Can you talk during chess matches? (Clarified Rule!)

A distraction is something that every player would not want to face in a serious competitive chess match. We have all seen that guy, the one that just can’t shut up while we are thinking.

But have you ever wondered if there’s an actual regulation in place monitoring noises in formal chess competitions? It does after all significantly affect people’s gameplay.

There are only a handful of acceptable verbal exchanges during a chess match (I resign, I adjust, etc.), where any excessive noise is within grounds for penalties.

There exists a real etiquette that should be followed (not just unwritten) in order to practice the appropriate atmosphere. I recommend not going out of bounds of what is necessary since it may stir some trouble.

But what does going out of bounds mean? Let’s discuss it in full detail.

Is there a Fide rule addressing too much talking?

This rule is not just some good ethics that players do outside of any disciplinary action from the official body. Fide (international regulator) has separately made an article addressing what exactly is forbidden in terms of verbal exchange.

According to the fide laws of chess 11.5, It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever.

Just the fact that there is a signifying point at the handbook already tells us the legitimacy of this rule. And it does make sense since talking for the most part is not really necessary in over the board play.

For more context here’s the entirety of article 11.5:

FIDE Laws of Chess 11.5 “It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw, or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area. “

The section with the unreasonable claims and offers of draws may have a gray area that is hard to tell when it becomes “unreasonable”. But most players can tell if this line gets crossed, basically if it is distracting enough then it is applicable to this rule.

By the same light other acts that could have been a source of noise such as trash-talking (intimidation) are not condoned. It may be a part of other competitions out there but it does not belong to chess.

Most tournaments are played with multiple participants present with their game at the same time, this is just annoying and irrelevant. It’s just easy to throw someone out this way and such people are not that rudimentary to the chess community moving further.

If such cases happen it is eligible for disciplinary action depending on the arbiter’s discretion. The penalty may be as light as some time adjustments or as severe as temporary tournament bans (due to wrongful conduct).

If such issues arise in some of your games, you can stop the clock and complain to the arbiter. The arbiter will be tasked to resolve the issue as he or she sees fit, the point is it will be solved.

In the same regard you should practice not talking in the game at all unless it is really important. By important I mean that it directly influences the result of the match.

Can you talk in tournaments if it’s really important?

Yes, you can talk in chess tournaments especially if it has something to do with the game itself.

Of course there are certain verbal exchanges that are not only allowed but are necessary to properly conduct a game. 

These are acceptable lines of communication that are part of chess playing which most people will generously consider (such as resigning, saying I adjust, or pointing which side it is to move). These are areas that would not be in the realm of penalties since they are just ethically correct.

If you really want to say something though you should practice whispering your concerns (in a way that is understandable). I personally got into some trouble when I adjust a piece without my opponent understanding what I’ve said (cause I whisper).

The dispute was concluded by the arbiter who applied the touch move rule that causes me to lose a full rook. I was winning in that game too, such the issue cost me the game.

This is why you should whisper but at the same time make the intentions clear. And then take notice if the opponent actually realizes your concern.

This brings us to another topic, you can mutter to yourself (light sounds), but don’t make it distracting. As long as it doesn’t in any way affect the opponent’s playing behavior then it is acceptable.

Generally, if it is as loud as a conversational level then it may be too rowdy for the taste of the tournament. Most sounds in tournaments come from clocks that get clicked back and forth.

And that is the way that it should be, most communication happens over the board not verbally (again, there are special exceptions). And the tickling sound of the clock should be not an issue for most people coming from experience.

Is saying check and checkmate considered a distraction?

This is a question that is applicable for beginners that are not that experienced in tournaments. Does the tendency to say check or checkmate considered a distraction?

Yes, saying check and checkmate whenever such arises is a form of distraction that is eligible for some regulation.

In the general side of things, a player is not required to mutter these thoughts (check/checkmate) altogether. And I can understand since this is commonly practiced in informal games in the absence of an arbiter.

But a check/checkmate generally is not stated by people participating in tournaments. It can be a form of intimidation to mock the opponent’s inability to spot these conditions.

So it is forbidden or together to prevent these complications. Verbal exchange should be limited again, only when it is necessary.

Can you and your opponent discuss the game after the result?

This may be something you have observed from watching top players go at it. They don’t really discuss much of the game after all is said and done don’t they?

Two individuals who have finished their games are not allowed to discuss their thoughts as it might disrupt other participants of the event.

Just because you have finished your own game doesn’t mean that you’re the only one playing. You will not want a couple of people right beside you to start talking loudly while yours are not finished right?

Generally, it is forbidden to talk about the game in the playing area (where there are boards and pieces). I know you may consider this unreasonable but just think about it, if everybody starts doing this there will be chaos at the end of every round.

Do not worry though since some tournaments have exclusive rooms for talking, just go there and do what you want. The extent to which a sort of discussion you can perform in the playing area is limited to muttering (whispering).

And even that you shouldn’t do excessively since it may annoy people around you.

The noise rule though is much relaxed in lower tournaments where there are limited arbiters to conduct the rules and there’s no such thing as an “exclusive room”. But even in these settings, you shouldn’t outright blast noises about how good your game went.

If things become too noticeable then even a relaxed rule would start to get implemented.

Are you not allowed to talk even if it is not a tournament game?

So there’s an actual rule in a tournament setting, but what if it is not? What if I am playing with just my friend or schoolmate, can I not talk?

You are permitted to talk during informally-based chess depending on the prior agreement, although it is still considered rude to talk too much.

Of course you absolutely can play chess the way you want to even in a different way from what is practiced in tournaments. However, there is a reason why the rule is conceived in the first place.

That reason will remain since you literally are playing the same game, basically talking loud is still distracting even in informal games. There should be some sort of limitation in place on how much noise is allowed (even if it is not as strict in the tournaments).

Generally, it is just considered rude to talk too much since it will mess up your opponent’s calculations. Of course, the guy in question will call you out on this eventually if you can’t shut up.

You should just practice silence whenever you are in action, talk with the brains not with the mouth.

Will you still talk during chess matches?

I hope all of your concerns have been properly addressed in this article. Stop talking if it’s not necessary to avoid pissing your opponent and the arbiter.

People who can’t stop talking usually don’t have that much fight in them since they can’t focus. Just gather your attention to what’s happening over the board in order for you to be a complete player.

There’s just not much value to even trash-talking, it will be a completely different way of chess if it was possible. In fact you should appreciate this rule since it lets you bring your full potential, sleep well and play chess.

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