What are the TCA rules for section placement?

Special Information Regarding Section Assignments for TCA tournaments:

Students play in sections based upon their current grade level at school. In TCA tournaments such as this one, Pre-K to 3rd grade students may play in either the Primary or Elementary sections. Elementary schools can have separate Primary and Elementary teams and compete for trophies in both sections, or they can keep all their students together in the Elementary sections. Primary section players’ scores will count toward team and individual standings only in that Primary section—they will not be included in Elementary section standings or the other Primary section standings. Most Pre-K-3rd grade players will play in Primary simply because they are more comfortable playing against opponents closer to their own age. All students, including Pre-K must attend the school in order to compete on the school team. Unrated players may choose any section which is grade-appropriate.

Texas Chess Association rules require that sixth graders who attend an elementary school must play in Elementary. Fifth and 6th graders who attend a middle school play in a Middle School section. Ninth graders who attend a Middle School also play in the Middle School sections. Homeschooled students play in Middle School in 6th grade and High School in 9th grade (base your grade level on age for homeschooled students).

For schools that include some other unusual grouping of grade levels, consult with the tournament director when or after you register to be sure you are in the required section.

How do I choose my section?

For experienced players, section choice is easy. If your rating is too high for any of the under sections, you must play Championship. However, you may not play outside of your grade level, according to TCA rules. (Homeschoolers should register according to the grade they would be placed in by age.)

If you are a new player with a lower rating, you might be able to choose between sections. As long as your grade level and rating fit within a section’s parameters, you may play in that section. When choosing your section, think about the following: Do you like a challenge? Are you hoping to win all of your games or are you playing for the experience? Do you want to be in a section with lots of your friends? There are often many choices. We are hoping to provide smaller sections, giving more participants a chance to succeed.

If you register for one section and find that your rating changes drastically between registration and tournament time, simply contact the registrar via email for a section switch. If your rating increases above your current section limit, the registrar will attempt to contact you, so you may choose between remaining available sections. Please make sure to provide a valid email address with your registration so we may contact you about your section choice if necessary.

Who is eligible to compete in the Region VI Championships?


The Region VI Championship Tournament is a Texas Chess Association (TCA) CLOSED event, meaning that only residents of TCA’s Region VI may participate. TCA Scholastic Regions are defined in the TCA Bylaws (page 25).

TCA’s Region VI (South Central) is comprised of the following Texas counties: Atascosa, Bandera, Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Burleson, Burnett, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal, De Witt, Edwards, Fayette, Frio, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kinney, Lavaca, Lee, Llano, Medina, Milam, Real, Travis, Uvalde, Washington, Williamson, and Wilson

Scholastic players must reside in or attend school in one of the counties mentioned above in order to compete as a Region VI resident and/or to win a Region VI award.

TCA Scholastic Region VI is highlighted

What is a Time Control? What does G/30 mean? What about G/15 + 5?

In any chess tournament, we have to have a way to limit how long each round will take. The time control is this limit. If your time control is G/30, that means that each chess player has 30 minutes to complete his or her portion of the game. The game could then last a full 60 minutes (30 minutes for each player). Our local scholastic in person events usually have a time control with a 5 second delay. That means, if a delay-capable clock is brought to the game by one of the players and used, each time a player takes a turn, the clock waits 5 seconds before subtracting any time from that player’s allotment. In a 60 move game, using 5 second delay could then mean that the game might take an additional 10 minutes to complete.

Online games are usually a bit quicker. A time control of G/15 +5 would mean a base of 15 minutes for each player’s portion of the game. However, each time a player completes a move, 5 seconds is added to his time. So each 12 moves gets the player an additional minute of time. It’s much harder to run out of time with a 5 second increment.

What are tie-breaks?

In any chess tournament, more than one player can end up with the same score. In the case of tournaments with money-prizes, the prize money is divided evenly between participants who have tied. Trophies cannot be divided. Therefore, we use various tie-break systems to determine places, though all players in that grouping can rightfully say they tied for x-place. Tie-break systems used locally include: Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, & CumOp.

Sonneborg-Berger is the primary tie-break used by ChessKid.com.

What are the benefits of playing with a team?

At in person events, teammates are not paired against one another, if possible. (Per TCA guidelines, players who train with a school chess club but do not attend that school cannot be considered team members in TCA sponsored events.) In most tournaments, teams are defined also by the section in which the team is participating, e.g. the same school could field two teams at the same tournament – one in a K-3 section and one in a K-6 section. The top 4 players in a section are used for determining a team’s total points, but all team members are considered ‘part of the team.’ At some tournaments the organizer might allow a school to break it’s players into multiple teams within the same section, but those different teams could possibly be paired against one another.


Online events are a bit different. Some systems allow for teams to be declared, and some do not. Please review the tournament description in question to see if teams will receive awards and whether teammates will be paired against one another.

Can I watch the chess games?

In general, during local in person scholastic events parents and coaches are required to stay out of the room where the children are playing while the games are in progress. At some events parents may escort a player into the playing hall, but should leave quietly when requested to do so. Keeping adults out of the playing hall helps the chess players to focus on their games and keeps parents from trying to ‘help’ out of enthusiasm – or despair.


Online events can be a bit different. Parents will be able to watch their child’s game on another computer/device in a different room.  They will need to create a Parent Account on ChessKid (which is free).  They should then go to www.chesskid.com/play/fastchess, click on the globe, enter in their child’s tournament usernaname in the search box, and click on the binoculars.

What is notation?

Chess notation is simply a form of shorthand for writing down the moves of a chess game. In order to improve in chess, it is important to be able to review games. This is a great way of accessing previously played games. In addition, completed notation is required to enforce many chess rules. Algebraic notation is standard in the US. There are many online resources available for learning notation.

At in person events ALL players are highly encouraged to take notation, and it is a requirement in most in person tournament sections when the time control is G/30 or longer. Bring two sharpened pencils and a notation book if possible. At many events, notation sheets will be provided. Pencils and pens are the responsibility of the chess player, and necessary for filling out results slips as well as notation sheets.

Online events do not require hand written notation, as the system records the moves for you. For online tournaments on ChessKid.com players can access their game history to analyze their previous games at www.chesskid.com/me/game-history.

What is a Swiss System?

A Swiss System is simply a chess tournament pairing system which allows players to play all rounds regardless of whether they are winning or losing. No one is ‘eliminated’ because of a loss. Instead, players will be paired based upon how well they are are doing in the tournament. Barring unusual circumstances, a player with x points, however obtained, would play another player with the same number of points.

What do we do about lunch?

In person events
Chess players will naturally get hungry during the day. Playing chess requires fuel to keep those brain cells firing! At each Rocks & Rooks in person tournament concessions are offered for sale. At a minimum pizza and drinks are served at lunchtime. Oftentimes the fare is much more varied, and sometimes breakfast is offered as well. You are, of course, welcome to bring a cooler for you family, or ‘pack a lunch’. However, concessions are offered in most cases by the host school’s chess club as a type of fund raiser. It’s for a good cause!