SCCA Rules of Play

Last updated 4 March 2019

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From 2007, SCCA domestic events have been restructured, and mixed mode play has been introduced into all domestic tournaments - i.e. games may be played by postal, email or webserver according to the wishes of the players. [These arrangements are subject to the general caveats of sufficient entries, sufficient organisers, and the availability of technology to support the given method of play.] These rules cover the new structure of events and all playing modes. Previous postal and email rules are thus superseded. This page has been updated in May 2017 to incorporate webserver rules and settings into Events, plus a revised Adjudication process.


| General | Events | Normal Play | Exceptions | Administration | General Provisos |



The SCCA Executive Committee is responsible for deciding the programme of events offered to SCCA members. The current Championship cycle and other SCCA-organised events are described in full at Tournaments.

The Secretary organises the domestic events annually. Each event is controlled by an appointed Tournament Director [TD]. The Secretary may form an Appeals Committee in the event of disputes. The Secretary is also responsible for organising a senior player to judge the result of any adjudicated games.

The International Secretary organises the external events annually, including the entry of Scottish teams into friendly and competitive matches, and the entry of individuals into ICCF tournaments. The International Secretary (or a nominee) acts as national Team Captain [TC], and team selections may be made in conjunction with the Executive Committee.


Correspondence Chess [CC] is meant to be played in the spirit of friendly competition. The most common CC problems arise because of lack of communication. Players are expected to make regular contact with their opponents and, if a lengthy period has elapsed since you last heard anything, it is good etiquette to remind your opponent that you are waiting for a reply. If you know you will be unable to reply for more than 10 days, and you have no leave periods pending, you should inform your opponents out of courtesy. If you cannot make contact or agree how to resolve a problem, you should document the circumstances and get in touch with your TD, TC or any SCCA official in order to resolve the issue.


Assistance or advice concerning CC play must not be sought, nor accepted, from any other person, but books, databases or works of reference may be consulted.

Players should try to interpret the rules flexibly in the furtherance of getting their games played to a conclusion - it is always preferable to win by better play than by defaults or technicalities!

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Playing Rules

  • Domestic events organised by SCCA follow the Playing Rules set out here.
  • International events organised by ICCF follow their rules, obtainable from ICCF Website.
  • Games are played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess, obtainable from FIDE Website.

Duration of Play

Each event you enter will have a start date, and you will receive from the TD or your TC the names and contact addresses of your opponents prior to the start date. Most [though not all] events will also have a stop date. Games unfinished by the stop date go via the TD or TC for adjudication, unless an agreement is reached with your opponent. Where a stop date is not given, the TD or your TC will provide the relevant information [e.g. games played to conclusion in friendly international matches, or carried over to next season in the Challengers tournament.]

Time Controls

Each event will have a set of time controls [i.e. the number of days you have to complete a certain number of moves]. Time controls will vary by the duration of the event and by the playing mode used. Transmission delays between moves do not normally count as thinking time, and postal time controls are usually tighter than email and webserver because of long or inconsistent delays in the postal service worldwide. If you complete the necessary moves before a time control, your unused time is carried forward, giving you extra thinking time for the next period. You should familiarise yourself with the time controls before starting play, and also with the penalties for overstepping your time. In SCCA-organised events, the following guidelines apply:

  • In previous years, overstepping the time control for the first time in postal and email play did not result in the forfeit of the game. [A claim was made to the TD, and the game was normally restarted with subsequent time controls for the offending player calculated from the date of the excess].
  • From 2007, all modes of play [postal, email and webserver] will be governed by the rule that overstepping the time control for the first time results in the forfeit of the game once a claim to the TD is upheld. Failure to claim may lead to the game being scored as a loss for both players. See also the Exceptions section below.

Webserver Rules and Settings

SCCA tournament organisers will apply the following options from 2017:

  • Flag Rule. Set to autoflag, i.e. a win is automatically recorded when a player’s clock runs down.
  • Viewing Rule. Participants in an event can see other games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
  • Public Viewing Rule. The public can see the games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
  • Team Viewing Rule.
    • Other participants can see the games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
    • The public can see the games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
    • The team mates and captain can see the games live after 0 games are finished in the event. Live transmission is delayed by 0 moves.
  • Conditional Moves. SCCA events will not allow conditional moves.
  • Tiebreaking Rule. The Baumbach rule (most wins) will apply. If this does not produce a clear result, SCCA officials reserve the right to exercise a further method(s) or to declare a tie.
  • Leave Rule. The standard 30 days of leave will apply.
  • Tablebase Rule. Wins may be claimed using the 6-pieces tablebase evidence.
  • Draw Rule. The ICCF Code of Conduct will apply - i.e. one draw offer per player per game.
  • Sofia Rule. This will not apply - i.e. draw offers may be made from move 1 onwards.
  • Adjudication Rule. This will be set to manual, i.e. SCCA will appoint an adjudicator and control the timing of the process. See also Ajudication below.


Most events organised by the SCCA are graded, and allow your playing strength to be calculated by virtue of your results against other graded players. The SCCA Grading List is published at least twice per annum, and contains rankings for players who compete in domestic events and in internationally-recognised tournaments.

Titles and Norms

Some events allow players to gain norms towards titles, such as Scottish Master [SM] or International Master [IM]. For norms to be available, the event has to be of sufficient strength - this is calculated by the average grade of the entrants being compared against event category tables maintained by ICCF. To find out more, contact any SCCA official.

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Normal Play

Recording of Moves

How you record your moves depends on the tournament rules [above], the playing mode and the move notation you agree with your opponent. General guidelines:

  1. Playing Mode
    • Postal games normally use special manual scorecards or postcards, with examples at postal.
    • Email games may use an ICCF-approved template copied into the email, with examples at email.
    • Webserver games are automatically recorded by the server software, with an example at webserver.
    • If the players cannot agree on playing mode, the TD's ruling will be final.
  2. Move Notation
    • Algebraic notation is most popular [beware language variations], with examples at algebraic.
    • Numeric notation is required for some events, with examples at numeric.
    • Descriptive, Forsyth and Figurine notations are not recognised in CC.
    • If the players cannot agree on move notation, the TD's ruling will be final.
    • The primary agreed method denotes the game score.
  3. Move Commitment
    • For postal and email games, in no circumstances shall any valid move, once transmitted, be retracted or amended.
    • For webserver games, the Submit button allows you to view your chosen move, and the Commit button makes it final.

Repetition of Moves

For postal and email games, the opponent's latest move, plus any accepted conditional moves, must be correctly repeated to verify that it/they has/have been correctly received. This may be easily achieved if a full game score is being exchanged on every occasion (e.g. by using a postal scorecard or an ICCF email template), but where international postcards or shorthand email communications are used, the onus is on each player to write or type the necessary information before recording their own move(s).

If a move repetition is omitted, the player's move is deemed incomplete, and the opponent may insist that complete information is provided before replying. In this case, a corrected move(s) must be sent, and any penalty time recorded in line with the rules in the Exceptions section. If the problem recurs, the TD should be informed.

For webserver games, move repetitions are handled automatically by the software.

Conditional Moves

For postal and email games, it is permissible for a player to propose to their opponent one or more conditional moves. Whoever proposes the conditional move(s) is bound by it/them until the recipient makes a different move from that proposed. The recipient of a conditional move or sequence of moves is not bound to accept them, and may opt to accept only the initial move(s) of a continuation sequence.

For webserver games, conditional moves may or may not be available, depending on the software and the decisions of the tournament organisers.

Transmission Information

For postal and email games, each player shall record the following particulars against each move:

  • The date on which the opponent's latest move was received by the player.
  • The anticipated postmark or transmission date of the player's own move. This shall be corrected by the recipient if it does not correspond with the postmark or transmission stamp, which shall be kept as evidence. If the sender of a move does not accept such correction, they shall notify their opponent on their following move and at the same time notify the TD, otherwise the correction will be deemed to have been accepted.
  • The cumulative total number of playing days used.
  • Should the details required above be omitted, the recipient shall assume them, using average transmission times as a guide and notify the assumed times with their next move. These assumed times will stand unless the original player can produce proof to the contrary.

For webserver games, these details are automatically recorded by the software.

Playing Time Calculation

For postal and email games, the playing time used by each competitor for each move shall be the difference in days between the two dates recorded or assumed in accordance with the Transmission Information rule. All days will count, including days on which there is no postal collection, subject to the following exceptions:

  • At the start of a game, the player of the opening move shall be deemed to have had playing time equal to the difference in days between the official starting date and any later date of posting or transmitting their first move.
  • Conversely, moves played prior to the official starting date will not count towards playing time.
  • No time shall be counted for any reply posted or transmitted on the same day that the move is delivered.
  • Playing time will not be counted for any accepted conditional moves.

For webserver games, these details are automatically recorded by the software.

Recording of Results

For postal and email games, the result and score of each game shall be communicated by the winner, or by the player of the White pieces if the game is drawn, to the TD within seven days of its completion.

For webserver games, wins, losses and draws are automatically recorded by the software, and the TD is sent an email.

Any move postmarked or date stamped before the date fixed for adjudication shall be counted as a move made in the game. Play ceases on the adjudication date and the competitors shall try to agree upon a result.

If the competitors cannot agree upon a result, they must follow the adjudication process, as below.

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Approximately two weeks before the adjudication date of an event, you should try to agree a result with your opponent if your game looks like continuing after that date. In any event, you should not continue the game after the adjudication date unless permitted to do so by the TD. If the game does not impact on promotion or the award of a prize then the TD will normally recommend that the game continue without adjudication.

Where adjudication is necessary you should follow the process described below. Do not leave it for several weeks. Many players lose games simply because they do not make an adjudication claim - a significant number of games unfinished at the adjudication date have a claim made by one player only. In the absence of an opposing claim, the first claim will be upheld.

Adjudication Process

  • Make sure you know who to send your claim to - either the TD or your TC - and remit by webserver, email or post.
  • For games played by email or post include the full game score, a diagram of the final position and whose turn it is to move.
  • List any other details that are relevant - whether castling is still possible, an en passant capture is possible, etc.
  • State your claim clearly - win, draw or (unusually) loss.
  • Support your claim by analysis if there is no immediate winning move.
  • Claims must be received by the TD within 12 days of the adjudication date.
  • The TD will arrange an adjudication where both claims meet the above criteria.
  • Both players will be informed in writing of the decision.

Adjudication Appeals

  • If a player wishes to appeal against the decision, they must write to the TD (by Webserver, email or post) within 5 days of receipt of the decision.
  • The appeal letter must contain:
    • any additional analysis the player wishes to submit
    • evidence that the player's opponent has been notified (by copy letter or email)
  • The opponent is allowed a further 7 days to submit any additional analysis.
  • After the further 7 days is up, the TD will forward all claim and appeal documentation to the Secretary.
  • The Secretary will then request full analysis from the adjudicator, and will allow up to 14 days for its arrival.
  • The Secretary will then convene the Appeals Committee whose decision is final.
  • The TD will inform both players in writing of the Committee's decision.

Time Penalties for Incorrect Moves

For postal and email games, any incomplete, illegal, ambiguous or illegible move must be referred back to the sender for amendment or clarification. The player in error calculates his playing time for the move as follows:

  • The playing time used when sending the incorrect original, plus
  • The playing time used when correcting the move, plus
  • A penalty amount calculated from:
    • For 10/20 (postal) and 10/40 (email) time controls, an additional 2 days (4 days for any subsequent offence)
    • For 10/30 (postal) and 10/60 (email) time controls, an additional 5 days (10 days for any subsequent offence)

For webserver games, this type of problem does not occur.

No Reply from Opponent

For postal and email games, should there be no reply to any move by the 14th day from the send date, and no warning received from your opponent, the player should immediately repeat the latest move(s) by normal means.

Should there again be no reply, the latest move(s) should be repeated once more, using recorded delivery or registered letter (postal) or a further transmission (email - note that the read receipt facility cannot perform the equivalent function), with copies to the TC or TD.

Should it be claimed that a move has not been received, play shall continue on receipt of the repeat move. If play is not resumed, the TD will rule on the outcome.

For webserver games, the server automatically alerts the players and TD if reply guideline times are exceeded.

Loss by Time

For postal, email and webserver games, if a player exceeds the time control at any time, he has 14 days following that time control to resign and forfeit the game. During the same 14-day period, the opponent should submit a claim to the TD, and inform the player exceeding the time control of the claim, without waiting for a resignation to arrive. Failure to do so (e.g. by continuing play) will invalidate the claim. Claim guidelines are:

  • Evidence should be attached in support of the claim, including the scoresheet (or cards), postal receipts for moves sent by recorded delivery or registered letter, and email/webserver transmission records of date and time.
  • If a full scoresheet is not available, the claimant's own personal record of the game in question may be submitted instead.
  • On receipt of a claim, the TD will contact the defaulting player and establish any counter evidence for the claim.
  • If no valid counter evidence is produced within 14 days, the game will be awarded to the claimant.
  • If the claim is refuted by counter evidence, the TD will resume the game on a given date.
  • If the game is resumed, the claimant may incur a time penalty not exceeding the time lost as a consequence of the dispute.
  • The TD will confirm all decisions in writing to both players.

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Annual Leave

Each player may claim up to 30 days in each calendar year as annual leave. The time taken may be split or in a single amount as desired. Unused leave may not be carried forward to the following year.

For postal and email events, it is necessary to inform the TD and your opponents in advance.

For webserver events, leave may be booked in advance directly via the system, which informs the TD and opponents.

During a period of leave, playing time shall not be counted against the player on leave.

If a player on leave replies to a move during that leave, the leave is deemed to be finished from the date of reply.

Special Leave

To cater for unexpected and/or exceptional circumstances, and where remaining annual leave may be insufficient, the TD may grant special leave in addition to annual leave.

For all playing modes, representation must be made by the player or TC directly to the TD. If the TD agrees, special leave may be backdated.


For individual events, the withdrawal of a player (for reasons including illness and death) causes games in progress to be referred to the TD for adjudication.

For team events, the withdrawal of a player may be covered by the substitution of a reserve, providing the reserve has been notified to the organisers before the match starts. If no reserves have been notified, or all reserves have been used to cover earlier withdrawals, then unfinished games caused by the current withdrawal are scored as losses for that team.

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General Provisos

Discretion of the TD

Notwithstanding the above rules, the TD has the discretion to intercede in any dispute between players, to confront any player believed to be in breach of the rules, or to resolve any issue not covered within the rules.

In these circumstances, the TD is entitled to take any reasonable action including recommencement of play, forfeit, penalty or disqualification, deemed necessary based on examination of the evidence.

TDs also have the right to satisfy themselves concerning the progress or conduct of any game, and at any time may require that the game score and any correspondence connected with the game be sent to them within 14 days.

Appeals Against TDs

Any player who disagrees with the behaviour or actions of a TD has the right of appeal via the Secretary, who may present the appeal to an Appeals Committee if appropriate.

The appellant must appeal within 14 days of the TDs decision, and include any relevant evidence, plus an appeal fee equal to the adjudication fee currently in force.

An Appeals Committee will normally consist of no more than three persons, one of whom should be an experienced arbiter, and one an experienced player. None of the committee should previously have been involved in the case, nor be affected by its outcome. The Secretary presents evidence to the committee, but is not part of it. The committee will aim to make a decision with 7 days of receiving the evidence, and will inform all parties if the process is likely to take longer.

The decision of the SCCA Appeals Committee will be final. A successful appellant will have fees reimbursed.

Additional Rules

The Secretary shall have the power to invoke additional rules covering any specific issue which may better facilitate the smooth running of individual games, tournaments or matches, and to ensure that all competitors have equal opportunities. The Secretary shall notify competitors in writing of any such additional rules, and their scope and duration.

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