Pierce County middle and high school chess players of all skill levels are invited to the ... Chess Logo

Pierce County High School Chess Championships

Saturday, February 17, 2024 at Eatonville HS

Register here -- Final Standings here

Pierce County Middle School Chess Championship: For 6th-8th grades, happens concurrently with the high school championships in a separate playing division.

Location: Eatonville High School, 302 Mashell Ave N, South Hall, commons and gym.

Who Can Play: Students must attend school (or home school) in Pierce County.
High School Championship is for 9th-12th graders, Middle School Championship for 6th-8th graders.

Team Championship: This event is also a Regional Qualifying Tournament. Winning high school teams qualify to compete in the 58th annual Washington State High School Chess Team Championships, being held this year March 1st and 2nd at Interlake High School. A school's team score is the sum of the best five results from a school.

Individual Championship: Individual Champions earn the titles of 2024 Pierce County High School Chess Champion, and 2024 Pierce County Middle School Chess Champion.

Format: Each section has five rounds, no elimination, so all players play all five rounds. USCF 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: 9:00 to 9:25am.
Be prompt - late arrivals might not be paired for Round 1, receiving a half point bye.
Player's Meeting: 9:30am
Round 1: 10:00
Round 2: 11:10
Lunch Gap
Round 3: 12:30
Round 4: 1:30
Round 5: 2:30
Awards ceremony 3:45pm 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. (25 minutes per player, plus a five second time delay, so games will not last over an hour.)
  • 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: Top finishing high school teams earn a berth to the 58th annual Washington State High School Chess Team Championships. Trophies to top 5 individuals and teams for high school and middle school. Certificates for 6-15th places for individuals in high school and middle school divisions.

Cost: Entry fee $15 per student.

To Enter: Advance registration required. Register here. New deadline to enter is 8:00pm Thursday, February 15.

Bring: Directions to the site. Pen. Chess clock, if you own one. Boards, sets, clocks and scoresheets are provided, but bring a chess set if you want to play games between rounds in the relaxation ("skittles") area. Concessions will be available, and/or bring a sack lunch.

Questions: Start with the FAQ below. If further questions, email Tournament Director Randy Kaech at whsca.chess@gmail.com.

Sponsored by: The Eatonville High School Chess Club, in cooperation with the Washington High School Chess Association. WHSCA is a volunteer run, non-profit organization, responsible for guiding high school chess leagues throughout Washington and directing the annual Washington State High School Chess Team Championships.

Note: Originally set for Jan. 13, the tourney was moved to Feb. 17 due to snow.


Pierce County HS and MS Chess Championships 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'm in 9th grade, and I attend a middle school. Do I enter the middle school tourney or the high school tourney?
If you're in 9th grade, you would compete in the 9th-12th grade tourney with high schoolers.

How do I record my moves?
Yes, scorekeeping is required, 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, but do bring a good pen or pencil.

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." Pause the clock and raise your hand, or rise and find a TD. The TD will listen to both players and resolve matters according to USCF rules.

Chess Lady 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, download a chess clock app on your smartphone and use it, or just play a few games on lichess or Chess.com.

In our tournament, 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 high school team scoring work?
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 Foss High 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.

Top finishing teams will qualify for State, as per WHSCA Table 1. At State, teams are not allowed to enter unless they have at least five players. In our tournament, four players from a school will constitute a team, although they'll be at a handicap. Three players from a school is not a team. So, using WHSCA Table 1, if for example we have eleven teams competing, the top seven teams would qualify to compete at State. The eighth place team would be 1st Alternate, and could only attend if one of the qualifying teams opts not to attend State.

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)

What if there's a tie after five rounds?
Ties will be broken by the standard "Modified Median" tiebreak method. If tied for first place, 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.

Did you have this tournament last year?
No, this will be the first Pierce County HS and MS Chess Championships. Last year Pierce County high school teams qualified for State by playing in the SW WA Regionals at Centralia College.

Catch the vibe - here's a video from the start of Round Five at the 2020 Wa. State High School Chess Team Championships held at Mount Vernon High School.