An abalone tournament is played mostly with the same rules as casual abalone. It is also governed by the main rules and regulations used in a chess tournament for every possible dispute or situation one might come across during a game in a tournament. Simply understanding these basic rules is more than enough to confidently play in any tournament.
• When in doubt, ask!
Never hesitate to ask a tournament director to clarify any confusion you may have about the rules. If you and an opponent have a disagreement, stop the clocks, find a director, and ask them to make a ruling.
• If you touch a marble, you must move it.
This is known as the touch-move rule, and is often a source of difficulty for players new to tournaments. Of course this rule only applies if you can make a legal move with the marble you touched. There are some exceptions. If you accidentally brush a marble, you are not required to move it. If a marble is awkwardly placed, you can adjust it; like in chess, simply say “I adjust” before touching the marble to make it clear to your opponent that you don’t intend to move it. It goes without saying that you are not allowed to touch an opponent’s marble.
• When you make your move, you must not hide the move from your opponent.
When it is your turn to move, be careful not to hide the move from your opponent, even accidentally with your hand, especially when you play a side-step move. During all the game, your opponent must be able to see what you are doing on the board.
• Some tournaments require players to record their moves.
This helps provide evidence of what has occurred during the game in case of a dispute. In order to record your game, you will need to know or to learn how to read and write an abalone notation (in most cases Aba-Pro).
• Never interfere with a game in progress.
In most abalone tournaments, you will be able to walk around the playing area and watch other games, provided you do so quietly. Observers are forbidden from telling players anything about their games, even if they notice a violation of the rules.
• Turn off your cell phone.
In recent years, new rules have been written to deal with loud phones, which can break the concentration of abalone players. If your phone rings in the playing area, you will likely be subject to a penalty, and may even have to forfeit your game.
• Understand how to use a chess clock.
An abalone tournament is played with time limits, which vary by event. Time is kept by using a chess clock. Using these clocks can be distracting at first, but will soon become second nature. Most importantly, remember to hit your clock after each move you make. This stops your clock and starts your opponent’s time. Also, be sure to use the same hand to move your pieces and touch the clock.
• After the game is over, record your result.
Win, lose, or draw, both players are required to make sure the proper result is recorded. If you are not sure where to mark down your result, ask a director for help.
Now, good games, and have fun!