Lichess4545 League Player Handbook

Hello! If you are reading this document, it means that you've just become a member of the Lichess4545 League - congratulations! No doubt you have a lot of questions about how the league works and what is going to happen next, this document aims to help answer some of those questions and provide everyone with the information they need to actively participate in this league. If you still have further questions after reading this guide, then don't worry! There is usually always someone in Slack who is more than happy to help out a fellow player, no matter the question. So feel free to join in the fun and enjoy your time in this amazing league!

A brief overview of the league

For those of you who just want a quick rundown of how the league works, then this section is for you! If you have any further questions about the league there is a reasonable chance that it'll be answered elsewhere in this guide, but for now here is a list of the basic points you need to know:

  • At the start of the tournament you will be automatically assigned a team and board position based on your classical Lichess rating. The strongest player on your team is placed on Board 1, the second strongest on Board 2, and so on.
  • Each week your team’s Board 1 player will play against the opposing team’s Board 1 player, and your Board 2 will play against their Board 2 (and so on). This ensures that you will be paired against a player with a Lichess classical rating that's fairly close to your own, which means that you're pretty much always going to get a reasonably fair contest.
  • The league operates in a Swiss-style format for eight rounds across eight consecutive weeks, and the team with the most match points at the end of the season become the league champions.
  • Each game must be rated and played with the 45+45 time control. Player colours are determined when the pairings are released.
  • You can find out what team you are on by checking the tournament website, and the league bot @chesster will-auto-generate a private Slack channel for your team.
  • Each game is scheduled directly between the players, which means you can play your games at a time and date of your choosing. @chesster will start a group message with you and your opponent. You should use that message for scheduling talks, and post the scheduled time in the #team-scheduling channel on slack.
  • If you have any trouble scheduling your match, contact your team captain for assistance as soon as problems arise.
  • Once the game with your opponent is finished, the game result will be picked up by the website - If it isn’t, try posting the game link in #team-games, and be sure to let a moderator know if the game still doesn’t register.
  • Before the tournament starts, you must choose a team captain and a team name.
  • Remember to have fun and enjoy the league!

If you have joined the league as an alternate player, please refer to the “Advice for Alternate Players” section of this guide.

Contacting a moderator

At any point before and during the league, you are encouraged to contact a moderator if you are facing any problem. If you have a problem scheduling with your opponent, you should contact your Captain (see "The Role of the Team Captain" below) but if your Captain isn't responding: contact a Mod. Do not contact mods DIRECTLY! You should post "@chesster summon mods" in the channel #general and wait for a mod to contact you. Never hesitate to contact us that way, it will ensure that any problem can be solved in a timely manner.

What to do at the start of the season

Now that you've joined the league, you're probably wondering what happens next. This section explains the key things that you and your team need to do before the league officially kicks off and Round 1 begins.

Check the main tournament website, lichess4545.com. This website is the main information hub of the league and can be found by looking at the pinned items section of #general or the #announcements channel on Slack. This is where the pairings for each week are posted, so please bookmark the site as you'll be referring to it frequently over the course of the tournament.

Meet your team. Your team channel will be automatically created when teams are released, get to know your new team-mates!

Once the team channel is set up and everyone is gathered together, the next thing your team needs to do is...

Choose a team captain. The main role of the team captain is to ensure that everyone is scheduling their matches in a timely manner and to help resolve scheduling issues when they do arise. Anyone on the team can be elected as team captain, but the most important quality that a team captain needs to have is to be an active and reliable participant in the league. An ideal captain would be someone who visits Lichess and the Slack multiple times a day in order to be able to rapidly respond to any issue that may arise. For more information about team captains and their duties, please refer to the "The role of the team captain" section of this guide.

Choose a team name. One of the most fun aspects of the league is the opportunity to choose a name for your team! Most teams opt for a name that features a clever chess-based pun such as "0-0 No You Didn't" or "Legalize Caruana". You need not restrict yourself to just chess puns though, as you can choose pretty much anything you want as your team name - within reason of course. Names such as "Kute Kittehs", "Dopey Doges" or "Kumiko x Reina OTP" will be fine. Your team name must be decided before the pairings of Round 1 are announced. By tradition, league players vote for the season's best team name in the end-of-season survey, with the winner usually announced on Slack and in the Lichess4545 Ledger (the community newsletter).  

In the meantime, wait for Round 1 pairings to be announced and enjoy the league!

 

The structure of the tournament

The Lichess 4545 League is a team-based Swiss tournament where teams of 6 to 8 players play against each other every week. The season lasts for eight weeks and the team with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned as league champions.

The teams are drafted at the start of the league with the aim of creating a fair and balanced league where every player has a reasonable chance of being paired against another player of a similar skill level. The strongest player on your team will be placed on Board 1, and every week that player will play against your opposing team's Board 1 player. Your second strongest player will be placed on Board 2, and every week that player will play against your opponent's Board 2 player. The same logic extends to every board on your team, which ensures that you should be playing against opponents with a similar Lichess classical rating to your own (usually within 100 points).

Players will automatically change board positions at the start of a round if their rating happens to become higher or lower than that of a teammate.

 

Lichess 45+45 league rules

Every game that is played in the league must be done so according to the following rules:

  • Every game must be played on lichess under standard chess rules with a 45+45 time control. That means that each player starts with 45 minutes on their clock and is awarded an additional 45 seconds to their clock after every move that they play. The game must also be rated - do not play your games in casual (unrated) mode.
  • Players' colours are decided at the start of each round when the pairings are released. Make sure you're playing with the correct colours before you start your game; depending on the circumstances, a game that starts with the wrong colours will have to be re-started.
  • If your opponent is more than 20 minutes late to your scheduled match, you have the right to claim victory. However, if you wish to reschedule the match with your opponent then you are very much encouraged to do so.  @chesster will automatically message the player who is online with instructions to claim a forfeit win after 20 minutes.
  • The use of computer chess engines is strictly forbidden. Players who use engine assistance will be caught and permanently banned from the league and from Lichess.
  • The use of chess databases and endgame tablebases is also strictly forbidden. You may use these tools prior to your game to prepare for your games, and you can use them after your game to further improve your analysis, but definitely not during your game.
  • As all league games are played on Lichess, you still have to adhere to the Lichess site-wide rules. Breaking any Lichess rules during a league match will result in the closure of your Lichess account.

For more details about the rules of the league, please refer to the official rulebook.

 

Scheduling your matches

Once the pairings have been announced and you've found out who you will be playing, you are required to directly contact your opponent in the Direct Message set up by @chesster and organise a time for your game to be played. When you do contact your opponent, please offer at least three reasonable windows of time in which your game can take place. You'll frequently be playing people in vastly different time-zones from your own, so try to be as flexible with your schedule as possible.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when scheduling your matches:

  • Games played under the 45+45 time control are usually concluded after 1-2 hours of play, though longer games (with 60 moves or more) can last up to around 3 hours (and even longer in very rare cases). Please expect your games to last up to 3 hours when planning your match.
  • Time-zones can often be tricky, and mistakes are easy to make. Always ensure that the agreed upon start time is 100% confirmed by both players and that there is no ambiguity as to when your game starts. Using UTC as a common time-zone is  a requirement in this league.
  • When communicating with your opponent, try to use plain or simple sentences wherever possible. Not everyone in the league speaks English as their first language, so keeping your messages easy to read can be very helpful during the scheduling process.
  • Use the 24-hour time format (e.g. 22:15 instead of 10:15 PM), it avoids a lot of unnecessary AM/PM confusion.
  • There are plenty of third-party websites and resources available to you that can aid you in the process of navigating multiple time-zones, we think a few good ones are:

As an example, a typical message that you might send to your opponent might look a little something like this:

"Hello, I am available Friday at 10:00 UTC, 17:00 UTC or Saturday at 18:00 UTC. Are you available to play at any of these times?"

Of course, the more times you can offer, the higher your chances of successfully scheduling a time will be. If you are unable to decide upon a mutually agreeable time for the start of your match, you must contact your team captain as soon as possible. Your team captain will discuss your issue with the league mods, and they will try to come to a reasonable resolution. Likewise, if you are away for a week, or are otherwise unable to compete, please let your team captain know as soon as possible, in order for an alternative player to be found that can play in your stead. You can also update your own availability using @Chesster - just Direct Message "@chesster availability 45" and use the link provided, or even go to https://www.lichess4545.com/team4545/availability/edit/ directly.

Once your game has been scheduled, please post the scheduled time in the #team-scheduling channel in Slack.

 

The role of the team captain

Before the tournament begins, each team must choose from its members a team captain. The main roles of the team captain are to:

  • Ensure that everyone on the team is promptly scheduling their matches.
  • Resolve any scheduling issues that may arise with the other team.
  • Act as a liaison between the team and the moderators.

Ideally, the person who is chosen to be a team captain should be someone who visits Lichess and Slack quite frequently (multiple times a day), so keep that in mind when selecting your team captain at the start of the tournament.

For the most part, being a team captain is fairly straightforward. But in the case where one of your team-mates is unable to compete during a round, it becomes the captain’s responsibility to ensure an alternate search is started by marking the player as unavailable on the website or by messaging @chesster in a DM ([player <player> is] {available,unavailable} during round <round-number> in <league>). The search progress can be monitored on the alternates page (accessible from the season roster page). If the player does not show up for their match and an alternate player cannot be found, the game for that board will be forfeited.

Don't worry if you’re a captain and this sounds a little overwhelming; there is a separate user guide that explains in detail how a captain is supposed to fulfil their duties, and it will be linked to every captain at the start of the tournament. And of course, the league mods will be more than happy to assist any team captain with any issues that may arise.

 

Advice for Alternate Players

Alternates are players who are not assigned to a team at the start of a season, but who nevertheless play a critical role in the league. Most get multiple playing opportunities during the season, and several are asked to become permament members of teams when existing team members drop out.

One may find themselves classified as an alternate (or "alt") for one of several reasons. Some players choose to register as alts. Others might have registered for the season a bit later than others, and others have registered after the team rosters have been announced.

When an established team player is unable to play a game, we look for an alternate (either permanently or temporarily) to join the team.

Alternates are placed on their own roster and are organized by board/rating on the roster page of the tournament website.  @Chesster always starts at the top of the list when looking for an alternate player, so players registered as an alternate earlier on during the tournament will be given priority to play first.

In the event that one of the established teams in the league does require a replacement player, an alternate player on the list will be contacted on both Slack and Lichess, and will be required to respond to these messages as soon as possible, by clicking the appropriate response on the message from @chesster. If the alternate player is unavailable to play, simply clicking the response to decline will be sufficient, and the search will continue. Once an alternate player accepts an offer to join a team, they will be placed in contact with their opponent for that round and be required to schedule a game as soon as possible. Alternates often (though not always) become permanent team members as team players drop out or are removed from teams. In the course of an eight-week tournament, there are typically many changes and substitutions.

Team players often have to be replaced quickly, and it is important for alternates to reply in a timely fashion.  If no reply is received within a reasonable timeframe, a new alternate is contacted.

Naturally, alternate players are welcome to be part of all the channel discussions on Slack. We suggest you check in frequently and stay active with our community as much as possible. If you would still like to play some competitive chess in the meantime, you should consider joining one of our other community leagues, for instance the LoneWolf 30+30 League (more info here).

Please also check out the full overview of all community leagues: https://bit.ly/35w1xqH.

 

Communicating on Slack

The Lichess 45+45 league uses Slack as its main communication platform, and every member is encouraged to check Slack as often as possible over the course of the tournament. Slack allows users to chat with each other, share files/links with each other, form sub-teams and otherwise collaborate with people around the world. You can access Slack through both your web browser or with the official multi-platform app, which you can download here. You can also use Slack at lichess4545.slack.com.

To sign in to the Lichess4545 Slack channel, you must first be invited to the channel by one of the league admins, but don't worry, invitations are distributed to all participants (via email) before the league begins. Once you have an invite, all you have to  do is simply log onto the Lichess4545 League Slack domain (lichess4545.slack.com) and you should be ready to go.

As has been mentioned earlier, the majority of league communication is done over Slack, and you should try and check the Slack chat as often as possible to stay up-to-date with how the tournament is progressing. For more information about Slack and how to use it, please check here.

An overview of the Lichess4545 League Slack

Once you've joined the Slack workspace, you will be automatically added to a number of channels that are used by the league on a regular basis. These Slack channels are the main method through which the league admins communicate with the players, it is important you understand what each channel is used for if you wish to stay up-to-date with the latest league developments. A description of each channel is provided below:

  • #general: Basically, anything generally related to the lichess 45+45 league belongs here. It's a fairly casual crowd so pretty much anything goes; questions about the league, discussions about lichess, lamentations of your games, words of encouragement and friendly banter between teams are all accepted in #general.
  • #team-games: This channel is where you can see the league games that are being played.
  • #team-scheduling: Once you have successfully scheduled a start time for your game, you should post that start time in this channel. Times posted get uploaded onto the main tournament website so that everyone in the league, especially your team-mates, can see when your game is scheduled. All times posted in this channel must be in UTC.
  • #captains: The #captains channel is a private channel that is only available to team captains to join. Team captains should use this channel to discuss scheduling issues with the league mods and other issues that arise.
  • #team-games and #team-scheduling can have a lot of notifications. You can set them to notify you only when your username is mentioned.

These are the most important channels that you will likely need to interact with over the course of the season, but you should also check out the previously mentioned league overview page (https://bit.ly/35w1xqH), which lists all current community leagues as well as a selection of popular Slack channels.

 

How to report players for cheating

The 45+45 league mods work closely with Lichess moderators to ensure that everyone playing in the league is playing fairly and honestly and in accordance with both the league's rules as well as Lichess's fair play rules. Be assured/warned that a close eye is kept on any suspicious play. If you suspect that your opponent is using engine assistance, you should report them on Lichess using lichess.org/report. You may also report your suspicions to both your team captain and the league mods, and, for their part, team captains should report any suspicions to the league mods. Note, however, that the league mods will not directly investigate any suspicions or accusations of cheating concerning league players. Lichess has robust cheat detection methods, and all reports will be handled - and subsequent decisions taken - by the Lichess moderation team.

We take cheating accusations very seriously in this league and make every effort to ensure that the league is as cheat-free as possible. Players that are determined to have cheated will have their Lichess accounts permanently banned. The league mods are notified when this happens, so any games played by these players during the current season will be forfeited.

 

Are there any prizes?

The 45+45 Team League is free to enter and offers no cash prizes.

 

Who runs the league?

The league is run by a group of passionate chess fans that volunteer their time to ensure that the league operates as smoothly as possible. Although Lichess moderators support the league's moderators in various ways, and some Lichess staff members play in the league, the league is not officially affiliated with Lichess.

If you have any troubles or questions, don't hesitate to ask a league mod in Slack, as they'll be more than happy to help you out.

 

Other community leagues 

As the name suggests, when the Lichess4545 community was founded in 2015, there was only the 45+45 league. Over time, however, as the number of participating players increased, more and more leagues sprang up to serve the community's insatiable hunger for the game. In addition to LoneWolf, the first of these leagues, we now have a range of leagues that cater for a wide variety of interests: Chess960, blitz, rapid, classical (90+30), correspondence, blindfold...you get the idea! Check out the overview for more details.

 

General tips and advice

If you are new to playing in the league, playing online, or just playing longer games in general, then here is some advice to consider that could improve your league playing experience.

Try to actively participate in your team's private Slack channel. Keeping in touch with your friends, congratulating them on their wins and supporting them in their losses is a great way of building team spirit and boosting morale. Even just being present in the Slack chat - making jokes and messing around - is a great way to keep the league fun.

Spectate your teammates' games. It's always good to support your teammates when they play. When each of their games begins, a link to the game will be posted in your team's channel; the result is also posted when games finish. You can also check everyone's scheduled start time on the team's pairing page (which should be linked in the topic of your team's private Slack channel), on the league-wide pairings page, and on the Lichess4545 TV page (where you can also filter by league, board and team). Moreover, you can also download a calendar (.ics) file from your team's pairings page (also linked in your team channel's topic). This may be imported into your calendar of choice (eg Google Calendar), allowing you to set notifications in advance of your team's games.

Study your opponent’s games. Most league players take at least a little time before each game to look up their opponent's games to understand their preferred openings. Undoubtedly the best and most popular resource for this is OpeningTree, which allows you to to analyse the games of anyone with a Lichess or chess.com account (and also accepts PGN files). The value of doing at least some preparation cannot be overstated. Often it can help you avoid dangerous opening traps, dodge your opponent's pet opening lines, or steer the game towards positions that you're more comfortable in. There's no need to go overboard - you don't need to memorise multiple 20-move variations every week! It's just helpful to have at least some idea of what to expect in your game.

Play practice matches against your teammates. If you see that your opponent plays a certain line in the Sicilian and you want to try out a new line against it, why not try and get your teammates to help you out? Playing practice games with your teammates not only helps to build camaraderie, but can also help you train against lines you are likely to come up against in your actual league games.

Take your time. Games played with the 45+45 time control are not like bullet or blitz games where you have to play a move and hope that it's tactically sound because you didn't have time to calculate the consequences. A normal game in this league can last anywhere between one and three hours, so you should have plenty of time to analyse your position and assess whether the variations you calculate actually work. Also, try to avoid playing for tricks like you might in a bullet game. With such a long time control, your opponent is likely to see through your trick and find the best way to punish it.

Avoid unnecessary piece sacrifices. One of the most common mistakes that you'll see in this league is for a player to go for a flashy looking sacrifice that may look dangerous, and which in a bullet game might even result in a win, but is objectively unsound. If you ever find yourself wondering whether you should sacrifice a piece or not, the answer is almost certainly no. The problem with playing these moves in a game with such a long time control is that it’s highly likely that your opponent will have the time to correctly defend the position. Just to be clear, if the sacrifice is sound then by all means play the sacrifice, but you need to be absolutely certain that it's a winning move. There's no worse feeling than losing a game that you could have won simply because you didn't take the time to calculate your sacrifice properly.

Greet your opponent at the start of the game. When you accept a challenge from your opponent, the clocks will not start counting down until both players have made their first move, so take some time and talk to your opponent before the game properly starts. Ask if they are ready to continue and wish them well before the game commences fully.

Stay positive! Try to always remain positive - even if your team is on a grim losing streak. Above all, avoid blaming others for what you perceive as poor play. Playing in this league is supposed to be fun, and it is not fun to be criticised by your teammates after making a massive blunder. Nothing hurts morale faster than nasty blame games, so please remain positive and encourage others to do the best they can.

Watch other league games. You can check out all the league games currently being played on the Lichess4545 TV page. At peak times during the 4545 season - typically on the weekend - there will often be up to 20 league games happening at the same time. (The record number of league games played on a single day is 79!).

Make your comments easier to follow. This advice applies to anyone who likes to comment on their own or other people's games (see also the whisper advice below). To make comments easier to follow for both other spectators and the players themselves (when they see the chat after the game), many league members install the Lichess.org chat/whisper with move numbers extension for Chrome (link) and Firefox (link), which automatically adds move numbers in front of chat messages. This helpful extension has been developed by timothyha (longtime league player, team captain, and LoneWolf moderator),

Whisper your thoughts during your games to spectators (optional). If you're new to the league, before long you may notice that some players like to post their innermost thoughts on their games while they're in progress. Players who do this are using the whisper function on Lichess, which allows players to "whisper" thoughts to spectators during the game by typing /w at the start of a message (eg "/w I don't like my position!"). Neither player can see any whispered messages - including their own - until after the game. Importantly, text that is to be whispered will turn bold green after one types /w - this should be noticed before sending a message, as otherwise the message will be sent directly to the opponent instead! Whisper freely if you want - it's completely normal and is commonly seen in league games. Some players whisper to record their in-game thoughts to aid their postgame analysis, while others simply like to broadcast their thoughts to the world. Just remember to type /w first (also, /whisper works just as well as /w).

 


Last updated: January 2021. Contributors: GnarlyGoat, MrScribbles, izzie26