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?

  • 2
    If the game isn't nullified, what do you want to happen with it? Arguably it's not a game played in the tournament, as that particular pairing was never part of it. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 9:15
  • do'H! you cant play the wrong person. of course that was correct. all y' all should have been at their correct boards. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


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
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 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. Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 3:51
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 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
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 4:05
  • 2
    That's an interesting case. Since neither player did anything illegal, a good TD would first try to find a way for them to meet and play before the next round. Or give full-point byes to each player, since anything less robs each rule-abiding player of a potential full-point. In your case though, your opponent was present before you left, so the TD had the best-case option open (getting you two to play). So I think what he did was justified (whether your opponent deserved to lose a bit of time though is up for debate). Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 9:56

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