One of the most important roles in the operation of a chess tournament is that of the tournament director. The tournament director (TD) is the individual in charge of running the technical aspects of the tournament, as well as responding to the questions and concerns of players in regards to the tournament itself.
In a small tournament, it is often the case that the TD is also the organizer of the tournament. At the same time, a TD in a small, local event might also play in that tournament as well, a situation that is particularly common in club tournaments when a member serves as the TD.
In a typical tournament, the TD (or in larger events, a team of directors) will be responsible for a number of important tasks, including:
Pairings: The TD is responsible or pairing the players for each round. Today, this is often done with the help of a computer program.
Rules Enforcement: It is the TD’s job to resolve any disputes between players, arbitrate situations when necessary, make rulings and enforce penalties. They may also have to ensure a positive playing environment by keeping an eye on spectators who might be disturbing players.
Prizes: Directors must collect entry fees and distribute prizes at the end of a tournament.
If you’re interested in directing tournaments yourself, the process of becoming a low-level TD is rather simple. In the USCF, a “club” TD only needs to confirm that they’ve read the rules of chess, at which point they are qualified to run small, local tournaments. If you do so, it will likely be highly appreciated by your club – good TDs are often in short supply! Higher levels of TD certification are also available, allowing individuals to direct progressively larger events. At the highest levels, directors are known as arbiters, with International Arbiters often being put in charge of directing World Championship matches and other world-class events.