Tournament Rules -- MAIN EVENT
Please read carefully ... there is plenty of information on this page

Last updated December 12, 2017

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  • Round 1 is at 9AM on Saturday March 3rd.  See the "Event Schedule" for the times of Rounds 2 through 6.

  • To Register Online for the Main Event, select the REGISTRATION TAB on the left or click the link below.  The Entry Fee is $50 if you register and pay by midnight on Monday, Feb 26th, 2018.  Starting on Tuesday Feb 27th, and at the tournament site, the entry fee increases to $65.  We strongly encourage you to register on-line using the buttons below; however, if you prefer to register by U.S. Mail, CLICK HERE.  If you register on-line you don't need to send in a mail-in registration form.
    Register Now for the Main Event      See who's Playing

  • Player Eligibility:

    • Scholastic Players must be attending a public, private, or home school in VA ... or be a Virginia Resident attending another school out of state. 

    • College players must be attending college FULL TIME in VA, or be VA residents attending college out-of-state.  Also, titled IM, FM, or GM players cannot be more than 25 years old as of September 1, 2017.  "Full Time" means attending "full time" based on the rules for full-time student status at your college or university.  A high schooler taking college courses CANNOT play in the College section.

    • See also our Frequently Asked Questions page for several more eligibility-related questions impacting players and teams.  Please direct any Eligibility Questions to Mike Hoffpauir as shown at the bottom of this page.

    • ALL PLAYERS must be active members of the US Chess Federation. To join the USCF, or to renew your existing membership, click here.  If you are unsure about your membership status, go to the USCF's Member Support Area.

  • Cell Phone Policy and Policy for other Electronic Devices (other than clocks and USCF-approved Electronic Notation Devices).  CELL PHONES must be turned-off while your game is in progress and placed face-down on the table at your board.  Better still, leave your phone with your parents, team or Coach.  Once your game begins you MAY NOT have a phone on your person, in your pocket, etc.  It must remain at your table, face-down, turned-off.  A phone that rings shall incur a 10-minute time penalty for the offending player.  A player who answers his/her cell phone, is "texting" during play, or is found with a phone on their person is very very likely to forfeit their current game and their continuation in the tournament is at severe risk.

  • Players play is in one of five (5) "Sections" based on their grade in schoolK-3, K-5, K-8, K-12, and College.   

    • Players may "play-up" into a higher section.  In other words, a very talented 7th grader may play in the K-12 Section.  The College Section is only for players who have completed High School and are now attending College.  In other words, the College Section is only for College players.

    • Players who "play-up" into the K-12 Section are not eligible to qualify for the Denker Tournament of HS Champions (those players must be in 9th-12th grade).  Female players who "play-up" into the K-12 Section ARE ELIGIBLE to represent the state at the National Girls Tournament of Champions.

  • Six Rounds of Chess in the K-3, K-5, K-8 and K-12 Sections.  The College Section plays only 4 rounds, all on Saturday.

    • Swiss System, with tie-breaks in the sequence specified in the US Chess Federation's Rules of Chess, 6th Edition.  See also "Ties" below.

    • Each player can request one 1/2-point BYE.

      • Byes for Rounds 1-2 must be requested before registration closes at 9 PM on Friday evening.

      • Byes for Rounds 3-6 must be requested before the start of Round 2 at 12-noon on Saturday.

    • 4 Rounds on Saturday, 2 Rounds on Sunday (see "Event Schedule").

    • For ROUND 1 ONLY, the Chief TD reserves the right to re-pair any player whose opponent does not arrive after the first 15-20 minutes.  If done, the player will be re-paired against another player in the same section who also does not have an opponent, AND who:  1) is not a teammate, and 2) has a rating that is at least 400 points higher or lower, depending upon what "half" of the draw the players were listed for Round 1.  Players who are re-paired receive the full Round 1 Time Control of Game-60, 5-second delay.

    • Time Controls:  Rounds 1-3 (Game-60), Rounds 4-6 (Game-90) ... with a 5-second Time Delay in each round.

    • The Chief TD may use Accelerated Pairings in Rounds 1 and 2 for sections with more than 128 players.  If accelerated pairings are in use, the Chief TD will announce this information prior to the start of Round 1 in the affected section(s).

    • We will make every effort not to pair teammates against each other.  However, there are instances when players, parents and coaches should expect this to happen, such as when more than half of the players in a Section or a Score-group are from the same team.  This is not un-common in later rounds of the tournament, and can happen as early as Round 2 under certain conditions.

  • Teams This is an INDIVIDUAL tournament, with Team Points determined using the results of the players' wins, losses and draws on each Team. 

    • A "Team" is defined as two or more players who attend the same school and who are playing in the same section of the tournament.  You DO NOT have to be on a "team" to play in this tournament.  But, if two or more players register for the tournament they are "by default" considered as a team ... regardless of whether their school has a Chess Club or formal "team."

    • For the Main Tournament, Team Points are calculated by adding the scores of the 4 best-performing players from the same school.  This means the 4 players who score the most game points (e.g. wins and draws), it has nothing to do with their Ratings.  For Blitz, we use the Top 3 performing players.

    • Schools may not have more than one team competing in the same section.  All players who go to the same school are on the same team.

    • Players who "Play Up" cannot have their points counted with the points of school-mates playing in another section of the tournament.  However, if two or more players from the same school play up, they are a "team" in that section of the tournament.

    • Anyone with questions about their Team's composition--especially players who are Home Schooled--should contact Mike Hoffpauir as shown at the bottom of this screen.  Also, see the "Teams -- Frequently Asked Questions" page we've created.

  • Chess Notation:  Players in all Sections except K-3 are required to record their games using Chess Notation.  Practice now!!  The only authorized electronic score-keeping (notation) devices that can be used in the State Championships are those approved by the US Chess Federation. 

  • "ARMAGEDDON PLAYOFF":  In the K-12 and K-8 Sections if there is a tie for 1st place among two or more players with perfect 6.0 scores, there will be an "Armageddon Playoff" to determine who wins the 1st Place Trophy.  This playoff also will determine which K-12 player has 1st choice to represent Virginia at the 2018 Denker Tournament of High School Champions, and which K-8 player has 1st choice to represent Virginia at the 2018 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions.  An Armageddon Playoff means the two players play one game.  The player with the higher Tie-Break Points after 6 Rounds has a choice of playing White with 7 minutes on his/her clock, or playing Black with 5 minutes and "Draw Odds."  There is no time-delay, and this playoff game is NOT rated.  If the game result is a draw, Black wins the Armageddon Playoff.  If 3 players are tied with perfect scores, then the player with the highest Tie Breaks after 6 rounds of the tournament will play the winner of the Armageddon Playoff between the two Players in 2nd and 3rd place (based on Tie Breaks) after 6 rounds.  Again, this Playoff only determines who wins 1st Place among 2 or more players who are tied at the end of the tournament with perfect 6.0 scores. 

    • For more information, contact Mike Hoffpauir, National Tournament Director. 

    • We advise parents/coaches of high-rated players to take time to understand this paragraph and to discuss it with their players.

  • The Top Finishing player, male or female, in the K-8 Section is eligible to receive assistance to represent Virginia at the Barber Tournament of State Middle School Champions held in late July and early August 2018 during the US Open.  This year, the Barber Tournament is being held in MADISON, WISCONSIN.

  • The Top Finishing FEMALE player from the K-12 Section is eligible to receive assistance to represent Virginia at the National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC) held during the US Open in late July and early August 2018.  This year, the NGTOC is being held in MADISON, WISCONSIN.  The NGTOC does not have a minimum age specification, so a talented 6th grade girl who competes in the K-12 Section can be the state's NGTOC representative.  Any female player wanting a chance to represent Virginia in the NGTOC must play in the K-12 Section of the Virginia Scholastic Championships.

  • The Top Finishing high-school age player, male or female, in the High School Section is eligible to receive assistance to represent Virginia at the Arnold Denker Tournament of State High School Champions held in late July and early August 2018 during the US Open.  This year, the Denker Tournament is being held in MADISON, WISCONSIN.

  • Chess Sets and Boards are provided at the tournament.  BRING YOUR CLOCK (if you own one) and some pens and pencils.  Clocks, pencils and scorebooks will be available on site at our Book Store.


A Few More Selected Tournament Rules
These rules supplement the US Chess Federation (USCF) Rule Book (6th ed) and apply only to this tournament.

  • Chess Equipment

    • Pens / Pencils:  Players are responsible for bringing their own pens or pencils.  We will not provide them at the tournament.

    • Chess NotationPlayers in all Sections except K-3 are required to record their games.  All players should arrive at the tournament knowing how to take chess notation, there is no time to teach notation over the board during play. Players who cannot take notation due to religious reasons or a physical disability should inform the Section Chief in their Section. "I don't know how to take notation" is not an excuse.

    • Chess ClocksIf you have a chess clock, please bring it ... and be sure your batteries are fresh.  Know how to use a clock, because your opponent is likely to have one.  If either player brings a clock to the board, the clock must be used ... "I don't like using a clock" or "I don't know how to use a clock" is not an excuse.  You do not need to have a clock to play in the main tournament, but it's a good idea to get one for yourself ... using a clock keeps the game moving along.  Also, players are responsible for knowing how to set their own clocks, don't expect the Tournament Directors to help you.

    • Electronic Move-recording Devices:  The only authorized electronic recording devices are the Monroi, E-Notate, and the PlyCount.  Absolutely no other devices will be allowed--no cell phones with apps, etc.

  • Player Pairings

    • The Tournament Director creates pairings using USCF-approved computer software, with the pairings themselves approved by the Chief TD before they are posted to the public. 

    • During the first 3 or 4 Rounds of the tournament it is highly unlikely that siblings or teammates will be paired against one another.  However, the probability for this scenario increases in later rounds when siblings or teammates are in contention for trophies.  For instance, imagine a scenario where after 4 rounds, there are 6 players with 4 points each, and 4 of those players go to the same school.  In this example, at least two of the players from the same school must play a teammate, it could be more.  Remember, this tournament is, foremost, an INDIVIDUAL tournament.

    • All players and parents should be aware that the Chief Tournament Director may use "Accelerated Pairings" for the first 2 rounds of the tournament.

  • Ties:  The Tournament Director breaks ties using the methods specified by the U.S. Chess Federation (Rules of Chess, 6th Edition).  Players or Teams tied for 1st place are considered "State Co-Champions."  However, the Player/Team with the best tie-break points will receive the 1st place trophy.  The sequence for Individual tie-breaks is: Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, Cumulative of Opposition.  Ties among Teams are broken using these tie-breaks: Solkoff, Cumulative, Cumulative of Opposition.

  • Problems during the Game:  If you have a problem during play, stop your clock (if one is being used) and raise your hand.  Do not get into an argument or discussion about the game with your opponent ... it disturbs the players around you.  When a Tournament Director arrives at your board, state your question or problem and wait for the TD's reply.  You don't need to ask permission to use the bathroom.  IF THE CLOCK AT THE BOARD IS NOT YOURS, BE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE CLOCK PAUSE ... ASK your opponent!!

  • When your Game is Finished:  Raise your hand and wait for a TD to arrive.  Do not reset your pieces until the TD instructs you to reset them.  The TD will ensure your game's results are properly written on the Game Result Slip.  DO NOT LEAVE before you verify your game results with a TD. 

Questions:  Contact Mike Hoffpauir by email, or phone 757-846-4805