English Chess Federation Tournament Rules

This document will come into force from 1st September, 2016.

These Competition Rules will be used in conjunction with the FIDE Laws of Chess.

The current Laws of Chess require a tournament organiser to make and publicize a series of choices, including time controls and default times. These cases are considered in Section A. They apply to all relevant events, but must be announced in the Tournament Information if the event is to be FIDE rated. Explanatory comments and information are in italics.

Section A: Regulations applying to all events

1)  The organiser will state a time control within the limits specified by Appendix A1 of the Laws of Chess.

2)  Unless the organizer specifies otherwise on the entry form, the Default time under Law 6.7 shall be 30 minutes for a Standard-play game and 10 minutes for a Rapidplay game.

3) If an organiser of a Rapidplay event fails to make an appropriate announcement or if the conditions specified in Appendix A3 do not apply, then Appendix A4 will apply.

4)  If an organiser of a Blitz event fails to make an appropriate announcement or if the conditions specified in Appendix B 3 do not apply, then Appendix B 4 will apply.

5) (a)  The ECF encourages organisers to use incremental time-controls wherever possible.

(b)  If suitable clocks are available, it is strongly recommended to use the increment from the beginning of the game, rather than using it in the case of Appendix G, part 4. The use of Appendix G, part 4, is better suited to competitions with arbiters present, but the ECF will leave it to each competition to decide the suitability of this rule for their competition.

(c)  Most other time-controls involve the use of a time period where the number of moves is not specified. The use of Appendix G, parts 1, 2, 3 and 5 should be announced when an arbiter is present. The use of Appendix G, parts 1, 2, 3 and 6 is appropriate for competitions without an arbiter being present. Appendix G, part 5 requires skills of both players and arbiters and its possible use must be specifically announced if it is to apply.

6)  The organiser of a congress must have a policy which deals with the conduct of the players and specifies the limits of the terms “playing area” and “playing venue”. This is also recommended for leagues.

Article 11 of the Laws of Chess governs the conduct of the players. Law 11.3b requires the complete exclusion of electronic devices such as mobile phones, which is rarely possible, so a less onerous version was considered by FIDE, but never passed in to the Laws. Click here.

This explains the proposed new wording for the Law:

“During a game, a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone, electronic means of communication or any device capable of suggesting chess moves on their person in the playing venue. However, the rules of the competition may allow such devices to be stored in a player’s bag, as long as the device is completely switched off. A player is forbidden to carry a bag holding such a device, without permission of the arbiter. 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. The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty. The arbiter may require the player to allow his/her clothes, bags or other items to be inspected, in private. The arbiter or a person authorized by the arbiter shall inspect the player and shall be of the same gender as the player. If a player refuses to cooperate with these obligations, the arbiter shall take measures in accordance with Article 12.9. The final decision to make this change to the Laws of Chess shall be made by the 2014 FIDE General Assembly.”

The revised text of Law 11.3b states “The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty.” The ECF recommends using this penalty. This notwithstanding, a list of possible penalties is provided in Law 12.9. Competitions are able to choose their own penalties for infringements of this Law within the framework of those penalties.

7)  Organisers have the freedom to choose any tournament-specific rules they want within the tolerances set out by the FIDE Laws of Chess. Such rules must be published in advance on the tournament entry form and/or website.

Section B: Official ECF Tournaments

1) The ECF will adopt the rules in this section and the section above at all official ECF Tournaments

2)  The Guidelines on treatment of disabled players will apply.

3)  Where suitable clocks are available for an entire tournament, section or match, then incremental (Fischer) timings will be used.

4)  Players with category F grades will be considered to be ungraded, unless individual competitions specify otherwise.

Section C: ECF Grading

1) It is a condition of submitting results to the ECF for grading that the following data is collected, which will appear on the ECF grading website:

  • The player’s forename and surname
  • The club that the player is playing for, in the case of a team competition
  • The player’s results of games against other players, including their date

The following non-compulsory data, used by the ECF to help identify players, but is not publically accessible:

  • The player’s date of birth (note: the player’s age on 1st September and 1st January will be publically accessible on the ECF website)
  • The player’s gender

This data is used by the ECF and independent organisers to ensure players can enter into particular sections; e.g. age-restricted junior or senior tournaments, or gender-specific tournaments.

This information will remain on the ECF grading website indefinitely, to act as a historical archive of grading information.

Some of this information may, in turn, be passed on to FIDE when rating FIDE-rated competitions, in accordance with any FIDE requirements.

Organisers must make players in their competitions aware that this data will be forwarded to the ECF as a condition of them entering their competition.

2) Games submitted for grading to the ECF will be graded in the category defined by the time limits of that game, subject to conforming to these rules and game fee requirements. Games submitted by the ECF for FIDE rating will also be graded by the ECF.

3) The following types of game are ineligible for grading:




Games played without chess clocks

Chess960 games

Section D: All other events

This section gives tournament organisers the option of writing additional rules that they perceive will benefit their tournaments that vary from the Laws of Chess. These must not be used for FIDE rated events.

Appendix C: Algebraic Notation

“FIDE recognises for its own tournaments and matches only one system of notation, the Algebraic System, and recommends the use of this uniform chess notation also for chess literature and periodicals. Scoresheets using a notation system other than algebraic may not be used as evidence in cases where normally the scoresheet of a player is used for that purpose. An arbiter who observes that a player is using a notation system other than the algebraic should warn the player of this requirement.”

Tournament organisers may write rules to permit the use of descriptive notation.


Any games where the result could be settled by adjudication are eligible for grading, but the procedure for the adjudication process must be set out in that tournament’s rules.

Under 11 Rapidplays

 The Laws of Chess are often not suitable for young children. The following suggested Rule overrides  FIDE Appendix A, sections 3 to 5. It applies to “Under 11 Tournaments”, restricted to juniors only who are under the age of 11, defined by either the calendar year or the academic year.

For under-11 Rapid-play events, the normal Laws of Chess will be used, moderated by Appendix A, paragraphs 1 and 2. Tournament organisers may write rules to permit a different number of illegal moves.

Appendix E: Adjournments

The rules of a competition may specify any suitable adjournment procedure.


Request to use alternative rules not covered above

If a tournament organiser wants to use rule variations not covered above, then the tournament may apply to the Director of Home Chess for a dispensation to use those rules. Reasonable requests will not be rejected, and may find their way into future revisions of this document.


Unless the Director of Home Chess decides otherwise, tournaments in breach of the regulations will not be graded.


If you have any questions you wish to raise, please contact Alex Holowczak, the Director of Home Chess, at: director.homechess@englishchess.org.uk


Alex Holowczak

Director of Home Chess

August 2016

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