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.
Summary information is presented below under Core Information. This should be sufficient for those many participants who are already familiar with the Series. Those who are less familiar with the Series should scroll down to see the additional information under Extended Explanations. All Series participants (players and their parents) are expected to know all the information provided on this webpage. CSC contact information and links to documents providing yet more information about tournament chess can be found under Additional Information.
Tournament Format and Sections
Four-round Swiss, G/30;d5, with six rated sections: Championship, U1100, U900, U700, U500, U300. There is also a K–6 Non-Rated section.
Players must be current US Chess Federation (USCF) members to play in any rated section. Players who do not have an official USCF Regular rating may play in the non-rated section with or without a USCF membership. (See Extended Explanations for more information about USCF membership.)
Players may play up and may change sections from one tournament to another (including moving from the K-6 Non-Rated section into a rated section) provided that (a) they satisfy the membership and rating requirements of the section they wish to move into, and (b) they request the change no later than noon on the day before the next tournament in which they are going to play. (See Extended Explanations for more information about sections.)
Dates and Venues
- October 21, 2023 — Lakota West High School (The date has changed since our preliminary announcement.)
- November 4, 2023 — Lakota East High School
- December 2, 2023 — Princeton High School
- January 13, 2024 — Walnut Hills High School
- February 3, 2024 — Princeton High School
- March 2, 2024 — Lakota East High School
For venue information, including directions and food options, click here.
With respect to the rated sections: For purposes of section eligibility and pairing, a player’s beginning rating is the official Regular rating published in the monthly USCF rating supplement for the month in which the tournament is played. If a player has no official Regular rating, one of the ratings listed below, in order of applicability, will be used; a player who has none of these ratings will be treated as unrated.
- Most recent Regular rating published in the player’s tournament history.
- Most recent Quick rating published in the player’s tournament history.
- Most recent Online Regular rating published in the player’s tournament history.
With respect to the Non-Rated section: For a player’s first tournament we assign an arbitrary rating equal to his or her grade times 100 (or 90 for a kindergartner). For later tournaments we use the player’s “final rating” from his or her most recent Series tournament, as calculated by the tournament software.
(See Extended Explanations for more information about ratings.)
Players are expected to be at their assigned boards for round 1 at 9:00 am. Players who arrive after play in round 1 has started will be given a forfeit for round 1; however, provided that they notify the pairings tournament director that they have arrived, they will be paired for the later rounds. In each section separately, Rounds 2 through 4 will start as soon as possible, usually within ten minutes, after the last game in the preceding round ends. The tournament ends normally no later than about 1:30 pm; lower sections typically finish earlier than that. Award ceremonies follow the conclusion of play in each section.
A player may take one optional half-point bye for any round. Any additional bye taken after a half-point bye will be a zero-point bye. Players may request byes on the entry form, by sending a request after entering to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. Initial wall charts will be posted at the tournament before play begins to show any round for which a player has requested a bye; players should always check their wall chart to make sure that the information shown for them is correct. (See Extended Explanations for more information about byes.)
The following prizes are awarded:
- Individual Tournament Medals at every regular tournament and in all sections to all players scoring 3.0 or higher.
- Series class trophies are awarded based on the total number of points a player scores in rated sections over the entire Series. Players who move from the Non-Rated section to rated play at any time during the Series may also count one Non-Rated score in addition to their total points from rated sections. Scores required for each class are as follows (unchanged from last year even though we will now count all six scores!):
- 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.
(See Extended Explanations for more information about prizes.)
Entry and Entry Fees
The entry fee for the 2023-24 Series is $16 for each tournament (unchanged from last year!). Entry is in advance only. Participants may enter by using the mail-in entry form, paying by check payable to Cincinnati Scholastic Chess, or online, paying through PayPal with a credit card or PayPal account. The entry deadline is always noon on the Friday 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 membership and rating requirements of the section into which he or she wishes to move.
Refunds: If a player withdraws from a tournament before it begins, we will refund the entry fee, less any transaction fee, or (at the player’s/parent’s choice) transfer it to a future tournament in the 2023-24 Series, 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 tournament for which the entry fee was paid.
No-shows: We will neither refund nor transfer an entry fee if a player who entered a tournament fails to show up to play the scheduled games without giving us notice of withdrawing as indicated in the preceding paragraph.
Withdrawals and Forfeits
Withdrawals: A player may withdraw from a tournament after it has started; however, the player must notify a tournament director that he or she is withdrawing before pairings are done for the next round. 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. For later rounds, players who did not request a bye for a given round and do not appear at their assigned board before 15 minutes has elapsed from the start of the round will forfeit that game and be withdrawn from the tournament. A player withdrawn from the tournament due to a forfeit may ask the chief tournament director for readmission.
(See Extended Explanations for more information about withdrawals and forfeits.)
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.
Use the links below to navigate immediately to a particular topic of interest:
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.
Sections for the 2023-24 Series are listed below. All sections except the K-6 Non-Rated section are rated sections, meaning that the results of all games in these sections are reported to the USCF for rating purposes. Based on these results, unrated players will earn a rating, and players who already had a rating will have their rating recalculated. (Every player is unrated when he or she plays in a rated section for the first time.) 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 “play up,” which means to play in any section higher than one’s natural section. 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 may move from the K-6 Non-Rated section into a rated section of a later tournament, provided that they have a current USCF membership. Once a player has an official USCF rating, he or she is no longer eligible to play in the K-6 Non-Rated section.
- Championship: 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 the top section, where the strongest players play. Except in very extraordinary circumstances, it is not the section for players who are new to tournament chess.
- U1100: Only players who are rated less than 1100 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U900: Only players who are rated less than 900 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U700: Only players who are rated less than 700 or unrated may play in this section. Players must take notation.
- U500: Only players who are rated less than 500 or unrated may play in this section. Notation is not required.
- U300: 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: 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.
A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s skill at chess. The US Chess Federation (USCF) calculates different ratings for different over-the-board (otb) time controls, based on the total playing time for the game. The total playing time is the sum of the “thinking” time, expressed in minutes, allowed to each player plus the time, expressed in seconds, for the delay or increment allowed at each move. For example, the time control for Series tournaments is G/30;d5, meaning that each player has 30 minutes of “thinking” time for the game with a 5-second delay at each move; so the total playing time is 30 minutes + (5 seconds x 60) = 35 minutes. (In shorthand, the total playing time is mm+ss.) The different ratings calculated by the USCF are as follows:
- Blitz: total playing time is between 5 and 10 minutes inclusive (5 ≤ mm+ss ≤ 10, and “thinking” time cannot be less than 3 minutes)
- Quick: total playing time is more than 10 minutes and less than 30 minutes (10 < mm+ss < 30)
- Regular: total playing time is more than 65 minutes (mm+ss > 65)
If the total playing time is between 30 and 65 minutes inclusive (30 ≤ mm+ss ≤ 65), the game is dual rated, meaning that it is included in the calculations for both Quick and Regular ratings. Series games are dual rated. The USCF also calculates separate ratings for online play, using different time controls.
With respect to otb ratings, a player earns a rating by playing in a 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 tournament — 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 earns a rating as soon as the result of his or her first rated game is reported, but the rating is not official until the results of four games have been reported. 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). Since most tournaments are four or more rounds, a player usually earns an official rating after playing in only one rated tournament. A rating is indicated as provisional if it is based on at least four rated games but no more than 25. Provisional ratings typically fluctuate greatly as new results are reported, and are indicated in various ways: 1150 (P15), 1150P15 and 1150/15, where P, if it occurs, stands for provisional, and the number after the “P” or “/” indicates the number of games on which the rating is based. To summarize:
- A player with fewer than four rated games has an unofficial rating but is officially unrated.
- A player with four to 25 rated games has an official provisional rating.
- A player with 26 or more rated games has an official established rating.
“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 involved). 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).
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, 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, as if he or she had played a game and drawn.
- A player may choose to take an additional bye after already taking a full-point or 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 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 ($12.00) or Chess Life for Kids ($6.00) 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, medals are awarded to all players scoring 3.0 or higher. The top four medals, if awarded, will be designated as first through fourth place; after that each additional medal awarded will be designated as an honorable mention. USCF standard tiebreaks will be used to determine the order of finish among players with the same score. (See Additional Information for a link to the CSC Handbook, which explains tiebreaks.)
- Series class trophies are awarded based on the total number of points a player scores in rated sections over the entire Series. Players who move from the Non-Rated section to rated play at any time during the Series may also count one Non-Rated score in addition to their total points from rated sections. A perfect score for purposes of Series class trophies is 24 points (a score of 4.0 in each of the six tournaments, which may include one score from the Non-Rated section). 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. 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 based on their scores in any rated sections. Moreover, a player who moves from the K-6 Non-Rated section to rated play can count, for class trophy purposes, one score achieved in the K-6 Non-Rated section.
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, 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 (for all Series tournaments, that is 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; the differences below the two versions are explained below.
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 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, but often differs from the order in the Event Summary. 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.
In addition to knowing how to play the game and the information on this page, 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 the Series, this ten-page document is a “must read” for you.
- CSC Series Handbook expands on the topics covered in CSC Series Essential Information and provides information that is applicable to tournament chess generally, not just to the Series. It explains more extensively several chess topics, including ratings, pairings, the wall chart and standings, breaking ties, and the touch-move and other rules. We recommend that everyone involved with tournament chess become thoroughly familiar with this document.
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.