Match Rules – draft proposals

Below is a summary of draft content being proposed for consideration at AGM/LCM.
Refinements may appear here on an ongoing basis, but clubs need to submit basic proposals by 1st. July (rule 27). Please consider these and offer any comments or suggested rewording to details that would be required to make these acceptable to your club. Indicating support or identifying objections/issues may help shorten/ease later discussions when raised at AGM/LCM.
1/7/2016: rules 3,11,13,15,16 & 22 submitted by Billericay/Clacton/Colchester/Writtle.
7/7/2016: AGM confirmed for 19:45 on 27th July 2016 in Witham Library.
Aug/2016: amendments from feedback   text in red requires deeper discussion
Sep/2016: New League and Knockout rules published.

Rule 3
Frank Seeley/Maldon and John Lambert/Clacton independently proposed extending the season to include the whole of May as more games are being played in May, the weather is better and it helps the clubs who play in more than one league. Subject to approval of a new rule 22, the suggestion by Nathan Barnes/Colchester would also apply (part g).
draft rule 3:
Match play in League Competitions shall take place between 1 October, or earlier if 22(g) applies, and 31st May in each season.
[ v “as soon as clubs have completed player registrations and are ready to play their agreed pairings. Matches will be completed by” ?]

Rule 11

Nathan Barnes/Colchester suggests we dispense with tossing for colours,
draft rule 11:
Matches in all Divisions shall be played over four boards. The away team shall play white on the odd-numbered boards and the black pieces on the even-numbered boards.

Rule 13
Add requirement/courtesy to notify opponents about known defaults.
draft rule 13:
A reserve player may be introduced at any time up to 8.15 p.m. If a player is not available at or before 8.15 p.m., the board is defaulted. No player can play more than one game on the same occasion. If a captain has a known default, this must be notified to the opposing captain as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary travel.

Rule 15
Writtle are proposing alternative time controls with a Fischer timing.
draft rule 15:
All  matches will  be played to a finish. The rate of play will  be 30  moves  in 75  minutes and then the clocks will be set back 15 minutes and the game completed in the remaining time. Alternatively, subject to mutual agreement and availability of digital clocks, Fischer timing at a rate of all moves in 80 minutes with 10 seconds increment per move from the start. All four boards in a match will be required to use the same rate of play.

Rule 16
Confirm the expected method to submit and confirm a result.
draft rule 16:
Match results  shall,  not  later  than  five  days  after  play  is  completed, be submitted on-line by one team and confirmed on-line by the other team. Teams with no web access may inform the event Secretary by other means.

Note, this also drops mention of the levy of £1 for each result not submitted on time as It has never been applied, though an AGM reminder may be appropriate. Process reminder; where only one side has submitted a result this is deemed to stand (by ‘auto-confirming’ on-line on the 6th day – or not before 24hr after a previous submission, to give further opportunity to confirm/change that result). If neither side has submitted a result after 10 days the match is automatically moved from the imminent table to a “non-notified-postponement” table on the latest results page. The number of matches not directly confirmed over the last 5 years averages 17%, which would have been about £30/yr in fines. See now extended to show these counts.

Rule 22

Current Rule 22 has 9 clauses (a) to (i). Prior to changes made in 2013 it ran to more than an A4 page and was then recognised to be in need of further change as it didn’t adequately address data issues or cover today’s processes. The below draft rewrite is offered to address this. It incorporates (f) as proposed by Billericay plus parts of (c), (d), (g) and (h) as proposed by Colchester. (indicated by respective text colouring)

draft rule 22:
(a) It is a condition of membership that player data (limited to name, club, ECF grading/membership references) and game results may be kept on computer and published. Members may optionally provide an email address so as to be included in NECL distribution lists. Club secretaries will maintain venue and basic contact data on their NECL-club web pages which also form the on-line directory. Officers can alternatively opt for their own contact data to be restricted to a view which is only visible via a login by other officers.
(b) At least 24 hours before the first fixture within a season, each club shall send all fees due to NECL to the treasurer, and send the names of intended players to both the General Secretary and Treasurer. Clubs may optionally overpay to create a credit balance towards any later new registrations.The treasurer will mark payment and registrations on-line and assign a player eligibility date of no later than the day after receipt. This will be visible in the NECL-accounts, registrations and nominations sections of each club.
New player registrations during a season will similarly require at least 24 hours notice before the players first fixture.

(c) Nominations will be formed starting from the top of the grade-ordered list with a number of players equal to one fewer than the number of boards in the club’s ‘A’ team shall be nominated for that team; the number of players next on the list equal to one fewer than the number of players in the club’s ‘B’ team shall be nominated players for that team, and so on. There may also be additional nominated players to the above due to 22h.
Nominations will be revised accordingly if affected by (i) new registrations added during the season or (ii) a performance-based-revision of the estimated grade of a non-graded player. A club changing nomination ordering based on mid-season official grade updates should do so within two weeks of a grading list being published, or can opt to not do so where this affects driver availability.
A player shall not be eligible to play in any team below the category of team for which they are nominated.
(d) The maximum number of games a player may play in the League Championship in one season is equal to five in excess of the maximum number of matches scheduled for any team at the start of the season minus the number of matches already completed by his nominated team by the fixture list at the time when his name first appears on his club’s list of players. In this clause the ‘nominated team’ is that team to which a player is nominated by the first list submitted by his club on which his name appears.
Default wins do not contribute to a player’s game count for this purpose.
e) If a team plays an ineligible player then his/her game will be  lost by default, and an additional ½ point  will  be  deducted  from  the  team’s  total.  Individual game results will stand for grading purposes only. Incomplete teams should default on the lowest board(s).
(f) Teams will play in descending ECF grading order from board one downwards:
Any exceptions to this cannot differ in the official ECF grading by more than 10 grading points or:
(i) Where a reserve player is substituted for a listed player who has failed to arrive, the reserve must be of the same or lower-grade than the player originally listed. (ii) Where a higher graded player is listed downwards to occupy a board defaulted by the opposing team.
(g) Pairings from the same club should be played first, which may be before 1st October.
[vas soon as the club can arrange” ?]
(h) If a nominated player does not play in any matches during a season then if they are nominated again the following season then they must be nominated for the same team as in the previous season and that team must have an additional player nominated.

Many parts will require further discussion and agreement on some details. In particular the question of nominations, discussed at the 2014 AGM where no decision was reached nor minuted (though DM declared July would be assumed unless clubs opt for January). The current status quo seems an unsatisfactory compromise? Clubs have opted to base playing order on either a) January based list;  b) July based lists;  or c) a list that is neither. This directly affects clauses (c) and (f) and should be revisited for a more definitive answer in anticipation of grading frequency becoming monthly or real-time.

More change comparison notes:-
Aspects not covered by the present rule 22 include reference to
(i) player data and club venues/contacts (into a)
(ii) process has to involve treasurer to ensure visibility of NECL-accounts, registrations and nominations (into b + drop g & i).
[a previously unused registration marking facility was moved from gen-sec to treasurer key with payment facility added when accounts were put on-line. Nominations are now updated on-line by JL when he receives a list from DM. Both keys can edit nominations]
(iii) incorporate present option to adopt mid-season grade updates, or not
(iv) effect of new player additions to nominations (into c, drop d)
(v) performance-based-revision for estimated grades (into c) – though criteria yet to be specified (e.g.   performance – estimate > 10 after 5 games ?)
(vi) that max game-count excludes default-wins (into new d)
(vii) incomplete teams default to the lowest boards, (into e) (discussed sometime but not minuted or put into rules?)

22f – Strictness of Board-ordering – Current rule says:-
       “Players nominated for a team will be expected to play in their listed order.
       However minor alterations in playing order can be made according to current form.”
The extent of alteration is not defined. (deliberately?) though a 10 point grade difference has often been spoken of as the ‘allowed’ margin, as though this was a rule – but can only be a ‘notion’ as it has not been documented in NECL rules, nor in any AGM/LCM minutes (that I know of). Nor is the rule clear that the ‘list’ referred to is of ‘nominees’, or ‘eligible players’ – but has to be the latter if it is to cover non-nominated players.
[Note: our monitoring tool shows (amongst other things) how often teams have played out of order (by grade at the time of a match). For the nominal margin of 10 points, this shows 17 such instances during the current season (edit the url for other margins/seasons)
– but of course the difficulty in checking if some/all of these are ‘allowed’ requires you to refer to the list of nominations active at the time of each match! ]

22h – Example from Nathan:  if one of the three players nominated for Colchester A (Player X) does not play all season but Colchester register Player X again the following season then whichever Colchester A must have four nominated players (not three) – one of who must be Player X. Match rule 22d should be modified to be subject to this new clause; match rule 22b should also be subject to this new clause as well as clause d.

Rules 20/24
Subject to approval of the above rule, dropping rule 20 could be considered.
This seems unnecessary, due to ordering covered in new 22f, and refers to impractical penalties that have never used despite many examples.
Also Rule 24 seems unnecessary due to becoming a legal constraint since 2007.

Rule 26
Nathan Barnes/Colchester has raised a query, saying that in the quickplay finish to games NECL rules do not make it clear what procedures are being followed if a player tries to claim a draw in the last two minutes due to not being able to win on normal means / not trying to win by normal means. If this is done does rule G6 apply and if so who is the arbiter? NECL rules should also state if rule G4 applies or not.

This is more of a request for clarification in case this problematic situation arises, so may best be addressed by incorporating an answer into a draft rule 26, such as the following:-

The FIDE Laws of Chess will apply to all games unless superseded by these Rules, unless not practical to do so.  e.g. current FIDE rules G4, G5 &G6 (claims made when less than two minutes left on clock) that require a ‘designated arbiter’ will not apply, though both captains may choose to reach agreement, or to raise a dispute under rule 2.

Current rule 26 says:-
“Except where they are inconsistent with the foregoing, the Laws of Chess as published by the British Chess Federation shall be deemed to form part of these Rules.  The FIDE Laws of Chess allow the use of an assistant by a visually handicapped player. The League will also allow the use of an assistant by any player, as and when required.”
Is outdated due to BCF->ECF, who no longer publish FIDE rules and only link to FIDE.
Visually disabled players and assistance are already extensively covered in Appendix D.


..more on rule 22

Whilst part of rule 22 is under review this may be an opportunity for the LCM to address other aspects of it? – If allowed to do so, as it is not clear if each aspect of a same rule requires separate submission under rule 27?

Consider 22a for instance (current text quoted at the end of this article for reference)
i) Reference to BCF is outdated.
ii) It goes to the trouble of specifying that clubs submit the name of anyone who does not want their details to be kept on computer. Perhaps their name is expected to be submitted on paper instead of email, so as not to create a computer record of this fact about them!
This may anticipate an unlikely event (no-one has objected so far?),  but says nothing about the (im)practicalities of keeping someone ‘off-computer’. Perhaps this was written pre-internet, when computers were considered to be really scary, whereas now we all know they are but accept them – albeit with general reluctance to give out any data beyond that really needed for purpose – so keeping less data may reduce that concern?
iii) The text specifies that each year’s data such as members addresses and phone numbers are to be collected, though the standard form I’ve seen submitted has fields for mobiles, date of birth (not just for juniors), email addresses etc..
Whilst it is in the interests of league and club officers to publish their contact data (widely or only to other officers, as they so choose) in order to function, it does not seem essential to demand this from all members, and doing so may establish a legal requirement to be registered under the Data Protection Act. ( )
For general contact, email addresses are often volunteered and found sufficient without formal annual re-confirmation.   Non-email colleagues are not notified about events by paper post so they already have to rely on news from the web or via club colleagues.
As a non-profit organisation one condition of exemption from DPA registration (advice at ) is to “only process information necessary to establish or maintain membership”, which could be met by clubs submitting only player-names and ECF references, and that could easily be achieved with on-line NECL registration. (raised previously, noting this ensures clubs generate a new-player record so names always appear in pick lists ahead of first matches and ineligible players immediately flagged when game results are entered).

If establishing all the above (dropping ‘off-computer’ options, collecting minimum data for DPA exemption, adopting on-line registration) rule 22a, possible wording could be;-

It is a condition of membership that the following data may be kept on computer and published:-   a) Player Name and club,  b) ECF Identifying data (membership/grade),  c) Game Results. Members may optionally provide an email address to be used in distribution lists. Prior to any fixture within a season, each club shall register intended players online, or shall send the a) and b) data above to the General secretary who will mark the record on-line to confirm validity. A further condition of eligibility is that any associated player fees due to NECL are sent to the Treasurer prior to the fixture.
Clubs will maintain their officer names and contact data in the on-line directory.

Reference:  –  current text of Rule 22 (a)
At the beginning of each season each club shall submit to the General Secretary, a list of all its intended players in order of strength.
The list should indicate which players (if any) are registered with the B.C.F. at that particular time, and include addresses and telephone numbers.
The information may be stored on a computer database for purposes associated with chess.
The submitted list must state the name of any player who does not want information relating to himself/herself held on a computer database.
The list should be accompanied by payment to the North Essex Chess League of the registration fee prescribed from time to time by the Committee for each player listed.
This list and these registration fees must be received by the General Secretary at least five days before the first fixture involving the club concerned.
No player may represent a club in any one season unless his/her name has been submitted to the General Secretary and the appropriate registration fee paid within the stipulated time.
The General Secretary will acknowledge receipt of the fee(s) and list, and report on the list’s validity.

AGM / Rule 22

The next NECL AGM is on Monday 5 August 2013 at Baddow. The agenda (here) includes two counter proposals for discussion (LCM to decide) on changing registrations in section 22 of the Rules of Match Play.

1) From Witham Chess Club
Witham proposes extending the provision for a club with two teams in division 1 to field teams of more equal strength to all divisions.

2) From the General Secretary
The General Secretary proposes removing the provision for equal strength teams, but reducing the number of players listed for each team to one fewer than the number of boards.

I’ve never understood what benefit this option ever brought in the first place. Perhaps someone will expound the added virtues of each proposal?  The examples it could have been applied to in div 1 this past season were Writtle A/B, placed 2nd/3rd, and Brentwood A/B placed 4th/5th. So in these cases it would seem that the option would have made no difference to the end result!  But if the top 8 players were very widely spread in grade, why would a club wish to sacrifice chances of a stronger team coming higher in a division to achieve two mid-field results?

I think I see where Witham are coming from, in that if anything is considered good for div1, why shouldn’t it apply to any division?

On the other hand, as far as I know (can anyone verify this?) no club has ever used the option to nominate “teams of more equal strength”.   Just having such an option introduces complications and significantly extends the wording of the rules just to cover it’s provision.
Wouldn’t it be simpler to just remove this provision entirely?
I seem to agree with the General Secretary on that part.

There is a lot of provision in the current rule 22 (see below) which has probably never been invoked.  What do you think?  Would you miss this option if it just disappeared?

– – – – – – – – –
Rule 22 is rather “long-winded” (occupies more than an A4 page) and has 9 clauses (a) to (i). Some of these have other issues but I’ll avoid quoting the rule in full here, and just refer to the relevant clauses.

The above proposals relate to (b), which says;-

(b) Subject to clause (d) hereof, starting from the top of the list, the number of players equal to the number of boards in the club’s ‘A’ team shall be nominated players for that team; the number of players next on the list equal to the number of players in the club’s ‘B’ team shall be nominated players for that team, and so on. A player shall not be eligible to play in any team below the category of team for which he is nominated.
If a club has two teams in Division 1, it has the option to field two teams of more equal strength. If a club wishes to exercise this option, two of the top four registered players must be nominated for each team at the start of the season. The next four can play for either team.

As that references (d), which also mentions “more equal teams”, we need to read that too;-

(d) A club shall be allowed to revise the list at any time during the season. Such a revised list must be received by the General Secretary at least five days before the date from which the club wishes the list to operate. The club must also send the appropriate player registration fee to the General Secretary within the same time limit. The General Secretary will acknowledge receipt of the fee(s) and list, and report on the list’s validity. Players are not eligible to play unless such acknowledgement has been received.
However, if a club has exercised the option to field two more equal teams in Division 1, newly registered players in the top four must be alternately nominated for each of the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. Players dropping into the next four positions become eligible for either team. Players dropping out of the top eight positions become eligible to play excess games as in part (c).

And as that references (c), which also mentions “more equal teams”, we need to read that too;-

(c) The maximum number of games a player may play in the League Championship in one season is equal to five in excess of the number of matches remaining to his nominated team by the fixture list at the time when his name first appears on his club’s list of players. In this clause the ‘nominated team’ is that team to which a player is nominated by the first list submitted by his club on which his name appears.
However, if a club has exercised the option to field two more equal teams in Division 1, none of the top eight registered players may play any excess games.

AGM / minutes

The next NECL AGM is on Monday 5 August 2013 at Baddow. The agenda (here) includes a proposal to amend the constitution with a small addition concerning minutes – merely that a draft be issued in a timely manner soon after the meeting. I suggest this in the belief that early communication of outcomes is important and I hope everyone will support this.
The proposal is to add the following line to clause C(i)
“The general secretary will make draft minutes available to all members within 2 weeks after the meeting date.”

Some reasons for this;-

  1. As currently written, there is no actual requirement for minutes at all, late or early, though clearly some are expected.
  2. Past practice has been to produce minutes around 12 months later for the following AGM. Surely it is easier to write these up while things are still fresh in the mind, and the notes taken are most legible?
  3. The season following an AGM is the time during which the views and decisions on new issues are most relevant.
  4. During the season, members have generally not been aware of most issues or decisions made and had no means to look these up.
  5. With no draft available for reference during the following season it was assumed that attendees debrief club colleagues. This is neither efficient nor reliable. Raising a query via the general secretary should not be necessary and may not always be practical.
    e.g.1 “do mid-season grades dictate a team’s playing order?” Do you recall if this was discussed? What conclusion was reached? Where would you check this?
    e.g.2 “when a team plays out of grade order, there is a notion that adjacent players can be within 10 points of each other, but where is this quoted? If not in the rules, perhaps this was established at an AGM or LCM? Which one, and how would you verify this? There is no reference. etc.
  6. Approval of minutes 12 months after the event becomes almost routine as issues can then seem less important, attendees have less confidence to identify errors and less detail of discussion is remembered.

The benefits of early draft publication by the general secretary are;-
a) A more valuable reference available from the start of the relevant season.
b) Visibility to all, rather than being limiting to the attendees of the next meeting.
c) Greater opportunity for readers to check the detail, raise issues and correct errors and omissions to improve the accuracy and detail of final drafts.

A follow-on suggestion is that the general secretary file ALL AGM and LCM minutes, and any associated documents, on the NECL website, thus making them easily accessible to all members.

NECL update following LCM 23rd August

Thanks to all of you who attended the LCM on 23rd August at Chelmsford. The NECL has decided to continue to submit their games for grading to the ECF. Once this decision was reached it was a question of deciding how to deal with the options of direct membership or game fees.

League fees for next season were set at £1 per player to cover the league costs and a £10 deposit per team. The league intend to use the deposits together with an existing balance as a float to cover any shortfall in time between money needing to be paid to the ECF and money being collected from the clubs. David Millward will send out a separate document covering the wider financial issue.

Clubs will need to decide how to collect the ECF money. The simplest route is for players to join the ECF directly although it can also be done through the NECL. Players can join individually online at and also by post (form attached) or phone (01424 775222). Membership can be retrospective but I would advise actively encouraging regular club players to join at the start of the season for easier club administration.

One alternative is for clubs to collect game fees from non-ECF members at each match (£2 per player per match) ready to pass onto the ECF via the NECL when necessary. ECF membership is mandatory for anyone playing more than 6 games (when it becomes cheaper anyway than paying individual game fees).

This season will be a trial (perhaps in more ways than one) for the league and individual clubs and we will revisit all this at the end of the season to see how things have worked out.

Clubs running an internal championship have to make a similar decision on whether they want to submit their games for grading and, if so, whether to make membership of the ECF mandatory for anyone taking part or whether to pay the grading costs by collecting game fees from non-members. If an event is to be ECF graded every game played within the competition has to be submitted. The Daytime League will be graded and Jim House will be contacting these players directly.

Please make sure all clubs submit their league entries by 14th September at the latest. This will allow fixtures to be arranged online at about a week before the fixture meeting on 24th September at Baddow’s venue.

One other change moves the deadline for registering players to 24 hours before a match instead of 5 days. Registration is still via post or email to the League Secretary and not via the website.

Good luck to everybody involved with organising the changes at a club level. Please get in touch if there are any queries or if you need any advice.

Robin Slade
Championship Secretary

Special NECL League Commitee Meeting 23rd August 2012
Re: The ECF

We have to decide as a league whether to join the English Chess Federation (ECF) so we can have our league games graded nationally or whether to break away and operate as a separate body and use our own NECL grade instead.

This decision needs to be taken before anything else can be decided for next season and might just have an impact on which clubs remain part of the NECL. We will hold a special LCM on Thursday 23rd August 2012 at Chelmsford’s venue (7.45 start). Every club and league official is entitled to one vote and a straight majority will decide.