I know bridge tournaments are a big thing on cruise ships. I think I've seen adverts for a chess tournament on a cruise ship several years ago but can't remember the details or find anything online. Chess tournaments on cruise ships don't seem to be a thing, maybe because of problems registering them for FIDE rating.

Suppose you were a cruise ship company wanting to stage FIDE rated tournaments. Given that they would take place in international waters outside the jurisdiction of any national federation how would you register your tournament for FIDE rating?

Normally if you want to register a tournament for FIDE rating you give the details to the hosting federation's IRO (international rating officer) usually via an automated online form and they register with FIDE.

I know there is a special federation, FID, for players who can't be registered with their national federation. Currently a lot of Russian players are registered as FID. In the past Iranian players who have been persecuted by their federation have moved to FID. But I don't think FID has an IRO through which you can register tournaments for rating.

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    This is not an answer as thank the random fluctuations in the cosmos i dont know how FIDE claims to work, but according to people.howstuffworks.com/cruise-ship-law1.htm for legal matters in international waters the relevant country would be that to which the ship is registered.
    – Ian Bush
    Dec 27, 2023 at 13:56
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    Is the ship (or its owners) the entity that arranges chess tournaments? It seems more likely that just like a tournament in some congress center the ship appears to be a venue that some orthodox arranger hires to provide a location and associated services. And that arranger, directly or indirectly, has the connection with the hosting federation (or federations). Or is there some reason that cannot be done?
    – user30536
    Dec 27, 2023 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


Because this is "legalese" it can be somewhat tricky to pin down an answer because with all things legal the magical phrase "It depends" will arise a lot.

Generally speaking though. Maritime law is only focused on safety and operation standards whilst at sea, outside of a countries maritime economic zone. This doesn't mean, free for all no laws on the high seas.

Usually boats will operate under similar laws to where the boat is registered. Again , this raises an interesting issue , because a large portion of boats are registered under what is called "A flag of convenience".

Example: Swedish shipping company registering their ships in Panama for tax purposes.

Over time the drift from the "laws" observed on a boat have shifted from their registered nation, to the nation of which the parent company is primarily operated from.

All the above is kind of a moot point however. FIDE is a governing body over a sport with ultimately no legislative power. They can recognise a Chess Tournament operated outside of any country jurisdiction if they so choose. More importantly , generally speaking any "legal" writs that may arise would be civil in nature and operating outside of any jurisdiction would not be a recognised defence. This is seen repeatedly where Party A from Country A sues Party B from Country B , and the court hearing could occur in Country A,B or anywhere else (sort of).

An interesting article link regarding legal implications for sports and jurisdictions. This specific edge case isn't covered.


Following writing this,

I have found the following: https://www.schachturnier-auf-see.de/english/the-tournament

This is a ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which is registered in the Bahams (flag of convenience), travelling between Puerto Rico and Portugal where they are holding a FIDE recognised chess tournament being overseen by a Private Company who is using the German chess body as the overseeing group.

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