Tournaments are divided into sections based on age, grade, rating, or a combination these factors. When entering a tournament, the player must select a section. Accordingly, players will only play against opponents in the selected section. In general, prizes are typically awarded for each section.
How to Select a Section for a Chess Tournament
If a player has never before played in a USCF-rated tournament, select a novice section. If there are multiple novice sections, for example Novice Under 800 and Novice Under 450, the “Under 450” refers to the player’s rating. The Novice Under 450 would be a good section for a player’s first tournament, especially for young students. Scholastic players whose rating is less than 800 would be eligible to enter the Novice Under 800, regardless of age or school grade.
Chess Tournament Format
After general announcements, tournament staff post pairings for the first round. The pairing list includes each player’s name, chess piece color, and board number. Players will proceed to their board. Spectators, including parents and coaches, are typically not allowed to remain in the play area once the tournament commences. After the game concludes, players report their results to staff. Chess tournaments are not single elimination so all players await the next round.
USCF-rated tournaments require players to be an active member of the US Chess Federation, the governing body for chess in the US. They may also be required to be a member with their state affiliate.