Chess Tournament FAQ

Chess Tournament FAQ


{YEL!} Chess Tournaments feature:

  • Six rounds of tournament chess.
  • Pizza, snacks and beverages for all paid participants.
  • USCF ratings and membership (as needed).
  • Gym time between games – including kids versus parents dodge ball!
  • Medals or trophies for each participant based on their performance.

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Chess Tournament FAQ

  • How long is a tournament?
    Chet Gunhus26-08-2014

    Chess tournaments last 6 rounds (Anoka is 5 rounds).  We start the first round at approximately 9:15am and typically finish the last round at approximately 2:45pm.  Trophies and awards are distributed between 2:45-3pm.

  • Does my child need to stay all day?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    Our chess tournaments are non-elimination chess tournaments.  Meaning that all students participate all day.  Parents should count on their child staying until after the prizes are awarded.

  • Can I leave early?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    Occasionally a student does not feel well and asks to leave before the end of the tournament.  We do our best to encourage the student to stay until the end, but understand there are other circumstances.

    If a child decides they would like to leave early, we would check them out of the tournament and give them a medal based on their current score.

    If you are leaving early, we request that you make sure to alert a tournament director so we can adjust the pairings for future rounds.

  • What is the schedule for the day?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    We try to keep as close to the schedule as possible, but please understand that all times are approximations.  Rounds may last longer dependent on the pace of all students' play.  One game may last forty-five minutes longer than another (BEWARE THE FOUR MOVE CHECKMATE!).

    A typical schedule is (NOTE: All times are approximations.):

    • 8:30-9am: Check-in
    • 9-:915am: Announcements.
    • 9:15am-10:05am: Round 1
    • 10:05-10:50am: Round 2
    • 10:50-11:35am: Round 3
    • 11:35am-12:05pm: Lunch Break - Pizza, snacks and beverages are provided for all paid attendees.
    • 12:05-12:50pm: Round 4
    • 12:50-1:35pm: Round 5
    • 1:35-2:45pm: Round 6
    • 2:45-3pm: Award presentation
  • Why are chess tournaments important?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    • We feel that chess tournaments are like piano recitals in that they sharpen a student's focus in class and leading up to the tournament.
    • We also fee l it is a great way to increase a student's level of play more quickly.  Students learn a lot in six rounds of tournament chess.
    • It also helps build camaraderie between school mates, between chess players from different schools and can serve as a bonding experience between a child and their parent.
    • Students get an opportunity to play students from other schools.  They rarely, if ever,  play against student's from their school.  NOTE: The Grade 6+ division is a usually a smaller division, so it is harder to avoid playing someone from your school in that division.
    • MOST IMPORTANTLY - they are FUN!  We often see players playing chess between rounds, asking their parent to play chess with them when they get home and just enjoying the whole experience.
  • What is your time control?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    Each round is scheduled for approximately 45 minutes.  In order to stick to that timeline, we may put a clock on each player.  The clock is usually set to 5-10 minutes per player.

  • How do you determine when to add clocks?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    We add clocks to players primarily to stay on schedule.

    We have found that 90-95% of YEL chess tournament games are finished within the first 25 minutes.  We usually add a clock to the remaining games at the 25-30 minute mark.  Each student receives between 5-10 minutes per player.

    Sometimes we may not add a clock.  Some factors in our determination are:

    • What is the position on the board?
      • If one student is markedly ahead of the other (i.e. two rooks versus one king), we would not add a clock.  We figure if the student can't checkmate in the remaining 20 minutes of that round, they won't be able to do it with or without a clock.
      • We will assess each game individually.  We like to avoid using clocks if we feel the game is near the end.
    • What section are the students in?
      • We try to avoid adding clocks to the K-1 division.
      • The 6+ division almost always plays with a clock set at 25 minutes per player.
      • Grades 2-3 and 4-5 we will often add clocks to keep within our timeline.

    We would also like to note that we understand that clocks can change the way a student plays.  Often times they focus entirely on the clock and not on the board and make blunders that wouldn't otherwise occur.  So, again, we try to add clocks sparingly and primarily to keep the tournament on schedule.

  • Student Etiquette
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    1. Be courteous to your opponents.
      1. Shake hands at the beginning of each game and say, “Have a good game.”
      2. Shake hands at the completion of each game and say, “Good Game.”
      3. Talking should be kept to an absolute minimum.
      4. Fidgeting should be kept to a minimum.  Avoid:
        1. Tapping your pencil.
        2. Humming
        3. Tapping your finger
    2. Always use “Touch Move”
      1. If you touch a piece, you have to move that piece unless it is an illegal move.
      2. If you need to rearrange a piece (it isn’t in the middle of it’s square, for instance), you should say “Rearranging.” before moving the piece to avoid confusion.
    3. We also use “Touch, Take”, meaning that if you touch an opponents piece, you have to take that piece, unless it is an illegal move.
    4. Never argue with an opponent
      1. Raise your hand if you have a question or disagreement and a tournament referee will come and answer your question or resolve the disagreement.
    5. Don’t take losses too seriously.  This is only a step in your chess journey.  There is plenty more chess ahead for you.
    6. Don’t take too much pride in victory.  There is a lot of chess out there to be played.  And a lot more to learn.
    7. Have a lot of fun.
      1. Between games, chat (outside the playing area) with other chess players.  Get to know them.  I’m sure you’ll see them at other chess tournaments.
        1. Maybe start a round of bughouse or other games from our booklets.
    8. We may have gym space available between games for competitors to run and burn off some steam.
      1. When you leave the playing area, please be aware that some rounds may start early.
      2. We will have staff watching the gym area (if the space is available) and monitoring the students return for each round.
  • Parent Etiquette
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    • Parents and coaches are not allowed to comment on an ongoing game.
    • No talking is allowed in the playing area.  Please take all discussions outside.
    • Parents and coaches are allowed to watch ongoing games, but must stay out of the playing area to do so.
    • If there is an illegal move or a disagreement, it is up to the players to report it to a referee.  If it goes unreported until after the game or later on during an ongoing game, referees have no recourse but to let the game stand as it is.
      • If a parent or coach interjects about an illegal move or other issues during a game, the child they are advocating for may have to resign that game.  This is at the Tournament Director’s discretion.
    • If parents and coaches would like to help analyze competitors games, we strongly encourage students to take score notation.  Parents, coaches and competitors can then analyze the game in between rounds.  This is very helpful to developing students.
      • Chess notation score booklets may be purchased from Youth Enrichment League for $1 per booklet.  Each booklet has score sheets for 16 games.  Please have exact change.
    • Parents and coaches may approach the referees and tournament directors about issues, however, the primary responsibility of the referees is to monitor the games being played.  The primary responsibility of the tournament director is to keep the tournament running, set up pairings, post results, etc.
    • The Tournament Director may ask a parent or coach, or all parents and coaches, to leave the playing area at his discretion.
  • What is a “Bye” or “Please Wait”?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    When there is an odd number of participants in a division, one person each round is assigned a “Bye”.  It is marked as “Please Wait” on the pairing sheet.

    If you receive a bye, you get 1 point and you take a break for that round.  It is very unusual to receive more than one bye in a one day tournament.

    In divisions with 13 or more players, byes are usually assigned to students with lower point totals.  If 9 or fewer players, the computer tries to make sure most participants receive a bye, but this is not always possible.

    It should also be noted that the computer software tries to avoid assigning byes to players from the same school in the same division throughout that tournament.

  • How does the scoring work?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    Scoring follows United States Chess Federation and the World Chess Federation (FIDE) guidelines.

    • Win = 1 point
    • Loss = 0 point
    • Draw = 1/2 point
  • What are the tiebreakers?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    We use tiebreakers when the score is tied.  The tournament software (WinTD) is designed to determine a true champion.  The final results may contain a number of students with the same score.  For instance, 12 students may end up with 3.0 points.  To rank these students, a tiebreak method is used.

    • Tbrk1 (or Solkoff) - This tiebreaker is a direct measure of the strength of your opponents throughout the tournament.  This tiebreaker adds up the scores of the listed players OPPONENTS.  The higher the score, the stronger competition you have played.
      • For instance, #4 Ryker Huseby competed against numbers 14 (2.0), 13 (2.0), 8(3.0), 2 (5.0), 3 (5.0), 1 (5.0).  Add up the opponents points (in parentheses above) and you get the TBrk1 Score of 22.
    • Tbrk2 (or Cumulative) - This tiebreaker indirectly measures the strength of your opponents.  The calculation is based on the logic that if you win in early rounds, you face stronger competition in those rounds and so it gives more weight to having points in the earlier rounds.  It adds up your cumulative scores for each round.  So if you have 1 point (a win) after round one, 2 points after round 2 (a second win) and still have 2 points after round 3 (2 wins and a loss), your cumulative score would be 1 + 2 + 2 or 5 points.
      • Using Tommy Clobes and Bennett Kerfeld as examples from the chart, their Tbrk2 scores would be:
        • Round 1: Tommy = 1; Bennett = 1
        • Round 2: Tommy = 3 (1+2); Bennett = 3 (same)
        • Round 3: Tommy = 5 (1+2+2)- Tommy lost in round 3 to Bennett; Bennett = 6 (1+2+3)
        • Round 4: Tommy = 8  (1+2+2+3); Bennett = 9 (1+2+3+3)- Bennett lost to Ryker Huseby in Round 4
        • Round 5: Tommy =  12 (1+2+2+3+4); Bennett = 13 (1+2+3+3+4)
        • Round 6: Tommy = 17 (1+2+2+3+4+5); Bennett = 18 (1+2+3+3+4+5)
        • So by winning in an earlier round and losing in a later round, Bennett’s Tbrk2 is a bit higher.
      • There are two other tiebreakers we use, but in 5 years we have never had to go to them, so we leave them off of the chart.
  • What is Swiss style pairings? How are pairings determined?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    At all YEL chess tournaments, we don't know the level of play of all chess players.  So, the software we use (WinTD) is designed to put all students into one bracket, separated by grade levels.  This is called Swiss Style bracketing or pairing.

    In early rounds, students are paired at random with preference given to pairing the most experienced students against the least experienced.  So, if you have an established LOCAL rating of 800 or more, you will likely play another player with no rating or an assigned rating of 200-400.

    As the rounds progress, the determining factors are:

    • Score - In the fourth round, for instance, a student with 3 points will likely play another player with 3 points.  A player with 0 points will likely play another player with 0 points.  Etc.
    • Color - If you are due to play black, the software tries to pair you with some one with the same point total who is due to play white.
    • Team - The software will avoid pairing students from the same school.  Usually only the Grade 6+ division might play players from the same school, but the K-1, 2-3 and 4-5 divisions will not unless an announcement is made to the contrary at the tournament.

    NOTE: When a division has 7 or fewer players, we may decide to use a round robin or double round robin format.  In this format, each player plays every other player in their division once or twice.

  • How is the team score determined?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    • Team standings incorporate all divisions between kindergarten and 5th grade (6th and up don’t count for the team trophy).
    • We take the top four scores from each school and add them up.  We do this manually based on the computer calculated individual player scores.
    • The standings will be posted throughout the day.  It is sometimes difficult to post the Team Standings after each round, but we will try to come close to that.
    • The software is designed to avoid pairing students from the same school.  However, if there are fewer participants in a division or if the top players are from the same school, it is unavoidable to pair students from the same school.
      • We will make an announcement if a division must include pairings from the same school.
    • TIEBREAKERS are used in the same fashion for the team score as they are for the individual scores.
  • How are prize awards determined?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    • Trophies are given out to 1st-5th in each section
    • Medals are given out to the rest of the participants based on their score at the end of the tournament.  Typically, it works like this:
      • 3.5 points or more without a trophy = Gold
      • 2.5-3.0 points = Silver
      • 2 or fewer points = Bronze
      • These may be adjusted if more or fewer games are played.
      • NOTE: The Anoka tournament does not include medals.

    Curious students may ask how they know if they get a trophy.  We don't know until the entire tournament is finished, but typically you need 4.5 or more points to get a trophy.  Sometimes you need 5.0 or more to get a trophy if there is a number of students tied at the top of a division.

  • Do parents need to stay all day?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016
    • A lot of parents ask if they need to stay the entire day.  Some bullet points:
      • We ask that parents stay through the opening announcements which start at 9am.
      • We encourage them to stay through the first round which should end around 10:05am.
      • We suggest that parents return by 2:30pm in case the tournament is over quicker than expected.  The awards presentation usually starts between 2:45-3pm, but may start as early as 2:30pm if the event is finished faster than expected.
      • K-1 students: Parents usually stay with their child in the k-1 division.
      • 2-3, 4-5 and 6+: It's really dependent on the child.  Some 3rd graders are completely independent.  Others need more nurturing.  We suggest you ask your child.
        • Often a parent will leave for an hour or two and come back.
      • Cell phone numbers - If you leave the event, please make sure that we have your contact number on the sign in sheet and make sure you take our contact number at the event.
  • Should my child play in a chess tournament?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    YES!  Chess tournaments are fun and a great way for students to accelerate their chess skills.  Some determining factors for whether your child should attend:

    • K-1 grades: Students in this division should understand piece movement and capturing, can identify check and have a basic understanding of the Rook Ladder.
      • NOTE: Students who finish at the top of this division usually have a solid grasp of the Rook Ladder.
    • 2-3 grades: Same as k-1 grades, but they should understand solid openings (e4, Knights before Bishops, castling, etc.), should have a grounding in how to block the four move checkmate and should have a firm grasp of the Rook Ladder.
    • 4-5 grades: As above.
    • 6+: As above.
  • What do players do between rounds?
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    We offer a lot of options for players to have fun between rounds.

    • Gym time with some organized games.
    • Snacks and beverages.
    • Pizza at the end of round three.
    • Parents versus kids dodge ball.

    In addition, some kids like to play chess with friends or family between rounds, do sudoku, read, joke around with friends, etc.

  • Parent tips.
    Chet Gunhus03-02-2016

    Prepare for the tournament:

    • Play some practice games and positions in the week leading up to the tournament.
    • Get your sleep the night before.  It's a lot of thinking and lots of sleep helps lots of thinking.
    • Eat a good breakfast, but not too much.
    • We have crackers, cookies and beverages for snacks and pizza coming as well.  If you want something more, please provide it.
    • Bring some extras for your child.  We will have access to a gym to burn off steam between games, but you can also send Sudoku, reading material or other things to keep kids engaged between games.

    The day of the tournament

    • Focus on fun!  Ask questions like:
      • How was the pizza?
      • Did you get anybody in the dodge ball game?
      • Are the cookies tasty?
      • Isn't chess fun!
    • The game - Some students want to race to their parent and tell them the result.  Others prefer to move on with their day and dive into a book or gym time.  Parental encouragement can serve as a life lesson for your child.  Properly phrased questions can help the student get ready for the next game.
      • What did you do right in that last game?  (castling, knights out in opening, captured opponents queen, etc.)
      • What do you think might work in the next game?
      • Let's go play in the gym!
      • Remember, every chess player will lose at some point.  Even the world's greatest players lose occasionally.
  • Do we need four players to make a team?
    Chet Gunhus04-02-2016

    The short answer is no.  We count your school as a team whether you have 1 player or 20 players.

    We merge all divisions (K-1, 2-3 & 4-5) and take the top four scores from your school.  We total those scores to get the team score.

    We use the same tiebreakers for the teams as we do for individuals.

  • What is a good result?
    Chet Gunhus04-02-2016

    I think the first determining factors are:

    • Did your child have fun?
    • Are they interested in future chess classes, chess games at home, chess tournaments?

    As far as the score goes, Swiss Style tournaments are designed to have a few people at the top, a few people at the bottom and a bunch of people in the middle.  Most players leave with a score of 2.0 to 3.5.

    In chess jargon:

    • A plus player is a player with a final score greater than the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 3.5 or more at a YEL six round tournament.
    • A minus player is a player with a final score less than the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 2.5 or less at a YEL six round tournament.
    • An even player is a player with a final score equal to the number of rounds divided by 2.
      • 3.0 score at a YEL six round tournament.
  • How closely are the kids monitored?
    Chet Gunhus04-02-2016

    We have a lot of staff in place at each event.  However, the primary responsibility of our tournament staff is to monitor chess play, monitor the gym and keep the tournament timeline on track.

    Participants should be mature enough to either monitor themselves or a parent should be present to watch over their child(ren).

    Our gym staff will organize some activities and are present to ensure child safety.