Tournament Rules -- MAIN EVENT
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Last updated December 3, 2019

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  • Round 1 is at 9AM on Saturday March 7thSee the "Event Schedule" for the times of all Rounds.

  • To Register Online for the Main Event, select the REGISTRATION TAB on the left or click the link below.  The Entry Fee is $50 if you register and pay by midnight on Saturday, Feb 29th.  Starting on Sunday March 1st the entry fee increases to $65.  On Friday March 6th, the only way to enter is On-Site at the tournament for an entry fee of $75.  We strongly encourage you to register on-line using the buttons below; however, if you prefer to register by U.S. Mail, CLICK HERE.  If you register on-line you don't need to send in a mail-in registration form.
    Register Now for the Main Event      See who's Playing

  • Player Eligibility:

    • Scholastic Players must be attending a public, private, or home school in VA ... or be a Virginia Resident attending another school out of state. 

    • College players must be attending college FULL TIME in VA, or be VA residents attending college out-of-state.  Also, FIDE-titled IM, FM, or GM players cannot be more than 25 years old as of September 1, 2019.  "Full Time" means attending "full time" based on the rules for full-time student status at your college or university.  A high schooler taking college courses CANNOT play in the College section.

    • See also our Frequently Asked Questions page for several more eligibility-related questions impacting players and teams.  Please direct any Eligibility Questions to Mike Hoffpauir as shown at the bottom of this page.

    • ALL PLAYERS must be active members of the US Chess Federation. To join the USCF, or to renew your existing membership, click here.  If you are unsure about your membership status, go to the USCF's Member Support Area.

  • Cell Phone Policy and Policy for other Electronic Devices (other than clocks and USCF-approved Electronic Notation Devices).  CELL PHONES must be turned-off while your game is in progress and placed face-down on the table at your board.  A better remedy is to leave your phone with your parents, team or Coach.  Once your game begins you MAY NOT have a phone on your person, in your pocket, etc.  It must remain at your table, face-down, turned-off.  A phone that rings shall incur a 10-minute time penalty for the offending player.  A player who answers his/her cell phone, is "texting" during play, or is found with a phone on their person is very very likely to forfeit their current game and their continuation in the tournament is at severe risk.

  • Players can register for and play in one of nine (9) "Sections" based on their grade in school and their Chess Rating, including College.   

    • College:  For players who have graduated from High School and are attending College full-time.  All College games are played on Saturday.  There are no College games on Sunday.

    • Scholastic Players in Pre-School through 12th Grade have 8 Sections to select from as listed below.  Unrated players may play in the Championship or Under sections.

      • K-12 Championship or K-12 Under 1400.  The top-finishing 9th-12th Grade player in the Championship Section qualifies to represent Virginia in the 2020 Denker Tournament of High School Champions.  The top-finishing girl in the Championship Section qualifies to represent Virginia in the 2019 National Girls Tournament of Champions.

      • K-8 Championship or K-8 Under 1200.  The top-finishing 6th-8th Grade player in the Championship Section qualifies to represent Virginia in the 2020 Barber Tournament of Jr. High Champions.

      • K-5 Championship or K-5 Under 1000.  The top-finishing K-5 player in the Championship Section qualifies to represent Virginia in the new 2020 Rockefeller Tournament of Elementary Champions.

      • K-3 Championship or K-3 Under 600.

  • FIVE Rounds of Chess in the K-3, K-5, K-8 and K-12 Sections--3 Rounds on Saturday, 2 Rounds on Sunday.  The College Section plays only 4 rounds, all on Saturday.

    • Swiss System, with tie-breaks in the sequence specified in the US Chess Federation's Rules of Chess.  See also "Ties" below.

    • Each player can request one 1/2-point BYE.

      • Byes for Round 1 or 2 must be requested before registration closes at 9 PM on Friday evening. 

      • Byes for Rounds 3 through 5 must be requested ONE HOUR before the start of Round 2 on Saturday.

    • Time Controls:

      • Scholastic Sections:  Rounds 1 and 2:  Game-60 with a 10-second time delay.  Rounds 3-5, Game-90 with a 10-second time delay.

      • College:  ALL ROUNDS are Game-60 with a 5-second time delay.  All College Games are on Saturday, there are no College games on Sunday.

    • The Chief TD may use Accelerated Pairings in Rounds 1 and 2 for sections with more than 64 players.  If accelerated pairings are in use, the Chief TD will announce this information before the start of Round 1 in the affected section(s).

    • We will make every effort not to pair teammates against each other.  However, there are instances when players, parents and coaches should expect this to happen, such as when more than half of the players in a Section or a Score-group are from the same team.  This is not un-common in later rounds of the tournament, and can happen as early as Round 2 under certain conditions.

  • Teams This is an INDIVIDUAL tournament, with Team Points determined using the results of the players' wins, losses and draws on each Team. 

    • A "Team" is defined as two or more players who attend the same school and who are playing in the same section of the tournament.  You DO NOT have to be on a "team" to play in this tournament.  But, if two or more players register for the tournament they are "by default" considered as a team ... regardless of whether their school has a Chess Club or formal "team."

    • For the Main Tournament, Team Points are calculated by adding the scores of the 3 or 4 best-performing players from the same school.  In the Championship Sections it's the 4-highest scoring players.  In the Under Sections, it's the 3-highest scoring players.  For Blitz and for College Teams, we use the Top 3 performing players.

    • Schools may not have more than one team competing in the same section.  A School IS ALLOWED to have a team in the Championship AND the Under Sections within the same grade-group.  All players who go to the same school are on the same team.

    • Players who "Play Up" cannot have their points counted with the points of school-mates playing in another section of the tournament.  However, if two or more players from the same school play up, they are a "team" in that section of the tournament.

    • Anyone with questions about their Team's composition--especially players who are Home Schooled--should contact Mike Hoffpauir as shown at the bottom of this screen.  Also, see the "Teams -- Frequently Asked Questions" page we've created.

  • Chess Notation

    • Players in all CHAMPIONSHIP Sections except K-3 are required to record their games using Chess Notation.  Practice now!! 

    • Notation is Required in the K-12 and K-8 Under Secitons.  It is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED in the K-5 and K-3 Under Sections, but it is not mandatory.

    • The only authorized electronic score-keeping (notation) devices that can be used in the State Championships are those approved by the US Chess Federation (Monroi, E-Notate, PlyCount, and ChessNoteR).  Cell-phone Apps that take notation are not allowed.  Any person with a question about their (or their opponent's) electronic notation device should ask a Tournament Director.

  • "ARMAGEDDON PLAYOFF":  In the K-12, K-8 and K-5 Championship Sections if there is a tie for 1st place among two or more players with perfect 5.0 scores, there will be an "Armageddon Playoff" to determine who wins the 1st Place Trophy.  This playoff also will determine which K-12, K-8 and K-5 players have 1st choice to represent Virginia at the 2020 Tournament of Champions events listed below (e.g. Denker, Barber and Rockefeller).  An Armageddon Playoff means the two players play one game.  The player with the higher Tie-Break Points after 5 Rounds has a choice of playing White with 7 minutes on his/her clock, or playing Black with 5 minutes and "Draw Odds."  There is no time-delay, and this playoff game is NOT rated.  If the game result is a draw, Black wins the Armageddon Playoff.  If 3 players are tied with perfect scores, then the player with the highest Tie Breaks after 5 rounds of the tournament will play the winner of the Armageddon Playoff between the two Players in 2nd and 3rd place (based on Tie Breaks) after 5 rounds.  Again, this Playoff only determines who wins 1st Place among 2 or more players who are tied at the end of the tournament with perfect 5.0 scores in the K-12 and K-8 Championship Sections.

    • For more information, contact Mike Hoffpauir, National Tournament Director. 

    • We advise parents/coaches of high-rated K-12, K-8 and K-5 section players to take time to understand this paragraph and to discuss it with their players.

  • NEW FOR 2020: The Top Finishing K-5th Grade player, male or female, in the K-5 Championship Section is eligible to receive financial assistance to represent Virginia at the NEW Rockefeller Tournament of State Elementary Champions held in late July and early August 2020 during the US Open in St. Louis, MO.

  • The Top Finishing 6th-8th Grade player, male or female, in the K-8 Championship Section is eligible to receive financial assistance to represent Virginia at the Barber Tournament of State Middle School Champions held in late July and early August 2020 during the US Open in St. Louis, MO.

  • The Top Finishing FEMALE player from the K-12 Championship Section is eligible to receive assistance to represent Virginia at the National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC) held during the US Open in late July and early August 2020.  This year, the NGTOC is being held in St. Louis, MO.  The NGTOC does not have a minimum age specification, so a talented 6th grade girl who competes in the K-12 Section can be the state's NGTOC representative.  Any female player wanting a chance to represent Virginia in the NGTOC must play in the K-12 Section of the Virginia Scholastic Championships.

  • The Top Finishing 9th-12th Grade player, male or female, in the K-12 Championship Section is eligible to receive assistance to represent Virginia at the Arnold Denker Tournament of State High School Champions held in late July and early August 2020 during the US Open in St. Louis, MO. 

  • Chess Sets and Boards are provided at the tournament.  BRING YOUR CLOCK (if you own one) and some pens and pencils.  Clocks, pencils and scorebooks will be available on site at our Book Store.


A Few More Selected Tournament Rules These rules supplement the US Chess Federation (USCF) Rule Book (6th ed) and apply only to this tournament.

  • Problems during Your Game:  Don't wait until AFTER your game ends to raise a problem that occurs DURING your game!!  If you have a problem during play, stop your clock (if one is being used) and raise your hand.  And, do not get into an argument or discussion about the game with your opponent ... it disturbs the players around you.  When a Tournament Director arrives at your board, state your question or problem and wait for the TD's reply.  You don't need to ask permission to use the bathroom.  IF THE CLOCK AT THE BOARD IS NOT YOURS, BE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE CLOCK PAUSE ... ASK your opponent!!

  • Chess Equipment

    • Pens / Pencils:  Players are responsible for bringing their own pens or pencils.  We will not provide them at the tournament.

    • Chess ClocksIf you have a chess clock, please bring it ... and be sure your batteries are fresh.  Know how to use a clock, because your opponent is likely to have one.  If either player brings a clock to the board, the clock must be used ... "I don't like using a clock" or "I don't know how to use a clock" is not an excuse.  You do not need to have a clock to play in the main tournament, but it's a good idea to get one for yourself ... using a clock keeps the game moving along.  Also, players are responsible for knowing how to set their own clocks, don't expect the Tournament Directors to help you.

  • Player Pairings

    • The Tournament Director creates pairings using USCF-approved computer software, with the pairings themselves approved by the Chief TD before they are posted to the public. 

    • During Rounds 1 and 2 of the tournament it is highly unlikely that siblings or teammates will be paired against one another.  However, the probability for this scenario increases when there are many players from the same school in a section or in a score group.  It also increases in later rounds when siblings or teammates are in contention for trophies.  For instance, imagine a scenario where after 3 rounds, there are 6 players with 3 points each, and 4 of those players go to the same school.  In this example, at least two of the players from the same school must play a teammate.  Remember, this tournament is, foremost, an INDIVIDUAL tournament.

    • All players and parents should be aware that the Chief Tournament Director may use "Accelerated Pairings" for the first 2 rounds of the tournament.

  • Ties:  The Tournament Director breaks ties using the methods specified by the U.S. Chess Federation (Rules of Chess).  Players or Teams tied for 1st place are considered "State Co-Champions."  However, the Player/Team with the best tie-break points will receive the 1st place trophy.  The sequence for Individual tie-breaks is: Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, Cumulative of Opposition.  Ties among Teams are broken using these tie-breaks: Solkoff, Cumulative, Cumulative of Opposition.

  • When your Game is Finished:  Raise your hand and wait for a TD to arrive.  Do not reset your pieces until the TD instructs you to reset them.  The TD will ensure your game's results are properly written on the Game Result Slip.  DO NOT LEAVE before you verify your game results with a TD. 

Questions:  Contact Mike Hoffpauir by email, or phone 757-846-4805