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> Tournament: N.Y. (credit CBS-2)

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Chess Tournaments for Children

Big Tournament in New York, 2014

Hundreds of children competed in a chess tournament in Central Park, New York City, on September 20, 2014, with some adults also competing. It was the 14th annual Chess-in-the-Parks, this year with about 800 players. Most of the participants were from the “Chess in the Schools” program.

One purpose behind this kind of chess event is to exercise the mind of each player.


Kids play chess in New York, N.Y.

Speed chess allows more games to be played in a one-day chess tournament (credit CBS-2)


Two sisters from Harlem, Niah (age 12) and Yoni (age 8), were interviewed by CBS television news, as they explained how to be successful in competition. Niah said, “You have to have very good focus and patience.”


sisters tell us how to succeed in a chess tournament

“You have to think before you move, and you have to know your pieces” (credit CBS-2)


old style chess clock

Chess clocks kept the games to about 20 minutes each (credit CBS-2)


Chess Tournaments in General

Each win gets you a point, and each draw gets you half a point. With a chess clock, if you allow your time to lapse before the end of a game it generally means you lose.

Large tournaments, which are often open to all players, usually use the Swiss system of pairings. After the first round, you play someone who has the same score that you got from the previous rounds. For example, if you had a win and a loss in the first two rounds, you’ll likely be paired, in the third round, with someone who had a win plus a loss in those two rounds, or maybe you’ll play someone who had two draws.

Smaller tournaments, with about 4-8 players for example, may be paired by round robin, meaning each player will eventually play a game with all other competitors. It’s possible to use the round robin format with as many as twelve players, but that would require eleven rounds, far more than most Swiss-system tournaments. Four rounds should be sufficient to get a clear winner in a Swiss tournament, when there are twelve players, compared with eleven rounds for a round robin system.



How Strong are Children in Chess Tournaments?

What an adventure for a kid to play in his or her first chess tournament! But what can you expect? How strong will your opponents be? Let’s look at an example of ratings of young players in a multi-division tournament in California.

Ratings and Tournaments

The “Backyard Professor” of chess


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