So, in a tournament, my daughter recently had a case where her opponent made a move and declared checkmate. She acquiesced, shook his hand, and then realized it wasn't actually a checkmate. They continued the game until she actually checkmated him, at which point he said, "Well, you shook hands.." and claimed the victory in the tournament.

I can see both sides of this, but I am really not sure what the official ruling in a case like this would be. Anyone have any thoughts?

  • 6
    I am going to wait for the rules experts to weight in for an official answer, but I think that if she resigned the game probably ended, but if "in the same breath" (meaning a short period of time), he also acquiesced because it was not checkmate, and they continued, then all that happened before became moot. Her checkmate ended the game. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 17:54
  • 5
    So what actually happened? Did she just agree then and the boy "won"? Did a tournament director ever get involved? It sounds like the boy did not have much in the way of morals to claim it at the end like that. I am curious how old he was. In any case, in the future, have your daughter know to call the tournament director immediately anytime there is a question like this. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 17:57
  • 3
    Thank you all for your comments! I guess I still haven't heard the official answer, but I'm ok with people's informed opinions. :)
    – Bill B
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 19:37
  • 2
    Related: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/22921/…
    – D M
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 20:04
  • 2
    @PhishMaster That's not actually a rule per se, but an interpretation of the rule, by the Chess Arbiter's Association.
    – D M
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


Checkmate ends the game - there is no agreement/concession involved. If it’s not checkmate the game has not ended. And a handshake is not a move which needs to be “retracted”.

If the error was only realised significantly later, then maybe it’s a different case. I can see that an arbiter might deem the handshake to be a resignation. But that’s not the case here: they just played on and did not mark the scoresheets.

Your daughter does not need to be an expert in the rules (which cannot not be exhaustive in any case) but does need the reflex to call the arbiter or tournament director in any kind of dodgy situation.


It all depends.

What tournament where when? Who ran it? What rules were being used.

FIDE would require signing the score sheet.

Shaking hands means nothing except you like spreading germs around.

If he kept playing on after she did that would pretty much prove it was not mate and overrule any claims that she resigned.

Your kid should refer to ""<< 21F3. Facts are not agreed upon. If the facts are not agreed upon, the director should proceed as follows:a. A director who is satisfied that the facts have been ascertained should rule accordingly. b. A director who is unable to satisfactorily determine the facts must make a ruling that will permit play to continue. See also 1C2, Director discretion; "">>""

say the facts are not agreed on. Use the position on the board as proof. and ask also for a ruling on the facts and also if needed IC2 Director discretion.

Especially since this is a kiddie tournament the TD should not award the win even if there was a meaningless handshake to the person who made an erroneous claim.

Depending on other factors they might caution the claimant against making claims so as to win improperly and to let the other person realize that it is actually or else move as in this case when it was not mate.

Situations like this emphasize the need to know ALL the rules if one is going to play in a tournament. Some groups may modify the rules or elaborate on them.

Start here:https://new.uschess.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/US-Chess-Rule-Book-Online-Only-Edition-Chapters-1-2-11-1-1-20-1.pdf

  • This was a tournament run for high school and 7-8 grades by the New Mexico Activities Association. The tournament was supposed to have been run on USCF rules; I don 't think ultimately there was a score sheet to be signed.
    – Bill B
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 19:35
  • Ultimately, I was just doing a sanity check on my own thinking. The official outcome of the game doesn't really have any importance; I just wanted to be able to talk to my daughter about it.
    – Bill B
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 19:36
  • I was a uscf director back when but am not sure about their current rules. I would hope that the TD would , if they played any moves after the shake, not accepted the claim of mate and the erroneous acknowledgement by your daughter. Sometimes places like that will adjust USCF rules so that might take precedence. EG I was a soccer referee and we played FIDE rules except that USA had modified them and the local HS federations had further modified them for their own use. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 19:39
  • I'm not sure that 21F3 applies. There's no indication that the facts are not agreed upon; I interpreted the question as saying the facts are undisputed but it's unclear as to what should happen with that fact pattern.
    – D M
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 20:12
  • If it is a fact you cannot agree on something else. If you agree on something that is not a fact, does that make it a fact? ` If they had gone to the TD and posted the 'score' but then playing over the score sheet realized the error is it really too late to go back and appeal that mistake? More info from Bill B would have been useful. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 21:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.