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In the beginning I thought that players were keeping scoresheets for themselves, just in case of disagreement for claiming stuff like threefold repetition or fifty-move rule or even just knowing the move number, but after watching a few tournaments I realised that it is something more official. It looks like it's mandatory to keep the scoresheet and in the end sign yours, along with the opponent's one.

So my question is why they should do that and what will happen if they are not going to write down the moves?

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A scoresheet allows for a number of different things.

1. The scoresheet allows reconstruction of the game.

This is important for several reasons. Imagine that an earthquake occurs and upsets the board. (Or, more prosaically, the table was set up incorrectly and is upset by a light touch.) If there is no record, how would you reconstruct the position? Replaying a game simply because of an upset board is a tremendous waste of time, and it's far more mental strain than a player should be expected to handle.

Additionally, with modern storage and retrieval abilities, each game is seen as something to learn from. Every single recorded game is one that can teach us new things.

(Kriegspiel is an instance where it is vital to record the game for reconstruction. Most of the fun is in the post-game discussion, and it's impossible to do this without recording it.)

2. The scoresheet allows for arbitration of disputes.

Without a record, how would you go about proving to an official that 50 moves have occurred without a capture/pawn move? Without a record, how would you prove that your opponent is a scurrilous lout who secretly replaced his Queen on the board while you were in the restroom?

3. The scoresheet is an aid to players in reconstructing their play during the game.

Top chess players are able to remember large numbers of variations and lines. However, having the scoresheet available reduces one aspect of mental accounting: The player can always look at the scoresheet and mentally reproduce the game up to that point, rather than attempting to remember "now was it exd5?"

4. Signing the scoresheet is a way to ensure that both players accept the outcome of the game.

A player's signature is proof that they are satisfied with what happened. It indicates "yes, I played this match, and it happened this way. I agree that this record is accurate."

FIDE devotes section 8 of the Laws of Chess to the scoresheet. Note particularly that 8.7 states:

At the conclusion of the game both players shall sign both scoresheets, indicating the result of the game. Even if incorrect, this result shall stand, unless the arbiter decides otherwise.

  • Maybe I should have mention regarding the big tournaments where the game is being recorded with many cameras and digitally distributed over the web instantly, so the first point is irrelevant. But what if I just keep my own notes whenever I want to and instead of writing down the exact moves I only keep notes of last pawn moved or a capture.. or simply counting the number of moves..! Is that ok? Can I do whatever I want to with that piece of paper that is in front of me or there are rules that you have to or otherwise there is somekind of punishment – Lipis Apr 4 '13 at 14:17
  • @Lipis Cameras break. Technology is fallible. Not that this is common, but there is no reason to rely on it when paper is cheap and universal. As to your personal, non-sanctioned play, that's entirely up to you. I would recommend recording your play in entirety, simply so you have something to refer to in the future. – Jonathan Garber Apr 4 '13 at 14:50
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    @Lipis In tournaments I believe there are quite strict rules for what you can and can't write on a scoresheet. If I remember correctly GM Wesley So forfeited a game last year for "writing notes" on his scoresheet, which is expressly forbidden I think. Taken to the extreme, you could theoretically write down several possible continuations and save yourself the difficulty of remembering "have I checked that?" - clearly an unfair advantage. – EastNine Sep 7 '16 at 10:33
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The two player's scoresheets are the record of the game, and they should "match." They prove how the game went, and players' signing them show that they agree on the end result and outcome.

If for some reason, the scoresheets don't match, the game will have to be "reconstructed" by other means, (the position on the board, eyewitness accounts, etc.) Even so, it's likely that one of the scoresheets will "make sense" in this context.

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