Laws of Chess

League rules

Operative from September 2018

with 2018 additions in red

and deletions as strike-through

1 League structure

1.1 Membership

Membership of the league shall be open to all clubs in Sussex. Member clubs may enter one or more teams in the annual competition, subject to any maximum imposed from time to time on the number permitted.

1.2 Organisation

The league shall be organised in divisions, the size and number of which shall be periodically reviewed at the league AGM with the aspiration that the first division should have 11 teams. This should take into account the impact on other divisions.

1.3 Promotion & relegation

From season to season, promotion and relegation shall operate on a two-up, two-down basis across all divisions. Each team that wins promotion must take their place in the higher division next season, with the exception of the team placed second in the second division, who may decline promotion provided that the next-to-bottom team in the first division agrees not to be relegated. Should this option be exercised, only one team shall be demoted from the first division. Other adjustments may also be made by the Management Committee from time to time as teams enter or withdraw from the League.

1.4 New teams

New teams shall start in one of the lowest two divisions.

2 Arrangements for the playing season

2.1 Season

The season will commence with the distribution of Fixture Lists in accordance with rule 2.5. All matches, other than additional matches [see rule 12], should be completed by 14th May, unless permission has been obtained from the Fixtures Secretary to play the game at a later date.

2.2 Entries

Team applications must be submitted by 14 September. League entry fees must be submitted concurrent with the Team Entry Application in order for teams to be included in the Fixtures List. Clubs must also pay any non-ECF members game fee incurred within 14 days of being invoiced by the League. Payment shall be by cheque unless a BACS transfer is arranged in advance with the Treasurer.

2.3 Venues

Unless otherwise agreed at the AGM, half of each team’s matches shall be played at home, and the other half away. If a club does not wish to travel for an away match, it may ask for the match to be played at a "half-way-house" venue and it shall then be responsible for all arrangements and costs.

2.4 Fixtures

Each team shall play one match against every other team in its division. If a club has two or more teams in the same division, then these teams must play the match or matches between them before playing any other matches.

2.5 Fixture lists

The Fixtures Secretary shall circulate to all teams by 28th September the Fixtures List for the season with the initial matches set for mid October. This will take into account up to 15 dates a team does not wish to play on as specified in the Team Application Form.

2.6 Fixture changes

Upon receipt of the fixture lists, clubs should check their viability Changes may be made ( including mutually agreed weekend arrangements):

All fixture changes, and any resulting disputes, must be notified by both clubs within 7 days to the Fixtures Secretary. Failure to do so will incur 4 default points (see 6.1). The Committee shall consider the circumstances and may default any team found to have changed or withdrawn from a fixture otherwise than in accordance with this rule.

3 Eligibility of players

3.1 Eligibility for a team

To be eligible to play in a team, a player must comply with at least 2 of the following criteria:

  1. Payment of a current season annual subscription to the club
  2. Having their main residence or place of work /education within the County of Sussex (East or West)
  3. Having their main residence within 20 miles outside of the East / West Sussex county boundary
  4. Having played at least one full season in an internal club competition in the previous few years; i.e. played and completed the full schedule
  5. Having played at least 40% of matches for the club in two previous MSL seasons in the previous five years
  6. Birth in Sussex

A new team member will be deemed ineligible unless the club has furnished to the Tournament Controller proof of which two rules they qualify under before or concurrent with the submission of the match result [rule 10.2]

If it is not the club’s first team, restrictions concerning nominated players also apply [see rule 4].

3.2 Eligibility after changing clubs

A player may change clubs within the league once during the season provided that he/she has played fewer than five matches for his/her original club.

3.3 Monitoring eligibility

3.3.1 The eligibility of a player for a particular team appearance may be formally questioned by the opposing team captain to the Match Recorder, who will investigate that eligibility, together with the Management Committee, and will communicate their decision to all affected parties.

3.3.2 Eligibility may also be questioned by the Match Recorder or Fixtures Secretary, who shall act as above.

3.3.3 The Match Recorder shall continually monitor the eligibility of all players. If any player plays for two clubs in any season, the Match Recorder shall inform both clubs of this occurrence within 21 days of his receipt of the relevant match card.

3.4 Penalties for ineligible players

3.4.1 If a team plays an ineligible player, then it is deemed to have defaulted on the board.

3.4.2 If an ineligible player plays on any board except the lowest, his/her playing will have caused players lower in the team order to have played one board lower then they ought. A penalty shall therefore be deducted and added to the opposing team’s score. Penalties are calculated on the basis of the total score obtained by the team on boards below the ineligible player, as follows:

Total score on lower boards Penalty
0 or ½ Nil
1, 1½ or 2 ½
2½, 3 or 3½ 1
4 or more

(E.g. A team loses on boards 1 and 2, wins on boards 3 and 4, and draws on board 5, but plays an ineligible player on board 2. The total score on boards below the ineligible player is 2½, so the match score is adjusted by 1 penalty point, and the original 2½–2½ draw becomes a 1½–3½ loss.)

3.4.3 If a team plays more than one ineligible player, then a separate penalty as above will be assessed in respect of each such player.

4 Nominated players

4.1 Declaring nominations

Each club entering more than one team shall, at the beginning of the season, and before playing any matches, submit a list of nominated players to the Fixtures Secretary. The Fixtures Secretary shall compile a list of all nominated players and arrange for this to be posted on the league’s website.

4.1.1 Each club entering two teams must nominate a minimum of its 4 strongest players for its 1st team.

4.1.2 Each club entering three or more teams must also nominate a minimum of its next4 strongest players for its 2nd team. If entering four or more teams the club must also nominate a minimum of its next 4 strongest players for its 3rd team, and so on.

4.2 Restrictions on nominated players

4.2.1 A nominated player may not play for a team lower than the one for which he/she has been nominated.

4.2.2 Whether nominated or not, a player from a lower team may appear on a match score card 3 times for higher teams while retaining his eligibility to play for the lower team. Upon appearing on a match score card a 4th time for any higher team the player becomes ineligible to play for the lower team.

4.3 New players

If a club acquires a new member during the season, then the club must advise the Match Recorder of that player’s details in accordance with rule 3.1 within 7 days of his/her first appearance for one of its teams. These details should be sufficient to establish with certainty whether the player is known to the grading system, and should preferably comprise complete name (surname, forename, other initials), sex, date of birth and BCF player code. If the player would have been nominated for a team had he/she been available at the start of the season, then such a player may not play for a lower team. The Fixtures Secretary shall amend the nominations for that club appropriately. If the Match Recorder considers that this rule has been clearly disregarded, he/she may treat such a player as ineligible, and apply the provisions of rule 3.4.

4.4 Infrequent players

If a club elects not to nominate a player who is available only infrequently, then such a player may not play for a team lower than that for which he/she would normally have been nominated. If the Match Recorder considers that this rule has been clearly disregarded, he/she may treat such a player as ineligible, and apply the provisions of rule 3.4.

4.5 Nominated players in play-off matches

The only eligibility requirement for a play-off match is that a player must have played two or more times for the team in that season.

5 Teams

5.1 Team size

Five-board matches shall be played in all divisions.

5.2 Team order

In each match, a team must play in descending order of current playing strength. It is recognised that, for many reasons, a player’s grading may not be the best guide to current form, and considerable discretion is allowed a team captain in this area. Nevertheless, the Match Recorder may require a team captain to justify his team order, and, should he/she be satisfied that the provisions of this rule have been clearly disregarded to the detriment of the opposing team, he/she shall refer the matter to the Management Committee who may adjust the match result as seems appropriate.

5.3 Incomplete teams

If a team is unable to raise a full complement of players for a match, it must default on the bottom board or boards. A team that attends a fixture with insufficient players to win it will be deemed to have defaulted the match, and the conditions of rule 6.2 apply.

6 Defaults

6.1 Penalties for defaults

For a team defaulting boards in any match, "default penalty points" (dpts) shall be levied as follows: 5dpts – board 1; 4dpts – board 2; ... 1dpt – board 5. For each 8 default penalty points accumulated in a season, half a match point shall be deducted.

6.2 Seriously defaulting teams

A team that postpones or rearranges a match other than in accordance with Rule 2.6 or has insufficient players to win a match by the deadline established under 8.5 will be deemed to have defaulted it. In this circumstance the following procedure shall apply.

6.2.1 The team shall have one match point deducted from its total.

6.2.2 The match shall be replayed at a date convenient to the team defaulted against. The team defaulted against may also include any player who would have been eligible on the previously scheduled date. In the event of disagreement a date for replaying the match shall be set by the Match Recorder.

6.2.3 If the defaulting team does not replay the match it shall automatically be relegated and all its match results declared void. (Games played by the defaulting team shall be graded as normal.)

7 Timings

7.1 Playing session

At least 3 hours and 10 minutes must be allowed for play.

7.2 Clocks

Clocks must be used in all games. The time controls specified below apply to all games in all matches in all divisions. A visiting club may bring suitable digital clocks to a fixture if the host club is known not to possess their own.

7.3 Time controls

7.3.1 Default time control

All moves in 65 minutes plus a 30-second increment per move from move 1.

For guidance clubs should be aware that games could last up to a maximum total time (but only if both players use all their allocation) as shown:

MinsSecsMovesMax total time

7.3.2 Alternate time control (if both players agree)

Before White makes his second move both players may agree to play under the following time control:

42 moves in 90 minutes, and 7 moves per 15 minutes thereafter.

In games played under 7.3.2 the team captains must in advance of play agree the time at which play will stop and if following play the players cannot agree a result the game shall be adjudicated [rule 9].

7.3.3 If suitable digital clocks are not available

30 moves in 60 minutes and an additional 35 minutes to complete the game.

Alternatively, and before White makes his second move both players may agree to play as per 7.3.2.

7.3.4 Host club unable to meet condition 7.3.1

Having regard to the normal and reasonable duration of occupancy of their premises on a match night, a host club may (but for no other reason) elect to play:

As 7.3.1 but play shall stop after Black’s 60th move and if the players cannot agree a result the game shall be adjudicated [rule 9].

Alternatively, and before White makes his second move both players may agree to play as per 7.3.2 or:

All moves in 80 minutes with a 10-second increment per move from move 1.

7.4 Scoring

For all games played with a 30-second increment an accurate scoresheet must be maintained throughout the game. For games played at other permissible time controls no further scoring is required by a player once less than five minutes has first appeared on that player’s clock.

7.5 Recording

The home team captain must record the time control at which each game was played and submit this with the match result [rule 10].

8 The playing session

8.1 Laws of chess

The FIDE laws apply in general and the Management Committee will utilise the version produced by the Chess Arbiters Association for interpretation of the various aspects of these laws in the context of the League, except as set out in 8.1.1

8.1.1 Mobile phones, other communication devices, tablets and similar equipment are allowed in the playing area. However, they must be either switched off or switched to silent mode for the duration of the match. Home team captains must remind players of this requirement. If a player’s equipment makes any sound during his game, then: on the first occurrence he will receive a warning. For a second offence by the same player in the same game, the penalty is loss of the game.

8.2 Before play begins

The away team will have the White pieces on the odd numbered boards and Black on the even. Immediately before a match, team captains shall: (1) exchange names of team players; (2) agree and announce to all participants: (a) the time controls and if applicable explain the option of alternate timings, (b) the agreed finishing time, (c) any arrangements for interruptions that could involve stopping clocks,and (d) the content of rule 8.1.1.

8.3 Start of play

8.3.1 The home team should be ready to play by 7.30pm. An away team whose members are all present shall be entitled to insist that the match commences at or after 7.30pm, even if the home team is incomplete, with any member of the home club and start the clocks thereafter.

8.3.2 The away team should be ready to play by 7.45pm. The home team shall be entitled to insist that the match commences at or after 7.45pm.

8.4 Missing clocks

If no clocks are available at 7.30pm, then time may be deducted from the home team’s clocks. e.g. if clocks are not ready for 10 minutes after the away team were ready to start the match, then the home teams will have their available time reduced by 10 minutes.

8.5 Late players

If a player is not present by 8.30pm, or after 45 minutes after the start of his clock, whichever is the later, and his team captain has no reserve available to take his place, then the game is lost by default.

8.6 Refreshments

The home team is expected to provide refreshments.

8.7 Mutually agreed changes to playing session.

If two teams agree to play at a time other than an evening, eg at a weekend, then all times must be adjusted accordingly.

9 Adjudication including Quickplay Finish claims

Note the detailed procedures for submitting an adjudication claim here

9.1 Submitting games for adjudication

Team captains should make reasonable efforts in the eight days following a match to agree the results of any unfinished games. If agreement on any such game cannot be reached, then each club must submit the position and their claim to the Adjudication Secretary of the Sussex County Chess Association in accordance with SCCA procedures.

With regard to a quickplay finish claim under 7.7(b) a copy of the verified scoresheet must also be submitted by the claiming team

9.2 Notification of adjudicated results

The Adjudication Secretary is responsible for reporting all adjudication results to both of the team captains involved and the Match Recorder.

9.3 Appeals against adjudicated results

If a club wishes to appeal against the result of an adjudication, then the team captain must, within 14 days of receipt of the notification of adjudication (or the last such notification, if more than one game has been submitted in the same match), notify the Match Recorder and the opposing captain of his club’s intention to appeal, and submit forthwith to the Adjudication Secretary of the Sussex County Chess Association in accordance with SCCA procedures.

10 Notification of results

10.1 Completion of results record

It is the home team captain’s responsibility to arrange for the completion of an official result card or record [including full initials of all players and the time control for each game ] before the match, signature by both captains after the match conclusion and its retention until completion of the season at the AGM. If there are undecided games the submission of the result may be pended and, in accordance with rule 9.1, any games subsequently sent for adjudication then marked with an "A".

10.2 Result submission

The home team captain must arrange for the final result to be submitted to the Match Recorder by email as soon as possible, but in any case within ten days where rule 9.1 applies, using the form available on the website. In case of query, the Match Recorder may request to see the signed record and if it is not available, to make a determination of the match result.

11 League positions

11.1 Scoring system

League positions are determined as follows:

11.1.1 For each game in a match, a win shall count as 1 point and a draw as ½ a point.

11.1.2 The winning team will be that team which scores most game points, and thereby gains 1 match point. If game points are equal, each team will score ½ a match point.

11.1.3 League positions are determined by match point score. If two or more teams are level on match points, they shall be placed in order according to the total number of game points they have scored in the division.

11.2 Withdrawal of teams

If a team withdraws during the course of a season all results involving that team are scratched.

12 Additional matches

12.1 Play-off matches for first place

If two or more teams tie for top place in any division, there shall be a play-off if any team involved wishes it. The teams may, however, agree to share the trophy.

12.2 Play-off matches for other places

If two or more teams tie for a promotion or relegation place, there shall be a play-off to resolve the issue. If the two teams have already met in the competition that season then the venue shall be reversed for the play-off.

12.3 Determination of the result in a play-off match

In the event of a drawn play-off match, if all games are drawn the match will be replayed at the away team’s venue, otherwise the result will be determined by board-count, and if the board-count is equal, then by board-elimination.

12.3.1 Board-count

Each team totals the board numbers on which it has won and the team with the lower score wins the match.

12.3.2 Board-elimination

The result on the bottom board is eliminated and if the match is still drawn then the next board is eliminated and so on until one team is winning on the remaining boards.

12.4 Champions v The Rest

At the start of each season, there shall be a match between the League Champions and a "Rest" side selected by the Secretary from all other clubs.

13 Trophies & trophies

13.1 Trophies

The following trophies shall be presented at the AGM and held for one year:

13.1.1 Mowatt Cup – League Champions [Division 1 winners]

13.1.2 Gregory Cup – Division 2 winners

13.1.3 Division 3 Cup [older] – Division 3 winners

13.1.4 Division 4 Cup [newer] – Division 4 winners

13.2 Tankards

The following tankards shall be presented at the AGM and held for one year:

13.2.1 Best Match Average Tankard – The individual who, during the season, has the best percentage in all League matches [excluding additional matches], having played in at least seven such matches. Any games played between eligible and ineligible players are treated as defaults for the purposes of Best Match Average calculation. If two or more players have equal best percentages, then, the trophy shall be shared.

13.2.2 Tankards will also be awarded to the player with the Best Match Average in each Division. To qualify, a player must have played in at least three-quarters of their team’s matches in that Division.

14 Meetings

14.1 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the League will be held in June each year. The League Secretary shall circulate the AGM agenda to clubs at least 14 days before the date of the meeting in order that clubs have time to consider proposed rule changes. The business of the meeting shall include reports from league officers, submission of annual accounts and election of officers for the forthcoming season, and may include proposals for rule changes and consideration of other matters of concern to the league.

14.2 Extraordinary General Meeting

An Extraordinary General Meeting may be called at any time by the Chairman or Secretary, or at the written request of six member clubs.

14.3 Voting at meetings

A club may be represented at any general meeting by one member for each team it had in the league in the current season. All matters to be determined shall be decided by a simple majority of such representatives who are present and voting.

15 Officers

15.1 Election of officers

The following league officers shall be elected at the AGM: Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Fixtures Secretary, Match Recorder, Knock-Out Tournament Controller and Auditor. With the exception of the Auditor the officers will comprise the Management Committee.

15.2 Treasurer

The treasurer shall present the accounts and balance sheet to the auditor by 30th April.

16 Interpretation and amendment of rules

16.1 Interpretation of the rules

Any matter not covered by these rules shall be determined by a majority decision of the Management Committee, subject to the right of any involved club to appeal to the AGM or an EGM under rule 14.2.

16.2 Amendment of the rules

These rules may be amended only by the AGM or by an Extraordinary General Meeting called for that purpose. If a rule change proposal has been rejected at an AGM, a substantially similar proposal may not be raised in the following year unless permission has been sought in advance and approved by leave of the committee.

Old Rule 7 (in operation 2017-18 season)

7 Time controls

7.1 Clocks

Clocks must be used in all games.

7.2 Time controls: division 1

In Division 1 matches, including play-offs between Division 1 teams, at least 3 hours must be allowed for play, and unless 7.5 or 7.6 applies the time control shall be 42 moves in 1 hr 30 min and 7 moves per 15 minutes thereafter.

7.3 Time controls: other divisions

In other matches at least 2 hrs 40 min must be allowed for play. If at least 3 hours is available, then the time control shall be as above with the option of 7.5 or 7.6, but for shorter matches it shall be 40 moves in 1 hr 20 min and 7 moves per 15 minutes thereafter with no 7.5 or 7.6 option.

7.4 Additional time controls

Both clocks should be turned back by 15 minutes for each additional 7-move time control played.

7.5 Incremental time control

Before white makes his second move both players may agree to play under the following time control (subject to suitable digital clocks being available): all moves in 80 minutes with a 10 second increment from move 1.

7.6 Quickplay finish

If suitable digital clocks are not available and before white makes his second move both players may agree to play under the following time control; 30 moves in 60 minutes with all (remaining) moves in 30 minutes. Upon this agreement the clocks shall be adjusted accordingly by adding 30 minutes to each player’s clock. After completion of black’s 30th move the clocks should be turned back by 30 minutes.

7.7 During the quickplay phase of the game

a player may claim a draw when he has less than two minutes left on his clock and before his flag falls. This concludes the game.

He may claim on the basis:

a) that his opponent cannot win by normal means, and/or

b) that his opponent has been making no effort to win by normal means

In (a) the player must write down the final position and his opponent verify it.

In (b) the player must write down the final position and submit an up-to-date scoresheet, which must be completed before play has ceased. The opponent shall verify both the scoresheet and the final position.

If a result cannot be agreed then each club shall submit a claim in accordance with 9.1

7.8 Scoring

No scoring is required by a player once less than five minutes has appeared on that player’s clock.