BACL Rules 2019-20

As amended by the AGM on 16 July 2019

1. Governance and Entry Fees
2. Format
3. Teams
4. Playing Times
5. Grading, board order and eligibility
6. General Match Rules
7. Points Scoring
8. Rearranged Matches
9. Defaults
10. Disputes and Appeals
Rules for Quickplay Finishes
Roger Goldsmith Rules

1.     Governance and Entry Fees

1.1     The League will hold an Annual General Meeting each summer.  The Administrative Secretary will give at least six weeks’ notice of the date to the member clubs and the League Executive.

1.2     If a club or officer wishes to include an item on the AGM agenda they should notify the Administrative Secretary at least three weeks before the meeting.  This includes any proposal to change the rules, which should specify the proposed wording, though amendments may be considered at the AGM.  The Administrative Secretary will circulate agendas and papers at least seven days before the AGM.

1.3     At the AGM each club is allowed one vote plus a further vote for each of their League teams in the previous season.  Votes must be cast individually, i.e. a representative of the club and a representative for each team (but not necessarily a member of that team) must be in attendance to secure maximum voting rights.  The Chairman may not vote as a club representative, but has a casting vote. Other officers of the League may vote only as club representatives.

1.4     The AGM shall elect the following Officers as core members of the Executive: the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Match Secretary, Administrative Secretary, and Treasurer.  Three members of the Executive must be present at any meeting for it to be quorate.  The Executive will normally meet in the spring to prepare for the AGM.  The Executive will also consider such matters and take such decisions as may be necessary for the running of the League between AGMs. The Executive may take any of its decisions by communicating without meeting.

1.5     The AGM shall elect other Officers, outside the core Executive, to perform other functions.  Such an Officer may submit proposals to the Executive, and may attend and participate in its meetings, and participate in its other decisions.

1.6    If a Club has not provided any Officer, it too may submit proposals to the Executive, and may send a representative to attend and participate in its meetings. and participate in its other decisions.

1.7    The AGM will set the entry fees for the League annually.  Fees are due by 31 October.  Any charge on the League made by the English Chess Federation in respect of non-ECF members playing in League competitions will be passed on to the clubs at the end of the season.

2.     Format

2.1     The number of divisions and teams within each division will be decided by the AGM.  Should the number of participating teams change between the AGM and the start of the season the Chairman (in consultation with the Match Secretary and the clubs concerned) may alter the distribution of teams in the divisions to maintain as far as possible an equal number of teams within each division.

2.2    At the end of the season the bottom team in each Division (except in the lowest Division) will normally be relegated and the top team in each Division (except in Division 1) will normally be promoted. However the AGM may, exceptionally, vary this arrangement, either at the request of the clubs affected, or because the AGM considers that the additional relegation of the team which finished second to last may be desirable.  No team which has won the right to promotion may be denied it against the wishes of the Club concerned.

2.3     A team withdrawing from a division will count as the one relegated.

3.       Teams

3.1     Teams will consist of four nominated players who should play in grading order (subject to rule 5.1).  Any substitute must be graded not more than ten points higher than the player being replaced.

3.2     Only club members may represent a team.  Nominated team lists and a full list of eligible players must be notified in writing to the Match Secretary before the start of the season.

3.3     No person may be nominated for more than one team and all nominated board grades must relate to specific members of the club.

3.4     A club may add to its list of eligible players by notifying the Match Secretary, and the Internet Officer (and this must be done even if the player has already been registered by another club).  Prior registration is preferable, but it may be done when reporting the player’s first result.

3.5     A club can re-nominate a team at any time throughout the season by informing the Match Secretary, the Internet Officer, and the Captain of the first opposing team to be affected, no later than two days before that match.

3.6    A player may play for different clubs if the teams he represents are in different divisions.  A player may not play for different clubs in the same division of the league unless he has genuinely changed clubs, does not play for his former club that season, and has the permission of the Match Secretary to do so.

3.7    Once a player has played four times for one team in a division, he cannot play more than three times for any other team in that division.

4.     Playing Times

4.1     Matches will start at 7.30 pm.

4.2     It is the responsibility of the home team to provide clocks and to ensure that they are started at 7.30 pm.  Home teams will lose the appropriate number of minutes if they fail to be ready to start the clocks at 7.30 pm.

4.3     If an analogue clock and a digital clock are both available, a player who is significantly visually impaired may choose which one to use.

4.4     Play must take place in accordance with one of the following two time controls:

  • Fischer: each player has an initial stock of 70 minutes with an additional 15 seconds added per move from the first move. Quickplay finish rules do not apply.
  • Traditional: each player must make 30 moves in 75 minutes, after which a further 15 minutes are added to each player’s clock for the remainder of the game. Quickplay finish rules apply.

If only analogue clocks are available, or an analogue clock is selected under rule 4.3, games will use the Traditional timing method.

Note: The Quickplay rules, which are stated separately, include the ‘2-minute rule’ which therefore may not be used to claim a draw when using Fischer timing.

4.5    If suitable clocks are available, games in Division 1 and Division 2 will use the Fischer timing method described in rule 4.4 unless both players agree to use Traditional timing.  In Division 3, if suitable clocks are available, the normal time control will be Fischer timing, but either player may require Traditional timing.

4.6    A game is defaulted (if so claimed by the opposing captain or player) if a player does not arrive by the default time. If the late player has notified his captain (or another team member) before the clocks are started that he will be late, and this notification is immediately conveyed to the player’s opponent, then the default time will be 1 hour after the scheduled start of play. In all other circumstances, the default time will be 30 minutes after the scheduled start of play.  After the match has started a captain may choose an eligible substitute for a player who has failed to turn up.  To be eligible the player should be graded not more than 10 points above the nominated grade for that board, unless the opposing captain agrees otherwise.

5.      Grading, board order and eligibility

5.1     At the start of the season, teams should play in order of their most recently published slowplay grades, but a week after the ECF’s mid-season grading list is published, the latest grades should be used. These requirements are subject to a permitted tolerance of 10 grading points. And players with grades below 90 may play in any order among themselves.

5.2    For the purposes of nomination and eligibility, a player’s grade will be his slowplay grade or estimated grade at the start of the season, and this continues to apply after the ECF publishes mid-season grades.  However, a week after the new grading list is published the latest grade should be used to determine board order (subject to the permitted 10-point tolerance).  A person without a category A to E standard play grade at the start of the season will be given an estimated grade, which will be used for nomination, eligibility and board order until either the grader revises it or the player acquires a category A to E grade in the mid-season ECF list, whereupon the new grade will be used after a week’s delay.


A team’s nominated players have grades of 154, 142, 136 and 130.  For the first half of the season boards 2 and 3, or 3 and 4 may exchange places as a result of the 10 point tolerance.

The mid-season gradings of the players are 150, 162, 148 and 132.  There is no need to re-nominate the team, but the previous board 2 must play on board 1.  Nor does board 3 become ineligible, even though he is now more than 10 points above the nominated board grade for board 3.  The former boards 1 and 3 may play on either board 2 or 3 (within the 10 point tolerance).

If a substitute is required, the replacement’s initial (summer) grade must be not more than 10 points above the nominated board grade (i.e. 154, 142, 136 or 130 depending on the board).

5.3     Where a player is ungraded the club secretary will provide the Match Secretary with an estimated grade, which should be used for the purposes of these rules.  The estimate should be based on all known data, including old grades from a previous list and games held by the grader.  Should the grader consider the estimate to be significantly different to the player’s performance (either when first submitted or during the course of the season) he will notify the Match Secretary, the Internet Officer, and the club secretary, and the grader’s estimate should be used thereafter. The grader will treat all category F grades, which are based on fewer than nine games, as estimated grades and therefore subject to revision.

6.      General Match Rules

6.1     ECF/FIDE rules will apply, unless superseded by Bury Area Chess League rules.

6.2     Captains should exchange lists of their players before the match starts, with forename, surname and grade.

6.3     Away teams have the white pieces on boards 1 and 3.

6.4    Any player whose mobile phone makes any sound during play will receive a warning for the first offence and will be defaulted on a second offence in the same game.  Any player who is found to be using or consulting any device capable of suggesting chess moves will be defaulted that game.

6.5     Unless both players agree otherwise, the clock will be placed at the left hand of the player with the white pieces.  The clock must not be picked up by either player, nor punched forcibly.  The clock button must be pressed by the hand that makes the move.

6.6     Each player must keep an up-to-date game score until less than five minutes remain on his clock.  This applies for both the first and final time controls.  The scoresheet must be updated with the player’s clock running as soon as the first time control is reached. It is not necessary for the scoresheets to be signed by the players.

6.7     If a player makes an illegal move the opponent will receive an additional two minutes on his clock.  A player making a second illegal move will forfeit the game.

6.8     Captains of both teams should enter or confirm the match result on the League’s website.  Where possible this should be done within two days of the fixture, and in any case within a week.  On request the Internet Officer may grant other club officials permission to enter and confirm results on behalf of team captains.

7.      Points Scoring

7.1     Teams score one point for each game won, and half a point for each draw.  In addition, a bonus point will be awarded to a team winning a match.

7.2     Results against a team which has withdrawn before completing its matches will be disregarded for scoring purposes.  However, the games will count in the Player of the Year competition and they will be graded.

7.3     If teams finish level on points at the end of the season, bonus points will be disregarded in determining their respective positions.  If two or more of those teams have the same number of game points their respective positions will be determined by the game points scored in all the matches between them (as if they had been the only participants in a mini-league).

8.      Rearranged Matches

8.1     Matches must be played on the date specified in the league handbook, unless rearranged in accordance with rules 8.2 to 8.5.

8.2     If a match must be postponed because of bad weather, disruption to the transport system, or the venue being unavailable the captain in question should contact the Match Secretary (or, if unavailable, the Chairman) as soon as the need becomes apparent and a fresh date will be fixed by the Match Secretary after consulting the other captain.

8.3     If a match is to held within one month of the circulation of the fixture list either captain may request a postponement, and the Match Secretary, after consulting the other captain, will decide whether to fix a new date.

8.4     Team captains may agree to play a match on an earlier date than scheduled in the league handbook, in which case the home captain should notify the Match Secretary, and the Internet Officer.

8.5    A match may be postponed by agreement between the two captains provided they agree on the new date and notify it to the Match Secretary, and to the Internet Officer, no later than one week after the original date. Failure to do so will result in the match being defaulted by the side which originally sought postponement.  The date for the rescheduled match must be not later than 30 April.

9.      Defaults

9.1     A player in breach of any of the following rules, namely 3.1 to 3.7 or 4.6, will be considered to have defaulted that board.  Where a team is in breach of rule 5.1, the player on the lower board where the rule infraction occurred will be considered to have defaulted that board.  However, where the game is played the result will be graded and will count toward the Player of the Year competition.

9.2     In the event of a board default, the offending team will lose the point.  All other players will play on the board for which they have been chosen.  Where there is a board default by both teams, no point shall be awarded for that board.

9.3     Should any team default a match a score of 4-0 will be awarded to the opposition.  No bonus point (under rule 7.1) will be awarded.

10.    Disputes and Appeals

10.1  The Match Secretary will adjudicate on any dispute, if necessary seeking advice from an independent ECF arbiter.  Should the dispute involve the Match Secretary’s club he will nominate another officer who is independent of both clubs (normally the Chairman or Vice-Chairman) to handle the dispute on his behalf.

10.2  A captain may appeal against a decision of the Match Secretary or his nominee within seven days of being notified of the decision.  The Executive will decide the matter after consulting the captains involved and the Match Secretary (or his nominee).  No member of the clubs involved may vote on the appeal.  The Executive’s decision will be final.

Rules for Quickplay Finishes

1.  A Quickplay finish is one where all remaining moves must be made by a player within a given time.  When Black has made his time control move (after the 30th move) and stopped the clock, the times on both clocks are noted and the clocks set back 15 minutes.  Thus the final time control is on the hour and a player retains the use of any time not consumed.

2.  Specific attention is drawn to the following rules:

  1. If a player has less than two minutes on the clock he or she may stop the clock and claim a draw if it is believed that the opponent either cannot win by normal means or is making no effort to win by normal means.  If their own games have been completed, the two captains may jointly arbitrate in this matter and if necessary should allow the game to continue until flag fall in order properly to evaluate the claim.
  2. If a claim made under Rule 2a cannot be resolved between the teams concerned, an agreed score of the game and final position shall be submitted to the Match Secretary.  He will arrange for an independent arbiter to adjudicate, at the expense of the team claiming the draw if the claim is turned down, or of the other team if it is upheld.
  3. To win a game on time, a player must claim such a win and the position must be such that it is possible to checkmate the opponent’s king by some series of legal moves.  The game will be declared a draw if the position is such that the player whose flag has not fallen cannot checkmate the opponent’s king by any possible series of legal moves.  The game will be declared a draw if both flags have fallen and it is not possible to ascertain which flag fell first.
  4. Third parties must not intervene in a Quickplay finish.  They must not indicate to either player that time is short or that the flag has fallen.  It is entirely up to the two players themselves.
  5. Time increments must not be introduced once the game is in progress.

Roger Goldsmith Rules

1.     The format for this competition will be decided at the Annual General Meeting in the light of the number of entries.  The Administrative Secretary, in consultation with the Roger Goldsmith Organiser, will adapt the rules as necessary.  The fee for entry will be decided by the AGM on advice from the Treasurer.

2.     Registered clubs may enter any number of teams of four players.  Additional teams may be formed using players from two or more clubs.

3.     The following League rules also apply to the Roger Goldsmith tournament:

Rule 5.1 (board order); Rule 5.3 (estimated grades); Rule 6 (General Match Rules); Rule 8 (Rearranged Matches);  Rule 9 (Defaults);  and Rule 10 (Disputes and Appeals), with the Roger Goldsmith Organiser playing the part of Match Secretary.

Rule 4 of the League Rules (Playing Times) also applies to the Roger Goldsmith competition, in the way that it applies to Division 1 of the League.

4.     Teams are subject to a maximum aggregate grading limit of 580 in Division 1, or 500 in Division 2, calculated in accordance with Rule 5.2 of the League Rules.

5.     Any player with an actual or estimated grade of under 80 in Division 1 shall be deemed to have a grade of 80 for the purposes of calculating the team’s aggregate grade. The corresponding figure in Division 2 shall be 60.

6.     Should a team default one or more boards the aggregate team grade will be that of the players present plus a notional grade for each defaulted board.  Where the bottom board is defaulted it will be 80 points in Division 1, or 60 in Division 2.  If a board other than the bottom board is defaulted in either division the notional grade attaching to that board will be the grade of the player on the next lowest board.  (For example, if a team defaults board 2 and the player on board 3 is graded 130, then the notional grade for board 2 will be 130.)

7.     A team that breaches the aggregate grading limit shall normally have one game point transferred to the opposing team (subject to a maximum win of 4-0), though the game results will stand for grading purposes.

8.     The placings will be determined by the number of game points scored.  No bonus points will be awarded.

The following rules apply to the 2019/20 season

9.     There will be two Divisions, each contested on an all-play-all basis.

10.    No player may play for more than one team in the same division.  A player may, however, play for a first division team and for a second division team.

11.    At the end of the all-play-all stage, the two highest placed teams in each division shall contest a final.  In the event that two or more teams are level on game points the results between the tied teams will decide.  If this fails to break the tie the team with the lower aggregate grade will qualify.

12.    The Division winning team with the higher number of points will play at home in the final, but the captains will toss for colours, the winner having white on the odd-numbered boards.  If both teams have equal points the venue will be decided by the toss of a coin.

13.     Should the final end in a draw, the following tiebreak methods will be applied in order:

  1. Higher points total in the all-play-all stage
  2. Board count in the final
  3. Board elimination in the final
  4. Lower aggregate grading in the final