I am participating in a rated chess tournament that spans multiple rounds, and I have a specific query regarding attendance. Suppose I have played the first 9 rounds of the tournament, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I am unable to attend the 10th round. However, I plan to return and play in the 11th round. My questions are:

What are the consequences of missing just one game in a rated tournament like this?

Will I be penalized in terms of points or ratings for not attending the 10th round?

2 Answers 2


If you are unable, for any reason, to play in one of the rounds then you must at the earliest opportunity tell the arbiter so that can be taken into account for the pairings for that round. Otherwise you will be paired against a player who will turn up expecting to play only to discover you are not there and have not told anybody.

You may find that the tournament has a policy of allowing one or more half point byes and you may be credited with a half point for the game you didn't play.

If you just miss the round without any prior warning then the organisers are within their rights to eject you from the tournament. You may also be banned from future events by the same organisers. Games that have been played will be rated. Not to do so would be unfair to your opponents in those games.


This is likely dependent on a variety of factors, including the rating organization/federation(s) involved, the tournament organizer, and maybe even the rules of the specific event. All my experiences have been in the United States, so if you are somewhere else things may be different.

First, let me say that you should always notify the tournament director as soon as you can if you cannot play a round. It's not just courteous, but it helps them do their job better and keeps the tournament running smoother. Further, it will help you avoid potential problems later (as mentioned below).

The U.S. Chess Federation does not rate games forfeited due to one player missing the game completely. (Additionally, byes are not rated.) Thus your USCF rating should not be detrimentally affected if you simply skip a round.

On the occasions I've seen a player fail to show for a game without notifying the tournament director in advance, that player has been withdrawn from the tourney. Thus they are not paired in subsequent rounds. TBH, I'm not sure how it's handled if they reappear for later rounds as I've never seen it happen. Such a player may be required to re-register - including paying a second registration fee - before being allowed to play in subsequent rounds, or the organizer may just say that player can't play in the rest of that tournament. What I do know is that one organizing group in my area assesses a financial penalty before they allow someone to play again if they are a "no show". This will apply to a subsequent tournament if not the current one. So there could be a financial penalty above the potential loss of prize money from the lost point. However, as far as I know, there is no actual penalty in the number of points you've scored in the event; e.g. if you have 6 points after 9 rounds and simply blow off the 10th round, you will still have 6 points.

If you fail to show up to play you run the risk of upsetting a couple people. Firstly, there will probably be a player expecting a game who doesn't get to play one; yes, they will get an "easy" point, but that's not what they paid for. Further, they may have to sit and watch your clock run down instead of doing something more enjoyable or productive somewhere else, and that's not fun. There may also be an annoyed arbiter/tournament director who probably would have made different pairings if they had known you weren't going to be there; this could include giving someone a game who received a bye because there were an odd number of players expected to play that round. It could prove harmful to you that the tournament director is annoyed if you need their assistance in a later round; while they should remain impartial, if something comes down to your word vs. your opponent's, they might default to believing your opponent as they figure you aren't trustworthy.

As noted in Brian's response, half point byes are often available in tournaments nowadays. So, if you know you're going to miss a certain round ahead of time and such a bye is available, I'd recommend requesting one. That way your tournament score won't be affected as much as the forfeit loss you'd get if you simply don't show up. Also, the arbiter/director will know that you shouldn't be paired in that round. Often you need to place the request for a half point bye at some point fairly early in the tournament, e.g. I just looked at the registration page for an upcoming tournament where a half point bye can be requested for any round, but they must be requested well before the start of round 3. Even if you can't get the half point, it's best for everyone involved for you to notify the officials as early as possible.

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