Rules of Matchplay

League's rules for the conduct of matches.

Updated: Wed, 02 August 2023

01. Divisions and Teams

Teams entering the League Championships shall be allocated to divisions at the AGM.

If a club has more than one team entered in the League, then for eligibility purposes the teams shall be considered to be in rank order: i.e., if a club has 3 teams, A, B and C then the A team is considered to be the highest team and the C team the lowest, regardless of which divisions the teams are in.

For clubs with teams in the same division both the home and away fixtures between those teams must be played by 31st January. If not complied with, such outstanding matches between the two teams shall be void and no match points gained by either side. Both teams will be penalised by 4 game points (3 for three board teams) per each violation.

02. Points

Points shall be awarded on the results of matches, being two for a win, one for a draw and nil for a loss. However, if any team fields any player or players who are not validly registered at the time of the match, in accordance with rule 7, the Fixtures Secretary will impose a 4-0 penalty (3-0 if a 3 board team) on the team that has fielded an ineligible player. The game results shall stand for grading purposes.

Teams will be penalised one match point for every four individual defaults that they accrue during the course of the season.

03. Championship

The League Champions shall be the team with the highest number of points scored in the division concerned. Teams on equal match-points shall be sorted by overall game-point difference.

If match and game points difference are equal, the head to head score from the two matches between the teams will determine the League Champions. If these are also identical a play-off match will be utilised. These tie-break provisions will also be applied in this order to settle relegation tiebreaks.

04. League Season

All matches shall be completed by the end of April.

The Fixtures Secretary can approve requests for an extension beyond the end of April only where exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated. Such extensions must be agreed before the original date of the match.

The Fixtures Secretary can decline any such requests at their absolute discretion. Any games not played by the end of April, where an extension has not been agreed, will result in the match being declared void.

05. Register of Club Officers

Club secretaries shall inform the League Webmaster of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their officers and team captains by the end of June. Before the start of the season, the Webmaster shall publish online a register of the officers and team captains of all clubs in membership of the League.

06. Transfer of Players

A player shall not be eligible to play in the league matches for more than one club in any one season except with the consent of the League Committee.

07. Registration
  1. To be eligible for a league match, all players must have been registered with the League for the team they represent, except for playing up as outlined in “f.” below. Each club must validly register the minimum of players required for each team and must retain this minimum number of eligible players for each team throughout the season.
  2. Any player who was registered in this league in the previous season and did not play a minimum of two games (including games won by default) in the season shall not be accepted for registration as one of the minimum number of players required for a team under rule 7(a).
  3. Each club must submit initial registrations for all the teams which it intends to field, 7 days before the first scheduled match of the season involving any of the club’s teams. These registrations must be, in so far as practicable, in descending order of strength such that the strongest players are in the strongest (highest or “A”) team, and the remaining players are allocated to the club’s other teams in descending order of strength.
  4. Subsequent registrations must be received 7 days before the new player is eligible to play.
  5. The relevant League Official may refuse acceptance of any individual player’s registration, if he believes that a player has been registered for a higher or lower team than his playing strength justifies.
  6. A player who has been validly registered for a team, is entitled to play up for a higher team, but once having played for any combination of higher teams more than twice will be re-registered for the lowest of such higher teams. Playing up on bottom board for the team immediately above that which they are registered for, does not impact on a player’s quota of playing up games. No player may play for a lower team than that for which they have been registered.
  7. The League will maintain a list of approved player registrations for each team on the Website.
  8. Individual Championship KOs. In order to be eligible to play in the League’s Individual KO competitions, a player must have a current registration with the League and must meet the rating requirements for the tournament they wish to enter. See Rule 21.
  9. A player may play in the League’s Team KO competitions, if they are registered with the League for the club they will represent. The player and team must comply with all the provisions of Rule 22.
08. Number of Boards

The number of boards in each division shall be decided at the AGM.

09. Colours to be played

Visiting teams shall play white on odd numbered boards.

10. Equipment

The home team shall be responsible for the provision of sets and boards and for arranging for clocks to be made available. In Division 1 and the Open KO cup, digital chess clocks must be supplied by the home team and will be used. An analogue clock may only be used in Division 1 matches in exceptional circumstances, where no digital clock is available.

11. Results

As soon as possible after a match, both captains shall log on to the ECF LMS website and either enter or verify the result. Any disputed game result should be left blank until the League Committee has made its decision as per Rule 24.

12. Match start time

Matches shall commence at 7.30 p.m. prompt. If only one player is present at the time White's clock shall be started. Any player not arriving by 8.30 p.m. shall forfeit the game

13. Alterations to Fixtures

Both captains shall agree any alterations of match dates. Any team wishing to postpone a match shall inform the opposing team captain at least ten days prior to the date of the match: exceptionally the League Committee may authorise a shorter period of notice. In the event of a postponement the home team shall, within ten days of the original date of the match, offer three dates excluding weekends during the fifty-six days following the match date. Any date which breaches Rule 4 must be agreed with the Fixtures Secretary before being offered to the opposition.

If the opposition fail to accept one of these dates the match shall be lost by them by default.

The Fixtures Secretary shall be notified of any altered match dates as soon as possible.

14. Board Order
  1. Captains shall exchange team lists simultaneously before the start of play.
  2. Teams shall play in strength order and the “75 point rule” will be enforced, such that players with an official rating* can only play out of strength order if the variance is 75 points or less, based on the appropriate ECF or other List. For matches prior to 1st January this shall be the original ratings on the list published on August 1st prior to the start of the season. For matches after that date it will be original ratings on the list published on January 1st. Any breaches of this rule will be referred to the Committee and, if proven, will result in the match in question being void 0-4 (3-0 if a 3 board team) for the purposes of the League Table. In such cases all individual results will still be submitted for grading. [* An official rating is any rating awarded by the ECF (excluding P grades), any other national body or FIDE.]
  3. For ungraded players the club shall provide an estimate, with as much supporting evidence as possible, which shall be accepted by the League Registrations Officer unless he feels that it is unreasonable, for which purpose he may take into account any ECF P rating. These estimates will be re-visited on publication of the ECF Jan 1st list and clubs notified promptly of any changes.
  4. For Junior players the rating difference referred to in clause (b) shall be 150 points instead of 75 points.
  5. If the captain is aware that any player will be defaulting the word Default shall be entered on the lowest possible board.
  6. A player is deemed to have played in a match if the player’s name is entered on the team list or it can be otherwise demonstrated that they have played in a game
15. Substitutes

A substitute is only allowed as a replacement for a player unexpectedly not present at 7.45pm. The clocks for the board must be started from 7.30pm. Substitutes can start the game at any time after 7.45pm up to default time (currently 8.30pm). Clocks are not re-set, so time incurred on the clock is forfeit. The substitute must be named on the match result and indicated as a substitute.

A substitute is only permitted if they have a grade that is no more than 75 points higher than the originally named player. No player may act as a substitute more than twice in a season.

A substitute with a rating more than 75 points lower than a player below the one replaced does not constitute a violation of Rule 14.

The League Committee shall be authorised to investigate any possible improper use of substitutes and to impose a penalty as deemed appropriate on the offending team.

16. Laws

All matches shall be played under the FIDE Laws of Chess, including Article III.6 of Guideline III 'Games without Increment including Quickplay Finishes' and (where pertinent) Appendix D 'Rules for play with Blind and Visually Handicapped Players'.

17. Recording of moves of the game

Each player shall record his own moves and those of his opponent during the game, as provided for by the Laws of Chess, until he has less than five minutes on the clock. Moves may not be recorded on a digital electronic device without the agreement of the opponent.

18. Time Limits

The time limit for all games will be 80 minutes for each player to complete the game, with a 10 second increment for every move. Where no digital clocks are provided/available, the time limit will instead be 90 minutes per player to complete the game. If a player exceeds this time limit the game is lost by that player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player's King by any possible series of legal moves.

19. Mobile Phones

Without the mutual consent of both captains, a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any legal series of moves, then they will get half a point, the offender zero. (This rule is mandatory and cannot be waived by a generous opponent.)

20. Team Withdrawal

If a club wishes to withdraw a team during the season, it will normally be the team in the lowest division in which the club has a team, and its results for any incomplete cycle of matches against all opponents shall be ignored in the final results table for that division.

21. Individual Championships

In order to be eligible to play in the League’s Individual KO competitions, a player must have a current registration with the League, and must meet the rating requirements for the tournament they wish to enter.

In games played in the Standard Play Individual Championships the time controls shall be the same as in League matches. In rounds prior to the final the first player in the pairing is the home player, and will have the black pieces. In case of a drawn game, the fixture shall be replayed with reverse colours and venues. If the first and second games are drawn the result shall be decided (on the same night if practicable) by subsequent 2 x ten minute games played with alternate colours.

The finals shall consist of two games played with alternate colours and reversed venues. The first player in the pairing is the home player in the first game, and will have the black pieces in that game. In the event of each player scoring one point from the two games the result shall be decided by subsequent 2 x ten minute games played with alternate colours.

For the Open Rapid Championship the time control is thirty minutes each in a best out of three competition. The lower rated player will receive an additional 5 minutes for every 75 grading points up to a maximum of 20 minutes (based on ratings as per Rule 14). The first player in the pairing is the home player and will have the black pieces in the first game; colours will then alternate.

22. Team Knockout Cups

In Team Knockout Cups if the matches are drawn the result shall be decided by board elimination. Open and Under 8750 Team Knockout cups are played over five boards, Under 1600 over four boards.

Finals will be played at a venue arranged by the Committee. Toss for colour in finals only.

A player is eligible to play in the League’s Team KO competitions, if they are registered with the League for the club they will represent. Both player and team must also be in compliance with the specific tournament provisions outlined below.

In the U8750 each player in a team must have a rating less than 1900. Total ratings for a team must be less than 8750.

In the U-1600 each player in a team must have a rating less than 1600.

Ratings will be determined in accordance with rule 14 at the time the player is registered.

When a player has played for a club team in the club KOs, they cannot subsequently play for another team in the same graded KO event in the same season.

23. Stanley Gibbins Trophy

This will be awarded to the best performance in the league by an individual player. To qualify, a player must play in 75% of the games for any team in one division. Cup matches and games for higher or lower division teams than the player usually plays, and defaulted games, do not count.

24. Disputes

Should any dispute arise which cannot be resolved at the time by the team captains a detailed account of the dispute sent to the Chairman (as the representative of the League Committee), within seven days of the incident; the Fixtures Secretary shall also be notified that the result of the match is subject to dispute. The Chairman shall, as soon as possible, inform the other party that the dispute has been raised. If the matter cannot be resolved amicably the dispute will then be subject to the following process.

Disputes Process:

  • Where the Committee is required to make a judgement, it (ideally the full committee) shall first hear from all the parties involved, be they club or league official;
  • It must then determine whether any member of the Committee has a real or perceived conflict of interest, and relieve those members of the committee of any involvement in the process leading to judgement;
  • Being quorate, with co-optees as necessary, and having if necessary appointed a chairperson, the committee shall rule. Such ruling shall be final, and shall be communicated to the parties involved in a timely manner.
  • Such ruling shall then be reported to the league and published as appropriate.

Any disputes of the following nature shall also be dealt with according to the above procedure:

  • Any claim for a draw under the 'two-minute rule' of Article 10 and Appendix D; such claims must be supported by a copy of the final position and a complete score sheet where appropriate.
  • Any dispute as to whether a player has been validly registered at the time of the match, or has been registered for the correct team with respect to their playing strength.
  • Any dispute as to whether an ungraded or junior player has been played on a board inconsistent with their strength.