WHSCA Northwest Chess League - Rules

1. ELIGIBILITY: All high schools within Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties may enter the Northwest League as they become able to field a team of five players or more.
To be eligible for match play, a player must be registered in grades 9 through 12 for a majority of his/her school program in the school for which s/he is playing. Students on state approved home instruction programs are eligible if they reside within the school's attendance area. Under the public access law, a private or parochial school student may participate if his/her own school does not have a chess program, but only at the next neighboring school which does have a program.
NOTE: The WHSCA Eligibility Policy (http://www.whsca.org/articles.html) is modeled generally on the policy of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The WHSCA eligibility commission may be consulted to help determine eligibility in individual cases.
NOTE: If a coach/parent/student has a question about a student's eligibility, or an unusual eligibility situation that may need clarification, they should provide the relevant information to the league director for a ruling as early as possible.

2. SCHEDULE / FORMAT: The NWL will convene at four "meets", playing two rounds per meet. If ten teams or less, the format will be a Round Robin. If eleven teams or more, the format will a seven round Swiss, followed by an 8th Round "Placing" match.

Round Robin: The Round Robin schedules in the current USCF Rulebook will be used, with positions being drawn by lot.

Swiss + Placing match: For the first round pairings, teams will be seeded in order of final ranking the year before. New non-B teams will be seeded after established schools, alphabetically. New B teams will be seeded at the bottom, alphabetically.
General USCF Swiss pairing rules will be followed, with the following specifications: --Pairing two schools with similar scores has clear priority over balancing colors. --If two schools are due the same color, the higher-placed school alternates colors. Pairing an "A" team with a "B" team from the same school shall be avoided, but not forbidden.
If an odd number of teams are participating in the NWL, the team due the bye as per Swiss pairing rules will receive a 2.5 point bye. If a (new) school/team joins the NWL late, at the second meet, they will be given 2.5 bye points total for the first two rounds.

The 8th Round "Placing" match: After the 7th round, the highest scoring team will play the 2nd highest scoring team to determine 1st place, the 3rd highest scoring team will play the 4th highest scoring team to determine 3rd place, etc. If the teams have played before, the point total from the previous match will be carried over into the "Placing" match, as if they were continuing a two round match series. The team with the most points after the "Placing" match moves into 1st place (or 3rd place, or 5th, etc.) In case of a tie, the standings after the regular 7-round league will stand. If still tied, a speed chess playoff will be used.
Colors for the 8th round "Placing" match: If the teams have played before, colors will alternate from the previous match. If they have not, regular NWL Swiss rules will determine colors.

HOME/AWAY MATCHES: In the case of a ten team Round Robin league, one home/away match will be scheduled in addition to the four league meets. Each home/away match should be played as indicated on the Northwest League Schedule. Matches may be played on an alternate date/time, provided both coaches agree and the league director is notified in advance in writing or email. Inclement weather or emergency circumstances will be grounds for a postponement, and mutual agreement is not a requirement in these cases.

3. EQUIPMENT: The host school shall provide a quiet, well-lit area with adequate tables and chairs. All schools shall bring sets, boards and clocks. The NWL will provide score sheets. Sets must be of regular Staunton design with a size such that the king is 3 3/4" high. Boards must be composed of 2 1/4" squares. The player playing Black will have their choice of sets. Should the above requirements not be available from either team, substitution may be made provided both coaches agree. Players may play on other than the required sets assuming both players and both coaches agree. In clocks, the first preference is a time-delay digital; second, an analog clock; third, a digital without time delay. If there are not enough clocks available, those which are available will be placed on the highest boards, starting with board one. However, if a player personally owns their own clock, they may use it in their own game regardless of which board they are playing.

4. MATCHES: A match shall consist of five boards with one game played per board. The strongest players from each team shall play the first board position, the second highest ranking players shall play the second board, etc., continuing in order until all five boards are paired. Prior to the match, team coaches or captains shall ensure that the full names of all players are legibly written on the match pairing sheet.
Matches shall begin no later than the designated starting time on the Northwest League Schedule. All games shall start simultaneously upon direction of the league director. In the event a team/team member has not arrived at the match site by the starting time, the late team/team members clock(s) shall be started. Upon arrival, the late team/team member shall have only their remaining time on the clock to complete the game. However, a team lacking team members may elect to: (1) await the team member's arrival as noted in this rule or (2) move the boards up to fill in the position of the missing player, and commence play.
NOTE: If, in the event a team chooses option (1) above (awaiting an absent player above board 5), and play begins on the other boards, the late player(s) must arrive before the time on their clock expires, or their board(s) and all varsity boards below the vacant board(s) are forfeited.

5. STACKING: "Stacking" is not allowed. Players shall be considered "stacked" if any players are listed more than two board positions higher or lower than the previous league match. It should be noted that if a new player joins the team mid-season, that player may play his/her first match anywhere in the roster without being considered "stacked". Also, if one or more of a team's regular players are absent from a match, or leave the team, lower boards may move up -in order- the appropriate number of positions without being considered "stacked", and the vacant positions are not counted as part of the two board position move limit. If there is an objection to an opposing team's line up, a protest should first be made to the opposing team's coach. If the opposing coach does not agree to modify the lineup, the match should be played "under protest". When the match concludes, both coaches should submit a written statement to the League Director for a ruling. If a ruling is made in favor of the protest, the "stacked" board and all boards below will be forfeit. However, if a protest is not made prior to the beginning of the match, then that team is considered to have waived any right to a later protest based upon boards being "stacked".
To deter color or opponent avoidance, a team's board order cannot be altered for the second game of a meet.

6. TIME CONTROL: Time control will be Game/45, Sudden Death. A digital clock with time delay would be set at 40 minutes per player with a five second delay. Analog clocks should be set at 5:15 and then time will expire for each clock at 6:00. Time will expire the moment that Flag Fall occurs (i.e. at exactly 6:00). At this point it is up to the opponent of the player whose flag has fallen and -no one else- (!) to call "flag" or "time". When Flag Fall is called as described above, the game is over with the player who calls Flag Fall winning providing that player has mating material still on the board. If that player lacks mating material then the game is drawn.
NOTE: If any person observing the game indicates in ANY way that player X is out of time and that person is associated in any way with player X's opponent (team mate, coach, friend, parent etc.), then player X will be awarded an additional five minutes on their clock and the game will continue.
During time trouble (when either player has five minutes or less on the clock) neither player may pick up the clock, both players must actuate the clock with the same hand with which they move the pieces, and hands must not remain on the clock.

7. NOTATION: Written notation in a conventional form (i.e. Algebraic or English Descriptive) must be kept by each player. If notation is 1) incomprehensible, or 2) not kept for more than three moves, then a claim can be make for a player being "out of notation".
NOTE: Claims for notation violations must be initiated -only- by the players! Should a player observe that their opponent is not keeping notation correctly, that player should tell their own coach, who should then notify the offending player's coach who will then notify the player out of notation. The clock of the player out of notation will be kept running while they catch up on their score sheet, but for that purpose they may use the score sheet of their opponent. If that player still does not maintain their score sheet, a second claim may be made via the coaches. In this event, if the claim proves to be true, the result on that board will be reduced by 1/2 point -assuming- that the player in violation won or drew the game. If the player in violation loses, there is no penalty. If both players are out of notation, there is no penalty. If a dispute should occur regarding correct notation, both clocks should be stopped and the pieces on the board left untouched, while two more boards are set up and each coach attempts to reproduce the board position using their player's notation sheet. In general the player whose notation cannot achieve the board position is "out of notation". Should both sheets fail to achieve the board position, no claim can be made.
NOTE: If a coach has beginning players on their team who are still learning how to notate, he/she should notify the opposing team prior to the match and no claims or penalties will occur providing it is one of the first three matches a player plays. In this case the beginning player must attempt to keep correct notation.
NOTE: A physically handicapped player may have moves recorded and moved by another person. In such a case, their opponent may exercise the same option.
NOTE: Both players may suspend recording the game when either player has less than five minutes left. The player with five minutes or less remaining may invite another student to record in his stead. Score sheets written by persons other than the players involved are not an acceptable basis for claims. -No one- who is associated with a player (i.e. teammate, coach, parent, friend, etc.) may remind a player that they have less than five minutes left on their clock and may stop notating. To do so will subject that player to a loss of half their remaining time.

8. TOUCH MOVE: If a player touches one of their own pieces during their turn, they are required to move that piece if it is possible to do so under the Laws of Chess. However, it is up to that player's opponent and -no other person- (i.e. coach, team-mate, parent, friend, etc.) to enforce that rule! Only if the player denies touching the piece or refuses to move the touched piece should coaches become involved, in which case every effort should be made to ascertain what actually happened. Should a player first touch their piece then touch their opponent's piece (assuming it wasn't an accidental touching), then that player is required to capture the touched piece with their own touched piece, assuming it is possible to do so under the rules of chess. Should a player wish to adjust a piece such that it fits more correctly on its square, that player must say the word "adjust" or "j'adoube" prior to touching the piece. It should be noted that the touch move rule is in effect during the entire game, and is not suspended when a player is in time trouble.

9. ILLEGAL MOVES: If, during time trouble, a player makes an illegal move, and his opponent catches it before moving himself, then the move is taken back and the opponent is awarded two minutes of clock time. The time should be put on the clock by one of the coaches. In addition, the player is bound to move the touched piece under the "touch move" rules if it is possible to do so under the rules of Chess. Illegal moves must be rectified back to a maximum of 10 moves if notation allows.

10. SCORING: One point is awarded for a win, one half point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. One point will be awarded regardless whether the win was due to a checkmate, a resignation, a flag fall or a forfeit based on a "no show". A coach may forfeit the game of one of his players at any time for any reason. Coaches may, by mutual agreement, declare a game drawn if the board is in an obviously drawn position. A win on time alone will not be allowed in simple book draw positions. Should neither team in a match be able to field a full five players, then no points will be awarded for empty boards on both teams.

11. CAPTAINS: Prior to the beginning of the match, each team should designate a single player as captain. If the coach is absent from the match or away from the playing site for a few moments, the designated captain can act in all matters in place of the coach.

12. DECORUM & ETIQUETTE: The following are considered recommended practices of good sportsmanship: Players should introduce themselves to their opponent, and shake hands before a match. Players may inform their opponent the first time the opponent forgets to punch their clock. Players are encouraged to review the game with their opponent after its completion, time allowing, in an area removed from the remaining games in progress.
From the time of the beginning of the first game of a match until the conclusion of the last game, silence shall be observed in the match area. No words should be spoken except for "check", "I adjust", "I offer a draw" or similarly game-related speech. If a player who is still playing their game finds it necessary to communicate with a teammate, they should do so in the presence of the opposing captain or coach. A coach, captain or teammate must not initiate a conversation with a player in the course of their game regarding the rules of Chess. However, if a player who has a question goes to their coach -on their own- to ask the question, the coach may answer that question only, with no other advice given.
Under no circumstances may a player discuss chess strategy with any other person, or consult a chess book or computer, while still playing their game. To do so will subject the offending player's game to a forfeit. It should be noted that this rule also pertains to a discussion of another player's game while a player is still playing their own game. Also, players are not allowed to consult -any- printed material while in the course on their game.
NOTE: The purpose of this rule is more one of respect than of concern for cheating. It makes a player ill at ease to see a group from the opposing team, including his or her opponent, off to the side whispering and pointing at the game they are playing.
Players shall not use a cell phone (or do texting) while their game is in progress. Added 9-11-2010.

13. OFFERING A DRAW: A player should propose a draw after making a move, but before punching the clock. The opponent may decline the proposal verbally or by deliberately touching a piece. In the interim, a draw offer cannot be withdrawn. If a player on move offers a draw before moving, the opponent has the right to see the next move before accepting or declining the offer. A player may not consult a coach or captain regarding draw offers or resignation.

14. ADJOURNED GAMES: Games will not be adjourned except by mutual consent of the coaches/captains, and only in extreme circumstances.

15. REPORTING RESULTS: Home/away match results should be reported by email to the league director by the following morning. The home team is responsible for reporting. Additionally, for same-school "A" vs "B" team matches, completed game score sheets shall be provided to the league director at the next meet.

16. JUNIOR VARSITY: Players not playing in the Varsity Division may sign up to play WSRS-rated games in the Junior Varsity Division. Pairings will be made immediately after the beginning of the Varsity rounds. The time control will be Game/35. The league director or his/her appointee will pair players of similar ability, avoiding same-school pairings.

17. LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP: The league championship will be determined by the highest total board points for the season. Should two or more teams be tied for total board points then the primary tie-breaker shall be the match score between the tied teams. Should the result of that match be a draw, a secondary tie breaker shall be comparison of the "match points" of the tied teams. ("Match Points" are determined by the overall score the team as a whole achieves in an individual match; if a team wins 3 or more games, they receive 1 match point; if they win 2 1/2 games they receive 1/2 match points; and if they win 2 games or less, they receive 0 match points). It should be noted that match points will only have meaning as a secondary means of breaking ties, and will have no other significance.
Should two teams still remain tied after the secondary tie break, then the tie shall be broken by a five board Game/5 speed chess playoff match at the final league meet of the season.
If a team should drop out of the league without completing its schedule, any points which teams have achieved against that team will be removed from their total, and it will be treated as if all teams had a "bye" when they played the team that dropped out.

18. AWARDS: The Northwest League will provide appropriate trophies, medals, certificates and/or other awards for team and individual champions.

19. STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: At the end of the season all teams in the Northwest League will be ranked according to the total number of board points scored. The top half of the League plus one team will qualify for the Washington State High School Chess Team Championship Tournament. In the case of a tie, all tied teams will qualify for State. At State, the Northwest League Champion will be seeded in the top 7 among the other league champions (ranked by average rating); the remaining qualifiers for State will be seeded based on the average rating of their top 5 players on the entry form.

20. RULES NOT COVERED IN THE NORTHWEST LEAGUE RULES: The U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess, 5th Edition (2003) shall govern all play, except where (if) they contradict these rules. Any difference regarding rules or interpretations should be submitted to the League Director in writing for a decision.


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