Scholastic chess teams are a little different than other sports. As opposed to a fixed roster, anyone who shows up from a particular school is on the team and can contribute to the team’s ranking in the tournament. Competition is for both individual and team placement. While any number of students may participate from each school, only the top 4 scores per division (or in some tournaments the top 4 scores from the school) count towards the team’s score. Our elementary and middle schools are considered separate schools and therefore have separate teams.
While the Houston area has chess tournaments virtually every weekend, we have decided as a club to target one event each month and push for a large turnout. The kids can still attend any of the others if they and their families wish. However, the kids usually enjoy participation in the targeted tournaments for a number of reasons:
- Extra camaraderie
- The club will send a coach to help with questions and to go over games
- Because of the larger number of T.H. Rogers students in attendance, the kids are more likely to earn a team trophy
Signing Up to Play
It is the individual student’s responsibility, in conjunction with his/her family, to send in the appropriate registration materials and fees to the tournament director listed on the flyer or announcement. It is also the student’s responsibility to maintain his/her USCF membership if that is required. That said, the kids will sign up for the HISD Elementary tournament and the HCA “Team” tournament through the club. These are the only tournaments where signups are handled through the club.
Which Division to Sign Up for
Many scholastic tournaments offer both United States Chess Federation (USCF) rated divisions as well unrated divisions. Those who have signed up for “chess team” must play in the USCF rated divisions. This includes new team members who have yet to receive a rating… you still sign up for the rated division. While we recommend that all of the other children participating in a tournament choose the USCF rated divisions, they may choose to play in either the rated or unrated divisions. The only reason to choose an unrated division is to “try out” playing in a tournament before spending the the money to join the USCF.
Parental Responsibilities At the Tournament
The T. H. Rogers Chess Program is not responsible for watching your child at a tournament. You may not just drop your child off and drive away. Very young children – all kindergartners and first graders – should have a parent there all day. As your children get older and have more experience in tournament play, and when you know they can handle defeat as well as victory, you may consider carpooling with another parent. But, all children must have a designated adult at the tournament who is responsible for them.
Remember, you are there to be supportive of your child whether they win or lose their games. Our goal is to maintain a positive and fun atmosphere for the kids as they play. Whether they win or lose their games, encourage them to analyze them with the coaches.
Notes on Away Meets
It is each family’s responsibility to pay for the transportation, food, lodging, and entry fees for each member of their family traveling to the meet. The club will provide financial aid (to the extent possible) to those families for whom participation would otherwise be impossible.
In general, state tournaments are held over 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. For those events, it is best to travel on the Friday before and the Monday after. National tournaments usually start on Friday. Therefore, traveling on Thursday works the best.
All Kindergarten-2nd graders must be accompanied by a parent. 3rd – 8th graders may travel under the supervision of another parent with a signed consent form. However, there must be an adult in every hotel room. That means we need at least one responsible parent for each 3-4 older children.
- A Tournament Chess Primer For Parents covers the notation used on tournament flyers, byes, the swiss-system pairings, ratings and the USCF, and other aspects of a tournament.
- Kevin Bachler, a chess coach and FIDE Master, wrote the article How to Be a Good Chess Parent.
- Ms. Jenkinson, our former chess club director, wrote an article to answer the question, “Is My Child Ready to Play in a Tournament?”.
- More links …