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Our goal for our tournaments is to introduce your child to competitive tournament play in a fun and supportive environment. First, children should understand their primary aim is to play their best, not necessarily to win. Parents should expect to console their children when they lose and encourage good sportsmanship regardless of their result.


If this is your first time at an Off da ROOK tournament, there are a few things you should know:


If you are playing in a rated tournament, please make sure your membership with the US Chess Federation is current.


When you first arrive, you will look on the wall for your child's name.  If your child's name is there and he/she is listed in the correct section, you do not need to do anything else but wait for the first round to begin.  There will be a large skittles room available with tables and chairs where you can wait for the start of the round.


If you do not see your name or there is a mistake in section or you need to take care of registration fee, please see Jennifer or Jerry.  


Please make sure your clock is set up with correct time control before the start of round 1.


It can be a busy time with last minute entries and pairings before the first round.  After the first round begins, is a good time to purchase food tickets and merchandise.


All pairings will be posted on the wall by section.  You will look for your child's section and see his name.  Next to his name will show what board number he will be playing, who his/her opponent is and who will be playing as black and white.

Chess Coach Jerry Yee and Coach Jen

 Coach Jerry and Coach Jen

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How do I prepare my child for a tournament?

First and foremost, make sure your child has a good night's sleep the night before a tournament. Tournaments are an all day event and stamina is key.  Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast and is well hydrated. Before each round, make sure your child has used the bathroom.  If your child needs to use the bathroom during a game, he simply needs to raise his hand.  However, breaks can often be distracting from your child's game.


What should I bring with me to a tournament?

You need to bring a chess set and a chess clock for rated section play.  I would suggest parents bring something to occupy thier time such as a book or an Ipad and a sweater, as it can get chilly in the tournament hall.  I also suggest bringing snacks and water or some cash if you would like to purchase food or merchandise.


Does my child need to record his moves?

All rated sections are required to record moves.  We encourage recording moves for unrated section as well, but it is not required. Scoresheets will be available if needed.


Does my child need to use a clock?

All rated sections are required to use clocks.  We encourage using clocks for unrated section as well and if time becomes an issue, we will require it for unrated as well. 


Will there be food for sale?

Yes, there will be food for sale.  We usually have pizza and chips and other snacks.  We also sell water and other drinks.  Since we are at a synagouge, all food brought in must be KOSHER.


Can I purchase a clock or board?

We do our best to keep a stock of chess boards and clocks for sale at our tournaments but they do sometimes sell out.  


Will I be able to watch my child play?

Unfortunately, parents are not allowed in the touranment hall when the tournament is in progress.  Parents can wait outside or set up in the hall.  When possible, we will provide a room for parents to wait.


What is a Tournament Director?

You will probably see a touranment director (also called a TD) and several volunteers in the playing area. The TD uses software to pair the child for each round, he makes an announcement at the start of each round and settles any sort of disputes that arise during a game.  Children should understand that if they have a question during the game or think their opponent made an illegal move, they should not talk to their opponent.  Instead, they should stop their clock and raise their hand and wait for the TD. TDs often rule on claims of time forfeiture, draws and illegal moves.  TDs have the authority to punish bad behavior or other rule violations by adding or subtracting time from a player, or by forfeiting a game.


How do the pairings work?

We follow the pairing rules developed by the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) on Swiss-System tournaments.  This means that players are paired against others with similar scores.  So after the first round, if you child won his game, he will play another child who has also won his game.  Likewise, if you child lost his first game, he will play someone who also lost his first game.  The pairing system is quite complicated and is performed by a computer program so the TD almost has no room for discretion.  Although experienced TDs will review the pairings for accuracy (even the best program can have a few glitches), the TD never arbitrarily makes changes in the pairings the computer assigns.


If my child loses his game, is he eliminated?

No.  All children will play all 4 rounds.


What is a Bye?

Sometimes there are a odd number of players in a section.  If this happens, the bottom player will not play a round.  Even though he/she does not play the round, he/she will receive a full point BYE. This is a full point as thought they had won their game.  If you need to miss a round, you can request a 1/2 point BYE prior to the tournament starting.


How do the points work?

Players earn one point for winning, a 1/2 point for drawing, and no points for losing a game.  


What are tie-breaks?

In most touranments, a pre-determined number of top prizes (trophies) are awarded at the end.  When two or more players have won all of their games, our software will use a tiebreak system to determine placement based on the opponents' results in their games and the total score in those 4 games


What is a rating and what if my child is playing in an unrated section?

If your child is playing in a rated game, the game is sanctioned by the US Chess Federation (USCF).  Membership is required in order to participate in a rated game.  Annual membership varies by age and the cost rates from $17 to $49.  You can visit and pay for a membership online.  


The results will be submitted usually a couple days following the tournament.  The USCF will assign a rating and will post that rating on their website.  Ratings are valuable in that they help determine what section your child should be playing so that he/she is playing similar strength opponents.


If your child is playing in an Unrated section, he or she will NOT receive a rating.  


When all the games are finished, do we leave?

There will be an awards ceremony after the last round.  We strongly encourage you to stay for the awards, but it is not necessary.  Our top winners in each section will receive a trophy.  We also recognize and  give special prizes for sportmanship.  


Can I take photos of my child playing?

Parents are allowed to assist their child in finding their board and can take a quick photo at that time.  But to avoid late start times, we encourage parents to quickly leave the room after announcements have been made.  Our staff will be taking photos during tournament play and will post photos on this website.  You may download any photos posted here.  If you have an objection to your child being photographed, please tell us before the tournament.  We encourage you to take photos at the awards ceremony.


What if I need to leave the tournament early or need to miss a round?

Please tell the Tournament Director asap before the round begins.  It is critical that the TD knows who will be participating in the tournament each round.  If you do not let the TD know, your child will be paired with an opponent and that will result in a forfeit victory for another child (who was probably just hoping to play a game). 


What if my child is losing and does not want to play the remaining rounds?

We strongly discourage withdrawing from our tournaments. Players who leave because they lose are missing some of the greatest benefits of the game.  However, if you need to withdraw for any reason, please let the TD know asap BEFORE the start of the next round.


Am I able to leave the tournament while my child is playing?

A lot depends on the age and experience of your child. You know your child.  If you feel your child is mature enough to stay at the tournament on their own, you are free to leave.  However, be mindful that younger players need a lot of support after their game. They want to share their wins, as well as be comforted when they lose.  


But if you do leave,  make sure you have communicated with your child beforehand and leave a cell phone number with us for emergencies.  Please be mindful that we are busy with the tournament and cannot be responsible for supervising your child.


You and your child are free to leave between rounds and get lunch or if local, go home and come back. However, part of the fun for kids is to play with other kids between rounds. 


My child finished his game, should I ask him if he won or lost?

No.  Your role as a parent is to be supportive.  Leave that question up to your child's chess coach, if they have one.  


Let your child lead you.  The best question to ask your child when he/she finishes their round is "Did you have a good game?".  Some of the best games a child can play are games in which they lost.  It is more important that they played to the best of their ability.  


If your child is crying, please give them a hug and/or space.  The child need time to process their feelings.  Learning how to recover from a loss and regain composure is a valuable life skill.


If you have any other questions, please send us an email at





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