Cincinnati Scholastic Chess

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HSMS Championships

REGISTRATION FOR THE HSMS CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT AND THE HSMS COMPANION SCHOLASTIC TOURAMENT IS NOW CLOSED. Registration for the 3-Round Swiss tournament on Sunday remains open until 8:00 pm on Saturday, February 24.

Cincinnati Scholastic Chess is pleased to host the 2024 Ohio High School and Middle School Championships (HSMS) tournament. Scroll down to see HSMS details. In conjunction with this event, we are conducting two companion tournaments. Click on the name of either tournament to see complete details:

  • A COMPANION SCHOLASTIC TOURNAMENT for players in grades K through 5, on Saturday only, as an alternative to playing in the HSMS tournament itself
  • A 3-ROUND SWISS TOURNAMENT for players 18 and older, on Sunday only, with sections limited to approximately eight players
    Note: The entry deadline for the 3-Round Swiss has been changed to 8:00 pm on Saturday, February 24.

These companion tournaments are not part of the HSMS tournament but will be played in the same venue and offer alternatives for players who are not eligible to play in the HSMS or choose not to play in it.


The 2024 Ohio High School and Middle School Championships (HSMS) tournament will be played on Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25, 2024 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash (Cincinnati), Ohio. This is an Ohio Scholastic Chess Association/State Championship Event!

Tournament Details
Forfeits and Withdrawals
US Chess Federation Membership
Venue Information

Tournament Details

The HSMS is a six-round Swiss tournament with the following sections, eligibility requirements, and time controls:

  • High School Championship: for players in grades 9–12, all ratings and unrated, limited to players who are residents of or home-schooled in Ohio. Time controls: rounds 1–3 G/60;d5 and rounds 4–6 G/90;d5
  • Middle School Championship: for players in grades 6–8, all ratings and unrated, limited to players who are residents of or home-schooled in Ohio. Time controls: rounds 1–3 G/60;d5 and rounds 4–6 G/90;d5
  • High School U1000: for players in grades 9–12 with ratings under 1000 or unrated, no residency restrictions. Time control: all rounds G/60;d5.
  • K–8 U800: for players in grades K–8 with ratings under 800 or unrated, no residency restrictions. Time control: all rounds G/60;d5.
  • K–5 Open: for players in grades K–5, all ratings and unrated, no residency restrictions. Time control: all rounds G/60;d5.

Because section eligibility depends on a combination of grade and rating, some players will have only one section option and some will have a choice of two or more sections. Section options by grade and rating are specified below:

Grades 9-12 rated 1000 or higher:
High School Championship (Ohio residents/home-schooled only)

Grades 9-12 rated under 1000 or unrated:
High School Championship (Ohio residents/home-schooled only) or
High School U1000

Grades 6-8 rated 800 or higher
Middle School Championship (Ohio residents/home-schooled only)

Grades 6-8 rated under 800 or unrated:
Middle School Championship (Ohio residents/home-schooled only) or
K-8 U800

Grades K-5 rated 800 or higher:
K-5 Open

Grades K-5 rated between 500 and 799 inclusive:
K-5 Open or K-8 U800

Grades K-5 rated under 500:
K-5 Open or K-8 U800 (or Companion K-5 U500*)

Grades K-5 Unrated:
K-5 Open or K-8 U800 (or Companion K-5 U500* or Companion K-5 Non-Rated*)

*See the Companions page for details about these Companion tournaments.

All players in all sections of the HSMS tournament must be current USCF members. Official USCF Regular ratings as of February 1, 2024 will govern section eligibility and pairings. Swiss pairings will be used in all sections; accelerated pairings may be used in a section with significantly more than 64 players. Players will play only other players in their own section. All sections will be USCF rated; unrated players will earn a rating.

About ratings: A rating is a numerical measure of a player’s playing strength calculated by the US Chess Federation based on the results of rated games played by the player. A player is officially rated when he or she has played four or more rated games. The USCF publishes official ratings for all USCF members every month. An unrated player is one who has not yet earned a rating because he or she has not yet played four rated games. A player who is unrated may play in any section of the HSMS for which he or she is eligible by grade.


Saturday, February 24:

  • Corrections/changes: 8:30–9:30
  • Announcements: 9:30
  • Playing schedule for all sections, rounds at: 10:00, 12:30, 3:00 and 5:30

Sunday, February 25:

  • Playing schedule for High School Championship and Middle School Championship, rounds at: 9:00 and 12:30; awards at about 4:00
  • Playing schedule for High School U1000, K–8 U800, and K–5 Open, rounds at: 9:00 and 11:30; awards at about 2:00

Notation and clocks: All players are required to take notation (record the moves of the game) and to use clocks in accordance with USCF rules.

Byes: Players may take one or two half-point byes except that (a) any player who receives a full-point bye in round 1 may not take a half-point bye for a later round, and (b) no half-point byes are permitted for round 6. Players must commit to any bye(s) by noon on Saturday. For players who choose to take a bye for round 6 or after receiving a full-point bye in round 1, the bye will be a zero-point bye.

Teams: Two or more players in the same section from the same school, as indicated on their entry, will constitute a team. Players are asked to identify their schools by complete name and city to facilitate the proper designation of teams. The top four scores among a team’s players will count toward a team trophy. Players from the same team will not be paired against each other unless necessary to avoid pairing a player inappropriately out of his or her score group or otherwise unduly skewing the natural pairings that would have occurred without considering team affiliation.

Equipment: Cincinnati Scholastic Chess will provide all sets, boards and clocks, and will also provide scoresheets, but players may use their own scoresheets or scorebooks if they wish. Use of USCF-approved electronic scoresheets is permitted provided that such use complies with USCF regulations.

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Forfeits and Withdrawals

Round 1 pairings will be based on entries received, as of noon, Friday, February 23. Players who are not present at their assigned board at the start of round 1 will be forfeited and may be withdrawn from the tournament. (Participants may not avoid forfeiting by calling or texting a tournament director while en route to notify him of an expected late arrival.) All players arriving late are advised to check in with a tournament director immediately upon arrival to avoid being withdrawn from the tournament. In rounds 2 through 6, players who do not appear at their assigned board before one-half of their time for the time control elapses will be forfeited and withdrawn. A player withdrawn in either situation may be readmitted at the discretion of the chief tournament director.

A player who answers a cell phone call, sends a text message, or reads an incoming text message during a game shall immediately forfeit that game. A player whose cell phone or pager audibly rings during a game shall receive a warning for the first such incident, and forfeit the game upon a second such incident during the tournament. Players are encouraged to leave their cell phones and other electronic devices (except USCF-approved electronic scoresheets) with a parent or coach outside the playing hall if possible, and otherwise to turn them completely off and stow them out of sight while in the playing hall when games are in progress.

Players may withdraw from the tournament at any time prior to round 6; however, it is important that players choosing to withdraw notify a tournament director before the next round pairings are posted — otherwise they will be paired, resulting in a forfeit. Notification must be given by means of a completed and signed Notice of Withdrawal form (provided onsite by Cincinnati Scholastic Chess) either presented to a tournament director or deposited in the chief tournament director’s in-box.

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US Chess Federation Membership

All players must be current USCF members to play in the HSMS. Players wishing to purchase or renew a USCF membership may do so in conjunction with entering the tournament using the online or mail-in entry form. In conjunction with memberships, USCF offers two magazines: Chess Life (published monthly, 12 issues per year) and Chess Life for Kids (published bi-monthly, 6 issues per year). Players may purchase or renew a USCF membership with or without a print magazine subscription, but they may not purchase a magazine subscription without purchasing or renewing a membership at the same time. Players may also purchase or renew a membership directly from the USCF at

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Trophies will be awarded to all players scoring 4.0 or more. Trophies will be awarded to the top five teams in each section. The highest scoring player (using tie breaks if needed) in the High School Championship section who accepts shall represent Ohio in the Denker National Tournament of High School Champions. The highest scoring player (using tie breaks if needed) in the Middle School Championship section who accepts shall represent Ohio in the Barber National Tournament of Middle School Champions.

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Venue Information

The tournament will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 4554 Lake Forest Drive, Blue Ash, OH 45242. The hotel is located approximately three miles from the intersection of I-71 and I-275. Click here for a map. The Embassy Suites offers a made-to-order breakfast and dinner in its restaurant adjacent to the playing hall, and a two-hour evening reception for overnight guests. Arrangements are being explored for having a lunchtime food concession for the benefit of tournament participants. For those wishing to stay overnight, the rate is $114 for a king suite and $124 for a suite with two double beds. All suites also include a sofa bed. Reserve by February 14, 2024 to ensure room and rate; reservations received after this date will be accepted only on a space-available basis and at rates available at that time. For reservations call 513-733-8900 or 800-362-2779, or book a room online.

UPDATE: As of February 15 king suites, including a sofa bed, are still be available at the Embassy Suites, but no queen suites are available. Rooms are still available at the Hampton Inn, 4761 Creek Road, 0.8 of a mile from the Embassy Suites (click here for a map). The rate for a room with two queen beds is $99.00. Book at the Hampton Inn online, or contact the reservations center at 855-209-4057 and reference the Hampton Inn Blue Ash and code HSM. Reserve by Tuesday, February 20, 2024 (extended deadline) to ensure rate and room. Please note that cancellations must be made at least 48 hours prior to the date of arrival to avoid a room charge.

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The HSMS Essential Information document provides additional information about tournament chess that players are expected to know for playing in the HSMS. If you still have questions after reading this document, send email inquiries to or contact Alan by phone/text at 513-600-9915.

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