The  National Educational Chess Association tournament is coming and it's an opportunity for your child to put their training to the test. Beginning players will be able to take part in an established and respected tournament. Experienced ones will have the opportunity to mark their progress against other sophisticated players.

The tournament traditionally draws tournament-ready and experienced players from across Fairfield County, Westchester County and Connecticut.Round times are currently set for: 9:30 AM; 10:45 AM; 12:00 PM; 1:15 PM. However, apart from the start of the tournament, organizers may start individual rounds sooner or later depending on the flow of play. It’s best to be on site. of these players!


  • MIDDLE SCHOOL: Open to grades 6-8

  • ELEMENTARY OPEN: Open to all players up to grades 4-5

  • ELEMENTARY NOVICE: Open to all players up to grades 4-5 who are playing their 1st or 2nd tournament, or players with a U.S. Chess Federation rating under 500, or who are unrated

  • PRIMARY OPEN: Open to all players up to grades 2-3

  • PRIMARY NOVICE: Open to grades 2-3 who are playing their 1st or 2nd tournament, or players with a U.S. Chess Federation rating under 400, or who are unrated.

  • FIRST GRADE: Open to 1st graders.

  • KINDERGARTEN: Open to kindergartners.



This is a great opportunity to let your child test their skills against others at their level in an official U.S. Chess Federation event organized by experienced tournament officials. We count on the participation and support of parents like you to make this a longstanding, positive environment for growth and healthy competition.

Parents will guide their children to their place to commence the tournament, and then will be invited to await the result outside the tournament hall while the players battle it out under the supervision of our team of judges. After concluding their matches and reporting the result to the tournament director and their team, they will exit the hall and look for you. We encourage you to discuss the match with them and help them get ready for the next round. This can be an emotional experience forthem. It’s also helpful to us and our hosts at the Italian Center if you can supervise your child during this period, helping them exercise appropriate behavior while we set up for the next round. At the end of the tournament, make sure to attend the awards ceremony where we not only celebrate the top players in each division, but every child for taking part in an important event.

It’s a great experience to share with your child and an opportunity to develop skill and character.

Congratulations! Your child knows the rules of chess and is confident enough to enter a tournament. This will be the first tournament for many of the players, and each tournament is a learning experience for everyone. This guide is designed to answer the most common questions and prepare parents for the tournament.

Parents should expect to console their children when they lose and encourage good sportsmanship regardless of the results. Children play chess best when they are not surging with adrenaline (or sugar) and when they know that their primary aim is to play their best, not necessarily to win. The ultimate winners of every event are the players who do not get too low after a defeat, or too high after a win.

What is a Swiss-System tournament?

Most chess tournaments are known as "Swiss-System" events. This means that players are paired against others with similar scores. The pairing system is quite complicated and leaves the director almost no room for discretion. At the U.S. Chess Center and at tournaments we direct, we use a computer program that does the pairings for us. Although experienced directors will review the pairings for accuracy (even the best program has a few glitches), the director never arbitrarily makes changes in the pairings the computer assigns.

In short, the Swiss System operates by ordering the players by rating, and pairing the top player with the player just under the half-way mark. The second player is paired against the next player under the opponent of the top player, and so forth.

Players earn one point for winning, a half point for drawing. In each round after the first round, the players compete with others who have the same number of points. If there is an odd number of players in a score group, the lowest ranked player in the group is paired against the top available player in the next group down.Players never compete against the same opponent twice in a tournament, and efforts are made to alternate the color of the pieces the player uses each round.

Nobody is eliminated in a Swiss System tournament. All players are expected to compete all of the way through the tournament. It is bad for the tournament to have players withdraw (quit).


A player with a bye in a particular round does not play that round. There are two types of byes. When a tournament has an odd number of players, the bottom player does not play one round. Instead, that player is awarded a “full-point bye,” meaning that the player receives a point, as if he or she won a game. A player receiving a full-point bye will see “please wait” written across from his name on the pairing sheet. No player receives more than one bye per tournament. Sometimes, the player receiving the bye will be paired against someone else, who either is not enrolled in the tournament or is enrolled in a different section that also has an odd number of players. In a rated tournament the game will count for ratings, but the players both receive a point for the tournament.

In a rated tournament, a player competing in his or her first tournament will not receive a bye, except in very unusual circumstances. This is because a player will not earn a publishable rating until he or she has played four games, and we want players to earn ratings as fast as possible.

Players unable to be at the tournament for a certain round may request a “half-point bye.” This second type of bye awards a player the same score as would a draw. In most tournaments, half-point byes must be requested before the player begins to play in the event and are not available for the final round.They are most often taken in the first round, when a player cannot get to the tournament by the time it begins.


We strongly discourage withdrawing from tournaments. Players who leave because they lose are missing some of the greatest benefits of the game. Learning to come back after a defeat is very important in much more than just chess. However, if an emergency arises and a player must leave, it is crucial to inform the tournament director that the player will not attend the next round. It is unfair to the others in the tournament to leave without telling the director, as it means that at least one other player will not get to play a game.

The Awards Ceremony:

Similarly, we think that all players should remain for the awards ceremony. In most scholastic events (all that we conduct) every competitor will receive some sort of recognition, regardless of score. Those who win the top prizes, naturally, feel better knowing that their efforts are recognized by others.


In most tournaments, a pre-determined number of top prizes (usually trophies) are awarded at the end. In a four-round tournament (which is most common) there will always be ties. When two or more players have won all of their games, we will have a blitz chess play-off, in which the co-champions play one game of five-minute chess to determine who wins which trophy. When the tied players did not win all of their games, we use a tie-break system that determines the strength of the players' competition by counting the number of points the opponents earned. (Ratings are irrelevant to tie-breaks.) We acknowledge that this system, like every other, is not completely “fair,” but we have to break the ties somehow and this is the method used in nearly all chess tournaments.

Ratings and the USCF

Many of the chess tournaments we sponsor, and most tournaments elsewhere, are sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF). Nearly always, membership in the USCF is required in order to participate. Despite the similarity of names, there is no connection between the USCF and the U.S. Chess Center.

Annual membership dues for players vary by age but range from $17 to $49. The USCF publishes two magazines, Chess Life, a monthly magazine geared towards adult players, andChess Life for Kids, a magazine for elementary school students. Membership in the USCF may be purchased at any time through the U.S. Chess Center.

The USCF developed, and is constantly modifying, a sophisticated rating system for its members. By playing in tournaments,players earn a rating, which rises each time a player wins, and falls each time a player loses. The rating of the opponent is the major component of the formula. Children place great value in their ratings, a fact we at the U.S. Chess Center find mildly disturbing. Players sometimes play considerably below their capability when they notice that their opponent's rating is much higher or lower than their own. As a result, we make every effort to reduce the significance of a player's rating.

Contrary to the belief held by some, a chess rating has no relationship to the child's value as a human being. Although the USCF now keeps ratings up to date, ratings for children are notoriously inaccurate as indicators of results (the primary value of ratings for adults) and will remain inaccurate until the children's ratings are based primarily on results played with adults.

The U.S. Chess Federation also has several web pages that are related to USCF Rated Chess EventsAllowable Time ControlsUSCF Lifetime Titles, and An Introduction to USCF Rated Tournaments.