Frequently Asked Questions

Date and Place are definite - February 11 at Prairie View Elementary School (map).

Q. So, what is the 2017 Team Practice Tournament?

A. The Team Practice Tournament is a scholastic, fixed-roster, four-board team tournament taking place at Prairie View Elementary School (map) on Saturday, February 11, 2017. Doors will open at 8:00am and all players and coaches should be present by 8:30. We should be done by 4:00pm.

Q. Do all schools play together?

A. No. There will be three sections: 3rd Grade & Under, 6th Grade & Under, and 12th Grade & Under. If we have insufficient entries, we may combine one or more of these sections.

Q. Who can play?

A. Any accredited public or private school (K-12) can enter as many teams as they want.

Q. How do I enter?

A. If you are part of a school chess club, enter through your club. If there is no club at your school, try to find at least 3 schoolmates and enter as a team. If you can, find a teacher or parent who will act as your coach and enter for you. You can get more information and download a team entry form here.

Q. Can the team coach also be a player, and team captain?

A. Certainly, as long as the coach is a K-12 student. If you have a group of schoolmates who would like to play as a team, but you have no adult coach or sponsor, you can still enter a team. Just fill out the form and put your name down as coach.

Q. Okay, suppose I don't have a school club and nobody else from my school wants to join?

A. Sorry, you are out of luck. There are many individual tournaments around that you can play in.

Q. Is USCF membership required?

A. No.

Q. How many players do we need for a team?

A. From three to six players. If you have only three, you will have to forfeit one game each round.

Q. Can my school have more than one team in a section?

A. Certainly. In past years, you had to put your very best players on your A team, your next best players on your B team, and so. However, that is no longer the case. You may try to balance your teams if you wish.

Q. How can I be sure you received my entry?

A. There is no certainty in life, but you can check advance entries here.

Q. You called this a fixed-roster, four-board team tournament. What does that mean?

A. Some team tournaments are run as individual tournaments, with team scores being determined by adding up the best individual scores from each school. But a fixed-roster team tournament consists of head-to-head, school-against-school matches. Four-board just means that each match consists of four boards--four players from one school playing four players from another school.

Q. How do you score a match?

A. Each player gets 1 game point for a win, 0 game points for a loss, and 1/2 game point for a draw. After each match, the team's players' game points are added. The team with the most game points gets 1 match point. If both teams have the same number of game points, they each get 1/2 match point.

Q. So are tournament standings based on match points or game points?

A. Match points.

Q. How do you break ties when teams have the same match points?

A. It's a little complicated, but you can find the answer here.

Q. How do we tell who and where to play?

A. We determine pairings with a computer program, WinTD. We will post the pairings. You can see a sample pairing sheet here.

Q. How do we tell who plays on what board?

A. When you sign in at the tournament site, your team will be asked for a list of players in order of strength. (Here is a sample roster that coaches must fill out and hand in at the beginning of the tournament.) You must list your players in order of strength. This is not like baseball where you can juggle the lineup. Coaches or teams who do not list their players in the proper order are cheating! At each match site, there will be boards numbered 1 through 4. The strongest player for each team will play on Board 1, the next strongest on Board 2, etc.

Q. Does that mean we can never substitute?

A. No, you may substitute freely, but players must stay in the same order. Suppose your team consisted of Arnie, Betty, Chucky, Della, and Ernie, with Arnie being the strongest, Betty the next strongest, and so on. In the first round, you want to play your strongest team, so Arnie is on Board 1, Betty on Board 2, Chucky on Board 3, and Della on Board 4. After the first round, Chucky has to leave for basketball practice, so Ernie gets to play. However, Ernie does not move into Chucky's old spot on Board 3. Rather, Della moves up to Board 3 and Ernie plays on Board 4. For the third round, Arnie has a headache and wants to sit out. Now, Betty moves up to Board 1, Della to Board 2, Ernie to Board 3, and the team has to forfeit on Board 4. For the next round, Arnie still is too sick to play, but Chucky is back from basketball practice, so now the lineup would be Betty on Board 1, Chucky on Board 2, Della on Board 3, and Ernie on Board 4.

Q. What happens if we don't play in the right order?

A. You forfeit the games of anybody playing on the wrong board.

Q. Isn't that kind of harsh?

A. Yes.

Q. Can teammates confer during games?

A. No. The same rules of not interfering with other games and not getting advice from outside sources applies.

Q. Once we have a team and coach, do we need anything else?

A. Yes. Each team needs a captain.

Q. What does the captain do?

A. The captain's main jobs are to fill out the match scoresheet, to record the results of each of his teammate's games on that scoresheet (here is a sample scoresheet, filled out after the completion of a round), and to turn it in to the scorekeeper.

Q. So is the best player usually the captain?

A. Not necessarily. The captain's job requires no chess skill. It is more important that the captain be patient and responsible.

Q. Why patient?

A. The captain has to hang around until all of his teammates are finished. A youngster who is not comfortable sitting around is not a good captain.

Q. Why responsible?

A. If the captain makes mistakes on the scoresheet, by listing his teammates incorrectly or recording scores incorrectly, it can result in forfeit losses for his team.

Q. Can the captain give advice to his teammates? Can he point out running clocks, illegal moves, etc.?

A. No. The captain has absolutely no right to interfere in his teammates' games. He cannot suggest his teammates take or offer draws.

Q. Can our team have two captains?

A. No. It is hard enough to find one good captain on a team. Pick one and let him/her do the job.

Q. Can our team vote for a captain?

A. It is not a good idea. Many of the problems in team tournaments come from irresponsible captains. Coaches, this is a place where an adult's guidance can pay dividends. Do not choose your captain based on playing skill. Do not offer the captain's position as a reward. Try very hard to pick a captain who will do the job well, who can be trusted to patiently wait for his teammates' games to finish, and who will not interfere with ongoing games. Everybody involved in the tournament will appreciate it. Here is a little more about the captain's duties.

Do you have any questions about team tournaments you would like to see answered here? E-mail me at

Created on January 8, 2016.  Updated on January 8, 2016  Comments to

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