Frequently Asked Questions
Virginia Grade School Chess Championships -- Online

NOTE:  The phrase "Grade School" in this document refers to Pre-K through 12

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1.  What are the Grade School Qualification Tournaments (GSQTs)?
:  The GSQTs, also called "the Quaification Tournaments" or "the Qualifiers", are a primary way for Virginians to earn the right to play in the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament (SSIT) in April or May 2021. 
Players who perform well in their section of a GSQT have a strong chance of qualifying for the SSIT.  During a GSQT both the size and strength of a section influence and determine how many players qualify for the SSIT.  A large, strong K-5 section in one GSQT will qualify more players than a small, weaker section in another GSQT.  For each GSQT a minimum of 3 players will qualify from each section up to a maximum of 10 players from each section.  You and your schoolmates need to play in the GSQTs because it allows more players to qualify for the SSIT—maybe even you!!

2.  When are the Grade School Qualification Tournaments (GSQTs) going to be played?
:  The three (3) Qualification Tournaments are scheduled for January 9-10, February 27-28, and March 20-21, all in 2021.

3.  How many players can qualify for the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament (SSIT)?
:  The SSIT could have up to 40 players in each of the grade groups—K-3, K-5, K-8, and K-12.  That’s a total of up to 160 players!  Of the maximum of 40 players who qualify from each grade group, up to 30 can qualify through the Grade School Qualification Tournaments.  The remaining 10 will be invited to play by the Virginia Chess Federation based on their being one of the Top 10 players in the state in their grade group.  (See also the 2nd part of Question 1 above.)

4.  How many players from our school can play in the three Grade School Qualification Tournaments (GSQTs)?
:  As many as you want!  That's right, there is no limit.  Players can play in one, two or all three GSQTs.  Playing in all three is THE BEST WAY to ensure your school team earns the maximum number of team points.

5.  Are Team awards given out at the Grade School Qualification Tournaments (GSQT) or the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament (SSIT)?
:  YES, there will be team awards given out at each of the GSQTs.  In addition, the Virginia Chess Federation will use each school’s points earned in the GSQTs to determine State Champion Teams in April or May.  A school whose players compete in only 1 or 2 GSQTs may not be able to earn as many points for their team compared to another school that plays in all 3 GSQTs.  Team awards will be handed out in April or May, after all 3 GSQTs are finished.  Schools will be rank ordered for team awards based on the points earned by their players in the GSQTs.

6.   I don’t understand how Team awards are being determined, can you explain it?
Answer:  Players earn points for their school teams by participating on one, two, or all three of the Grade School Qualification Tournaments (GSQTs).  After the last GSQT is held in March 2021, the VCF totals-up the team points earned by players from each school.  The team with the most points in each section of the GSQTs (e.g. K-3, K-5, etc.) is crowned as the “2020-2021 Virginia K-X Chess Team Champion” for that grade-group.  If two or more schools tie for 1st place, all of the tied schools will be recognized as “Co-Champions”, but the 1st Place Team Trophy will go to the school whose top player accrued the most points.  If two or more of the top players are tied, then the tie will be broken by the team players with the 2nd most points for their team, etc.

7.  If I am already qualified for the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament based on an invitation from the Virginia Chess Federation, do I need to play in the Grade School Qualification Tournaments?
: If you want to earn points for your school’s chess team then YOU NEED TO PLAY in as many qualifiers as you can—even if you already have qualified for the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament (SSIT).  Already-qualified players who play in a Grade School Qualification Tournament DO NOT BLOCK other players from qualifying.  For example, if “Jonny Smith” already is qualified for the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament, plays in the January GSQT, and wins it, then the VCF will pass down his qualification berth from the GSQT to the next player in Jonny’s section of the GSQT.  In other words, if 10 players qualify from Jonny’s section in the January GSQT based on the size and strength of the section, then players 2 through 11 in that section will be awarded the 10 qualification spots.

8.  Can a home school player play for our public or private school team if s/he attended our school last year but is home-schooling this year because of COVID-19?
:  In general, No.  If you feel you may have an exception, contact the Virginia Chess Federation by clicking here and providing your rationale.

9.  What is the Virginia Chess Federation (VCF) going to do to prevent cheating in the online games?
:  The VCF will not tolerate cheating.  We will organize the Grade School Qualification Tournaments on a game platform whose Fair Play Detection Methods have been endorsed by the US Chess Federation.  At this writing two companies’ chess platforms have been endorsed by US Chess— and the Internet Chess Club (ICC).  The US Chess Federation was not paid for either endorsement; rather, a team of professional (PhD) statisticians signed non-disclosure agreements and conducted a detailed examination of both company’s methods on behalf of US Chess.  The reviewers were not compensated for their recommendations to US Chess.  In addition to the analysis by the game platform, VCF will subject “suspicious players’ games” to more intensive analysis in the days after the tournament.  For this reason, the “final results” of a GSQT may not be available for up to 3 weeks in accordance with Chapter 10 of the US Chess Rules of Chess (7th ed.).

10.  Will the VCF disqualify players from the tournament who are caught cheating during the event?
:  This situation is very possible. 

11.  How do I find out if I am one of the “Top 10” players in K-3, K-5, K-8 or K-12 in Virginia?  When and how will this be determined?
:  The Virginia Chess Federation (VCF) will publish preliminary lists beginning the first week of December 2020 based on the ratings found in the US Chess December Rating Supplement.  The December Rating Supplement will be the authoritative source for ratings used by the VCF to establish Top 10 Player Lists for schoolyear 2020-21 in the grade-groups of K-3, K-5, K-8 and K-12.  Publicizing the list for several weeks before we “lock it in” allows players, parents and coaches to point out players whose names are not on the list but should be.

12.  We just moved to Virginia from Kentucky.  Can we play in the Qualification Tournaments or qualify to play in the State Invitational?
:  Assuming you are attending public, private, or home school in VA, you must meet one of two conditions.  First, you can qualify for the State Invitational based on your performance in one of the three Grade School Qualification Tournaments.  Second, if the higher of your US Chess Over-the-Board or Online or Regular Rating makes you one of the Top 10 players in VA for your grade group (e.g. K-3, K-5, etc.), then you must have been attending grade school in Virginia as of the start of school in January 2021 in the school district where you live.  Someone who moves into VA after public school starts in their school district cannot qualify based on rating.  Rather, they must play in one of the Qualification Tournaments.  We use as a benchmark the start of public school in the school district where you live so that all players, including home schooled players, have a common standard.

13.  If I am in the Top 10 List for my grade-group, how will I be notified and how will I be invited to play in the State Scholastic Invitational Tournament in April or May 2021?
:  The VCF will begin contacting players by email not long after the VCF publishes the Top 10 Lists.  Formal “invitations” to play will not be distributed until the list is locked-in, which will happen before the last Qualification Tournament.

14.  I attend two different schools during the week.  For what school am I earning team points?
:  You can only earn team points for one school.  The school that gets your team points is the school considered by your school district to be your principal school.  If you have questions on this, please contact the VCF.

15.  What happens to the "team poins" I earn if I change schools part way through the school year?
:  Any team points you earn stay with the school you were attending at the time you played in a Grade School Qualification Tournament, they DO NOT transfer when you change schools.