The Cincinnati Scholastic Chess (CSC) Series comprises monthly tournaments, conducted in October through March, for players in grades K through 12. Players are not obligated to play in every tournament; they may choose how many and which tournaments to play in. Medals are awarded at each tournament; trophies are awarded based on cumulative scores for the entire Series. Players of all skill levels are welcome.
Use the links below to navigate immediately to a particular topic of interest on this page:
Tournament Format and Sections
Dates and Venues
US Chess Federation Membership
Entry and Entry Fees
Withdrawals and Forfeits
About Event Summaries and Standings
Each tournament is in a Swiss format, which means that the players in the tournament are divided into groups, called sections, based on their rating or their school grade. The purpose of having different sections is to optimize parity of skill and competitiveness among players; every player plays only other players in his or her own section. (Sections and ratings are explained further below.) Every player in every section plays all four rounds, regardless of his or her game results, except in the following situations: (1) A player who arrives late for a tournament might not play round 1. (2) When there is an odd number of players in a section for any round, one player is necessarily left without an opponent; that player is said to be “paired out”. (3) A player may choose not to play a particular round of a tournament by requesting a bye or withdrawing from the tournament before all rounds have been played. (Byes and withdrawals are explained further below.) In some sections, as specified below, players are required to take notation, which means recording all the moves of a game while the game is being played. (See Additional Information below regarding instructions for taking notation.)
Each round has a time limit, called a time control, expressed as G/30;d5 (“game in 30 minutes with a five-second delay”). This means that each player has 30 minutes for the entire game, with a 5-second delay at each move before a player’s clock starts to run. Accordingly, a round could last up to about an hour. All players must use a chess clock; chess clocks are provided for use at each tournament.
A player’s “natural” section is the lowest section for which the player is eligible by rating. Players may play in their natural section or in any higher section, which is called “playing up”. Membership in the US Chess Federation (USCF) is required to play in any rated section. Players entered in a rated section may change into another rated section (up or down) provided that they (1) satisfy the rating requirement of the section they wish to move into and (2) request the change no later than the tournament’s entry deadline (noon on the day before the tournament). Players who play initially in the K-6 Non-Rated section may move into a rated section of a later tournament, but must be or become USCF member to do so; and once a player has an official USCF rating, he or she may not move back into the K-6 Non-Rated section.
Sections for the 2022-23 Series are as follows:
- Championship (rated): Any rated or unrated player may play in this section. Players whose rating is 1100 or more must play in this section. Players must take notation. Note: This is top section, where the strongest players play. Except in very extraordinary circumstances, it is not the section for players who are relatively new to tournament chess.
- U1100 (rated): Only players who are rated less than 1100 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U900 (rated): Only players who are rated less than 900 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U700 (rated): Only players who are rated less than 700 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U500 (rated): Only players who are rated less than 500 or unrated may play in this section. Notation is not required.
- U300 (rated): Only players who are rated less than 300 or unrated may play in this section. Notation is not required. We generally recommend that players play in this section if they are playing in their first rated tournament.
- K–6 Non-Rated (not rated): Only players who are both unrated and in any grade from K through 6 may play in this section. Players will not earn a USCF rating as a result of playing in this section. Players in this section are not required to be USCF members or to take notation. (A player who becomes officially rated will no longer be eligible to play in this section. Unrated players in grades 7 through 12 must play in a rated section.)
- October 8, 2022 — Fairfield High School, 8800 Holden Boulevard, Fairfield, 45014
- November 5, 2022 — Lakota East High School, 6840 Lakota Ln, Liberty Township, 45044
- December 3, 2022 — Lakota West High School, 8940 Union Centre Boulevard, West Chester, 45069
- January 14, 2023 — Walnut Hills High School, 3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, 45207
- February 4, 2023 — Princeton High School, 100 Viking Way, Cincinnati, 45246
- March 4, 2023 — Lakota East High School, 6840 Lakota Ln, Liberty Township, 45044
For venue information, including directions and food options, click here.
A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s skill at chess. A player earns a rating by playing in a tournament or section for which the game results are reported to the US Chess Federation (USCF), which calculates players’ ratings based on the results reported. It is not necessary that a player already have a rating in order to play in a rated tournaments — in fact, every player must play in at least one tournament as an unrated player because that is the only way to get a rating to begin with. The lowest rating a player can have is 100.
A player who does not yet have an official USCF rating is “unrated”, meaning that he or she has played fewer than four rated games altogether (regardless of how many tournaments he or she has played in). An unrated player will get an official 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 usually gets a rating after playing in only one rated 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. A rating is official even if it is provisional, and it is provisional until it is based on the results of more than 25 games.
“Unrated” and “non-rated” mean different things. “Unrated” refers to a player who has not yet earned an official rating. “Non-rated” refers to a tournament or section and means that the results of its games are not reported to the USCF (therefore the USCF does not calculate a rating for players in a non-rated section). Because USCF membership is not required to play in a non-rated section, the cost of the 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 some other tournament depending on the requirements specified for that tournament).
For the rated sections of each Series tournament, a player’s beginning rating is his or her official Regular rating published in the monthly USCF rating supplement 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. A player’s most recent rating is calculated from rated game results that are reported after the data cut-off date relevant to the pertinent monthly rating supplement. Because of rating changes, it is sometimes necessary to move a player into a higher section but also sometimes possible for a player to move into a lower section if he or she chooses to do so.
For further details please click here for a Q&A About Ratings document.
Players are expected to be at their assigned boards at the scheduled starting time for round 1, which is 9:00 am for all sections. Players who arrive after play in round 1 has started will be given a forfeit for round 1; however, provided that they arrive before round 2 pairings are done, they will be allowed to play the later rounds. Rounds 2 through 4 in each section start as soon as possible, usually within ten minutes, after the last game in the preceding round ends. The tournament is over in the Championship section normally no later than about 1:30 pm; lower sections typically finish earlier than that. Awards ceremonies are held for each section as soon as possible, usually within ten minutes, after the end of the last round.
A bye is a round in which a player does not play a scheduled game. There are three types of byes:
- When there is an odd number of players in a section for any round, one player is necessarily paired out (left without an opponent) and given a full-point bye. This means that the player scores one point for the round, the same as if he or she had played a game and won, and is not permitted to take an optional half-point bye for any later round.
- A player may choose to take one optional half-point bye for any round in a tournament. This is useful in a situation where, for example, the player is unable to arrive by 9:00 am or must leave the tournament before it is over. A player scores one-half point for an optional bye, the same as if he or she had played a game and drawn.
- A player may choose to take an additional bye after already taking a half-point bye in a tournament. In this case the player is given a zero-point bye for the (second) game not played. For example, the player who needs to leave after round 2 could take a half-point bye for round 3 and a zero-point bye for round 4.
Players may request byes on the entry form, by sending a request after entering to email@example.com, or onsite by completing a bye request form up until pairings are posted for the round for which a bye is requested. Byes that have already been requested may be changed or cancelled in the same manner. Most players do not take any optional byes unless they know they will arrive late or need to leave early.
Players must be current members of the US Chess Federation (USCF) to play in any rated section of a Series tournament. USCF dues are additional to entry fees. Participants can purchase or renew a USCF membership directly online at www.uschess.org or through CSC as part of entering any Series tournament.
Purchasing a USCF membership comes with the option of purchasing a subscription to either Chess Life ($9.35) or Chess Life for Kids ($4.75) magazine in print format, at the additional charge indicated. USCF memberships may be purchased or renewed with or without a magazine subscription; however, a magazine subscription may not be purchased without purchasing or renewing a membership at the same time.
Prizes are awarded based on the number of points scored. A player scores one point for each win or full-point bye, one-half point for each draw or half-point bye, and no point for each loss, zero-point bye, or forfeit. The following prizes are awarded:
- Individual Tournament Medals: At every regular tournament and in every section, place medals are awarded to those who finish in first through fourth place based on their tournament score. Any player scoring 3.0 but not finishing among the top four places wins an honorable mention medal. USCF standard tiebreaks will be used to determine the order of finish among players with the same score.
- Series class trophies are awarded based on the number of points a player accumulates during the Series. These trophies are awarded in rated sections only, counting each player’s best five scores out of six tournaments. A perfect score for purposes of Series class trophies is 20 points. A Series class trophy will be awarded to each player (other than the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series Champion) who scores a designated number of points as indicated below:
- Gold-class trophy: 15.0 points or more
- Silver-class trophy: 12.5 to 14.5 points
- Bronze-class trophy: 10.0 to 12.0 points
- Honorable mention trophy: 7.5 to 9.5 points
- The Ron Giffin Trophy will be awarded to the player scoring the most points for the series exclusively in the Championship section, based on players’ total scores in all six Series tournaments. This player will be recognized as the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series Champion. A perfect score for purposes of the Ron Giffin Trophy is 24 points.
Trophies are not awarded in the K-6 Non-Rated section, although players who move from the K-6 Non-Rated section to a rated section during the season will be eligible for class trophies. A player who moves from the K-6 Non-Rated section to rated play can count, for class trophy purposes, no more than one score achieved in the K-6 Non-Rated section.
The entry fee for the 2022-23 Series is $16 for each tournament. Entry is in advance only. The tournament entry deadline is noon on the day before the subject tournament (that is, 12:00 noon on Friday for a Saturday tournament). Players may sign up for multiple tournaments on a single entry form. (Select the desired section for the earliest tournament entered. A player may change sections for future tournaments provided that he or she meets the eligibility requirements of the section into which he or she wishes to move. To change sections, notify us by text to 513-600-9915 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Click here to enter online or here for a mail-in entry form.
Refunds: In the event that a player withdraws from a tournament, we will refund the applicable entry fee, net of any transaction fee incurred, provided that we receive notice of the withdrawal by text to 513-600-9915 or email to email@example.com before 8:00 am on the morning of the subject tournament. In lieu of receiving an entry fee refund, players/parents may choose to transfer the entry to another date in the Series. We will not refund or transfer the entry fee in whole or in part for a player who withdraws from a tournament after it begins.
No-shows: We will neither refund an entry fee paid nor transfer it to another date in the Series if a player who has entered a tournament fails to show up to play the scheduled games without giving us notice of withdrawing as indicated in the preceding paragraph.
In the following paragraphs the term “player” should be understood to include the player and his or her parent(s) as applicable.
Withdrawals: In addition to withdrawing before a tournament begins, as mentioned above, a player may also withdraw from a tournament after it has started (but with no refund or transfer of the entry fee). However, the player must notify a tournament director that he or she is withdrawing before pairings are done for the next round. A player who leaves the tournament without notifying a tournament director will be paired in the next round as if still present and playing. This results in a forfeit for the player who left, deprives that player’s opponent of a game, and can cause other problems for players and tournament directors. Leaving a tournament early without notice is bad for everyone — please don’t do it!
Forfeits: Any player arriving at the tournament after play has started in round 1 and who has not requested a round 1 bye will forfeit his or her round 1 game. Starting with the second round and for the remainder of the tournament, players who did not request a bye for a given round and do not appear at their assigned board for that round before half of their time for the time control (15 minutes) has elapsed will forfeit that game and be withdrawn from the tournament. A player who abandons a game in progress likewise forfeits. A player is considered to have abandoned a game if he or she (1) began the game by making one or more moves, (2) left the board and did not return for the duration of the round, and (3) did not resign or accept a draw offer before leaving the board. A player will score zero for any round forfeited. Any player withdrawn from the tournament because of a forfeit may ask the chief tournament director for readmission, but it is entirely at the chief tournament director’s discretion whether to readmit him or her.
A crosstable is a table that shows all players’ results in a tournament by section. The crosstable can take different forms. We post two different versions on this website; here is an explanation of how the two versions differ:
The Event Summary is created by the US Chess Federation from the rating report that we, the tournament directors, submit to the USCF to report the results of the tournament. The Event Summary includes only the rated sections, because the Non-Rated section is not submitted for rating. The Event Summary is important because it shows the new USCF ratings for all players with the results of the tournament factored in. This is the place to go (in addition to the USCF website, www.uschess.org) to see how a player’s official rating changed as a result of the tournament. It is important to note that players are listed in the Event Summary in order by their new (“final”) rating, without taking tiebreaks into consideration. For that reason players are often listed in an order different from that in the Final Standings document.
The Final Standings document is created from the tournament software that we use to run the tournament. It shows all sections, including the Non-Rated section, and it lists players with the same score in order by tiebreaks. The order in which players are listed, therefore, corresponds to the medals awarded at the end of the tournament. It does not include new USCF ratings for players in the rated sections. It does include final (“post”) ratings for the players in the Non-Rated section, but these are not USCF ratings. They are calculated by our pairing software, and we use them only for pairing purposes in the next tournament.
CSC provides boards, pieces, clocks, scoresheets and writing implements for players at all Series tournaments. Players may use their own scorebooks, scoresheets (including approved electronic scoresheets), and writing implements if they wish to do so.
In addition to knowing how to play the game, players are expected to be familiar with the basic rules of tournament chess. We have prepared the following documents to aid those looking for more information about tournament chess generally:
- CSC Series Essential Information explains the rules and procedures that every player is expected to know before playing in any Series tournament. It comprises three parts: I Procedural Matters, II Selected Rules of Tournament Chess, and III Chess Notation. If you are new to tournament chess, this ten-page document is a “must read” for you.
- CSC Series Handbook expands on the topics covered in CSC Series Essential Information and explains additional chess topics as well. This document is intended to serve as a handy reference where participants can find succinct but thorough answers to many questions about the Series and tournament chess generally.
If you have questions not answered by the above documents, or need additional information, contact Alan by phone/text at 513-600-9915 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.