Manchester Chess Federation Founded 1890

Click here to edit subtitle

MCF LEAGUE and MATCH RULES 8 September 2021

Applications for entry must reach the General Secretary and Fixtures Secretary by 1 August prior
to the commencement of the season and must include the following:

 Names and addresses of secretary and captains
 Address of clubroom
 Detailed travelling directions
 Evening of the week for home fixtures
 Special circumstances which may affect the club’s ability to fulfil fixtures
 Clubs should specify which teams they wish to enter (and into which divisions); clubs must
specify which teams they wish to enter into the Trophy (Knockout) competitions (there is no
“default” entry; teams must be positively entered into the chosen Trophy competition in
addition to being entered into the League)
 A registration list of players
 One subscription per team
 The normal playing session of the club
 The number of digital clocks available to be used for their home matches
 Whether your home venue is accessible for disabled players
 Clubs are required to provide at least one email address for use by the MCF

These email addresses will be used to provide clubs with details of fixtures, to raise queries about
results and other matters and to notify clubs of AGMs, EGMs and any relevant correspondence
from MCF Council.

The email addresses will be included on the MCF website as part of the club contact details and
the MCF will provide the email to any individual expressing an interest in membership of that club
(if a club has supplied more than 1 email address, the club can specify only one email address to
go on the MCF website). MCF officers will not make use of any email addresses so provided,
except to fulfil the functions of their office, and the MCF will not forward the email addresses to
any third party, except as discussed above, without the express permission of the addressees.

The annual subscription is £10 per team and shall be remitted with the applications for
membership to the AGM. During the season the Treasurer will invoice each club for its share of
any game fees payable to the English Chess Federation.

a) All Clubs shall send a copy of their registration list, numbered in order of strength, to the
Records & Registrations Secretary by 31st August of the new season.

b) No player may be on the registration list of more than one club at the same time.
Transferring of players is allowed provided the acquiring club first tells the secretary of the
player’s current club and then the Records and Registration Secretary.

c) A club shall register its players in approximate grading order; leeway of up to 10 ECF
grading points is allowed. The last full ECF grading list published before the start of the season
shall normally apply throughout the season. However, a club may apply to revise its list in early
February by moving a player up or down, if there is a major discrepancy between the player’s
July and January grades.

A major discrepancy is defined as a difference of more than 20 ECF points, based on more than
10 long-play games played in the grading period following the publication of the July list.

Exceptionally a club may request permission to register a player out of grading order by more
than 10 ECF grading points; in such a case the club must include a note in justification.
The following may be considered justification under this rule:

 A player who is a driver, particularly for a Junior team
 A team captain elected immediately before the new grading list who met the criteria under
the then current list.

Ungraded players shall be registered appropriately to their playing strength. Note the
Memorandum on Estimated Grades for Ungraded Players.

d) The Records and Registration Secretary may reject justification offered under c) above and
ask the club to revise its list. Should the club disagree, then MCF Council shall arbitrate on the

e) Clubs shall have the right to send in a revised registration list to the Records and
Registration Secretary at any point up to November 15th. Rules b), c) and d) apply.

f) Players may be added to the list at any time. Such additions must be bracketed with the
player of nearest strength and reach the Records and Registration Secretary before playing in a
match. After January 31st the addition of a new player is not a defence against a breach of Rule

{Advice to clubs: when drawing up your registration list, if a player’s availability is doubtful, she/he
should be bracketed rather than seeded}

a) If a club enters more than one team in the league, certain players known as “seeded
players” are restricted as to which team(s) they can play for. A player may play only for the team
to which he is seeded and for any of the club’s teams higher than the one to which he is seeded.
 A club  first team has 5 seeds in a 7-player division, or 3 seeds in a 5-player division.
 A club’s lower teams have either: 6 seeds in a 7-player division, or 4 seeds in a 5-player
With these exceptions:
 For any club with more than one team, its lowest-numbered team does not require seeding.
 For any club with more than one team and with its lowest-numbered team in the grade-
restricted bottom division, its penultimate team does not require seeding as long as it is in
a higher division.

b) Bracketing of players is allowed (i.e. two or more players may be put on the same number).

c) i. A team’s players do not have to play in strict grading order, but where there is a difference
of more than 20 ECF points between two players, the lower-graded player must play on a
lower board than the higher-graded player, except when coming in as a reserve after clocks
have been started; in which case an explanatory note shall be included when reporting the
result. The latest ECF Grading list available at the start of the season shall be used throughout
the season.

ii. For every contravention of rule 4 (c) i., the higher-graded player shall be considered

d) Subject to the approval of the Records and Registrations Secretary, a club may amend its
registration list at any time by moving a player up the list and bracketing that player with a seeded
player.  All players below the moved player shall move up the list accordingly.

Note: in particular this should be done as soon as it is known to the club that a seeded player will
be unable to play the minimum two matches required [but see Rule 4 f) ii) below].

e) Seeded players must play at least two games for the club during the season. Where two or
more players are bracketed together, two games from amongst those bracketed together will
count, provided the two games were not played in the same match. If this does not happen, then
the teams lower than the group for which the player was seeded will have two match points
deducted. Rule 5 shall not apply.

Paragraph 2 of the Memorandum for the Composition of Divisions shall be applied only at the
discretion of the MCF Fixtures Committee in respect of any team benefiting from a breach of
seeding rules.

f) The Club may appeal to the Council for a lesser or zero penalty to be imposed. Grounds
for appeal include:

i) Where the club is able to show that it did not benefit at all after November 15th (see
Rule 3 e) from the presence of the ghost player in the list. This requires the club to
demonstrate that the player could have been bracketed with another (or others) on the
registration list, in such a way that none of rules 3 c), 4 a) and 4 e) would have been

ii) That the club revised its registration list immediately it realised the player was not
going to play. Note the further the season has progressed the less acceptable this
defence is, and after January 31st this defence is invalid.

g) The Records & Registrations Secretary shall check each club list after December 31 st and
warn clubs with potential ghosts. However, lack of a warning will not excuse a club from being
penalised for seeding ghost players.

The games of all players who are ineligible under these rules shall be submitted for grading but
for all MCF purposes shall be scored to their opponents.

From the 2022/23 season, before playing in a match between MCF clubs, a player must register
as a member of the ECF at an appropriate level, with these exemptions:
1. players new to competitive chess (defined as players who have never previously been
members of the ECF in any category),

2. players returning to chess after a hiatus of more than three seasons (as evidenced by
their ECF record, or lack of it)

3. players who did not play more than three ECF-graded standard play games in the
previous season.
Players in the above categories may play up to three over-the-board games in the MCF league or
trophy events in the season before being required to join the ECF (note that this exemption does

4.not apply to games played on-line) but they must join before playing any further matches that

a) Before 5th October each year the fixtures secretary shall arrange the fixtures as far as
possible in accordance with the memorandum for fixtures arrangements. Each club secretary
shall be sent copies not less than two weeks before the first match (which may be in September).

b) A club may request the postponement of a fixture by giving at least ten days notice to the
Fixtures Secretary and providing justification. If the Fixtures Secretary allows the postponement,
the Fixtures Secretary shall arrange the date and venue of the match, in consultation with the two
clubs involved. (Note that consultation does not necessarily mean agreement.) The new date
shall be binding on both clubs and no further postponement of the same fixture shall be
permitted. No fixture shall be postponed at less than ten days notice except in an emergency.

c) All fixtures shall be played before 31st May unless the Council sanctions a later date.

d) The record of any team playing only half of its matches or fewer shall be expunged.

The home team shall provide reasonable playing conditions and set up the venue, equipment,
etc., before the starting time. There should be sufficient sets, boards and clocks of appropriate
design. Tables and chairs should be spaced to allow easy access. The venue should be
reasonably quiet, clean, well lit and ventilated.

Mobile phones are allowed in the playing area. However they must be switched off for the
duration of play. Match captains must remind players of this requirement immediately before the
commencement of play.

If a player  phone rings audibly during his game then he automatically forfeits the game. If the
opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, it will be declared drawn.

{Advice to clubs: in the hopefully rare case of a genuine need to use a mobile phone occurring
while a match is still in progress, the two team captains should be jointly consulted and their prior
agreement obtained. Otherwise, in the event of a dispute arising, the MCF is likely to take the
view that FIDE Rule 12.8 has been breached. FIDE Rule 12.8 - “Unless authorised by the arbiter,
it is forbidden for anybody to use a mobile phone or any kind of communication device in the
playing venue or any contiguous area designated by the arbiter.”

MCF requests that clubs remind their players that FIDE rules apply in the Manchester League
(unless specifically altered by MCF Rules) - players found cheating will face sanctions (e.g. a 3
year ban). Important points to raise include:

 ‘other’ electronic devices are prohibited (if they are capable of generating or analysing a
chess move, which include smart watches)
any such devices much be completely switched off for the duration of the match (not just
the player’s own game)}

An incremental time control will be used for all matches. Matches typically will be played under a
time control of all moves in 1 hour 20 minutes with a 15 second increment per move starting at
move 1 (G80+ 15”).

In exceptional circumstances, if the home team anticipates that it will not have enough digital
clocks for all boards, then it must give a minimum of 10 days' notice to the visiting team, in which
case the visiting team will have the option to bring their own digital clocks to make up the
shortfall. If they do not take up this option then the home team may use analogue clocks to make
up the shortfall. On boards where analogue clocks are used the rate of play shall typically be 30
moves in 75 minutes each, then a 20 minutes quick-play finish, and FIDE Guidelines III (Games
without increment including Quickplay Finishes) shall apply. Home teams who do not give the
required notice may, at the Fixtures Secretary's discretion, be penalised by the loss of each game
for which a digital clock is not available.

A shorter session may be played by prior agreement between the captains, as long as the rate is
sufficient for ECF standard-play grading. [As things stand in 2019, the minimum for standard-play
grading is either G/60’ or an incremental time limit such that a game of 60 moves will last at least
60 minutes]

{Advice to players: Under the laws of chess a player does not need to keep score once
they have less than 5 minutes left   When playing with an increment the MCF recommends
that you keep score at all times.  If you do not keep score you cannot claim a draw under
the 50 move rule, or by repetition etc and the game may last an excessive time.}

Before the starting time the captains shall (if a team captain is not present, team members
present must nominate an acting captain):

a) Exchange team lists of seven (or a lower number if applicable to that Division) players and
pair them accordingly. If a team knows it is going to default, it shall do so from the bottom board

b) Agree the rate of play.

c) Toss for colour with the winner taking white on either the odd or even boards.

The official starting time shall be 7.30 pm. Matches shall start at 7.30 pm but may start earlier by
agreement. Clubs must state their finishing time, which must be after 9.50 pm, in the club
information supplied for publication at the MCF website.

Matches or individual games may finish at a different time from that stated in these rules, if
agreed during the starting procedure, provided they finish after 9.50 pm.
At the starting time:

a) If a captain or acting captain is not present, the other side shall have choice of colour. If
neither side has a captain or acting captain present, the first one to appear shall have this choice.

b) The captains or acting captains present shall start the clocks. Any delay in starting shall be
added to the clocks of the team responsible for the delay.


A player who does not arrive within one hour of the starting time defaults the game. A reserve
may be substituted for an absent player up to one hour after the starting time. The clock shall not
be reset.
Any team which defaults an MCF League match shall render its club liable to a fine of £10. MCF
Council will not automatically impose the fine, but will use its discretion and common sense.

Both teams shall report the board by board result of each match within three days of the match by
completing the results form at the MCF website. If the website is inoperative, the result must be
sent to the Records & Registrations Secretary, and in respect of cup matches, also to the
Fixtures Secretary.


Games shall be played in accordance with the FIDE Laws of Chess unless modified by these
MCF League rules. Team captains are joint arbiters and have all the duties and responsibilities
of arbiters under the Laws unless those duties and responsibilities clash with their role as team
captain. For example they must call flag falls but they cannot, except by mutual agreement,
declare a position drawn in a quick-play finish.

The Laws of Chess can be found on the FIDE website

The procedure is set out in the Memorandum on Resolution of MCF Disputes.

The disputes committee shall consist of 3 people (plus 2 in reserve) and at least 1 of the 3 must
be a National Chess Arbiter. The members of this committee are to be elected by the AGM and
must come from different clubs (i.e. 5 clubs in total).

MCF Council is the sole authority for the interpretation of these rules and its decision shall be

Changes to the League and Match rules can only be made at a General Meeting and must be
proposed in accordance with the constitution and the league and match rules. Such changes
require a two-thirds majority of those present and entitled to vote.

Revised 8 September 2021