Illinois Scholastic Chess

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Types of Play


There are actually many “types” of chess they can play, ranging from completely informal “skittles” (just for fun) games to highly organized rated tournament play.  Most of the games played during your regular club meetings will probably be skittles games between friends.  However, you should occasionally invite other member schools over just for skittles so that your players can enjoy some new competition. 


The level of club competition can be stepped up a notch by adding a ladder competition element to your club.  Just as you might expect, a ladder competition allows the stronger players to rise to the top and obtain some recognition, while giving the developing players incentive to improve.


Blitz games (5 minutes per side) are usually very popular with youngsters.  Of course, a chess clock is necessary to make sure such games are fair.  Unfortunately, blitz play sometimes allows players to develop bad habits, and shouldn’t be played exclusively, especially if the players hope to play in tournaments with more normal time controls.  For something a bit different, you might want to have an occasional “theme play” meeting.  In this meeting, only allow players to play without their Queens for example, or perhaps without their Rooks or Queens.  Another possibility is to have a problem-solving meeting, where several checkmate problems are given and the players compete to see who can solve the most problems in a given period of time.  Mate-in-one or mate-in-two problems can be found in many chess books. 


Tournament play is more formal.  It requires organization and someone to direct the tournament (pair, or match, the players in each round, resolve disputes fairly according to the Rules of Chess).  Generally, tournaments are either Swiss System or round-robin.  In Swiss System, the pairings are made according to players’ strength and results during the tournament. 


Swiss System tournaments can be either individual play, where each player’s results affect only his standing in the tournament, or team play, in which a team of (usually) four players competes, and the team’s standing is based on the results of all its members in their individual games.  Refer to the U.S. Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess for a more complete explanation of Swiss System tournament play. 


Round-Robin, all players in a section play each other.  A popular style of round-robin is the Quad, which is a tournament consisting of sections having four players in each section.  The sections are decided based on the players’ strength, usually indicated by a rating if the player has previously played in rated tournaments.




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