I am arbiter myself, but I don't know how to treat player in team matches who try to indicate other players of their team what move to play in position they are in. If they won their game I might first warn them and at the second time lower their score to 1/2 (to 0 in case of a draw), but if they lose their game, there is no way one can punish them. They have literally nothing to lose. According to FIDE rules, they become a spectator one can only exclude from the room. And even in that case, nothing can stop them just to not care and stay anyway. For the refference, we're talking about low contest, like regional once where most of the time the arbiter is actually a player of one team as well.

  • 1
    The punishments USCF or FIDE give out to cheaters is often weak and consistent guidelines unestablished.
    – Ywapom
    Feb 5, 2019 at 21:37
  • Ban the cheater from the tournament, perhaps. I don't think lowering the score is a valid punishment.
    – user58697
    Feb 6, 2019 at 0:10
  • Are these official FIDE-rated games?
    – D M
    Feb 6, 2019 at 2:58
  • These are games which are ELO rated - have to be played according to FIDE rules. Those games are in long contests of N teams that play with each other throughout the winter (every other sunday).
    – Croolman
    Feb 6, 2019 at 5:55
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    Is this like a regional league, where there is one match every few weeks, some club plays their match at home against some visiting club, with the arbiter being provided by the home club (sometimes one of the players)? In that case solutions that involve giving a warning and forfeiting them next round can't be used. Feb 6, 2019 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


This is, quite obviously, cheating. I'm going to assume that the teammate isn't asking for help, and the guy is just blurting it out. (Otherwise a forfeit would be a given.) But even if the teammate doesn't want the advice and is doing nothing wrong, it's still extremely unfair to his opponent.

According to the FIDE Anti-Cheating Guidelines:

In a Team event, the team of the offending player shall be excluded from the final rankings. The results for the opposing teams shall remain unchanged. Each of the offender’s games shall be considered a loss, but the score for the opponent shall remain unchanged. All games shall be reported as unplayed.

The prospect of all of the player's games being considered losses and the team being removed from the event ranking is probably enough to deter this behavior. In addition, this counts as a breach of the FIDE Code of Ethics, and the player could be suspended from FIDE events if they are reported to, and found guilty by, the Ethics Committee.

If that still isn't enough to deter them, there's another option. According to the FIDE Laws of Chess 11.3.1, players are forbidden to "use" advice. You could, I believe, inform the teammate that playing the suggested move would be considered "using" the advice and could incur the penalty of a forfeit. Although rule 12.9 does not list forbidding a move as a possible penalty, this restriction is not really intended as a penalty against the teammate (who has not done anything wrong himself at this point) - it's simply an attempt to restore fairness to a game which was interfered with. It's not appropriate in all situations, either.

Prohibiting the suggested move in this situation is specifically contemplated under USCF rule 20E2 regarding unsolicited advice. Other options under this USCF rule include declaring the game a draw, or forfeiting the game on the grounds that advice from a teammate can automatically be presumed solicited.

  • This would be up to the competition organisers, not the local arbiter for that particular match. Forbidding a player to make a particular move is not based in the rules, imo. Feb 7, 2019 at 10:18
  • @RemcoGerlich I agree that an arbiter is not allowed to directly forbid a player to make a move. They can interpret the player playing the suggested move as "using advice" though and forfeit the game; and giving the player a friendly warning about this line of thought is appropriate/fair/covered by the rules, even if it leads to the same result as directly forbidding the move.
    – Annatar
    Feb 7, 2019 at 10:57
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    According to the preface to the FIDE Laws of Chess: "The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors. FIDE appeals to all chess players and federations to accept this view."
    – D M
    Feb 7, 2019 at 11:18
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    On the other hand, you may be correct about that not being in the rules... I'll edit later today.
    – D M
    Feb 7, 2019 at 11:24

In a low contest regional type tournament, I'm assuming you don't have to abide by FIDE or USCF rules. Given this, I would suggest the following:

  1. Warn them the first time you see this happening. Say that the next time you see this anytime in the rest of the tournament, their team loses whatever current match they're playing. So not only does one player lose a game, but their whole team forfeits the entire match.
  2. Enforce your ultimatum from step 1 if you see them cheating again.
  • We have to play by FIDE rules - so the ELO gained can be used internationally. Even though as you said it is regional tournament.
    – Croolman
    Feb 6, 2019 at 6:03
  • In the situation the OP describes (a team competition played over a whole year where the home team provides the arbiter), measures like handing out match losses are outside the power of the arbiter for that evening. Feb 7, 2019 at 10:17
  • @RemcoGerlich Depends I guess, in FIDE Laws of Chess, Section 11.3.1 .. players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice ... This might include the inforcement once arbiter knows the advice could be heard by the player.
    – Croolman
    Feb 7, 2019 at 10:27
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    Yes but the player could have found the move by himself. It's not his fault a spectator shouted something. Feb 7, 2019 at 10:30
  • In that you are right, but in case it is a teammate, who is standing by the chessboard actively analysing the game and then silently saying to him what to play... If you're the arbiter and you hear that, even though you're further than the player that should use the advice, I think this is the right time to forbid the use of that move.
    – Croolman
    Feb 7, 2019 at 10:36

Assuming that the player in the ongoing game did nothing wrong (did not speak to team members about the game) and a spectator team mate just shouts a move, there is unfortunately not much you can do in the moment, apart from removing the spectator from the room. The player did nothing wrong, and you are only the arbiter of the current match, not of the whole competition. The situation is similar to a normal spectator shouting advice.

You mention lowering their score in their own finished game, but in my opinion that is not allowed by the rules -- their game is already finished and the result is already set, they are spectators.

What you can do is have the team leader of the other team lodge a formal complaint with the competition organiser. You as the arbiter can write a factual report of what happened, including the name of the team mate, and send it to the organiser along with the official result forms of the match. They can issue warnings, match losses, a ban for the player, match point deductions, fines, you name it -- you can't. If this sort of thing is consistently reported, they can also know if it is just this one incident or a regular occurance.

If the spectator refuses to leave the playing area after being told to do so, you have bigger problems. I would abort the whole match at that point, write a report to the competition organisation and argue for a 8-0 loss (example) for that team.

  • Regarding your comment "The situation is similar to a normal spectator shouting advice.", by any chance do you know what the procedure is in such a case? I just looked through the FIDE rulebook, but couldn't find any particular details.
    – ATLPoly
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:50
  • No, a rulebook for a game can hardly say what people not playing it can and can't do, it's out of scope. Feb 8, 2019 at 8:37

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