Spectator Policy for Scholastic Events Organized by US Chess

What is the spectator policy?

Effective immediately, the playing halls at scholastic events organized by US Chess will be open to the following people while games are in progress:

  • Players with games in progress in that room
  • Tournament staff
  • Press and other attendees with badges authorizing their access
  • Other persons directly authorized by the US Chess Director of Events

What does this mean?

Parents, coaches and other attendees who do not fall into the four above categories must leave the playing hall before the tournament director in charge of the playing hall will begin play.  Once a player in that room has reported a result, that player must leave the room for the remainder of that round.  Parents and coaches should instruct their players who have completed games not to go back into the playing hall, even to check on teammates’ or friends’ still-active games.

Penalties for violating this policy are at the discretion of the chief tournament director.

What events are impacted?

US Chess organizes the following scholastic events that are directly impacted by this policy.

  • National Elementary (K-6) Championship
  • National Junior High (K-9) Championship
  • National High School (K-12) Championship
  • National K-12 Grades Championship

Why is US Chess implementing this policy?

Closing the floor virtually eliminates accusations of cheating, especially electronic cheating, that are often raised by spectators.  Tournament directors spend an inordinate amount of time on this during the round, which prevents them from efficiently answering player questions, resolving disputes and observing players with games in progress.  The more that directors can focus on the players, the easier it is to observe, prevent and/or resolve any problems.

Also, spectators will frequently use their Internet-enabled devices in the playing hall, even when tournament staff post signs and make pre-round announcements stating that this is not permitted.  As spectators have consistently proven they will not adhere to US Chess rules for these devices, this step becomes necessary to protect the competitive integrity of our major scholastic events.

Most importantly, players have expressed almost universal preference for closed floors, and this has been consistent for years.  It lessens pressure on them, which in turn increases their enjoyment of the game.

Is this a brand new policy?

This policy is not entirely new.  The K-1 and K-1 Under 500 sections of the National Elementary (K-6) Championship, as well as the Grade K and Grade 1 sections of the National K-12 Grades Championship, have long had their playing floors closed.  We are now extending this to all sections of all scholastic events organized by US Chess.

What can I do to ensure my child finds me after a game?

The hallways in front of main playing areas must permit foot traffic to flow through them.  Groups cannot set up seating areas in those hallways.  US Chess has reconfigured its event setups to move all exhibits and vendors out of those specific hallways, maximizing available space for parents and coaches who choose to wait there.

US Chess will designate exits from each playing hall for certain grade levels or sections.  Those exits will be clearly marked with signage, both inside and outside the playing hall.  Players will be reminded before each round and after reporting their results which exit to take when finished playing for that round.  The designated exits will also be reflected before the tournament on the appropriate tournament website.  Handouts detailing the exit designations will be available at Chess Control for each event.

Each tournament website has links to maps of the tournament venue, including playing areas, skittles area, bookstore, special-event rooms, and team rooms.  Parents and coaches are strongly advised to review those maps with players before the event.  When possible, arrive early enough to walk through the tournament venue and become oriented with the locations of various areas.

Attendees are strongly encouraged to make use of the skittles area, both as a waiting room and as a meeting place after each round.  Most exhibits and vendors will be housed there.  US Chess is taking steps to ensure, when possible, that wireless Internet is available in those rooms at no cost to attendees.  (This may not always be possible.)

Team rooms are available for national events, but availability is limited, and there is both a cost and a specific procedure for reserving one.  Please review the team room information linked on the tournament website for more information.  If team room information is not linked for a particular event, it is still under development.

I still have questions.  Where can I ask them?

Questions about this policy may be referred to Boyd Reed, US Chess Director of Events, at [email protected] or 931-787-2244.

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