Gryphons Cascadia Logo K-8th grade chess players of all skill levels are invited to the ...

Cascadia Chess State Qualifier Tournament

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Register here

Location: Cascadia Elementary School, 6175 Church Rd, Ferndale WA. Parking in front lot, or along Pacific Highlands Ave.

Who Can Play: All Kindergarten through 8th grade students, from Canada to California, beginners welcome!

State Qualifier: Students in 1st - 5th grades who score three wins (or more) qualify to play in the State Championships on May 4, 2024 at Kennewick's Three Rivers Convention Center. (Kindergarten students qualify with two wins.)

Ferndale Schools Championship: Special recognition given to Ferndale schools champions at each grade level.

Three playing sections: K-2nd grades, 3rd-5th grades, 6th-8th grades.

Format: Five rounds, no elimination, so all players play all five rounds. Swiss pairings are used, so players of similar score face off each round. One point is awarded for a win, zero for a loss, a half point for a draw.

Check-in: 8:45 to 9:15am. Be prompt - late arrivals might not be paired for Round 1.
Parent and players meeting: 9:20am

Rounds will start as soon as possible. Estimated schedule:
Round 1: 9:50
Round 2: 10:55
Round 3: 12:00
Round 4: 1:05
Round 5: 2:10
Awards ceremony 3:20pm or asap

Tournament Rules: NWSRS scholastic tournament rules are in effect. Those are clarified in the FAQ below, but the main ones are:

  • If you touch a piece, you must move it. (Accidental bumps don't count.)
  • Clocks will be used in the middle school section, and in later rounds, on top boards in the 3rd-5th grade section. 25 minutes per player, plus a five second time delay, so games will not last over an hour.
  • In the middle school section, both players must record the moves, until one player has 5 minutes or less on the clock. Then both players may cease recording if desired.

Awards: Trophies to top three in K-2 and 6-8, to top five in 3-5th grade divisions. Medals to all (non-trophied) players who qualify for State (3 of 5). All K-2 players get a participation prize at least. Team awards: Podium recognition to top five elementary teams. Team scoring adds up the best five results from a school for K-5th grades.
Ferndale Schools: Certificates to Top Three at each grade, K-5.

Entry fee: $16 if received before 10pm Thursday April 18. After that, $25. Final deadline 9pm Friday April 19. Spectators and parents free. Proceeds benefit Cascadia PTO and Cascadia Chess Club.

To Enter: Register here.

Concessions will be available on site, cash or check only. We'll take lunch pizza orders at check-in.

Questions: See FAQ below. If further questions, email Tournament Director Randy Kaech at


Cascadia Chess State Qualifier Tournament FAQ

(Also see Whatcom County Scholastic Chess FAQ)

I'm not a good chessplayer. Should I play?
If you enjoy chess, come play. Doesn't matter if you're experienced or not. Swiss pairings will pair you with other players around your same skill level. For example, if you don't win your first games, you'll play someone else with the same score. We're all learning together.

I can't play all day, just in the morning. Can I still join?
Yes. Examine the schedule, and then communicate to the tournament director which rounds you can play in, when you will be leaving, and exactly which rounds you will miss.

I grabbed a chess piece. If I haven't taken my hands off of the chess piece yet, can I change my mind?
In a rated tournament like this one, if you even touch a chess piece with your fingers, you must move it. And if you touch an opponent's piece, you must capture it. So sit on your hands until you know what you want to do. You have time. If a piece needs to be centered or adjusted, you may do so on your turn only, by first saying "I adjust". If you accidentally brush against a piece, you don't have to move it.

My opponent touched their knight, but then moved another piece. What do I do?
If you ever have any kind of issue, dispute or question during a game, raise your hand and a Tournament Director will come assist you. So, for example in this scenario, you'd politely (quietly) say "You touched your knight, and are required to move it." If they refuse, say "Let's get the TD." If you're using a clock, pause it, and raise your hand, or rise and find a TD. The TD will listen to both players and resolve matters according to USCF rules.

I'm in the 6th-8th grade section. How do I record my moves?
Yes, scorekeeping is required for middle schoolers, just like at State. To learn how, check out this web page. It takes some getting used to, but it's not hard. It will help you improve, as you'll be able to review your games. It helps avoid disputes. And, once you can read chess notation, you can read chess books from all around the planet. Scoresheets will be provided.

How do you determine who plays who? How do Swiss pairings work?
Check out the Wikipedia article or this video. But the basic Swiss Tournament rules are:

  • no elimination - everyone plays all rounds
  • players of similar score are paired together
  • you never play the same person twice
  • the computer tries to arrange it so you have the black and white pieces equally
  • in our tourney, pairing players from the same school is avoided (but not forbidden)

Chess Game In Motion

I'm in middle school, and I have no experience with chess clocks. What do I need to know?
Chess clocks are a great invention. They keep the game moving, and add a new dimension of excitement. So, after you move and release your piece, press the button nearest you on the chess clock. Then record your move. Your timer stopped, and your opponent's timer began. If you use up all your time, you lose, just like checkmate. If you want to get familiar with timed chess, just play a few games on lichess or

In our tournament, in the 6th-8th grade division, each side will start with 25 minutes for the whole game. Also, and this is helpful to know, we use the five second delay feature. Your time doesn't start to elapse until five seconds have passed. So, if you're down to one second on the clock, you can still finish the game, provided you make each move in less than five seconds!

Other clock rules to know:

  • You have to make moves and press the clock with the same hand. (You might sit on one of your hands, until you get the one hand habit going.)
  • The player with the black pieces gets to choose what side of the board the clock will be on.
  • You cannot pause the clock unless you are calling over a tournament director.
  • When "time trouble" happens, which is when one player has five minutes or less on the clock, a couple things happen. First, both players no longer have to record the chess moves. Second, if a player makes an illegal move, like leaving their king in check, the other player gets two extra minutes on the clock. Call over a TD if this happens.

How does team scoring work?
For elementary schools, the best five results by players attending the same school are added together, to determine the team score. Remember, scoring is 1 point for a win, 0 for a loss, and 1/2 for a draw. So for example, six players from Majestic Elementary School School are playing, and their final scores after five rounds are 4.0, 3.5, 2.0, 2.0, 1.0 and 0.5. Their team score would be 12.5 points.

What if there's a tie after five rounds?
Ties will be broken by the standard "Modified Median" tiebreak method, except for first place, where the players will be declared co-champions. Basically, if you played opponents who scored well, you'll have high tiebreak points. Tiebreak systems calculate who has played the toughest opposition. Here's the Wikipedia article on the topic.

This tournament is rated by the NWSRS? What's that?
There are international, national and regional chess rating systems, which provide chess players with a number that is a rough indicator of their playing strength. It's similar to a golf handicap, bowling handicap or tennis ranking. Players enjoy improving their playing strength and their rating, and tournament directors can use ratings to place players of similar strength in playing sections together. Our tournament will be rated by the Northwest Scholastic Rating System.

Check it out - here's a video from the playing floor of the 2020 Washington State Middle School and Elementary School Championships, held at the Tacoma Convention Center.