Under 19 – 2019/20 rules

Highlights in red denote changes to the rules from 2018/19. 

The Championship is open to all schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  In the interests of safeguarding, the ECF requires that all matches are supervised by at least one adult with each team who is both approved by the senior management of that school and has a current Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Clearance Certificate for working with children.  Additional adult supervisors must also meet these conditions.

1) Teams are of 6 players.

2) A school may enter any number of teams. Teams will be designated A, B, C and so on. Where teams are not of equal strength the A team must be the strongest, the B team the second strongest, and so on.

3) Eligibility of players

a) Each player must be a pupil on the roll of the school they represent at the time of the match.
b) Age limit: under 19 on the 31st August of the year in which the competition begins.
c) Where a school enters more than one team in the championship, players in teams which qualify for the regional stage are ineligible to play for any other team in the qualifying competitions.
d) If two or more teams from the same school qualify to play in the regional stage then they must allocate players to each team. This can be different to the allocation in the Autumn Term. Players become “cup-tied” to any team they play for. Once their own team is knocked out then they become eligible to play in subsequent rounds for a higher team.
e) In no case may a player represent a lower team than one they have already played for (e.g. once they have played for their B team they cannot play for the C team but once the B team is eliminated they could play for the A team).
f) Any claim of ineligibility, or other complaint, must be submitted by email within 48 hours to the appropriate Conductor. An appeal against a ruling by a Conductor may be made, within 48 hours, to the English Chess Federation’s Director of Junior Chess, whose decision will be final.
g) If any player is found to be ineligible, their game will count as lost by default. Additionally, for each ineligible player in a team, one half penalty point will be deducted from the team’s score in that match.

Organisation of the Competition

4) The Championship will be organised in three stages –

a) a Qualification stage in the Autumn Term
b) a Regional Stage in the Spring Term, and
c) a National Final in the Summer Term.

5) The Qualification stage

a) Teams can enter four types of qualifying event –

i) Afternoon events of three rounds will be run by a host school. Any team winning two of its three matches (including defaults) will qualify for the Regional Stage. It is intended that these events last less than 3 hours. It is up to the host school to decide details of the how the tournament is run, but a suggested format will be provided. Entries should be made online at least 7 days before the event via the ECF website.
ii) League Groups which will consist of 2, 3 or 4 teams from a local area and will be run as all-play-all tournaments. The Conductor will state venues for matches and will set a date by which the group stage is to be completed. Matches will normally use standard play rates (see rule 14b) unless both teams agree to a shorter time limit. The winning team(s) will qualify for the Regional stage. Entries should be made online by 30 September. Entry into a league is normally an alternative to entering an afternoon event, but it may be possible for a team which has completed its league fixtures and not qualified by this route to enter an Afternoon Event in late November, subject to a place being available.
iii) Designated independent tournaments such as the Eton College Rapidplay. The qualification criteria for these events will be specified by the event organisers in agreement with the Under 19 Organiser. Note that these events are open to all school teams, including those already qualified.
iv) Repechage events which may be held in December. The specific entry arrangements for these will be announced as and when they are organised.

b) Teams may qualify automatically for the regional stage in one of two ways –

i) Teams who played in the previous year’s national finals will be offered automatic entry to the regional stage.
ii) A school’s first team with a total ECF grade of 750 or more can also apply for an automatic qualification place. The grades will be published ECF standardplay or rapidplay grades, but not estimated grades.

In both cases, teams claiming an automatic place should enter via the ECF website by 31 October.

6) The Regional stage

a) Teams qualifying for the Regional stage will be placed in Regional zones of up to 8 teams. As far as practicable, there will not be large distances between schools. Each Region will be run as a knockout competition.
b) The draw will be made by the Region Conductor, who will state venues and a finishing date for each round. In cases of difficulty meeting the due date, the Region Conductor will act according to their discretion. The Region Conductor is entitled to award the match to one side or to disqualify both.
c) Matches will normally use standard play rates (see rules 14b) unless both teams agree to a shorter time limit.
d) The winner of each Region will qualify for the national final and, if they attend the final, they will be presented with a suitably inscribed chess clock.
e) Repechage event(s) will be held in April, at which any team who have not qualified for the National Final may enter. Leading teams at the repechage will be offered places at the National Final so that the total numbers of finalists is 16.
f) If a team which has qualified for the National Final subsequently declines to take up its place, the Under 19 Organiser will try, subject to any venue deadline or other practical constraints, to offer the place to the losing Region Finalist or a repechage competitor.

7) The National Final

It is expected that there will be 16 teams at the National Final. Deciding the Champion School at the final will be based on a four round Swiss tournament so that every team plays four matches. No draws will be allowed (see Match rules below). Matches will use standard rates of play, as given in rule 14b.

Match Rules

8) All matches will be played over the board unless otherwise provided by the Under 19 Organiser.

9) A finishing time must be fixed before play begins. Unless otherwise agreed, or otherwise provided by the Under 19 Organiser, the time allowed for a match will be approximately 2½ hours (schools are strongly encouraged to use digital clocks with Fischer increments, thereby avoiding claims under the “two minute rule” – see rule 14 below). 

10) Before the start of play match captains will exchange team lists, arranged in descending order of known current playing strength. Any defaults must be on the lowest boards.

11) After the exchange of team lists, match captains will toss for colours. The side winning the toss will choose to take white on either the odd-numbered or the even-numbered boards.

12) A player absent at the time agreed for the start of play is allowed 30 minutes’ grace. If they are still absent after that and no substitute is provided, they will lose the game by default.

13) A substitute may be provided at any time during the 30 minute period of grace. They may not play on a lower board than that on which they would have played had they been a member of the original team.

14) Chess Clocks should be used for all matches.

a) In afternoon qualification events the suggested time limit is 15mins + 5s/move where digital clocks are used (or 20 mins each on a clock if digital clocks are not available). 
b) In individual matches between schools within a League Group or at the Regional Stage, where digital clocks which allow Fischer timings (increments) are used, the time limit will be all moves in 1 hour plus 10 seconds per move. With other clocks, each player has 1¼ hours in which to make all their moves and FIDE Guidelines III will apply. See rule 17 for further details.
c) Teams may agree, and the Under 19 Organiser may stipulate, a different rate of play.

15) Drawn matches
Except in the qualification events, matches cannot be drawn. If two teams score equally, the match will be decided by board count or bottom board elimination or colour in that order.

(a) Board count. Each team adds up the numbers of the boards on which it scored wins, and the team with the lower result is the winner.
(b) Bottom board elimination (to be used only if (a) has not resolved the match). The result on the lowest board is discounted. If it was a draw, the next higher board is discounted; and so on until a result is achieved.
(c) Colour (to be used only if (a) and (b) have not resolved the match). The team that had black on board 1 is the winner.

16) Match results must be emailed by both sides to the appropriate Conductor within 24 hours. Results sheets, listing players’ names and game results, should be emailed to the appropriate Conductor within 7 days to ensure that the games are graded.

General Rules

17) Except as otherwise provided by these Rules, all play in this competition will be in accordance with the FIDE Laws of Chess as of 1 January 2018 including Guidelines III if increments are not used. See http://www.fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=208&view=article

18) Any question arising which is not provided for by Rules 1 to 17 will be referred to the Under 19 Organiser. An appeal against this ruling may be made (within 48 hours) to the English Chess Federation’s Director of Junior Chess, whose decision will be final.