1  League

1.1  Objectives

Each Virginia High School Chess League is a competitive organization committed to promoting chess in our schools and communities and helping students develop chess skills and sportsmanship. The League is based on the concepts of team spirit, camaraderie, mutual respect and support.

Each high school competes against other league schools during a regularly scheduled season of team-versus-team matches and championship playoffs.

1.2  Organization

The League is governed by the League Director (Section 2) and by the chess team Coaches of the member schools (Section 5).

2  Director

The League Director (“Director”) is ultimately responsible for the continued success of the League.

2.1  Responsibilities

The Director has the authority to settle any disputes between players or schools, including interpretation of the League rules as written in this document.

The Director presides over any meeting and/or voting by the coaches, including face-to-face meetings or votes and electronic meetings or votes.

The Director has the authority to make any necessary changes to the League rules on an emergency as-needed basis. The Director should electronically inform all coaches of any rules changes immediately.  A two-thirds majority of the League’s coaches may overrule any rules changes made by the Director.

2.2  Election

The Director is elected by the coaches of the member schools for a one-year term, running July 1-June 30. There is no limit to the number of consecutive terms one Director may serve, provided he/she is re-elected by the coaches each year.

The Director is normally elected or re-elected at the spring Coaches Meeting (section 5.2). The incumbent Director is re-elected for the following school year if a simple majority of the coaches present at the meeting votes in favor of his/her re-election, or if there is a tie vote.

If the current Director does not wish to run for re-election, or if he/she is not re-elected, or if the office of Director should become vacant for any reason, either one or two new candidates should be identified, and a new Director elected by a vote of the coaches. A new director is elected by a simple majority of the coaches present for the voting, or by a tie vote if there is only one candidate.

3  Schools

Any local public, private or home school which regularly enrolls students in grades 9-12 is eligible to be a member of the League. (Eighth-grade players may also play for high school teams, subject to the restrictions of section 6.1.) The school should be geographically located within a reasonable distance of the other member schools, so that transportation to and from matches does not become an undue hardship for any school.

Home School teams are limited to one team per public high school boundary, and must play their home matches at a local public facility (e.g., library) that will ensure a well-organized and quiet match.  Match venues must be identified and reserved before the September Coaches Meeting.

The League Director may rule on the eligibility of a school to join the League in case of a dispute.

4  Divisions

Depending on the total number of member schools in the League, schools may be divided into two or more geographical divisions (e.g., “North,” “West,” “Central,” etc.) for the purposes of scheduling and competition. The number of the divisions and the alignment of teams may change from year to year as the member schools change. It is recommended that each division be made up of at least six schools. The schools within a division should be geographically located in the same vicinity in order to minimize driving distances and travel times.

5  Coaches

Each member school must designate one faculty member, parent or other responsible adult as the Coach for the school’s team.

5.1  Responsibilities

The Coach is the League’s primary contact for the school, is responsible for the attendance and conduct of the players during matches, and serves as the school’s representative during meetings, discussions and votes regarding League business.

5.2  Meetings

Two official coaches’ meetings should be scheduled during the season.  The first should be designated as the “fall” meeting and held in September to address any concerns and finalize the schedule for the upcoming current season.  The second meeting should be designated as the “spring” meeting and held in late May or early June, to discuss any post-season concerns, and also to address, discuss and vote on any changes for the following season.  The final order of business at the “spring” coaches’ meeting should be the election or re-election of the League Director (section 2.2).

Voting at the coaches meetings should be conducted by the League Director and may only include those coaches who are in physical attendance.  No proxy votes are allowed.

6  Players

6.1  Eligibility

Players must be in grades 8-12 and aged 12-19 years. Players in grades 9-12 must be currently enrolled in the school for which they are competing - a public or private high school or home school.

Eighth graders who are currently enrolled in a public, private or home school may compete for the school they would normally attend in ninth grade, based on their current home address and current school attendance boundaries.

Players may not compete in a match if they are not in good academic standing in school or if they are currently under administrative suspension from school.

The League Director may rule on the eligibility of a player in case of a dispute.

6.2  Team Rosters

Up to five players from a school may compete in any given match, but there is no limit on the number of players who may be listed on the school’s active roster. The four or five players who represent the school may change from match to match. There is no restriction on which players participate in which matches, subject to the eligibility rules above, and there is no upper or lower limit on the number of matches in which any player participates.

The Coach is responsible for entering and maintaining the team’s roster on the League website.

6.3  Team Uniforms

Each player participating in a match should wear a designated team shirt or uniform which identifies the school which the player represents.

All of a team’s uniforms do not have to match, but in the spirit of this regulation, they should display the school’s name, logo or mascot, or at least clearly distinguish that students are representing their participating high school in the match.

See also section 8.4.2, Participation Points.

7  Matches

A match consists of 4 concurrent chess games between players from the two opposing schools. If both teams have 5 players available, then 5 games are played. A school must have a minimum of 2 players in order to compete. If a school has only 1 player, or no players, available, then the match is forfeited to the opposing team (section 7.8).

7.1  Board Assignments

Players on each team must be ranked by the team’s Coach in order of playing strength. If available, current U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) ratings should be used to rank players. For players without USCF ratings, performance in past matches, based on statistics from the League website, may be used to gauge rankings. If neither USCF ratings nor past performance records are available, the Coach should rank players to the best of his ability, based on his personal knowledge and discussions with players. Player rankings may change from match to match, as teams may use different players in different matches, and/or players’ relative strengths may change as the season progresses.

The highest-ranked player from one team always plays the highest-ranked player from the opposing team on Board 1. The two second-ranked players play on Board 2, the two third-ranked players play on Board 3, and the two fourth-ranked players play on Board 4. If both teams have five players available, the two fifth-ranked players play on Board 5.

7.2  Additional Game

If both schools have 5 players available, the match will consist of 5 games rather than 4 games. The results of the additional game will count toward determining the winner of the match (section 7.7), but the teams will not receive participation points for the players on Board 5 (section 8.4.2). The additional game is optional and neither team will be penalized for not having a fifth player available, even if the opposing team has five players.

7.3  Missing Players

If either school has less than four players available for a match, then the available players must be assigned to play on consecutive boards beginning with Board 1, in order of their playing strength. That is, if a team has only two players at the match, they must play on Board 1 and Board 2. If a team has only three players, they must play on Board 1, Board 2 and Board 3. See also section 7.8, Forfeits.

7.4  Colors

One school is designated as the Home team, and the opposing school is designated as the Away team, either by the League schedule or by playoff seeding. The players from the Home team play with the white pieces on all boards.

7.5  Time Control

The time control for regular season match games will be G/40 (forty minutes per side) for each board. If a digital clock with delay capability is available, it should be set for a 5-second delay.

Longer time controls (e.g., G/60 or G/90) may be used for playoff match games (section 9).

Shorter time controls (e.g., G/5 or G/15) may be used for tiebreak games (section 7.9).

7.6  Notation

All players must take algebraic or other pre-approved chess notation during match games (except tiebreak games). Each player must sign both his/her own notation and his/her opponent’s notation immediately following the game. Players should turn in signed notation to their coach so that it can be filed in case of questions or disputes.

7.6.1  Time Pressure

If EITHER player has less than 5 minutes remaining on his/her clock, NEITHER player is required to take notation.

7.6.2  Penalties

If a player does not take notation, one warning will be issued. If the player persists in not taking notation following the warning, the team will not receive a participation point for that player (section 8.4.2).
Beginning in the 2012-13 season, if the player persists in not taking notation following the warning, the game will be forfeited to the opposing player (section 7.8) and the team will not receive a participation point for that player (section 8.4.2).

7.7  Winning Team

The winner of the match is based on a point system. A school receives one game point for each game won during the match, including any games forfeited by the opposing team (section 7.8), and including a tiebreak game if played (section 7.9). Each school receives one-half game point for a drawn game. A school receives zero game points for any game lost or forfeited. The school with the most total game points at the conclusion of the match is declared the winner. These game points should not be confused with match points and participation points which determine the team standings (section 8.4).

7.8  Forfeits

If a school does not have a player available for one board, then that game is forfeited to the opposing school, and the opposing school receives a win, provided the opposing school has a player available for that board. If neither school has a player at one board, then that game is declared a double forfeit, and neither team receives a win or points for that board.

Exception: The fifth game is optional (Section 7.2), and teams are not required to have a fifth player. If EITHER team does not have 5 players, then the fifth game is simply not played, and there is no forfeit.

If either school has less than two players available for a match, then all four games, and the match, are forfeited to the opposing school, provided the opposing school has two or more players available. If neither school has two or more players available for a match, then all four games, and the match, are declared double forfeits, and neither team receives a game win or a match win.

7.9  Tiebreak Game

The High School Chess League is considered a competitive league, and a clear winner must be determined for each match whenever possible. If the regulation match ends in a tie (both teams win the same number of games), then one tiebreak game will be played to determine the match winner. (Tiebreak games may not be mandatory for some playoff matches, depending on the playoff format.)

Each team must select one of its players who played in the match that day (not necessarily the Board 1 player) to play in the tiebreak game. The player for the Home team plays with the white pieces in the tiebreak game.

For regular season matches, the tiebreak game is a G/5 blitz game, with no time delay. (Longer time controls may be used for tiebreak games in the League playoffs, section 9.) The following rules apply during tiebreak games:

(a) Black may specify the position of the clock (to black’s right or left).
(b) If the clock has sound capability, it must be set to silent mode.
(c) Each player must push the clock with the SAME hand that he/she uses to move the pieces.
(d) Game notation is NOT required or recommended.
(e) The touch move rule is NOT enforced - the player’s turn ends after pushing the clock.
(f) A player may remove his or her opponent’s king and declare victory if the king is left in check at the end of the opponent’s turn.
(g) If one player has only a king on the board and the other player runs out of time, the game is a draw.
(h) Time penalties or forfeits are imposed for rules violations as follows: first offense: 10 second deduction from clock; second offense: 20 second deduction from clock; third offense: forfeiture of game.

7.10  Supervision

Each school should have one adult, normally the Coach or chess sponsor, present at each match to help officiate the match and fairly settle any disputes onsite.  All unsettled disputes, questions, clarifications or concerns should be submitted electronically to the League Director immediately following the match.  The League Director should respond as soon as possible to each concern.

If a coach, sponsor or other adult representing the school is not present for the match, then the school should have a designated team captain (one of the team’s four players) in case any decisions affecting the team need to be made before, during or after the match.

7.11  Environment

Coaches should provide for and sustain a quality player environment that is free of as many controllable distractions as possible and within reason.  Blatant failure to provide for a quality playing environment will result in a verbal warning, then loss of the entire teams’ participation points and finally forfeiture of the match.  All incidents of this must be reported to the League’s Director, and the Director must approve any penalties.

7.12  Reporting Results

All match results must be reported using the Results form on the League website within 48 hours of the completion of a match. Alternatively, the match results, including the first initial and last name of each participating player, may be reported to the League webmaster and/or the League Director by email within 48 hours of the completion of the match. The coach of the school designated as the Home team is responsible for reporting the results, unless the two coaches agree otherwise.

Both schools will be forfeited if results are not submitted within 48 hours of the conclusion of the match unless the webmaster is notified of a problem reporting the scores. Before imposing any forfeits, the Director must notify the coaches of both teams and the webmaster with an e-mail reminder. At the discretion of the Director, schools will not be penalized in the event of extended computer or internet outages or other mitigating circumstances which might reasonably be expected to delay the reporting of results.

7.13  Appeals

A coach may appeal any action which results in the loss of points for his or her team. The League Director will rule on appeals on a case-by-case basis without prejudice.

8  Regular Season

8.1  Schedule

Member schools play regularly scheduled team-versus-team matches on Tuesday afternoons after normal school hours, beginning about the first week of October, and continuing about every other Tuesday until about the middle of April. Regular season matches take place at the school of one of the competing teams (the “Home” team). The opposing team (the “Away” team) is responsible for arranging its own transportation to the Home team’s school.

Each team will play the same number of Home and Away matches during the regular season. The schedule should attempt to alternate Home and Away matches for each team as much as possible.

If the League has divisions (see section 4) then each team will play matches only against the other schools its own geographical division. 

There should be a break from regular season matches from about mid-December until mid-January before the second half of the season begins.

The schedule for the entire regular season will be determined by the League Director or his designated representative in September or earlier. The schedule will be communicated to the League webmaster for publication on the League website prior to the date of the first scheduled match.

8.2  Byes

If the League, or any Division, has an odd number of teams, either for the entire season or because a team withdraws during the year, the schedule should be prepared as if there were an even number of teams, with the missing school’s games designated as a “Bye” for the opposing school.

A school who is scheduled for a Bye receives a win for the match, a win for four games and participation points for four players, exactly the same as if a scheduled opponent had forfeited the match.

8.3  Rescheduled Matches

Matches missed due to school closures or delays, inclement weather safety concerns or any other reasonable excuse (reasonable excuses will be fully determined by the discretion of the opposing team’s coach) should be rescheduled based on mutual agreement of both teams. 

It is highly recommended, in the interest of good sportsmanship, that any missed matches should be made up as soon as possible. However, in the event that one of the teams cannot make up the match within a reasonable time, normally one week, then the match will be forfeited to the opposing team.  All disputes or protests regarding rescheduled matches should be made promptly to the League Director for immediate consideration and action.

8.4  Standings

The League standings, including separate standings for each division if applicable, will be available on the League website within a reasonable time after match scores are reported (section 7.11). Points are awarded for each match based on match results (0 to 2 points, section 8.4.1), game results (0 to 2 points, section 8.4.2, for each board, including the game on the optional fifth board if played, section 7.2, but not including tiebreak games, section 7.9), and player participation (0 to 4 points, section 8.4.3). The maximum number of points awarded for one match is 14 points for a four-board match (2 match points, 8 game points and 4 participation points); or 16 points for a match with an optional fifth board (2 match points, 10 game points and 4 participation points). A team’s position in the standings is determined by the total points awarded for all of the team’s matches for that season to date.

8.4.1  Match Points

The winner of a match, as determined under section 7.7, is awarded two match points in the standings. If the match is a draw, then each team receives one match point. The loser of the match receives zero match points.

8.4.2  Game Points

A team receives two game points for each game won during the match, including forfeit wins, and including the game on the optional fifth board, if played (section 7.2). A team receives one game point for each game drawn during the match, including the game on the optional fifth board, if played (section 7.2). A team does not receive game points for any games lost. A team does not receive game points for the results of a tiebreak game, if played (section 7.9).

8.4.3  Participation Points

Each team receives 1 point in the standings for each player who was available to play in a match (maximum of 4 points). The point is awarded regardless of whether the player had an opponent or whether the player won, lost or drew his/her game.

If a player was not wearing an appropriate team uniform (section 6.3) for his/her game, and/or persisted in not taking notation after a warning (section 7.6), the player’s game results count toward the match results, but the team receives NO participation point for that player.

If a game is forfeited (section 7.8), the winning team receives 1 participation point for that board and the forfeiting team receives no points for that board. If the game is a double forfeit, neither team receives participation points for that board.

If the entire match is a forfeit (section 7.8), or if a team has a scheduled bye (section 8.2), the winning team receives 4 participation points and the forfeiting team receives no participation points. If the match is a double forfeit, neither team receives participation points.

9  Playoffs

At the conclusion of the regular season, the top teams in the standings based on point totals are eligible to participate in the League playoffs. It is recommended that the top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, but this may be adjusted depending on the number of teams and divisions.

The playoff format and the number of participating teams may be adjusted as necessary by the League Director, after conferring with the coaches of the member schools. The playoff format for each school year should be determined prior to the first match of the regular season.

9.1  Schedule

The playoffs should be held on Saturday(s) as soon as possible after the final match of the regular season, normally in early April. The site(s) for the playoff matches should be mutually agreed on by the Director and the Coaches.

9.2  Seeding

All teams that qualify for the playoffs are seeded based on their point totals in the regular season standings (section 8.4). The total number of games won (including forfeit games) during the year will be used as a tiebreak for determining playoff teams and seeding. If a team elects not to participate in the playoffs, any playoff match in which that team would normally participate will be forfeited to the opposing team.

9.3  Matches

Playoff matches should follow the format of regular season matches, with the following exceptions:

(a) Time controls are G/60 for Divisional Playoff games and G/90 for League Playoff games.

(b) Time controls are G/15 for tiebreak games.

(c) The higher-seeded team in each playoff match is designated as the Home team, and plays white on all boards.

9.4  Awards

9.4.1  Divisional Playoffs

Trophies will be awarded to the top four finishers in each division. All players participating in the Divisional Playoffs receive medals.

9.4.2  League Playoffs

Permanent trophies will be awarded to the top four teams. A rotating trophy will also be awarded to the champion. All players participating in the League Playoffs will receive trophies.

9.5  Example Playoff Formats

9.5.1  Example Two-week Playoff Format for a League with Two Divisions

First week: Divisional Playoffs

9 am:  First Round (G/60)
North #1 vs. North #4
North #2 vs. North #3
South #1 vs. South #4
South #2 vs. South #3

11 am: Lunch

12 noon: Second Round (G/60)
North #1 vs. North #3
North #2 vs. North #4
South #1 vs. South #3
South #2 vs. South #4

2 pm: Awards

For each match, 2 points are awarded to the winner of the match (winner of the most games), no points to the loser, 1 point to each team if the match is a draw. No tiebreak games are played during a match; if both teams win the same number of games, the match is a draw.

The two teams from each division with the most total points for two rounds advance to the League Playoffs. In case of ties for the most points, one G/15 tiebreak game will be played at the conclusion of the second round matches, following the rules of regular-season tiebreak games (section 7.9).

Second Week: League Playoffs

9 am: Semifinals (G/90)
North #1 vs. South #2
South #1 vs. North #2

Noon: Lunch

1 pm: Finals (G/90)
Championship: Semifinal winners
Third place: Semifinal losers

4 pm: Awards

9.5.2  Example One-week Playoff Format for a League with Two Divisions

8 am: Quarterfinals (G/60)
Quarterfinal A: North #1 vs. North #4
Quarterfinal B: North #2 vs. North #3
Quarterfinal C: South #1 vs. South #4
Quarterfinal D: South #2 vs. South #3

Quarterfinal losers are eliminated.

10 am: 30-minute break

10:30 am: Semifinals (G/90)
Quarterfinal A Winner vs. Quarterfinal B Winner
Quarterfinal C Winner vs. Quarterfinal D Winner

1 pm: Lunch

2 pm: Finals (G/90)
Championship: Semifinal winners
Third place: Semifinal losers

5 pm: Awards

9.5.3  Example One-week Playoff Format for a League with Three Divisions

8 am: Round 1 (G/60)
North #1 vs. North #2
Central #1 vs. Central #2
South #1 vs. South #2

10 am: 30-minute break

10:30 am: Round 2 (G/60)
North #1 vs. Central #2
Central #1 vs. South #2
South #1 vs. North #2

1 pm: Lunch

2 pm: Round 3 (G/60)
North #1 vs. South #2
Central #1 vs. North #2
South #1 vs. Central #2

5 pm: Awards

10  Rules Changes

Changes in rules and league policy may be requested at any time and by any coach during the season, including playoffs, but the person making the proposed change must contact all coaches currently listed on the League website’s School/Contact page.

All proposed changes should be discussed openly, using clear written electronic communications.  Coaches are encouraged to use the League’s website in the Staff Area/Forum feature to complete these discussions.

A minimum time limit of two weeks for discussion for the proposed change should be used prior to voting on the proposed change, and extensions of this time limit may be proposed with the approval of a two-thirds majority of all member schools.

All proposed changes require at least a two-thirds majority of all member schools, with each school having one equal vote per proposed change.

The League Director may also make rules changes on an emergency as-needed basis (section 2.1). Any rules changes made by the League Director may be overruled by a two-thirds vote of all member schools