Seven Cities School Chess Championship – CANCELLED


Seven Cities School Chess Championship

Saturday April 4th, 2020

9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Estimated)

Academy for Discovery at Lakewood

1701 Alsace Avenue

Norfolk, Virginia

COVID-19 UPDATE: We regret to inform you that the Seven Cities Chess Championship scheduled for April 4th has been cancelled as a result of precautions being taken in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  This decision was a difficult one but was ultimately based on guidance from the Virginia Governor urging non-profits to cancel large gatherings for the next 30 days, as well as actions by local school systems to cancel extracurricular activities, guidance from the CDC, and specific tournament precaution guidance from US Chess.

We will be launching registration for a free online championship to be held on the originally scheduled date, and if the situation improves, we hope to reschedule the event for a later date this school year.  If that is not possible, we will hold the event next year.  All registered participants have received an e-mail with instructions for how to handle your entry fee.




Open to all children in grades Pre-K through 12th residing in the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. Players in “outlying areas” commonly considered to be part of “Hampton Roads,” please contact the organizer before registering, to determine eligibility.


Open to students who attend public school, private school, or who are homeschooled.


Due to the anticipated size of this event, advance registration and payment is required. There will be no walk-up entries taken on site on Saturday.


COST is $15 per player for students who are homeschooled, or who attend private school or a non-Title 1 public school. Cost is $10 per player from public Title 1 schools. Use coupon code TITLE1 at checkout for the $10 rate.  Ineligible players using the coupon code will be contacted to collect an additional $5.  If you are unsure if your school is Title 1 or not, please inquire before registering. If a student cannot afford the entry fee, regardless of the school, please contact the organizer for a coupon code to enter the event. NO STUDENT WILL BE TURNED AWAY FOR INABILITY TO PAY. HRCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with scholarship funds available.


A Note on School Teams: A school team consists of any two or more players in the same section. At the end of the event, the top four individual players’ scores for a school comprise the team score in each section. Experienced players may note the different grade format / restrictions for this event than that to which they are accustomed (K-3, K-5, K-8, and K-12). This event was specifically designed for the fairly standard school grade level breakdowns found throughout our region. To avoid confusion for the many new players who are expected, and to keep within the spirit of school teams for this event, no player is allowed to “play up.” Each section is designed for an exact grade range. Players do NOT need to be part of a school team to participate in this event. Any eligible individual can enter.


A Note on Homeschooled students: Because they often work at different grade levels in different subjects and can’t pinpoint a “grade they are in,” we recommend using their birthdate to determine the grade they would be in if they were in public school to determine eligibility; however, we trust and accept all homeschool parents’ grade placement determinations for their children. Homeschooled players may form “school” teams as family members (if they fall in the same grade range) or as members of a recognized homeschool cooperative.


This is an “individual-team” event. This means that players go about their tournament playing their own individual games and competing for individual awards, but at the end of the day, up to the top 4 scores (as explained above) for each school comprise the team score. We make every effort NOT to pair teammates, but for schools with many entrants, or two players from the same school who MUST play each other (e.g. the top two going into the final round), teammates will be paired.


Sections for all ages and abilities.


These sections are open to all players who do NOT have a US Chess rating. US Chess membership is NOT required. These sections are designed for players with little to no tournament experience.

Primary (PK-2) Rookie

Intermediate (3-5) Rookie

Middle School (6-8) Rookie

High School (9-12) Rookie


These sections are open to any player with a US Chess membership. They are designed for players with more tournament experience. Unrated / first time rated players may enter these sections with a US Chess membership.

Primary (PK-2) Rated

Intermediate (3-5) Rated

Middle School (6-8) Rated

High School (9-12) Rated


Tournament Format: This tournament will use the US Chess “Swiss” system for pairings. It is similar to a bracket system in sports. Players in the Rookie sections are listed randomly on the initial entries. Players in the Rated sections are listed from highest to lowest rating. In Round 1, the list is split in half, and if, for example, there are 20 players in a section, #1 plays #11, #2 plays #12, etc. Upon the conclusion of Round 1, there are 3 possible “score groups” – 1 point (win), .5 point (draw), and 0 point (loss). The “split list” format is again used, but now within each score group (you will play someone with the same or very close to the same score as your own). This continues in each subsequent round. Color (black or white) allocation and alternation are also considered in your pairings for each round. Essentially if you continue to win, your games get more challenging as you play others closer to your own playing strength. If you continue to lose, eventually you will encounter opponents closer to your own playing strength, as well, and have an opportunity to win or draw games later in the tournament. This is not an elimination event. All players will play all rounds. The exception is when there is an uneven number of players – the computer will assign a bye to one player, a free point. You can only receive one of these byes in the tournament and will play all other rounds, so do not leave! We use specially programmed software to generate pairings and standings for each round. Before each round, pairings will be posted and announced. The posted pairings will show your board number, color, and opponent for each round. Standings after each round will be posted throughout the day.


The anticipated number of rounds (games) for this event is five per section. However, because this tournament has never been run before, and the total number of rounds depends on the number of registrations, we will make an announcement at 9 AM the day of the event with the final decision on number of rounds per section. Not every section may play the same number of rounds.


If you need to miss a round (for example, arriving late, leaving early, or leaving for a chunk of time in the middle to attend another event), please notify the organizer in advance so we can plan to provide byes (not pair you) during your absence. This event will allow a maximum of a single half-point bye (missed round) for each player. Subsequent missed rounds will receive a zero-point bye. Check in and out with the registrar at the computer when coming and going for byes. If you need to withdraw unexpectedly (e.g. family emergency or sick player), please do not leave without informing the registrar.


Notation requirements: “Notation” or “scorekeeping” in chess means writing your moves down using a special scoresheet and algebraic notation. It is a learned skill that beginning players generally do not yet have. For this event, only players in Middle School and High School RATED sections are REQUIRED to take notation. For players familiar with notation, you understand the potential claims you will be unable to make during a game without a scoresheet, as well as the inability to analyze your games with a coach after the event. All players are encouraged to take notation if they know how.  US Chess approved electronic notation devices and personal scorebooks ARE allowed.

Click here for a Chess Notation “cheat sheet” / how-to guide. 

Click here for a great kids’ video on how to take notation!

Click here for a practice notation sheet:  HRCC Score Sheet

There is even a special new scoresheet for little bitty kids who can’t write yet!  BeginnerScoresheet US Chess official

A note on spectators: Scholastic chess in the United States is not a spectator sport. Parents and coaches will be allowed (not required) to enter the playing hall with their children before the start of each round to ensure they are seated in the correct spot, to take photos, and to provide encouragement. All parents and coaches must exit the playing hall before the start of each round. Your children will return to “skittles” (the hangout room) when their game is complete.


A note on accommodations: US Chess strives to make chess accessible to ALL players. If you anticipate your child will need accommodations of ANY sort, please contact the organizer in advance so we can prepare and ensure your child has the best possible experience.


This event is governed by the United States Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess, 7th Edition. ALL pairings, tiebreaks, tournament director rulings over the board, and every other aspect of the event are based on these rules.


To help new players prepare for this event, click here for a New Player Orientation sheet covering some of the most important rules. While an orientation will be conducted on site Saturday morning, parents, coaches, and teachers are encouraged to print the sheet out and go over it with their players in advance of the event. Players are encouraged to practice under tournament conditions in the weeks leading up to the event.


Schedule Notes

8:00 – 9:00 AM Check-In (All players must check in to be paired for Round 1)

9:00 – 9:30 AM New Player Orientation

9:30 AM Round 1

From this point on, rounds begin on an “as ready” basis, meaning that the section schedules will diverge. As soon as one section finishes a round, it will be immediately re-paired for the next round.


The “time control” for this tournament is G/45; d5. This means that each player has a total of 45 minutes to play all of their moves, and if a move is made within the “grace period” of 5 seconds, no time is deducted from the clock. Each round / game could last approximately 90 minutes. Note that it is extremely unlikely that any Rookie games will use all their time, as well as very few Elementary age rated games. Generally speaking, the higher rated and older the players, the more time they will take to play their games. Chess clocks will be provided for as many rated games as possible. If you own a chess clock, please bring it with you! It is okay to begin a game with no clock. If your game is running long, a tournament director will place a clock on your board and evenly split the remaining time in the round.

Concessions will be available on site. There will be no lunch break. Please plan to eat between rounds. Concessions raise funds for our host school. Please consider using them! Snacks, drinks, and lunch options will be available.


DO NOT TAKE YOUR PLAYER AND LEAVE THE SITE FOR ANY REASON DURING THE EVENT WITHOUT NOTIFYING THE REGISTRAR AT THE COMPUTER. Because of the “as ready” pairing schedule, you risk missing a round if you think you can leave for lunch. Please keep your player on site all day unless you have pre-arranged for a bye (see above).


Awards ceremonies will be held by section immediately following the completion of the final round in each section.


ESTIMATED completion time for the event, inclusive of awards, is 6 PM, with Rookies and Elementary age rated sections expected to finish at least an hour earlier. Chess tournaments are an all-day affair! Come prepared! Bring anything you need to entertain yourself (parent) and your children throughout the day. Bring snacks and lunch if you don’t plan to use the concession stand. Bring a camp chair, as seating may be limited in the “hangout” room, which is known in chess as “skittles.”



Primary Rookie


Intermediate Rookie (3-5) Middle School Rookie


High School Rookie


Primary Rated


Intermediate Rated (3-5) Middle School Rated


High School Rated


Top 7 Individuals Top 10 Individuals Top 5 Individuals Top 5 Individuals Top 5 Individuals Top 10 Individuals Top 7 Individuals Top 3 Individuals
Top 3 PK-K players below Top 10 overall Top 3 3rd graders below Top 10 overall Top U300 and Top Unrated Top U500 and Top Unrated Top U700 and Top Unrated Top U900 and Top Unrated
Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl Top Girl
Top 5 Schools Top 5 Schools Top 3 Schools Top 3 Schools Top 3 Schools Top 3 Schools Top 3 Schools Top School

*This is the first tournament of this type in Hampton Roads. These figures are estimated based on known local tournament attendance and known school chess clubs in the area. The organizers reserve the right to add (not subtract) awards as tournament registration progresses.


If a player does not receive a trophy but has an “even score” of half the possible points in their section, the player will receive a medal. All other players will receive a participation ribbon.


A Note on Tiebreaks: Trophies are non-divisible prizes. Therefore, if more than one player finishes the tournament with the same score, we use a standard series of four tiebreaks (math formulas) in the default order described in The Official Rules of Chess to determine which players will get trophies and which will get medals. In a nutshell, each of the four tiebreak formulas measures, in one way or another, the strength of your opponents and how difficult it was for you to earn your points.


If a player does not receive a trophy but has an “even score” of half the possible points in their section, the player will receive a medal. All other players will receive a participation ribbon.


Awards for each section will be presented in a ceremony immediately following the conclusion of the final round for that section.

More information / questions – contact us.

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