PRO Chess League Qualifier Official Rules

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Below you will find the official rules of the PRO Chess League's Annual Qualifier tournament:

Fair Play and Observation:

  • Teams must choose a trusted and impartial arbiter to be present for the qualifier. This arbiter must be approved by League management. The arbiter does not need to be physically present but must be connected online.
  • Each team will be connected via a video conferencing service (TBD) with an arbiter who will be part of a group call and can monitor them as they play. It is likely that we will also assign Fair Play Monitors for each team.
  • Throughout the event, the league may ask to insert one of the Chess.Com Fair Play Monitors on any particular player.
  • Webcams for all players are required and the league may ask for a screenshare of any player during the event at anytime.
  • If it is determined that any player for any team has violated the Fair Play Agreement, that entire team will be ineligible to play in the 2018 PRO Chess League season. Individual players who were part of that team, but were not involved in any violations, will still be permitted to play for other teams during the PRO Chess League season.
  • No individual results will be overturned if we determine there were any Fair Play violations.

Team and Player Submission requirements:

  • Teams are required to submit four players to compete in the qualifier, all of whom must play in the same qualifier.
  • The average rating of those four players must be below 2500 FIDE using the September 2017 FIDE Rating list. Classical ratings will be used.
  • The average rating for your four players must be above 2300 FIDE.
  • If you are an individual player who wishes to find a team to play for, please fill out the following form. - Free Agent Form

Rating exceptions:

  1. Anyone above 2700 counts only as 2700 toward the team rating.
  2. Female players should have 100 points subtracted from her rating when calculating the team average. Therefore, if you use a player rated 2200, her rating will count as 2100 for team average purposes. "We acknowledge that the male to female ratio is heavily skewed in the chess community and therefore this rule exists solely for the purpose of encouraging teams to include more women on their rosters," PRO Chess League Commissioner IM Greg Shahade said.
  3. Every player, regardless of individual rating, will count at a minimum of 2000 toward the team’s average rating. For example a player rated 1950 will count as 2000, while a female player rated 2050 will count as 2000. 

Free Agent and Local Player rules:

  • Each team will be allowed to have only one free agent on their roster for the qualification tournament. This player does not need to have any local affiliation with the team in question. The other three players are required to have some clear local affiliation with the team as detailed by the official PRO Chess League Rules page (rule A.3.1).
  • Any player who participates in the qualifying tournament but whose team fails to qualify, will be permitted to play for any team during the 2018 PRO Chess League season. However if your team does qualify, you must play for that same team during the 2018 season.

Divisional Breakdowns:

  • The league will decide which “divisions” each team is qualifying for, which is largely based on the time zone of your team’s location.
  • The league will decide whether your team competes in the Central/Eastern division qualifier, which will be mostly comprised of European, African and Asian based teams, or if your team be playing in the Atlantic/Pacific qualifier, which will be mostly comprised of teams from the U.S.A, Canada, South America and perhaps some places in Asia.
  • The qualifier for the Central/Eastern division will begin at 8 AM Pacific Time on October 28th 2017, and the qualifier for the Atlantic/Pacific divisions will begin at 1PM Pacific Time on October 28th 2017.
  • The regular season starting times for the Central/Eastern division qualifier will be in the 8AM-12PM Pacific time range. The regular season starting times for the Atlantic/Pacific qualifiers will be in the 3-7PM Pacific time range. There will be no exceptions to this.

Event Format:

  • The events will each be a 15-round individual Swiss with a time control of 3 minutes plus 2 second increment.
  • Scores are determined by adding up the sum of the scores from all four team members. Note that it is not four-versus-four (team against team) like during the season itself. 
  • This means you may have to play your own teammates during the tournament, in which case your team is guaranteed one point from the game.
  • The top three scoring teams for each qualifying tournament will automatically qualify for the 2018 PRO Chess League Season.
  • Each team may have just ONE team in the qualifier event. If there are multiple teams from the same area competing, we will take steps to make sure that these are both independent teams with different management and that there is no potential for collusion.


  1. If there is a tie in the standings, the tie will be broken by that team which has the highest individual scorer.
  2. If that is still a tie, the tie will be broken by that team which has the second-highest individual scorer.
  3. If that is still a tie, the tie will be broken by that team which has the third highest individual scorer.
  4. If there is still a tie, the tie will be broken by that team that has the highest actual average FIDE rating using the September 2017 rating list.
  5. In the unlikely event that it is still a tie, there will be a 24-hour fan vote to break the tie.

Fan Vote Qualifiers:

  • One team from each qualifier will earn a spot via this fan vote.
  • This fan vote will include three teams who competed in the qualifier but failed to automatically qualify: The 4th, 5th and 6th place teams.
  • The league will give a short time for teams to advertise the vote and motivate their fans. Then the league will release an official poll that will last for 72 hours on the home page.
  • The teams that finished in a higher place in the Qualifier will be listed first in the voting poll.
  • We reserve the right to change these rules if we believe it is for the best of the Qualifier. Any change will be announced well in advance of the start of the tournament (minimum 72 hours), and might result in the removal of the Fan Vote and simply allowing the top 4 to automatically advance to the PRO Chess League, or including only the 4th and 5th place team in the fan vote.
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