Skinner North Chess Team FAQs
Q: What should my child wear to a tournament?
A: Ideally, they will wear a shirt that shows they are from Skinner North. It can be a chess team shirt, a walkathon shirt or a purple or gold shirt. If they don’t have any of those, then have them wear something they are comfortable in. Sometimes, the tournament rooms are cold, so consider having them bring a hoodie or something light to layer.
Q: Can I drop my child off at the tournament and pick him up later?
A: Your child must be supervised by an adult the entire day--our coaches will be very busy throughout the tournament so they cannot be responsible for keeping an eye on individual students. We encourage you to share carpool and supervision duties with other chess families to make your weekend lives easier!
Q: Can I watch my child play?
A: Generally, parents are not allowed in the tournament rooms to watch the games. They can help their child read the "pairing" sheet (tells you who you are playing and at which board) hung on the wall and then walk their child to the tournament room, but then parents are expected to wait in an onsite "skittles" room. After they play, students will go back to the skittles room. Some tournaments are held in gyms with bleacher seats, so quiet spectators are welcome at a distance.
Q: Will my child be playing chess all day?
A: There generally is a lot of "down time" between rounds at tournaments, so encourage your child to bring something to do while they wait for their next game to start. Many players bring books, videogames and board games to entertain themselves. They generally have a lot of fun with one another in between rounds! All players get to play all day long; your child will not be eliminated after a loss.
Q: Does CPS sponsor these tournaments?
A: Generally, no. We have 18 tournaments on our team schedule this year. Every player on our team is encouraged to play in most tournaments. The core of our schedule is made up of 6 free tournaments sponsored by a non-profit group, the Chicago Chess Foundation. They accept donations of both time and money--see Chicago Chess Foundation for more information. While these tournaments are usually held at CPS schools, CPS has no other involvement in them. These 6 tournaments are held one per month from November through May (skipping March). The City Playoff and Championship are both hosted by CPS in March. Additionally, CPS will host a tournament in late October. These three events are also free, but CPS offers limited slots only and not all of our chess players are always invited. The other 9 tournaments are spread through the school year in an assortment of places. Some are US Chess Federation rated tournaments and some are not. Some of these are not free.
Q: Holy cow!!! Eighteen tournaments!! My child isn't available for all of that!!
A: We do not expect any child to play in all eighteen tournaments. We do expect every member of the team to play in at least two of the six core tournaments and at least five tournaments in total.
Q: Where are the tournaments held?
A: Most of the tournaments are held at schools throughout the city, so one month a tournament can be on the north side, the next month it can be on the south side. These schools trust guests to keep the place clean and behave properly (no running, no screaming, etc.).
Q: Do they sell food at these tournaments?
A: The host school often arranges for pizza, drinks and snacks to be sold onsite, but it's wise to pack snacks and lunch for your family members, just in case. Parents are welcome to go to a neighborhood restaurant to pick up food for their family--we recommend that your chess player stay at the school, though, since the rounds can start at any time. Also, if you leave the tournament, please make sure another parent is available to supervise your child while you are away.
Q: What time does the tournament end?
A: Usually tournaments are four or five rounds, with each round only starting once everyone in the section has finished their previous games. Unfortunately, that does not lend itself to a rigid or predictable schedule. They are usually over by 4:00 p.m. At the very end, there is a trophy presentations for winning individuals and teams. We encourage our team to stay for this, even if we do not win, as it shows good sportsmanship.
Q: Will my child be playing children his same age?
A: Yes and no. All beginners are grouped with children their age. Generally, these tournaments have a "Novice" section grouped by grades and an "Advanced" section (Grades K - 8, but these players have usually already won several trophies in the Novice section).
Q: Does my child need to notate their games?
A: Students do NOT need to notate their games (which means they write down their moves and their opponents' moves as the game progresses) but it is very helpful if there is a challenge to the game’s results or for later analysis.
Q: Are these games “touch move?”
A: Yes, the games are “touch move,” which means that if you actually TOUCH a piece on your board, you MUST MOVE that piece somewhere on the board. Encourage your child to keep their hands off of the pieces until they are ready to make a move. Please note, accidentally bumping a piece does not count as a touch.
Q: Are these tournaments rated by the US Chess Federation?
A: Generally, no. Most of these scholastic tournaments are unrated. There are many tournaments in the Chicago area that are rated. See ICA upcoming tournaments for more information.
Q: My child says he won, but his opponent says she won the game—what do I do?
A: The best way to counter a he said/she said situation in chess is for the students to raise their handsimmediately and ask a tournament director in the room to come over and talk it over with both players, looking at the actual board or the notes the players took during the game. It is VERY difficult to prove a win/loss after the game has been put away. Please encourage your child to speak up immediately in the tournament room if something they do not understand or agree with happens. It’s the tournament director’s job to settle these issues.
Q: My child won all of her games so why didn’t she win first place?
A: Many children tie with others in a tournament, winning the same number of games. Ties are broken by a tiebreak formula that gives more weight to tougher opponents (which is based on who they beat and so on).
Q: What happens at Wednesday workshops? Are they right for my child?
A: Wednesday workshops will offer differentiated instruction for all members of our chess team. From 3:30 to 3:45, the children gather in the cafeteria for a snack and to spend a few minutes relaxing with friends. Ms. Cox will bring them to the Wednesday workshop at 3:45. They'll have 15 minutes of free chess play until 4:00 followed by an hour chess lesson from 4:00 to 5:00.
Q: Are the Wednesday workshops free? If not, how do I pay for them?
A: We were delighted to offer the All-Girls workshop for free in June. However, there is a cost to on-going workshops. This year you won't have to remember to make payments every week. Instead, you can register your child for Wednesday workshops once for the first 15 weeks and then once more later in the year for the next 15 weeks. Make your payment by September 10th to ensure the lowest price possible.