Chess Tournament FAQ

How does a chess tournament work?

The players are divided into groups called "Sections" based on grade and skill level, and play only against other children in their section.  Each game a player wins is worth one point, and a draw (tie) is worth half a point.  Chess tournaments are typically 3-5 rounds, and non-elimination, so all players play every round, regardless of their results.  At the end of the tournament the top players in each section and the top schools win trophies.  When there are ties, we use a 4-level tiebreak system. The day before each tournament we send out an email to the registrants with information and details on that specific tournament.

Is my child ready for a tournament?

Probably!  Our tournaments are really beginner friendly, and hundreds of children do their first ever tournament with us each year.  Anyone who's comfortable with the rules and has gotten a checkmate or two on purpose during a game in chess club is ready.

I should sign up for your chess tournament newsletter, right?


How long is a tournament?

Silver Knights tournaments range from 3 hours to a full day, but you should check the specific listing.  The trophy ceremony generally concludes 15 minutes after the last game finishes so if a listing says 1pm-5pm, you can expect the announcements to start at 1pm, the last game to end at 5pm, and the trophy ceremony to conclude at 5:15pm.  Our tournaments sometimes end early, but they almost never end late.

Wait, is my child going to be playing chess for FOUR HOURS?  That seems like too long...

Nah, they'll be fine.  There's an hour allotted for each game, and since most games take less than the full hour, the kids return to the space where the parents are waiting (called the "skittles room" in chess parlance) until the next game starts.

Does my child need to write down their moves?

This is called taking notation.  We don't require it at our tournaments, though it is encouraged for players who've done a few tournaments, and we supply scoresheets and pencils.  We don't generally teach it in our school chess clubs or summer camps, but it's an integral part of our fantastic Tournament Training classes.

What's this USCF membership thing?

The US Chess Federation (USCF) has a rating system used to rank chess players throughout the country.  It helps ensure that players get fair games, and can be placed in the correct sections.  In general, if a player wins, their rating goes up, and if they lose it goes down.  Ratings range from 100 (brand new tournament player) to 1000 (Championship section at our tournaments) to 2200 (master) to 2800 (US champion).  If you're interested in more detail, here's like.... way, way more information.

We provide free USCF memberships to players participating in the tournament when it is needed to rate the event. Memberships that are active cannot be renewed through our system.

I'm interested in details about pairings and how tie breaks work.

We use Swiss-system pairings and the tiebreaks we use are (in order) Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, and Opposition Cumulative.Opposition Cumulative.