Text, whiteboard

Description automatically generated

Northern Counties Chess Union

Established 1899

A constituent unit of the English Chess Federation


<< Home

Competition Rules





Counties Championships

Club Championships

Individual Championships


(Click here for pdf version of Counties championship rules.)



(Including NCCU Junior County Championships)


As adopted by the NCCU AGM, June 1996.

Amended Sep 2006, July 2009, June 2019, March 2022


1    Interpretation

In these rules, unless the context requires otherwise, references to the Counties Championship are to be construed so as to refer also to Counties Open, Under 2050, Under 1850, Under 1650 and Under 1450 Championships. 

Junior Competitions include the U18 Junior County Jamboree and the U16 Pennine Cup.


2    Entry

a.  The Competition for each Counties Championship is conducted annually and is open to each constituent member County Chess Association.


b.  Entries for the Counties Championship must be made to the NCCU County Controller and copied to the NCCU Secretary no later than 30th November each year.


c.  Junior event entry dates to be decided by the County organisers concerned.


3    Format of the Championships

a.  The Format of each Championship will be as the Controller decides, once the numbers of entries at each level are finalised.  Where a competition is run on a zonal basis, the zonal competition will be followed by a semi-final and final stage if required.  In the semi-final stage the winner of Zone 1 will play the second team from Zone 2, and the winner from Zone 2 will play the second team from Zone.


b.  In any match in these Championships the minimum number of players on each side should be 12.  A higher even number may be mutually agreed.


c.  The winner of the Championship at each level is declared to be the NCCU Champion and, subject to (d), is nominated to compete in the quarter-finals of the ECF Counties Championship at that level.  The runner-up in each Championship, again subject to (d), is also nominated to compete in the quarter-finals of the ECF Counties Championship at that level, providing at least 3 ECF teams participate in said Championship.


d.  If any County side is deemed ineligible to take part in the ECF quarter-final stages (due, for example, to that County Association not being affiliated to the ECF) then their nomination to the quarter-finals shall be given to the next eligible County.  


e.  Matches shall normally be played over the board, but with the agreement of both counties and the controller, may be played by telephone or email.


f.   The U18 and U16 events will be played in a one day Jamboree.


4    Venues for Matches

a.  Matches will normally be played on a 'home' or 'away' basis, but the 'away' side can demand a neutral venue if the relevant county boundaries are not contiguous.  It is the responsibility of the 'away' team to organise the agreed neutral venue, but the costs of the venue will be shared.  This demand should be made to the 'home' side at least six weeks before the match is due to take place (except in the case of the October match, when the request must be made as soon as possible when the fixtures are known. It is expected that Counties will have regard to the convenience of visiting teams when arranging venues.


b.  The 'home' captain should contact the 'away' captain by 'phone to offer his choice of venue well before the event. That person should then send full details of confirmation in writing to reach the 'away' captain at least two weeks before the match.


c.  The U18 and U16 Jamboree’s shall be held at a venue of the organising County. 


d.  All correspondence relating to these competitions should be sent by email or first class mail.


5    Dates of Matches

a.  The draw for each Championship will be issued by the controller as soon as possible after that person has the full number of entries.


b.  Dates of matches to be arranged between team captains on a mutually agreed basis between September and the end of March the following year. 


c.  The U18 Jamboree shall take place in March each year.


d.  The U16 shall take place in December each year.


6    Tie splitting procedure


a.  The championship is awarded to the team scoring the highest number of match points.


b.  If still tied, then the championship is awarded to the team scoring the highest number of game points.


c.  If still tied, then the championship is awarded to the team that won their respective match between them.


d.  If still tied, then the championship is awarded to the team with the greatest number of wins.


e.  If still tied, then board order where wins occurred will be added up and the lowest number will determine positions of the teams.


f.   If still tied, then a toss of a coin by the County controller will take place.


7    Eligibility of Players

a.  A player may represent a County in the Counties Championship only if they have not played for another County (NCCU or otherwise) in the same season.


b.  The qualification for a player to represent a County in the Counties championships is:


i.   They are a subscribing member of that Association, either direct or through an affiliated Club.

ii.  They are registered with the NCCU.

iii. They must fulfil one of these conditions:


    a.  Birth in that County.


    b.  5 year’s consecutive residence in that County at any time.


    c.  One month's immediately previous and present residence in that County.


     d.  2 year's immediately previous and present membership of a club either in or affiliated to that County.


    e.  Present attendance as teacher or pupil at a school, college or university in that County.


     f.  A player whose qualification is valid under the preceding rules when first playing for a County, shall remain qualified for the rest of that season.


    g.  For the U18 and U16 events, players must be aged U18 and U16 on the 1st of September for the season concerned.


8    Rating Limited Championships  

a.  No player should take part in the U2050, U1850, U1650 or U1450
Championships if their ratings in the ECF National list for that season (published on the 1st September) are equal to or over the appropriate limit.


b.  A team captain must obtain permission from the controller at least seven days prior to the match (otherwise rule 9a applies) to play an unrated player in a ratings’ limited competition. This may be refused if the unrated players known or estimated strength is thought inappropriate for that competition. 


c.  A player that is unrated on the 1st September 2021 but subsequently receives their 1st rating on a later ECF Ratings list, this rating will be used from that date.


d.  The rating list 1st September to be used for County Match purposes. If any monthly rating list after the 1st September shows a players’ rating to have increased to over the limit for that section, that person is still eligible. Similarly, if a rating comes down from a higher section, the player is eligible to play in the lower section, reflecting their new rating.


e.  If it is known that a player's rating is incorrect in the current ECF rating list, then notice must be given at least 14 days before the match date, to the Controller. 

This must show proof of correct rating with authority from the National Ratings Officer, otherwise rule 9 will apply.


9    Penalties for playing ineligible players

a.  The penalty for playing an ineligible player in any match shall be the loss of that player’s game and the deduction of one game point from the teams total for each such player.


b.  A request for a penalty to be exacted under this rule must be made to the controller within 7 days of the match.


10  Rules for Matches

a.  Before the time fixed for the start of play (arranged so that the playing session will conclude no later than 6pm) the team captains shall make up their respective playing lists, placing the players in rating order or order of deemed playing strength; they shall exchange lists and toss for colours.  The team whose captain wins the toss shall take white on the odd-numbered boards.


b.  At the time fixed for the start of play, the captains shall start the clocks of those players having the move.  If a player be absent, an eligible substitute may be put in within the first hour; otherwise his opponent, if present, shall score the game as a win.  If neither player is present or substituted then the game shall be scored a loss for both sides.


The NCCU consider that the FIDE rule implemented July 2009 of zero tolerance for being absent at the start of play is unworkable and therefore this rule does not apply for any County matches. 


c.  All moves in 135 minutes, plus a 10 second increments (135 min + 10 sec). The duration of play will be a maximum of 5 hours.  If suitable digital clocks are not available, then each player shall make not less than 40 moves in 2 hours and then the game played to a finish with 30 minutes extra for each player for the remainder of the game.  The rates of play and the duration of the sudden death finish may be varied by mutual agreement of the two captains.


d.  One game will be played between each pair of players.  A win will count one point and a draw half a point.


e.  It is the responsibility of match captains to agree between themselves as to the provision of clocks and other equipment.  In the absence of agreement to the contrary each County should provide half the equipment required for the agreed number of boards to be played.


f.  If insufficient clocks or equipment are available at the start of a match then the available clocks and equipment are allocated by the match captain responsible for their presence.  

For those boards where no clock or equipment is available, the time elapsed from the agreed starting time up to the arrival of the clock or equipment at the board shall be counted against the county whose responsibility it was to provide the clock or equipment.  In the event of clock failure, the time between the clock being found faulty and its replacement by a working clock is counted against the county which originally provided the faulty clock.


g.  U18 and U16 time limits shall be decided by the event organisers.


11  Disputes

a.  All games shall be played in accordance with the Laws of Chess compiled by FIDE (except as stated in 10b.) and published in Britain with the authority of the ECF.  It is the responsibility of match captains to have a copy of the Laws available for reference at each match.


b.  All disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Laws of Chess on which the Counties cannot agree, shall be referred to the controller.  If agreement cannot be reached the controller may refer the dispute to the ECF for adjudication.


c.  Any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the NCCU Counties Championships Rules on which the Counties cannot agree shall be decided by the controller.  Appeals against a decision of the controller shall be referred to a neutral sub-committee of the NCCU whose decision will be final.


12  Results  

Results to be entered into the ECF League Management System as soon as possible after the game has been played.


13  Amendments to Rules


a.  No amendments to these rules shall be made unless due notice of such an amendment has been given to the Annual General Meeting not less than 21 days before the date of that meeting.

b.  Amendments to the rules may be passed by a simple majority of those present and voting. 


Bryan Bainbridge

NCCU County Championship Organiser

March 2022



(Click here for pdf version of Club Championships rules.)


NCCU Club Championships 2022-23




1/ The competitions are open to chess clubs that are affiliated to counties that are in turn affiliated to the Northern Counties Chess Union.


2/ ECF laws of chess apply.


3/ All Counties are entitled to enter as many teams as they wish (4 players per team) in each of the competitions: Open, Major, Minor and Senior.


4/ Entry accepted only when the appropriate entry fee is received, cheques made payable to  “ The Northern Counties Chess Union” and must accompany an entry form which includes a contact at the club with name/telephone number and e-mail address.


5/ All players must be bona fide members of the club represented. In the interests of fair play, it is the responsibility of each club and County to ensure that “guest stars” are not introduced

into this competition. All players must be current members of the ECF either by a Membership Organisation or directly.


6/ A player may only represent 1 club in the competition in that year.


7/ If a club enters 2 teams in the same section, a player may only play for 1 team in that section. 


•        Open: Open to all players 

•        Major: Total rating limit (4 players) 6040 Average top 2 boards 2040 

•        Minor: Total rating limit (4 players) 4760 Average top 2 boards 1720

•        Senior: Open to all players aged 35 and over (4 player team) (average age of combined players must be at least 55 years).



8/ In the Minor Section, the aggregate total of the ratings of the 4 players in the team must not exceed 4760. There is no maximum rating but the average of the 2 highest rated players must not exceed 1720. Further, all players (except Juniors) in this section MUST have a registered rating unless this has been discussed and agreed with the Controller in advance of the match. Unless otherwise agreed with the Controller, ungraded Juniors shall be deemed to have a rating of 1720 in the Minor. 


In the Major section, the aggregate total of the ratings of the 4 players in the team must not exceed 6040. There is no maximum rating but the average of the 2 highest rated players must not exceed 2040. For the purpose of this rule, any unrated player shall be deemed to have a rating of 2040 in the Major. 


Teams can use the August 2022 ratings or the current ECF Rating list at the time of the match. Unrated players may represent a Club only if the match captain feels certain they are eligible and where appropriate is supported by the local rating officer. For tie break purposes only, unrated players will be rated as the average rating of the other players. 


9/ On the date of the match, the current rating list is to be used and teams play in rating order. 


10/ Each competition is a knock out. Rounds will be zoned if entries permit into:


West Zone – Cheshire & NW, Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside & Gr Manchester. 


East Zone - Durham, Cleveland, Northumberland & Yorkshire. 


The draw shall be made by the controller and the timetable set and communicated to all the captains. No Fixture may be played after the date specified without permission of the controller. 


The Controller may disqualify either or both clubs in the event of a breach of this rule. 


Subject to entries a preliminary round may be required. Any club that defaults will be eliminated from the competition. 


11/ The first team drawn has the home advantage and in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, is responsible for providing the venue and all equipment. If both Captains agree then the venue may be varied. If the clubs are more than 100 miles apart, the away team may insist on an intermediate venue but shall be responsible for providing the venue and paying the cost. 


In the Final stage, the match may be played at a venue provided by the NCCU. 


12/ The team winning the toss takes white on boards 1 + 4, black on 2 & 3. 


13/ The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by a 30 minute each allegro. 




14/ In the event of a 2-2 result, the tie will be resolved by board count. If the tie is still drawn then the team with the lower rating total will progress. 

In the Senior Section only; if board count does not resolve the draw, then the oldest combined team will win (not lowest grading).


Unrated players will count as per rule 8. 


15/ The team drawn at Home shall:- 


Offer their opponents at least 3 different Weekend dates to play the match as soon as they receive notice of the pairings. 


If both Captains agree the match may be played Mid-week. 


The home team will write (e-mail) to their opponents confirming the agreed date, timetable and directions to the venue. 


This date can only then be altered by mutual consent or by reason of force majeure. 


The controller must be kept up to date with the situation where dates are problematic.



16/ Results must be sent to the controller by the winning Captain within 3 days of the match being played and if possible complete the on-line results form on the NCCU website.


17/ Result sheet MUST be fully completed. 


18/ The basic entry fee is £10 per team. If clubs enter more than 2 teams, the 3rd and subsequent teams will only attract a £5 entry fee. 


Teams consisting of at least 3 juniors will be free. 


19/ A junior is taken to be a player under 17yrs on the 1st September of the year in question. 


20/ All decisions and interpretations of the rules by the controller shall be FINAL. 


If there is a dispute in which the controller’s own club is involved then the matter shall be referred to the NCCU Secretary. 



Club Championship Controller



Individual Championships


1.     Competitions for the NCCU’s Individual, Senior and Junior Individual Championships shall be run annually at a weekend congress of not less than five rounds, organised by a County Chess Association (CCA) affiliated to the NCCU.

2.     The Congress for any season’s event must be held between the months of September and June, both inclusive.

3.     The responsibility of staging the championship congress shall be awarded to each affiliated CCA in turn, according to the rota detailed in Appendix I.

4.     At the December Council Meeting preceding the following season’s event the CCA whose turn it is to stage that event shall give notice of whether or not it intends so to do. When any CCA decides not to stage the event, the NCCU shall be awarded to the next CCA on the rota. The remainder of the rota will then be advanced by one year.

5.     At the Annual General Meeting preceding the event the organising county shall nominate the Individual Championships Organiser. The appointment shall be subject to the approval of the meeting.

6.     The duties of the Organiser shall be as follows:

a. To be responsible for the application and interpretation of these rules until the end of the following Annual General Meeting.

b. At the Annual General Meeting of appointment to propose the venue and dates of the event. These shall be subject to the approval of the meeting.

c. To publish a congress brochure/entry form which includes the information detailed in Appendix II.

d. To include in the event Swiss tournaments for the NCCU’s Individual, Senior and Under 18 Junior Championships. In these championship tournaments the playing session for each round shall total not less than four hours. If allegro finishes are used not less than 20 minutes per player must be allowed.

e. To ensure that all entrants for the Individual Championship are registered members of the English Chess Federation, and in addition, to ensure that all entrants for the Individual, Senior and Junior Championships hold, at the time of the event, a qualification to represent a CCA affiliated to the NCCU. Eligibility qualifications are listed in Appendix III.

f. To obtain all NCCU Individual Championship Trophies from previous holders for presentation at the event. The list of current trophies is given in Appendix IV.

g. To obtain from the winners an undertaking that they will be responsible for the safe keeping of the trophies and for returning them to the NCCU succeeding Individual Championships Organiser not less than one month before the next event, or to the NCCU upon request.

h. There are no cash prizes associated with the awarding of the Individual titles, unless deemed so by the congress concerned.

i. To present a report to the Annual General Meeting, which includes the following information: the numbers participating in the various tournaments; the names of the winners of the Individual Championships; the proposed nominee for the British Championship. The NCCU Secretary shall be responsible for notifying the ECF of the nominee.

j. To maintain a file for presentation to the succeeding Organiser containing a current copy of these rules, previous congress brochures/entry forms and reports to the AGM and the names and addresses of current trophy holders.

1.     It shall be the sole responsibility of the organising CCA to determine congress entry fees and prize monies commensurate with the status of the event.

2.     No alteration shall be made to these rules except at an Annual General Meeting, and only then provided that the Secretary or Organiser has notified each CCA affiliated to the NCCU of the proposed change, not less than 21
days in advance. Changes shall be approved by a simple majority vote, with the Chairman having the right to exercise a casting vote. Changes to the appendices may be proposed and approved by any Council Meeting.


Appendix I

The rota for award of the event shall be as follows:

Durham 2019-20

Cumbria 2023-24

Northumberland 2020-21

Lancashire 2024-25

Yorkshire 2021-22

Merseyside 2025-26

Cheshire & NW 2022-23

Northumberland 2026‑27

(Note: Durham awarded the Congress out of turn with Northumberland following – the rota reverts to normal thereafter).

Appendix II

The following rules should be published in the congress entry form and operate at the event:

a. The English translation of the FIDE code in operation at the time being shall govern play.

b. In all matters connected with the conduct of the event the decision of the Chief Controller shall be final.

c. Pairings in the Individual Championship shall be according to the ECF Seeded Swiss System.

d. The winner of the NCCU Individual Championship will qualify for a place in the following British Championship as NCCU nominee. This is a free place to the NCCU Champion.

e. In the event of a tie, cash prizes shall be divided equally. Other prizes shall be split in favour of the player with the highest sum of progressive score, failing that Sum of Opponent’s Scores, failing that, Sonneborn-Berger scores.

Appendix III

A player must hold one of the following qualifications in order to enter a Championship tournament.

a. birth in the area under the jurisdiction of a CCA affiliated to the NCCU.

b. five consecutive years residence at any time in the area under the jurisdiction of a CCA affiliated to the NCCU.

c. two years immediately previous and present membership of a club affiliated to a CCA which is in turn affiliated to the NCCU.

d. one month’s immediately previous and present residence in the area under the jurisdiction of a CCA affiliated to the NCCU.

e. present attendance as a teacher or student at a school, college or university in the area under the jurisdiction of a CCA affiliated to the NCCU.

Appendix IV

The current individual trophies are as follows:

a The Wahltuch Trophy for the NCCU Individual Champion

b The John Littlewood Seniors Trophy (for players aged 60 and over)

c The Edmund Spencer Memorial Cup (for the Under 18 Junior Champion)

Appendix V

British Championship Qualifying Places

The NCCU Individual Champion will be eligible to take part in the British Championship with his/her entry fee reimbursed from the NCCU on receipt of an invoice from the ECF. (The NCCU will not pay the entry fee until confirmation that the NCCU Individual Champion took part in the British Championships).