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Chess Tournaments: What To Expect

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With the school year well underway, school chess clubs are in full swing! Students in after-school chess clubs often look for more opportunities to play chess outside the club. Almost all local scholastic chess communities provide interested students the opportunity to play rated chess tournaments, mainly on the weekends. 

Is my child ready for chess tournaments? 

This is a very important question! It is important to emphasize the experience: team spirit and making new friends over the winning and losing. That said, the student should be able to play a legal game of chess from start to finish, know all of the rules, be able to identify check and checkmate, and play with good sportsmanship.

What to expect at a chess tournament:

1. Touch-move rule! All participants must play by the touch-move rule, which has three parts: a.) If you touch a piece, you must move that piece as long as it is a legal move. b.) If you touch your opponent's piece and can capture that piece, you must capture. c.) Once you let go of the chess piece your turn is over -- no takebacks in chess!

2.) No talking! All players are expected to play quietly so that they do not disturb their opponent or others around them who are trying to concentrate. If you have any questions during the game raise your hand and a tournament director in the room will be happy to help.

3.) Chess notation! Players who play rated chess games will be expected to write down their moves. Some K-3 sections might not enforce this rule. The reason to write down your moves is in case there is a dispute during the game.

4.) Chess clocks! When one player presses the clock button, the opponent's time will start running. If one player runs out of time, even if winning, they will lose the game.

5.) Registered players play all rounds! Most scholastic tournament are anywhere from three to five rounds. Registered players are expected to complete all of the rounds unless you notify the tournament director before hand that you have to leave. Never just leave a tournament without telling someone as that means some other player will not get to play.

6.) Tournaments can last three to five hours! Be sure to bring some healthy snacks, books, etc...I have even seen some parents bring lawn chairs to make sure they will be comfortable while their children are playing!

Most important: have fun and enjoy the opportunity to play!