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Papers for 2010 Annual Meeting

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First published on-line 2 June Webmaster's comments added 8 June

Proposals to Change Rules for Discussion at MCCU AGM 26 June 2010


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These are proposals that I intended to make having had first hand experience of applying the existing rules. Proposals have been made in relation to several of the same areas and are provided separately.


  1. For matches played up to and including 9th March a match result sheet, completed as far as possible, should be forwarded to the County Championship Controller by both counties within 3 days. The Controller will provide the sender with an acknowledgement of receipt. If the Controller has not received a result the team captain(s) concerned will be reminded within 5-10 days of the match. If no match result sheet is received following the reminder the Controller will issue a final reminder within 11-14 days of the match. If both captains fail to supply a match result sheet within 21 days of the match, it will be declared a loss to both teams. Subject to any clarification that may be required, if only one captain submits a result sheet within the 21 day window, it will be accepted for the purposes of awarding match points.
  2. For matches played after 9th March a match result sheet must be forwarded to the Controller by 31st March to allow the deadline for nominations to the ECF stages to be met. In such cases the Controller will amend the point at which reminders are issued accordingly. If neither captain provides a result sheet by 31st March, the match will be declared a loss to both teams.
  3. If both captains fail to report the postponement of a match, or to report the revised date of such a postponed match, within 21 days of the scheduled date (rule 20f refers) it will result in the match being declared a loss to both teams.

Background/explanatory notes – The existing rule is not as clear as it could be, there was some disagreement regarding its meaning this season. I gave my ruling on this which was ultimately accepted insofar that no appeal was lodged. My amendment does not aim to change the existing 21 day deadline, as I interpret it, for the majority of matches, it simply seeks to clarify what I believe is the intention of the existing rule.

10b aims to deal with matches played less than 21 days before the ECF deadline for nomination of teams. Here the result is needed to allow teams to be nominated for the ECF stages. The simple match score in itself is not enough, it does not allow for checks on the use of ungraded players & the like.

10c separates the issue of notification of postponements & revised dates from the match result elements.The concept of issuing reminders is not new, it is in fact what the last 4 controllers have done; this revision simply makes it clear that this is what should be done. I have provided for some flexibility in the timing of reminders to allow for the Controller being away on holiday, on business, or ill.


Renumber existing rule 11 as 11a & add the following as 11b

Mobile phones and other electronic devices may be brought into the playing area, but must be switched off or set to silent, and may not be used in the paying area whilst any games are in progress. If a player’s phone makes a sound during his/her game that player shall lose the game. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, it will be declared drawn.

Background/explanatory notes – I feel it is important that other electronic devices are included; I was present at a match when a player had brought his SatNav into the playing area and it started making noises. The MCCU rules do not currently make direct reference to mobile phones & the like, but as the revised FIDE laws cannot reasonably be applied some reference is needed-

FIDE LAWS 2009 that will apply to the 2010/11 season state 12.3.b Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw.

My proposal recognizes that players will quite reasonably wish to travel with mobile phones, Sat Navs & the like, & will not wish to leave them in vehicles as a target for theft. Some players may also have a valid reason for having a phone on. All that said, failure to switch off or to silent, leading to a device “going off”, creates a good deal of disturbance, not just to the opponent, but potentially every player still playing in the room.

I have included the FIDE proviso that the opponent must be able to win to be awarded the game; it seems to me that someone who has already effectively lost a game should not be able to win on the chance sound from an electronic device.


The Championship section shall be arranged in 2 divisions upper (Open) and lower (Minor). County Open teams may apply to enter either section.

Background/explanatory notes - I make this proposal to enable discussion, rather than because of a particular view on the matter.

It is unclear how it has arisen, but over the last few seasons Open teams have applied for either the Open or Minor section and have been placed in whichever section they requested on their entry. As it happens this has resulted in 4 teams in each division, but could equally have produced a different split. However, the existing rule quite clearly states that automatic promotion/relegation should apply. I can find nothing in MCCU meeting minutes concerning a formal rule change to this effect. A decision is therefore needed as to whether we revert to applying the rule as it stands, or amend the rule to adopt what we have been doing, albeit in error.

An issue in applying automatic promotion/relegation that has been mentioned to me is that where a team is promoted it tends to finish bottom, and as a result will not qualify for the ECF National stages in that season. In contrast a team finishing in the top 2 of the Minor will qualify for the ECF Minor. Except in the case of error in completing the entry form (which has happened), a county applying to move from the Minor to the Open section voluntarily, does so in the knowledge that this may be the case, and therefore voluntarily accepts this as a possibility. Whereas a county subjected to compulsory promotion is forced to accept this possibility.

A county applying to move up into the Open may be volunteering to do so for a number of reasons, one of which may be that they are aware that a significant change in the potential make up of their team e.g. a family of strong chess players has moved into the area and has expressed a willingness to play for the county, as a result the team will be much stronger & able to compete at the higher level. Conversely the loss of strong players may lead a county to conclude it could not compete properly in the Open division, and apply to move down to the Minor division.

The main question raised therefore seems to be, should we allow teams to move between the Open & Minor sections based on their own view of where they best fit, or should we impose promotion & relegation?


In the event of a tie between three or more teams for first place, places shall be decided by reference to the aggregate scores between the teams concerned. First place will be awarded to the team with the best percentage of aggregate score against the other counties concerned in the tie, second place to the next best score and so on. In the event of this procedure not producing a clear winner, then the tie shall be resolved in favour of the county with the best percentage aggregate score of all other counties in the zone. If the application of the above rule still fails to break the triple (or greater) tie, a jamboree play-off shall be held. Where this rule provides a clear winner, but leaves a tie for other places rule 15 will continue to be applied until or unless only 2 teams are tied, when rule 14 will apply.

Background/explanatory notes - The word “ counties” is replaced by “ teams” to reflect the fact that a county can enter more than 1 team in a section & thus could have more than 1 team involved in a tie. The final sentence is added to spell out how other places are determined if teams are tied on aggregate scores.

RULE 12, 19c

The word “county” to be replaced by “team”.

RULE 14, 20b

The word “counties” to be replaced by “teams”.

Background/explanatory notes - The above is to take account of the same issue that a county can enter more than 1 team in a section.


Add following the existing wording: … except where the MCCU rules specify otherwise.

Background/explanatory notes - Only required if a rule regarding “mobile phones” is introduced


The Manchester Chess Federation (which plays in MCCU competitions as Greater Manchester) would like to propose the following 3 separate changes to the County Match Rules of the MCCU. We are basing this on the existing rules.

1. Neutral venues (Rule 9b)

Replace the existing 9b with: “Where counties share a common border, matches between them will be played in the home county, unless that county agrees otherwise. Where counties do not share a common border, matches between them will be played at a neutral venue, unless otherwise agreed. The away team is responsible for arranging the neutral venue, but costs thereof are to be shared as per rule 8. This rule will apply whether or not a section is split into zones or divisions. Any disputes regarding venues are to be referred to the County Championship Controller.”

Explanatory Note – We are quite happy for any counties to agree to continue playing each other on a home and away basis, but our captains have experienced problems with counties being understandably reluctant to make the long trip to Manchester, but happy to drag us down the M6 to south Staffordshire or south Birmingham – we have agreed neutral venues at Open level, but experience problems when counties appoint new captains

2. Mobile phones (Rule 11)

Renumber 11 as 11a and introduce 11b: “Mobile phones are allowed in the playing area. However they must be either switched off or switched to silent mode for the duration of play. Match captains must warn players of this requirement immediately before the commencement of play. The first time any player’s phone makes a noise, this warning is to be repeated. Thereafter, if any phone (not just the phone which made the first noise) makes a noise during his or her game then he or she automatically forfeits the game."

Explanatory Note – we have experienced different interpretation of the mobile phone rules (note that FIDE insists they are switched off, penalty being game default) in different matches this season, and just want consistency – we don’t think mobiles are being used to cheat, but agree they can provide an unwelcome distraction – some would prefer immediate default, but the consensus may lie elsewhere

3. Digital clocks (Rule 6)

Renumber 6 as 6a and introduce 6b: “Only if both captains agree in advance and only where sufficient suitable digital clocks are available to enable an entire match to be played therewith, the rate of play unless otherwise agreed by the match captains will be 35 moves in 1 hour and 40 minutes and then 20 minutes for each player for the remainder of the game, with an extra 10 seconds per move for each player added from the start. The captains may agree to vary the number of moves to the time control, the time allowed to the time control, the time added for the remainder of the game and the time added for each move, provided that games remain eligible for Standard-Play grading. They may also agree to play the match with time limits in accordance with 6a above.”

We would then provide all with the following (with acknowledgements to the SCCU):

“COUNTY MATCH RULES: A GUIDE TO INCREMENTAL RATES OF PLAY County matches played with digital clocks can now use the following incremental time limit: 35 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by all moves in 20 minutes; with an increment of 10 seconds for every move played from the start NB Quickplay Finish Rules, and claims under 10.2 (the "two-minute rule"), do not apply

The following notes apply to DGT 2010 clocks. Other makes and models may vary.
The clocks will be pre-set with the time limit AND REQUIRE NO FURTHER ADJUSTMENT AT ANY TIME (except in the event of adding a time penalty for an infringement or incorrect claim – see below). Players should note the following:
• To start the game, first make sure that White’s lever is in the up position, and then press the central button. This will start White’s clock.
• It is possible that the 10-second add-on will cause one or both clocks to continue to show 1hr 40min, especially if early moves are made quickly.
• The move counter is not in operation, as errors by players can lead to confusion.
• The 20-minute add-on will occur automatically, on both clocks, as soon as the initial time period of 1hr 40min (plus increments) has expired on one of the clocks. A static black flag will appear on that clock when this has happened. Players should then check that the required 35 moves have been made.
• If a player's complete time expires, a flashing black flag will appear on his clock. This indicates a loss on time by that player.
• In the event of an illegal move being played, an extra two minutes' thinking time is awarded to the opponent.
• In the event of an incorrect draw claim (50 moves or repetition), an extra three minutes' thinking time is awarded to the opponent.
• To make the adjustment, stop the clock by holding down the stop button for two seconds. This will cause the extreme left hand digit to start flashing. To correct a flashing digit, use the +/- buttons; to move on to the next digit, press OK. Bear in mind that every digit operates independently so that, for example, to change 08 to 10 it is first necessary to increase the 0 digit to 1 before changing the 8 to 0.”

Explanatory Note – We would like the chance to use digital clocks and incremental time limits, having used this successfully in our recent Open ECF Preliminary against Essex at Syston, but we do not wish to force any opposition counties to do so (which is why their prior agreement would be sought) and realise many counties (including our own) do not presently have suitable equipment – we also realise that some venues may have strict finishing times that mitigate against this, but wish to eliminate existing 10.2 claims given there is rarely an arbiter present – we don’t think there is yet a consensus on appropriate rates of play when using increments, which is why we would like to give the captains the discretion to vary.


Explanatory Note from CEO - I received proposals from both David & another MCF delegate, as these differed I sought clarification from the MCF President concerning the status of the proposals. Those headed as MCF proposals on a separate sheet were confirmed by him as the official proposals from his organization. The MCCU Constitution does not clearly state who may make proposals. Custom has been that Counties and officers proposals have automatically been accepted, and that the CEO has put forward proposals made by others, which were felt to have merit, under his/her name. As I am making proposals of my own regarding the same aspects of the rules as David I can hardly propose the changes given below in my own name. I will therefore leave the meeting to decide how it wishes to deal with David’s proposals.

Explanatory note from David Pardoe - Although my proposals were submitted separately, these were put to MCF Officials for comment, and our President has expressed a positive view that they be discussed at the MCCU AGM. Regarding the amendments to rule 5. These cover two points. Firstly, to ensure that any player who arrives for a match unexpectedly, should be included in the team, provided that a default wasnt formally declared on the day proir to a match. This is to avoid a situation where a board might have been agreed a default by captains on the day of the match, only to find that an eligible player turns up unexpectedly. The second part of my amendment relates to mobile phones. Although these are irritating, I think it wrong that a player who may have travelled 100 miles to play a county chess match should automatically lose, should his phone ring unintentionally. The penalty should fit the crime, and there are many other distracting noises at chess matches, including passing traffic. My experience is that a mobile phone incident will usually only happen once at a match anyway (at most), so its not a major issue.


Before the time fixed for the start of play, captains of the teams engaged shall make up their respective playing lists, placing their players in order of strength; shall exchange such lists; and shall then toss for move. The team whose captain shall have won the toss shall take first move on the odd numbered boards. Nothing in this rule shall prevent a substitute being included in a team in place of an absent player at any time prior to one hour expiring on the clock at his board. This shall include the case where any provisional default has been declared on the day of the match. Before the start of play, the teams will be announced, and players clearly advised to switch off mobile phones. Mobile phones operating in ‘silent mode‘ will be allowed without penalty. Should a mobile ‘ring‘ during a match, a warning will be issued to the player concerned. Should a second occurrence by that player arise, it will result in automatic loss of that board by the offending player, provided his opponent is present at the board.


Within three days of the match a copy of the full score, as far as completed, shall be forwarded by the appropriate official of both counties to the County Championship Controller. If no result is received within 3 days, the controller will issue a reminder to both counties, which they must acknowledge within 1 day. If still no response, the controller will attempt to contact both captains directly. If no result is then received within a further 3 days from either team, the match will be declared null & void. Should a result be received by only one of the counties, this will be taken as the official score, subject to any usual queries about the score sheet. Failure to report the Postponement of a match by either county within twenty one days of the original scheduled date for the match shall automatically result in that county being awarded no points for that match.

Explanatory Note – The final paragraph, I believe relates to Rule 20F, which says: If any match is postponed under rule 20(b) or (c) above then the County Championship Controller shall be notified of a newly agreed date not later than twenty one days after the original date set for the match.


The current FIDE Laws of Chess, as published by the ECF shall govern play in all matches, in the absence of anything in the rules for the event.

Explanatory Note from Webmaster – The Webmaster e-mailed sponsors to ask them to check that the way I had posted their proposals to the web was accurate and that the minor reformatting required for display online was acceptable. I have received replies from all three sponsors. David Pardoe asked me to append further comments and explanations for his proposals. This has now been done after consultation with the CEO.