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Chess Logo Middle school chess players of all skill levels are invited to play in the ...

Southwest Washington Middle School Chess Championships

Saturday, February 4, 2023 at Centralia College

Register here - - Flyer here - - Player list, standings here

Location: Centralia College, 615 W. Pear St. Centralia in the TransAlta Commons Building, Rooms 105B and 105C.

Who Can Play: Limited to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who attend school (or home school) in the following counties: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston, Wahkiakum. Beginners welcome. (High school tourney info here.)

Individual Championship: The individual winner earns the title of 2023 Southwest Washington Middle School Chess Champion.

Format: One section, five rounds, no elimination, so all players play all five rounds. USCF Swiss pairings are used, so players of similar score face off each round. One point is awarded for a win, zero for a loss, a half point for a draw.

Check-in: 9:00 to 9:25am. Be prompt - late arrivals might not be paired for Round 1.
Player's Meeting: 9:30am
Round 1: 10:00
Round 2: 11:00
Lunch Gap
Round 3: 12:30
Round 4: 1:30
Round 5: 2:30
Awards ceremony 3:45pm or asap.

Tournament Rules: NWSRS scholastic tournament rules are in effect. Those are clarified in the FAQ below, but the main ones are:

  • If you touch a piece, you must move it. (Accidental bumps don't count.)
  • Clocks will be used. (25 minutes per player, plus a five second time delay, so games will not last over an hour.)
  • Both players must record the moves, until one player has 5 minutes or less on the clock. Then both players may cease recording if desired.

Awards: Winner earns the title of 2023 Southwest Washington Middle School Chess Champion. Trophies go to the top five individual finishers. - Medals to 6th-15th, Chess Tactics to 16th-25th places. premium memberships to top ten. The top five teams will be recognized. See full awards list here.

Door Prizes: Several chess books, boards (donated by Brio Boards), sets, clocks (donated by Chess House) and scorebooks will be given out randomly throughout the day.

Cost: Free entry, courtesy of WHSCA and CEA, two non-profits working to bring the benefits of chess to students.

To Enter: Advance registration required. Fill out this registration form before 10:00pm Thursday, February 2. All players will receive a complimentary copy of Northwest Chess magazine.

Bring: Directions to the site. Pen. Sack lunch and snacks, as no food vendors will be present. Chess clock, if you own one. Boards, sets, clocks and scoresheets are provided, but bring a set if you want to play games between rounds in the relaxation ("skittles") area.

Questions: Start with the FAQ below. If further questions, email Tournament Director Randy Kaech at

The Washington High School Chess Association is a volunteer run, non-profit organization, responsible for guiding high school chess leagues throughout Washington, and directing the annual Washington State High School Chess Team Championships. Today's tournament is also possible with assistance from the non-profit Chess Enrichment Association and Centralia College.

The SW WA High School Chess Championships are being held concurrently with the Middle School tournament, and has its own web site here.

SW WA Chess Championships FAQ

I'm not a good chessplayer. Should I play?
If you enjoy chess, come play. Doesn't matter if you're experienced or not. Swiss pairings will pair you with other players around your same skill level. For example, if you don't win your first games, you'll play someone else with the same score. We're all learning together.

I'm in 6th grade, but in elementary school, not a middle school. Can I still play?

I'm in 9th grade, and I attend Acme Middle School. Do I play in the middle school tourney or the high school tourney?
You would play in the 9th-12th grade section, which is the Southwest Washington High School Championships, website here. Sorry for the confusion -- the grade levels that make up a middle school are not standardized throughout Washington State.

How do I record my moves?
Yes, scorekeeping is required, just like at State. To learn how, check out this web page. It takes some getting used to, but it's not hard. It will help you improve, as you'll be able to review your games. It helps avoid disputes. And, once you can read chess notation, you can read chess books from all around the planet. Scoresheets will be provided, but do bring a good pen or pencil.

I grabbed a chess piece. 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 with your fingers, 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. You have time. If a piece needs to be centered or adjusted, you may do so on your turn only, by first saying "I adjust". If you accidentally brush against a piece, you don't have to move it.

My opponent touched their knight, but then moved another piece. What do I do?
If you ever have any kind of issue, dispute or question during a game, raise your hand and a Tournament Director will come assist you. So, for example in this scenario, you'd politely (quietly) say "You touched your knight, and are required to move it." If they refuse, say "Let's get the TD." Pause the clock and raise your hand, or rise and find a TD. The TD will listen to both players and resolve matters according to USCF rules.

Chess Game In Motion I have no experience with chess clocks. What do I need to know?
Chess clocks are a great invention. They keep the game moving, and add a new dimension of excitement. So, after you move and release your piece, press the button nearest you on the chess clock. Then record your move. Your timer stopped, and your opponent's timer began. If you use up all your time, you lose, just like checkmate. If you want to get familiar with timed chess, just play a few games on lichess or

In our tournament, each side will start with 25 minutes for the whole game. Also, and this is helpful to know, we use the five second delay feature. Your time doesn't start to elapse until five seconds have passed. So, if you're down to one second on the clock, you can still finish the game, provided you make each move in less than five seconds!

Other clock rules to know:

  • You have to make moves and press the clock with the same hand. (You might sit on one of your hands, until you get the one hand habit going.)
  • The player with the black pieces gets to choose what side of the board the clock will be on.
  • You cannot pause the clock unless you are calling over a tournament director.
  • When "time trouble" happens, which is when one player has five minutes or less on the clock, a couple things happen. First, both players no longer have to record the chess moves. Second, if a player makes an illegal move, like leaving their king in check, the other player gets two extra minutes on the clock. Call over a TD if this happens.

How does middle school team scoring work?
For middle schools, the best four results by players attending the same school are added together, to determine the team score. (For high school teams, it's five players.) Remember, scoring is 1 point for a win, 0 for a loss, and 1/2 for a draw. So for example, six players from Ocosta Middle School School are playing, and their final scores after five rounds are 4.0, 3.5, 2.0, 2.0, 1.0 and 0.5. Their team score would be 11.5 points.

Unlike elementary school players and high school chess teams, middle school players do not have to qualify to attend the State Middle School Chess Championships. Instead, Middle School State has three divisions based on ratings. The Washington State Middle School Championships will be held on April 29, 2023 at the Tacoma Convention Center, alsongside the Elementary State Championships. This event typically draws about 1000 chessplayers.

How do you determine who plays who? How do Swiss pairings work?
Check out the Wikipedia article or this video. But the basic Swiss Tournament rules are:

  • no elimination - everyone plays all rounds
  • players of similar score are paired together
  • you never play the same person twice
  • the computer tries to arrange it so you have the black and white pieces equally
  • in our tourney, pairing players from the same school is avoided (but not forbidden)

What if there's a tie after five rounds?
Ties will be broken by the standard "Modified Median" tiebreak method, except for first place, where the players will be declared co-champions. Basically, if you played opponents who scored well, you'll have high tiebreak points. Tiebreak systems calculate who has played the toughest opposition. Here's the Wikipedia article on the topic.

This tournament is rated by the NWSRS? What's that?
There are international, national and regional chess rating systems, which provide chess players with a number that is a rough indicator of their playing strength. It's similar to a golf handicap, bowling handicap or tennis ranking. Players enjoy improving their playing strength and their rating, and tournament directors can use ratings to place players of similar strength in playing sections together. Our tournament will be rated by the Northwest Scholastic Rating System.

Did you have this tournament last year?
No, this will be the first annual SW WA MS Chess Championships. Observing a paucity of middle and high school chess tournaments in southwest Washington, initiative was taken last spring by the WHSCA coaches to bring tournament chess opportunities to the region.

Check it out - here's a video from the playing floor of the 2020 Washington State Middle School and Elementary School Championships, held at the Tacoma Convention Center.