Presenting the fifteenth annual.... Chess Jam Logo

International Chess Jam 2012

Youth Chess Playday and Tournaments
Saturday, February 4, 2012
at Ferndale High School

Come PLAY at the fifteenth annual Chess Jam, a tournament and playday for chessplayers of all abilities, from beginner to expert, kindergarten through 12th grade. Door prizes! (Bring a riddle!)

State Qualifier Tournament! Kindergarten-6th grade players with winning scores (3/5) qualify to participate in the 2012 Washington State Elementary Chess Championships, being held this year in Pasco on April 21, 2012.

Site: Ferndale High School. (Ferndale is five minutes north of Bellingham.) Cafeteria for check-in, hang out and K-6 sections. Spacious FHS library for 7-12 section.

Format - Four Playing Sections:
---Grades 7-12: 5-Round McMahon Swiss, Game/45 (each player gets 45 min.)
---Grades K-1, 2-3, 4-6: 5-Round Swiss, Game/30 (each player gets 30 min.)
Computer paired. NWSRS rated, no membership required.

8:30am - Registration opens. Note: All pre-registrants must check in. Players who check in late will be receiving a half-point bye in round one.
8:50am - Deadline for 7th-12th grade players to check in.
9:10am - Deadline for K-6th grade players to check in.
. . . See FAQ below for full rounds schedule
4:15pm or asap - Awards ceremony for K-1, 2-3, 4-6th grade sections.
5:45pm or asap - Awards ceremony for 7-12th grade section.

Can't play in all rounds due to other commitments? You can still play in Chess Jam! See the FAQ below.

Awards: Awards to top ten in upper sections, top five in K-1 section. Medals to those scoring 3.0 or higher. Every K-1 player who completes all five rounds will receive a medal or trophy. Plaques to top seven elementary schools (determined by adding the points of the top five scorers from a single K-5 or K-6 school). Team awards to top three schools in the 7th-12th grade division (based on top four players). Tiebreaks by computer.

Let's Play! How To Enter:
Players must register in advance. Register online at Chess4Life before 7pm Friday, Feb. 3. Entry fee $13 total. T-shirt orders due earlier, email by Jan. 29 (see below).

Canadian players: Please enter online, and also email us with the player's grade, rating and school attended. Thanks!

The Famous Chess Jam T-Shirt: Players can have a custom Chess Jam 2012 T-shirt waiting for them on Game Day. Order yours by emailing in your order before midnight Jan. 29. Indicate size preferred (indicate youth or adult size, then XS,S,M,L,XL) and color preferred (Deep Green, Deep Blue [Navy], Deep Red [Bergundy], or Black). Lettering and artwork is White. If your color is unavailable, default color is Deep Green. Do not send in T-shirt monies in advance -- the $12 T-shirt fee will be collected on-site. Do order in advance though.

Bring: Boards, sets, for skittles area, lunch/concessions money. Pen and chess clock for the 7th-12th grade section if you have one. And bring a riddle to write on an index card for door prizes. Groaners are fine. It might be read publicly between rounds! (i.e. How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it! How do you catch a tame rabbit? Tame way, unique up on it!)

Director: Randy Kaech, 360-223-9991,

Download the one page Chess Jam flyer

Last Year's Results -- 120 Players

Directions: Take I-5 Exit 262. Go west about 1 mile to downtown Ferndale. Turn right on 3rd, then next left onto Vista. In less than 1/4 mile when right lane forms, take it. At the roundabout you'll see FHS to your right. (5830 Golden Eagle Dr.)

Map courtesy of

Chess Jam 2012 FAQ

If I submit a riddle for the door prize, will you read my name?
We'll be reading some of the riddles between rounds, but we'll only read your name if you are a prize winner.

I can't play in all five rounds because I have to be somewhere else for awhile that day.
Can I still play?

Yes, you can still play in Chess Jam! Indicate on your entry which rounds you will be missing. You'll get a free 1/2 point bye for each of the first two rounds you need to miss.

Chess Jam Tshirt So what's the schedule for each round?
Schedule for K-1, 2-3 and 4-6th grade sections:
Players meeting 9:15, Rd 1 9:45, Rd 2 11:10, Rd 3 12:25, Rd 4 1:40, Rd 5 2:55. Awards around 4:15pm. Rounds will be moved up if possible.
Schedule for 7th-12th grade section: Rd 1 9:15, Rd 2 10:55, Rd 3 12:35, Rd 4 2:15, Rd 5 4:00.

Will concessions be available?

I don't even know how to play chess. Is it hard?
Easy to learn, hard to master. Learn, and then come play with us! Have a friend show you! Or you can learn the rules of chess online here or here. Only three things you need to know to play: 1.The starting position. 2.How the six different pieces move. 3.How the game ends. (Get the King!)

I'm not a good chessplayer. Should I play in Chess Jam?
Sure! Come jam with the rest of us patzers. We're all learning, and you don't have to be a Grandmaster to have fun at chess. Besides, the Swiss pairings system will match you with opponents of equal ability (after a few rounds). And just think of how much better you'll be after a day of chess jamming.

I've never played in a tournament. I'm nervous! What do I do?
Have fun and enjoy the competition! You might have your parents read Considerations Before Competing, an article by a Whatcom County mom published in Then you'll know a bit more about what to expect. Also, watch the KVOS-TV Checkmate! feature on youth chess in Whatcom County.

Do I have to write down the moves?
At Chess Jam scorekeeping is required in the 7th-12th grade section . To learn how, have a teacher or friend show you, or go here. Hey, it's good for you! One of the best ways to improve is to review your games after a tournament. (Besides being able to show your friends the awesome move you made that clinched the game.) Also, learning chess notation opens you to the whole wide world of chess literature. So, bring a pen or pencil, scoresheets will be provided.

If I haven't taken my hands off of the chess piece yet, can I change my mind?
In a rated tournament like this one, if you even touch a chess piece, you must move it! And if you touch an opponent's piece, you must capture it! So sit on your hands until you know what you want to do. If a piece needs to be centered or adjusted, you may do so by first saying "I adjust".

Chess Lady Will we use chess clocks? How do they work?
We'll use clocks in the 7-12 section, and in the lower sections on the upper boards only, and if your game goes really long. Chess clocks are a great invention. They keep slow players from slowing and losing players from stalling. Here's how it works: After your move, you hit the button nearest you on the chess clock. Your timer stops, and your opponent's timer begins. In this tournament each player gets either 30 minutes (K-6 section) or 45 minutes (7-12 section), thus ensuring that no game goes over 60 minutes (or 90 minutes). If a player uses up all his time, it's a loss just like checkmate. If a game starts without a clock and goes really long, we may put a clock on the game, with the time equally elapsed, as one becomes available.

How do school team awards work?
The team scoring used will be similar to cross-country meet scoring. The best five results from a single K-6 school will be tallied and compared with other schools. (Best four results in 7th-12th grade division.) Efforts are made not to pair players from the same school. Eligibility rules are those used by WHSCA for State events at the MS and HS level, and at Elem. level we use the eligibility rules used at Elem. State.

The High School section uses McMahon Swiss pairings. What's that?
The 7th-12th graders generally have ratings that are more established than in the elementary sections. So we're using McMahon Swiss pairings, which allows players of similar strength to play each other sooner, and avoids first round mismatches (i.e. having to play someone 600 points higher/lower than yourself). It's the same as a regular Swiss tourney, except players in the top half of the field begin the tourney with a point. With McMahon, top half players play each other starting in the first round rather than the second, as do lower half players. It's as if the tourney began with one round already played. (Don't worry - you still get to play five games!) It's gaining popularity in chess tournaments, and is used regularly in Go tournaments.

Is this tourney an Elementary State Qualifier tournament? Tell me about State.
The largest chess tournament in the state every year is not the Washington Open, the Seafair Open or the State High School Team Championships, it's the State Elementary Championships. For example, three years ago 1,422 players pre-registered to compete in Redmond. And consider this: to attend, players had to first qualify by posting a winning record in a qualifying tournament!

To qualify for Elementary State, a Washington student in grades 1-6 must post a winning record (score over 50 percent) in a NWSRS-rated Scholastic Chess Tournament in Washington State with at least 4 rounds, at least 6 players in their section, and at least 3 different school codes represented. Players in Kindergarten need to score 2/5 in a divison which includes K-2 players. A list of qualifying players for the current school year can be found at the WHSCA website.

Parents, check out the Parents FAQ on the NW Wa. Elementary School Chess page

Black did not castle, and where does it get him?

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