This page contains the Association Playing Rules and Constitution based on those agreed at the July 2015 AGM.


Sections in italics are my personal comments. They do not form part of the rules.




All games played under the League's auspices shall be played according to the rules of the E.C.F. and to the F.I.D.E. Laws of Chess except as specified within these rules.

FIDE rules also have a zero time default rule - if you are not at the board at the commencement of play you lose, but our own Article 4 rule 4 takes precedence over this.

Where possible team captains should act as joint arbiters to resolve problems that arise on the night.

Normally the committee will support whatever agreement the captains make. It would certainly help captains if clubs had copies of both league and FIDE rules available for inspection.
Occasionally the captains may see fit to ask an experienced player from another club to step in as a neutral. It seems unreasonable to do this and then dispute their conclusions.

It is not the intention that the possibility of acting as joint arbiter should act as a deterrent to players agreeing to be captains. It is recognised that captains may differ considerably in experience and confidence. A good captain will not see his job in a dispute as seconding his player's views, or trying to bully the opposing captain into accepting his ideas. They should spot when the difference of opinion is likely to be irreconcilable on the night, and in these situations simply seek as much agreement as possible on the facts for submission to higher authority. Acting in a manner liable to create bad feeling between clubs will create more long term pain than short term gain.


Rule 1 All persons playing for a club must be bona fide members of that club.

For many years practice has been that clubs are entitled to make their own judgements as to who their members are, which doesn't preclude the possibility that at some later date the interpretation will change so that the league decides.

Rule 2 No player shall play for more than one club in the League in any one season, in any League competition including the Knockout, unless authorised to do so by the League General Secretary.

It is reasonable to assume that the secretary's default ruling on requests for authority will be 'no', and that certainly they would not wish to create any precedent that in due course could become a loophole to circumvent the rule.
The rapidplay jamboree is NOT included in this restriction, and indeed teams consisting of players from more than one club have participated in this. Other competitions that the Association may from time to time choose to run will specify any relevant constraints in their own competition rules.

Rule 3a) A representative of each club must send to the League General Secretary before the end of October a list of all players attached to that club and eligible to play during the forthcoming season. Players may be added to the tied list at any time provided that they have not played for any other club during the season.

Whilst adhering to this rule is the best way for clubs to be transparent about the bona fides of their members it has to be admitted that sometimes the adding is done simply by the players name appearing in a result rather than being submitted to the secretary in advance of the players first outing.

b) Every player must be a registered member of the English Chess Federation at least at bronze level before he/she can play a fourth game in any competition organised by the Association.

Any player fielded in contravention of this will be deemed an ineligible player.

c) All games played by players who are not members of the English Chess Federation at any time in the season shall be liable to a charge for a game fee of an amount decided by the ECF per game played. This will be collected from the clubs represented by such players at the end of the season by the League Treasurer.

In practice the treasurer waits until invoiced by the ECF so that there is agreement as to the amount due, and may collect the monies together with the following season's entry fees.

Rule 4 There shall be a discount allowed to each team that pays its League fees before a date set at the Annual General Meeting. The amount of the discount shall be reviewed annually.



Rule 1 Before the commencement of the match, the captains shall exchange lists of players in board order. All players‘ names and grades must be declared. If this is not possible the potential defaults must be on the lowest boards.

Rule 2 a) A player may not play on a higher board than a player with a published E.C.F. grade fifteen points higher than his/her own except as covered by Article 3, Rules 3 and 4.The 'shadow' grading list as circulated by the League General Secretary should be consulted for ungraded players. Until the current season's grading list is available, the previous season's list should be used. Players with no grade on the circulated list should play in order of strength according to the team captain's own estimation of their grade.
The August grading list published by the E.C.F. shall be used to ascertain players‘ grades. F-category grades will be treated as estimates rather than as published grades. The January grading list will not be used except to ascertain grades of players not in the August list.

Thus players with an August F-category grade will use January grades in the second part of the season.

There is no requirement to keep to the same board order throughout the season, and it is accepted practice that captains take into account form, desire for white/black and other tactical considerations on a match by match basis when determining their board orders for players graded within 15 points of each other.

There can still be confusion over the use of ungraded players.
For players returning to the game or moving into the area whether from this country or abroad, the grading officer should be consulted to establish an acceptable estimated grade.
For players new to competitive chess the captain/club should allocate an estimated grade which should be communicated to the grading officer. If such players subsequent performance is clearly out of line with the estimate the player's club should discuss with the grading officer a more appropriate value to be used in future matches. The grading officer also has the right to allocate a new estimated grade to an ungraded player at any time.
Note that a grade published in January will supercede estimated grades used earlier in the season, though a few days grace after publication are allowed so as not to interfere with club's abilities to form teams around that time.

Rule 2 b) The penalty for breaking Rule 2a is that the higher graded player playing on the lower board should be classed as ineligible.

Rule 3 A captain may substitute any eligible player for an absent player, except in circumstances covered by Article 9, Rule 1, in order to avoid the risk of loss by default. Such substitution must take place before one hour has elapsed and is irrevocable.

i.e. if notification of intent to default has already been given, no such substitute is allowed.

Rule 4 The grading limits for teams in each Division shall be as follows:-

Division One: No. of players 5, Team total grades Open
Division Two: No. of players 5, Team total grades 725
Division Three: No. of players 4, Team total grades 520
Division Four: No. of players 4, Team total grades 460
Division Five: No. of players 4, Team total grades 400

The grading limits are maxima, not 'less than'.

Minimum Counting Grades
Division One: Not applicable
Division Two: 120
Division Three: 105
Division Four: 90
Division Five: Not applicable

Regulation of players

Division One: Players graded no more than 135 may play in more than one team in this dvision.

Division Two: Players graded no more than 135 may play in more than one team in this division.

Division Three: Players graded no more than 120 may play in more than one team in this dvision.

Division Four: Players graded no more than 105 may play in more than one team in this dvision.

Division Five: The maximum grade for an individual player in Division Five shall be 125. Players graded no more than 90 may play in more than one team in this dvision.

In their attempts to tidy up the rules the committee have seen fit to remove both

"An ineligible side is one that breaches the grading limit for the competition. The penalty for fielding an ineligible side is that the lowest board who, if replaced by a default would result in an eligible side, has their game automatically scored to the opposition.
If no such player exists two points are deducted from the teams match score."


"If a player is absent when play is about to begin, the opposing captain may require all the remaining members of the team to move up to fill the gap whilst retaining the original order. The latecomer may be allowed to play on the highest available board at his time of arrival."

Anyone who tries claiming that the removal of the former means they can breach the grading limits with impunity is entitled to receive all the contempt they deserve, whilst I would hope that most captains would continue with the practice of arranging for the potential default to be on a board of the opposing captains's choice when a player is absent. Best to regard these rules as still in force - we've had to get used to the official rules being incomplete in the past.



We're talking league competitions here. Similar considerations apply to the cups, further rules for which can be found in article 10

Rule 1 Each team is responsible for arranging its own home fixtures.

This refers to arranging access to venue, equipment, etc. The dates of fixtures are arranged by the fixture secretary.

Rule 2 team shall consist of the requisite number of players as appropriate. A team fielding less than the number of players required by the relevant competition shall be deemed to have defaulted any board not filled.

Rule 3 Clocks must be started by 7.40 p.m. If a match starts late as a result of the home team not being present at 7.40 p.m.then the away team may direct that the clocks be adjusted to read as if they had started at 7.40 p.m. to take account of the delay.

i.e. the appropriate time is taken off the home teams clocks. Matches nominally start at 7.30, with 10 minutes grace before any action can be taken for tardiness.

Rule 4 A game may not be claimed by default until one hour has elapsed from the starting time.

Though a board can be conceded by default at any time.

Rule 5 A game shall be scored to any player for whom no eligible opponent is provided. A club failing to keep an appointment shall lose the match by default.

It is not unknown for a 'victim' club to insist that they would rather play the match at a later date rather than win by default, and the league is unlikely to interfere in any consequent rearrangement.

Rule 6 The away team shall have white on the odd numbered boards except in matches played on neutral ground where the colour on the odd numbered boards shall be decided on the toss of a coin.

For league matches played at neutral venues this rule does not apply as the match is still a home match for one of the teams. Other than when we have had a finals night with all cup finals played simultaneously at one venue I can't think of when this rule has applied as we do not have play-offs to decide titles.

Rule 7 Both clubs are responsible for sending the results including the grades and using the official NSDCA result sheets to the Results Secretary, the General Secretary, the Grading Officer and the Webmaster within seventy two hours of the match being played.

With email now commonly used it is hoped that results will be submitted within 24 hours. Clubs who rely on the opposition to submit results will be in a weakened position should any dispute arise.

Rule 8 Scores of each game should be recorded either in English algebraic or English descriptive notation by both players in case of dispute.

FIDE rules allow players to stop scoring when they have less than five minutes left on the clock. In this case they do not have to start scoring again should they play sufficiently quickly that added increments increase their time left to over 5 minutes.
The practice of stopping scoring once a clear winning advantage is gained is not approved; the practice of stopping scoring when your opponent is short of time despite having more than 5 minutes yourself amounts to a despicable bullying attempt to blitz the opponent into making a mistake and would most certainly not be supported by any arbiter.

Rule 9 The use of clocks shall be compulsory and where available, digital ones should be used in all matches in the League and Cups.
Fischer timings should be used in all matches in the League and in the Cups if possible with the time limit for the game being 75 minutes with an increment of ten seconds for each move made. The same Fischer timings should also be used in all other competitions conducted by the Association unless digital clocks are not available. In these cases, the clock shall initially be set at twenty-five minutes to five for each player. The time limit shall be all moves in 85 minutes for each player. The game shall be conducted in accordance with the F.I.D.E. Rules on Quickplay finishes.

Badly drafted. The inclusion of "The same Fischer timings should also be used in all other competitions conducted by the Association unless digital clocks are not available" is redundant as any other competitions will have their own time controls, and so merely serves to muddy the subsequent "in these cases" which simply gives the time control for league and cup matches when using analogue clocks.

In the past some clubs/players have regarded the setting of analogue clocks at 4.35 as too pernickety and have just set them at twenty five to any hour, and not always the same for both clocks. Two reasons for keeping to the letter of the rule are
a) the hour hands will be well away from the flags in any time scramble, and
b) if clocks set to different times eg 4.35 and 5.35 you can be asking for a dispute as to who is in time trouble if in the example both clocks approach 6.00 together because the players have played at different speeds.

Rule 10 The home team is responsible for providing clocks. If they are unable to do so, the secretary of the home club shall notify the official team contact of the visiting team in time to allow the provision of sufficient clocks.

As clocks are the home teams responsibility a team cannot turn up with its own digital clocks at a club possessing only analogue ones and insist on their use.

Rule 11 A won game shall score one point, a drawn game shall score half a point and a lost game no points.

Rule 12 A match shall be considered to be the requisite number of players as appropriate from each of two opposing sides taking part in games of chess at the same venue at a given time - games played at other venues or at the same venue on another date shall be considered void.



Rule 1 Once the composition of the League has been established, the Annual General Meeting shall appoint a Fixtures Secretary who shall publish a fixture list as soon as is convenient.

Rule 2 The season shall normally run from 1st October to 31st May. Any league games unplayed by the 1st June shall be declared void for both teams concerned unless either club appeals to the General Secretary in the case of any special circumstances as described in Article 7

Fixtures are usually only scheduled for May if one or more divisions are unusually large. Indeed if Easter is not too early the current fixture secretary (me!) will regard it as a natural end of season marker.
It will reduce the chances of postponements being needed if clubs inform the fixture secretary of any constraints they wish applied to their fixtures as soon as they are aware of them.
Clubs may request to have one or more fixtures in September, but such requests can only be fulfilled if opposing teams are agreeable.

Rule 3 Where a club has two or more teams in the same division, all matches between these teams must be played before the end of January.

The fixture secretary has been known to vary this in order to prevent fixture lists becoming too lop-sided, but weather permitting clubs should not re-schedule their derbies to dates beyond the end of January.

Rule 4 In the event that there is a tie for the Championship of any Division, the title shall be awarded to the team which has accumulated the highest number of game points. If this fails to resolve the tie then the Championship shall be shared.



Any club wishing to alter a fixture date must notify their opponent's official team contact at least three days beforehand. If less than three days‘ notice be given (except in the case of inclement weather), the opposing team may insist on the match taking place on the original date. If this is impossible then the match may be claimed by default. Details of new dates for rearranged matches should be notified to the Results Secretary and the General Secretary by both teams concerned as soon as possible.

Just because many captains will agree to rearrange matches at shorter notice does not mean that acting according to the letter of the rule is unsporting. Always remember when seeking rearrangements, particularly at short notice, that opposition players may have foregone other opportunities in order to keep themselves available for the match. 'Unable to raise a team' should mean precisely that, not 'unable to raise the team I want'.



Any dispute must be notified in writing within fourteen days of the said dispute to the Association General Secretary. The General Secretary will decide, dependant on the urgency of the dispute, whether to call an immediate Executive Committee meeting or to refer it to the Honorary President or Chairman or next Executive Committee meeting. Any dispute not notified within fourteen days will not be accepted unless evidence regarding the said dispute, which was not previously available, can be put forward. Both parties to the dispute will be invited to attend any resultant Executive Committee meeting and informed in advance of any complaint made against them.



A team including an ineligible player (i.e. a player who is tied to another club or whose grade makes him/her ineligible to play in that particular team or a player contravening Article 3, Rule 2a) shall have one game point deducted from the team score in that match. This shall be in addition to the game of the ineligible player being scored to his/her opponent irrespective of the result.

A player playing a fourth or subsequent game whilst not a member of the ECF is also ineligible.
Practice has been that the penalty is not normally be applied in the case of breaching the 15 point rule unless the opposition make a claim when submitting the result.
The scoring of a game to the opponent is for match result purposes only. For grading purposes the result as played stands.



Rule 1 Unless due notification is given to the official team contact of the opposing team, teams shall pay a penalty to the league for each board defaulted.

Rule 2 The nature of the penalties shall be reviewed annually and defined at the Annual General Meeting
Currently there is no penalty for defaults other than the obvious loss of board.



Rule 1 The Association shall annually hold the following competitions:-

a) The Open Cup, an eight-man team knock-out limited to one team per club;

b) The Major Cup, a five-man team knock-out limited to players graded under 150;

c) The Intermediate Cup, a five-man team knock-out limited to players graded under 130.

c) The Minor Cup for the Perry Trophy, a four-man team knock-out limited to players graded under 110.

A player may only play for one team in any Knock-out competition in any one season. (but may play in several different Knock-out competitions)

Rule 2 The rate of play shall be as in League Competitions.

Rule 3 At regular intervals weeks shall be set aside for matches in the knock-out competitions. The final match shall be played before the end of April. The Association Results Secretary shall notify all teams of their next knock-out opponents, giving them as much notice as possible. Each home team then has the responsibility of confirming the date and venue with the opposing away team.

Current practice is that all cup matches are allocated places within the fixture list when this is published so that no further notifcation is needed. This practice also means that somtimes cup final week may run into May. You are of course allowed to sack the fixture secretary.

Rule 4 If a match in the knock-out competitions results in a draw, then a board count shall be taken. If this board count also results in a draw then the elimination rule shall be applied. If all games in a match are drawn, then the team with the lowest overall grade count shall be deemed to be the winners. Where the overall grade count is equal then board elimination shall be used until one of the teams wins on grade count.



Any infringement of the Association Rules or the Constitution by any player or member club shall be dealt with by the Executive Committee or by a sub-committee set up specifically for that purpose by the Executive Committee. Top



Sections in italics are my personal comments. They do not form part of the constitution.


The league shall be called "The North Staffordshire and District Chess Association".


The objectives of the association shall be :-

a) to encourage the study and practice of chess in the area;

b) to institute and maintain championship contests between member clubs and individual players;

c) to promote representative matches with leagues in other areas;

d) to promote and foster chess generally throughout the area.


a) Any club whose venue is within 25 miles of Hanley bus station shall be eligible for membership of the Association.

b) There shall be no limit to the number of teams that any club may enter in the league, subject to the approval of the Annual General Meeting.


a) Each team shall pay a fee to be decided by the Annual General Meeting as a subscription to the Association.


The officers of the Association shall be :-

a) a Chairman;

b) a General Secretary;

c) a Treasurer;

d) a Results Secretary

In addition to these, an honorary President shall be appointed for a term of three years by the Annual General Meeting. His/her duties shall be to take the chair at any meeting which the Chairman is unable to attend and to chair any meeting of the disputes committee. He/she shall be considered an ex officio member of the League Executive Committee.


(a) The Association shall be governed by an Executive Committee consisting of the officers of the Association and the following two Officials: -

(i) a Publicity Secretary/Webmaster;

(ii) a Tournaments Secretary;

together with a nominated member from each club not already represented by an officer or an official.

(b) The Executive Committee shall meet as deemed necessary by the Chairman.

Other committees and sub-committees may be formed to deal with specific aspects of League management at the discretion of the Executive Committee.

(c) The honorary President shall be elected every three years and all Officers and Officials shall be elected annually at the Annual General Meeting. In the case of the honorary President, he/she shall be elected at the first AGM after the position becomes vacant.

(d) All retiring Officers and Officials shall be eligible for re-election.

(e) An auditor shall be appointed at the Annual General Meeting to examine the Association‘s accounts prior to their presentation at the next Annual General Meeting.

(f) Six members of the Executive Committee shall be understood to constitute a quorum for any meeting.

(g) A special meeting of the Executive Committee may be requested by three members representing at least three clubs. The Executive Committee shall have the right to call an Extraordinary General Meeting of the League. (Attendance and voting rights for EGM will be same as for AGM). The General Secretary shall give all clubs fourteen days notice of such a meeting.


a) The Annual General Meeting shall be held during the month of July.

b) At least twenty-one days notice of the Annual General Meeting must be given in writing to all clubs.

c) Any proposal to be put to the Annual General Meeting must be submitted in writing at least twenty-eight days before the meeting is to take place, and must be circulated to all clubs with the notice of the meeting.

d) Any registered member of any club in the membership of the Association is entitled to attend and speak at the Annual General Meeting.

e) The four Officers of the association, together with the Honorary President and two accredited representatives of each member club, are eligible to vote at the Annual General Meeting.


Amendments to the Constitution may be brought about by the following procedures :-

a) Any proposed change of the Constitution must first be approved by a two-thirds majority at a meeting of the League Executive Committee specially convened for that purpose.

b) If the proposed change of the Constitution is approved by a two-thirds majority of the League Executive Committee, then it shall be placed before the Annual General Meeting as a League Executive Committee recommendation.

c) If the proposed change of the Constitution is approved by a two-thirds majority at the Annual General Meeting, then it shall be written immediately into the Constitution and become operative from that time.


a) Proposed changes of the rules may be submitted to any meeting of the Executive Committee.

b) Any proposed change of rule approved by a simple majority of the Executive Committee shall be placed as an Executive Committee recommendation before the Annual General Meeting.

c) Any proposed change of rule approved by a simple majority at the Annual General Meeting shall be written immediately into the League Rules and become operative from that time.

This is not the same procedure as for changing the constitution. For the constitution changes must be approved first by the Executive Committee. For rule changes the Executive Committee route may be taken, or the proposal can simply be put directly to the AGM (appropriate notice having been given). The advantage of the Executive Committee route is that the sponsor will get feedback as to the likelihood of success of the proposal, and possible suggestions on rewording to increase this chance.

Unfortunately the current secretary has the habit of ignoring changes of which he disapproves, so "official" versions do not accurately reflect what has been decided.


a) In the event of the Executive Committee approving a proposal that the Association, as constituted, be no longer a viable organisation, then an Extraordinary General Meeting of the association shall be called, which all members of all clubs shall be entitled to attend.

b) The only item on the agenda of such an Extraordinary General Meeting shall be the dissolution the Association.

c) All decisions of this Extraordinary General Meeting shall be submitted in writing by the League General Secretary or by his/her accredited agent to the members of the League Executive Committee and to the Secretary of each member club within one calendar month of such a meeting.

d) A second Extraordinary General Meeting shall then be called, to take place within two calendar months of the first such meeting.

e) All decisions of this second Extraordinary General Meeting shall prove to be binding on the Association, and shall be put into operation immediately subsequent to such a meeting.

f)On dissolution, the remaining assets of the Association shall be transferred to the Staffordshire County Chess Association or donated to a local charity if the Staffordshire County Chess Association no longer exists. Exceptionally, the records of the Association may instead be passed for safe keeping to a local museum, library or historical society that expresses an interest in them.

f) contradicts e), whilst the whole lot ignores the possibility that the Association simply fades away through lack of players or organisers. A future sensible committee will obviously wish to address these issues.