Are there regulations on what to do when your opponent has poor hygiene and it negatively influences your performance?

I do not want to be disrespectful or shame anyone, but bad breath or body odor really can negatively impact your mind, especially if you have to spend hours opposite of the person. It is not fair to have to play under such conditions (in my opinion).

3 Answers 3


According to Article 12.2.3 of the FIDE Laws of Chess it is one of the roles of the arbiter to -

12.2.3 ensure that a good playing environment is maintained

Your first course of action should be to bring the matter to the attention of the arbiter. It is not a pleasant thing for him or her to deal with but it is part of the (usually unpaid) job of the arbiter to resolve such problems.


Unless the tournament organizer wants to do something aobut it, I am afraid you will have to deal with it. Theoretically, FIDE rules prevent these situations from happening, but in practice, you have no real power to enforce them by yourself


I played live tournament chess for maybe 15 years and I never encountered this directly or indirectly.

The good thing about most chess players (in contrast to poker) is most people play chess not for the money but because they find the game interesting and I think usually both players want to generate a memorable game so winning because you manage to make your opponent uncomfortable is not consistent with this.

So the few times I did something -- more than once people objected, to my surprise, to my standing instead of sitting -- I simply stopped doing it instead of making a federal case out of it. And my opponents, like the guy who started flossing his teeth at the table, also stopped when I said something.

I suspect had the director been called, the flossing would have been stopped but the standing, which i did due to an injury which made sitting uncomfortable for long periods, maybe the director would have said, would u mind sitting?

But if the opponent was objectionable due to hygiene, I think the director would talk to the guy and ask him to take a shower before the next round -- what could he do about the current game? Nothing.

A sad for all concerned situation. I imagine the guy whose hygiene was bad might have some sort of mental illness and therefore bigger problems than chess games.

An aside on poker: There was a time when there were simply no rules short of laws protecting people from assault -- that is to say, nothing about what you said or did seemed to be prohibited except u could not punch someone not because of poker rules but because u can't punch people. And some players thoroughly took advantage of this, even some very well known players. Cards were thrown at dealers, at least once hitting a dealer in the eye and dealers and other players were verbally abused. Borderline cheating did not get punished even.

The addition of official penalties as poker became huge was necessary or someone might have literally been killed in a fight. Fortunately chess never need such penalties (like sitting out for a round or I guess even longer and sometimes expulsion) -- in chess, I would guess occasionally players might have been expelled from the event but I never saw this happen -- I do know of at least one fight, but what happened to the players, whether they were allowed to play the next round I do not know.

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