Section One General

I. Authority

Constitution and by-laws of American Checker Federation by-laws, Section 3 Article VII: “Tournaments and matches involving national championships shall be played under a style of play (style of opening) and/or system approved and announced by the Executive Committee.  The ACF shall encourage GO-AS-YOU-PLEASE, TWO-MOVE RESTRICTION, THREE-MOVE RESTRICTION, MASTER RESTRICTION (11-MAN BALLOT), and any mixture of these that may contribute to the popularity of the game.  The European version of Pool Checkers or Spanish Pool is not to be promoted.”  These rules governing the 2016 National Tournament include those items approved by the ACF Board of Directors at its official meeting at the 1972 National Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, August, 1972, at the Board meeting at the 1980 National Tournament in Longview, Texas, August 16, 1980 establishing the formula for the split of prize formula between Master, Major, and Minor Divisions, by the mail vote of Master players in November, 1983 for the specific prize formula for their division and for use of the “Tough Deckfor their division, by player vote regarding games per round at 2014 Tennessee Open; and those items adopted by mail vote of the Executive Committee as dictated by the experience of the past National Tournament played at Swiss System.  This document also reflects inclusion of harmonized checker rules implemented by the World Checkers & Draughts Federation (WCDF) in 2008.

II. Purpose

An ACF National Tournament will be held to benefit all players, and to determine the U.S. National Champion until the next National Tournament.  Normally, the three-move restriction tournament will be bi-annual in the even numbered years.

III. Tourney Type and Entrants’ Qualifications

A.    Each open national tournament will consist of Master, Major and Minor Divisions, each having its own independent tournament.  All three tournaments (Master, Major, and Minor) will be conducted under the Swiss System rules detailed in Section Two.

B.     All entrants to the tournament must be ACF members in good standing for the year in which the tournament is held.  This requirement is over and beyond the entry fee established by the Executive Committee.  Entrants under 21 may be Association Members, but regular dues will be deducted from any prize money paid to an Associate.

C.     Entrants will, upon registration, classify themselves into one of the three divisions in which they will play – Master, Major, or Minor.

D.    All three divisions will use the three-move Ballot from the 156 standard openings officially approved.  

E.     Entry fees shall be $20 for the three classes.  Life members receive $10 discount on their fees.

IV. Classification and Seeding

A.    The winner of the Major division of any of these national tournaments will be required to play in the Masters Division for the next three tournaments.  The winner of the Minors will have to play in the Majors for the next three tournaments.  (This requirement was effective starting with the 1968 National Tournament.)

B.     A Tournament Seeding Committee will be appointed by the Executive Committee to administer and approve the classification of the entrants.

C.     Classification (Master, Major, or Minor) is based on player rating (with ACF ratings as the default rating system).  Division cutoffs shall be Masters: 2000 and above; Majors 1700 to 1999; Minors 1699 and below. If too few players are classified into the Minor Division, then those players will be combined into the Major Division.

V. Rounds per Day and Hours of Play

A.    General registration for Masters shall be complete on the evening prior to the first day of play.  Registration should be completed by noon of the first day of the tournament for Majors/Minors with pairings for all divisions to be made as soon as practical.  The Master Division will be paired first, then the Majors and Minors. There are two games per round.

B.     The Masters Division tournament will play twelve (12) rounds over four (4) days.  The Master Division will play three rounds each day, tentatively proposed as – 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  When another round is to be started on the same day, pairings for it will be made immediately following completion of the previous round.

C.     The Majors and Minors Divisions will play a total of ten (10) rounds.  On Day One, two rounds are played at 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  On Days Two and Three, three rounds are played at 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  On Day Four, two rounds are played at 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Where clocks are not used, and should a round not be finished in three (3) hours, the Referee may allow game to continue through the break period, but may need to propose a way to quickly resolve the game in order to promptly pair and start the next round.   

D.    There are no scheduled meal breaks in these periods for any of the three divisions.  Players must arrange these breaks by mutual arrangement with opponents.  Tournament games take priority over eating!

E.     Daily round times are subject to change pending other tournament or hotel activities.

VI. Penalties for Lateness

A.    In general, any player not on hand for the play within 30 minutes of the scheduled starting time for a round shall be forfeit one game, and shall forfeit two games if one hour late.  See instead rule B for lateness when using a time clock.

B.     The Referee shall have the authority to grant any player some delay if warranted by circumstances.  For a match where use of clocks is intended, the Referee shall have the authority to start a match-clock on any match unduly delayed by an unexcused, tardy player.  The clock will be started on that player after a suitable grace period (for example, 5-15 minutes) in the first hour.  The Referee may participate in choosing colors and opening when one or both players are absent.  When both players are absent, then two clocks should be started, one for each player.

VII. Officials and Committee

A.    The ACF President shall appoint an official Referee (Tournament Controller) for the tournament.  The Referee (with support from any approved assistants or scorekeepers, who can act on behalf of the Referee) shall have the authority to interpret and enforce these rules and the standard rules of the game.  The Referee shall decide all such matters in accordance with his/her understanding of customary practice and fair play.  Decisions of the Referee shall be final and binding on all entrants.

B.     The Referee will appoint an Adjudication Committee if and when adjudication is required for an unfinished game.  (See X.B(d) of this section).  The executive Committee shall appoint all other committees for the tournament.

VIII. Openings

A.    Matched players in a round shall ballot for the openings to be played by random draw from an approved three-move deck (156 Openings).  Players shall draw for colors (red or white) to start the first game, and switch sides for the second game of the round.  The same opening shall be played for both games of a round.

IX. Time Out

A player shall not leave the immediate area of the board during a game, except as officially excused by the Referee, other than to go to the toilet or for a smoking break.  In these latter instances, the clock shall be kept running.  A person appointed by the Referee may accompany the excused player.

X. Time Limit on Moves

A.    Master Division

a.       Each match in the Master Division shall be timed by “match clocks.”  The clocks will be set according to one of the following two options.  1)  At beginning of the round, 90 minutes will be set on both players' side of the clock.  Or 2)  (this option requires digital clock with appropriate program) 80 minutes + 10-second increment will be set on both players' side of the clock.  In other words, each player earns additional 10 seconds of time with each press of the clock.  If the players cannot mutually agree on which of these time options to use, then the decision shall be decided at random (e. g., coin flip).

b.      A player whose time expires forfeits the current game, as well as the next game if not started.  The clocks shall be paused between games, but the clock times shall not be reset prior to the second game.  Whatever time shows on the clocks at the conclusion of the first game is the time the player has to play the entire second game.  The number of moves made is not relevant with respect to time control. 

c.       Each player’s clock runs independently during his/her turn to move, and each player is charged independently with the obligation to complete his/her own games within the time allotment.  .

d.      As the game starts, Red’s clock is started, Red’s first balloted move is made, Red’s clock is stopped, and White’s is automatically started, etc.  Alternatively, the three balloted moves may be played prior to starting white's clock for white's second move.  It is the responsibility of the player making a move to stop his/her own clock; the player’s move is not legally complete until the player’s clock is stopped.  The Referee may also call attention to impending time trouble (5 minutes or less prior to a time control), and spectators are never to do so.  Time requirements are still the responsibility of the individual players, and continued inattention to proper clock operation can result in forfeiture of the game.

e.       The evidence of the match clocks shall be considered conclusive if there are not evident defects in the clocks.  The player claiming any clock defective must do so when the player becomes aware of the malfunction.

f.       If the game must be interrupted through the fault of neither player, both clocks are stopped.

g.      During the game, each player is required, either to:

                                                              i.      Record the game, including all jumps (not by “X”) on the official game sheet, or

                                                            ii.      Record the count of each of his moves on the numbered sheets.  Even though time clocks that have move-counters might be used, the game record or move-count record shall govern in case of conflict if, for example, a forty-move count is requested.

h.      Any player in time shortage (5 minutes or less) is not obliged to continue recording every move made in the game during that phase, but instead may place a tick on their score sheet after every move until the game is concluded.  When a flag has fallen or game concluded, the player must update their score sheet completely using standard notation.  If both players are in time shortage, the Referee can be present to keep a record of the moves made.  .

i.        Because the Master Division is open-ended without rigid round-ending time, it is important that the Master Division matches are not subject to the One-Minute Rule because of this mandatory use of clocks.

B.     Major and Minor Divisions

a.       Either the time clocks or the ordinary five-minute rule shall apply to timing moves.  However, since it is impossible to provide a timekeeper for every board, the players must observe the five-minute rules on their own.  Any player at any time has the right to ask for the timekeeper to conduct the five-minute rule for any match that he or she finds is moving too slowly.  A clock cannot be introduced into a game that is already in progress.

b.      If players mutually agree to use match-clock, or if the Referee assigns a clock, they shall observe all the clock rules of the Master Division given in X.A.(a-i) of this Section.

c.       The Referee will make every effort to prevent slow-moving matches by assigning timekeepers or match-clocks, as required.  But there may be unavoidable instances of a game not being completed toward the end of a game.  For these cases, the “Lowder Rule” (One Minute per Move) shall apply as follows: The Referee will warn the players 30 minutes before the end of the round time.  The Referee, at a later time of his/her choosing, will require each player to make a move within one minute of each turn to move.  The Referee will. at minimum, give a 10-second warning before the expiration of the minute, and will declare the game forfeited if the player has not moved within the one-minute period.  This ONE-MINUTE RULE is for the purpose of avoiding adjudication by enabling the players to reach their own result.

d.      For last resort cases, which cannot be decided even with the ONE-MINUTE RULE, the Referee shall appoint an Adjudication Committee of three expert players to adjudicate the result of an unfinished game that occurs when reaching the end of the scheduled round.  A high-level program may be consulted, but the entered position and move should be confirmed for accuracy.  Adjudication decisions are binding and final.  There shall be no appeal of “post-mortem” analysis permitted.  An adjudication win can only be awarded by unanimous vote of the Committee.

e.       No game shall be started later than 30 minutes before a round time is scheduled to end.  Any game, not started in accordance with this rule, shall be declared drawn.

XII. Recording of Games

Each Master player in each match has an obligation to turn in a legible copy of the games before the next round begins.  That is, both copies, one from each player, are necessary to permit crosschecking for recording errors.  Each player shall be responsible for verifying that the games and score for each round are turned in to the Referee, or prize money may become forfeited. Major and Minor players are not required to record their games, but are encouraged to do so.

XIII. Credit to Tournament Winners

A.    The player with the greatest number of Match Points shall be declared the winner of that player’s division.  If two or more players are tied in Match Points for each of the several positions down through the field, the total prize money for these tied positions shall be divided equally among the tied Match Point players, including first place.  When match points are tied, the final position standings shall be determined by computing Honor Points.  (Section Two - IV)

B.     If a first place tie in both Match and Honor Points occurs in the Master Division, the tied players shall be given an opportunity for a playoff.  Otherwise, a national co-championship shall be declared.

C.     The winner of the Master Division shall be recognized as the U.S. National Tournament champion until the next National Tournament.

D.    In the absence of a separate National Youth Tournament, the regular ACF member being 21 (or under) years of age who achieves the highest standing in the tournament shall be recognized as the U.S. Junior Champion until the next National Tournament.  An Associate Member shall not be so recognized.  Ordinarily, any position in the Masters would rank ahead of any in the Majors or Minors, and any Majors position over any Minors.  However, the Executive Committee will resolve any conflict between the positions of junior players competing in different divisions.

XIV. Prize Fund Distribution

A.    The split of prize money among the three divisions will be the formula approved by the ACF Executive Committee at the 1994 National Tournament.  However, it is recognized that subsequent funds may supersede this process.  For example, the Gene Lindsay Fund, effective 2008, designates additional prize money allocated specifically to the Masters division.

B.     The prize money paid to the winning positions in Major and Minor Divisions will be determined by a Prize Committee made up of members of that division, appointed by the Executive Committee.  They are to follow the guidelines approved by the ACF Executive Committee.

C.     The Executive Committee will appoint a Prize Committee who will determine Master prize distribution.

Section Two Swiss System Rules

I. Number of Rounds and Games per Round

A.    Unless otherwise noted, all three tournaments – Masters shall play twelve (12) rounds (Matches) consisting of two (2) games per round.  Majors and Minors shall play ten (10) rounds (Matches) consisting of two (2) games per round.

B.     All matches must be played to a decision.  NO AGREED-UPON RESULTS ARE PERMITTED.  Both players who are party to any such agreement shall receive zero (0) Match Points for that round.

II. Masters Match Point Awards  (Ballot Scoring instituted by vote for 3-move Nationals in 2012)

A.    Four (4) Match Points are at stake for each two game round.  A player winning both games is awarded four (4) Match Points, whilst the opponent is awarded zero (0) Match Points. A player winning one game and drawing the other game is awarded four (4) Match Points, whilst the opponent is awarded zero (0) Match Points. When both games are drawn both players receive two (2) Match Points. When each player has won one game each both players receive two (2) Match Points.

B.     In the final position standings, the number of games won will have no bearing.

C.     A player receiving a bye will receive four (4) Match Points for that round.  A forfeit is treated as a win for Rule A above.  A player winning a forfeited round (with no games played) will receive four (4) Match Points.

III. Majors and Minors Match Point Awards

Each game is scored two points for a win and one point for a draw.  There are four (4) Match Points available for each two game match played.  A player receiving a bye will receive three (3) Match Points for that round.  Two (2) Match Points per game are awarded for a forfeit, with four (4) Match Points awarded should the opponent fail to appear for both games in the round.

IV. Honor Points Awards

A.    At the completion of the tournament, positions tied in Match Points shall be sequenced by computing Honor Points as follows: Each player will receive as Honor Points the total of all Match Points of this or her opponents, excluding  the Match Point score of the lowest ranking opponent.  The object of this exclusion is to compensate for the luck of the paring in the early rounds; i.e. when strong players and weak players might be paired by chance.

B.     A player receiving a bye receives zero (0) Honor Points for that round.

C.     In computing a player’s Honor Points against an opponent who has dropped out of the tournament, the players receive as Honor Points the Match Points the dropout would have received if the dropout had completed the tournament, playing at the same rate.  The dropout is given a projected total for all rounds, but not to exceed 36 Match Points for Masters, or 30 points for Majors/Minors.  Dropouts often withdraw because they are playing poorly.  Thus, rule A, above, for computing Honor points often enables the dropout’s score to be discarded.  This computation for dropouts applies only to computing Honor Points for players finishing the tournament.  It does not alter, in any way, the actual Match Points scored by the dropout.  A dropout's final position is immaterial and need not be computed, as the dropout is not eligible for any prize.

D.    PLAYERS: IF YOU MUST WITHDRAW, LET THE REFEREE KNOW IN ADVANCE!!! This Swiss System permits the pairing to be adjusted for your withdrawal, but your name must be withdrawn from the pairing cards before a round is paired.  Otherwise, a forfeit or bye can be unnecessarily created in a round.

V. Pairings and the Bye

A.    First round pairings in all divisions shall be made by random draw among all players of the division or matching the top ½ of players based on FIDE with bottom ½ of players based on FIDE in order of FIDE.

B.     If there are an odd number of players in a division, the unpaired player out in the pairing process will receive a bye.  Only one bye will be allowed to each player in the entire tournament (except for a situation where there are more rounds than players).

C.     For the second and later rounds, pairings are made by draw among players with equal MATCH POINTS, starting with the highest accumulated totals.  Acceptable ways to pair players of equal match points are random pairings or FIDE pairings.  In rounds but the last round, if the drawing produces a re-pairing, that pairing will be broken and the drawing will be made again, until a fresh pairing is achieved in that Match Point group.  This may often require that one or more players be dropped to the next MATCH POINT group.  If so, those dropped down will be paired first.  In an odd-number group of MATCH POINT equals, the last name out drops to the next lower MATCH POINT group and is paired first in that group, with pairings always subject to fresh-pair requirements.  These procedures are used down through each set of MATCH POINT groups until all players have been paired.

D.    For the all rounds accept the last round, players who have been paired before will not be paired again, except for the two lowest pairings in the 2nd and 3rd to last rounds.  These may be paired again, if absolutely necessary, to prevent breaking pairings all the way to the top.

E.     For the last round, re-pairings are permitted and are sometimes required in the same MATCH POINT group.  If there are only two players, for example, in any MATCH POINT group, starting at the top, as before, these two must be paired; even though they may have been paired in an earlier round.  However, a fresh pairing, if possible in the same MATCH POINT group, has priority over a re-pairing.  That is, if there are three or more players in the class, no re-pairing is permitted if a fresh pairing is possible.  The object of the last-round re-pairing requirement is to enable the players chasing the leader to have the chance to overtake the leader in a head-to-head ‘FINALS’ match, though they have played the leader previously.

F.      For the last round of the Majors and Minors divisions only, players may notify the Referee that they elect to not play the last round, but leave the tournament early. Such notification must be given to the Referee before round pairings begin.  Players electing this option will receive a two (2) point score for that round (a drawn round).  Players must leave the tournament before last round play begins, or they will receive a zero (0) point score (forfeited round).

VI Alternative Pairing Methods

A.    At discretion of Referee or rules Committee, a round-robin type pairing method instead of Swiss, or in conjunction with Swiss, may be adopted for a division that consists of 12 or fewer players. 

B.     When round-robin pairing is used, scoring for withdrawn players will be handled as follows:  In the event that a player withdraws after the 5th round without forfeiting, the dropout's remaining opponents shall receive a score equivalent to a bye.  If a player drops out prior to the 5th round for Masters (or prior to 4th round for Majors/Minors), leaving an odd number of players in the division, then all opponents receive the equivalent of a bye for this scheduled round, including those opponents who played the dropout in the early rounds (their original match result is voided, but that original score will be submitted for ratings.).  Other more complicated dropout scenarios shall be handled at discretion of Referee and/or rules Committee.

Section Three Supplementary Rules

I. Standard Rules

The current standard rules of the checkers as published by the World Checkers & Draughts Federation, and as interpreted by the Referee, shall be in effect.  Rules in this document shall have precedence over the standard rules where there is a conflict.

II. Additional Rules for Conduct of Players and Spectators

A.    Smoking will not be permitted in the main playing area.  A smoker will be entitled to a five-minute smoking break between games.  Players may designate an isolated area for smoking and use when mutually agreeable, but smokers should also adhere to local indoor smoking ordinances.

B.     Persons using profanity in the playing room will meet with a warning from the Referee or from any member of the Board of Directors.  A board member must notify the Referee of the warning.  Should such profanity continue, the penalty will be disqualification for that round and until the individual ceases such behavior.

C.     Intoxication will not be tolerated in the playing room.  The penalty will be disqualification for that round and until the individual becomes sober.

D.    Participants should use checker equipment conforming to WCDF rules specifications.  Worn, off-color, or numbered checkerboards are discouraged and may be refused by the opponent.

E.     Players shall enter the playing room with appropriate dress.

F.      Excessive or disruptive talking is not permitted in the playing room when games are in progress.

G.    Players should understand that WCDF Rules require that a playable checker touched during normal play must be moved.  If the checker is moved in a definite direction, the move must be completed in that direction.  Any dispute in this matter must be reported to the Referee for resolution before the next move.

H.    Players should understand that no coaching, commenting, kibitzing, or interference with a game by non-participants will be tolerated. 

I.       Players are reminded that their first duty upon completion of a match is to report their score to the Referee.

J.       Electronic communication devices, or other devices capable of analyzing moves, are not permitted during play, unless authorized by the Referee, such as an official’s laptop to conduct tournament business.  ANYONE CAUGHT WITH A MOBILE PHONE RINGING DURING THEIR GAME WILL FORFEIT THE GAME.

III. Additional Rules for Illegal Moves

A.    In addition to illegal moves defined in WCDF rules Section 1.25, the following situations are also considered illegal moves when a player:

    1. On their turn to play, touches an unplayable piece unless done in accordance with WCDF section 1.22
    2. Jumps into the king row with a single piece and immediately jumps out
    3. Presses their clock before moving

IV. Additional Rules for Draw in Late Ending of Game

If nearing the end of a game (with adequate time remaining on their time clock) and the position in a game is even, a player whose draw offer has been refused has the power to ask the Referee to intervene.  If the Referee feels the position is even with little winning chances to either player with reasonable care, the Referee has the power to declare the game drawn, or else the game shall be continued to a normal conclusion.

VI. IRS Requirements

All players winning $600.00 or more in prizes must provide ACF with their Social Security number at payoff in order to file IRS Form 1099.  The American Checker Federation is a 501(c)3 non-profit (pending).

VII. Junior Youth Division Rule of Play

Rules of play for the one-or-two-day Junior Youth Division, as applicable, will be special, and will be explained at the start of the tournament.

VIII. Referee’s Pairing of Players

The Referee will pair players only in the playing room with assistant referee or at least two players to witness the pairings.  Alternatively, a program may be used, but it is advisable for the Referee to verify the software pairings conform to Section Two-V rules on pairings.  There will be no exception to re-pair or to change pairings for brother, sister, friend, or travel companion in early rounds or otherwise.

Section Four Amendments

I. Suggested Amendments

Suggested amendments to these ACF NATIONAL TOURNAMENT RULES must be mailed or presented to the ACF Executive Committee at least 90 days before the start of the tournament.  Any such changes will be adopted and inserted only on approval of the Executive Committee.  No additions or changes shall be made later than 60 days prior to the tournament.

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