Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Fox School Scholastic Chess Tournament - FAQ


General FAQ

  • When is the tournament?
    • Sunday, March 13th, 2016.  Pre-registered players should arrive by 10:40am.  For those who haven't registered yet, site registration is 10:00-10:30am.
  • Who can play in the tournament?
    • Any child in 8th grade or below can play in the tournament.
  • Is USCF membership required?
  • Where do my entry fees go?
    • All proceeds benefit the Fox PTA.
  • How do I sign up?
  • Are there other tournaments like the Fox tournament?
    • Yes!  The Heather tournament, held in May, and the Baywood tournament, held in the fall, are very similar to the Fox tournament.  Watch for announcements for those tournaments.


Facilities FAQ
  • Where can I park?
    • There are about 50 parking spots at the school.  You are welcome to use the spots marked for staff (as of course it is not a school day).  If you arrive too late, all the spots may be filled, but you should have no problem parking along the streets next to the school.
  • Are there bathrooms?
    • Yes, the bathrooms are outside.
  • Is there food available on site?
    • Yes, food is available on-site.  We will be selling pizza, drinks, and snacks.
  • Are there restaurants nearby?
    • Nothing within walking distance.  There's a small selection of places near Ralston/Alameda de las Pulgas, but we wouldn't recommend trying to drive there and back between rounds.
  • Is there wi-fi?
    • No, wi-fi is not available.  Cell phone service is available, though it can be spotty for some carriers.
  • Is there a playground?
    • Yes, there is a playground available for use by the kids, with basketball courts, baseball fields, monkey bars, and slides.

Player FAQ
    • What do I do when I arrive?
      • The first thing each player should do upon arrival is check-in.  Each player will be given a name tag to make sure everyone is in the right place.  Please arrive before 10:45am; earlier is better.  The later you arrive, the longer the check-in line will be.
    • How does my child figure out where to go and who to play?
      • Before each round, we will post the pairings on the walls outside.  Someone will say "The pairings are up!"  The pairings are done per section, so there will be one paper with the K-1 pairings, one for grade 2, one for grade 3, one for grade 4, one for grade 5, and one for grades 6-8.  Find your section, then look for your name.  Next to your name will be your board number, color (white or black), and opponent.  Enter the tournament room, find your board number, and sit at the correct color, then wait for further instructions by the tournament director.
    • Can I talk during the game?
      • No!  You may (but are not required to) say "check", but don't say it too loud.  You may talk to a tournament director if you have a question.  Other than that, there should usually be silence.
    • How do I show good sportsmanship?
      • Glad you asked.  It is traditional to shake hands with your opponent before and after your game, and to say "good game" after the game.  Even if one side is distraught over losing.  Respect your opponent.  Do not taunt them if you take their pieces or if they make a bad move (this means NOT saying something like "I've got your queen!").
    • What is the time control?
      • The time control is G/20 (game in 20 minutes).  This means that each side has 20 minutes to make their moves for the game (so the game should be over in 40 minutes or less).  A chess clock is used for each game. 
    • How do I use a chess clock?
      • To start the game, black pushes down on his side of the clock to start white's timer.  After you make a move, push down on your side of the clock.  Be sure to push down on the clock with the same hand that you used to move the piece.  Do not keep your hand on the clock after you have pressed it.  The clock will show minutes + seconds left for each side.  If the clock goes all the way down to 00:00, then that side has run out of time.  You (the player) are responsible for "calling the clock" -- that is, saying that your opponent's clock has run out of time.  Players in other games and the tournament directors are not responsible (and should not) call the clock in someone else's game.  If one person runs out of time, that person loses unless his opponent doesn't have enough material to checkmate his opponent.  If this is the case, the game is a draw (even if the side that ran out of time has a massive advantage in material).
    • What happens if I forgot to hit the chess clock after I move?
      • Your opponent is under no obligation to tell you that you forgot to hit your clock.  You may lose seconds or even minutes while your opponent silently waits.  If your opponent seems to be taking an unexpectedly long amount of time to move, check your clock!  That being said, I would say it is common courtesy to notify your opponent after a small amount of time has run off the clock.  At least the first time it happens.
    • Can I stop the clock if I have to use the bathroom?
      • No!  If you have to leave in the middle of your game for any reason, you cannot stop your clock.  Your clock will continue to run.  However, keep in mind that 20 minutes is a long time, so if you have to take 1-2 minutes to use the bathroom, you still have plenty of time.  Of course, it would be better if you went before your game started.
    • Is the touch-move rule enforced?
      • Yes!  If you touch a piece, you have to move it (unless you can't make any legal move with it).  If you touch an opponent's piece, you must capture it (unless you can't).  If you want to castle, you should touch your king first; otherwise, if you touch your rook, your opponent could compel you to move your rook (without castling).  Once you let go of a piece, it has to stay there.  The only exception to the touch-move rule is that you may say "adjust" before touching a piece to move it closer to the center of its square.
    • What is the 50 move rule?
      • If both players make 50 moves without moving a pawn or capturing a piece, the game is a draw.  Once a pawn move or capture is made, the count starts over.  It is not automatically a draw; one of the players in the game must claim a draw.  Since it is hard to document how many moves are being made, if a player suspects a claim might be made later, the player should raise a hand and notify a tournament director of their intent to claim a draw later.  The tournament director can then use the clock to determine how many moves have been made, and check the clock later to see how many additional moves have been made.  The player should probably count out loud (softly) how many moves have been made.  One move by black and one move by white only counts as one move, not two!
    • What is the draw by repetition rule?
      • Basically, if the same position has been reached in a game 3 times, the game is drawn.  It is not automatically drawn; one of the players in the game must claim a draw.  Note that it is not the moves that are repeated, but rather the position.  The repeated position does not have to be repeated on consecutive moves, either (though it often is).  Perpetual check is a special case of draw by repetition.
    • What do I do when my game is over?
      • Raise your hand and someone will come over to record the result.  Make sure they record the result correctly (especially if you won).  Then set the board back up and go outside and play until the next round!
    • What do I do after my 5th round game is over?
      • Please wait for the awards ceremony.  All players will receive a trophy or a medal.  If you must leave before the awards ceremony, please make arrangements for someone else to get your trophy or medal.

    Tournament FAQ


    • How many games will my child play?
      • Each child will play 5 games.  Do not leave just because your child loses in an earlier round!
    • What do I do if my child has to leave early?
      • If you do have to leave early for some reason, please notify a tournament director immediately.  Otherwise, we would pair your child against another child for the next round, and that other child would be disappointed not to play against someone.
    • Hey, you said my child would play 5 games, but they only played 4.  Why?
      • If there are an odd number of players in a section, it's impossible to have everyone play in each round.  In that case, one player in each round will be "unpaired", and will receive 1 point (equivalent to a win).  No player will be unpaired more than once.
    • When are the games played?
      • The rounds are scheduled to start at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm.  The awards ceremony will start at approximately 4pm.  Times may be pushed back a bit if we get a late start, but we usually manage to catch up to the original schedule by the end of the day.
    • How is each child's score calculated?
      • Each player starts with a score of 0.  They receive 1 point for a win and half a point for a draw.  So the maximum score for a 5-round tournament is 5 (five wins).
      • Why did my child get paired against this other kid?
        • This is what is called a swiss tournament, and pairings are done automatically by computer based on some basic swiss system rules.  In the first round, pairings are somewhat random (they are based on USCF ratings if any children have ratings, but most do not have ratings).  In subsequent rounds, the system tries to pair each player with another player with the same score.  So, if your child wins their first round game, they will probably play against someone else who won their first round game.  More information can be found here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss-system_tournament
      • Will my child get a trophy?
        • Trophies are given to the top 5 places in each section (top 8 for K-1 and 6-8).  Depending on all the results, your child will most likely get a trophy if they have a score of 4.0 or more, though this is not guaranteed.  Sometimes players with lower scores will get trophies, as well.  Sometimes a player with one score gets a trophy, while a player with the same score does not.  This is because ties are broken by tie-breaks.  Tie-breaks may also be used to distinguish between first and second place, or second and third, etc.
      • How do tie-breaks work?
        • There are several ways to determine tie-break scores.  Usually these involve looking at each player's opponents and how well those opponents scored.  The computer pairing program calculates all of the tie-breaks based on set formulas.
      • Can I stay in the tournament room?
        • Yes, parents are allowed to remain in the tournament room, but please be quiet!  If the noise becomes too much, we will ask people to go outside (this applies to both adults and children).  Please silence your cell phone or put it on vibrate so as not to disturb the players.

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