Just the Rules: Scholastic Chess and Reporting Game Results

You love the game of chess. You want to pass your passion onto your children. Some parents are not die-hard lovers of the royal game, but they are die-hard supporters of their child’s devotion to the 64 square universe. At scholastic chess events the adults stay out of the tournament room. The young'uns essay their games and report the results in various ways. How game results are reported can lead to a mixed bag of concerns.


The Winner Reports the Game Result

In adult events, wood-pushers are expected to report their own game results. Typically, they simply mark their score on the pairing sheet, or some other posted form. This works out okay in the adult chess world. It falls flat in scholastic chess. It is especially difficult for very young wood-pushers in the K-3 sections. Scorekeepers sitting by the exits are a good solution. One of the competitors needs to tell the score keeper their game result as they leave the playing room. But having just a single scholastic contestant report the game results leaves some pretty big verification holes.


Both Players Report the Game Result

When the contest is finished, the pieces are placed back on their starting squares. The scholastic opponents then go together and report their game results to a scorekeeper.

The upside is that the two budding GMs must agree on the game result to get it recorded. The downside is that if they disagree there is no position on the board to verify their conflicting claims.

Sometimes the two wood-pushers legitimately forget the results as they walk away from their board and stroll over to a scorekeeper. Just remembering their board number is also a real challenge. This phenomenon seems to mostly affect the younger gamesters.

The downside: Things get messy for everyone — coaches, parents, teams, TDs and players — when only one of the opponents shows up to report a game result and it gets reported incorrectly. Real young wood-pushers really have a tough time taking notation, so there is no help there. The pieces are already back in their starting gates, so no help there. The missing player might be really hard to find to help verify the reported game score. More than likely any miscue is only noticed after the pairings for the next round get posted. TDs then have to spend a lot of time verifying the game ending outcome.


The TD Gathers the Results.

A labor-intensive — but quite effective — method of gathering scholastic results, with a minimum of errors, is to hand that task over to floor TDs. When a game is concluded the position on the board stays in place. The wood pushers raise their hands and a TD arrives. The director asks for the results and verifies that the players agree. The position is checked to make sure the reported results match the verbal results. The game ending position is then reverted back to the game’s starting position. If there are any disputes, the TD has some detective work to do.

At National tournaments there is also a form at each board that needs to be filled out with the game results and signed by each player: names, teams, results, etc. Since the younger players that are still struggling with printing, let alone cursive writing, it takes some special TD effort to get those signed verifications.


And Now for a Good Scholastic Story – Digested From “My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut

It was a US Chess National Scholastic event. A parent came to the backroom (where all the pairings are made) to ask why his upper grade school son’s last game result was reported as a loss, since he had won!? Since it was a National Tournament, the TD had collected and verified the game results at the board when the game ended. The form that required signatures was all in order. The young man had agreed that he had lost the game. The board position was inconclusive, as the young GM wannabes had reset the pieces to their starting squares. But the form was clearly signed by the young man indicating that he had lost. The staff showed the form to the parent.

The parent looked at his child and explained, “A contract is a contract. Contracts need to be honored. You signed that contract. You agreed that you lost. So, you lost.” 

By the way, if you like humorous chess stories, like this one, check out Humor in Chess I, II and III by Dewain Barber and Ralph Bowman. It is rumored that they are about to release volume IV. Their profits go directly to scholastic chess. I am not connected in any way with those books—they are just a fun read.

Updated 2024 Rulebook

The 2024 printing of the 7th edition of the US Chess Rulebook, with a new cover, is available from US Chess. This printing contains all the updates from all the previous 7th edition printings. The e-book edition is available from Amazon. The free online rules chapters are still available at the link below.

The free, updated US Chess Rules (Chapters 1+2 + 9 + 10 +11 from the 7th edition rulebook) are now downloadable and available online. Be aware, while the book was at the printers there was a change to the TD Tip link for rule 28D1. Non US Chess ratings verified. The formulas in the linked document are for converting FIDE ratings to US Chess ratings. Those new formulas kick in on January 1, 2024. Watch for more info later, as this column was written before the new Glickman document, with the new formulas, was scheduled to be posted:

USChess = 932 + 0.564*FIDE (if FIDE <= 2000)

USChess = 20 + 1.02*FIDE (if FIDE > 2000)

The revision to the above formula for players with FIDE <= 2000 comes from the recalibration algorithm FIDE will be using, specifically.

Revised FIDE Rating = Old FIDE Rating + 0.4(2000 - Old FIDE Rating) for FIDE Rating <= 2000

Want more? Past columns can be found here or by searching the Chess Life Online archives.

Plus, listen to Tim when he was a guest on the US Chess podcast “One Move at a Time.”

Tim Just is a National Tournament Director, FIDE National Arbiter, and editor of the 5th, 6th, and 7th editions of the US Chess Rulebook. He is also the author of My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut & Just Law, which are both available from US Chess Sales and Amazon/Kindle. Additionally, Tim revised The Guide To Scholastic Chess, a guide created to help teachers and scholastic organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program. US Chess awarded the 2022 Tournament Director Lifetime Achievement Award to Tim. He is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee plus the Tournament Director Certification Committee (TDCC). His new column, exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” will help clarify potentially confusing regulations.