How To Join The PRO Chess League

How To Join The PRO Chess League

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Do you think your team has what it takes to win the $20k top prize and the title of PRO Chess League Champions?

By now you've read our announcement, and you can't wait to join the PRO Chess League, right? Not only do you think your city has a shot to win, but you also love the idea of competing against the best the world has to offer.

NOTE ON COVERAGE: All matches will be covered live on with hosts taking you from start to finish! League night (or day depending on where you are) is every Wednesday during the season, and shows begin around 11:00 AM Eastern / 4:00 PM GMT, and continue until roughly midnight Eastern / 5:00 AM GMT. Go to and check out the schedule for more details!

Are you a chess player looking to join a team? Apply to be picked up as a Free Agent here!

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about forming and operating a PRO Chess League franchise!

How do I form a PRO Chess League team?

  • Start by reviewing our application page: PRO Chess League Signup Form.
  • Upon form completion, league officials will inform you of whether or not we think you would be a good fit for the league.
  • The PRO Chess League is open to any city worldwide! 

How do I know if I'm a good fit for the league?

  • If you are from a large city and have a lot of titled players eager to play, you have great chances of being approved.
  • However, it takes more than just titled players! We need well-organized teams, with leadership (a committed manager), local fan interest, sponsorship support, and a commitment to winning!
  • In order to be considered for a PRO Chess League franchise, you’ll need to go to the application page, and let us know which city you are from, what your team will be called, a few of the players are on your team, and what your plans are to promote your team.

What are the requirements to form a team?

  • At the start of the season your roster can be anywhere from four to 10 players, but a manager can add more players throughout the season. You can also sub players in and out during a match!
  • The average rating of the four players you use in any single match must be under 2500 FIDE.
  • There are a few small bonuses that can raise your maximum average rating. Click here to read about them.
  • For each match, three of the four players you use must be local. The fourth player can be a free agent and therefore can be from and play from anywhere in the world.

What are the match format details?

  • Each match will consist of four players on your team facing off against four players on the opposing team.
  • The time control will be 15-minutes with a 2-second increment.
  • It will be an all-play-all format: All four players on your team will face all four players on the other team.
  • A full match should take between 120 and 150 minutes to complete. 
  • The matches begin on Wednesday Jan 11, and continue on every Wednesday until the end of March. Throughout the season, teams near the bottom of the standings will face each other in elimination matches.
  • Your players can play from their computers at home! They can also all play together from a central location
  • If you are located in a large city with many players to choose from, it’s possible for your city to have more than one team.
  • We will do everything possible to make sure the majority of your matches are in a similar time zone as your team. However on the rare weeks in which many matches take place out of the same time zone, the games are likely to be scheduled on Saturday instead of Wednesday.
  • We will have anti-cheating detection methods, and in some cases require extra security for players. Click here for more details on our anti-cheating plans.

Now you have read all of the most important information about joining the league. If you would like to know more specific details, feel free to read on below!

Local vs Free Agent Players:

  • What is a local player? The manager should submit the team roster and designate whether each player is local or a free agent. Each team can use one free agent at a time per match. A local player is someone meets one of the following requirements:

  • 1. Lives in or near the team’s home city.
    2. Lives within a two-hour drive of the team's city, and has some ties to the community (plays in occasional chess tournaments in the area).
    3. 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 in tournaments or for a club team in a given city. You 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. Also we may be more strict with high level GM's who could drastically change the competitive balance of a team and the league.
  • The league has absolute and final authority on what constitutes a local player. 
  • Please note that unless you are from a relatively small country, these teams are city-based and not country-based. So if you formed a team in Paris for example, your local players cannot simply be any French players, but should be close to Paris. 
  • The more densely populated your city is, and the more strong grandmasters that are already in the area, the less likely we are to allow players who live far away to count as local.
  • There are absolutely no restrictions on who can be a free-agent player, as long as they keep your team rating below the 2500 average.
  • You can have as many local players and as many free agents as you want on your roster; however only one free agent can play at a time.
Rating Bonuses:
  • The average FIDE rating of each team must be under 2500.00 (2499.75 is legal).
  • 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). This rule is to encourage teams to sign the best players in the world.
  • Female players will give a ten-point bonus to the team's allowable average rating. So if you have a woman in your lineup, your team’s average rating can now be 2510 FIDE. If you have two women, it can be 2520 FIDE and so on. This rule is in place solely because it is good for the league's marketability to have more women playing.
  • 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.
  • We will use the September 2016 rating list to determine FIDE ratings that will count towards your team's average.

Anti-Cheating Methods:

  • We will have methods in place to detect cheating, but cannot reveal the specifics on how they work.

  • If we are sure you are cheating, you will not be allowed to play in the league again and your team will be penalized.
  • In the more common scenario that 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 that the player uses a webcam to broadcast the physical playing site. Or we may require the player travel to the home of another player to play from there.
  • Anyone who has had results that greatly surpass their strength in or other online tournaments will be required to have an arbiter present. This information and the presence of an arbiter will not be made public to other players or teams.
  • Some players, chosen at random each week, will also be required to have an arbiter present. 
  • In the playoffs, especially the later rounds when the stakes are high, all players may be required to have an approved arbiter present.

Now that you've read all of this, you are definitely ready to form a team! A full list of the official PRO Chess League rules and regulations is coming soon.

Fill out your team's application here: PRO Chess League Signup Form.

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