PRO Chess League Rules as of 12/4/2017:
A.3.1 Local players
A local player is someone who meets one of the following requirements:
C: Weekly Lineups
D.2. Time controls
- Eligibility and Team Makeup
- A lineup is the four players you are using each match. A roster is the total list of players you have on your team that you can use in an upcoming match.
- The maximum roster size is 16, and the minimum roster size is 6.
- Once the season begins you can add any new player to your roster at any time before the playoffs. We are allowing this to ensure that teams have flexibility to field a legal lineup each week, as tournament schedules and other issues could interfere with player availability.
- The minimum rating required to be added to a roster is 1900 FIDE, with the exception that each team may have exactly one player rated Under 1900 on their roster. If a player was under 1900 FIDE at the time of the decided upon official league rating supplement, and is over 2000 at the actual time a team wishes to add this player to the roster, then it will be allowed even if the team in question has already made use of their one player rated Under 1900. An unrated player is considered to be under 1900.
- If you add a new player, they must sign the Chess.com release form before they are allowed to play.
- If a player is on a roster but has not played a single game, they are still eligible to play for ANY team in the league. This is to stop teams from trying to stash players with the goal of making them unable to be used by other teams. However once a player has played a single game for a team, they are no longer eligible to compete for any other team during that season.
- If a player competes for another team in the PRO Chess League Qualifying event for that particular season, and the team they compete for qualifies for the PRO Chess League, that player is committed to play for that team. However if the team the player plays for DOES NOT qualify, that player can play for any team during the PRO Chess League Season.
- If a team from the PRO Chess League Qualifiers is named as an alternate to join the league, and ends up being put into the league due to the removal of another team, then anyone who played with them in the qualifier will still have to play with that alternate team, even if they have already been added to a different roster. The only exception to this rule is if this happens with 2 weeks or less to go before the start of that year's PRO Chess League Season, in which case the player in question will be able to choose his or her team, as long as they have yet to play a game during the season. If that player has already played a game for a different team than the alternate team, then that player is committed to stay with the new team.
- We will use the most recent September FIDE rating list to determine league ratings for the season. We are using the Standard FIDE rating (not Rapid or Blitz).
- Players under 2000 FIDE can play in the league, however their rating will always count as at least 2000 towards the team’s average rating.
- The highest any player will count towards the rating limit is 2700 FIDE (Therefore if your FIDE rating is 2800, when calculating the average rating, it will be considered 2700).
- Any female player will have 100 points subtracted from her rating when calculating the team average. Therefore, if you use a player rated 2200, her rating will count as 2100 for team average purposes. This rule is in place solely because it is good for chess and the PRO Chess League to have more women playing, and so we would like to encourage teams to sign women to their rosters to help equalize the male-female ratio in serious chess events.
- No player can count as less than 2000 towards the team's average rating, including women. Therefore a female player rated 2050 would only count as 2000. A male or female player rated 1950 would also count as 2000. However a female player rated 2101 would count as 2001.
A.3.1 Local players
A local player is someone who meets one of the following requirements:
- Lives in or near the team’s home city.
- Lives within an approximate 5 hour drive of the team's city. In less densely populated areas, we may accept slightly longer drive time than 5 hours. In areas that are extremely densely populated with high rated chess players, we reserve the right to consider that a player who needs to drive 5 hours is no longer a local player. Also if you live in another country, you are unlikely to be allowed to play as a local for a team from another country, regardless of how close you live. The exception is if you qualify via Rule A3.1.C below. We will end this rules section with more specific examples of who is or isn’t local.
- Has extremely strong ties to the community but may not currently live there. This applies to people who were born in a city, or have spent much of their life and chess career there, or who have a history of playing for a club team in a given city.
- Please note that it is possible for a player to be considered local in more than one location. The aim of the above rules is to allow some flexibility for teams but to make sure there is still some local connection involved.
- While we use the term “5 hour drive” in 1b, we recognize that different cities and areas have different modes and speeds of transportation, and that 5 hours may be 400 miles in some places or 200 miles in others. We will adjust accordingly and will take into account the population density of the region, especially as it regards to how many strong chess players are in that given region.
- Teams may be required to give a detailed explanation on why a certain player should be considered local, along with references from key local chess figures. The closer the player lives to the city, the more likely they will be approved.
- Please note that if you are from a very large country, these teams are city/region-based and not country-based. Teams from USA, Brazil, India, China and Russia for example, may not be allowed to choose anyone in the country to play for the team. However teams in Norway, Sweden, Portugal for example, and other European countries without extremely large populations, may be able to pool from any player in the nation. We will address these rules on a case by case basis, with the general idea of allowing flexibility as long as we feel satisfied that each team is maintaining a local flavor.
- Once a player is designated as a “local” player, it does not matter from where they play their match, they will still count as local. For example, a player who is classified as “local” for New York, could still play as a local player from London.
- If you create a new team in a region, we may ask your team to use the name of a very well known city instead of a small and lesser known city. You will still be free to use the lesser known city, but this may come with some restrictions on what would we would consider to be a local player.
- If your country is extremely small or has a very small chess community compared to a typical nation, we may allow local players who live nearby but are not residents of your nation.
- If your player is an active tournament player (at least 10-20 tournaments per year)and plays about 25% of their rated tournaments in your hometown over the last few years, they may be considered "local".
- We don't want to discourage teams from choosing locations that aren't centrally located, so we may have slightly more leeway if a team is from a city that lies on the border of their country instead of in the center. That is because using our distance rules, locations on the border would automatically have less access to players.
- The league has absolute and final authority on what constitutes a local player. There is a "spirit" of the rule that we want to be followed, but it is impossible to create a rule that acts the same for all geographic locations around the world.
- There are absolutely no restrictions on who can be a free-agent player, as long as they keep your lineup’s rating below the 2500 average.
- Any player who is considered a free agent will always remain a free agent, even if they are physically present in your city's location.
- You can have as many local players, but a maximum of five free agents on your roster. Only one free agent can play in your lineup at a time.
- A streamer is any player who is closely associated with your team brand
- In order to qualify as a streamer for a team, this player must spend 100 hours annually streaming on that official team's Twitch.com channel.
- The streamer can also qualify by streaming for 100 hours using Chess.com on their own personal Twitch.com channel. In this case they will need to have both the PRO Chess League logo and the logo of the team they wish to represent clearly visible.
- Each team can use two streamers in their lineup a team one time. If there is a free agent in the lineup, then a team can also add one streamer. At least 2 players in the lineup must always be local.
- The 2018 season of the PRO Chess League will have four 8-team divisions (Eastern, Central, Pacific, Atlantic).
- The top 4 teams from each division qualify for the playoffs. Tiebreaks for those with the same win/loss record will be covered in section E.
- The bottom 2 teams from each division are demoted and will need to take part in the qualification process in order to play in league during the following season.
- The regular season will consist of seven matches within your division. There will also be two other special matches that will be based on interleague or interdivision play. These matches will use a different format than the standard matches. The playoffs will then begin and consist of four matches, with your team being eliminated on a single loss.
- In the Interleague matches, your team will play one single four game round against eight separate teams. Each match will consist of board 1 vs board 1, board 2 vs board 2 and so on. The time control for these matches will be 10 minutes to start with a 2 second increment.
C: Weekly Lineups
- Your lineup can consist of 3 “local players” and 1 “free-agent” or 4 “local players” and 0 “free-agents”. With the addition of the new "streamer" category of player, your team can also consist of 2 local players and 2 streamers OR 2 local players, 1 streamer and 1 free agent. More information on local players can be found above, in section A.3.1
- Players can play from any location. The average FIDE rating must be under 2500.00 (2499.75 is legal, 2500.00 is illegal)
- You must play the four players who begin the match in order of rating. What this means is if you are team A, whoever your highest rated player is will be paired as A1. Your second highest rated will be A2. If two players have the same exact rating, you can decide their order, although you cannot change it in later matches.
- No mid-match substitutions are allowed. Whoever starts each match must play all of the games in that match.
- The lineups are due by 8pm GMT (3pm ET) on Sunday for matches scheduled on Wednesdays. For all other matches the lineups are due 3 days prior at 8pm GMT. If there are two matches close together, we reserve the right to shorten this deadline to 2 days before the match. For the Semi-Finals and Championship Match, lineups for both matches are due 4 days before the Semi-Finals.
- If we feel that we need lineups one day earlier in order to properly promote the matches, we reserve the right to push this deadline up by one day at any time during the season. If we do so, we may also adjust the penalties listed in C5.
- In order for anyone to play in the league, we must have both their username and email in advance. Also they will have to sign the legal form that will be sent to them before competing in any match. A player put into the lineup who has not signed the form before 8PM GMT on the day before their match, will be forfeited in every game. The league reserves the right to extend this deadline in extreme cases, but it will never be extended past the scheduled start of a game.
- Teams will have the option to use different lineups for the Semi-Final and Championship Match, although they must both be announced at the submission deadline.
- If you need to make a change to the lineup at any time 12 hours before the scheduled start time of your match, you will be allowed to do so, but will face a half point penalty for each affected game. You will need to directly contact league administrators to make sure this change goes through. If you have to make a late substitution after the deadline has passed, the substituted player will directly replace the player they are substituting for. In these cases, the boards will be reordered based on rating.
- If you need to make a change to the lineup less than 12 hours before the start of your match, the penalties will be more severe. Because our staff is working very hard to keep the league moving smoothly, any last second change will cause a lot of extra work for them at a time when they don’t have time to spare. In these cases where a change is needed on the day of the game, we will first subtract an automatic half point for your team, and also an extra half point for every game that is affected. If the change is requested and our staff considers that it’s so close to the start of the game that it will cause delays in the matches, then you will be forfeited for the first game that you need to change (but we will waive the automatic half point penalty in the case of this game). This will be solely in the discretion of our staff who will have a better understanding of the delays that a last second change will cause. However the future changes after that one will result in the usual half point penalty per game, on top of the half point penalty for making a lineup change on the day of the game. For example, if one player found out they couldn’t play at all, and their game was set to begin in 2 minutes, they may get forfeited for that game, yet you could replace them for the next three games. In that case you would face a half point penalty for each game. So in this case you would face a forfeit loss in Round 1, and three half point penalties in Rounds 2-4. In all of these cases of day of substitutions, boards will NOT be reordered based on rating, and instead any substitution will be a direct substitution for the player who is being removed.
- The first time during the regular season that your team has to make a late lineup substitution, the penalties will be less serious. If made a day before the match, they will be a half point total penalty, regardless of how many games are affected. If made on the day of the match, the penalty will be one full point, regardless of how many games are affected. However note that chess.com staff still reserves the right to forfeit your team for one game if the substitution request came to close to the start of a match and they determine that going forward with the game would cause leaguewide delays. This rule is in place because we know that once per season something unforeseen could come up. However the second time it happens, we believe it is prudent to enforce strict penalties.
- If your team does not submit your lineup in time, you will face an automatic penalty of a half point, which will ensure that your team loses on any drawn match. In these cases, so that we can publish the pairings, we may decide to set your lineup to be the same exact lineup used in the previous match, and you will not have the option to change it without incurring the usual penalties.
- In cases where you accidentally submit the wrong lineup and it's clear it's an accident, with the prime example being that on one of the rounds you accidentally put one person in the lineup by mistake and then never used them again, we may allow your team to change the lineup after the deadline if we are notified quickly. As an example, if you put player A on board 3 for Rounds 1,2,3 and then Player B for Round 4, and you quickly tell us that this was an honest mistake and that player A is supposed to play all four rounds, we may allow a change without penalty the first time it happens. Any time after that there will be the normal penalties applying.
- League officials have the unilateral right to postpone matches or give exceptions to the team in extreme circumstances. (Natural disasters, medical emergencies etc). Internet connectivity issues, traffic, normal bad weather conditions or standard power outage issues are not included in these exceptions. They must be extremely severe for any consideration to be given.
- The PRO Chess League is an enormous undertaking and will be extremely difficult to run from our end. Therefore the following rules will be in effect. Your player will be responsible for being logged in to the Chess.com live chess server. Chess.com staff will attempt to start your game (which will only be possible if you are logged in). They will continue trying for 2 minutes past the start of the match. So if the match is set to begin at 12:00, they will continue attempting to start your game until 12:02. Once 12:03 hits, our staff member will make one last attempt to begin the game, and if it fails because you are not logged on, you may be forfeited. If a team's manager is active and engaging with us in the PRO Management Chat Room, we almost certainly will give a few minutes of leeway while we try to figure out what the problem is together. However at any time 3 minutes after the scheduled start team, your player is open to being forfeited if our staff deems it appropriate.
- In the rare case that both players are not logged when Chess.com staff makes their final attempt to start the games, the game may be declared an automatic draw.
- Match Format
- Each match will consist of four players on your team facing off against four players on the opposing team. It will be an all-play-all format: Each player on your team will face each player on the other team.
- The pairings go as follows: A1 = First board on team A, B3 = third board on team B etc. Team A will be the one that is listed first in the pairing table. 0:00 refers to the listed start time of your match. 0.40 means 40 minutes after the listed start time of your match, and so on. This pairing system is NEW as of Week 4 in the 2017 season.
- Round 1 (0:00): B4-A1, B3-A2, A3-B2, A4-B1
- Round 2 (0:40): A1-B3, A2-B4, B1-A3, B2-A4
- Round 3 (1:20): B2-A1, B1-A2, A3-B4, A4-B3
- Round 4 (2:00): A1-B1, A2-B2, B3-A3, B4-A4
D.2. Time controls
- The time control will be 15-minutes with a 2-second increment.
- Round 1 will begin at 0:00, round 2 at 0:40 (after the start of the match), round 3 at 1:20, and round 4 at 2:00.
- If a game is still in progress from the previous round, the next round only begins when all games have completed. If Chess.com staff is unable to start the next round on time, due to a game that lasts too long, every round from the match in question may be pushed past the scheduled starting time.
- A full match should take about 2.5 hours to complete.
- Once your team scores 8.5 points; your team has won the match. However the remaining games of the match will still be played.
- Your players can play from home or they can also all play together from a central location
- Matches start at the scheduled time, any lateness results in the late player risking a forfeit loss. Exceptions are at the discretion of the arbiters and could include reasons such as site outages or clerical errors made by Chess.com in starting the matches.
- If there is a sitewide outage in the middle of a round, any game that had not already concluded will be considered void and restarted. Position on the board or time situation is an irrelevant factor in this case. Note that this is only for a sitewide outage that affects everyone on chess.com, not outages that only affect your team or a few select players.
- The format for these matches is that 8 teams will be paired against 8 teams from other divisions. The 8 teams from one side will play one single round against the 8 teams from the other side. This single round will be played with the format of Board 1 vs Board 1, Board 2 vs Board 2 and etc.
- The time control for this match will be 10+2. The rounds will begin every half hour and we expect the entire event to last for just under 4 hours.
- The total points scored by each team will be calculated. Therefore if you beat a team 3-1, your team would get 3 points for that round. It is not considered whether you get more points than the other team, but instead your precise score in each match is what is calculated.
- After calculating the total score for each team at the end of eight rounds, the teams with the six highest scores will get a win in the league standings, the teams with the six lowest scores will get a loss in the league standings, and the teams from 7th-10th place will receive a draw in the league standings. All game points accrued will be counted towards the team's game point tiebreaker.
- If there is a tie for an important spot (6th or 10th place for example), the first tiebreaker is total score by your "division". What this means is that if your division fared WORSE overall than the teams from the other division in the event, than your score will be considered superior by tiebreakers. For instance, if a team from the Atlantic finishes in a tie for 6th place with a team from the Pacific Division, the team from whichever division scored fewer points overall in the event will be granted the tiebreak, because this implies that one team faced tougher competition. The second tiebreaker is score on First Board. The third tiebreaker is score on Second Board. The fourth tiebreaker is score on Third Board. The fifth tiebreaker is head to head match result, if applicable. If all of the above tiebreakers fail to break the tie, then both teams involved in the tie will achieve their desired result (ie a tie for 6th-7th, will result in a win for both teams if they are tied in the first 5 tiebreakers).
- For the purposes of the above, in the week in which Central and Eastern teams play against Atlantic and Pacific teams, the Central and Eastern will be considered to be the same division, while the Atlantic and Pacific will be considered to be the same division.
- Any player that is disconnected when an administrator attempts to start the game, will be forfeit for that individual game. This event will last longer than the typical PRO Chess League Event and therefore it is imperative that it is run on time with prompt starting times, hence our forfeit rules will be more severe.
- After all the regular season events have concluded, the top 4 teams from each division qualify for the playoffs.
- The most important statistic to determine standings is total number of match wins. So if Team A has won 5 matches and lost 4 while Team B has won 6 matches and lost 3, Team B is always ahead in the standings, even if Team A had a much larger margin of victory in their matches. A drawn match counts as half of a match win.
- Ties are broken in the following order:
- Total number of game points your team scores throughout the season.
- Head to Head Performance
- A short Twitter fan vote that will last no more than 24 hours.
- If the above is tied, the vote will reopened for 1 hour periods until the tie is broken.
- Seeding is determined by their standing in the division. So the first place team will be seeded #1 while the second place team will be seeded #2 and so on.
- In the playoffs team #1 plays team #4 and team #2 plays team #3. The winner of the 1 vs 4 match will play the winner of the 2 vs 3 match.
- In the Semifinals the winners of the Eastern and Central division will play each other, while the winners of the Atlantic and Pacific divisions will play each other. The two winners will then advance to the Championship Match.
- In the first two rounds of the playoffs, the team with the better record during the Regular Season will play as the “B” team in the PRO Chess League Pairing system listed in section D2. During Championship Weekend, the team with the better record during the Regular Season will play as the "A" team in the PRO Chess League Pairing System.
- In order for a player to play in the playoffs, they must have played at least one game during the regular season. The one exception to this is that you will be allowed to use exactly ONE player rated Under 2500 per playoff match if necessary, even if this player hasn't played during the season. This player must have been added to your roster by March 1st. While we are adding this flexibility, we are leaving the Under 2500 rating restriction as we consider it unfair to have a strong GM appear in a team's lineup for the first time, in a playoff match.
- Chess.com will set the starting time for all playoff matches.
- The team that performed better during the Regular Season advances on an 8-8 tie in all matches until the League Semifinal, at which point tiebreak games will be played on any future 8-8 ties. For clarification, the team with the best performance during the Regular Season (the 7 weeks of divisional play during the season and any special/interleague matches), will be given a seed number of 1, the second best team will be given a seed number of 2, and so on down to number 4.
- The tiebreaker in the Semifinal and later is a replay of the entire match at a time control of 3 minutes plus 2 second increment, with colors reversed from the original match. Whichever four players are playing in the final round will also be required to compete in every game of all the tiebreakers. The league reserves the right to have some of these tiebreak games played one or two at a time to help with the quality of the broadcast.
- If the 3 2 portion is a tie, the teams continue to play 4 game mini matches of 3 2 until one team is ahead. This will continue until there is a winner. Each mini-match will follow the normal structure of league matches, so that the opponents and matchups change each time there is another tie. However these matchups will begin starting with the fourth and final round of regular match structure and then go in reverse. Therefore for the first match of this type it will be the standard Round 4 pairings starting with A1-B1 and in the second match if the first one is tied, it will be the standard Round 2 pairings starting with B1-A2. Colors will again be reversed every time a pair of players plays each other.
- If a playoff match goes to a tiebreaker, it could delay the start of the following match. We will never begin a new playoff match while a tiebreak is in progress.
- All teams and their players will be subject to Chess.com's anti-cheating measures.
- All players in every match need to be connected on with a Chess.com Fair Play Team representative on Zoom.
- All teams have the right to appeal if we suspend or ban a player due to the findings of our Fair Play Team. However no teams have the right to appeal when we require a player to use a webcam or have a proctor present.
- If we think a player may be cheating, but we aren’t certain, that player may be subject to increased scrutiny. For instance we may require that they have a league-approved arbiter at the playing site, or we may require the player travel to the home of another player to play from there. A league approved arbiter does not need to be an official FIDE arbiter, but instead simply someone that the league trusts to ensure fair play.
- Anyone who has had results that greatly surpass their strength in chess.com or other online tournaments may be required to have an arbiter present. This by no means indicates that we suspect foul play but is simply done to ensure that players and the public can relax and know that we are taking security seriously.
- Some players, chosen at random each week, may also be required to have an arbiter present or play in a public location. We will ensure that there is proper notice in these cases.
- If a player is under suspicion or is someone we feel qualifies under section F4, the manager of the team will be notified by Chess.com privately via email and that player is likely to be required to play with a league approved on-site proctor for all remaining league matches.
- If a player is found to be cheating, we will discreetly remove them from the league.
- League standings may be discreetly adjusted after the fact in cases where the Chess.com Fair Play Team has determined that someone has cheated. Note that even if your team would have won despite having a player who violates the Chess.com Fair Play Aggreement, we are still likely to reverse the result and give the win to the fair team.
- Teams who have been determined to have cheated may face hidden penalties. These penalties may be a lowered rating cap, the elimination of any rating bonuses for their team, the inability to use free agents, the requirement that all players play in the same location and in almost all cases will require all players on the team to play with a trusted on site proctor. We will not be announcing these penalties publically, but teams who have had a player who cheated in previous matches will be penalized in a way that severely hurts their chances of succeeding in future rounds, while at the same time not publicizing the conclusions of the Chess.com Cheat Detection team.
- Teams who we determine have made every reasonable effort to curb their player from cheating, such as having extreme close and verifiable scrutiny of the players in question during their matches, will get more consideration than usual. This scrutiny would usually involve a public playing location, an involved arbiter and extensive video+photo evidence. If a player is able to cheat under such levels of supervision, the penalty your team will face is likely to be less severe than a team who doesn't provide all of these controls.
- In the playoffs, especially the later rounds when the stakes are high, all players may be required to have an approved arbiter present or to play their games in a public space.
- We reserve the right to increase security league wide based on our analysis throughout league play.
- Any concerns with cheating need to be addressed privately to league officials. Public accusations will not be tolerated per Chess.com’s user agreement.
- We will take as much time as we need to investigate any potential violations of our FairPlay Agreement. This may mean that your team could find out long after the fact that a result has been reversed. While this is inconvenient, it's extremely important that we don't rush to judgement and are completely sure of our conclusions.
- The appeals committee will consist of a combination of representatives from the PRO Chess League and Chess.com
- In the case of a dispute, the Appeals Committee will convene to resolve the issue. The committee members will examine the details of the complaint with strict adherence to PRO Chess League protocols and without bias.
- In the event that a team feels that the rules and regulations have not been followed by their opposition, or that the PRO Chess League made an incorrect ruling, a petition may be sent to the Appeals Committee within 24 hours of the match or incident's conclusion.
- The PRO Chess League is dedicated to running a fair and professional league for all teams involved. In order for any formal complaint to be considered it must be agreed upon by at least 75% of the appeals committee.
- If you mouseslip or resign accidentally, the move or results stands. There is no protection against mouseslips in the PRO Chess League.
- All players should upload a photo to chess.com, and provide a good photo for our website and for promotional materials.
- There is no protection for players who are experiencing a “bad” connection, unless it is specifically a server outage on Chess.com
- All teams are strongly encouraged to test their connections to ensure they are not experiencing frequent interruptions.
- It is highly recommended that teams have an alternate on standby in case of emergency or in case a player is experiencing serious connection issues. That alternate could substitute in although would still be subject to the penalties listed in section C3
- Any attempt to look for “loopholes” in the rules that are an obvious violation of the spirit of the league, may be disallowed.
- A match that seems to have been pre-arranged as a draw, will instead be counted as a double forfeit.
- If there is any clear evidence that a match or game was thrown, the league determines the right to dole out an appropriate penalty.
- If the rare case that team stops playing its matches before the season ends, we will quickly look for an alternate team to take their spot. This may result in your team facing a tougher or easier match than you had hoped but your team does not have the right to refuse this alternate opponent.
- A team manager is allowed to communicate to a team member as to the current score of the match. This should not include predicted scores of games that have not yet concluded
- It is quite likely that a situation could occur that we have failed to list in the rules. We reserve the right to update these rules as the season continues.