USCF Scholastic Blitz Rules: Highlights

by John D. Rockefeller V


Recording is NOT required.

After both players have made their first move, an improperly set board may not be reset correctly & a clock set with insufficient time may not have time added to it. (However, if a clock was set with too much time at the beginning of the game, then a tournament director may reduce the time accordingly at any point during the game.)

A player may use only the same singular hand to move pieces, capture pieces, & press the clock.

A player’s hand may neither remain in contact with, nor hover near the clock.

A player can be penalized for banging pieces and/or the clock excessively.

If a player displaces a piece accidentally, then she must restore it on her time. Her opponent may enforce this rule by restarting her clock before he has made his move & without having requested the permission of a tournament director.

Touch-move rules apply. If a player touches his piece deliberately & can make a legal move with it, then he must move it. If a player touches his opponent’s piece deliberately (with his finger, piece, or anything else) & can capture his opponent’s piece legally, then he must capture it. (As long as the player was initially holding his piece deliberately, the subsequent touching of his opponent’s piece constitutes a deliberate touch—regardless of the player’s intent. So, even if the player touches his opponent’s piece accidentally [indeed, even if the player’s piece slips out of his hand & drops on his opponent’s piece], then the touch counts as a deliberate touch—as long as the player was initially holding his piece deliberately.)

Touch-move rules will be enforced only if a player makes a legitimate touch-move claim. A player may make a touch-move claim in either of 2 ways: 1) restart her opponent’s clock & tell her opponent to move or to capture the touched piece; or 2) pause the clock, raise her hand, & request that a tournament director both impose a time penalty on her opponent (by adding 2 minutes to her time [Rule 1C2a]), and require her opponent either to move his touched piece, or to capture her touched piece.

A player can make a legitimate illegal-move claim against her opponent only after he has completed his move (by pressing the clock). As soon as a player determines her move (by releasing [either deliberately or accidentally] 1 of her deliberately held pieces on a legal square), she loses the right to make an illegal-move claim against her opponent; consequently, any and all of her opponent’s prior illegal moves will stand (may NOT be corrected).

A player must have sufficient mating material to win as the result either of an illegal-move claim, or of a time claim. If a player does NOT have sufficient mating material when she makes a legitimate illegal-move claim or time claim, then the result is a draw.

When a player makes an illegal move, if the move was illegal because he left his King in check, then his opponent may express her illegal-move claim by capturing the player’s King with any piece other than her King. (She may not use her King, because it is illegal for Kings to have been on adjacent squares, and because the game should not end with consecutive illegal moves.)

Because there’s no time delay in Blitz, a player may make a legitimate insufficient-losing-chances claim, as soon as there’s less than 1 minute remaining on her clock. A denied claim will result in an automatic loss.

A player may make a legitimate draw claim in a clearly drawn position. A denied claim will result in 1 minute being deducted from the claimant’s clock—or half of the claimant’s time being deducted, if the claimant has fewer than 2 remaining minutes.

[Since 2013 clock-move rules NO LONGER apply at USCF-rated Blitz tournaments. Clock-move rules apply only at unrated tournaments such as Bughouse tournaments. When clock-move rules apply, touch-move claims will not be enforced; only illegal-move claims will be enforced. When clock-move rules apply, the dispositive criteria for a player’s touch-move claims are immaterial: it doesn’t matter whether her opponent touched his piece deliberately; whether her opponent’s move was determined; or whether the player’s move was determined before she made the touch-move claim—thus nullifying her right to make a legitimate touch-move claim.] (For more details about clock-move rules, see the tournament-announcement page for the MD Scholastic Bughouse Championship at