Introduction to Oregon Scholastic Chess for the new parent

My child LOVES playing chess, do how do I get him/her/them in competitions? Most tournaments are individual tournaments, meaning players compete on thier own and don’t need to be part of a team. Some schools chess clubs organize their students to attend tournaments, but it is most often up to the parents to register their kid(s) for events. A list of upcoming tournaments can be viewed here.

When is the Chess Season? While chess tournaments occur year-round, the “chess season” roughly follows school season culminating in a fun event – the OSCF State Championship. Don’t let the name fool you. All active chess players are welcome and we give out LOTS of trophies and medals. The Championship is in Seaside on April 24-25, 2020.  The main tournament is all day Saturday and some fun events on Friday.

Since all active chess players are welcome, how do I make sure my player(s) qualify to attend the OSCF State Championship? To qualify for the tournament, players must have played in one tournament, have 8 qualifying games this year, and have played 15 lifetime games (check out NWSRS Ratings – the #Gms is their lifetime games, the #GmsYTD is the number played this year). Don’t stress too much about this, just be sure your kid plays in a few tournaments/quads during the school year (September through April).

There are two main ways to play games: Tournaments and Quads. Tournaments are all day events on weekends. Typically 5 games for the beginning/intermediate players. The tournament is broken into section of players of similar “rating”. Usually age does not matter, only rating. The tournament will pair the player in the first round with someone in their section. Then after the first game, it will pair players who win against each other and those that tied or lost against each other, sorting out top players for awards in the section. The great thing about this is typically all but 1 or 2 players win a game. There is a “skittles” room (an old English word referring to a casual chess game or “pick up” game played for fun) where parents hang out while kids are playing and kids wait for next game. Bring lots of stuff to keep busy. Lots of waiting! Rounds start at designated times, depending on how long the time control is for each round.

Quads are smaller events – sort of mini tournaments. Players are broken into groups of 4 with similar rating,s then they each play the other 3 players. There is less waiting. As soon as the current pair of games complete they swap and begin the next round. It can be very fast for beginners. This is a great way for beginners to get experience and qualifying games.

How does my player earn a chess rating? Your player will get a rating automatically after the first tournament they play.  The player’s rating starts at 400. After each tournament it goes up and down based on whether they win or lose, and the ratings of their opponents. Results from each tournament are submitted to Chess Ratings Northwest (NWSRS), and volunteers compile results and calculate players’ ratings.

Are there chess coaches who can help my player improve? Believe it or not, like any activity there are chess coaches. It is totally not necessary at the beginning phases, but it can also help your player’s game progress quickly and gain confidence. There are a few “basics” that really make a difference beyond just how the pieces move.  Your school’s chess club (if it exists) can provide coaching or you can supplement with private coaching.

Please explore our OSCF website to learn more about chess in Oregon. After you’ve spent time reading more information, if you have additional questions you may contact us at OSCF@OSCF.ORG. A OSCF parent volunteer will get in touch with you directly.