USCF Correspondence Chess Rules - 2004 Revised Edition -
These rules superseded previous versions and apply to all
Correspondence Chess tournaments and matches starting
after December 31, 1991.
I undertake to conform to the rules and objectives of
USCF Correspondence Chess, to respond promptly to all chess
correspondence and to maintain a high standard of courtesy,
sociability, and good fellowship at all times in my contacts
with other members. I also understand that I have a responsibility
to complete my games.
Your Responsibilities as a Player
1. You must be a USCF member for the duration of your
play in any tournament.You must abide by the latest edition of
the U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess, except
when inappropriate for correspondence play. In case of conflict,
correspondence rules take precedence. You are responsible
for knowing the rules. By entering correspondence events,
you agree to follow directions of the correspondence chess
director (CCD), to respond to any legitimate inquiry, and to
provide requested information. Players must enter tournaments
only in their own names, unless approval for other
action is granted by the CCD. A player who withdraws may be
denied entry to new events. If you withdraw without proper
notice to your opponent and the CCD, it will be the decision
of the CCD as to whether or not you will be allowed to play in
another CC event.
2. You are expected to act courteously toward opponents.
The CCD will forfeit players who use abusive or insulting language
or who are disruptive. In case of conflict, you should try
to come to an agreement with your opponent.
3. You may consult chess books and periodicals but not
other players. You cannot use a computer or computer program
(chessplaying algorithms) to evaluate a game, but you
may use computers for record keeping and databases.
4. In case of appeals, retain all game records (including
move cards) for at least four months after receiving notice of a
game result. Otherwise, you may find yourself without a defense
to an opponent's claim.
5. Every day counts as reflection time including Sundays and holidays. For each 10 moves (1-10, 11-20,...) you have 30 days of reflection time.
You may carry unused time over into the next 10-move series. Reflection time is calculated for postal from the date the move is received until the date it is posted. For email it is calculated from the date your opponent's posts his/her move to the date you post a reply. You are charged a day of reflection time for each 24-hour period from the time the move was posted. Example, if your opponent posts a move at 11:50 PM on March 22nd, you have until 11:49 PM March 23rd to post a reply without being charged a day's reflection time. If your reply is posted at 11:55 PM on March 23rd, you are charged with one day of reflection time. If you post a reply at 11:55 PM on March 24th, you are charged with two days reflection time, etc. If you post or send your reply at 11:48 PM March 24th, you are charged with one day of reflection time. There is no transit time in email games
6. You must advise the CCD and your opponents of address
changes in advance or at the latest within seven days of vacating
previous premises. Also email address changes. If you
don't, five days will be charged as reflection time.
7. You must use English algebraic notation unless you and
your opponent agree on another system. All games shall be
conducted using written or typed correspondence unless otherwise
otherwise indicated. Transmitted moves, including conditional
moves, are binding if the moves are legal. If an illegal or
ambiguous move is transmitted as part of a conditional move
set, the moves immediately proceeding the illegal or ambiguous
move are binding. Missing or mistaken announcement of
check, capture, or "e.p." does not invalidate a move. Diagrams
or commentary have no significance in disputes over move
8. The USCF sells convenient postcards for sending moves
but you may use something else. Your move card must contain:
a. Names and addresses of both players;
b. Section and game numbers;
c. The previous move sent and your response;
d. For conditional moves, the move sent immediately prior
to the conditional move(s), all conditional moves you
accept, and your response;
e. Receipt and postmark dates of your opponents previous
move and the date of your reply;
f. Time used on current move by you and your opponent;
g. Current reflection time totals.
If you do not include "f." and "g." with your moves, you cannot
claim a win on time.
In the Golden Knights Finals, Absolute Championship, and
other events deemed appropriate by the USCF, there is also a
five-day penalty for:
a. Impossible, ambiguous or illegible move(s);
b. Failing to confirm your opponent's last move.
An impossible move is a move which cannot be played as
recorded.Notify your opponent immediately of your finding.
An impossible move or an illegible move in no way obliges the
player to move the piece in question. In a case of an ambiguous
move, the ambiguous move must be clarified and executed.
For example, if your opponent writes Nd2 and either Nbd2
or Nfd2 can be made, the person writing the ambiguous move
must execute Nbd2 or Nfd2. Clerical errors are binding and
once posted, can in no way be taken back.
9. To offer conditional moves, send them as a series of consecutively
numbered moves. To accept conditional moves,
acknowledge them as you would other moves. You can accept
a series of conditional moves in whole or in part. Conditional
moves are binding only until the next reply.
Example: you are responding to your opponent's second
move, 2. Nf3. You want to reply 2. ... Nc6 and offer two conditional
moves. Your card should have the following appearance:
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
If 3. Bb5, then 3. ... a6
If 3. Bc4, then 3. ... Nf6
A typical opponent's reply might be:
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Bxc6 ...
(or 4. Bc6 ...
or 4. B:c6 ...)
There is no penalty for misrecording an "if" move by the
10. If you intend to use more than 10 days on a single
move, you must tell your opponent within one week of receiving
his move. If you don't receive your opponent's reply within
normal transmission time plus 10 days, send a repeat.
Repeat moves must be labeled as such and must include all
information from the original move. If no reply after one
repeat see Rule 13.
Loss on Time Overstep
11. In Golden Knights Finals, the Absolute Championship,
and other events deemed appropriate by the USCF, if a player
oversteps the time control (rule #5), he or she will forfeit the
game. In Golden Knights Preliminary and Semi-final rounds
and all other USCF Correspondence Chess events (excluding
the Golden Knights Finals, the Absolute Championship, and
other events deemed appropriate by the USCF), a player who
oversteps the time control on the first occurrence will be
given a warning and penalized five days reflection time on the
succeeding 10 moves/30 day time control. If a player violates
the time control the second time, he or she will forfeit the
The following is an example of calculating a player's reflection
time after a time control overstep: A player has 30 days to
make moves 1-10 inclusive, 60 days to complete moves 11-20,
90 days to complete moves 21-30. A player makes move 18 but
uses 61 days, thus overstepping the second time control. He or
she is penalized five days reflection time. The five days are added
to the reflection time he or she has used (61+5) and the player
has 24 days to make moves 19-30.
12.You may take up to 30 days of excused time a calendar
year. Additional emergency time may be granted at the discretion
of the CCD.You must take excused time for all games in a
section. To take excused time, simply notify your opponents
and the CCD in advance. If you send a move, your excused
time ends immediately. If your opponent takes excused time,
you should respond to unanswered moves normally because
your reflection time is still counted.
Submitting Time Complaints
13. You may submit a time complaint when your opponent
has exceeded his or her allotted reflection time or has failed to
respond to a repeat move within 10 days, excluding transmission
time. Time complaints should include a full explanation of
14. Any dispute you cannot resolve or any claim of repeated
or willful rule violation must be submitted to the CCD.
Relevant evidence must be included. Whenever possible, continue
play while the complaint is being considered. Your complaint
a. Section and game numbers;
b. Names, ID numbers, and addresses of bothplayers;
c. Game score;
d. Supporting documentation (photocopies are acceptable
unless the CCD asks for originals).
Any complaint must be postmarked within seven days of
the time a person becomes aware of the alleged infraction.
Failure to comply with the above, including a, b, c, and
d, negates your claim.
Reporting Game Results
15. The winner must report the result to the CCD immediately
upon conclusion of the game. In case of draws, White must
report result. the It is a good idea for the other player to
submit the result, labeling it "duplicate report."
Reports must include section and game numbers as well as
the names and ID numbers of both players.
Thirty-Month Limit and Adjudications
16. A USCF correspondence game must end after thirty
(30) months from when the event begins. Either player may
submit the game for adjudication postmarked one week after
the tournament's end date. The player submitting the adjudication
must provide the following to the CCD:
a. The score of the game;
b. Diagram of the position before adjudication;
c. Claim of win or draw;
d. Any analysis to support claim (optional).
If neither player submits the adjudication material
within one week after the tournament's end date,
the game is scored as a rateable draw.The CCD is
not required to provide the basis for the adjudication result.
17. Once play begins, games are rated whether they conclude
normally or by forfeit. If your rating decreases by one or
more rating classes as a result of forfeits or withdrawals, you
will be required to enter prize tournaments in the rating class
you occupied before the forfeits.
18. The CCD may assess penalties for violations of these
rules. Penalties include, but are not limited to, informal reprimands,
warnings, reflection time reduction, forfeitures, or
withdrawal. Warnings are usually issued before more severe
penalties but the CCD may skip this step. Smooth and timely
completion of games is the main consideration. Penalties will
be assessed as necessary to accomplish this purpose.
19. You may appeal the CCD's ruling to the Executive
Director. Your appeal must be made in writing within seven
days of the ruling. US Chess, Attn: Bill Hall, Executive Director, PO Box 3967, Crossville, TN 38557.
20. A withdrawn player may be replaced at the option of
the CCD. There will be no replacement for a withdrawn player
against whom a win, loss, or draw has been scored in actual
play. A withdrawn player will not be replaced 60 days after
the tournament start date.
adjudication: A judge's determination of a game's result,
based on best play by both sides.
ambiguous move: A move in which two chess pieces of the
same kind can be transferred to a new square and the player
does not specify which chess piece. Example, knights on b1
and f3 can be moved to d2. The move "Nd2" is ambiguous
because it does not specify which knight is being transferred.
The correct transmission is either "Nbd2" or "Nfd2."
conditional or "if" moves: An attempt to save time and
postage by offering a plausible continuation beyond the
required response. Conditional moves are binding if the recipient
accepts the continuations. The game must then follow the
indicated continuation or any part accepted in sequence.
correspondence chess director (CCD): Official responsible
for the supervision and direction of a correspondence chess
English algebraic: Conventional algebraic notation with
abbreviations of the English names for the pieces : for example,
Nf3 or Ng1-f3 or Bc1-f4; "x" or ":" for capture is standard. A
full explanation of this system is available from the USCF
office. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
excused time: Time-outs when play is suspended for leaves
or for special circumstances with the approval of the CCD.
illegal move: A move which violates the rules of chess.
impossible move: A move which cannot be played as
Official Rules of Chess: Fifth edition, Chief Editor: Tim Just,
Editor: Daniel B. Burg
reflection time: The time between a player's
receipt of a move and the postmarking of his response.
time control: Each player must make 10 moves in 30 days
of reflection time. Time saved in a control carries forward.
Unusual delays within this limit warrant advanced notice to
transmission time: The time a move is in the custody of the
Postal Service, that is, from the postmark date to date of delivery
at the recipient's address.