Club chess
Tournament chess
Team chess

Chess grades
Using chess grades to measure how well you play
How they give you your first chess grade
How they use your match results to update your chess grades

Player’s grade
Players regularly involved in competitive chess will eventually receive a grade. The grade you are given will be based on your results last season. The better the player, the higher the grade.
Club events
Club tournaments
Nearly all clubs run at least one tournament a year for their members. This often takes the form of a “Club Championship”, and the overall winner becomes the club champion for that year. The highest placed player with a certain grade may also receive an award. e.g. The highest placed player graded under 100.

What is a chess tournament?

These pages are here to help chess players understand what is available. This page explores Team chess.

Tournaments allow you to test your skills against other players. To ensure fairness, there will be rules to follow — e.g. make so many moves in a certain amount of time.

Basics of a tournament

You will normally play a series of games against other players. Before each game starts, you will be told who you are playing, and whether you should use the black or white pieces.

Most tournaments will expect you to use a chess clock, and give you a certain amount of time to make all your moves in each game. Either your school club, or local club, can teach you how to use a chess clock, and help you practice.

After each game has finished, the result will be recorded and you will be awarded points. The points awarded are normally:

  • 1 point if you win,
  • ½ point for a draw, and
  • 0 if you were beaten by your opponent.
As the tournament progresses, the points for each game will be added to your total score. At the end of the final round, the player with the highest score is the winner.

Beyond the basics

The Swiss system
Most tournaments are now organised according to what is called the “Swiss system”. That simply means three things:
  • You will play a different opponent in each round; So you won’t face the same player twice during the tournament,
  • In each round, your opponent should have a similar total score to your own, and
  • As the tournament progresses, you should play a similar number of games using the black pieces as the white pieces.

Putting players into groups

Because some players are better than others, larger tournaments often put players into groups. During the tournament you will only play opponents from the group you start in. The winner in each group will normally receive a prize.

How players are grouped usually depends on whether the tournament is just for young players, or is open to players of all ages.

Tournaments for junior players only
Tournaments intended only for junior players (like the UK Chess Challenge or the Staffordshire Junior Championships) normally group entries according to age. Typical groups might be Under 8, Under 9, Under 10, Under 11, Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18.

Although it is not a knockout tournament, competing in the later stages of events like the UK Chess Challenge may require some success in earlier rounds.

Tournaments open to players of all ages — including adults
This type of tournament normally groups entries according to level of skill (or grade). Typical groups might be: Open (players of any grade), Under 180, Under 135, Under 100 and Under 80. If you are ungraded, the group you are put into may be based on the results of recent games you have played.

Tournaments that include adults often expect you to record your moves properly. Either your school club, or local club can teach you how to do it, and help you practice.

The Congress or Championships

You may hear of a chess tournament being referred to as a “Congress”. A congress is another name for a tournament. Some congresses last just a day, others may be spread over a number of days. Frequently they are run over a weekend. Weekend tournaments often start on Friday evening. The entry form will give you details of when and where it will be played, the start time and how much time you have to play each game.

How long does each game last?

The rules of each tournament will tell you how long you have to play each game. Those shown here, have been included only to give you an idea of what to expect.

Junior congress or championships
These vary, but you may have 30 minutes to complete all your moves.

Congresses open to all age groups
These differ widely, but you may have 2 hours to play the game.

Most games like this will also expect you to make a certain number of moves within a certain amount of time. e.g. You may be asked to play at least 30 moves in the first hour. As long as you have made enough moves before that time limit, the game goes on.

How long does each game last?

Quickplay tournament (also called Rapidplay tournament)
In this type of tournament, each player has between 15 and 60 minutes to play all the moves in a game.

Lightning tournament
Here, a buzzer will sound every few seconds. As soon as the tone is heard, the player whose turn it is, must make a move. The next time the buzzer sounds, your opponent must move etc. If you don’t move when the buzzer sounds, you lose the game.

EPSCA Rapidplay
EPSCA (The English Primary School Chess Association) run many individual, schools and county competitions. A good one for primary school age children to go to is the EPSCA rapidplay competition held in January each year in Liverpool. This has a section for novices and more advanced players in each age group from under 8 to 11.
More details
Staffordshire Junior Championships
The Staffordshire Junior Championships are held every Autumn and has sections for all age groups. This is where the coveted County trophies are awarded to “Staffordshire” children: (“Staffordshire” also includes Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Walsall!). Monetary prizes can also be won.

This site includes a full guide to the event: Details Entry forms etc will available from the News page well before the event starts.

In Control

The person who looks after young chessplayers in Staffordshire is

Traci Whitfield

Email: Traci Whitfield
Tel: 01782 623361
(Before 9 pm please.)

Junior players welcome

Mrs Traci Whitfield,
Staffs Junior Chess,
21 Bankfield Grove,
Scot Hay,

Chess logo


Please contact:

Traci Whitfield  and  Andrew Davies


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