About Scholastic Tournaments

A comprehensive “Guide to Scholastic Tournaments” is available on the ICA website at http://bit.ly/Pw4ut9.Here is a short summary, adapted from Evanston Scholastic Chess (www.eschess.org):

How do you know whether your child is ready to go to a chess tournament?

He or she likes chess and wants to try a tournament (most important of all!)He or she knows the game well enough to checkmate an opponent.He or she is able to deal reasonably well with losing games.If you don’t feel like your child is ready yet, that’s fine. Wait until the next one comes around.

What’s a chess tournament like?

  • You register and pay your fee (check your tournament rules).
  • Show up and sign in half an hour before the first round.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult through the entire tournament. Parents often “kid-pool.” Looking for someone to kid-pool with? Ask your school’s tournament registrar who else is going.Chances are pretty good that your child has a friend who will be at this tournament.
  • Children are placed in competition levels based on how well they’ve done at past tournaments. If they haven’t played before, they are placed in levels based on age.
  • Pairings are posted for the first round. Each child is given a board number and a B for black or a W for white. The child (and parent) go into the competition room and find the board where the child is supposed to play for that round. Players should shake hands and introduce themselves.
  • After everyone is settled, the parents leave the room and the children play on their own. There is no need to watch your child or check on him/her during a round; experienced directors on the floor can handle any situation that comes up. In fact, it’s probably less distracting to your child if you are not in the same room.
  • If your child has a question about rules during a game, s/he should raise their hand BEFORE MAKING ANOTHER MOVE. The games are touch-move; if you touch a piece, you must move that piece (unless you simply brush a piece by mistake). Practice touch-move at home with your child.
  • When the game is finished and the players have agreed on the result, the players shake hands and say “good game!” Then they set up their board, and both players report the result at the scorers’ table. To report their score, they will need to tell the scorekeeper their board number.
  • They then leave the competition room and return to their parents. There are usually one or more “skittles” rooms where food and tables are available and people can play informal games. Weather permitting, kids may be allowed to play outside between rounds.
  • After all the kids are done with their games, pairings are determined for the next round. Generally your child will play another player with the same win-loss score. If it’s the third round, for example, and your child has won a game and lost a game, s/he will play someone else who has won one and lost one. Every kid plays in every round. There is no elimination in chess. Occasionally if there is an odd number of children in a section, the lowest-ranked player will receive a “bye”—a free point—since the tournament was unable to provide him/her a game.
  • There are usually four or five rounds. After the last round, there’s an awards ceremony.