At Oregon All-Stars and in a few top sections at OSCF State, we require players to have an active membership in the U.S. Chess Federation. We understand that this is an additional financial and administrative burden for parents, and occasionally people ask why we do it. The USCF membership requirement is rooted in the simple fact that once we decide to rate a section under the U.S. Chess Federation process, all players must be active USCF members. But that doesn’t explain why we dual-rate these events.
Here’s the theory.
First, part of the idea of these elite sections is that the players here are the ones that have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to excellence in chess over the course of the year, and that part of what comes with that commitment is the idea — and the hope — that players will continue in the future. For those who aspire to be highly-rated scholastic players, that almost certainly means that they will need to play in adult or national scholastic tournaments. Without exception, those events are going to be USCF–rated only, and you’ll need a USCF membership to participate. Because many of our top players are already involved in this wider chess community, almost all of the players who are registered in these sections are already USCF members, and some of our scholastic players *only* play in USCF–rated tournaments.
Second, we’re quite lucky here in the Northwest. The NWSRS rating system is run entirely by volunteers, is nearly free, and does not require membership. For the vast majority of events, this means that scholastic players don’t have to pay any “membership” fee. For just a couple events during the year, and generally only for the highest level of play, USCF membership is part of what helps to connects our Oregon scholastic players to the larger chess playing community both in the state and the nation. It’s been something that the OSCF board has thought to be important since its early years.
Third, USCF membership generally comes with access to a great set of features, not least of which is the USCF “Chess Life for Kids” magazine, which has a lot of fantastic exercises and training tips, and (again) helps connect our kids to the world of chess beyond the borders of our state.
Finally, policies can, of course, be changed. (Indeed, as is true with Chess for Success events, we need not rate at all!). If you disagree with the policy, you are always invited and encouraged to come join the discussion at our annual meeting at Seaside, to send an email to the Board, and (ideally) to even volunteer to participate on the OSCF Board. We’re all-volunteer, and always looking for more assistance in running events and helping to set policy for the future.