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FAQs about the Bloomington Scholastic Chess Open

Is this tournament a USCF-rated tournament?

Yes. All players have to be registered as USCF members. Please fill out the USCF membership information on the registration form and add any applicable USCF membership fee to the tournament registration fee.

Will there be onsite registration?

No. Please register on or before December 6.

What do I need to bring to the tournament?

Please bring your chess set for skittles between rounds and a chess clock if you have one.

Will there be concession at the tournament?

Yes, drinks, snacks, pizza and other healthy lunch options will be available for purchase. You may also bring your own food to the tournament.

What are the start times for each round and will there be elimination?

The first round will start at 9:00 am. All subsequent rounds will start as soon as pairings are ready and may be different for different sections. All players will play all five rounds as there will be no elimination. 8thU and 12thU players may compete in the same section depending on the number of participants in these groups. However, the awards for the two sections will be separate. The tournament will probably finish before 1:30 pm for the 1st and 3rdU section, and around 3:30 pm for the upper sections.

What is a USCF-rated chess tournament?

The United States Chess Federation (USCF) is the official, not-for-profit US membership organization for chess players and chess supporters of all ages. USCF-rated tournaments are directed by USCF-certified tournament directors (TDs) so the procedures are standardized. Below are several features of USCF-rated tournaments.

  • All participants are active members of USCF.
  • Based on the results of the tournaments, new members will be assigned a provisional USCF rating, while current members will be assigned an updated rating after the tournament.
  • Pairing of players is usually determined by the Swiss system with the aid of a computer program (see below).
  • The Touch Move Rule is enforced (see below).
  • Chess clocks are required, but typically not mandatory in scholastic tournaments (see below).
  • Chess notations are required, but typically not mandatory in scholastic tournaments (see below).

What is the role of the tournament director (TD)?

The TD is responsible for setting the pairings for each round and filing the results to USCF for rating. The TD also will be on the tournament floor to assist the players in the event of any problem or question. The TD has the ultimate authority and responsibility for the tournament, and for making decisions and interpretations relating to the rules of chess.

How can I find out where to sit, the color and my opponent for each round?

Pairing sheets will be posted with seat assignments, colors and pairings before each round. If you believe there is a pairing error, report it to the TD immediately! Once the round starts, it will probably be too late to make any changes. Parents and coaches should check the correctness of the posted wall charts every round. Errors in scores reported after 1 round will most likely not be corrected. However, still bring it to the attention of the TD.

How are pairings determined?

The WinTD tournament software will be used for this tournament according to the Swiss-system principal. In Swiss-system events, players are paired with each other according to the following general principles:

  • A player is not paired with any other player more than once.
  • Players with the same score are paired whenever possible.
  • Colors are assigned by the software as fairly as possible. A TD may override the computer generated color assignment if, in his or her judgment, a fairer option is appropriate.
  • For the first round within each section, the players are ranked according to their last published official USCF rating. The top player in the upper half of the field is then paired against the top player in the lower half of the field, and so on. In the second round, the program uses the same principles to pair each of the three score groups (those who won-1.0 point, those who drew-0.5 points, and those who lost-0.0 points). These pairing procedures will continue through the rest of the tournament. Toward the end of the event, you will probably find yourself matched against players around your own level.
  • In the case of a section which has an odd number of students, one student will be scheduled for a “bye”. In this instance, the player will not have a game during the round but will receive 1 point toward his or her tournament total.

What happens when my opponent does not show up?

To prevent as many unplayed games as possible the TD will try to re-pair unopposed players within a section on the floor in round one. A player should start his opponent’s clock once the TD announces that the round has begun. If not on a clock, he should notify the TD that his opponent is missing and that he doesn't have a clock. The player should wait at the board for the time control period (30 or 40 minutes). Then he should report to the scorer's table that his opponent never showed up and that it's a win by forfeit. The TD may also direct the student to report to the scorer’s table prior to the time expiration if the TD deems it appropriate to do so.

What do I do when I have a question during the tournament?

If you have a question or a disagreement with your opponent, stop the clock if you're on one, then raise your hand and keep it in the air until the TD comes to assist you. Remember that the TD will generally not interfere with your game. It is up to you to make a claim.

What is the Touch Move Rule?

Touch Move Rule will be honored in this tournament. If you intentionally touch a piece when it is your turn to move, that piece must be moved if you can do so legally. If you intentionally touch an opponent’s piece with one of your chess piece when it is your turn to move, the opponent’s piece must be captured if you can do so legally. You must clearly say “I adjust” before touching a piece if you want to adjust the placement of that piece on the board. You may do so only when it is your turn. However, if it is clear that you accidentally knock over a piece, you may place the piece at the original position.

What is the expected conduct of players?

Please try to keep as quiet as possible on the tournament floor so that you do not disturb other players. You may not speak to anyone while your game is in progress unless a TD is present. If there is a problem of any kind during your game, raise your hand or call the TD immediately. If you wait until after your game is over, the TD will probably be unable to change the result, even if your claim was correct. You may not consult notes, chess books, computers, or other materials during the game. Do not analyze your games in the tournament room. Analyze your games in the skittles area or elsewhere.

Can a player walk away from their chess board to use the bathroom?

You do not need to ask permission from the TD to go to the bathroom. You may leave the tournament room but you must not discuss your game in progress with anyone (even if they are not playing) nor take your scoring sheet with you when you leave your board. Players can certainly stand up around their own chess board, but should not wander away from the board.

What do I do if my opponent distracts me by singing or talking?

You should tell your opponent that he should not disturb your thinking. If it remains a problem, summon the TD by raising your hand.

What is a chess clock and how do they work?

A chess clock is actually two clocks! Prior to the start of a game, the clock for each student will be set to the time limit announced by the TD. When you're thinking during your turn, your clock ticks down. After making a move, you hit a button at the top of the clock and your opponent's clock starts ticking. If you run out of time, you lose the game, unless there is checkmate on the board or your opponent has insufficient mating material.

Is the clock required for all games in this tournament?

The games should be played with chess clocks whenever possible. USCF rules state that all games should be played with a clock. However, USCF recognizes that most scholastic players do not have their own clocks. As a result, many scholastic games start without a clock. In this tournament, if one player has a clock and wishes to play with a clock, the game will be played with a clock.

What is the time control for today’s tournament?

The time control is game in 30 minutes for 1st U and 3rdU and 40 minutes for all other sections. The game must be either won or drawn before the flag falls. If both flags have fallen the game is a draw. The black player chooses the side of the board where the clock will be placed. A digital clock with time delay set is preferable to any other clock. Therefore, if white has such a clock available and black does not, white’s clock should be used. Otherwise, black gets to choose which clock to use. If a time delay clock is used, it must be set with the time delay in force from move one. When using the time delay feature, set the clock at 25 minutes (3rdU) or 35 minutes (other sections) with a five-second “delay”, or “Bronstein”.

Since some of the games are played without a clock, how will the TDs keep the rounds within the time limit?

When there are 20 minutes left in the round, the TD will place clocks on the few remaining games, with each player being given 10 minutes (20 minutes total) to complete the round.

Who can claim a Time Forfeit?

Only a player involved in the game may claim a time forfeit. No parent, coach, spectator, TD, or other player may make such a claim or bring the fall of a flag to the attention of the players involved.

Is chess notation required for this tournament?

USCF rules state that chess notation is required. However, since some scholastic chess players are not prepared to notate games, notation is not mandatory in this tournament. However, players are strongly encouraged to notate their games since score sheets are required for making claims (for example illegal moves, draws, etc.) and for analyzing games afterward.

Who can call an illegal move?

Only the player can call an illegal move. The TD will not do so. Neither may parents, coaches, or other spectators.

What do I do after the game is finished and how do I report the results?

When your game is finished, shake hands, set up the pieces, and report your score to the scorer’s table. Do not remove pieces or boards from the playing area. Once you have reported your results at the scorer’s table it cannot be adjudicated later on. After the last round, place the pieces in the bag provided and bring the set to the scorer’s table.

Can I request byes?

Half – point byes will be available (except for the last round) if requested before the start of round two. 0-point byes shall be available for all rounds. The TD shall have the ability to grant a ½ point bye for any round on unusual circumstances.

What is the expected behavior of the spectators?

No interference in any game by spectators, other players, coaches, or parents will be tolerated. Penalties include expulsion from the tournament. Only the player involved should point out irregularities to a TD. This should be done by raising your hand. Spectators must confine their presence to the side of the playing area. Only players and TDs are allowed between the tables. TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES.

How is ranking determined when several players have the same score after the last round?

Tie-break systems (see are used to break ties between players who have the same total number of points after the last round. If the players are still tied after one tie-break system is used, another system is used, and so on, until the tie is broken. Most tie-breaks are based on strength of the opposition on the day of tournament. The idea behind the methods is that the player that played the harder competition to achieve the same number of points should be ranked higher.

How can I find out my updated USCF rating?

You can find out your USCF rating after a tournament at Type in member’s name, then click on the tab ‘Tnmt. Hst’. The ratings will also be posted on and A provisional rating is noted by the letter “P” after the rating number. Members maintain the provisional status until they have competed in 25 rated games. A rating of 543 (P5) indicates the player is rated 543 and has played in 5 rated games.

What are the other tournament rules?

  • Check – Announcing check is not required. It is the responsibility of the opponent to notice the check. A player who does not notice the check may suffer serious consequences (see the touch-move rule).
  • Draws – If you want to offer a draw to your opponent, you should do so after you make a move but before you start your opponent’s clock. Your opponent may decline the draw by saying so or by moving a piece. A draw offer is valid until it is turned down by the opponent. If both players agree to a draw, then the game is over. A reasonably complete and accurate score sheet is required to claim a draw by triple occurrence of position or under the 50-move rule. If such a claim is found to be incorrect, two minutes will be added to the opponent’s remaining time.
  • Illegal Moves – If it is discovered that one of either player’s last 10 moves was illegal, the position will be reinstated to what it was before the illegal move, and the game shall continue by applying the touch-move rule to the move replacing the illegal move. Clocks will not be reset. Two minutes will be added to the remaining time of the opponent of the player who made the illegal move.
  • Sudden Death Rules – A player may claim a time forfeit in sudden death only if he stops the clock before both flags fall. If both flags are down, the game is a draw. If not on a time-delay clock, a player on move, who has no more than 2 minutes left, may stop the clock and ask the TD to declare the game a draw on the grounds that the player has “insufficient losing chances”. Such a claim is also a draw offer. If the opponent agrees, it is a draw. If the claim is obviously correct the TD should grant the draw. If the claim is obviously incorrect the TD may deduct up to 1 minute from the claimant’s time and the game should continue. The TD may, at his discretion, place a digital clock, set with time-delay at 5 seconds, on the game. If this is done, the claimant gets half of his remaining time up to but not exceeding one minute while the opponent’s time is not adjusted and the game continues until a result is achieved.
  • All other rules – Decisions will be based upon the 5th Edition of the Official Rules of Chess as published by the United States Chess Federation. Penalties for rules violations are at the discretion of the TD and may vary from warnings and time penalties to forfeitures and expulsion from the tournament.