Cincinnati Scholastic Chess

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

CSC Series

The 2018-19 Series concluded on March 9, 2019 at Sycamore High School. A huge thank you to all of the players,  parents, tournament directors, and volunteers who made this season such a success. We look forward to seeing everyone back for our 13th season during 2019-20. For those interested in learning about the Series, the 2018-19 season information will remain posted below until we update it for next year.

Cross tables for CSC Series tournaments are posted on this website; see links at the bottom under Series Information to the left. There are two versions. The Cross Tables shows all sections (including the Non-Rated) and lists players in tiebreak order of finish, but does not show new ratings for players. The Event Summary shows the beginning and new ratings for all players, but accordingly shows only the rated sections and lists players in order by rating regardless of tiebreaks.

Also, in addition to the information presented on this page, you can download two documents that provide more  information about the CSC Series and tournament chess generally:

  • 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 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.
  • The CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19 expands on the topics covered in Essential Information and explains many additional topics as well. It is intended to help the truly curious understand how our tournaments are run.

Use the links below to navigate immediately to a particular topic of interest on this page:

Dates and Venues
Tournament Format
About Ratings
US Chess Federation Membership
Entry and Entry Fees
Additional Information

What’s New in 2018-19

Sections redefined: With the intention of restoring a more optimal distribution of players, we have made two changes to our sections for 2018-19:

  • Number of rated sections increased from three to four: We have added an U400 section. We expect the additional section to result in smaller and more competitive “under” sections. Moreover, the addition of a section makes more medals available for players to win.
  • Grade eliminated as a criterion for rated sections: Grade will not be a factor for eligibility to play in any rated section. (The K-6 Non-Rated section will continue to be restricted to players in grades K through 6.)

Requirements for taking notation clarified: Notation is required for all players in the Championship, U1000 and U700 sections; notation is encouraged but not required for players in the U400 and K-6 Non-Rated sections.

Onsite entry eliminated: In order to help us start our tournaments on time, we decided to eliminate onsite entry.

A more extensive explanation of these changes is provided in the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19.

Dates and Venues

The dates and venues for the 2018-19 Series tournaments have been tentatively set as listed below. We are pleased to announce that we have secured the same venues for 2018-19 as we had for the last two seasons. 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 on our Venue Information page for directions to any location and other venue-specific information.

October 13, 2018 Princeton High School
100 Viking Way, Cincinnati, OH 45246
November 3, 2018 Fairfield High School
8800 Holden Boulevard, Fairfield, OH 45014
December 1, 2018 Lakota West High School
8940 Union Centre Boulevard, West Chester, OH 45069
January 12, 2019 Walnut Hills High School
3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207
February 2, 2019 Loveland Middle School
801 South Lebanon Road, Loveland, OH 45140
March 9, 2019 Sycamore High School
7400 Cornell Road, Montgomery, OH 45242

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, and we ask all participants (players and parents) to be conscientious about cleaning up after themselves in the skittles areas. 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 areas) 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 for the entire game, with a 5-second delay at each move before a player’s clock starts to run. Each round could last up to about an hour. Tournaments have four rated sections, which are defined by rating to increase parity among players, and a K-6 Non-Rated section. The sections are described further below. Because of rating changes, it is sometimes necessary to move a player into a higher rated section and sometimes possible for a player to move into a lower rated section. 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 rating requirements of the section they wish to move into. Players who play in the K-6 Non-Rated section may move into a rated section upon joining the USCF; however, once a player has earned a USCF rating, he or she may not move back into the K-6 Non-Rated section.

  • Championship (Rated): All players in grades K through 12, rated or unrated, may play in this section. Scholastic players whose rating is 1000 or more must play in this section. Everyone who plays in this section must be a current US Chess Federation member. All players are required to take notation in this section.
    This is the section in which the strongest players play; except in very extraordinary circumstances, it is not the section for players who are playing in their first tournament.
  • U1000 (Rated): Only players in grades K through 12 who are rated less than 1000 or unrated may play in this section. Everyone who plays in this section must be a current US Chess Federation member. All players are required to take notation in this section.
    We recommend that only players who have tournament experience and a rating of 600 or more play in this section.
  • U700 (Rated): Only players in grades K through 12 who are rated less than 700 or unrated may play in this section. Everyone who plays in this section must be a current US Chess Federation member. All players are required to take notation in this section.
    We recommend that only players who have tournament experience and a rating of 300 or more play in this section; however, older players who are relatively new to chess might choose to play in this section even if they are rated under 300 or unrated.
  • 400 (Rated): Only players in grades K through 12 who are rated less than 400 or unrated may play in this section. Everyone who plays in this section must be a current US Chess Federation member. Players are not required to take notation in this section but are encouraged to do so if they know how.
    We generally recommend that players who are new to rated chess play in this section. Players who have tournament experience and are rated under 400 also play in this section.
  • K–6 Non-Rated: Only unrated players who are in grades K through 6 may play in this section. An unrated player is one who has not earned a rating by playing four or more rated games. Players will not earn a rating as a result of playing in this section. Membership in the US Chess Federation is not required to play in this section. Players are not required to take notation in this section but are encouraged to do so if they know how. 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, but may play in any rated section.)

Players must use clocks in all sections.

CSC provides boards, pieces, clocks and scoresheets for all its tournaments. Players may use their own scoresheets, including approved electronic scoresheets, or scorebooks if they wish to do so. Players are expected to provide their own writing implements. We recommend that every player bring at least two pens or pencils. Tournament directors are not responsible for having writing implements to give or lend to players.

Back to Top

About Ratings

A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s playing strength. 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). 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 the USCF does not calculate a rating for players 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 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 another tournament depending on the requirements specified for that tournament).

For 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 in rated sections 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 rating supplement.

For further details please see “Ratings” in the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19.

Back to Top


Players must arrive no later than 8:45 am to be assured of playing in round 1. Round 1 begins at 9:00 am for all sections. Later rounds in each section start as soon as possible, usually within ten minutes, after the preceding round ends. Play in the Championship section normally ends no later than 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.

Onsite Check-In

Lists of players who are entered will be posted by section at each tournament. Upon arriving at the tournament, players should 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. 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. 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.

For further details please see “Tournament Check-In” in the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19.

Back to Top


A bye is a round in which a player does not play a scheduled game. Players may choose to take one optional 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, by sending a request after entering to, or onsite by completing a bye request/change form up until pairings are posted for the round for which a bye is desired. Byes that have already been requested may be changed or cancelled in the same manner. When a player takes an optional bye, he scores one-half game point and one-half playing point. (Most players do not take any optional byes.)

A player may get “paired out,” meaning that because the section has an odd number of players to be paired for a round, that player necessarily is left without an opponent. In this situation the player is given a full-point bye for that round and is not permitted to take an optional half-point bye for any later round. When a player is paired out, he scores one game point and one playing point, just as if he or she played a game and won.

If a player chooses to take another bye in a tournament after already taking a half-point or full-point bye, the additional bye will be a zero-point bye (no game point and no playing point).

Back to Top

US Chess Federation Membership

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 or through CSC as part of entering any Series tournament.

For further details please see “US Chess Federation Membership” in the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19.

Back to Top


Series class trophies and the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series Champion trophy are awarded based on the number of points a player accumulates during the Series. A player scores two types of points in Series tournaments, one representing his “game score” and the other representing his “playing score.” A “game score” indicates a player’s actual game results (one point for a win, one-half point for a draw, or no point for a loss). A “playing score” refers to points a player scores simply for playing a game, regardless of the game’s outcome (one point for a game played, one-half point or zero for an optional bye).

The following prizes are awarded:

  • Individual Tournament Medals: At each tournament and in each section, including the K-6 Non-Rated section, place medals are awarded to those who finish in first through fifth place based on their game score only. Any player scoring 3.0 but not finishing among the top five places wins an honorable mention medal. Calculated tie-breaks will be used to determine the order of finish among players with the same score.
  • Series class trophies are awarded in rated sections only, based on players’ best five scores during the Series, counting both game and playing scores. A maximum of 40 points will count for purposes of Series class trophies. 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: 34.0 points or more
    • Silver-class trophy: 31.0 to 33.5 points
    • Bronze-class trophy: 26 to 30.5 points
    • Honorable mention trophy: 20.5 to 25.5 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’ best five scores during the Series, counting both game and playing scores. This player will be recognized as the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series ChampionThe maximum possible score for the Ron Giffin Trophy is 40 points.

Class 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 will be eligible for class trophies. In certain circumstances some of the points scored by such players in the K-6 Non-Rated section can count for trophy purposes.

See “Points” and “Prizes” in the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19 for more information.

Back to Top

Entry and Entry Fees

Registration for the final Series tournament of the 2018-19 season is now closed.

Back to Top

Additional Information

If you have questions or need additional information, we refer you to the CSC Participant Handbook for 2018-19. If you still have a question after reviewing the Handbook, contact Alan Hodge by phone/text at 513-600-9915 or by email to

Back to Top