTilkin
    Aug 28, 2018 at 21:42
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    @Viktor Right. If you need to refer to a rule, ask a judge to find the reference (or answer your question or whatever). Aug 29, 2018 at 17:44

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