Tournament FAQs

How does a tournament work?

Our tournaments are non-elimination, which means that every participant gets to play all the rounds.  A player earns one point for a win and a half point for a draw. Usually each player will go up against an opponent with the same number of points. In scholastic tournaments, children are not paired against other players from their school except in unusual circumstances. At the end of the last round trophies are awarded to the top individuals and school teams in each section.

We have two main types of tournaments: Swiss Tournaments and  Quads.  In a quads tournament, the players are put into groups of four by rating, and each player plays the other three players in their group.  Each group is called a quad.  In a swiss style tournament, the players who win play other players who win, and the players who lose will play other players who lost.  Generally, these tournaments are four rounds long.

My child has never been to a tournament before; how do I know when he/she is ready?

Once the rules are mastered and a child understands checkmate, tournaments become a great way for your child to practice what she or he has learned in chess club. There are many beginners at every tournament, and the children play with opponents in their own age category.  We suggest that players who are new to tournaments start out in the U-400 section.

What should I expect at my child's first tournament?

If your child is pre-registered, please plan to arrive about 15-20 minutes before the first round. If your child is not pre-registered you must complete registration on-site at least 30 minutes before the first round begins, or else skip the first round. The player pairings are posted about 15 minutes before the first round is scheduled to begin. The pairings list every child alphabetically by last name, and tell each player what color to play, what board to go to, and the name and rating of the opponent. After each game the children report their result to the Tournament Director before leaving the tournament hall.

What are chess clocks and how are they used in tournaments?

A chess clock is a device with two timers on it. Each timer measures the amount of time remaining for one of the two players. A player's timer runs only during the player's turn to move. The time control in most scholastic tournaments is G/30 (each player has 30 minutes to make all the moves). This ensures that every game is finished in less than an hour. Not all boards will have a clock at the start of the round, but as the round goes on, clocks will be placed on the longer games. Players are encouraged to bring their own clocks and use them from the start of the game.

What should my child bring to the tournament?

A chess clock (if you have one) is all you need to bring. If the child will want a snack, you can bring that as well. At scholastic Silver Knights chess tournaments, all of the other chess equipment is provided. At open (adult) tournaments, chess equipment is not provided, so players should bring their chess sets.

How are the team scores computed?

A school’s team score for a section is equal to the sum of the four highest-scoring players from that school in that section. For example, if six 2nd and 3rd grade players from school X play in the tournament, with scores of 3.5, 3, 3, 2, 1, and 0.5, the team score would be the sum of the top four scores = 3.5 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 11.5. All students from each school are automatically counted for their school team. You must have more than one player in a section to be eligible for a team trophy.

What happens if two individuals have the same score?

Chess tournaments use tiebreakers to form the final standings and award trophies. Tiebreakers are somewhat complicated, but basically they reward the players who have played more difficult opposition. This most often comes up when several players are tied with a score of 3/4, and some receive trophies while others do not. Tiebreakers may seem arbitrary at times, but they do rank the players as fairly as possible given that there are only four rounds in most scholastic tournaments.