NCA Individual Championships Rules 2021-2022

1.      The Championships

The winner of the Open competition shall be the champion of Northumberland and shall be presented with the Zollner trophy (please note the trophy is retained in the custody of the NCA). The winner of the Under 2000 competition shall be the Under 2000 champion of Northumberland and shall hold the G S Sell trophy for one year. The winner of the Under 1700 competition shall be the Under 1700 champion of Northumberland and shall hold the Colin Gilroy Trophy for one year.

2.      Eligibility

Entries shall be accepted only from players who are members of the English Chess Federation at Bronze level or above. Subject to the approval of the Organiser, any such entrant shall be eligible to compete in the Open competition; entry to the Under 2000 and Under 1700 competitions shall be restricted to those players appropriately graded in the official grading list current at the closing date for entries, and to those ungraded players who are deemed by the Organiser on the available evidence to be likely to be of appropriate playing strength.  No player may enter more than two competitions in one season.

3.      Type Of Competition

The competitions shall be run using Swiss System pairings unless the number of entries permits an all-play-all. In all-play-alls, pairings shall be made according to the Berger International Tables.

4.      Determination Of Winners

In the event of a tie in any competition, the appropriate following system shall be used to determine the outright winner.

  • If two players tie, a two-game match shall be played.
  • If three or more players tie, a single-round all-play-all shall be played.

If this play-off fails to determine an outright champion and all remaining tied players agree, then joint champions shall be declared. Failing such agreement, one further round of play-offs shall be played between the remaining tied players. If this fails to determine an outright winner, joint champions will be declared.

If none of the winners are available for a play-off, then at the Organiser’s discretion, a winner may be chosen by applying one or more tiebreak procedures drawn at random from a prearranged set.

5.      Method Of Entry

Entry details, via an entry form or other communication agreed by the Organiser shall reach the Organiser by the date specified.

6.      Notification Of Pairings

Pairing notices shall be issued to all competitors for each round by email.

7.      Time Controls

Players are encouraged to choose the longest playing session that is possible in the venue up to a maximum of 4 hours.

The use of increments is also strongly encouraged.

The minimum time control for County Championship games is 75 minutes plus 10 second increments (consistent with the Northumberland league), or 90 minutes per player if increments are not used.

Please note that if there is a disagreement about playing times, the home player shall have the final decision as they are responsible for the venue. Clearly, being the home player at a club which is only available for the shorter amount of time *does* constitute a good reason – these constraints are unavoidable.

8.      FIDE Laws of Chess

Please see the Appendix below which contains an extract from the FIDE Laws of Chess. This extract includes important information concerned with the recording of moves, use of the clock, illegal moves, claiming a draw in games played without an increment and electronic devices.

9.      Playing Venues

Players drawn with the black pieces shall have choice of venue. Games may be played at a chess club or other public venue with appropriate Covid safeguards. It is not permitted to play championship games in a private residence.

Players providing the venue are responsible for supplying sets, clocks and scoresheets, and ensuring that playing conditions (particularly space, quietness and temperature) are adequate and acceptable to their opponents.

10.    Reporting Results

The outcome shall be reported by the winner in the case of a decisive game, and by both players in the case of a drawn game. The time limits for receipt by the Organiser of the outcome of each game are the closing times for the rounds. The information to be reported for each game shall consist of the title of the competition, the names of the players, and the result. Any Swiss competition game whose outcome has not been reported by the appropriate closing time shall be scored zero to both players, and the pairing may be repeated in the draw for the following round.

11.    Supplying A Game Score

As far as possible, a full, legible and correct record of the moves of each game shall be supplied to the Organiser by the winner in the case of decisive games, or both players in the event of a draw. The awarding of full or half points is conditional on such a record being received within two weeks of the closing date of the round.

12.    Disputes

Disputes shall be referred to the Organiser. Appeals against decisions by the Organiser shall be sent to the Secretary of the Association for decision by the NCA Executive Committee, with a copy to the Organiser.

13.    Security Of Trophies

The Zollner trophy is presented to, but not retained by, the individual county champion. The Sell and Gilroy trophies are normally held by the winners for the duration of the following season and should normally be returned by 31st March.

David Walker, 3 August 2021.

Appendix – Extracts from The FIDE Laws of Chess

This appendix contains significant extracts from FIDE Laws of Chess effective 1 January 2018, as applicable in the Northumberland Chess Championships.

Indented text in italics is taken directly from the FIDE Laws of Chess. Other text in each section relates to how the FIDE rules are interpreted or modified for the Championships.

Use Of the Clock

Article 6: The chessclock

6.2.2  A player must be allowed to stop his clock after making his move, even after the opponent has made his next move. The time between making the move on the chessboard and pressing the clock is regarded as part of the time allotted to the player.

6.2.3  A player must press his clock with the same hand with which he made his move. It is forbidden for a player to keep his finger on the clock or to ‘hover’ over it.

6.2.4  The players must handle the chessclock properly. It is forbidden to press it forcibly, to pick it up, to press the clock before moving or to knock it over.

6.8 A flag is considered to have fallen when the arbiter observes the fact or when either player has made a valid claim to that effect.

A player wins on time if he can stop the clocks showing that his opponent’s flag has fallen and his own flag has not fallen, unless the player who makes the claim cannot possibly checkmate his opponent by any possible series of legal moves, in which case the game is drawn.

If both flags have fallen and it is impossible to establish which flag fell first the game is drawn. The evidence of a digital clock which shows which flag fell first IS acceptable.

Note that checkmate, stalemate, insufficient material etc end the game immediately. If, for example, white checkmates black then white’s flag falls, then white still wins since checkmate ends the game.

The player with the black pieces has choice of which side the chess clock is placed.

Illegal Moves

Article 7: Irregularities

7.5.1 An illegal move is completed once the player has pressed his clock. If during a game it is found that an illegal move has been completed, the position immediately before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined, the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. Articles 4.3 and 4.7 apply to the move replacing the illegal move. The game shall then continue from this reinstated position.

7.5.2 If the player has moved a pawn to the furthest distant rank, pressed the clock, but not replaced the pawn with a new piece, the move is illegal. The pawn shall be replaced by a queen of the same colour as the pawn.

7.5.3 If the player presses the clock without making a move, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.

7.5.4 If a player uses two hands to make a single move (for example in case of castling, capturing or promotion) and pressed the clock, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.

7.5.5 After the action taken under Article 7.5.1, 7.5.2, 7.5.3 or 7.5.4 for the first completed illegal move by a player, the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent; for the second completed illegal move by the same player the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this 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.

A single illegal move does not lose the game, but two illegal moves in the same game does lose (unless your opponent cannot possibly checkmate via any sequence of legal moves, in which case the game is drawn).

Failure to replace a promoted pawn with a piece, pressing the clock without making a move and using two hands to make a move are all considered as illegal moves.

If during a game you realise that an illegal move has been made some moves earlier, then the game must be restarted from the position just before the illegal move and the “touch move” rules apply to any replacement move.

For example, suppose that white castles during a game but a few moves later you realise that this castling was illegal because the king crossed a square that was controlled by a black piece. The position must be restored to the point just before white castled and white is obliged to continue as if he touched his king with the intention of moving it.

Recording The Moves

Article 8: The recording of the moves

8.1.3 A player may reply to his opponent’s move before recording it, if he so wishes. He must record his previous move before making another.

8.4 If a player has less than five minutes left on his clock at some stage in a period and does not have additional time of 30 seconds or more added with each move, then for the remainder of the period he is not obliged to meet the requirements of Article 8.1.1.

Unless an increment of at least 30 seconds is used, then as soon as one player’s time drops below five minutes, that player is no longer obliged to keep score, even if their time subsequently rises above five minutes because of an increment.

A player with more than five minutes remaining on the clock must continue to keep score, even if their opponent has less than five minutes remaining.

Electronic Devices

Article 11: The conduct of the players

11.3.1 During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard. During a game, a player is forbidden to have any electronic device not specifically approved by the arbiter in the playing venue.

However, the regulations of an event may allow such devices to be stored in a player’s bag, provided the device is completely switched off. This bag must be placed as agreed with the arbiter. Both players are forbidden to use this bag without permission of the arbiter.

Players competing in the Northumberland Championships are allowed to have an electronic device in the playing venue, but it must be switched off and must not be carried away from the board by the player while the game is in progress.

In line with rules in the Northumberland Chess League, any player whose electronic communication device emits a sound, or vibrates, more than once during a game, shall lose their game by default.

Obtaining outside advice or assistance during a game will result in forfeit of the game.

Games Without Increment

Guidelines III. Games without increment including Quickplay Finishes

III.6 The following shall apply when the competition is not supervised by an arbiter:

III.6.1 A player may claim a draw when he has less than two minutes left on his clock and before his flag falls. This concludes the game. He may claim on the basis:

III.6.1.1 that his opponent cannot win by normal means, and/or

III.6.1.2 that his opponent has been making no effort to win by normal means.

In III.6.1.1 the player must write down the final position and his opponent must verify it.

In III.6.1.2 the player must write down the final position and submit an up-to-date scoresheet. The opponent shall verify both the scoresheet and the final position.

III.6.2 The claim shall be referred to the designated arbiter.

This guideline only applies to games played without an increment. If you have less than two minutes remaining, and you believe that your opponent is making no effort to win by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then you can stop the clock and claim a draw. This ends the game and the game’s result will be decided by the Organiser.

Note that even if a position is theoretically drawn, this does not guarantee that a draw claim will be accepted: you must demonstrate that you know how to defend the position or that your opponent was making no effort to win.

Games played with an increment must be completed in the normal way.

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