Scholastic Tournament FAQ’s


Instead of reading through the technical rules, we offer some of the most frequently asked questions.    

1- If my child loses their game are they eliminated from the tournament?  


No. There is no elimination. If a player loses, they will play someone in the following round who also lost. Players with 2 losses will play players with 2 losses and so on. Winners also play winners according to the same schedule. All players with the same score will play together, generally within one point of each other.


2- My daughter is only 7 years old, why is she playing a 12 year old?  


Once you enter a section, anyone in the section is fair game as an opponent. If you are playing in a section which is open to players in grade 2-6, then it is perfectly legal AND fair to be paired with someone much older. However, most sections have special parameters other than age such as chess rating. For example, our Elementary section is for grades 2-6, but has a rating cap of 500. A student might be older, but if their rating is below 500 then they are not so accomplished and the pairing is fair.


3- My son’s opponent called checkmate and my son just realized after the game ended that it was not really checkmate. Can we get them to continue the game?


No. Once a game has ended and the players shake hands, or the defeated player agrees the position is checkmate, the game is officially over. Even if it was found out that an illegal move was made or it was not really checkmate, the game stands and cannot continue or be replayed.  
Players are responsible to raise their hand and tell a tournament director about any claim while the game is still being played. Once the game is over, no change can be made. No exceptions.


4- We cannot play all the games because we have to leave early/arrive late. What can we do?


It is possible to get a Bye for any game that is unplayed. Byes can give you ½ point as though you played the game and made a draw (tie), but they must be requested in advance. Players are allowed to request up to 2 byes in a 4 round tournament. For example, if you cannot arrive until 11 instead of 10, you can ask for a ½ point bye in round one and start round 2 at about 11:30 with ½ point for the first round bye. You can do this for the first 2 rounds and play rounds 3 and 4 with a total of 1 point (1/2 x 2) for the first 2 rounds. Or you could request byes in rounds 1 and 4 and arrive late and leave early!


5- What if my child’s opponent doesn’t show up for the round?


If a player is ready to play and their opponent does not show up, we try our best to get that player an opponent. Sometimes other players do not show up and there will be another player needing an opponent. If we cannot find an opponent for a player, that player will be awarded a Full point bye as though they had played and won the game.


6- It says “SEE T.D.” after my child’s name on the pairing sheet. What does this mean?


There are 2 possibilities:
a. If there are an odd number of players in the section, the computer will give a full point bye to the player with the lowest amount of points. In this case, the player who receives the bye should wait by the computer desk while the round begins to see if there are any players who have not shown up and could then get into the round by playing the opponent of the player who did not show up.  
b. You have not yet paid your USCF membership dues.


7- What is USCF membership dues and why do I have to pay for it?


The USCF (US Chess Federation) is the governing body of all rated chess in America–for both adults and scholastic players. When you enter a rated tournament such as ours, all of the results are compiled and submitted to the USCF for rating. In order to maintain an continue providing this service, the USCF charges an annual membership fee of $17 for scholastic players. There are options to purchase a subscription to the USCF magazine. Youth rates for students 13 and over are $23 and adult rates are $49 annually.   
If a player does not have a current membership, the muist purchase one by the end of the tournament, otherwise the entire event cannot be rated. If any players have not paid, the organizer of the tournament has to pay for the memberships to the USCF and try to collect from the players after the fact.


8- My son is only 5 years old and we aren’t even sure he wants to play again. Do we still have to pay for USCF membership?


We offer a Beginner section for young kids (Pre K-1st grade) who are just starting out in tournament chess. The Beginner Section is not rated and therefore players who register for this section do not have to pay for USCF membership. However, once they move up to the K-2 Novice section they must purchase a membership since the section is rated (Under 600).


9- My daughter finished the tournament with 2 points and got the 14th place trophy. I saw one kid get 2 points and he finished in 8th place AND my daughter beat him in the 3rd round. How can this be?


This is a very popular question because it happens all of the time. When prizes are cash they are added together and divided amongst the winners. Since this cannot be done with trophies, there is a special tiebreak system based upon the strength of your opponents from the tournament. If you add up the total amount of points each of your opponents scored throughout the tournament, the total is your tiebreak score. If your opponents did well, you have strong tiebreaks. Beating a player who ended up scoring the same amount of points as you is of no consequence.


10- Is there a break for lunch?


No. Since there is already down time in between tounds, players can find whatever time they have to grab a bite to eat. Usually, the Parent’s Association is selling Pizza and/or sandwiches and snacks.


11- What time will the tournament be over?


This is also a very common question and very difficult to answer. First off, the sections for the older students and higher rated players will always end later because they have more to think about and their games last longer. Most of the rounds are G/30 which means each player has 30 minutes per player per game which is a maximum of 1 hour for the game. If the 1st round starts at 10am, typical starting times for rounds 2-4 would be 11:30-1:00-2:30 respectively. The last round would end at 3:30 and then trophies will be awarded.   
However, this is for the older sections with stronger players. In order to expedite the tournament rounds as quickly as possible, we pair the next round as soon as the previous round has finished. It takes a few minutes to enter the results into the computer and print out the pairings for the next round, but it usually goes much quicker than the aforementioned schedule. The Beginner and Novice sections usually end by 2pm, often earlier. Elementary and Reserve sections usually finish by about 2-2:30 and the Advanced and Championship Sections usually finish about 2:30-3pm.


12- How do we know where to go each round to find our opponent?


Every round, a pairing sheet will be posted for each section. Announcements will be made each time a pairing sheet is posted. Once you find the pairing sheet for your section, you look for your name. At the top of the column your name is in, it will say Black or White. That is the color of pieces you will use in that game. Next to your name is your opponent’s name. It is usually a good idea to remember your opponent’s name so you can ask when you arrive at the board if you are playing the correct player. To the extreme left of your name on the pairing sheet is a board number. All of the boards are numbered in the playing hall. You must find that number in the playing hall, be seated, and ask the person sitting across from you their name to confirm they are your opponent.


13- Do I need to bring chess equipment to the tournament?


Chess boards and pieces are supplied for all sections. Chess clocks are not supplied for any sections. If you are playing in the Reserve, Advanced, Championship or Under 1800 section, you must use a chess clock. If you do not have a chess clock, you can hope your opponent has one, or you can purchase one at the tournament from the chess books/equipment concession.   
In all sections (except Beginner), when there are 14 minutes left in the round, any game not already using a clock will be put on the clock by our tournament directors. Each player will receive 7 minutes to complete the game.


14- Does my child need to write down the moves?


In Beginner, Novice and Elementary Sections it is not mandatory. However, all players are encouraged to notate in all sections (except Beginner). Notating is required Reserve, Advanced, Championship abd Under 1800. It is required in all adult chess tournaments and is necessary to make certain claims such as threefold repetition or to prove a certain position. In addition, the best way to improve is to have a coach/teacher use your notation to go over your games and show important ideas and strategies.


15- Will my child get rated after this tournament?


Yes. As long as they are not playing in the Beginner section which is not rated.


16- How does the rating system work?


Once you play 4 rated games you will become rated by the USCF. The higher the rating, the stronger the player. Until a player has 25 rated games under their belt, they are considered provisionally rated. Provisional ratings are considered not to be accurate because they are based on just a few tournament games.  
While provisionally rated, winning games against players rated higher than you can cause your rating to jump hundreds of points. Likewise, losing to lower rated players can cause your rating to plummet. However, once you have played 25 rated tournament games you will become an officially rated player in the USCF and the most you can win or lose in one game is 32 points.  
Your USCF rating will stay with you for the rest of your life. Average scholastic ratings of players in K-6 are 400-800. If you are over 1000, you are on your way to becoming a serious chessplayer! The average rating of all chessplayers in America including all adult tournament players is about 1270. An Expert is rated 2000 and a Master is 2200. Grandmaster is an international title and is the highest title one can achieve in chess.  


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