National High School (K-12) Championship has been Cancelled

For the first time in the event’s 50-year history, US Chess is cancelling the National High School (K-12) Championship (NHS) due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on March 12 that he is banning mass gatherings of more than 100 people. As the NHS was expected to draw up to 1,800 players plus family, friends, and coaches, US Chess had no choice in this matter.

The event will not be rescheduled. The next NHS will be part of SuperNationals VII from May 7-9, 2021 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The 2020 National Junior High (K-9) and National Elementary (K-6) Championships, scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida (April 24-26) and Nashville, Tennessee (May 8-10) respectively, are still currently planned to be held.

We know that for many scholastic players our spring nationals are an important part of their lives. For this event, we are especially sad for our 12th grade participants for whom this would have been their last US Chess scholastic event. Executive Director Carol Meyer says, “My heart aches for all of our participants but especially our seniors as they won’t get this final national scholastic experience that I know they were looking forward to. Many of them have grown up playing in US Chess national scholastic events. However, we support the governor’s decision in light of Ohio’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

US Chess will be providing full entry fee refunds to the almost 1,100 players that have already registered for the event. They will be processed automatically over the next few weeks; there is no need to contact US Chess about this. If you paid for a team room deposit, US Chess will refund the deposit.

Our goal is to have all refunds processed no later than March 31. If you are still awaiting a refund as of April 1, please email Debra Robison at [email protected]. US Chess appreciates your patience.

Hotel refund information: US Chess has authorized the Hyatt Regency Columbus and the Hilton Columbus Downtown to waive the one-night deposit rule in the event of a cancellation close to the event. You should receive a full refund from the hotel, but the hotels likely need 24-48 hours for this cancellation information to enter their reservations system. UPDATE: US Chess has been told this by the Hyatt Regency: “Our reservations team is cancelling all individual reservations and processing refunds. It could take 7-10 business days for the refunds to be reflected on bank statements and credit cards. It is not necessary to contact Hyatt Regency Columbus to cancel their reservation.”

US Chess will continue to work hard to bring you the national scholastic championships our community loves. Though the NHS event will no longer take place, we continue to focus on advancing our mission statement: Empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess.


  1. Although obviously necessary, it’s a shame. Despite what the article says, I don’t see how the April and May events avoid a similar fate.

    • USCF probably has a good reason (hmmm…CONTRACTS?) for not announcing other cancellations right now. Notice that this announcement didn’t come until Ohio put down a ban.

    • I would be inclined to think the same – but based on the way this announcement was phrased it makes me think it will come down to what the governors of Florida and Tennessee say.

  2. The K-12 National Championships should be replaced with the elementary nationals, which should get cancelled instead. Upper class chess players should be prioritized!

    • Cancelling the National HS is a major misfortune that was out of the control of the federation and with nobody wanting to affect the HS players and no person to be blamed (well, the governor of Ohio can be cited for making the decision to ban such events but the situation is such that the word blame doesn’t really apply).

      Moving the National HS to Nashville and cancelling the Elementary would be a decision to take control and deliberately decide which players would get adversely affected. The word blame would very likely be bandied about and would leave people upset about such a decision. It would require a large number of travel cancellations that would not be related to a government decision and possibly a significant financial hit to people making those cancellations.

      Also, I doubt if the Gaylord would be ready even up to add that HS at this late date.

      PS Today (March 13) is the deadline for late registration for taking the ACT on April 4 so anybody who wants to try to register (now that the National HS isn’t being held) would need to move quickly (thank you to the federation for providing the notice in time for them to do so).

      Per MSA, no John Hasty has ever been a member and no J. Hasty has been a member in the past seven years. There might have been a John Hasty as a member prior to 1991.

  3. US Chess continues to work with the state and local governments hosting our Junior High and Elementary tournaments to determine what steps we must take with those events. As we have more information we will share it.

  4. What a tough decision! I wonder if there could be an online tournament in satellite locations with a TD to determine the k-12 champion. It is a shame about those seniors getting sent off without a final scholastic event.

  5. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we suddenly discovered a vaccine and could add the HS to the Elem at Opryland? From what I have been hearing, many of the airlines are giving credit for future flights if you have to cancel, so theoretically, HS players could change their flights to Nashville on Mother’s Day weekend. … As for all the juggling necessary for staffing, well, there’s no vaccine for that.

    • It is not just staffing – playing halls, room nights, etc are even bigger obstacles. Nice thought that, frankly, many of us share. But it won’t happen.

      It is far from certain if we will be able to have either or both of the other tournaments.

      I hate canceling these for a whole bunch of reasons. We were hoping there was a way to pull it off. We took lots of flak for not cancelling sooner, including some just over-the-top hysterics from some.

      We have to set emotions aside, and do what we can. Not just in chess – but everywhere in light of this unprecedented situation.

      We do appreciate all who have been encouraging to our team. The US Chess team members in all of our work areas – national events, communications, office and management have been working long and hard to make this bad situation as smooth as possible for as many as we can. The Executive Board appreciates all of that work, and the leadership of our Executive Director and her management team. There is still much to be done.

  6. It’s a real shame for the players first and foremost. Now we just have to play wait and see with the other 2 big scholastic tournaments. I suppose it will come down to state decrees. And as a coach making plans for Junior High and Elementary – I hope we know definitively about those as quickly as possible.

    • I don’t mean to sound flippant but we will know when we will know. Our goal is the hold events if it is safe for all involved. The situation remains fluid. We will communicate as soon as we have more information.

      • I definitely understand. I’m glad that the ultimate goal is to remain on until it’s otherwise impossible. Thanks for your work on this and everything.

  7. I just called the Hyatt Regency Columbus to cancel my room and get my one night deposit payment back and they are not aware of the cancellation. Is there someone specifically that I need to call to have them process my cancellation and refund my payment? Please advise

    Thank you.

    • Our apologies for this. We have only just found out that the hotels need 24-48 hours for this cancellation information to enter their reservations system. Please try again in 1-2 days. The post has been updated to reflect this new information.

    • April A: We have received more information from the Hyatt: “Our reservations team is cancelling all individual reservations and processing refunds. It could take 7-10 business days for the refunds to be reflected on bank statements and credit cards. It is not necessary to contact Hyatt Regency Columbus to cancel their reservation.”

  8. This is the correct decision.
    USCF will most likely need to cancel the other 2 Nationals also.
    Most of us will eventually get the virus (unless a vaccine is found) but this decision will delay the overall exposure and slow the progression (you will eventually get it!)
    Very good decision by USCF!

  9. they should just reschedule later on in April or may the HS people should be able to go just like if the elementary and middle schools go it’s not fair that the seniors don’t get to compete in their last year in nationals .!

    • I assume you have not thought that comment through. Venues have other events scheduled. Schools are not in session across much of the country. The reason we have the HS first is the players have so many other things going on the closer we get to the end of the school year.

      It certainly is not “fair”.

      It is not “fair” that NCAA college spring sport athletes lost their whole season.
      It is not “fair” that a bunch of low wage hourly workers in the hospitality industries – including many who would have served us at our tournament will be laid off and have no income to eat and pay rent.
      It is not “fair” that a bunch of HS and college basketball teams having a great season won’t get a chance to play for championships.

      And it won’t be “fair” when students find that prom is canceled, awards are mailed out to them instead of having a ceremony, and there is no walk across a stage for graduation.

      Stuff happens all the time that is not fair.

      • it’s not fair that people will die. it’s not fair that people will lose jobs. life is not a chess board. this is about life and death.

      • it’s also not fair that thousands of people are going to die from this. is it fair that we can all do whatever we can do reduce the number of deaths. kudos US chess.

    • FM’s suggestion doesn’t pass the laugh test. There is no way to move a tournament that big in 4-6 weeks, ESPECIALLY under current circumstances.

      If seniors want one last hurrah, they should enter the US Junior Open. That’s the next USCF national event that has any reasonable chance of happening.

      • I agree that this was the right thing to do, and agree that moving the tournament “as-is” was not feasible.

        However, given that it is a National Championship, was consideration given to moving only the championship section of the tournament and only existing entries to another time and place?

        This section had only 200 entries. Continuing to hold the championship-only in May would still seem a viable alternative, letting those who wish to withdraw do so.

  10. As a senior myself, I am incredibly disappointed, though I do understand the reasons behind the cancellation. If there is any way that US Chess can reschedule the tournament or hold the event remotely, I would definitely on board with such a plan (though I also realize the difficulties inherent to such plans).

    • Though it pains me to say it, I deeply doubt that will be possible. The Executive Board and management team of US Chess are considering all possibilities, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

      Please feel free to join us in St Louis for the US Open in August, or the US Junior Open in Pomona CA the first week of June.

    • Remote US Chess over-the-board-rated play requires the players to be monitored by a TD while playing. Also, the rulebook’s statement regarding playing from home is “Be careful, very, VERY, careful”. There have been players ejected from OTB tournaments for using a device during play. There have bee cases of players accused of cheating when playing good moves in on-line regular-rated events. If you don’t have every player physically monitored at a site where a TD is then the number of cheating accusations will skyrocket (along with the odds that some players will think they really can “get away with” violating the rules while not monitored).

  11. I understand why it had to be cancelled and why rescheduling it would be an impossible task. With that being said even if per chance Jacksonville is still able to take place many schools all over have cancelled trips through the end of April so these students would not be able to go then. Right at this moment our district is closed for the rest of March and they have said no trips through April 30th so our team would not be allowed to go.

    • Yes, we are aware of those issues. Let us finish dealing with the high school event and then we will deal with the junior high.

      • We had 2 teams going to Columbus so of course we were disappointed. I know you all at USCF have a huge job of working through all this. I wasn’t looking for answers on Jacksonville I was just stating that many schools will not be allowed to go.

    • I believe my school district has put down the same travel restriction for teams, unfortunately. But I’m still holding out a slight hope for Nashville. But something tells me the CDC announcement yesterday will affect both tournaments.

      Not that it matters at all in the grand scheme of things – but I was kind of hoping to know one way or the other before the registration price increase and before I go to the trouble of signing up a large team.

  12. It seems to me the ONLY responsible thing for USCF at this point is to cancel all over-the-board events. It’s clear from what the experts are saying Covid-19 lives on surfaces. Everyone should probably assume it can be transmitted by touching pieces over a game of chess. I think you have to assume the virus can spread through over-the-board tournaments and meetings of affiliate clubs. Please cancel such events now before USCF becomes responsible for transmitting the virus.

    • US Chess does not control what individuals do with local clubs and local or regional events. We strongly advise all local clubs and organizers to follow state and local guidelines or requirements for limitations on gatherings. Please be aware that one can be contagious even if displaying no symptoms.

    • Please explain, with source material, where USCF derives the authority to force organizers to cancel events. Thanks.

      • As far as I know, US Chess hasn’t forced any other organizer to cancel an event so asking for its authority to do so is totally irrelevant. US Chess has cancelled some of the events it organizes in house (such as the National High School) but not tournaments by any other organizer.

        That said, there are a lot of governmental authorities that have forced the cancellation of events as part of their exercise of their powers as governmental authorities. Waiting until the state of Ohio required the cancellation of events probably made it less financially onerous than if US Chess had cancelled the National HS without such a governmental ruling.

        My club’s championship has been suspended at the midpoint (it may end up truncated with no champion named). That was because of the park district governmental body closing the site we have through at least the end of the month.
        US Chess has been kind enough to allow sending e-mail blasts to the players that would be likely to play (we would normally be registering people even in the final week of the multi-week tournament because the entry fee is waived for club members.

      • After re-reading, the comment was correctly in response to another to show that US Chess does not have such authority.

  13. USCF made the right decision and should cancel Jr. High and Elementary Nationals now. This helps people relieves people of the anxiety of not knowing.

    • US Chess is working with our state and local hosts for future events to determine what course of action we can and must take. We are dealing with the issues around the high school event right now. As soon as we have more about future events we will let everyone know. I know people would like immediate answers. Some are calling for us to announce rescheduling of events right now. We cannot. We will communicate information when we have it, by all means we have to do so.

      Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding.

  14. We had 2 teams going to Columbus so of course we were disappointed. I know you all at USCF have a huge job of working through all this. I wasn’t looking for answers on Jacksonville I was just stating that many schools will not be allowed to go.

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