Why Do Chess Players Adjourn? (Fully Explained)

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If you have seen the chess games before the 90s or have read them in some books, then you might have seen that some of the games were adjourned. Do you know what does it actually mean? Why do players do it? Even in some movies like Queen’s Gambit, you may have seen this thing.

So, why do chess players adjourn? Chess players adjourn because some games are quite long to be finished in a day. So they postpone it to the next day. After the advent of chess engines and shorter time controls, adjournment rarely happens in a game.

The correct procedure for adjournment is, whenever it is made, the player with the turn to move, is supposed to write what the next move would be (which is also called a sealed move) secretly in the scoresheet, put that in a sealed envelope along with score sheet of the opponent, and submit it to the arbiter. Thus to adjourn the game, chess players seal their moves.

The word ‘adjourn’ means suspend or discontinue. So whenever a game extends the prescribed time duration that is suitable for a single day, the adjournment is made.

After that, both players leave the playing area and go back to their rooms. They take rests and then come back again to play that game the next day.

The arbiter would open the envelope and declare the move only when the game resumes. Since the moves are kept in a sealed envelope none of the players know what the board position would be when the game resumes.

Chess Adjournmet Rules

FIDE is the International body that governs and manages all the chess competitions and their rules regulations. The standard rules of chess are mentioned in the FIDE Laws Of Chess.

In that, under Guideline 1, there is a complete description of the adjourned games. Here are the key points from that:

  • When an adjournment is made the player with the turn to move, writes this down in the scoresheet and then along with the opponent’s scoresheet puts it in a sealed envelope.
  • After sealing the envelope then only that player stops the clock and submits it to the arbiter. The player has the right to change the sealed move until he/she presses the clock.
  • Following things must be present in the sealed envelope: the name of the players, positions immediately before the sealed move, time on the clock, name of the player who has sealed the move along with the number of the sealed move, the recent draw offer made, and all other necessary details like date, time, and venue of the game.
  • The arbiter is supposed to check all the information and keep it safe until the next day when the game resumes again.
  • If the player made a draw offer after his/her opponent has sealed the move, the offer is active until it gets accepted or rejected.
  • (As per FIDE article, A draw offer can be accepted or rejected orally. It gets rejected, if the player touches with the piece with the intention to move or if the game concludes in some other manner)
  • Whenever the game again starts, before that, the exact position of the board before the sealed move must be restored. Moreover the clock should indicate the time as it was shown at the time of adjourning the game.
  • Before the game resumes, if both the players agree draw or if any of them resigns then the game is concluded.
  • The envelope can be opened only when the player who would reply to the seal move is present.
  • If the sealed move can’t be understood or if it is illegal then the player making that move loses the game.
  • If at the time when the game resumes, the player who is going to reply the sealed move is present then the envelope is opened, the sealed move is made and the clock is started.
  • But in case he/she is not present then also the clock is started but the envelope is opened only when he/she arrives.
  • The procedure is whenever that player arrives, he/she must stop his/her clock, call the arbiter after which the envelope is opened and the sealed move is made. Then the player must restart the clock.
  • If the player who made the sealed move is not present, then his/her opponent has the right to note down the reply in the scoresheet, seal it in a fresh envelope and then stop his/her clock thus, starting the opponent’s clock.
  • The arbiter is responsible for taking care of the new sealed envelope and shall open only when that absent player arrives.
  • The player who arrives after the pre-decided default time period will lose the game unless the arbiter decides otherwise.
  • If as per the regulations of the event, the default time is not zero and if both the players are not present initially then, the player who has to reply to the sealed move shall lose all his/her time that goes away until he/she reaches the spot unless the arbiter or event regulators decide otherwise.
  • If due to some reason, the sealed envelope is not present then the game must continue from the adjourned position with the time that was set during the adjournment.
  • But if that time period can’t be restored then the arbiter must set the clock. The player who made the sealed move should make that move.
  • If by no means the game can be restored according to that when the adjournment was made, then the game must be declared invalid and a fresh game must be started.
  • If during the time when the game resumes and any of the player appeals before making his/her first move about the incorrect time showing on either clock, then that must be corrected first.
  • But if the game continues and no such appeal is made then the game shall continue even without the correction unless the arbiter decides to do so.
  • The time period of each session when it resume must be controlled by the arbiter’s timepiece. The starting time of each session must be announced well in advance.

Also, Read My Article: Why Do Chess Players Hit The Clock? (Explained!)

Adjournment In The Movie Queen’s Gambit

In the movie Queen’s Gambit, Beth played the final game against Borgov in Russia. In that Borgov called for the adjournment.

Agadmator’s Chess Channel has made a complete video of the final match played between Beth and Borgov. You can watch this video to get the full video analysis of the game and see how adjournment occurs during the game.

Why There Are No More Adjournments Nowadays?

During the past, roughly before the 90s, computers in chess were not so powerful. Moreover, chess games naturally extended longer because time controls were not developed so much.

But nowadays, we have digital clocks that can measure increment and everything very precisely. And time controls are also shorter nowadays which makes the game end faster. Thus reducing the chances of adjournment.

Moreover, chess engines and computers are very powerful. So it would be meaningless to adjourn the game in today’s time.

This is because the players would simply go to their rooms, feed the moves in the engine (the chess program), and get the answers.

By doing this the fairness of the game would be completely lost. It would feel like cheating. Isn’t it?

In the olden days, there were no such powerful computers. The players used to ask their helpers to analyze the game for them.

But now using computers, would be totally against ethics. And due to all these reasons, adjournments in chess are rarely seen nowadays.

Recommend Read: Is Chess.com Premium Worth It?

Final Words

So that’s it! If you liked reading this article then you will also like to read my other related articles.

Thanks, And Good Luck! And yes, if you are new to chess then forget to give it a try because you will really enjoy it.