The UKCC reserves the right to make amendments to the rules during the competition to protect the integrity and competitive fairness of the competition.


The UK Chess Challenge is a chess competition for children resident in the United Kingdom (and British crown dependencies) up to the age of 18 years old. Players born before 01/09/2002 are not eligible.

It is a multi-stage event with qualification required at each stage to progress.

1)            Megafinals
2)            Gigafinals
3a)          Terafinal – Preliminaries
3b)         Terafinal – Grand Final

There will also be a separate blitz championship and a ‘variants’ championship. The rules for these events will be published separately.

Online Chess

Stages 1-3a of the Challenge will take place online on our partner’s chess playing platform

Lichess is an extremely popular chess website where it is possible to play many forms of the game as well as learn new ideas and strategies. All of its features are completely free which sets it apart from other similar sites.

All players wanting to take part in the challenge must create a lichess account AND join the UK Chess Challenge 2021 team. Full instructions will be given on how to do this as part of the ‘on-boarding process’ following registration.

It is the player’s responsibility to ensure they are familiar with the lichess interface. Player’s should ensure they have a robust internet connection (and preferably a backup). If a player disconnects from the server they must try and reconnect as soon as possible. Player’s may be forfeited for disconnections.

Age Categories

For the purposes of the 2021 competition ages will be calculated as at 31/08/2020.

The challenge is separated into 5 age group categories; under 8, under 10, under 12, under 14 and under 18. The child will play in this age group for the entire competition. The only exception to this is the Terafinal where players may nominate themselves to play in a higher age group if they wish.

Some tournaments may have merged sections age groups where players from two or more year groups compete together.

Dates of birth mapped to age categories can be found at the following link

Fair Play Policy

A condition of entry is that all players should read and adhere to the Online Fair Play Policy. A copy can be read here

Player’s will be retrospectively awarded a full point for games where it later transpires that their opponent’s were not playing fairly. Therefore the standings as published by lichess at the end of the tournament are only provisional and subject to change.



Season Ticket holders have the opportunity to play in 3 Megafinals across 3 separate weekends – though if a player qualifies from a megafinal they are not permitted to play in subsequent megafinals. Value Pass holders may play in ONE megafinal only.

Players must play in their correct age category event (ie U8, U10, U12, U14 or U18). Megafinals will be split into gender groups where numbers permit (ie ‘all boys’ and ‘all girls’ sections).

Players who enter tournaments they  are not eligible for may be disqualified from the entire event.

Tournament details

Megafinal Weekend 1 (12th and 13th June)
Megafinal Weekend 2 (19th and 20th June)
Megafinal Weekend 3 (26th and 27th June)

6 round Swiss
Time control: 10 minutes plus 5 seconds per move

To qualify for the Gigafinal players must reach the following “qualification scores”:

Under 8 Megafinal:
Under 8s              4
Under 7s              3.5

Under 10 Megafinal:
Under 10s            4
Under 9s             3.5

Under 12 Megafinal:
Under 12s            4
Under 11s            3.5

Under 14 Megafinal:
Boys      4
Girls     3.5

Under 18 Megafinal:
Boys      4
Girls     3.5

Ties will be split using the UKCC tiebreak rules (see end of document).

The organisers reserve the right to adjust these criteria at any point in the best interests of the competition.



Each player has the opportunity to play in 2 Gigafinals across 2 separate weekends – though if a player qualifies from the 1st Gigafinal they are not permitted to play in the 2nd gigafinal. Players must play in their correct age category event (ie U8, U10, U12, U14 or U18). Gigafinals will be split into gender groups where numbers permit (ie ‘all boys’ and ‘all girls’ sections).

Players must have qualified via a Megafinal (or from the Schools Online Chess Challenge). The only exception to this is for those players eligible for a “Fast Track” entry.

“Fast Track”

Players who meet the strict grading requirements may enter a Gigafinal via the “fast track” route. The requirements are based on ECF ratings (players may use the higher of the rapidplay or standard) and are age group related.

A list of age categories and corresponding fast track grading requirements can be found here Age Categories 2021 | Delancey UK Schools’ Chess Challenge

Fast track entry will be subject to verification by the UKCC team. Applications to be made by email to

Tournament details

Gigafinal Weekend 1 (3rd and 4th July)

Gigafinal Weekend 2 (17th and 18th August)

7 round Swiss
Time control: 10 minutes plus 5 seconds per move

To qualify for the Terafinal players must either:

  1.  finish in the top 5 of their year group OR
  2.  reach the “qualification score” (see below)

Qualification scores:

Under 8 Gigafinal:
Under 8s              6
Under 7s              5.5

Under 10 Gigafinal:
Under 10s            6
Under 9s             5.5

Under 12 Gigafinal:
Under 12s            6
Under 11s            5.5

Under 14 Gigafinal:
Boys                      5.5
Girls                     4.5

Under 18 Gigafinal:
Boys                      5
Girls                     4

Ties will be split using the UKCC tiebreak rules (see end of document).

Terafinal – Preliminary (online)


Players must have qualified for the Terafinal via a Gigafinal. The Terafinal Preliminaries take place over two days on the weekend of 5th and 6th September (every player plays both days).

During this event more stringent conditions will be in place and the organisers reserve the right to insist players are using a camera. Further details will be published prior to the event.

Tournament Details

9 round Swiss (5 on Saturday, 4 on Sunday)
Time control for all games is 15 minutes plus 5 seconds per move
5 sections – mixed gender

After 9 rounds the final standings will determine who qualifies for the Terafinal – Grand Final. Ties will be split using the UKCC tiebreak rules (see end of document). The number of players qualifying in each age group section will be as follows:

Top 2 boys, top 2 girls and then the next highest 8 players (12 total)

In addition 4 wildcard places will be issued (in total – not per section) taking the total number of Terafinal Grand Final places to 64. These wildcard places will be nominated by qualifying chess organisations. The player must have competed in the 2021 UK Chess Challenge.

Terafinal – Grand Final

The Terafinal – Grand Final will take place over the board over the weekend of 9th and 10th October.

Time control for all games is 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move.

Saturday – 7 round swiss

The top two players will qualify for the final match on the Sunday. The remaining players will play a further 4 rounds in the swiss to determine the remaining prizes.

Final Match

4 game match. If tied after 4 games an ‘Armageddon’ game will be played to determine the winner. In an Armageddon game the players flip a coin to determine colours. White starts with a time advantage but in the event of a drawn game the player with the black pieces wins the match.


There will be a minimum cash prize fund of £1,000 and a maximum of £3,500 dependent on entries. Trophies and medals will also be distributed during the Megafinals and Gigafinals.

Tiebreak Rules

For online events swiss tiebreakers will be determined by the prevailing lichess algorithm that is in place during the tournament.

For over the board events the following tiebreak system will be used:

1) Direct Encounter
2) Median-Buchholz
3) Buchholz Cut 1
4) Buchholz
5) Drawing of Lots

If at any point the number of players involved in the tie is reduced by applying one of the above tie-breaks from 1 to 4, then the remaining tied players should be split by the same procedure, starting back at 1. Direct Encounter.