How the Championship Works

Written by Mike Wolfe in 2006…
(with periodic updating)

When you arrive, you will need to report to the REGISTRATION tables.  There, we will take you through a check sheet to be certain that we have all necessary information, that you have paid the correct amount, and that you have your letter that confirms that your players are qualified to represent your school.

We do not permit club teams, where the players do not really go to the school they claim to represent, in the Varsity or JV Sections.  Full details are listed in our bylaws.  To see the bylaws, go to our web site,, and follow the “bylaws” link on the top of the home page.

Once the registrars have cleared you for competition, wait for the pairings to be announced. (You are responsible for bringing your own board and clock). In this tournament, you play as a team, with five players assigned as Board 1, (the best player) on down to Board 5.

Your team plays another school’s team.  Your Board 1 plays their Board 1, and so on.  So, you will find out which school you are playing, and you will line up 1-5 against their team.

There are some rules you must know about and be able to follow:

  1. You must take notation (record the moves) of your game until either you or your opponent has less than 5 minutes left on the clock.
  2. You must be able to use a chess clock.
  3. You must not speak to your opponent about any matter other than the few things that chess requires, such as “I offer you a draw.” It is NOT required to call “check.”  Touch-move, touch-take rules are enforced.
  4. Electronic devices, including cell phones, MP3 players, etc. are not permitted in the tournament playing area.
  5. Any distractions whatsoever, including tapping pencils, audible sighing, etc. can cause you to be reprimanded or penalized by the Tournament Director (TD). If you believe you opponent is distracting you from playing your best, you have the right to pause the clock, raise your hand, and have the TD make a ruling.
  6. In large sections, we use the Swiss System for pairings. For a discussion of how that works, see below.

Each team will be seeded going into the tournament.  The basic rules for seeding can be found in the by-laws.

The Swiss System is not like basketball, where 1 plays 16 first.  For some reason, the Swiss System divides the field in half and puts the top half of both groups against each other.

So if we have 16 teams, it will look like this:

1 will play 9
2 will play 10
3 will play 11
4 will play 12
5 will play 13
6 will play 14
7 will play 15
8 will play 16

In the next round, it is possible that we could have three different score groups.  Let's say teams 1-5 and 7 all won their matches, but there was a draw between 6 and 14, and another draw between 8 and 16.

That gives us three score groups:  Teams that won, teams that drew, and teams that lost.

So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 all won.  They would be matched as follows:

1 will play 4
2 will play 5
3 will play 7

Now we come to the group that drew their first match.

6 is supposed to play 14, but they already played, so they can't be paired again.  Now it is up to the TD to decide what to do.  Most likely,
6 will play 16
8 will play 14

Now the teams that lost are paired:
9 will play 12
10 will play 13
11 will play 15.

You can see that, with the possibilities of wins, losses, and draws, the next round could have as many as 5 different score groups.  There could be teams that won both matches, teams with a win and a draw, teams with one win (or two draws), teams with one draw, and teams with 2 losses.

If a score group has an uneven number of teams, the TD usually has to move someone up from the next lower score group, or to move someone down from the next higher score group.  In that case, their seed doesn't matter, they go immediately to the bottom (or the top) of the group they were moved into.

Also, if there is an odd number of teams, one team will get a BYE.  We will try hard not to have an odd number of teams.  Our plan is to have one of the B teams move into the A division if necessary to give us an even number there.

This whole system can be complicated, so if you don't understand your pairing at any time, please ask.

OK, so you are paired and you take your places facing the other team’s player at the same board as you.  As I said earlier, your Board 1 plays their Board 1, Board 2 plays Board 2, and so on.  During the match, you must record your moves and use the clock.  In a previous e-mail, I explained some of the rules around choosing which sets to use, and choosing on what side of the board the clock is placed.

When the match is over, shake hands with your opponent and circle the name of the winner (or if there is no winner, circle DRAW) on the sheet at the end of the table.  Then go to the TD table and report your result there as well.  Once you are finished, leave the playing area.  Go out to the “skittles” room or follow whatever instructions your coach has given you.  Remember, there should not be talking, distracting shuffling of equipment, post-mortem analysis, or so on in the tournament room.

The match is over when all five games are finished.  Add up the points you have scored, with a win on any board being worth 1 point, and a draw being worth a half, and see if you won the match or not.  Obviously, with five points possible, you need 3 points to win the match.  Check at the TD table to be certain that the result has been recorded correctly.  The number of points you scored is important; it can be used to break ties at the end of the tournament, so be certain the TD has the correct final score of your match.

When all the rounds are over, there should be just one team left that has not yet lost or drawn a match.  That team will be designated the OHSCTA champion for that year.  However, it’s possible that even after playing a number of rounds, there are still ties.  To find out how ties are broken, read the latest bylaws posted on this website.

Finally, we have determined the winners of the team trophies.  But that’s not all that happens.  Our tournament, also declares all-state awards for perfect scores.

Now it is finally over, and time to hit the road home.  If you have stayed with me through this whole long message, I hope you have a clearer picture of how the tournament works.  If you have any questions, contact the current OHSCTA Executive Director listed on the home page.

We hope to make this a fun and educational opportunity for everyone who attends.