In Team Chess Championships, what is the proper etiquette for being a player?

This question is mainly focused on:

  • Can I see my teammates’ games during the match? (I suspect I can.)
  • If I win quickly, can I go away, or should I stay?
  • If I leave the hall after winning, can I return?
  • Can I have contact with my teammates? If so, to what extent is this limited?
  • Can I call a friend, and let him play in the now empty board of my match, for opinions on the game just finished, or am I forced to do it outside? (This is assuming, of course, that we don’t talk loudly.)
  • Great, but is there something I might have forgotten? Useful to add for further reference in the future.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 29, 2014 at 12:46
  • In 19 hours I will award the best answer. So if anyone has anything else to offer, do so now.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:24

4 Answers 4


Officially most of it depends on the team competition, it will have regulations. But I think these questions will have pretty much the same answers everywhere.

  1. Yes, you're sitting right next to them, and you can walk around as usual, so you can see their boards.

Usually teams have a team leader also, whose role is to advise you about offering or accepting a draw (but not in a way that gives you information about his opinion of your own position! If you ask him "Can I offer a draw?", he must answer yes or no immediately; he can't walk up to your board, think for a while, then say no. It would be obvious then that he thought you had the better position, which is a big no-no). He can otherwise watch all games all the time though.

  1. You can leave if you want. The team leader has to sign the result form at the end, but the players are done when their game is over. Most of the time you'll be eager to know the end result and stay, though.

  2. Re-entering the hall really depends on the regulations. You'll be a spectator. In most amateur leagues, spectators can just stand next to the boards if they wish, so so can you.

  3. Officially you can not speak to anybody during any chess game, including team matches. Practice is slightly less rigorous. If you discuss the ongoing chess games, you're definitely over the line.

  4. No, of course you can't analyze a game right next to ongoing games, that's clearly distracting for the players. Usually there will be a separate room where games can be analyzed.


Just from my experience playing in a lowly ECF English county league:

  1. Does not seem to be a problem.
  2. No problem - just check with your captain that he got your score and ask if he wants you to do anything else (perhaps he needs help with cleaning up the venue or such).
  3. Does not seem to be a problem in the county leagues, but I believe FIDE is now quite strict with whom is allowed into the playing area. I would check with the tournament rules.
  4. Not encouraged. I've had the occasional "supporting" smile or nod from a team mate while getting a drink from the club bar, or a "how do you do?" from non-playing members of the club, but generally I think you are asking for trouble if you start a significant conversation with anyone while your game is in progress. It is likely that the opposing captain will lodge a complaint if he thinks you may be discussing your game, and it does not take much to get their suspicion kindled in my experience.
  5. It seems to be OK to use the empty board for a friendly with another player (and it does happen on occasion), provided that you maintain the match playing conditions - i.e. do not start a conversation or do anything that interfere with the players still at play. I don't think it is appropriate to discuss your game though, since that would cause unnecessary noise in the playing area. Once again, FIDE is probably more strict on this.

Late to the party for this question, but there is one more aspect of team chess that is very important that may, or may not, be considered etiquette; but it is definitely a firm guideline for team chess.

Don't lose. A draw is always fine, but try not to lose ever. Of course, this is not always possible, but playing on a team has a lot more responsibility than just playing for yourself.

I know that sounds funny since your opponent is trying to beat you, but you have to try to play positions that do not give you a high chance of losing, which puts your team behind the eight-ball. If you are a wild, out-of-control attacker, I probably do not want you on my team.

I have played a lot of team chess over the years, including being a multiple winner of the Northeast Chess League (it was a thing in NH and Massachusetts a long time ago), and finishing second in the open section of the U.S. Amateur Team East tournament in 1993.

In both of these events, you have only four boards, so losing forces your teammates to go 2.5/3 in the remaining games if they want to win the match. This is, obviously, a tall order.

So keep that in mind when picking teammates, and when you play in team tournaments.


Proper etiquette is to obey the rules including the spirit of them and not try to game them for advantage.

Usually players have to play boards in order of their ratings. And except for wide open events there is an average maximum or possibly actual maximum/minimum ratings allowed.

Normally you all play in one room so you can see all the games. What you are not supposed to do is talk about them and give help to your teammates. As I have said many times, cheating is rampant in chess.

If you win quickly what you do is up to you and to a lesser extent what your team mates want you to do. I usually stay to see who wins the match.

If you leave the hall you can usually return but that might depend on the event and venue. My events were usually local and more casual so there were no restrictions.

You have full contact with your teammates. But you are usually required not to discuss any games you are involved in. We often discussed other matters especially if our games had ended and we were waiting around.

Rules and etiquette would require you to make phone calls outside.

And any of this can be overwritten by specific rules for a given event and its location.

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