The 2020 Atomic World Championship Rules

The 2020 Lichess Atomic Chess World Championship

1. Scope

1.1. The Lichess Atomic Chess World Championship for 2020 is to open the registration period on 1 August 2020. The registration period will end at 00:00 UTC on 1 September 2020. The first round of matches will commence at 00:00 UTC on 7 September 2020 and continue until a world champion has been determined per the tournament format.

1.2.1 The Head Tournament Director (TD) is Chronatog.

1.2.2. The Assistant Tournament Director is ijh.

1.2.3. Additional tournament staff assisting are ProgramFox and others.

1.3. The rules for the gameplay of said game can be found at GICS/FICS style rules (check applies) take precedence. The kings may move next to each other.

1.4. The games will be played at – disputes about the application of the game rules and any issues with the implementation of the rules must be addressed by the site administrators and programmers. However, if it causes a significant issue during a game played in the Championship, the Head Tournament Director may offer whatever resolution they see fit.

1.5. Any unforeseen circumstances that may arise or situation not covered within the rules and regulations set out therein shall be referred to the Head Tournament Director for the final decision. Their decision is binding and final.

2. Format of the Championship

2.1. The format for the 2020 Lichess World Atomic Chess Championship shall be a modified knockout format with a cut to a double elimination knockout top 8. The tournament main draw shall have either, 16, 32, 64, or a multiple of 64 players. If the number of entrants is below 16, the tournament will not occur. If the number of entrants is equal to 16,32,64 or a 64* number, then all players will play in the first round. Otherwise, the first round will involve the lowest seeded entrants and eliminate the required number of players for the new total of players to be the highest possible number out of 16,32,64, or 64* players. If a player loses a match prior to the top 8 cut, they are eliminated. After the cut to the top 8, if a player loses a match after that point, they enter the loser’s bracket and if they lose another match, they are eliminated from the tournament. The tournament ends when there is only one player remaining that hasn’t been defeated in two matches. The initial pairing will have the top seed playing the bottom seeded player (ie: in an 8 player event, 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5). There will be no randomizing of the initial draw in the 2020 event. The Top 8 will have their matches set up from highest seed to lowest seed, whatever seeds those may be (ie: 3v60, 5v55, 6v30, 8v16). Your AWC seeding is to be determined by your seeding rating in rule 7.1.1.

2.2. Withdrawals shall be handled in accordance with the policy as described here.

2.2.1. Any withdrawals prior to 1 September 2020 has no penalty associated with it. Withdrawals after this point but prior to the FIRST round of the tournament has a show-cause penalty attached to it (a very good reason must be provided to the TD in order to avoid a 1-year ban on participation in the AWC). Any withdrawal after completion of the first round and before the top 8 begins as long as notification is provided to both the TD and the opponent to grant them a “walkover” will have no penalty attached to it. If you simply do not show and disappear, then a 1-year suspension penalty may be issued, depending on the circumstances. A withdrawal in the top 8 before the first round of games in the top 8 will have no penalty, but your opponent immediately prior to the top 8 will replace you in the top 8. After that point, no penalty will be issued as anybody withdrawing that late in the tournament must have something happening that takes precedence over their participation. Any withdrawals due to disqualification for use of chess engines or cheating during their games will lead to immediate expulsion and a lifetime ban from all AWC tournaments, along with their names published on the public blacklist. Being disqualified for non-cheating reasons (such as repeated verbal abuse or unacceptable behavior in public) will lead to expulsion and a minimum of a 1-year suspension from AWC tournaments, with each incident being handled on a case by case basis.

2.3. Disruptions to the tournament (due to disqualification or other factors) will be handled in accordance with the policy mentioned in 2.2. In the case that the scenario is not addressed by the policy as set forth, the Tournament Director shall make a decision regarding the event.

3. Eligibility of Entrants

3.1. The eligibility rules for the entrants must address the following items below:

3.1.1. The player must understand that this event requires a time commitment from them. If they have no previous experience with events with set time formats and arranging matches, the player may be placed into a provisional or non-preferred list at the TD’s discretion. A contact method with timestamping must be available for use for the TD and other players.

For the 2020 Lichess Atomic World Championship, a player must be able to communicate with another player via private messaging on the Lichess site. If you cannot communicate with another player in this method, you will not be allowed to participate in the tournament. If one player is muted, they may use another account that they must register with the TD solely for the purpose of arranging matches. If one player is blocking their scheduled opponent, they must unblock them to arrange the match and then to play their match. They may then block them again after completion of said match. If by chance they are scheduled to play again, then they will need to repeat this process as many times as needed until all matches have completed.

3.1.2. If a minimum rating, number of games, or other numeric factor is required for player eligibility (eg: 2200 rating, 100 games, RD 80 or below) – those thresholds must be listed as part of the eligibility rules published.

A participant must apply to join the 2020 Atomic World Championship only once and only using their “primary” account upon which they wish to have the championship trophy displayed on. You cannot use an alt and then demand the trophy be awarded to another account. You must be using the account you wish to receive the championship trophy on. You must have played at least 250 rated atomic chess games on Lichess. The account you are registering with must have existed on Lichess prior to 1 January 2020 (waivers can be provided if you have had previous alts and are actively playing the current account and have exceeded the 250 game requirement). You must have had an established rating at at or prior to August 1, 2020. At least twenty-five rated atomic games on Lichess on the account being entered into the Championship must have been played between August 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. There is only a very limited list of exemptions on a case by case basis that will be granted for waiving this requirement. Automatic entry to the provisional list of entrants is granted to any player that did not forfeit their match and completed all their games in the 2018 or 2019 Lichess Atomic World Championship and have not been rendered ineligible by other factors. Automatic entry to the provisional list of entrants is granted to any player that finished in the top 8 of the 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019 Lichess Atomic World Championship that have not been rendered ineligible by other factors since then.

3.1.3. The player must be able to understand and communicate with others about the date and time of matches to be played.

English is the standard language by default. A different language if both participants prefer to communicate in that language is accepted for their own personal negotiations. All communications that are posted publicly and to the TD must be in English as best as the person can render it.

3.1.4. The time format for all communications is to be UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). The onus is on the players to understand how UTC corresponds to them.

3.1.5. The player must officially register via the TD’s Methods to Register in order to officially be placed upon the list of potential entrants. The 2020 Atomic World Championship registration methods are as follows:

  • Message AtomicWorldChamp on Lichess with the subject “2020 AWC Entry Form” and your other pertinent information in the body of the message. If you are granted entry to the provisional list of entrants, you will be messaged after the registration procedures have been completed. Your name will also be added to the public entrants list published on
  • You must be messaging from the account you are joining with and provide the following information:
  • Your timezone name (and difference from UTC)
  • Your base Atomic Rating (as described in 7.1.1) with the date achieved.
  • Your best tournament performance rating that meets the criteria outlined in 7.1.1 with the link to the tournament page.

Once you submit the ratings you wish to be used, these ratings cannot be updated by the player. The Tournament Director may at his discretion, search for better performances or to correct the ratings provided if they were provided in error.

3.1.6. The deadline for entrants is also the deadline to withdraw without penalty.

For the 2020 AWC this is by 00:00 UTC 1 September 2020 per the Lichess timestamp of your Lichess message to AtomicWorldChamp.

3.1.7. The TD may have a blacklist of ineligible players. If a player is found to have entered while being on said blacklist, they will be summarily removed. The TD is not required to announce why a player has been removed except to state that they are ineligible. If such a blacklist exists, the existence of the list must be stated in public along with the general disqualifying reasons that causes a player to be listed on the blacklist, and the process for entrants must allow reasonable time for the TD to validate each entrant’s eligibility.

Such a blacklist does exist for the 2020 AWC. The only public portion that can be announced in advance is the following people for previous AWC incidents:

  • AnthonyPower (2018 AWC incident, lifetime ban)
  • InsaneHasReturned (2018 non-AWC event during AWC, lifetime ban)
  • Timofey (2019 AWC incident, lifetime ban)

3.1.8. Reasons for being listed on the blacklist varies by TD, but lifetime bans arising from events occurring during previous editions of the Tournament will be publicly listed separately from the blacklist in addition to being listed on the blacklist itself. Using computer assistance during games is a common reason for being listed on the blacklist. The entire blacklist will not be made available to the general public.

The 2020 AWC blacklist consists of the AWC incident blacklist (as provided above from public events from previous AWC tournaments), and any player that has ever been marked as having used computer assistance during a game on Lichess.

Muted players provided they can still communicate somehow and follow all Lichess rules/policies otherwise are allowed. Failure to communicate by a muted player will lead to them not being the preferred party to advance in cases of double forfeits irregardless of of their rating and status.

3.1.9. Any other rules regarding the eligibility of entrants must be listed in detail for each tournament such as criteria that allow an entrant to automatically become eligible.

3.1.10. It is expected that each person only attempts to enter the tournament once and by attempting to enter the tournament, they are certifying that they will adhere to all published rules and will also not cheat during their games.

4. Match Regulations (Gameplay / Matchplay)

4.1. The format of a match during the tournament is to be ten atomic chess games, five games of each color played against your opponent. During the knockout portion of the tournament, either player can stop the match if someone reaches 5.5 points in the first ten games as long as the player stopping the match has not played more rated White games than their opponent. This restriction does not exist if the match is unrated.

4.2. The time control of a game in the match is 3+2.

4.3. The games must be unrated. If both players agree, it can be rated and the rule in 4.1 must be adhered to. If someone breaks that rule, a 1 year suspension from the AWC will be handed down to the player (disqualifying them from the 2021 event only).

4.4. The match ends when one player has reached 5.5 points out of the first 10 games or 1.5 points out of one of the tiebreaker pairs or wins the Armageddon Game.

4.4.1. If Tiebreakers are required, a pair of tiebreaker games will be played using the same rules as the match. If one player reaches 1.5 points in that first pair of games, the match ends. If the pair ended 1-1, another pair of games is played with the same rules. If the second pair of games ends again at 1-1, then an Armageddon Game is to be played.

4.4.2. If an Armageddon Game is required, Black will have 3+0 and draw odds. Both players must message an available TD with the lowest time offer they are willing to play as White. The lowest possible time that is available is 1/4+0. There is no increment for this game. If the offers are identical, the higher seeded player will play White. Ideally this game should be played only a few minutes after the tiebreaker games. If no TD is available, a trusted second party may be used to receive the time bids in order to ensure that the Armageddon game is played.

4.5. Each player is allowed one break of up to 10 minutes in between games of the same match. If the player that called for the break does not return after 10 minutes, the next game is forfeited to the player that did not request the break. If the player that called for the break has not returned after 10 more minutes (20 minutes in total), the match is forfeited to the player that did not call for the break.

4.6. During the match, when a break is not requested, when the match has not ended yet according to the conditions in 4.4, the next game must begin within one minute of the previous game ending. Timestamped comments / messages shall be how one player claims the other was not following this rule. If a player is not starting the next game in a timely method, it is to be assumed that they are claiming their one break for the match and the rules of 4.5 are to be applied to this scenario. If a player has already claimed their break for the match and has not begun the next game within 5 minutes, the match is forfeited to the player that is waiting. In lieu of taking an official break – the player that needs to step away may accept the rematch, make their first move, and then step away for as long as their clock runs.

4.7. Players are not allowed to claim victory or draw if the opponent has stepped away and there is still time on their clock. If a victory or draw is claimed this way, the game is forfeited to the player that did not claim either a draw or victory.

4.8. If an automated system process on as in 1.4 forfeits a player during a game for using external assistance of some kind, the match is suspended and it is to be assumed that the entire match is to be forfeited to the player not using assistance. Upon review, if this automated process has been determined to be incorrect, the match will resume when possible with an extension granted to arrange a new time to complete the match. If the review upholds the forfeiture, the offending player shall be added to the permanent blacklist for the Championship, with their name published as in 3.1.8.

4.9. You may not analyze your games using computer assistance (engine) during a match. You may however, analyze your games by hand without an engine during an official break in the match as called for in 4.5.

4.10. If a player has to leave in the middle of a match, the match is forfeited to the player remaining.

4.11. If a player has to withdraw from the tournament for any reason after the tournament has begun, their upcoming opponent is considered to be the victor of the match that would have been played and advances to the next round.

4.12. Upon conclusion of the match, at least one player must report the results in the prescribed method that the TD has outlined in the tournament format. Games must also be reported as prescribed.

For the 2020 Lichess Atomic Chess World Championship, at least one player must post the result (along with game links) to the official Lichess forum for the tournament or via private message to AtomicWorldChamp. Their scheduled match time must also be posted in public if it has been arranged. Immediate matches without prior arrangement is fine if both players happen to find themselves online at the same time at a time and both wish to play.

4.13. Players may claim victory (or a draw) in a game on time by flagging their opponent. The result granted by the server is the result that will stand.

4.14. If the opponent does not appear within 15 minutes of the agreed upon match time to begin the match, the match is forfeited to the player waiting for the match. This is determined by a pair of timestamped messages from the player claiming the match forfeit to the TD. The messages must be at least 15 minutes apart with no message from the opponent in between the messages (and no game played) for the match forfeit to be awarded.

5. Match Negotiations

5.1. Players may begin negotiating a match time as soon as their next pairing is known if the tournament format supports such conclusions.

5.2. Each player is responsible for proposing three separate times they are available for their match by Wednesday of the match week at the latest in an offer, unless a match time has been decided before that maximum number of offers has been reached.

5.3. The three separate offers must be no closer than 3 hours from each other and no more than two options on a single date.

5.4. If three offers are not proposed in time, the player at fault must accept one of the three offered times that their opponent proposed from the most recent offer made.

5.5. If both players fail to make an offer(s) by the deadline, then a match arbiter will assign a time for the match to be played.

5.6. A player should respond to a match offer by either accepting an option or by making a different offer, preferably within 24 hours.

5.7. If a player is excessively or repeatedly late for scheduled matches they may be forfeited from the Tournament as a whole.

5.8. If both players make 3 offers but no agreement is made before the weekend then a match arbiter will determine if fault lies with a particular player.

5.9. If a player is at fault then their opponent will decide the match time, if no player is at fault the match arbiter will assign a match time.

5.10. Once a match time is arranged, rule 4.14 will address no-shows.

6. Accusations of Cheating

6.1. Accusations of cheating must be made privately to the head TD via a private message of some form. This accusation will be passed on to the anti-cheat panel for evaluation. A player or spectator may make such accusations in private.

6.2. The accusation must reference a specific game and at least some rationale behind the accusation itself. An accusation such as “they were playing way above their rating” will not be considered for evaluation.

6.3. If an accusation is made in public by either a player or spectator and does not lead to confirmation of the accusation, the accusing player/spectator is placed upon the blacklist, forfeited from the Tournament if they are still participating in it, and have their names published as in 3.1.8.

6.4. The anti-cheat panel must all believe that a player is guilty for the accusation to be confirmed valid and that player forfeited if they are still participating in the tournament. 100% proof is not required, merely 100% agreement from the entire panel.

6.5. If a member of the anti-cheat panel is either the accused or accuser, their place on the panel will be taken by another.

6.6. If a player is forfeited from the Tournament via 6.4., the match they were found to have been cheating in is forfeited to the opponent and the opponent moves on in the tournament.

6.7. If the cheating is discovered after the fact, and the cheater has already played another match and lost, the player that defeated them will be allowed to remain and proceed in the tournament. If the cheater has won another match, the players that the cheater won against will then play each other in order from first to last, until one player remains, as prescribed by the TD in the tournament format.

7. Seeding and Alternative Rating Systems

7.1. Due to variations and the effects that certain chess variants can have on the various rating systems in place, sometimes an alternative method is needed to better predict/judge the performance of the players. The TD may communicate this alternative method of ranking/rating the players during the registration phase.


For the 2020 AWC the seeding method to be utilized is the AWC seeding rating formula utilizing one of the base rating options as follows:

  • Your base rating shall be your highest established rating in atomic chess on between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020. So if you reached a rating of 2330 in October 2019 and you are currently 2110, that 2330 rating is the base rating to be used for the AWC seeding calculation. This is why the 25-rated game requirement is in place.
  • If a waiver is granted to exempt the 25-rated game requirement, then that player’s best-ever atomic rating on will be used with the following penalty: -100 from it for each year older than 2020 that the best rating was achieved in. So if this player has a 2700 best-ever rating in 2018, the deductions would make it a 2500 base rating for the AWC seeding calculation.
  • If you have won a World Championship (2005, 2016-2019 editions only), you automatically get granted a 2500 base rating with a 50 point bonus for any additional World Championship title.
  • If you’ve been a runner-up in the World Championship (2005, 2016-2019), you get a 2400 base rating with a 25 point bonus for any additional runner-up finishes.
  • If you’ve finished in the top 8 in a World Championship (2005, 2016-2019), you get a 2300 base rating.
  • Once the highest base rating has been determined using either of these methods, the highest tournament performance rating you have achieved between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020 in any rated Atomic tournament with (time+inc) >= 3 and games played for you >= 10 shall comprise the performance rating.
  • Alternatively with all the other conditions met, if your average opponent rating played >= 2000 and games played >= 15 then the minimum time+inc requirement is lowered to >=1 for the purposes of generating this performance rating.
  • (Base Rating + Performance Rating)/2 = Seeding Rating.
  • If players have the same seeding rating, the higher seed(s) will be granted in order from most to least to whoever has played more atomic games in the time period of 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020. In the case of this count somehow being a tie, the most overall games of atomic shall be the tiebreaker, with the final tiebreaker being the oldest registered account.

7.2. Any other variations to the standard defined tournaments must also be communicated before the tournament begins, preferably before registration opens.

As announced, this is a standard knockout tournament that will produce a “top 8” upon which it shifts to a double knockout tournament.

7.3. If a prerequisite tournament or feeder tournament is to be used, ensure that they complete with plenty of time prior to registration opening. Any special benefits therein that are awarded to the winner of such tournaments must also be communicated beforehand.

There will be no feeder tournaments for the 2020 edition.

7.4. If the tournament format is to be some sort of match play with the previous year’s winner, then this is known as a match format and as such, not addressed within tournament structures apart from the entire knockout tournament being a feeder tournament into determining the candidate. If this format is utilized, every possible scenario must be addressed, including the abdication or withdrawal of the previous champion. Those rules must be published in advance of any such tournament format.

7.5. Draw odds or rematch clauses for previous champions are not allowed. A final tiebreaker should be utilized in order to determine a winner, including a solution to terminate the Championship after an established point (such as after 2 additional tiebreaker matches, it remains tied, then there will be an Armageddon game played).

8. Impartiality and Partiality

8.1. If possible, the Tournament Director shall not be a participant themselves in the same Championship they are organizing. If this matter cannot be resolved, prior to the start of a tournament, a neutral party arbiter must be defined by the Tournament Director to resolve matters directly involving the Tournament Director’s own games. This arbiter’s decisions regarding the Tournament Director’s games and/or incidents is to be considered final. The Tournament Director cannot override these decisions in matters that involve them.

8.2. The Tournament Staff must be impartial and fairly treat all matters and players alike.

8.3. In early rounds of the tournament, if both players are at fault for an incident or failure to play, in most cases, the higher ranked player by the tournament system being used will likely be the player advanced in case of a double forfeit. If the player receiving the benefit of this leeway then is also found at fault again and repeats this incident later in the tournament, their opponent will be granted this benefit instead if they have not already received such a benefit in the current tournament (example: two players do not show up for a match, both are at fault, the higher ranked player is advanced – then in the next round, the same person is involved in another no-show match, the other player (having completed a match) would then be advanced instead in this scenario. If both players have already received such a benefit, both players are then simply forfeited for the benefit of the tournament and their upcoming opponent simply advances to the next round of the tournament.

8.4. Previous World Champions (or winners of previous editions) may be granted benefits by the Tournament Director involving the format of the tournament used. One such example is described in 7.4. If it is not a match format play, but rather a dual-format tournament, they may be announced beforehand as being seeded into the second portion of the tournament already (bypassing the first portion completely). An example of this format would be, if the tournament format is a knockout tournament to a group of candidates that play a round robin in order to determine the two players that will play for the title, then a previous world champion may be announced as being advanced and placed into this round robin group before the tournament begins, to await the other candidates coming from the knockout.

8.5. A randomized or partially randomized tournament structure is acceptable as long as the highest quadrant of players are seeded and do not face each other for as long as possible in the early rounds.

8.6. A non-randomized tournament structure is acceptable as long as the ranking system used is published in public prior to the tournament registration phase opening. That system cannot be altered for that year’s edition except in the case of typos, missing information, or egregious errors in formulae or data used.

8.7. Rankings that use historical data as part of their formulae must have such historical data be publicly available for examination.

9. Guidelines for Tournament Director Decisions

9.1. The Tournament Director will endeavor to follow the published rules and to resolve any and all issues in a timely matter for the good of the Tournament as a whole, and not to benefit any specific Player(s).

9.2. The Anti-Cheat Panel must be kept secret until the conclusion of the tournament. The Panel must consist of an odd number of members. Replacement members must also be recruited if any member sitting on the panel is also playing in the tournament so that 6.5. can be implemented without delay.

9.3. If possible, partnership with the site(s) the Tournament is being run on is ideal, especially if an administrator is able and willing to assist with certain aspects of the Tournament, including the qualifying and disqualifying of players both prior to and during the Tournament.

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