The following rules of competition apply to all tournaments or events operated by the Mind Sports Olympiad, whether played online or in person. Additional tournament specific rules may be provided on the tournament listing or presented by the arbiter before or during the tournament.
1. General Conduct
1.1 All competitors, spectators and staff must adhere to the Mind Sports Olympiad Code of Conduct and Anti-Harrassment Policy at all times. Respect the organisers at all times.
1.2 The language of the MSO is English other languages must not be spoken whilst playing in a game. Please bear in mind that for many of our competitors English is a second language and care should be taken to speak using vocabulary that is understandable to all players at the table.
1.3 Spectators are always welcome but are reminded not to discuss a game in progress whilst within earshot of the players. Care should be taken so as not to cause any distraction to the players of the game. Spectators should not interfere directly with a game, even if they see what appears to be an illegal play or an incident of cheating, as they may be unaware of a specific situation. In serious instances they are encouraged to find the arbiter and highlight there concerns but should still refrain from interfering with the game (the arbiter will address the matter as they deem appropriate).
2. Tournament Conduct
2.1 Players are expected to maintain a high level of fairness and ethics and to behave appropriately towards other competitors and observers. This includes completing all games in a reasonable manner and not conceding a game to another player (kingmaking) unless resigning a genuinely lost position. In multi-player games players must play the best move for their own game. It is forbidden to kingmake even when the player would benefit from finishing 2nd in the game. Kingmaking is defined to be a player intentionally making a move that does not benefit themselves and serves only to advantage another. Any action which is considered to be against the spirit of the rules or the spirit of fair competition shall be deemed illegal and penalised appropriately, even if that action is not listed as illegal within the published rules. If you are unsure if an action you want to make is legal you should check with the tournament arbiter.
2.2 Cheating on any level will not be tolerated and ignorance of the rules is no defence. If you make a genuine mistake you should highlight it as soon as you become aware. The tournament arbiter will determine how mistakes should be corrected if they are not resolved immediately.
2.3 Players cannot receive outside assistance during a game (unless required due to a disability, which must be agreed with the MSO in advance). Examples include: mobile phone use, discussing strategy/tactics with another person and for online competition includes any unsanctioned software/technology designed to help the player. Unless otherwise specified the use of pen and paper is also forbidden.
2.4 During multi-player games the default rule on table talk is that players cannot suggest moves or give advice to an opponent that may influence their choice of move. Each player should be making their own decisions as to the best move for their interests. For some tournaments this move is altered where an element of bartering/diplomacy is expected.
2.5 Players should never leave a game in progress until it has finished, unless resigning a genuinely lost position. Note that some games (usually ones involving 3 or more players) do not allow for resigning in which case players must play the game to it’s conclusion at the best of their ability.
2.6 A game may be declared a draw if all players agree that it will not reach a natural conclusion and determine a winner. Draws may only be agreed in games of indeterminate length. Players may not agree to draw a game for reasons other than the position of that game being in a genuinely drawn state (eg players cannot agree to a draw to tactically improve their tournament position).
2.7 Notes may not be taken during gameplay unless expressly permitted within the tournament rules or advised as such by the tournament arbiter.
3. Tournament Administration
3.1 Each tournament will be assigned a Tournament Arbiter. He/she will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the tournament and for addressing all queries and disputes brought to their attention during the tournament.
3.2 Tournament rules and timings listed on an event page are not binding. Any amendments (for practical reasons, due to numbers of entrants or unforeseen circumstances, or to correct any errors) will be formally announced by the Tournament Arbiter at the earliest appropriate opportunity. Any rules presented in the room on the day, either verbally or visually, will supersede the online rules. The published finish time should be treated as an estimation only.
3.3 In exam based events, players will usually not be allowed to review their paper after marking, however the solutions will be made public upon completion of the paper, and players will have 24 hours to raise any issues.
3.4 Illegal Moves – These are the default rules for the majority of games which do not have their own rules to cover illegal moves (if applicable the standard game rules shall apply, ask your arbiter for clarification if unsure).
If an illegal move is made that leaves the game in a valid state (i.e. the game can be progressed from this point without any issues caused by the move) then the opponent may choose to accept the illegal move, or ask for their opponent to undo the move and replay it. As soon as the opponent makes a move of their own this is considered an acceptance of the previous move.
If an illegal move is made the leaves the game in an invalid state (i.e. the game has something fundamentally wrong with it that is not permitted, e.g. two pieces on the same square when only one is ever allowed) then, in the first instance, an opponent should notify the player of their mistake, with the move undone and the player may choose an alternative legal move. If the player commits a second illegal move the arbiter should be called to rule appropriately to the situation. The arbiter may issue a warning or a penalty up to loss of game for illegal moves.
3.5 Confirmation of Move – Our default ruling is that a move is confirmed once a player hits their clock or in games without a clock when the player signals an action to the next player. Prior to this moves may be “taken back” providing that no new information has been revealed and no other player has been given a decision to make. Note that some games will have an alternative policy (eg some games enforce a move once the piece is let go of). Check with your arbiter before the tournament if you are unsure.
3.6 For tournaments that are using clocks a players should finish their turn by hitting their clock with the same hand that performed the last part of their move/action.
4. Dispute Resolution
4.1 Players are encouraged to check with the arbiter if they think something is not right, the arbiter is there to help.
4.2 Any disputes during the tournament (including during a game) should be brought to the attention of the Tournament Arbiter at the earliest opportunity. The arbiter will listen to what has happened and make their decision once they have been presented with all of the facts.
4.3 Should a player not agree with a tournament arbiter’s ruling then they can appeal to the Head Arbiter (or appropriate senior figure if the Head Arbiter is the Tournament Arbiter). The Head Arbiter’s decision is final. If the Head Arbiter deems it appropriate he may refer the matter to the MSO Committee for a consensus opinion, who’s decision will likewise be final.
5.1 The possible penalties for breach of rules includes (but is not limited to)
- Formal warning
- Points/position penalty in the game in question (eg docked 10 victory points, or dropped by one finishing position).
- Automatic loss of game.
- Disqualification from tournament.
- Disqualification from meta-events (eg the Pentamind)
- Ban from further MSO competitions.
5.2 Where a disqualification from the tournament penalty (or more severe) is considered, the tournament arbiter should notify a senior organiser so that the penalty can be reviewed before it is applied.
5.3 Should a player be judged to have gained an advantage by breaching a rule even after the penalty has been applied, further penalties shall be applied to ensure that no advantage is gained. It will never be beneficial for a player to break the rules.
6. Online Competition
The following section is only relevant for tournament which take place online as such events bring with them additional complications.
6.1 Online tournaments are reliant upon computer software and 3rd party applications in order to function. If errors (bugs or glitches) occur we will endeavour to mitigate the impact, however, this is not always possible to do. Players taking part in online competition must accept that a bug or glitch might occur which could affect their chances, be that positively or negatively. The same extends to internet connection issues and mis-clicks.
6.2 Players taking part in an online tournament are expected to be present throughout the tournament, apart from during breaks which the arbiter has advised players that they may take.
6.3 Simultaneous play is permitted for players who wish to play in more than one tournament at once. However you must be confident that you can handle the extra work of playing in both tournaments in order to do so. Activities in another tournament will not be accepted as an excuse for lateness or exceeding time allowance in a tournament. Please also bear in mind the Grand Prix rules with regards to scoring for simultaneous play.
6.4 For BoardGameArena automated tournaments please also see our BGA tournaments page which contains important rules and information specific to these tournaments.