Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Scholastic Chess

Information for Parents


Tournament Play


Rules of Chess


Why should I introduce my kids to chess?
Chess provides a unique combination of mental development, social enrichment, and fun. Mental development is provided by promoting critical thinking, abstract problem solving, forward thinking, internal visualization, etc. Social enrichment is provided by teaching kids to pause and think before they act, that losing is a part of life and it can be learned from, and that your decisions/actions have direct consequences (kids are forced to accept the responsibility for their actions because there are no refs, bad bounces, sore knees, sun in their eyes, etc. that affect the outcome - although kids can always come up with clever excuses, and in some cases, e.g. stomach ache, there are valid ones). Of course fun is what makes it all work so well for young kids, as they love games and competition. Click here for a pdf that discusses more of the benefits of chess.
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What's the best way to get my child interested in chess?
Kids 1) love to play games and 2) get attention from their parents. If you offer to play chess with your kid, odds are extremely good they will say yes. I've found that leaving a chess board out in an active area of the house will prompt either me or my kids to ask for a game. An adventure game like Majestic Chess is also a great way to get a young child interested.
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I want my child to play chess, but there is no chess club at my school or nearby?
The best answer is start your own club! It's not as hard as you'd think and it is very rewarding. Another option is to find how far away the closest scholastic chess club meets and work out transportation; any club will usually welcome "outside" kids that are truly interested. Finally, your child can learn with you at home and/or online. If they attend several of the state scholastic tournaments, it is inevitable that they will develop some chess friends among their peers at these tournaments.
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How much will chess cost me?
One of the beauties of chess (like soccer) is how inexpensive the equipment is. A standard scholastic set costs ~$10. Better than soccer, a relatively large venue is not needed and it is not dependent on the weather. Your costs will be determined by how active your child is. Each tournament will cost between $10 and $25 (sign up early to get discounts), and an annual USCF membership will cost ~$15. Then there are the travel costs to tournaments, just as with any other youth activity. Carpooling is obviously great if you can arrange it. You might also decide to spend money for software or premium online services. However, if you want your child to participate in tournaments but you cannot afford it, almost any tournament will provide a free or reduced rate (scholarship) entry. Please do not let financial concerns keep your child from playing chess if they would otherwise - contact any tournament organizer or anyone linked on the nmsco.org website or aspenchess@comcast.net and someone will be glad to help you.
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What are rated and unrated players?
Rated players are players that have previously played in a United States Chess Federation (USCF) rated tournament. Most scholastic tournaments in New Mexico are USCF rated, although there are a few (e.g. the Sandia Chess Fest) that have unrated sections. To play in a rated tournament you must be a member of the USCF, unless you play in a section that has only K-3 players.
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How do ratings work?
Ratings are a numerical metric of how a player performs relative to other players; the algorithm is described on the US Chess Federations web site. The computation is a function of how many points you receive at a tournament (win=1, draw=0.5, loss=0) and the average rating of the kids you played. If you win half of your games against players of similar ratings then your rating will be unchanged. If you come into a tournament unrated and win half of your games your rating will be equal to the average rating of your opponents. Once your rating is established, for a given tournament the ratings algorithm produces an expected number of points that you should achieve based on the ratings of the kids you played, if you exceed that expectation your rating goes up, and if you fall short of that expectation your rating goes down. Depending on your competition, you could win only 1 of 5 games and have your rating go up or vice-versa. The basis of the ratings system is that every 400 pts of difference represents an order of magnitude in the expected result. A player 400 pts better than another should win ~90% of the time, a player 800 pts better than another should win ~99% of the time. Early in a kids chess "career", their ratings can fluctuate wildly (so get overly excited or depressed), but after several tournaments they become better established and are a pretty good measure of a kid's progress.
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How can I find my kid's rating?
Ratings are recorded on the USCF Website. Usually, updated ratings will show up a day or two after a tournament, depending on when the TD finds time to compile and make the online submittal to the USCF (after that it usually only a 1 day turnaround, unless a mistake or problem is found). The website also includes other interesting statistics about the lifetime chess record of the player. Click here for a listing of the top scholastic players in New Mexico
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Why is my child's rating for a tournament is not the same as it says on the USCF website?
The USCF publishes monthly ratings supplements for all players nationwide. The updating of these "official" ratings is fairly slow -- e.g. the March supplement will only include games through the end of January. The USCF still recommends that you use the supplement for the month in which a tournament is played, e.g. your child could be playing in a tournament in late March and their rating will be based only on games played through January, even if they have played in several tournaments since then. The reason for this probably goes back to prior to the internet when tournament results had to be mailed in and it could take several weeks for ratings to be properly calculated. Unfortunately, this lag in ratings can be misleading and lead to unfair pairings, e.g. an unrated player might truly be playing in their first tournament or an "unrated" player might have already played in 4 tournaments and have a very high rating. It is the luck of the draw whether you'd play the new or experienced kid. Another problem is that a kid might be playing in an U600 section while their actual rating is several hundred points higher; probably because that child recently won the U600 tournament in the previous tournament, thus it would make sense to update the rating and move the kid up for the sake of the other kids in the section (and in the long term the benefit of the higher rated kid as well). Many tournament directors decide to use more recent ratings for tournaments, either by using the supplement for the "following" month or the "last rated event" ratings, both of which can be downloaded from the USCF. According to USCF rules, the TD is supposed to explicitly state if anything other than the current month's rating supplement is used.
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My kid got a 5th place trophy but the USCF website crosstable lists him/her as 2nd?
The crosstable for a tournament listed on the USCF website does not know what tiebreakers were used for a specific tournament. Thus the cross table lists the kids in order of score, and the "tiebreak" is their rating after the tournament -- the official results for a tournament are usually listed on the nmsco website, which includes the proper tiebreaks. Note: the tournament cross table for each tournament your kid played in can be found under the "tournament history" tab when you check their rating.
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Do I have to bring a chess set and a clock to a scholastic tournament?
It is always a good idea to bring a chess set to a tournament. Some tournaments provide boards for the players, but even then it is useful for side/fun games (skittles) or for going over an earlier game with a coach/parent or friend. If you have a chess clock you should bring it to the tournament. Children should learn how to use a chess clock as it is part of the game. Chess clocks typically run in the $35-$100 range. Chess clocks may be obtained online, and in most cases are sold directly at the tournament. Different tournaments have different policies regarding the use of clocks. Most require the use of a clock if one of the participants provides one and wants to use it. Get clarity before the tournament starts at the players meeting. There are two basic kinds of chess clocks: analog and digital. Digital clocks have more flexibility and ways to set them for delays, etc and are preferred. They are generally a little more expensive than the simpler, analog clocks. One last warning: Chess clocks are notorious for breaking when they are dropped. They are also easily misplaced/forgotten. Put your name on the clock. For games that run long without a clock, the Tournament Director will generally put clocks on games with approximately 20 minutes remaining to assure that rounds finish on time (each player gets 10 minutes). The TD should ask both players if they know how the clock works, and give an explanation, if necessary. Clocks must remain running at all times, except when a Tournament Director is called by either player to resolve a dispute.
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Why is it important to pre-register for a tournament?
Tournament organizers are almost always volunteers. It is tremendously helpful to them to know how many people to expect at the tournament and also not to have a rush at the door on the day of the tournament. Some tournaments do not even accept entries on the day of the tournament. Others have a monetary penalty for signing up late. Please do the tournament organizers a favor and register early. If you do pre-register and subsequently know that your child cannot make it, please try to contact the tournament organizer. The reason is that otherwise, some other child will end up waiting for your child to come for the first round. They have to wait for some period of time; usually 15 minutes to one hour to be sure your child is not just late. If you call ahead, then the tournament organizer can withdraw your child from the tournament and everyone is better off.
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What are tie breaks? How do they work?
When awarding trophies it is a necessary evil that a tiebreak system be used to distinguish the winners. The tiebreak system is a progressive listing of individual tiebreak rules, such that if players are still tied after the 1st rule is employed you move to the 2nd rule and so on. The tie-break rules take into consideration several factors; the biggest factor is usually the strength of your competition. The TD should post/announce the tie-break system for a tournament in advance. The recommended USCF tiebreaks, and those used most often in NM scholastic tournaments are 1. Modified Median 2. Solkoff 3. Cumulative. The "Median" system sums the final scores of his/her opponents and then discarding the highest and lowest of these scores. The "Modified Median" disregards only the least significant opponent's score. Consider par as getting 1/2 the available points (remember Win=1, Draw=.5, Loss=0). In the modified median, the lowest-scoring opponent is discarded for players with above par scores and the highest-scoring opponent is discarded for players that are below par. If the player is even par, then the original Median applies, throwing out both the highest and lowest opponent score. The "Solkoff" system is similar, but it does not discard any scores (thus it is simply the average of all opponents’ scores). The "Cumulative" system incrementally adds the player's total score after each round. For example, if a player's results were win, loss, win, draw, loss, the total score by round is 1,1,2,2.5,2.5, and the cumulative tiebreak is the sum of these numbers or 9. If another player scored 2.5 with a sequence 1,2,2.5,2.5,2.5, the tiebreak points scored would be 10.5. The latter player's tie-break points are higher because he or she scored earlier and presumably had tougher opposition for the remainder of the event. One point is subtracted from the sum for each unplayed win or one-point bye.
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How do pairings work?
Virtually all chess tournaments are paired using the Swiss System. The rules that govern this system are too numerous and complex to address here, however, they are covered in detail in the U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess book. Here are the basics for the Swiss Pairing System. Before the first round, each player is placed on the pairing sheet based on his or her rating. Players are listed from the highest rated to the lowest rated. Unrated players are placed below the lowest rated (usually in alphabetical order). To start the first round, the group is split in half and the top half plays the bottom half. For example, if 20 players are entered in a section of a tournament, the highest ranked player plays the 11th ranked player in round 1, the second-highest ranked player plays the 12th highest, etc. If there are an odd number of players, then the lowest rated player receives a bye. Players are awarded one point for a win, bye or forfeit; a half point for a draw or requested bye; and zero points for a loss. Each subsequent round, each score-group plays the top half against the bottom half. For example, if 6 players have 2 points after the second round, the first in the group plays the fourth in the group, 2nd versus 5th and 3rd versus 6th. If two players have 1.5 points, they play each other (unless they have already played or another exclusion). Players with 1 point play each other, etc. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it appears. There are many exceptions that confuse pairings. There are rules that attempt to correct pairings so that players play an even (or almost even) number of times as black as they do as white and there are sometimes rules that attempt to disallow pairings between members of the same club or school. Some exclusion rules are more powerful than others, the strongest being if the two players have already played. As a result of this system, the games get more even as the tournament goes on, so there tend to be more draws in later rounds and more intense competition as well. This is because both opponents have the same score (or close to it) in each round and those that are doing well play others that are also doing well. The converse is also true.
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What does G/60 or G/30 mean?
This is the time control that is used in the tournament, or the amount of time a player has to complete all of their moves -- all tournaments should post the time controls. There are several types of time controls. For Scholastics, sudden death time controls are the most common. G/60 means that each player gets 60 minutes to complete his or her moves. Chess clocks maintain two times, one for each player. A player's clock only ticks on their turn. When a player finishes their move, they "hit the clock" which starts their opponents clock. For analog clocks, it is customary to have the flag fall when the clock shows 6 o'clock. Thus, for a match that is G/60, both players would set their clock to 5 o'clock at the start of the match. G/30 means each player gets 30 minutes and they would set their clock to 5:30. More advance time controls are sometimes used as well. For example 40/2, G/60 is a common one, which means that players must make 40 moves in 2 hours followed by a second time control that is game in 60 minutes, sometimes called sudden death in 60 minutes. Digital clocks can handle these more complex time controls. Children should be counseled to ask if they have questions before the match starts. In general, most beginners have plenty of time for their games and the clock should not be an issue. Many times beginners think they have to rush because of the clock. The best advice a parent can give to a beginner is to take their time and not worry about the clock.
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What is a 5-second delay?
A 5-second delay means that a player’s clock does not start to count down until after 5 seconds have passed. Most digital clocks have these feature, which is nice because if a player is clearly winning, he/she has a chance to complete the game even if very low on time. The USCF and most scholastic tournaments prefer the use of digital clocks set for a 5 second delay. Usually, the TD will request that if you are using delay, that you take 5 minutes off of each players clock (because for a typical long game (i.e. ~60 moves) the delay will add ~5 minutes of playing time). Occasionally you might see a time control that uses a 5-second (or more) increment. In this case, 5 seconds would be added to your time every move, such that your time could actually increase if you take less than 5 seconds.
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How long do tournaments last?
Tournament lengths vary considerably. The primary variable is the maximum game time, which is essentially the sum of the time control for each player. If the rounds are G/45, this means that each opponent has 45 minutes on their clock so the round could take as long as 90 minutes. Add up the rounds and add a few minutes between rounds to do the pairings and give the last remaining kids a short break (10 or 15 minutes). There also may be an extended break between two rounds for lunch, but if food is provided on-site a lunch break is usually not provided and you have to eat on the fly (if you are the last game to finish and need time to eat then ask the TD for special consideration). Some tournaments explicitly state when each round will start and stick to that schedule. Many other tournaments try to move the rounds along shortly after the previous round finishes (which is very beneficial when younger kids are involved). Don't leave the tournament site for any extended period of time without checking with the tournament director, if a round ends early, he/she will usually start the next round early, and you may forfeit the game or have to play it with a time disadvantage. Finally, you should leave time for the awards ceremony, which usually starts 10 minutes after the last round is completed, and should take 15-30 minutes.
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How do I choose a section, and what does U600 or U1100 mean?
Almost every tournament has several sections. The use of sections allows players a better opportunity to play against opponents of similar ability. Sometimes a section is based on age/grade, sometime on rating, and sometimes on both. If a section is listed as U600, then all players in that section must be rated under 600 - based on the ratings supplement that the TD has specified to apply for the event. Normally, an unrated player can play in any section that he/she chooses (depending on grade restrictions).
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Is it ok to register (move-up) my kid to a harder section?
This is discouraged, although most tournaments allow kids to play in sections above where there rating would dictate. Some parents and coaches think that playing against harder competition will make their kid improve faster, but in general the best way to improve is play someone of a similar skill level, plus it is also important for kids to learn how to focus and consistently beat lower rated opponents. For scholastic players winning games is the best motivator for playing chess, and playing up in a harder section can make them lose confidence and interest. Even if your child has been practicing a lot and improved significantly, it is usually better to have them play in their intended section, mostly because winning games will provide positive reinforcement that their practice has indeed paid off. More importantly, it is not good for the other kids in the tournament when another player moves up. The sections are designed so that kids get good games with similar competition -- when a kid moves up, he/she forces the players in the harder section to play a lower rated opponent, and deprvies the kids in his/her original section a good game. So, even if it were good for an individual child to play up a section, it is usually unfair to the other kids to do so (and many times once 1 kid moves up others follow and totally mess up the sections (especially the top sections)). In this respect, I generally view moving up a section as a selfish act (although in rare cases I support it). If you want your kids to get experience against harder players I recommend adult tournaments; especially since they don't mind players moving up because it increases their chances of winning cash.
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What is the touch move - touch take rule?
If you touch a piece when it is your turn to move, that piece must be moved if you can do so legally. If you touch an opponent's piece when it is your turn to move, the opponent's piece must be captured if you can do so legally. You must say, "I adjust" before touching a piece if you want to adjust that piece on the board. You should do so only when it is your turn. If you accidentally release a piece on an unintended but legal square, you must leave it on that square.
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What is the most important thing I can tell my child going into their first tournament?
1) Take your time. 2) Raise your hand if you have a question of any kind, and keep your hand up until you are seen -- the Tournament Directors are there to help and will assist in getting problems resolved. 3) Make sure you agree with your opponent about the result of the game before you shake hands to end the game. 4) Report the game result to the scorekeeper. 5) Have fun.
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What is a half-point or full-point bye?
When there are an odd number of players in a division, there will be one player in each round who won’t get a game (although the TD may set up a side game for them). This player will get a full-point (as if they had won their game) bye for that game. It should be noted that byes do not count very well during tiebreak calculations. If a player knows in advance that they cannot participate in a round, they may request a 1/2-point bye for those games that they will not be able to attend (most tournaments are limited to one 1/2pt bye request). They must usually do this prior to the start of the tournament, but it is up to the tournament organizer. Note: byes and forfeits do not affect USCF ratings
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What is keeping score or taking notation?
Keeping score (notation) is the recording of every move in s chess game - both yours and your opponents. The most common form of score keeping is algebraic notation, which is relatively simple. The pieces are designated by a single letter: K for king, Q for queen, R for rook, B for bishop and N for knight (if no symbol is given then the move was made by a pawn). The positions on the board are designated by ranks (rows) from 1 to 8 and files (columns) from A to H. There are other nomenclatures too; more detail can be found on several websites. There are several reasons why taking notation is a good idea. First, some chess rules are not enforceable without a valid scoresheet. Examples are the 3-move repetition rule and the 50-move rule. Another good reason for younger kids to keep score is that it can slow them down and cause them to think more about their moves. Perhaps the best reason for keeping score is so that the child can go over the game after the tournament and learn from their mistakes.
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Does my child have to take notation?
For scholastic tournaments, the tournament director decides the score keeping requirements. At recent USCF national tournaments, score keeping has been required for grades 4 and above. Some tournaments require a graded approach; older kids must keep score for the whole game while younger kids might need to keep score for 20 moves. The penalty for not keeping score can also vary greatly. Sometimes, if a player is required to keep score but does not, 5 minutes will be taken of his/her clock; although even worse penalties (including forfeiture) can be imposed by the TD depending on the circumstances. If there are less than 5 minutes left in the round on a player's clock then both players are not required to keep score.
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As a parent, what should I expect when I bring my child to a chess tournament?
As a parent, you can expect a lot of time sitting. You should bring reading material and be prepared to keep your child fed. You are responsible for the child when they are outside the playing area. The most important thing is to keep kids (and adults!) quiet when near the playing area. For beginning chess players, the children will be in the playing area only for a short time. As they gain experience, their games will be longer and there will be more reading time for you as a parent.
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Why does my child have to wait at the board if the other child does not show up?
Standard chess rules allow players to show up late, however there is a penalty as the clocks are started when the Tournament Director starts the round. Each tournament can be different, but the Tournament Director will specify how long the player must wait before the game can be forfeited and a full point awarded to the waiting player. Most tournaments require ~15 minutes, but in rare cases can be up to an hour. If there is more than 1 player without an opponent, the TD might pair those players together, or possibly repair the entire section.
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How do I read a pairing chart?
The pairings chart shows who is to play whom for each round. A new one is posted before the round begins and the players need to look to determine two things from the pairing chart. They need to see what board number they are playing on and which color they will be, black or white. These are usually listed alphabetically or by board number.
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How do I read a standings or wall chart?
A wall chart or standings report might be sorted in standings order, pairing order (i.e. ratings), or even alphabetically. There will usually be a cross table that lists the player's opponents in each round (the opponents are designated by the number listed to the left of their name the chart). The chart often has the color the player had (don't confuse the "W" for White as a win). The results are usually listed in the form of cumulative score (summing 1=win, 0=loss, 0.5=draw/bye from each successive round), so how a player did in a specific round is determined by subtracting the previous rounds score.
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What is the 3 move repetition rule?
If the same board position occurs 3 times, then a game can be claimed as a draw by either player (but does not have to be). Normally, a score sheet is needed to make this claim, unless both opponents agree on the result or a TD verifies the clam. Note that position must be identical over the entire board - some kids often interpret the rule only based on their own pieces movements/positions. Also, the 3 positions do not have to be consecutive; the rule applies if the same position arises 3 times at any time over the course of the game.
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What is the 50 move rule?
If fifty moves are made without the advance of a pawn or the capture of a piece, then a game can be claimed as a draw. Normally, a score sheet is needed to make this claim, unless both opponents agree on the result or a TD verifies the clam. A player can call a TD over to count moves if one is available.
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What are the rules for castling?
Castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook on the player's first rank, then moving the rook onto the square over which the king crossed. Castling can only be done if 1) the king has never moved, 2) the rook involved has never moved, 3) the squares between the king and the rook involved are not occupied, and 4) the king is not in check nor does it cross over or end on a square in which it would be in check.
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What is en passant?
En passant is a special capture made immediately after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from its starting position, and an opposing pawn could have captured it if it had moved only one square forward. In this situation, the opposing pawn may capture the pawn as if taking it "as it passes" through the first square. The resulting position is the same as if the pawn had only moved one square forward and the opposing pawn had captured normally. The en passant capture must be done on the very next turn, or the right to do so is lost.
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Should I get an even number of rounds as white and as black?
Theoretically, each player in a tournament should get an equal number of rounds as white and black, however, technically this may not be possible, e.g. if there are five rounds in the tournament. There are rules that are usually applied to try to do the pairings so that no one gets 3 consecutive rounds with the same color. It is not always possible.
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Why does my opponent keep saying "I adjust"?
Your opponent is required to say "I adjust" before they adjust the placement of a piece on the board, otherwise the action could be interpreted under the touch move rule and they'd be forced to move the piece. Usually players should adjust their pieces if a piece was not reasonably centered on a square, Some people say J'Adoube, which is French for "I adjust"
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Where is the best place for my kids to play chess online"?
There are several options. The best options may be chess.com (for kids over 13 and older) and chesskid.com (for kids under 12 and younger). Both chess.com and chesskid.com allow kids to play chess for free. "Online chess" allows players to move over the course of days (in the past referred to correspondence chess, where people would mail moves back and forth to each other). "Live Chess" is like a real tournament game, with time controls used for both players. Both options have their pros and cons. Online chess gives kids an opportunity to think as long as they want about a move, and even use a "analyze" tool that lets them move pieces around and explore options. Live chess is better experience for playing in tournaments, although it requires a very reliable internet connection. Another good live chess options is the Internet Chess Club (ICC). With any online option, always be wary of any chatting features or other ways that information can be transmitted (chesskid.com is the safest in this regard). Teach your kids not to disclose their name, address, age, or just about anything.
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What is the best online site for my kids to learn chess"?
While "playing" chess may be the best way to "learn" chess, there are many options online for kids to take online lessons or practice tactics. Again, I think chess.com and chesskid.com are the best options for scholastic players. Tactics training is fantastic, I think the biggest rating increase my son Donald had was when he started doing tactics on chess.com/chesskid.com. I think what makes this method most effective is that it seems to hold the interest of kids over an extended period of time. You only get 3 free tactics per day, but can sign up for premium memberships to get 25 or unlimited tactics per day. Chesskid.com also has great lessons (interactive and videos) for beginning players. Chess.com has a great feature called Chess Mentor for more advanced player (but is more expensive). My son Donald has reached a rating of >1500 with no formal instruction, essentially learning from chess.com/chesskid.com. Other sites such as....
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What is the best computer software for my kids to learn chess"?
To me the easy answer is Majestic Chess. Most importantly it's fun. It provides an adventure atmosphere and a continuous thread through various levels, just like any other computer game. In the meantime the kids are learning the fundamentals of chess at each level and sublevel (usually via a challenge that must be solved on the chessboard). This is ideal software for any kid in elementary school and/or rated
<1000. For more advanced scholastic players I like ChessMaster. There is also ChessMaster for the Nintendo DS. >Back to top

What are blitz and bughouse"?
Blitz us usually a chess game where both players get 5 minutes on their clock with no delay. Rules can vary, but one of the most important to know is that in most blitz tournaments an illegal move automatically loses the game (provided the opponent calls it before he/she makes their own move. Usually, the game is played by clock move instead of touch move (so a move is not complete until you hit your clock. Blitz or speed chess can be played with any time setting less than 30 minutes. Bughouse is a strange variation where 2 players play blitz as a team. When you take one of your opponent’s pieces you hand it to your partner. Your partner then has the option to place the piece in any open square on his board, instead of making a standard move. The game is over when the checkmate (or the taking of the king due to an illegal move) occurs on either board.
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I'm convinced of the benefits chess has to offer, what's the best way to volunteer?
There are many ways to help create/maintain a healthy scholastic chess program in your community and New Mexico. Best is to be a chess club coach or sponsor (see link below). You can also be of help by volunteering to help the New Mexico Scholastic Chess Organization (NMSCO.org). You can volunteer or provide suggestions to improve NM scholastic chess at the annual parents meetings at the Spring NMSCO tournaments. If you are fortunate enough to have a local chess club, you can volunteer as a parent helper during chess club or tournaments. Even if you don't want to volunteer, it is worthwhile to mention to your kid's teachers, principal and other parents that you wish there was a chess club at your school. Enough requests might encourage someone else to volunteer. Finally, it doesn't hurt to tell other parents about how great chess is for your kids, and have your kids ask other kids to come to chess club.
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What do I need to start a chess club?
All that is needed to start a chess club is a venue with tables/chairs and some chess sets. Club chess sets (pieces/board/simple-bag) cost <10 dollars. If cost is an issue then there are many schools that might loan sets (including Aspen), and a lot of schools used to have chess clubs that currently don't, so they probably have the equipment already. Any school should be glad to reserve you space on a weekly time slot if you ask. Other options are commumity centers, public libraries, restaurants, or bookstores (Santa Fe used to have weekly scholastic club meetings at Borders). The school should also be willing to let you advertise the club in the school with fliers taped on the walls, and they might even print copies and distribute them to all of the classrooms. The best time to have chess club is right after school (any weekday) -- this will get the most attendance. Of course in most cases this will require more sacrifice on your part and other potential volunteers, so if you need to have chess club at another time, any time is infinitely better than no chess club at all. Keeping a chess club ladder (a ranking of the kids based on the games they play during chess club) is a great way to encourage weekly attendance, and for kids to take games seriously and learn from them. If you have any questions on any of this email aspenchess@comcast.net.
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I would consider being a chess club coach or sponser, but I don't play chess?>
This is the most common misconception among parents. You do not have to know anything about chess to spawn/maintain a very successful chess club! All that is required is a commitment and a little enthusiasm. You'll need to know the rules of chess, but they are surprisingly simple and can be learned in less than 1 hour. If you provide a venue and a supervised/positive environment, then the kids will take care of the rest. They can teach themselves and each other, simply playing the games (and even better if some of them can learn at home or on computer). I started volunteering/coaching with essentially no chess experience; I've learned with the kids and there are still at least 4 players in the club who are better than I am (and many players have progressed to be the best players in the state without what would be considered a real coach).
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What's with all the trophies?
Like it or not, kids love trophies. More so, they love hearing their name called out to receive a trophy (as do most parents). Depending on the event, more than half of the kids may receive trophies. This leads to two minor issues. 1) Kids who play in a lot of tournaments generally end up with a lot of trophies. If space becomes an issue, then see if you can talk you child into letting you "recycle" some of the trophies; most chess clubs will take used trophies and relabel them for local tournaments or ladder results. 2) The awards ceremony can take a while. Usually it's 15 to 30 minutes, but it may seem to take forever because it's already been a long day for you and your kids. In the long-run it is worth recognizing and reading the names of each kid who achieved a trophy. Also, please do not leave the awards ceremony early or after your kid gets a trophy. If you leave, it is very distracting and slightly demoralizing to the kids that receive trophies late in the ceremony.
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