Cincinnati Scholastic Chess

Inviting you to enjoy the king of games in the Queen City

CSC Series

Sycamore tournament rescheduled to March 10

Because the 2018 Queen City Classic will be played on March 3, 2018 (see the Other Opportunities page for details), we have moved the tournament at Sycamore High School to March 10. This preserves the opportunity for players to play in both. In fact, with the Ohio Elementary Championships being hosted by Cincinnati Scholastic Chess in Blue Ash on February 24, 2018, players in grades K through 6 have an extraordinary opportunity to play in three major tournaments locally on three successive weekends — a veritable chess feast that will make the late winter of 2018 truly memorable!

If you have already registered for the March 3 date, you can either transfer your entry to March 10 or get a refund of the entry fee you paid for March 3. For those who request a refund in this situation, we will not deduct the $1 administrative charge from the refund. Please let us know your decision by email to

About the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series

The Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series is an annual series of six Swiss tournaments for scholastic players that was launched in 2007. Players are grouped in sections and play only other players in their own section. The tournaments are sanctioned by the US Chess Federation (USCF) and governed by USCF rules. Final results from the series in past years are posted on the Archive page.

In addition to the information on this page, you can download an essential information summary and the Participant Handbook for 2017-18, which provides more complete tournament information.

Dates and Venues
Tournament Format
About Ratings
Daily Schedule
US Chess Federation
Registration and Entry Fees
Additional Information

What’s New in 2017-18?

After every season we consider carefully how we can improve the CSC Series. The changes we have made for the 2017-18 season are summarized below. For further details, please see the Participant Handbook for 2017-18 or review the information on this webpage.

  • The entry fee when registering for all six tournaments at one time is decreased from $72 to $70. (The group discount that we experimented with in 2016-17 will not be continued.)
  • Entry fees will be refunded when a refund is requested in writing prior to the day of the tournament for which the entry fee was paid.
  • Section descriptions have been expanded to help parents of players new to tournament chess to understand better which section to enter.
  • The CSC Series Championship trophy will in the future be known as the Ron Giffin Trophy. Also, the process has been refined for determining the Ron Giffin Trophy winner among tied players. The trophy for most improved player has been eliminated.
  • Players’ official ratings will be used for the beginning ratings in all tournaments, rather than their most recent ratings, except in the case of players who are officially unrated but earned a rating after the most recent monthly supplement was published.

Dates and Venues

The dates and venues for the 2017-18 Series tournaments have been tentatively set as listed below. We are pleased to announce that we have secured the same venues and corresponding dates for 2017-18 that we had in 2016-17. Dates and venues are subject to confirmation when the new school year begins, but we do not expect there to be any changes. Click on any venue for directions and other venue-specific information.

October 14, 2017 Princeton High School
100 Viking Way, Cincinnati, OH 45246
November 4, 2017 Fairfield High School
8800 Holden Boulevard, Fairfield, OH 45014
December 2, 2017 Lakota West High School
8940 Union Centre Boulevard, West Chester, OH 45069
January 13, 2018 Walnut Hills High School
3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207
February 3, 2018 Loveland Middle School
801 South Lebanon Road, Loveland, OH 45140
March 10, 2018 Sycamore High School
7400 Cornell Road, Montgomery, OH 45242

We ask all participants (players and parents) to be conscientious about cleaning up after themselves so that we do not jeopardize the privilege of using our venues in the future. Our continued use of these venues depends on using them respectfully and leaving them as clean as we find them. To help in this regard, we ask that players not have food or drinks other than water in the playing rooms. Thank you for your understanding and assistance in this important matter.

Food is usually not available for purchase at the tournament site except that snacks might be available from vending machines in some venues. We suggest that participants not depend on using vending machines as they might not be accessible or stocked. Participants are welcome to bring whatever lunch, snacks and drinks they might want for consumption (in the skittles area) during the tournament. Whatever information we have regarding the availability of food either onsite or nearby will be noted for each venue on our Venue Information page.

Back to Top

Tournament Format

Each tournament is a four-round Swiss tournament with a time control of G/30 d5 (each player has 30 minutes and there is a 5-second delay at each move before a player’s clock starts to run, so each round could last up to about an hour). Tournaments have four sections, which are defined by both grade and rating to increase parity among players. Because of rating fluctuations, it is sometimes necessary to move a player into a section other than the one for which he or she originally registered. Ratings are explained in the next section.

Players may play in any section described below for which they are eligible. Membership in the US Chess Federation (USCF) is required to play in any rated section, and unrated players who play in any rated section will earn a rating. Players in rated sections may change into another rated section provided that they satisfy the grade and rating requirements of the section they wish to move into. Players who play in the Non-Rated section may change into a rated section upon joining the USCF; however, once a player has earned a USCF rating, he or she may not change back into the Non-Rated section.

  • K–12 Open (Rated): All scholastic players in grades kindergarten through 12th may play in this section. Scholastic players whose rating is 1000 or more must play in this section. The strongest players play in this section.
  • K–12 U1000 (Rated): Players must be in kindergarten through 12th grade and rated less than 1000 or unrated. It is recommended that players have tournament experience and an established rating of 600 or more to play in this section. However, players who are in grades 7 through 12 must play in this section even if they are rated below 700. 
  • K–6 U700 (Rated): Players must be in kindergarten through 6th grade and rated less than 700 or unrated. This is the section where players normally play if they are just beginning to play rated chess or are rated below 700. 
  • K–6 Non-Rated: Only unrated players who are in kindergarten through 6th grade may play in this section. An unrated player is one who (1) is not and has never been a member of the USCF, or (2) is a past or present USCF member who has played fewer than four rated games. Players will not earn a rating as a result of playing in this section and are not required to be members of the USCF to play in this section.

The organizers will provide boards, pieces and clocks for all players as required. Players must use clocks in all rated sections. In the Non-Rated section, players must use clocks to the extent that they are available.

Back to Top

About Ratings

A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s playing strength. A player earns a rating simply by playing in a tournament or section for which the game results are reported to the US Chess Federation (USCF). Based on the results reported, the USCF calculates each player’s rating. It is not necessary that a player already have a rating in order to play in rated tournaments — in fact, it is necessary to play in at least one tournament as an unrated player because that is the only way to get a rating to begin with.

An unrated player will get a rating as soon as the result of his or her fourth rated game is reported to the USCF. Since most tournaments are four or more rounds, a player can usually get a rating after playing in only one tournament. A rating is indicated as provisional initially, which means only that it is a new rating and likely to fluctuate greatly as new results are reported; nevertheless, a rating is official even if it is provisional. A rating is provisional until the USCF has processed the results of 25 games for the player.

“Unrated” and “non-rated” mean different things. “Unrated” refers to a player who has not yet earned an official rating. A player who has played fewer than four rated games is unrated.  “Non-rated” refers to a tournament section and means that the results of the games in that section are not reported to the USCF; therefore, no player will earn a rating as a result of playing in a non-rated section. Players who are new to tournament chess often begin playing in a non-rated section as a way to check out tournament chess. Because USCF membership is not required to play in a non-rated section, the cost of membership can therefore be avoided. An unrated player has the choice of playing in a rated section (if a USCF member), where he or she will earn a rating, or in a non-rated section, where he or she will not earn a rating. Once a player gets an official rating, he or she is no longer eligible to play in the Series non-rated section (but might be eligible to play in the non-rated section of another tournament depending on the requirements specified for that tournament).

For every CSC Series tournament the beginning rating used for each player will be his or her official regular rating published on for the month in which the tournament is played, except in the case of players who are still officially unrated, in which case the player’s most recent rating (if there is one) will be used. Note that a player’s official rating might differ from his or her most recent rating if he or she played rated games after the relevant official rating supplement was published.

For further details please see “Ratings” in the Participant Handbook for 2017-18.

Back to Top

Daily Schedule

Players who have not entered a tournament in advance may enter onsite between 8:00 and 8:30 am. Players who entered in advance must arrive and check off their names on the advance entry lists no later than 8:45 am. Round 1 begins at 9:00. Players arriving after 8:45 am should not expect to be paired in round 1. Later rounds start as early as possible. Play in the K-12 Open section normally ends no later than 1:30 pm, while lower sections typically finish earlier than that.

Onsite Check-In

Lists of players who entered in advance will be posted at each tournament. Upon arriving at the tournament, players are expected to check off their names on these lists to indicate to the tournament directors that they are present. At 8:45 am these lists will be taken down, and those players whose names are checked off will be paired for the first round (along with the players who entered onsite). Players who neglect to check off their name upon arrival, or arrive after the lists have been taken down, should not expect to be paired in round 1 and will be paired only at the chief tournament director’s discretion. Please arrive on time! Players who are not paired in round 1 because they did not check in on time will be given a half-point bye for round 1.

Back to Top


Players may take one half-point bye in each tournament; however, a player who is not paired in round 1 as a consequence of arriving late or failing to check in will be given his or her half-point bye for round 1 (see “Onsite Check-In” above). Players may request byes on the entry form, whether entering in advance or onsite. Byes may be changed or cancelled during the onsite entry period (between 8:00 and 8:30 am), and players may also request a bye during a tournament by notifying a tournament director at any time before round 3 pairings are posted. If a player chooses to take more than one bye in a tournament, any bye after the first will be a zero-point bye. In addition to any requested bye(s), a player may get “paired out,” meaning that because the section has an odd number of players, that player necessarily is left without an opponent, in which case the player will be given a full-point bye for that round. (It is unusual that a player who has requested a bye is also paired out of a round, but it can happen.)

Back to Top

US Chess Federation


Players must be current members of the USCF to play in any rated section of the CSC Series tournaments. USCF dues are additional to entry fees. Click here for additional information or to purchase or renew a USCF membership at Participants may also purchase or renew USCF memberships as part of registering for any CSCS tournament.


All CSCS tournaments are rated events, meaning that the results in all sections except the Non-Rated section are reported to the USCF, which calculates a rating for each player based on the outcomes of his or her games. A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s playing strength. It is not necessary that a player already have a rating in order to play in these tournaments; unrated players (players who do not have a rating) will earn one as a result of playing in any rated section of a CSCS tournament. A Non-Rated section is provided for those players who want to play tournament chess but do not want to earn a rating.

Back to Top


At each tournament medals will be awarded to those who finish in the top five places in each section (including the Non-Rated section). Calculated tie-breaks will be used to determine medal winners among players with the same score.

For the series as a whole, prizes of three different types will be awarded.

  • A class trophy will be awarded to every player scoring 26 or more points in a rated section, counting the best five tournament scores out of six tournaments for each player. Players will score points both for games played (1 point per game played and ½ point for a half-point bye) and for game results (1 point for every win or full-point bye, and ½ point for every draw or half-point bye). The maximum possible score for class trophy purposes is 40 points. There are three classes of trophies:
    – Bronze class: 26–30.5 points
    – Silver class: 31–33.5 points
    – Gold class: 34 or more points
  • An honorable mention trophy will be awarded to anyone scoring a plus score (20.5 points or more) in rated section games for the series who did not win a class trophy.
  • The Ron Giffin Trophy will be awarded to the player scoring the most points for the series exclusively in the K–12 Open section, counting the player’s best five tournament scores out of six tournaments. This player will be recognized as the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series ChampionPlayers will score points both for games played (1 point per game played and ½ point for a half-point bye) and for game results (1 point for every win or full-point bye, and ½ point for every draw or half-point bye). The maximum possible score for the championship trophy is 40 points.

No series trophies will be awarded in the Non-Rated section; however, players may change from the Non-Rated section to any rated section during the season upon joining the USCF. Players who do change may be able to count their best score or two best scores achieved in the Non-Rated section toward trophies. See the Participant Handbook for 2017-18 for more information.

Back to Top

Registration and Entry Fees

Players may enter tournaments either in advance or onsite at any tournament.

For advance entry by mail, mail a completed entry form for each player to Cincinnati Scholastic Chess, 9180 Pinewood Drive, Loveland, OH 45140-8234, along with your check payable to Cincinnati Scholastic Chess to pay for the entry fee and, if applicable, USCF dues. Click here to download an entry form (Word) or entry form (pdf). Entry fees and USCF dues for multiple players may be paid with a single check. Entries by mail must be received by Cincinnati Scholastic Chess no later than on the Thursday prior to the earliest tournament being entered.

For advance entry online, click here. Complete the online entry form for each player and pay the entry fee and dues through PayPal using a PayPal account or credit card. Online entries must be submitted no later than noon on the Friday prior to the earliest tournament being entered.

The advance entry fee for the remaining 2017-18 Series tournaments is $15 for each tournament.

Onsite entry will be 8:00–8:30 am at each tournament. Please arrive early enough to complete your entry by 8:30. The onsite entry fee for any one tournament is $25; however, for any player entering two or more tournaments with a single entry form, the advance entry fees indicated above will apply.

Changing dates: Players must specify tournament dates on the entry form but may change dates later. A player who misses a tournament that he or she entered may transfer the entry for the missed date to any future date in this season.

Entry fee refund policy: Entry fees are refundable only when a request for a refund has been received prior to the date of the tournament(s) for which the entry fee was paid. No entry fee will be refunded if the refund request is received on or after the day on which the tournament was played. To request a refund, send an email to not later than the day before the day of the tournament for which the entry fund was paid. The amount of the refund will be the total entry fee paid for all tournaments entered less the total entry fee applicable to the number of tournaments remaining after deducting all tournaments for which a refund is requested, less $1.00 to cover applicable processing fees. For example, if a player enters five tournaments (for $65) and then requests a refund for two (future) tournaments, the refund will be $19.00: $65 less $45 (the entry fee applicable to three tournaments) less $1.

Back to Top

Additional Information

If you have questions or want additional information, contact Alan Hodge, 513-600-9915,

Back to Top