Inspirational chess movies are a great way to motivate your students for big upcoming chess events like the Triangle, NC, and National Championships!
Your young chess enthusiast may enjoy watching one of these inspiring chess movies about children that are all based on true stories: Searching for Bobby Fischer, Knights of the South Bronx, Brooklyn Castle, and Queen of Katwe. The first three movies also show state and national championship tournaments which would help prepare your child for the NC Championship. I have included links to the Wikipedia descriptions of each of the movies. Reviews and trailers are available online, so you can decide which might be best for your child.
A fun fact about Searching for Bobby Fischer is that Josh Waitzkin, the child prodigy in the movie, played Mike Klein (who many children know as FunMasterMike on ChessKid) in the tournament featured at the end of the movie.
The inspiring film, Her Move Next, shows how New York’s PS 33 Chelsea Prep elementary school empowers girls through competitive chess. It is a free, short film (about 18 minutes long). I highly recommend it!
Queen to Play, a French movie (with English subtitles), would also be good for older children (especially girls) or adults who would like a foreign language film.
Magnus, a Norwegian documentary (in Norwegian and English), chronicles Magnus Carlsen’s childhood as he becomes a grandmaster at 13 and world champion at 22.
Recommended by a chess club family, The Chess Players, an Indian movie in Hindi and Urdu (with English subtitles), would be good for older children or adults interested in Indian history.
We are excited to help sponsor the 2023 NC K-12 Championship! As of February 4, 570 students are registered including 71 first-time tournament players.
We will provide ChessKid Gold subscriptions to the top 5 winners and the top 3 females in all five elementary school sections (K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, and K-5) – a total of 40 Gold subscriptions. We are also providing scholarships so more students can participate and have reserved a team room where schools we support can relax between rounds.
Our Aditya Nicholas Dias Memorial Fund is helping to fund the stipends for the K-12, K-8, and K-5 Champions to travel to the 2023 Denker, Barber, and Rockefeller National Tournaments in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Aditya Nicholas Dias (September 8, 2004 to December 16, 2022) was an avid and very talented chess player who started playing chess at the young age of 5 years. He participated in many local, state, and national tournaments, winning several of them. Aditya also enjoyed teaching friends and classmates how to play chess. To honor his passion for chess, his family has established this memorial fund to support scholastic chess in North Carolina.
If your child or your chess club is playing in their first tournament, especially if it is a large one like the Triangle Championship or the NC K-12 Championship, then you may have some questions. Here are answers to the ones I have heard asked most frequently:
What should my child do the night and morning before the tournament?
Children should eat a good dinner and get a very good night’s sleep. Avoid scary movies, arguments, and negative conversations the night and morning before the competition. Please postpone sleepovers until after the event. Being well-rested will help children play with more concentration and focus. They will also have more energy in the later rounds. Solving puzzles on ChessKid or reviewing chess topics they have already learned is okay but trying to learn new material in the hours before a tournament is generally not helpful.
What should we bring to the tournament?
Have your child wear their school or clubt-shirt, because it will be fun for them and will make it easier for you to see them.
notation book, pencils (if your child knows how to take notation)
chess clock (if you have one, write your name on it and bring a spare battery. Set it for the tournament time control ahead of time)
sweater or sweatshirt (in case it gets cold in the tournament room)
portable chair (if your child is in K-1, you may want to sit outside of the K-1 tournament room)
any medication your child may need
chess set, book, game, or tablet and charger (in case your child finishes a round earlier, write your name on the chess board and bag)
phone or camera (share photos afterwards with your club, PTA, etc.)
When and where should we arrive?
Try to arrive early so you have time to meet with your team and help your child find their board for the first round. If you are registering onsite, try to arrive even earlier. If you have registered and paid in advance, then large tournaments typically do not require you to sign-in while small ones might (please check this in advance).
Confirm in advance if your team will meet in a team room or the “skittles room.”
The NC K-12 Championship usually allows teams to rent team rooms. For the February 10-12, 2023 event in the Raleigh Convention Center, the Indermaur Chess Foundation has reserved rooms 302a and 302bfor the schools we support.
Other events like the Triangle Championship have a “skittles room” or waiting area. For the January 15, 2023 event, this will be rooms 301a and 301b in the Raleigh Convention Center.
Who from our school is registered? Can another parent watch my child if I cannot stay the whole time?
How will I know who my child will play and where they should sit?
The tournament director will post new “pairings” on a physical bulletin board before each round. Many events now also post these online. The pairings are typically in alphabetical order by last name. Find your child’s name, what color they will be playing, and on what board they will be playing. Tips: take a photo of your child’s pairing and, once they are seated, make sure your child is seated across from the correct opponent, as the other child might be at the wrong board.
How are pairings generated?
Large chess tournaments use “Swiss System” pairing. Players are initially ranked and grouped by their ratings. Swiss pairings split each group into two halves and pair the top of the first half with the top of the second half. For example, if, after two rounds, there are 16 players with 2.0 scores, #1 will play #9, #2 will play #10, etc. If there are 4 players with 1.5 scores, #1 will play #3, and #2 will play #4. This process repeats to cover all groups of players. This Wikipedia article that explains this in more detail including exceptions and special situations like accelerated pairing.
Why does my child have to play such a highly rated player?
The pairings for the first round or two in big tournaments typically have the largest disparity in ratings. After that the games are much more evenly matched. Most children will get to play some opponents who are rated higher than they are. They may also play some who are rated lower or are un-rated. Please encourage your child to focus on their game – not their opponent’s rating. If they play someone un-rated or with a low rating, the opponent could be a strong player who is new to tournament play. They should not let their guard down but instead focus on playing their best. When children play higher-rated opponents, they should stay focused, play thoughtfully, and look for any mistakes their opponent may make (as their opponent may let their guard down).
How many rounds will my child play? Could they get eliminated?
Every child gets to play every round. No one is eliminated. That is one of the advantages of Swiss System pairing.
What should I do if my child needs to miss a game?
Please request a bye for the round that your child will miss. You can do this via the tournament website. If you request this in advance, your child will receive 0.5 points for that round. It also prevents another student from being paired with your child that round and sitting at the board waiting for your child.
How are tournaments scored?
Players earn 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. In big tournaments, your child will need to walk with their opponent to a scorer’s table and report their score together. Your child’s tournament score is the total of the points they earned from each of their games. Team scores are usually the total of the top 4 individual scores.
How are ties broken?
Ties are broken using formulas based on your opponents’ success in the tournament. For example, if you are tied with someone for first place and your opponents did better than theirs in the tournament, then you would receive the first place trophy. There is also a good Wikipedia article describing these tie break calculations.
How many trophies and medals are awarded?
Large tournaments like the Triangle and NC Championships typically present over 100 awards for all ability levels. Students will be able to win individual and team awards.
Review your games and those of potential opponents. Ask yourself questions like, “Why did I do this? What was their plan?” and try to answer them. Try to remember what you were thinking during the game. You can also replay your ChessKid games by clicking “Play,” selecting “Game History,” clicking on the result for a specific game, and then clicking on the magnifying glass icon to step through that game.
First and foremost, students play with their friends, which is really fun!
Competing as a group relieves pressure that some students may feel, because if they lose some – or even all – of their games, they can still encourage their teammates and contribute to their team’s success.
They can wear school t-shirts, sit together, and enjoy snacks as a group between rounds to help build school spirit!
Team events are usually generous with team trophies, so schools have a good chance of winning something, especially if they have multiple teams.
Team events are a great way for coaches and organizers to promote their chess club! They can announce the team’s success at school and in the PTA newsletter, display their team trophies at school, and submit photos of the event to the yearbook.
Parents and teachers can also network with their peers from other schools and get ideas for improving their programs.
Now that I have convinced you to enter your club in a team event, here are some great ChessKid articles to help you prepare your students and their parents:
Before your name, you will see your pairing number for the event. In this example, Fabiano Caruana has pairing number 1, and Wesley So has pairing number 2.
Under your name you will find your US Chess member ID, the type of rating (R=regular, Q=quick, B=blitz, OR=online regular, OQ=online quick, OB=online blitz), and your rating before the event followed by your rating after the event. In our example, Caruana’s regular rating changed from 2871 to 2861.
The next column will show the total number of points that you earned in the event. You will get 1.0 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. In our example, Caruana, So, and Sevian tied for first with 6.5 points.
If you do well in a tournament, you may earn a norm. If you do, then the information below the “Total Pts” score shows the highest norm you earned in this event. For more information on norms, see The USCF Title System.
The columns after the “Total Pts” column will list your result for each round in the tournament (W=win, D=draw, L=loss, X=forfeit win, F=forfeit loss, U=unpaired), the pairing number of your opponent, and whether you played the W=white or B=black pieces. In our example, in round 4 Caruana got a draw with So while playing Black.
For more information about US Chess ratings and rating reports, please see:
Twenty-six NC players, including many students, competed in the 121st US Open during the summer of 2021 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Everyone in this event played in a single section, so they had a good chance of playing a FIDE Master, an International Master, or even a Grandmaster. If one of your students does get to play in an event like this, please ask their parents to take photos to share with your club.
Getting to play in an event like this or a national scholastic championship would clearly be an exciting experience for any student, but, even if they cannot attend one of these events in person, you can still use them to teach and motivate your students.
Once you or your child have joined US Chess, you will want to set up your account to get the most out of your membership. Then you can get emailed as soon as your child’s rating is updated and score major “chess parent points” after every tournament!
On your first visit, you will need to set up a new login and password.
US Chess does not require you to have a unique email address on file to become a member and get an ID number, but to use their new membership system you will need to have a unique email address associated with your membership.
Parents registering multiple children will need to use a unique email address for each child.
If you are certain your email address is attached to your ID number, click the “Reset Your Password” button, and enter the email address associated with your member record on the form that appears. You will receive an automated email with a one-time link that will allow you to set up a new login and password. Once your new login is confirmed, you may return to the above screen and log in.
If you know your email address is NOT attached to your ID number, or you are not sure whether it is, click the “create a new website login” link, and complete the form you see there. The form will attach the email address you specify, and set up your new login. You will receive an automated email with a one-time link for setting up a new password. Please note, this form is intended for members who do not have an email address already associated with their ID number.
US Chess strongly recommends choosing a login that is NOT your email address. Users do not have the ability to change their logins, and if your email address changes, you will avoid confusion if you follow this recommendation.
When you successfully log in to the new system, you will see your user dashboard.
Update your US Chess profile
From your dashboard, click on “Manage My Profile” to add or update your address. At a minimum, enter your “State/Province,” as that will help Tournament Directors find your information (especially if you have a common name). It will also qualify you to play in special events like your state championship.
To get notified by email when your rating or your child’s rating is updated, select “Ratings” under “Communication Settings“. Then you will get an email (at the email address in your child’s profile) as soon as their tournament has been rated. The email will have their old and new ratings and a link to the tournament rating report. You will often receive this email several minutes before the new ratings are posted on the uschess.org website, so you could score extra “chess parent points”!
In the “Tournament Announcements (TLAs)” section, you can sign up to be notified of upcoming tournaments in your area.
If you would like to play online rated games on US Chess’ online partner sites like ChessKid.com, Chess.com, or lichess.org, then you can link your US Chess Member ID with your user account on those sites in the “Online Chess Partners” section.
Accessing US Chess publications
Once you have set up your child’s account, they can access Chess Life Kids magazine by logging in to uschess.org and going to: https://new.uschess.org/chess-life-kids-magazine-issues. This link is also on the bottom of the US Chess home page. Then they can read issues online in the digital viewer or download them as PDF files.
Holidays and breaks from school are a great time to hold scholastic tournaments since so many students are available. 34 students and 3 parents had fun playing in our Game Changer tournament today at the Triangle Chess Center while Wake, Durham, and Orange County schools were out.
You can give even more students a chance to play by holding a tournament at school on the afternoon of an early release day or on a teacher workday. For example, we had 122 students play in a tournament on an early release day before winter break in 2017. These events are convenient for parents, too.
It’s no secret that chess moms deserve a medal; after all, they lend steady support to their kid’s chess-playing efforts in many ways, not the least of which is by logging weekend hours perched on uncomfortable chairs in hotel lobbies, school cafeterias, or chess centers while their future grandmasters hone their skills over the board. But on October 9th, 18 chess moms flipped the switch and played for trophies when they chose to showcase their own (mostly newly acquired) chess skills at the first ever “Chess Moms Play Chess, Too” tournament held at Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh, NC and organized by my husband, Mark, and me. Read more about our event in this article I wrote for US Chess: Chess Moms Play Chess, Too
Does your child want to play more chess during winter break?
Register them for our Friday, January 3rd tournament! They will get more practice before the Triangle and NC Championships, and you will also help NC schools start chess clubs since the proceeds from this event will help support our Game Changer Program. You can play, too, since it is a “parents play free” event. We have added a quick-rated only section for higher rated players, so they can participate without affecting their regular USCF rating.
Interested in starting a chess club at your child’s school?
Please attend our free workshop which will be at noon immediately following the tournament. Experienced chess club organizers will answer your questions. We will also explain our Game Changer Program.