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Recently I was at a USCF tournament. Six moves into my first round game, the tournament director came to my board and had me stop my clock. It turned out that the person across from me had the wrong board - he was actually supposed to be at the same-numbered board in a lower section (which was playing in the same room.) And the opponent I was supposed to play had sat down at the board in the lower section.

The TD stated that he was nullifying those two games in progress, and that those clocks should be reset and those games restarted with the proper opponent.

Is this the proper action? Can a game in which multiple moves have been played be simply nullified? Also, since my opponent was not at the correct board at the start of the round, and I was, and I properly started the clock, should some time have elapsed from his clock when we restarted?

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In FIDE rated tournaments I remember hearing that if the starting position was set up wrong and roughly <= 6 moves were played, the game could be restarted. So if this tournament was also FIDE rated, FIDE rules take precident and restarting was fine. If this tournament was just USCF rated I'm not sure (you'd have to look up the official handbook).

I agree that some time should have elapsed for your opponent. You did nothing wrong but he did. However, you'd have to have said this during the game.

  • It wasn't FIDE rated; someone actually asked and the TD said no. – D M Jan 5 at 3:46
  • In general you can't do much more after that point. The only option left would be citing the USCF handbook to him. – Inertial Ignorance Jan 5 at 3:51
  • FIDE rule 7.2.1 just says the game should be restarted if it hasn't been completed if it was initially set up wrong, with no move limit. USCF rule 11F says a game can be annulled if the initial position was incorrect, or the game started with colors reversed, and it is discovered before move 10. However, this isn't a case of the starting position being wrong... – D M Jan 5 at 4:02
  • (... actually, by some weird coincidence, the starting position WAS wrong - my first opponent's king and queen were swapped, which I noticed after his first move, and after fixing it I told my opponent he could start over, which he did - but that's not part of my question here.) – D M Jan 5 at 4:05
  • Well for the sake of argument, assume your real opponent is 1 minute late. The wrong opponent arrives right on time and blitzes out a bunch of moves with you. Does that mean your real opponent isn't allowed to play? He did nothing wrong since arriving 1 minute late is completely allowed in USCF tournaments. – Inertial Ignorance Jan 5 at 4:52

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