League Rules (Updated 12/2/2015)
1. Each team will begin the season with a nine player roster. At the conclusion of Week Three, a tenth player may be added, and after Week Six, an eleventh player may be added. These additional players will aid teams in filling gaps in their roster which might not have been forseeable at the start of the season.
2. Every match consists of four roster members whose average rating is no more than 2400.75
3. Any player rated above 2600 will count as only 2600 when determining whether a lineup has a legal average; this is done to reward teams for using the strongest players in the country on their rosters.
4. Any player rated below 2000 will count as 2000 when determining whether a lineup has a legal average; this is done to keep lineups reasonably balanced.
5. For two players A and B, the board order of A and B is at the discretion of the manager except when:
(i) If A is rated more than fifty points higher than B in both the August rating list and the rating list the team in question is using, then A must play on the higher board.
(ii) If A is rated higher than B in both the August list and the rating list the team is using and also has a higher FIDE title then B, then A must again play on the higher board.
If the order of A and B is discretionary, that order must be decided on the first time the players in question are slated to play in the same match, and whatever it is decided to be then, that same order must be maintained for the remainder of the season. Note that the "higher FIDE title" restriction applies only to the titles GM and IM (i.e. this rule does not apply to WGM, FM, WIM, or WFM titles). Whatever a player's FIDE title is at the beginning of the season will also be the title they will be considered to have for the rest of the season for the purposes of this rule as we do not wish to suddenly make certain lineup orders illegal in the middle of the season when teams might have planned for them prior to the season. Note that in the event that a team has to use a player in an "emergency capacity" (if they need to make a replacement based on Rule A8d or a player used in emergency fashion according to Rule A6 later joins the roster), that the board order the team uses for this player when they play in an emergency capacity does not have to be adhered to later on (main reason being that when they are used in this manner it may not adhere to the fifty point rule listed in A5 anyway).
6. In case of having no other reasonable options, a team may use a player not on their roster for a match. This should only be done in very extreme circumstances, and when utilizing this stipulation, a team will not be allowed to place someone on a board they would not be legally able to compete on if they were using only their normal roster members. Depending on what board an emergency player will be used on, the maximum rating permitted, using their August rating from the current year, is: Board 1: 2450, Board 2: 2350, Board 3: 2250, and Board 4: 2050. To further ensure that this is used only in situations that it is truly necessary and not for strategic reasons, the first match of a season when a team does this, they will lose five minutes off their clock on every board of the match (75 vs 70). The second match of a season that a team does this and every time thereafter they will take a ten minute penalty on every board for that match (80 vs 70).
7. No player will be allowed to compete in the playoffs unless they have played in at least two regular season matches for their team. This restriction still applies to those who join their team after Week 3 or 6. This restriction does not however apply to a non-roster player who might be needed in the postseason under A6 since such a player obviously could not have competed in two regular season matches.
8. The lineups for teams playing on Wednesday should be received by the Commissioner by Sunday 9:00 PM EST (for those playing on Tuesday, by Saturday 9:00 PM EST, and if a match happens to be on some other day, likewise three days prior at 9:00 PM EST). Should emergencies occur which force a team to either submit their lineup late or make changes to their lineup after this deadline, the following penalties will be enforced (these apply to those playing on Wednesday whose lineups are due at Sunday 9:00 PM EST, but synonymous penalties will be applied to those who happen to be playing on other days).
8a. If a team submits their lineup after the deadline but before Sunday 11:59 PM EST, they will receive a ten minute time penalty (80 vs 70) on every board.
8b. If a team submits their lineup or makes a change to their lineup by Monday 9:00 PM EST, then each affected board will be given a twenty minute time penalty (85 vs 65) for the board in question, and if more than one board is affected, each affected board will endure this same time penalty. For example, if your Board Two has to cancel, and you wind up moving your Board Three up to Board Two, your Board Four up to Board Three, and put a new player on Board Four, then each of Boards Two, Three, and Four would receive this twenty minute penalty.
8c. If a team makes a change to their lineup by Tuesday 9:00 PM EST, then each affected board will be given a thirty minute time penalty (90 vs 60).
8d. If a team makes a change to their lineup after Tuesday 9:00 PM EST, the canceling player must be directly replaced on the same board (i.e. if your Board Three cancels, you cannot move your Board Four up to Board Three and put the new player on Board Four, the new player must go directly to Board Three), and that player will be given a fifty minute time penalty (100 vs 50). If the replacing player is rated more than fifty points higher than the canceling player, the time penalty will be raised to sixty minutes (105 vs 45).
8d. If a team makes last minute changes on multiple occasions, the penalties may become more serious than those stated above. The Commissioner has the right to impose time penalties even harsher than the ones listed if it is felt that they are warranted.
8e. In case, for whatever reason, a team receives multiple time penalties on one or more boards (for instance a combination of being late and also making a substitution), it is up to the League Commissioner to determine exactly what penalty/time control the game should have.
8f. If any player cancels last minute on multiple occasions, that player may be barred from playing in the League in future seasons if again the Commissioner deems it fit.
9. Full team rosters must be submitted to the League at least one week prior to the first day of the season. Any team which does not do so will incur a time penalty for their first match.
10. If a team adds a player to the roster passed the normal deadline for them to be eligible (after a week before the first day of the season or say beyond Thursday of the prior week for the Week 3/6 additions), if they wish to use the given player in the upcoming match, they will take a ten minute time penalty (80 vs 70) on the board where that player is used.
11. Once the season starts (a team begins its first match), that team will have the ability to replace exactly one player on their roster who has not played a game with a new player. We allow this since there are often unforseen situations which might make a player unable to play as expected. The restriction of this being done with only one player, someone who has not played yet that season, will be strictly adhered to for every team, no matter the extenuating circumstances.
12. Although this will hopefully be extremely rare, the League has the discretion to make special exceptions to the usual lineup rules when it appears a team will be unable to field a lineup of rating average at least 2300. This is because when team is unable to do so, it gives their opponents too much of an advantage in schedule strength which undermines the competitiveness of the League. In general, should this bending of the rules be necessary for a team, they will likely face a penalty unless it's clear that the inability to field an appropriate lineup was beyond their control.
13. Each team must have one manager and at least one assistant manager. If an issue arises and it's impossible to contact either of these managers within a twenty four hour period, the League has the right to impose any penalties which are considered appropriate.
14. Given that these matches are taking place online, unforeseen problems or difficulties may occur. If this should happen, it is up to the League to determine the fairest course of action. Also, if any team should try to circumvent the rules in a creative way that was not previously considered by the League but in the Commissioner's opinion clearly violates the spirit of the league, the Commissioner has the right to change the rules at the given time.
1. If a team scores more than two points, they win the match. If the score ends two to two, it's a tie and both teams get a half match point in the standings. Match points are the most important statistic in the League; overall game points come into play only as the first tiebreaker to determine playoff seeding should two (or more) teams be tied in match points. So while winning a match is the most important thing, winning by a large margin can be beneficial in giving tiebreak advantages.
2. The only clock time that matters is the time displayed on ICC. If you run out of time there, unless internet lag is involved, you lose the game.
3. Some players use a physical board (either then entering their moves on the server or having a relayer do it). When such a player gets low on time, it is permitted for them to switch to making their moves directly onthe computer if they wish.
4. We recommend that if a player is worried about mouseslips and has the time that they type moves as a preventative measure against them (see section C for more on this topic). If a player does so, it is further recommended that they type them in the fashion of "a1 – b1", "f8 – c8", or the like to prevent any possible ambiguity which might result in an unintended move.
5. If a player plays with a physical board at their side and moves first on their board, that player is FORCED to make the same move on the computer that they made on the board. If a TD sees that they have done otherwise, then the player will be penalized (the exact penalty is at the discretion of the USCL TD). Using a physical board is a good preventative measure against mouseslips as if a player makes a move on the board and then they (or a relayer) mouseslips on the server, the League is much more likely to grant their takeback request (again see section C for more on this policy). If you are using a relayer or multiple relayers in your match, and there are repeated relay mistakes (two or more generally in the same match), a team may be informed that they will no longer be granted any further takebacks during the match.
6. Team members may not speak to other team members while playing; they must use their own judgment when deciding whether or not to accept a draw. It should be made very clear to the player in question what the current score of the match is, and they should be allowed to view their teammates' games in progress before deciding whether or not to accept a draw. The reason for this is that if a player were to ask a much higher rated player whether they should take a draw, it would be difficult for the stronger player not to take their evaluation of the position in question while giving advice; we would want such advice to be limited only to the match situation, not based on how the stronger player might evaluate the position. Since that clearly could not be enforced, each player must make those judgments by themselves.
7. Each team must have a League approved TD present at all times during their matches. This TD does not have to be a USCF TD, though that would be preferable. Each TD will need to be advised by the Commissioner about certain rules and requirements for the League. Teams may have different TDs from week to week for convenience, but no TD may ever have a direct relation to the team (most importantly, it cannot a member of the team who happens not to be playing that week or one of the team's managers).
8. A team's TD should be present at the beginning of the match through the end of it. Teams may start their match without a TD present if their TD happens to be late randomly, but any team which consistently does not have a TD present at the start of their matches will almost certainly be fined, and any team which does not have a TD present within half an hour of starting their match will also be fined.
9. Fan attendance should be encouraged as we would like to have as many chess enthusiasts as possible watching the matches in every city.
10. Generally all team members are required to play at the same site as their team members. However, in order to at least somewhat accommodate players who may be away at a serious chess event or other various emergencies teams may have, each team will be permitted two exceptions per season where they may have someone play remotely from a different location (no team will be granted more than two exceptions under any circumstances, including if they make the playoffs). In order to use such an exception, the following conditions apply:
10a. There must be a League approved TD present to observe the player's game.
10b. If a team has a non-local player on their roster, before they may have them compete remotely, that player must play at least one match from the team's home city.
10c. Each player may compete remotely at most once – even though each team is permitted two exceptions, they cannot use both on the same person.
10d. To use a player remotely in the playoffs, that player must have played at least three regular season matches.
The League will treat every such instance of this very seriously. We do not want to completely prevent our top players from competing due to being away at an important tournament, and we also do not wish to put any team at a huge disadvantage (which in addition to hurting their chances can compromise the overall integrity of the League) by preventing them from using one of their players which is why we shall allow these two exceptions for every team.
1. If a player mouseslips on ICC, they may request a takeback which will be reviewed by the USCL TD and whether it is granted will be based upon the following conditions:
1a. The TD should be nearly 100% certain the move in question was a mouseslip.
1b. Neither player should be especially low on time. If a player is under two minutes when he makes a mouseslip, and his opponent is under five minutes, a takeback cannot be given.
1c. You made the move on a physical board first and then you (or the relayer) slipped on the chess server. If your TD can verify this, it is almost certain that your request will be granted.
1d. A slip occuring due to a specific confusing issue on the chess server is much more likely to be granted in all circumstances. For example typing bc3, in a situation where you can capture with a Bishop or a Pawn, will have you capture with the Pawn. The takeback will almost always be given in this spot unless the players are low on time as in 1b.
2. It should be noted that when a takeback is given, due to the circumstances that the error might have occurred under (especially with players/relayers using computers which are foreign to them), it's entirely possible that the move that ends up being played will be something entirely different than the error move (perhaps involving moving a different piece). The TD will decide, based on the circumstances, if the new move will be permitted but if they decide that it is, it should not come as a surprise to the other team as the TD will have examined the situation and determined that the new move should be allowed.
3. The opponent of a player who does receive a takeback (no matter the circumstances) will receive a time bonus of at least five minutes. Once again, the exact length of the bonus is up to the USCL TD.
4. If a player disconnets with more than ten minutes on their clock, their or their opponent's (depending upon whose move it is) clock will continue to run as usual. When a player disconnects with less than ten minutes on their clock, their time will generally be reset to the amount of time they had when they originally disconnected. In this case, their opponent will always receive a time bonus of at least one minute (the exact amount of time given will depend upon the amount of time the player had left when disconnecting as well as how long they were disconnected for).
1. Twelve total teams will qualify for the playoffs - the top six teams in each division, seeded as first through sixth. For determining seeding, match points are the first criteria, and then there is a set of tiebreaks if teams have the same number of match points.
2. In all playoff matches prior to the Championship, when the higher seed is seeded at least two more than the lower seed, the higher seed receives draw odds and also gets color choice for the match. When the seeding difference in such playoff matches is only one, the higher seed gets their choice between draw odds and color choice while the lower seed will get the other advantage.
3. In the Championship Match, there are no draw odds, the team with the better overall record to that point gets color choice for the match, and if the match ends up tied, it is decided by a blitz tiebreaker.
4. The Wildcard Round will pit the third seed against the sixth seed as well as the fourth seed against the fifth seed in both divisions. The top two seeds in each division get a bye into the Quarterfinals.
5. The Quarterfinals matches will be pit the first seed against the lower seeded Wildcard winner (from the same division) and the second seed against the higher seeded Wildcard winner, again this taking place in both divisions.
6. The Semifinals will pit the Quarterfinals' winners in each division against each other.
7. The Championship will consist of the two Semifinal winners.
1. Teams may use any monthly rating list from January to August of the current year to pick their players' ratings – with the main stipulation being that they must use the same rating supplement for ALL of their roster members. We allow teams to use somewhat old rating lists both to allow teams to start planning out their rosters well before the season and to reward them for using young, improving juniors on their rosters.
2. Teams may change which monthly rating list they are using during the season at any point, provided that EVERY lineup they have used earlier in the season remains legal in the new rating list (if not, the switch will not be permitted under any circumstances). We allow this since unforseeable things may occur during the season which might suddenly make it more desirable for a team to be using a different rating list than they originally thought was best (the Week 3/6 player additions or a replacement made according to rule A10 might make this desirable).
3. The League retains the right to require that a team use a player's FIDE rating + seventy five points for their roster instead of their USCF rating. This will only be required in very extreme situations - generally when the difference between the two ratings is so large that it would clearly not be in the spirit of the League to allow the USCF rating to be used. This will also be required if a player does not have an established USCF rating in the supplement the team wishes to use but has a clearly established FIDE rating then. In certain (rare) cases even more than seventy five points may be added to the player's FIDE rating if it is felt that the FIDE rating might not be reliable. If a player does not have an established USCF or FIDE rating in the supplement that the team is using then it is up to league officials to decide what rating will be used. Note that the policy on that is somewhat ambiguous as such cases can really differ from person to person, and officials will therefore have fairly broad discretion in deciding what the fairest thing to do is.
4. Although this is not especially relevant to the way the League works (only truly pertinent to determining All Star Teams, Rookie of the Year, and Most Improved Player), the ratings displayed in the weekly lineups, those displayed on players' server accounts, those used to compute performance ratings, and those listed on the player pages will be the ratings from the August supplement of the current year rather than the "League Ratings" which vary amongst months for different teams. This will make those statistics more up to date and uniform for all players and give readers a better indication of a lineup's real strength.
1. Teams are expected to put their maximum effort into all of their matches and games. Short or pre-arranged draws will not be tolerated even if the match/game in question has no playoff significance. This especially applies to matches in the final week of the regular season when a tied match might be mutually beneficial to two competing teams (or perhaps a specific result being beneficial to one team while naturally detrimental to some other team). Teams in violation of this run the risk of tiebreaker penalties. In the most extreme cases of this being abused (violations of this nature in the final week of the regular seasonwould definitely be considered very extreme), the penalties may become even harsher, and teams could even be forfeited entirely if the Commissioner feels it is warranted.
2. Just as in basically any playoff system, it is of course possible that some teams may have matches in the last few weeks which are not pertinent to their playoff positioning (e.g. already having clinched first or already being out of contention). In that case, such teams are still expected to use lineups reasonably close in strength (rating-wise) to their best lineups as their matches may still have huge implications for their opponents and by transition for other teams in the League. Both for the League's image and for maintaining the integrity of the playoff system, we must require this. Once again, teams who are believed to not be following this policy without sufficient justification are subject to penalties.
3. Each team must have a back-up internet connection in case their primary internet fails. They are also expected to be able to switch to their back-up internet in a reasonably timely fashion if it is necessary so that their match is not forced to end far later than scheduled. Teams who do not satisfy this requirement are subject to additional time penalties if it becomes a big issue and possibly even forfeiture of the match if it is felt extreme enough by the Commissioner.
4. Full team rosters must be submitted to the League at least one week before the opening day of the season. If teams wish to make any minor changes to their roster after this deadline, prior to their first match, they will generally be allowed to do so with no penalty. However, should they add a new player to the roster at that stage, they will not be able to use that player in their first match unless they take a ten minute time penalty on the board they use that player on (80 vs 70). Likewise, the new roster additions after Week 3 and Week 6 must be made the prior Thursday 9:00 PM EST for the player in question to be eligible to play in the upcoming week's match. If a team adds a player after this deadline and wishes to use them in the upcoming match, they must take similarly take a ten minute time penalty on the board where that player is used.
5. Players are expected to be on time for their games (it is recommended that all players try to arrive fifteen minutes early so that unforeseen delays do not cause them to be excessively late). Games will be started promptly at the listed starting time, and those who are late will have their clocks started. Both to avoid this and to show respect to their opponent as well as the League, players should not be habitually late to arrive for their games.
6. Players are not to agree to early draws nor to make early draw offers. Any player who makes a draw offer which is prior to both move twenty five and before an hour and a half into the match will have a time bonus of two minutes given to their opponent. Should an opponent accept such a draw offer in this scenario, both teams may suffer loss of tiebreak points resulting from this game, or even match points in extreme scenarios, for instance if multiple games in a match are decided in this fashion.
7. Players are expected to behave in a sportsmanlike fashion during their games. In particular, intentional disconnections or excessive draw offers are subject to penalties if the Commissioner deems it warranted. A player who makes three consecutive draw offers, without one made by the opponent, will have a two minute time bonus given to their opponent, unless there is a reasonable expectation that there might have been a threefold repetition or the reaching of the fifty move rule.
8. Players are only to use their own league account; no player may login to an account of a team member under any circumstances. Any player caught doing so is subject to penalties such as suspension.
9. Players must give all electronic devices (Cell phones, IPods, Headphones etc.) to their TD before each match who is required to keep them until the player's game is completed. Players (and relayers) may also not have any programs other than the chess server open on the computer which a game is being relayed on. Any player not complying with these rules risks immediate forfeiture of their game.
10. In reference to the previous rule, any player who is discovered to have been "task-switching" (implying they were running a program other than ICC) many more times than should have been necessary during their game is very likely to receive a penalty.
11. Players (and their relayers) should not kibitz or whisper in their game or send tells to anyone (except administrators in an emergency) during their game. Any player who intentionally does so without proper justification will almost certainly receive a penalty.
12. If a player suspects another player or team of inappropriate conduct (in most circumstances, suspects cheating), they should express their concerns to the Commissioner and NO ONE ELSE. Any player who makes public accusations of this nature or in general takes any actions which the League feels are obviously aimed at doing so may receive severe penalties and may even be banned from the League if it is thought to be warranted.
13. There may be unusual issues that arise during matches which require League officials to make difficult rulings quickly. When this occurs, excessive complaining by any of the parties involved will not be tolerated. It is not possible for officials to run the League effectively with players doing that, and those who do not abide by this run the risk of such rulings going against them by default and possibly even being forfeited if the League official feels it is appropriate. This kind of situation will also often mean a very tough ruling will end up going against one of the parties involved. Excessive complaining after the fact will also not be tolerated and is subject to severe penalties as are any statements made to League officials which are of a threatening or overly hostile nature.
1. As there is always the possibility of unusual things occurring, all managers will be given the phone numbers of the opposing manager, the Commissioner, and possibly other USCL officials. If something strange happens, the managers should immediately call these numbers.
2. While we fervently hope that this never happens, there is of course the chance that the chess server itself might crash for a long period of time on a given night making it impossible to complete some or all matches. Should this happen, the League will explore many options based on the exact situation including canceling all matches in question, replaying them at some mutually convenient time, declaring the matches as drawn, or havingmatches adjudicated based on what was happening at the time. Once again, we really hope that this never occurs, but it is certainly possible. Do understand that should this unfortunate happening take place, it will be very hard for the League to rectify it in a way that will be perceived as "fair" to all teams this affects, but we will do our best to find an equitable solution.
3. Once again, we hope this never happens, but it is conceivable that some team may "fold" in the middle of the season (e.g. due to whatever circumstances, they become unable to field a 2200+ lineup for a reasonable portion of their remaining matches). If this happens, that team is likely to lose their franchise permanently, and for the current season, the League will put a "replacement team" in their stead. That replacement team will compete in all remaining scheduled matches the team in question had left (the starting times and time controls of those matches may be altered, but other than that the same). The replacement team will be eligible for the postseason only if they play at least four matches and score at least fifty percent in those matches.
4. The League reserves the right to postpone any match if circumstances seem to warrant it. The main time where this might prove necessary would be a weather situation in one city making it impossible for that team to reasonably compete on the scheduled day. Should this be needed, all efforts will be made to reschedule the match at a mutually beneficial time (almost certainly prior to the following week's matches), but of course it might simply be impossible (for rescheduling in general, a lot of leeway will be given to the team not involved in the emergency, but they are still expected to try to work this no-fault situation out to the best of their ability). If rescheduling proves impossible, the match will likely be called a draw, or if the League feels one of the teams isn't being sufficiently reasonable in trying to rectify the situation, that team might be forfeited. There have been hurricanes in multple seasons which have forced the League to make special circumstances to allow matches to happen so this is not an unusual circumstance, it should be understood though that when this happens it may be very difficult for the League to rectify it in a way which will be "fair" to everyone.