chess arbiter

Who are Chess Arbiters and What is the Process of Becoming One?

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If you are conversant with the game of chess, or you are just an enthusiast who follows competitive chess closely, Chess Arbiter is a term you would have heard one too many times.

A Chess Arbiter is about the most important person in the world of competitive chess. It is a title that the World Chess Federation (FIDE) awards to someone who has proven to possess a high level of knowledge about the rules of chess.

Chess Arbiters are not only knowledgeable about the game of chess, but they also qualify as referees during chess matches. Thus, the definition of Chess Arbiters is that they are high-level chess referees with certification and recognition from the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

What do Chess Arbiters Do?

Chess Arbiters are referees. The same way a basketball game has a referee and a baseball game has an umpire. Chess Arbiters preside over chess matches and ensure the players follow all the rules of chess.

They are responsible for cautioning and penalizing erring players during chess matches. Arbiters must be knowledgeable about Chess and the laws of chess.

Sometimes, some situations come up in a chess match that are not covered in the written laws of Chess; an Arbiter should be able to rule on such situations.

Arbiters have to know everything about the gamer of Chess, such as the speed and pace of the game, the chessboard and pieces, the chess clock, the validity of moves, scoring, and the players’ conduct.

What is the Process of Becoming a Chess Arbiter?

The first thing that a Chess Arbiter must be is an exceptional chess player. They must also have a genuine passion for the game, which is usually why they choose to become an Arbiter. If a person has no prior chess-playing skills, becoming a Chess Arbiter takes a lot of experience and training. To become an International or FIDE-certified Arbiter, a lot of time and effort has gone into it.

Technically, you must not be a professional chess player to become an Arbiter. You only have to prove that you have an in-depth knowledge of the game to qualify. This includes knowing the laws of chess, the Swiss Pairing Systems, and the laid-down FIDE Chess Regulations.

As much as these laws and regulations can be learned, you still need to have some level of chess knowledge to understand them perfectly. With that said, a solid grasp of the rules of the game, a strong love for chess, and the ability to be just and fair are all you need to become a Chess Arbiter.

To learn how to be a Chess Arbiter, you can learn anywhere the game is played. And an Arbiter must be willing to travel to attend chess tournaments and matches in different parts of the world.

If you want to be a FIDE-certified or international Arbiter, you should do some with the World Chess Federation, which is also called Federation Internationale des Échecs. This is the body responsible for the issuance of licenses to arbiters and the overall governing of the sport. FIDE has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Requirements for becoming an Arbiter

  • In-depth knowledge of chess laws, FIDE regulations, and the Swiss Pairing Systems.
  • You must be objective and impartial at all times.
  • Strong mastery of one official FIDE language.
  • Ability to handle different types of electronic clocks for different systems.
  • You must have attended a minimum of one (1) FIDE Arbiters Seminar. You must also score at least 80% of the Arbiters Commission’s examination.
  • You must have worked as an Arbiter in at least three FIDE-rated matches.


Arbiters are very important in the chess world. They make tournaments and matches successful by governing the players and making sure they follow the rules of the game.

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