Potomac Youth Chess League (PYCL): Rules

2023-2024 League Rules

These rules are subject to change before the start of the season.  Participants already registered will be notified of any such changes before the first round of matches begins.


1.  Any middle school in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (in one of the following jurisdictions: District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington County, Fairfax County, City of Falls Church, and City of Alexandria in Virginia) is eligible to join. Players must be registered students in the school they represent. Each school must have an adult coach, sponsor, or advisor, and a responsible adult must be present for every match.

2.  A team consists of four players for each match. The team may be different players from match to match. Players compete in order of strength, with the strongest player on board one and the weakest on board four.

3a.  The adult leader of the team must register the players who will compete for the school. The adult may register any number of players to be eligible to compete for the team for the season. The adult may add to the roster of players at any time but must register students at least one week before that student may play. The adult must designate the four players who will comprise the team at least one day before the match is played. Each team will be allowed a maximum of two last-minute substitutions for the six-week league to their 4-player matchday lineup.

3b.  Each school may provide their entire ‘school chess club roster’ (all players for that school) in advance for the entire season and add students as needed. Students will not be allowed to play in a match within the week they are added.

3c.  Rosters must include name, grade-level, phone number, and parent’s email address. Information for each eligible player needs to be submitted only once per season. Each student will need a lichess.org account that starts with the school code (the school code will be assigned by the league) and ends with the player’s first name. Players should not use their personal lichess.org accounts to play in the league, as that causes confusion and delays on match days. Players may use their league accounts to play games and solve puzzles outside of the league.


1.  The season will consist of matches on six Saturday afternoons at 4:30 pm. The matches will be played on January 6, January 20, February 10, February 24,  March 2, and March 16, 2024.

2.  Matches may not be postponed except with prior permission of the league administrators, and such permission will be granted only in unusual circumstances.

3.  All games are played on the lichess.org platform.

4.  US Chess Federation rules for regular tournaments, including rules enforcing integrity, will be used for all games.

5. For individual matches, there is no tie-break.  Matches are team versus team (i.e., the four-game competition between two schools). A team scoring more than two points receives one Match Point. If a team scores two points, the team earns half a Match Point. If a team scores fewer than two points, the team receives no Match Points. No student plays more than one game per match.

6.  For league results, if two (or more) school teams end up with the same number of Match Points at the end of the season, the administrators break the tie by counting Board Points (the number of games won for each team throughout the season): most wins breaks the tie. If the first tie-break does not provide a winner, the head-to-head results of the tied teams will be used to break the tie. If a third tie-break is needed, the strength-of-opposition tie-break is used in which the Match Points of the teams the tied teams played are added (removing the top and bottom scores) and the highest total wins the tie-break.


1.  On each match day, all players and coaches will join a Zoom meeting and be assigned to Breakout Rooms for each match. The time control for all games in the League is Game/10;+5 (meaning that each player has 10 minutes per game, plus an additional five seconds per move).

2.  The students will challenge their opponents on the lichess.org platform based on the assignments of the pairings. Students will play two games against their assigned opponent, one with each color. Results will be posted on the electronic pairing sheet made available to both teams. Integrity challenges may be made by coaches only.


The league will make appropriate accommodations for any student with a disability covered by the ADA on a case-by-case basis.


For questions please email ms-league@chessctr.org