Hampton Roads Scholastic Chess Club [HRSCC]

HRCA is pleased to announce the return of our wildly popular / hugely successful pre-COVID format for Hampton Roads Scholastic Chess Club (HRSCC) in September 2022!   Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about our award-winning club.

What is HRSCC? 

HRSCC is a full-service youth competitive chess program that includes ability group-based training from beginner to advanced, tournament games every week, and a fun competitive online weekly tournament on the side.  Founded in February 2014, HRSCC has trained hundreds of kids in the foundations of chess, given them hands-on tournament experience, and provided all the guidance and support they need to take their game as far as they want to go, from being the best casual player on the block to becoming a National Master.  Many of our HRSCC “graduates” are still playing competitively at an advanced level.

Is HRSCC a high-pressure competitive program? 

NO, but our results might make some people think so! HRSCC is part of Hampton Roads Chess Association, a 501(c)(3) with a mission of bringing the life benefits of chess to people of all ages and abilities throughout our region.  Studies show that the greatest life and academic benefits accrue from systematic study and structured tournament play.  HRSCC uses a system of FUN incentives to encourage kids to study and practice outside of club, and to participate in tournaments outside of club.  Kids are recognized and rewarded for hard work, regardless of the outcome.  Our driving philosophy is to ignite a passion and love for the game of chess that will burn brightly and motivate the kids to put in the work and improve.  We never pressure kids to win, and we emphasize that we never “lose” — we only “learn.”  We encourage families to partner with us in this approach to maximize student success.

Where does the club meet? 

HRSCC meets at King’s Grant Presbyterian Church, 745 Little Neck Road, Virginia Beach.

When does the club meet?  

HRSCC meets on Tuesday nights from 5:00-7:00 PM beginning September 13th and running through the school year.  Check-in begins at 5 PM, but students may arrive as late as 5:30 PM if necessary.  Parents should be back on site no later than 6:45 PM for pickup.  A few games may last as late as 7:15 PM.

Due to the complexity of coaching groups of children by ability and the variety in our weekly tournament schedule, there are only certain dates we can roll new members into HRSCC.  THE NEXT ENTRY DATE FOR HRSCC IS JANUARY 3, 2023.

What does a typical night at HRSCC look like?  

Check-in begins at 5 PM and runs through 5:30 PM.  Students are encouraged to arrive as early as possible so they can get to class in time for some extra training with their coach.  Coaches will hold off beginning the formal lesson for the week until most or all of their students have arrived, but not later than 5:30 PM.  Coaches have the discretion to teach whatever material is appropriate for the ability group they are teaching and based on an initial assessment of their students.  For those who have taken classes with HRCA for the last two years, we are no longer teaching entire courses from Think Like a King or Coach Jay’s Chess Academy.  HRSCC students all receive ChessKid Gold accounts, and they will be strongly incentivized to use their accounts at home for study and practice.  Formal tournament events begin at 6 PM and generally end by 7 PM.  Concessions (snacks, pizza, etc.) will be available (pending volunteers).  A high-quality playground and covered pavilion are available right outside the playing hall doors, and children are encouraged to play outside if they have wait time between segments of the night.  For nights when a longer tournament event is being run, students will not have classes (start and end times will remain the same each week).  Students will receive a minimum of 20 classes during the school year.  Some weeks (usually close to holidays) will be run virtually on ChessKid.com.  A full schedule will be released to enrolled students.  Enrolled students also receive access to bonus online tournaments on Friday evenings.

What if my child isn’t ready for competition?  

New students ages 4-6 should register for Guppy Chess instead of HRSCC.  As students grow and become ready, we can discuss transferring to HRSCC.  New students ages 7 and up with no chess background will be required to take one beginner course outside of HRSCC prior to joining the club.  These courses will be available beginning in October 2022 via Zoom, and additional courses will be available in person at the Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach starting in January 2023.  This is a change to our original plan, as very few students in our September start-up group were completely new to chess.  Fearing these kids would get lost in the crowd, we determined the need to establish a prerequisite that kids know how the pieces move and can play a complete game of chess (no matter how poorly and even if some rules need reinforcement) in order to join HRSCC.  With this new prerequisite, all students will immediately begin competing in tournaments.  There is a separate division / section JUST for beginners in our “Minnows” ability group.  They will NOT play more experienced kids, and tournament directors are on hand to answer questions and help the students understand and apply the rules.  The best way to prepare for rated tournament play is to play in a “Rookie” section, which is run exactly like the rated sections, but the results are not reported to US Chess for rating.  This is great training ground for the kids.

New students who pass a basic assessment may be placed in our “Rockfish” ability group and will be participating in the “Rockfish Rookie” section of our tournaments each week while they continue to train and prepare to join US Chess and become “rated” players.  We will work with families to determine a child’s readiness to move up to higher levels based on chess skill and emotional maturity.  Every child at HRSCC moves at their own pace, and there is never any pressure to move up too quickly.  It is not unusual for some students to spend a year or more in our Rookie levels, while others move through ability groups at a much quicker pace.

Who will coach my child?  

Our coaches are all certified by US Chess and have passed a background check through HRCA.  Our coaches range from strong / high rated teenagers who have graduated from our Youth Leader Development Program, to nurturing chess savvy moms and dads who are masters at teaching young beginners, to National Masters, and everything in between.  We take great care in assigning the right coach to the right group at HRSCC.

Can I drop my child off?  Is there a place for me to wait on site? 

YES and YES.  You are welcome to drop your child off and return to pick them up by 7:15.  However, you MUST remain available at the phone number you enter for emergency contact during registration.  If you choose to stay on site, you may wait in the outdoor pavilion or in limited indoor areas while students are in class (better yet – volunteer! – see below).

Do you need volunteers?

ALWAYS.  Parents or other family members are encouraged to volunteer at club weekly for anything from setup or cleanup, to hall or classroom monitoring, to check-in or scorekeeping, to running concessions or the chess store.  Adults without a child in the program must pass a background check to volunteer with HRSCC.  You can also become a certified Club Tournament Director to help at our events — ask us how!  HRCA is a certifying organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award.  This is a great way for us to recognize our volunteers annually!

How much does this club cost?  

All HRSCC students pay an annual registration fee of $35 in September.  This includes their HRCA membership and their ChessKid Gold account.  HRSCC tuition is a flat monthly fee of $65 per student.  This figure represents a total program cost evenly spread across nine months from September to May, and as such, it is not prorated in months with fewer in-person meetings.  This tuition is all-inclusive.  Students will not pay extra for entry fees for Tuesday night tournaments, awards, curriculum, or any other expenses associated with their participation in HRSCC.  While our year-end award ceremony will take place in June, no tuition is due for June.

What if I can’t afford to pay?  

Go ahead and register!  When you fill out the registration form, you will be given the option to check “Apply for Needs Based Scholarship.”  The Joan H. Schlich Memorial Scholarship is available to help give children opportunities they otherwise could not afford.  We strive to turn no child away for inability to pay.

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