FIDE and USCF: What do the rules say when a player insults an arbiter?

This is an uncommon situation. In general, chess players are very polite people. 30 years ago, I was in training with Paul Klein, who was the Arbiter in Chief of the FIDE World Chess Championship between Karpov and Korchnoi in 1981, and several FIDE Olympiads. He taught us that FIDE rules do not want to cover all possible situations. He told us that FIDE assumes that the arbiter must have very good common sense.

My common sense tells me that the arbiter must give a warning, and if the player does not apologize and/or correct their behavior, the player must be expelled from the tournament. I would think that this sanction needs to be reported to FIDE and/or USCF. However, that is just my intuition. What do the current FIDE and USCF rules say about this circumstance?

1 Answer 1


He taught us that FIDE rules do not want to cover all possible situations.

Like 100% of laws anywhere in the world, there are always edge-cases and trying to cover all edge cases may introduce loopholes.

FIDE's The ethics and disciplinary code §11.3 states:

The following conduct shall constitute a violation of this Code (in each case, whether committed directly or indirectly) if committed by any person subject to this Code:

§11.9 :

e) Abuse and obscenity: Players must refrain from audible or visible obscenity, verbal, emotional or physical abuse toward any other player, tournament official or spectator;

j) Attempt to Undermine Honour: Any person who attempts to undermine the honour of another person subject to this Code in any way, especially by using offensive language, gestures or signs;

There are no requirements to report §11.9 incidents (as opposed to §11.8-related incidents about betting and match fixing). The common sense of all parties involved (victims, witnesses...) the tipping point about if a report under §11.9 should be filed.

There might also be tournament-specific rules about this, especially about expelling... and, in any case, both the Tournament Director and the chief arbiter will also have their own judgment to make the decision.

USCF CoE seems to follow the same common-sense approaches but encourages reporting if there was a warning.


The list is not intended to be exhaustive, and any action or behavior that is unlawful or violates US Chess rules and regulations, or is inconsistent with the principles of fair play, good sportsmanship, honesty, and respect for the rights of others, may be considered to fall within the scope of this code of ethics.

a) Intentional violations of tournament regulations, or of any other regulations pertaining to USCF activities and goals, particularly after being warned.

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