Changes to the National Junior High Championship

The 2019 NJH Championship

In June 2019, the Scholastic Council formed a subcommittee of the Scholastic Committee to examine the current structure of the Junior High Nationals. This nine-person subcommittee from across the country examined data from the last four years and discussed the impact of any proposed changes, including projections of both section and grade restructuring. Their extensive report recommended a two-step process: (1) Immediate move to one K-9 Championship section and adding new class sections; and (2) Effective no earlier than 2022, the intent to transition Junior High Nationals to K-8.

Key findings:

1. New class sections are immediately needed that will increase opportunities for all eligible players rated under 1700 and encourage the growth of chess at Junior High Nationals at every level. Meanwhile, the new championship section can be more competitive and ideal for all the top players and teams in the country. This restructuring would be consistent with previous section changes to the National High School in 2015 and National Elementary in 2016, which added new class sections to reflect the increased competition at all levels of the game.

2. Restructuring into one K-9 Championship section is more appropriate given that the event did not have a significant number of 9th graders and the current size of Junior High Nationals. Keeping the two championship sections with the addition of a higher class section would result in sections that would be too small.

3. An immediate change to one K-8 Championship section, thereby making Junior High Nationals K-8, would not be fair to the current field of participants without proper notice.

4. Since the Junior High Nationals were first created, more middle and junior high schools around the country have transitioned to going up to only 8th grade.

Based on the recommendation of the subcommittee and further discussion at the 2019 U.S. Open, the first step of restructuring the event as outlined below was recommended by the Scholastic Council and approved by the Executive Board and is effective for the 2020 Junior High Nationals:

K9 Championship
K9 U1700
K9 U1400
K9 U1100
K9 U900
K9 U700
K9 Unrated

The second step toward transitioning Junior High Nationals to K-8 sections is actively being discussed and is intended to be effective no earlier than 2022 Junior High Nationals. The subcommittee will remain active during this transition.

If anyone wants further information on the process or would like to provide feedback, please reach out to the chair of the Sections subcommittee, Daniel Rohde, at [email protected], who will circulate any feedback to the subcommittee and the Scholastic Council.

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