The National Inter-Club Knockout Competition (NICKO) is the most popular of all EBU tournaments and is open to all affiliated clubs, with no limit on the number of teams each club can enter. In the past some teams may have been put off entering by the thought that they might meet up against a very strong team in the first round or that teams might be including strong players from outside the club, so please note that the following new conditions and arrangements will apply for the 2011-2012 season:
1. Strong teams (i.e. those with two or more players ranked Grand Master or above, or ranked in the top 40 of the EBU Gold Point Scheme at the end of August) will be excluded until Round 2 or 3. In principle it will be the latter but a final decision will not be made until the Competitions office has seen the composition of the entries and their impact on travelling times.
2. Strong teams as defined above will not be eligible for the NICKO Plate.
3. To be eligible to enter, players should:
a. Be members of an affiliated club; and
b. Have been members of the club for at least three months before they first represent the club; and
c. Play regularly at the club or for the club or contribute regularly in some other way to the club, or have met these criteria in previous years and are unable to currently do so through personal circumstances (e.g. illness, work, childcare, etc.)
4. It will be left to individual clubs themselves to decide who meets the criteria in No. 3 and is therefore eligible to represent them. Examples will be provided on the EBU website of what the EBU believes is good practice in this area. Any complaints that a team does not meet the criteria in No. 3 will be referred to the club that entered the team.
Remember also that any team knocked out in the first round (except for 'strong' teams as defined above) is automatically entered into the knockout competition for the NICKO Plate, so that each team entering the NICKO is guaranteed at least two matches.
The early rounds of the NICKO are of just 24 boards, increasing to 32 boards for the quarter-finals and semi-finals and 48 boards for the final, with the draw regionalised so as to reduce travelling.
The cost is £70 for one team from each club; £54 per additional team thereafter. The closing date is 19 September 2011.