The context

I am not into chess, but The Queen’s Gambit revealed its interesting world, and something got stuck into my mind.

As shown by this article the movie had to make compromises, especially when depicting the tournaments which have quite strict rules, thus making them very boring for the commercial movie consumers.

The issue

The last match was so long that it required an overnight break. During this break, the players consulted with their teams and the movie suggests that Beth winning was partially influenced by this help. Is this possible in real-life tournaments?

I tried finding an answer, but only got this Quora discussion which suggests that long (overnight) breaks during tournaments are something very rare today.

  • 1
    There aren't any breaks during tournament games anymore. Back in the day you could get help from other people (it would have been extremely hard to prevent players from getting it)
    – David
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 13:04
  • The issue is somewhat mitigated by the requirement to specify the next move in a sealed envelope. But of course the analysis of the resulting position and the opponent's likely (sealed or response) move(s) is still an advantage, and in the series it's clear that her opponent (was it the fictional Borgov?) uses it as a timeout when he feels cornered. Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 15:29
  • As an aside, this was also common in Go where games are even longer. A notable occurrence is the "Game of the Century", where the prodigy Go Seigen must have felt as if he played against the entire famous Go school his opponent was leading. Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


I haven't seen the series, but this was a quite common practice known as adjournment. It is indeed legal to ask for outside help, in the form of teammates and even computer programs during adjournment. However, they rarely happen anymore:

With the advent of strong chess playing computer programs, which can be used to analyze adjourned positions, most tournaments have abandoned adjourning games in favor of shorter time controls. The first World Chess Championship not to use adjournments was the Classical World Chess Championship 1995, while the last one to use adjournments was the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996.

The Laws of Chess still have guidelines for adjournment, so it's possible to organize a tournament with these breaks, but I can't remember a recent high-level tournament which had them.

  • 6
    Personal comment: I'm old enough to have played tons of adjourned games in my youth, and the unfair unequal footing (strong computers didn't exist at the time, but imagine I'm from the club of SC Hicksville, but my opponent from Biggus Lotsamasterus) surely were the main reason to end the practice. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 10:42
  • 2
    They are rare, but it's a bit strong to say "they don't happen anymore". As recently as 2018 I played a game that would have been adjourned had my opponent not resigned when the TD announced the adjournment.
    – D M
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 15:17
  • 6
    @HaukeReddmann IIRC, one of Bobby Fisher's complaints was that many of the FIDE's rules from that time (the same time period as the Queen's Gambit, season 1) blatantly favored the Russians, including the adjournment rules, because of how many Russia GMs there were to help each other. if that's true, then the reason that adjournment is disfavored now is probably either that 1) the Russians lost control of the rules and/or, 2) the rise of strong computers meant that adjournment no longer favored those that controlled the rules. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 15:38
  • 2
    @RBarryYoung Definitely 2). My smartphone can easily beat any Russian GM nowadays.
    – Annatar
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 6:27
  • 1
    Referring to this very practice, the 1970s book "Better Chess for Average Players" stated: "It's against the rules, of course, but people still do it."
    – AJM
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 16:56

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