High school chess players of all skill levels are invited to play in the ... Chess Logo

Southwest Washington High School Chess Championships

Saturday, February 3, 2024 at Centralia College

Register -- Middle School info -- Final Standings

Location: Centralia College, 615 W. Pear St. Centralia in the TransAlta Commons Building, Rooms 105B and 105C.

Who Can Play: Limited to 9th-12th grade students who attend school (or home school) in the following counties: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, Wahkiakum. Beginners welcome. (Middle school tourney info here.) (Pierce County Regionals info here.)

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: The individual winner earns the title of 2024 Southwest Washington High School Chess Champion.

Format: One section, 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.
Player's Meeting: 9:30am
Round 1: 10:10
Round 2: 11:15
Lunch Gap
Round 3: 12:30
Round 4: 1:35
Round 5: 2:40
Awards ceremony 3:50pm 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 teams earn a berth to the 58th annual Washington State High School Chess Team Championships. Trophies go to the top five individual finishers. Book prizes to 6th-20th.

Door Prizes: Various door prizes (i.e. chess clocks, books, Northwest Chess magazines) will be awarded randomly throughout the day.

Cost: Free entry, courtesy of Washington High School Chess Association.

To Enter: Advance registration required. For high school, fill out this registration form before 10:00pm Thursday, February 1. (Middle school tourney info here.)

Bring: Directions to the site. Pen or pencil. Sack lunch and snacks, as no food vendors will be present. Boards, sets, clocks and scoresheets are provided, but bring a set if you want to play games between rounds in the relaxation ("skittles") area.

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

The Washington High School Chess Association 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.

The SW WA Middle School Chess Championships are being held concurrently with the High School tournament, and has its own web site here.


SW WA 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.

At my high school there's no club or team. Can I play in this tournament?
Yes. Solo players, home school and online school students welcome. Sign yourself up, show up and enjoy the tourney.

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 Ilwaco 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, 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.

Did you have this tournament last year?
Observing that high school chess is active statewide except for southwest Washington, initiative was taken in spring 2022 by the WHSCA coaches to bring tournament chess opportunities to the region. So on February 4, 2023, the first SW WA HS and MS Chess Championships were held. 288 players registered to play. See the final individual and team standings here, rated final standings here.

Photo of 2023 SW WA Regionals
Tournament Playing Hall

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.