County Championships


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Reference in these rules to counties shall be construed as applying to counties admitted to membership in accordance with Article 5.2 of the ECF Articles.

Section A: The Competitions & Financial Arrangements

A1. Competition Structure

A1.1. The Championship shall have the following sections:

(i) Open, having no upper grade limit.
(ii) Minor Counties: mean grade a maximum of 180 (see C4)
(iii) Under 180 grade
(iv) Under 160 grade
(v) Under 140 grade
(vi) Under 120 grade
(vii) Under 100 grade

The Championship shall be held each year under the direction of the Director of Home Chess who shall appoint a Controller.

A1.2. Each section of the Championship shall be divided into two stages: the Union Stage and the Final Stage. Entry to the Final Stage is by nomination from the Unions as provided by Section B.

A1.3. In the Union Stage, each team shall pay an entry fee, which shall be decided by the Board, to the ECF, and any games played will be charged according to the normal ECF regulations for leagues.

A1.4. All games played in all sections of the Final Stage will be ECF graded. In addition, all games played in the Open section will be FIDE rated.

For this season, the entry fee is £24 for A1.1.(i) to A1.1.(v) inclusive, and £18 otherwise.

A2. Membership Requirements & Fines

A2.1. In the Final Stage all players in all sections must be ECF members at bronze level or above. Counties will be levied the cost of bronze membership for each non-member in their team, and such players will be upgraded to bronze membership.

A2.2. All players who are registered to England with FIDE, must be ECF members at gold level or above if they play more than one game in the Final Stage of the Open section. Counties will be levied the difference between the player’s level of membership and the cost of gold membership, once a player has played a second game in the Final Stage of the Open section, and such players will be upgraded to gold membership.

Section B: The Union Stage

B1. The Union Stage shall be conducted by the Unions and shall be run by them according to their own rules. It may, but need not, include qualifying competitions for one or more sections of the Final Stage.

B2. Each Union may nominate two counties for the Final Stage of any section, whether or not it has conducted a qualifying competition for that section.

B3. If a Union conducts a qualifying competition for a section of the Championship, and in the qualifying competition five or more teams complete their fixtures without defaulting a match, the Union may nominate three counties for the Final Stage of that section. The National Controller may give a dispensation if the last round of fixtures could not be completed because of inclement weather.

B4. Counties nominated for, or declining nomination for, the Final Stage of the Open section may not be nominated for the Minor section.

B5. The Secretary or County Match Controller of each Union shall, not later than 24th March, send to the National Controller the name(s) of the nominated team(s) of that Union in each section of the Championship, stating the order in which they are being nominated, and that the teams so named have accepted nomination.

Section C: Eligibility

C1. Competition Season and Grading Lists

C1.1. For the purposes of these rules, a season shall start on 1st September and shall end on the date of the Final Round of the current Championship.


(a) Grading limits shall be based on the published ECF standardplay Grading List current at the start of the season. A captain may use either this list, or that season’s January Grading List for the purposes of board order (see E4.2(a)).

(b) A player who has no grade in the list current at the start of the season may play in the Final Stage if:

(i) the player acquires a grade in the ECF standardplay Grading List in January, in which case this grade will be used, or

(ii) permission has been previously obtained from the Controller. Requests for permission must be submitted to the Controller so as to arrive at least seven days before the player is due to play. The team captain must submit evidence from the local grader or master list or other source. Such a player shall be declared ineligible (or no longer eligible) if the Controller is not (or has ceased to be) entirely convinced that the player’s strength is clearly below the relevant grading limits. The Controller shall, as soon as practical, assign the player a grading for the purposes of the Championship only.


(a) For the purposes of board order in the Open section (see E4.2(b)), the following FIDE standardplay rating Lists will be used for each round:

Preliminary Round – 1st April; Quarter Finals – 1st May; Semi Finals – 1st June; Final – 1st June

(b) A player who has no FIDE standardplay rating will be assigned a rating equal to his grade in the January Grading List, multiplied by 7.5, plus 700.

(c) A player who has no grade in the January list will be assigned a rating equal to his grade in the previous year’s July Grading List, multiplied by 7.5, plus 700.

(d) An ungraded player will be assigned an estimated grade assigned according to the procedure of C1.2, and this will be converted into a rating equal to this assigned grade, multiplied by 7.5, plus 700.

C2. Counties Entitled to Participate

All nominated Counties are eligible to compete in the Final Stage of the Championship provided that they have paid the entry fee and that neither they nor the nominating Union are in arrears with any other monies due to the ECF.

C3. Players Eligible to Participate

C3.1. A player is eligible to represent a County in the Championship if the player meets one of the following criteria:

(i) Birth in that county.
(ii) Five years’ domicile in that county at any time.
(iii) Two months’ immediate previous and present membership of a club either in or affiliated to that County.
(iv) One month’s immediately previous and present domicile in that County.
(v) Present attendance as a student at a school, college or university in that County.

C3.2. In the course of a season no player may represent more than one County, and no player may represent more than one team in the same section of the Championship.

C3.3. The penalty for playing an ineligible player in any match shall be the loss of the game for that player and a win for the opponent, provided the opponent is present and eligible; plus a deduction of one penalty point for each ineligible player from the resulting total score made by the County in that match. The game will still be graded according to the result of the game as played. The Controller may impose an additional penalty if he is satisfied that the inclusion of an ineligible player was deliberate or wilful.

C4. Eligibility of Minor Counties Teams

C4.1. Each team must have an average grade not exceeding 180. For every point, or part thereof, by which the average grade exceeds the limit, one penalty game point will be deducted from the team’s total score in the match.

Section D: The Final Stage: Administrative Arrangements

D1. The Role of the Controller

D1. The Final Stage of each section shall be conducted by the Controller. Any decision of the Controller can be appealed against by direct reference to the Director of Home Chess, in writing and made within 48 hours of that decision. Such an appeal shall be accompanied by a deposit of £50 which will be returned if the appeal succeeds. The appeal will be heard by the Appeals Committee, which shall be composed of three members of the Appeals Panel appointed by the Director of Home Chess. The people on the Panel will be published before the start of the Final Stage, and it will have at least five members plus the Chief Arbiter. The Director of Home Chess shall then reply within a further 48 hours with his decision which is final.

D2. The Draw for the Final Stage

D2.1. If there are less than eight nominations in total for any championship, the Controller may invite extra entries from eligible teams. If a Union is invited to field an extra team in a section in one year, it shall only be asked to fill a vacancy in the next season if all other Unions decline.

D2.2. Should there be more than eight nominations, a preliminary round shall be played before the Quarter Final. Teams placed in the preliminary round shall, where possible, be the third nominees of Unions. They shall only be first nominees if there is no other legal way to do the draw.

D2.3. The draw for the preliminary round (if required), and for the Quarter Finals and Semi Finals, shall be made once all Unions have nominated their teams in accordance with B5. The draw will be made by a Committee consisting of the Controller, the Director of Home Chess and the Chief Arbiter, and shall be published not later than 1st April.

D2.4. The home teams in the Quarter Finals shall be drawn from the first nominees of the Unions. The Controller has the right to adjust the Quarter Final draw or the preliminary round as he deems fit in the light of teams actually nominated by Unions and the need to fill any vacancies.

D2.5. The first and second nominees of a Union in a section will be kept apart in the draw until the Final. The third nominee of a Union in a section will be kept apart from other teams in that Union until the Semi Finals. This shall not apply in respect of any extra nominations accepted by the Controller under rule D2.1.

D3. Arrangements for Final Stage Matches

D3.1. Matches shall be played on, or by mutual agreement before, or on the Sunday immediately following, the dates here listed:

Preliminary Round – Fourth Saturday in April
Quarter Finals (Open, Minor, Under 160, Under 120) – Second Saturday in May
Quarter Finals (Under 180, Under 140, Under 100) – Third Saturday in May
Semi-Finals – Second Saturday in June
Finals – First Saturday in July

These dates may be varied by the Director of Home Chess not later than 31st October in each season and shall be notified within 7 days to Union Controllers. Notwithstanding the date of the Finals, they shall be graded in the same grading list as the rest of the Final Stage Matches.

This season, the default dates are: April 22, May 13/20, June 10, and the Finals will be played on July 1.

D3.2. In the Final of the Championship, the Director of Home Chess may at his discretion nominate a central venue. With this exception, all matches shall be arranged by the Counties concerned. The County drawn away may insist on an intermediate venue provided they notify the home county of their decision at least a fortnight before the scheduled date and provided it is prepared to make all the arrangements and that all expenses are shared by the teams concerned. It is the responsibility of the County drawn at home to provide refreshments for the away County, except that where a match is played at an intermediate venue, refreshments should be provided for both teams, expenses to be shared.

This season, the Finals will be played at Warwick Trident College, Trident Park, Poseidon Way, Warwick CV34 6SW.

D3.3. The match captain of the team arranging the venue shall be responsible for advising the other team’s match captain in writing of the venue arrangements so they are received seven days before the date of the match and shall also be responsible for setting up boards, sets and clocks and providing scoresheets.

D3.4. At the request of either match captain, made not less than seven days before the match takes place, a neutral arbiter shall be appointed. Upon receiving such a request, the Controller will make a suitable appointment, which may not be appealed against. Both counties will be charged £18 at the conclusion of the Championship, and the ECF will pay the arbiter’s expenses. It is strongly recommended that counties arrange for arbiters to be present at each match.

D4. Penalties

D4.1. Any County which fails to pay entry fees or any other monies due as provided by these rules shall, unless the Director of Home Chess decides otherwise, not be accepted for nomination to the Final Stage of that Championship in the following season.

D4.2. Should any County, having been nominated by its Union for the Final Stage of any of the Championships and having accepted such nomination in accordance with Section B, default any match, or any game in a match, it shall be required to reimburse such of its opponent’s reasonable expenses incurred as the Controller shall determine; and unless the Controller decides otherwise shall also pay a fine of £20 per game defaulted or £100 per match defaulted, whichever is less; such fines being payable to the English Chess Federation.

D5. Reporting of Results

D5.1. The arbiter will report the result of a match to the Controller. If an arbiter is not present, results must be reported by both teams on the results server not later than 48 hours after the match was played. If a result is not reported or confirmed within the due time, the Controller may impose a fine of £10 on the offending County or Counties. If neither team reports the result, the Controller may eliminate both teams.

D6. Return of Trophies

It is the responsibility of trophy winners to take all reasonable steps to look after the trophies and to return them in a clean condition. The trophy winner shall have the trophy engraved and may claim the cost from the Director of Home Chess. Trophies must be returned in a secure manner to the Controller or his nominee at least three weeks before the next season’s Finals Day. By prior agreement of the Controller, at least one month beforehand, trophies may be returned on Finals Day itself.

Section E: The Final Stage: General Rules

E1. Pre-Match Arrangements

E1.1. Any matter affecting the arrangement of a match on which officials of the Counties concerned cannot agree shall be referred to the Controller whose decision shall be final on all points, whether arising under these rules or otherwise.

E2. Number of Boards

E2.1. In any match in the Final Stage of the Championship, each County shall be represented by 16 players except in the Under 120 and Under 100 sections, where the number of players shall be 12.

E2.2. The number of players in any match may be varied by agreement between the team captains and the Controller.

E2.3. One game shall be played between each pair of players. No player may play more than one board in any one match.

E3. Time Limit

E3.1. The time limit shall be 40 moves in 110 minutes, plus a 25-minute quickplay finish, plus a 10-second increment per move from move 1.

E3.2. Where suitable digital clocks are not available for an entire match to be played with this time limit, then the time limit shall be 40 moves in 2 hours, plus a 30-minute quickplay finish.

E3.3. The time limit of any match may be varied by agreement between the captains with the permission of the Controller.

E4. Responsibilities of the Captains

E4.1. At least 15 minutes before the time fixed for the start of play, the captains shall exchange team lists, with players arranged in board order. Any known defaults shall be placed on the lowest boards. It is the responsibility of the captain to provide the names of the players, their ECF grading reference numbers and their grades on the result sheet. Where an opponent’s team list is not available to a captain by this deadline, then the captain may insist that: (i) the start be delayed until at least 15 minutes after the completed result sheet has been provided to him, and (ii) the amount of time lost by starting late is deducted from the opposing team’s clocks.


(a) In all sections other than the Open, a player cannot be listed on a board below another who is graded (or deemed to be graded) more than 10 ECF points lower than the player. The captain must use a single Grading List for the purpose of this rule. If a captain’s board order does not comply with this requirement, then the opposing captain may at his discretion insist, prior to the coin toss only, that the captain must provide an alternative board order complying with this rule.

(b) In the Open section, a player cannot be listed on a board below another who is rated (or deemed to be rated) more than 80 FIDE points lower than the player. The captain must use the rating list and ratings outlined in C1.3 for the purpose of this rule. If a captain’s board order does not comply with this requirement, then the opposing captain may at his discretion insist, prior to the coin toss only, that the captain must provide an alternative board order complying with this rule.

E4.3. Upon completion of E4.1 and E4.2, the captains shall toss for colour. The home captain shall toss the coin, and the away captain should call. The captain winning the toss shall choose to take white on either the odd- or the even-numbered boards.

E4.4. At the time fixed for the start of play, the captains shall start the clocks of the players having the move. If this cannot happen on any game of a match because the team responsible for setting up boards, sets and clocks and providing scoresheets in accordance with D3.3 has not done so by the time fixed for start of play, then the amount of time lost due to the delayed start must be deducted from the clock of each player from that team whose game is late starting.

E4.5. If a player is absent, a substitute may be put in up to one hour from the start of the clock, and the original game shall be annulled. A new game shall be started between the substitute and his opponent, with the clock of the substitute adjusted such that the elapsed time since the start of clocks shall be deducted from his thinking time. If no substitute is available, then his opponent, if present, shall score the game a win. If neither player is present nor can be substituted, then the game shall be scored as lost by both players. (For clarification, because a substitution is made after the coin toss, the substitute does not need to comply with the requirements of E4.2.)

E4.6. A player may only ask the arbiter, or if no arbiter is present, his captain for the match score at any time. No other information may be provided by a captain to any player. Players must not ask their captain about whether or not they should offer, or accept the offer of, a draw. If a captain communicates with a player in his team contrary to the provisions of this rule, then the arbiter may decide to declare the game lost for that player. If no arbiter is present, then the incident may be reported to the Controller after the match, who will decide the result of any affected games.

E4.7. If, during a game, the players discover a problem, an arbiter should be consulted. Where no arbiter is present in the venue, an external arbiter may be approached. The Controller will make available a list of arbiters who have experience of arbiting at team competitions organised by the ECF.

E4.8. The Controller may impose a penalty if he is satisfied that the board order did not meet the requirements of E4.2 because a captain deliberately or wilfully provided incorrect grades of players to the opposing captain.

E4.9. In the Open section, the captain should make sure that all players have a FIDE ID before the player plays the game. For all players without a FIDE ID, the captain must either:

(a) In the case of a player who wishes to appear as English on the FIDE-rating list, inform the Controller of the player’s date of birth and a FIDE ID will be created for the player, or

(b) In the case of a player who wishes to appear as something other than England on the FIDE-rating list, instruct the player to contact the appropriate Federation in order to acquire a FIDE ID. Should the player not have a FIDE ID seven days before the match, the player may only play in the match with the permission of the Controller.

E5. Result of the Match

E5.1. The match shall be won by the team which has scored more game points. Where game points are equal, the result shall be decided by:

(i) Board Count: the numbers of the boards won by each team shall be added, and the team with the lower total shall win. If the tie is not thereby resolved;

(ii) Elimination: the lowest board shall be eliminated from the match score. This operation shall be repeated until the scores are unequal. If the tie is not thereby resolved;

(iii) Colour: the match will be won by the team which had black on board 1.

E6. Mobile Phones and Electronic Communication Devices

E6.1. During play, a player must not have any access to mobile phones, electronic means of communication or devices capable of suggesting chess moves. Such devices, if brought into the playing venue, must be completely switched off and placed in a bag on or under the player’s table before play starts. A player, when still in play, is forbidden to leave the playing area with such a bag, unless an arbiter gives permission.
If it is evident that a player has such a device on their person in the playing venue, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win.
Dispensation from this rule may be sought from the Controller.

Section F: The Final Stage: Arrangements for Finals Day

F1. Timing Rules

F1.1. The Director of Home Chess may arrange a Finals Day, on which all Finals are played at a central venue. (see Rule D3.2) The start time for the Finals shall be 1:30pm. The time control will be as specified in Rule E3.1, which will not be varied.

F2. Captains’ Responsibility before Finals Day

F2.1. The captain must submit his team using the form provided, in board order, by e-mail to the Controller or his nominee before 6pm on the day preceding the Final. If a captain fails to submit his team, a £10 fine will be imposed unless the Controller decides otherwise. Captains will still be able to make changes to their team after this point.

F3. Captains’ Responsibilities on Finals Day

F3.1. The captain must report to the Controller or his nominee not less than 30 minutes before the start of play. Where the captain is unavailable, one of the players in his team list submitted as in F2 may instead represent the captain.

F3.2. The captain or his representative will be asked for confirmation of their team list submitted as in F2.1. After this point, the team list may not be altered, subject to the provisions of E4.4.

F3.3. The coin toss will be carried out in accordance with Rule E4.3, under supervision of the Controller or his nominee.

F3.4. During play, the captain may act in accordance with Rule E4.5.

F3.5. At the conclusion of the match, both captains should sign the match card and submit it to an arbiter.

Changes from 2015/16

Section A – Restructured.

A1.4. Clarifying that the tournaments will be ECF-graded, and implementing the decision of ECF Council in April 2016 to FIDE-rate the Open section.

A2.1. Changing the default fine from £10 to a bronze membership upgrade fee.

A2.2. For the Open, outlining that Gold membership is required, and levying an upgrade fee in the same way as for the other sections for players who are not members.

B5. Implementing the decision of ECF Council in April 2016 to do the draw for the Final Stage once the county nominations become available, not do a skeleton draw in January which gets filled in March.

C1.3. Outlining the rating lists used for the Final Stage of the Open section.

C3.1. “domicile” used instead of “residence”.

D1.1. Renumbered D1, and increasing the appeal fee from £20 to £50.

D1.2. Deleted; was related to filling the skeleton draw abandoned in B5.

D2.3. See note to B5.

D3.1. Implementing the decision of ECF Council in April 2016 to split some parts of the Final Stage by section.

D3.4. Changing from the side requesting an arbiter to pay the expenses to the costs being shared between both counties.

D4.2. Increasing the board default fine from £10 to £20; so it is cheaper to play a non-member than default a board.

D5.1. Making reporting the result the responsibility of the arbiter, where there is an arbiter present.

E4.2.(a) Renumbered, and specifies that this applies to all sections but the Open.

E4.2.(b) An 80-point rule, with the same intent as the 10-point rule in the non-FIDE rated sections. Introduced as part of the paper put to ECF Council in April 2016.

E4.6. Restricting the role of the captain with respect to draw offers.

E4.7. After multiple disputes in recent years where captains have intervened, insisted that an arbiter be consulted should a dispute arise.

E4.9. Outlining the requirement for players to have FIDE IDs sorted as per FIDE regulations in the Open.

E6.1. Amending the mobile phone rule to reflect modern practice.

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