Online Chess League

League Rules


Play in the OCL shall be governed by The Laws of Chess, as promulgated by FIDE, except when OCL rules conflict with the FIDE Laws. In such a situation, the specific OCL rule will supercede the FIDE law. The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a tourney, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by Tournament Directors who have the necessary competence, sound judgment and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the Tournament Director of his freedom of judgment and thus prevent him from finding the solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic, sportsmanship, and special factors. The Tournament Director is expressly authorized to rule in those situations not covered by The Laws of Chess or the OCL Rules.

1) Movement of the pieces

1.1) The basic rules of movement used by the league conform to that defined by FIDE as administered by the chess servers approved for play with exceptions for areas where they conflict with other rules herein.

1.2) A players turn is considered to begin when the opponent’s move is received.

1.3) The league does not use a touch move rule. Hence, a player may "pick up" pieces on the board with no penalty.

1.4) A move is considered to be started and completed with the transmission of the move to the server. There is no period between the determined move and the completed move as in the FIDE rules.

1.5) Takeback offers (a request by a player to retract a number of moves) should neither be made nor accepted.

2) Time controls

2.1) In the league each player begins with 60 minutes on the clock. 15 additional seconds are added to each clock at the conclusion of the move. The shorthand for this on the servers is 60 15.

3) Winning the game

3.1) The game is won by the player who checkmates the opposing player.

3.2) The game is won by the player whose opponent resigns as determined by the server.

3.3) The game is won by a player when the opposing player’s time expires as determined by the server. The judgment of the server is final and no appeals are possible.

3.4) The game is won by a player whose opponent fails to arrive within 30 minutes of the agreed start of the game.

3.5) The game is won by the player if the opponent disconnects from the server and refuses to continue play. Time limit for re-connection is 30 minutes. If an opponent cannot reconnect because of server issues, he is to email his opponent and TD immediately and ask for an adjournment. If a player loses his connection because of his ISP, he is to contact his opponent and the TD by email as soon as service is restored and ask for an adjournment. The request must include the ISP home page. The adjournment may or may not be granted and is up to the discretion of the TD. The player not disconnected should, after 30-minutes have elapsed, notify the Tournament Director and include the opponent as one of the addressees of the email message.

3.6) The game is considered won by any player who receives a forfeit win from the server due to a disconnection by his opponent.

4) Draws

4.1) A game is drawn when both players agree.

4.2) A game is drawn when the server determines that insufficient material exists for mate.

4.3) A player may claim a draw based on threefold repetition of position or by the 50-move rule by typing "draw". The server will then determine the validity of the claim.

4.4) By server rules the offer or claim of a draw may be made at any time.

4.5) It is not considered proper etiquette to repeatedly claim or offer a draw.

5) Outside assistance

5.1) Players are prohibited from receiving any assistance such as:

Such actions may result in penalties up to expulsion of the offender and players violating this rule may be permanently banned from the league.

5.2) Complaints of violations of section 5.1 of these rules will be referred to the Appeals Committee for a determination of the complaint's validity. Substantiated complaints will result in:

(1) First offense- Should League Officials believe a player to have (c)heated, all games will be forfeited that have been played in that tournament, regardless of whether or not (c)heating was demonstrated to have occurred in each game. Player will also be suspended from the league for the remainder of the tournament and from the following tournament.

(2) Second Offense- Banned from the league for life if the player is believed to be in violation of Rule 5 using the method determined by the Board of Directors. No appeal will be allowed from this.

(3) Frivolous Complaints- If a formal complaint of computer cheating is filed by an opponent, and the complaint is determined to be groundless (i.e. absolutely no basis for a complaint) the opponent will be asked to sit out the next round.

(4) If a (c)heating complaint is not proven, the accused player will be advised that allegations were made and his/her game(s) examined and that the Board found no basis for further action. This will not be counted as a First Offense as stated in 5.2 (1).

6) Players

6.1) Players eligible to participate in the league must:

6.1.1) be registered on the free approved server FICS and optionally on any other approved or alternate servers (see section 15 of the rules)

6.1.2) not be currently under league suspension

6.1.3) have an established standard rating on ICC or FICS. See rule 9.1.

6.1.4) A player will be allowed to participate after completing a minimum of 10 Standard Time Control rated games.

6.2) A player may play for only one team in any section but may play for multiple teams provided each is in a different section.

6.3) Players must notify the Director of Player Services at the time of registering of all their accounts on all approved official servers along with their handle on those servers. They then may play under any of these accounts during the tournament (see Rule 15 Servers).

6.3.1) The established rating for a player will be the highest rating of all registered accounts on all the approved official servers (see rule 9 - Ratings).

7) Teams

7.1) The league shall consist of groups of players labeled teams.

7.2) Each team shall consist of between 4 and 6 players.

7.2.1) Each team must have a captain.

7.2.2) The captain need not be a member of the team.

7.3) In any given week of the season exactly 4 members of a team shall constitute a legal line-up.

7.3.1) A legal line-up may use any combination of players.

7.3.2) The default line-up is the 4 highest rated players on the team.

7.3.3) Changes to the line-up must be submitted to the TD before Tuesday 23:59 GMT. If no line-up is submitted the TD will use the default line-up.

7.4) The members of the team must play in rating order from the highest rated member playing "board 1" to the lowest rated member playing "board 4", except that the team Captains may, at their discretion, elect to swap board assignments of one pair of players, so long as the rating difference between the players moved does not exceed 50 rating points. This change must be part of the regular weekly lineups submitted to the Director, not done after the pairings are posted.

7.4.1) FIDE titled players (GM, IM, FM,...) may play at any board position
higher than their official rating as submitted by the team Captain in the weekly lineup. If more than one title player are members of the same team, they must play in rating order between them as per 7.4.

7.5) If latejoin is allowed in a specific event (normally only to even out the number of teams in a section so as to avoid byes) a team may be accepted into the league any time up to Wednesday 5 PM GMT the second week of the season. Late accepted team will be granted a ˝ point bye.

8) Replacement and Addition of Players

8.1) At any time prior to pairing the third round of a tournament any player on a team can be replaced by another player, or any team may add another player(s) as long as they do not exceed the limit in section 7.2.

8.1.1) After the pairings for the third round of a tournament have been posted, a team may replace a player who has left the team provided that the new player's rating, as determined by the Director of Player Services, does not exceed the higher of:
a) the official rating of the player being replaced OR
b) the prior official team average rating based on the 4 highest ratings
before the replacement.

8.1.2) The Director of Players Services, in agreement with the Tournament Director of the section, may decide to allow a replacement even if the rating of a replacing player exceeds the limits stated above. This may happen in certain circumstances such as a team with an average rating lower than most of the other participating teams or the long time availability on a waiting list of a player rated higher than the limits.

8.1.3) At any time, after the pairing of round 3, a player can be added to the team, without rating constraint, provided the team had less than the maximum number of players allowed before the pairing of round 3. When a player leaves his team, the next addition will be considered as a replacement and sections 8.1.1 and 8.1.2 will apply.

9) Ratings

9.1) The rating of players used for league play shall be their highest current rating at the time it is verified by the Director of Player Services using either FICS, ICC or the FIDE rating if the player is a FIDE player. The highest rating at either ICC or FICS will be used only if based on a minimum of 10 games, although inactive accounts (those with no standard time control games played during the last consecutive 12 months) will not be used to establish a player's rating unless no other rating evidence exists.

A) A player without an established Standard Time Control rating must complete 10 Standard Time Control rated games before being allowed to participate in League play unless the player is a FIDE player.

9.2) For players added to the roster during the season, ratings will be their current rating at the time their name is submitted to the Director of Player Services.

9.3) The Chief Tournament Director, in consultation with the Board of Directors, shall establish the number of sections, and the rating divisions for each section, to be used for each tournament.

9.4) All OCL games should be played as rated games whenever possible. The only exceptions would be when the game is being played on a server where one player is playing as a guest, or where one player has been restricted by that server's Administration from playing rated games.

10) Matches

10.1) A match will consist of two teams whose members are paired in board order.

10.2) A team receives 1 game point for each game a member of its team wins by play or through forfeit and 0.5 game points for each game a member of its team draws. Byes will be awarded a full point, except in the case of latejoin (see section 7.5).

10.3) The winner of a match is the team with the most game points after all individual games are completed. The winning team shall receive 1 match point. When the game points score is even at 2-2 then each team shall receive 0.5 match point.

10.4) In the event a team knows in advance of the deadline for submitting the weekly lineup (see section 7.3.3) that it does not have 4 players it must forfeit boards starting with board 4 and working upward.

11) Pairing

11) Team pairing will be based on the latest version of the FIDE rules.

11.1) The parameters for pairing will be set by the League committee and director dependent upon the number of teams that enter. As a guideline the season will run from 5-18 weeks, as determined by the Chief Tournament Director in consultation with the Board of Directors.

11.2) Tournament Directors will make every effort to post a given round's pairings on Wednesday of each week.

12) Contact

12.1) Players are required to contact their opponent within 48 hours after posting of the pairings. Failure to establish contact by the deadline could result in forfeiture of the game. Exceptions to this rule will be allowed on a case by case basis at the discretion of the Tournament Director.

12.2) Official contacts with opponents must be made by e-mail. In the event of disagreement other forms of communication will not be accepted as evidence.

12.3) To confirm contact with their opponent all players should send a copy of correspondences to the director of the section and also to their Team Captain.

13) Scheduling

13.1) Players should agree to a time and server for their match and submit that to the Section Tournament Director within 96 hours of the posting of the pairings.

13.2) Players who are unable to agree to a time for playing their match may request a postponement from the director.

13.3) In order to change the agreed time for a match, a player must submit his request to the opposing player and the director at least 2 hours before the schedule time of the match.

13.4) Failure to log onto the server within 30 minutes after the scheduled start of the match will result in forfeiture of the match.  Failure of either player to become available to play within 5 minutes after both players are logged on will result in forfeiture of the match.  The player who has showed up and waited must immediately send an email to the TD to request the forfeit, and also send a copy to his Team Captain and his opponent.  The player who has showed up will have the option of claiming a forfeit or requesting to the TD that the game be rescheduled.  If after 24 hrs past the scheduled time of the match, the TD has received no forfeit claim and no request to reschedule from the player who showed up, a forfeit will automatically be issued in favor of the player who showed up.

13.5) When a player is forfeited by the Tournament Director for failure to contact, schedule, appear, play, or resume play, that player shall be ineligible to participate in the round following the forfeit announcement. If the forfeit was issued in the last round of a tournament, that player shall be ineligible to participate in the first round of the next scheduled tournament.

13.6) If a player receives two forfeit losses in one tourney, that player will no longer be able to continue in said tourney, and will not be allowed to participate in an OCL tourney for 3 months.

14) Reporting results

14.1) After completion of the game, both players must submit a copy of their score sheet to the section Tournament Director in portable game notation (PGN) format. The Webmaster and the player's Captain should always be included in the distribution of this message to ensure the fast recording of the result and help in solving arguments between teams or players.

14.2) All results must be sent by 0600 GMT on Wednesday of the week following the posting of the pairings except when the Tournament Director has granted an extension.

14.3) Failure to submit a game score to the section Tournament Director by the deadline may result in forfeiture of the game.

15) Servers

15.1) The currently approved league servers are the Internet Chess Club (ICC) and the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS).

15.1.1) The player with white pieces must agree to play on any approved server when the player with the black pieces chooses to play there. If the player has no account on ICC and the player with black pieces requests that the game be played on ICC, then the player with white pieces must agree to play on ICC with the OCL account, available on request to the Director of players services of the section.

15.1.2) The following minimal requirements for play on any official or accepted alternate server in term of settings are:

15.1.3) If both players agree, they can play the game on one of those accepted alternate servers listed here: KasparovChess,, and USCLive

15.2) Players should use registered accounts for all games to avoid the possibility of the game being lost if either player disconnects.

15.2.1) If a game ends in a disconnect and the tournament director determines that there is no way to restore the game and resume it, then the game is annulled and a new one played in its place.

16) Tiebreakers

16.1) Tiebreakers will be used to determine place or playoff qualification.

16.1.1) The first tiebreaker will be Game points.

16.1.2) The second tiebreaker will be head to head match points.

16.1.3) The third tie breaker will be head to head game points.

16.2) When a drawn match is not allowed (as in Playoff structures) the results will be determined by dropping the lowest boards until a clear winner is decided.