__PARENTS’
AND COACHES’ GUIDE TO SCHOLASTIC CHESS__

Welcome to the world of Scholastic
Chess! To add to your understanding of
how tournaments work, and to answer some of the many questions you undoubtedly are
waiting to ask, we ask that you read this Chess Tournament Introduction.

**
How do you pair players together?** We follow the pairing rules developed by the
U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) on Swiss-System tournaments. The “Swiss” was designed to accommodate many
players competing in the same tournament, while still producing a clear winner,
even though the winner cannot play against everyone else in the
tournament. This is done by matching
together players who keep winning, thus reducing the number of players who
continue to win. After each round, if
all the players with “perfect” scores (those who have won all their games) play
each other, and if half these players win their games (while the other half loses), then the
number of “perfect” scores at the end of the round will be half as much as it was
when the round started. Players who continue
to win, therefore, will probably face harder opponents. Players who lose their games will probably
face others who are doing the same, and their opponents should get easier.

This is not an elimination tournament— even players who
lose their first four games will probably face someone in the fifth round in
the same situation. The halving process
continues until the last round, when, in theory, only one player has a perfect
score.

A player’s score in the tournament shows
how he/she is doing. Each time a player
wins, he/she gets 1 point for that round, while a draw is worth 1/2-point and a
loss is 0 points. A player’s score is
the total number of points he/she has at any point in the tournament. Players with the same score face each other
as much as possible, beginning with the top scores down to the 0’s, while also
avoiding pairing players together who have played each other before.

In the first round, all the players are
ranked in rating order. Unrated players
are usually placed right after the lowest-rated player, unless the Director
assigns an estimated rating to an unrated player. The top half of the tournament, by rating, is
then paired against the bottom half, in rating order. The same method follows for the remaining
rounds. Players with the same score are
grouped together and paired with each other, top half vs. bottom half, in rating
order. Sometimes, if there is an odd number of players
with the same score, the lowest rated player will usually “drop” to the next
score group of players below and play one of the players with less points. If there is an odd number of players in the
entire tournament for a particular round, then one player, usually the lowest
rated player with the lowest score (a different player each round) will receive
a 1-point bye for that round. The
halving process continues with this higher half vs. lower half method, **and it is not uncommon for players to face opponents with ratings much
higher or lower than their own. Remember, pairings are made by score first, then
by rating.**

Occasionally there are so many players
that it becomes likely that more than one player will win all the games. In this case, we may “accelerate” pairings,
dividing the tournament groups into four quarters, instead of two halves, in
the first round. In Round 2,
higher-rated players who won may player stronger opponents than usual, while
the lower-rated player who won may play higher-rated players who did not win. This is all to try and reduce the number of
players who start round 3 with two points, and reducing the possible number of
perfect scores at the end.

Adjustments are made in this basic method,
so that players avoid playing opponents from the same school. In small score groups near the bottom of the
tournament, it may sometimes be necessary to pair players together with
different scores, to prevent players from the same school from playing each
other. The computer also tries to make adjustments so that players alternate
colors, or at least so that they have played two Whites and two Blacks before
the fifth round (but this may not always happen). We also try to avoid assigning the same color
in three consecutive games to a player.
However, we avoid making switches in pairings if there is a large
difference in the ratings of the players being switched (except to avoid giving
someone 3-in-a-row). The result is, in
theory that the top-scoring players will face each other towards the end of the
tournament to determine the winner of the tournament.

** What if the opponent is not there?** At the beginning of the first round, some
players, who have already entered the tournament, do not show up and do not
provide advance notice (which is an inconsiderate thing to do and which can incur penalties). The
Tournament Director will decide if and when to make re-pairings among players
without opponents.

** How are the scores shown on the wallchart?** The wallchart shows a player’s cumulative
score (the running total of points he/she has) after that round. This is a 5-round tournament (6-rounds in

*-
OVER -*

The team wallcharts show the scores of the
four highest-scoring players on the team.
Any two or more players from a school may compete as a school team, but
the four highest scores on the team after a given round produce the school’s
team score. It doesn’t necessarily
matter which players on the team won or lost that round, or how many players
won their games. Only the scores of the
four highest-scoring players are counted for the team after each round.

** What
if several players are tied at the end with the same score?** The tiebreak systems used are:

1. Players who have won all five games (or all
six games in the Varsity) will play a special speed playoff for First Place

2. Otherwise, the computer adds up the scores of
each tied player’s opponents (a half-point is counted for any rounds that the
opponent did not play), and disregards the least-significant (usually the
lowest scoring) opponent (the Modified Median System). The player with the highest total has played
opponents with the best scores in the tournament— in theory, the hardest opponents. If the players are still tied, the low
scoring opponents are also counted in the total (Solkoff Tiebreaks). For
players who are still tied,

3. The computer adds each
player’s score to his score from the previous round (the Cumulative
System). Thus, if a player won his first
two games, lost his third, won his fourth and drew his last game, his score in
the tournament would show a 1 point after round 1, 2 points after round 2, still 2 points after round 3 (he
lost), 3 points after round 4, and 3½ points after round 5. His Cumulative Tiebreaks would be 1 + 2 + 2 +
3 + 3.5 = 11.5. To break ties among
players with the same Cumulative Tiebreaks, the computer repeats this process,
but it now adds up all the Cumulative Tiebreaks of the opponents of each tied
player (the Cumulative Tiebreakers of the Cumulative Tiebreakers, or
CTBCTB). The Cumulative System rewards
players who win earlier when the opponents are easier, and who then usually
face harder opponents.

__NOTE__**:** If computers are NOT available to calculate
tiebreaks, then Modified Median, and then Solkoff Tiebreaks will be used first
to break ties for players with 4.5 points (or 5.5 points in the Varsity). If still tied, and for all players with 4 or
less (5 or less in Varsity), cumulative, then CTBCTB Tiebreaks, will be used. Cumulative tiebreaks, and then Modified
Median tiebreaks, are used to break ties among tied **teams **(only perfect score ties are broken by a playoff).

** What is the time limit on the game?** Each player has 30 minutes for the game plus
a 5-second time delay per player for each move (in the

** Is it necessary to write down the moves?** All experienced tournament players are
required to keep score of the game.
Inexperienced players are not required to keep score, but they should,
otherwise they won’t be able to learn from their mistakes by going over their
games afterwards. However,

** What time is the next round? When is the lunch break?** The schedule of rounds is posted outside and
elsewhere:

** Where do the parents stay?** Only players with games in progress and
Tournament Directors are allowed near the lower Junior High and Elementary
sections, Primary and K-1 sections.
Spectators are allowed near the High School sections and Junior High Varsity
at the Tournament Director’s discretion.

**
How do I find out about other tournaments?** Membership in
the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) is required to participate in the
tournament. The magazines published by
the USCF,