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Is it allowed to use a score sheet booklet for notations (with recording of previous games), as opposed to a single "stand alone" sheet?

Reason for not allowing this may of course be due to possibility of cheating, for example by having opening line reminders on previous pages and making use of them during the game... On the other hand, one may also have such notes in ones pocket, and I don't believe there's a prohibition against this, only against the usage thereof...

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According to an annotated version of the FIDE rules, it's banned in some tournaments, which presumably means it's not banned in all tournaments. The relevant annotation says:

Article 11.3.1 has resulted in some tournaments banning the use of scorebooks. Where these are allowed arbiters should ensure that players do not refer to earlier games.

I've never played in a FIDE tournament, but I've played in USCF tournaments. The relevant USCF rules are similar to the FIDE rules. A tournament can prohibit using scorebooks, but in my (amateur) experience they don't; probably many tournament directors are happy to not have to provide as many scoresheets.

USCF rule 15A (similar to FIDE rule 8.1.1) states that you are to record your moves "on the scoresheet prescribed for the competition". This is clear, but it's also only relevant if the competition prescribes a scoresheet.

USCF rule 20B (simiar to FIDE rule 11.3.1) states you are forbidden to "make use of" notes or recorded matter - it doesn't prohibit having them in a place where you can't see them. Generally a notation booklet will be open in such a way that you only have the current game visible, and not any previous games. Browsing notes on previous pages would of course be cheating, but it would also be fairly obvious to your opponent and any bystanders. The only legitimate reason to flip a page after the game has started is if you get to move 50 or so, and by that time any opening notes would be rather useless.

While USCF rule 15G (similar to FIDE rule 8.3) does state that the scoresheets are property of the sponsoring organization, I've never had a tournament ask me to rip a page out. I get the feeling that this rule is mostly there so a player can't refuse to show it during a dispute, and it allows the arbiter/TD to insist that the opponent be able to use it to fill in his own sheet.

And finally, the USCF sells these score books on their website, calling them "A must for the 'organized' tournament player!". Presumably, they would not do so if it was ordinarily illegal to actually use them for their intended purpose.

  • I see this commentary is from an association of UK arbiters. I suppose other arbiters and other organizations might have different interpretations, but the implication of this interpretation is quite clear (that a score sheet booklet is permitted unless explicitly banned), and it seems safe to infer from that, that this matter is at least open to interpretation, certainly so as the FIDE rules do not imply a prohibition of the usage of such a booklet, but only of usage of notes. – acye Aug 27 '18 at 14:10
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Generally speaking the answer is "No". The reason being this section of the FIDE Laws of Chess -

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

In practice it will depend on the competition. If it is your local chess league or internal club competition where everybody knows everybody then probably no problem. However if it is a large congress then if the arbiter sees you doing this or your opponent does and complains to the arbiter then you will be asked to put the scorebook away and use the provided scoresheet.

There is not normally a punishment for a first offence. Repeated offences against this rule can lead to defaulting the game as happened to Wesley So when he repeatedly looked at notes he had written to himself not with chess moves but inspirational advice.

Note also Article 8.3

8.3 The scoresheets are the property of the organiser of the competition.

For serious FIDE rated tournaments the scoresheets will be collected each round, the games entered on a computer and the PGNs published. For norm events these PGNs must be sent to FIDE. For these events your scorebook is not acceptable and you will be asked to use the scoresheet provided.

  • Well, the question was not about actual usage of such notes, of course. Rather, the question was if the mere existence of score sheets from previous games within said booklet means that the booklet is not allowed. – acye Aug 25 '18 at 13:34
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    Said booklet is not allowed to be used according to the rules. Period. – Brian Towers Aug 25 '18 at 15:17
  • I take it this should be taken as your personal opinion then, as the quotations given above didn't really relate to the usage of the booklet (11.3,1 relates to usage of notes & 8.3 relates to proprietary issues of score sheets handed out at the tournament). – acye Aug 26 '18 at 6:45
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    No. This is what I've been taught as part of my qualification as a FIDE Arbiter. The other games in your scorebook are notes. If your scorebook is open for you to record your current game that is taken as evidence that you are using your scorebook and its notes. It is not allowed. – Brian Towers Aug 26 '18 at 10:29
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    @BrianTowers If 11.3.1 was the reason, then it would seem you could use an empty scorebook (but you couldn't use it for a second game, which defeats the entire purpose.) And if 8.3 was the reason, you'd simply have to tear the page out if they requested it. But perhaps clearer is article 8.1, which states that you are to record your moves "on the scoresheet prescribed for the competition". – D M Aug 26 '18 at 14:34

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