"Thank you!!" Registering & paying in advance saves your time and that of the organizers!
If you're not a member yet, or if your membership will expire before the tournament, please visit the USCF website to join or renew online (credit or debit card). If you are not sure when your membership expires, you can check the USCF Member Services Area. Please update player memberships at least several days before the tournament, so that we will have time to verify that your membership is current.
If you are unable to join or renew online, membership applications will be available at the tournament registration desk. You will need to allow extra time at check-in, and pay the membership dues in addition to your entry fee.
If you have not registered for the tournament in advance, you will need to bring your current USCF membership card, or USCF magazine label, or a printout of your membership card from the online USCF Member Services Area so that we can verify your membership at the registration desk.
Advance ON-LINE Registration ($5-10 LESS than the regular entrance fee, depending on the event) is available for 3-4 weeks before many of our tournaments, usually until 10:00pm the day before the first round of the event. To register, fill out the information on the on-line Advance Registration Form (found on the registration page).
Advance POSTAL registration (also $5-10 LESS than the regular entrance fee, depending on the event) is available 2-3 weeks before many of our tournaments BUT the envelope must be post-marked NO LATER than a week before the first day of the event. Postal registration must include: a check covering the entrance fee (and USCF dues, as needed) as well as the player's name, USCF ID, Rating, e-mail address and any "byes" requested. For Scholastic players, we also need a parent's name.
For larger, two-day tournaments, players can check online for an Advance Registration List to see who is registered for the tournament, and to verify that registration information is correct and your USCF membership is deemed current.
Regular Registration is available at the tournament usually for an hour up to 15 minutes before the first round of the tournament. Players that try to register later than 30 minutes before the first round of a tournament MAY be forced to take a "bye" in the first round because ACC will not delay the start of any tournament for late registrants.
Regular registration fees are available at the tournament site the day of the tournament. There is ALWAYS a discount for early registration. ACC club members always get a discount for ACC events. Payment can be made using cash or check only; ACC does not take credit cards. On-line registration uses the very secure "PayPal" on-line payment service. Any checks must be payable to "Adam Chrisney" and mailed to: "Adam Chrisney, P.O. Box 151122, Alexandria, VA 22315."
About PayPal: On-line registration payments are collected through the very secure "PayPal" online payment site which has been widely used for years by on-line merchants. Your first registration will help you create an account through PayPal's simple and efficient process. This account is useable in all future ACC/ODC events. When you fill out the registration forms below, you will be prompted for your PayPal account information or to open a new PayPal Account. It takes just a couple of minutes to set up new accounts if you have your payment information (credit or bank) ready before you start.
Finally, there will be no refunds for no-shows because no-shows leave their first round opponents without a game to play in the first round - a VERY frustrating situation for players who did show up on time ready and eager to compete.
It is always a good idea for ALL players to double check wall charts, or with the TD at the Registration desk, when they first arrive to ensure they are registered for the event.
Also, please allow sufficient travel time to ensure that you arrive in time to register and check-in before registration ends. If you use Google Maps or MapQuest to generate your driving directions please realize that these directions are not always accurate. Allow an extra 15 minutes time for local events to ensure a timely arrival or you might arrive to find that your opponent has been allowed to start the clock in your absence. You can also save time by PRE-registering online or mailing in your entry fee in advance.
Some times registration will be restricted to some sub-group of players, such as a tournament that only allows players from that state ("Virginia Closed") or a tournament that is based on age ("Scholastic" for kids and "Senior Open" for those over age 50).
Tournaments with shorter time controls (the amount of time each player has to play the game) usually include certain designations in their title such as "Blitz" (a total of 5 minutes given to each player), "Action" (30 minutes) and "Action-Plus" (45 minutes). A "Swiss" (also "SS") tournament means players can expect to alternate between playing opponents above their rating and then below their rating until later rounds of the tournament. A "Quad" (also "RR") tournament is a round robin tournament where players are sub-divided into groups of 4 with relatively the same rating strength and they play each other once. Often, time controls include small additional time increments called "delay" provided on each move to allow for reaction time and the recording of moves. For "delay," a few seconds of time (usually 3-5 seconds each move) is provided on each move. For "increment," a set amount of time (usually 30 seconds) is added to the players' total on each move in order to avoid a frantic, clock smashing scrambles at the end of games.
Warning: If a tournament has an odd number of players, every round the LOWEST rated/unrated player with the LOWEST score for that tournament (win/loss record) will get a "forced bye" (no opponent). It only happens once to a player in any tournament but it can be a surprising disappointment for players and parents to be forced to sit out during a round while everyone else is playing. Also, before a tournament starts, players can elect take a "bye" where they get a half point for that round (like getting a draw). Note that if a player requests the bye they get a half point score for that round but if they are forced to take a bye they get a full point for that round. Either type of bye affects only the player's score for the tournament (win/loss record) - there is no effect on the player's rating.
FOR REGULAR TOURNAMENTS: These tournaments are open to any player that wants to register. They will mostly be comprised of adults but often you will see kids playing as well, particularly in the lower-rated sections.
Generally, a player may enter any section desired except that stronger players are prevented from entering sections below their rating level. However, a player wants opponents either at or just below his own rating/playing strength or within 250 rating points above his strength to optimize his/her competition. Generally, playing opponents above or below that range does nothing to improve a player's competitiveness (i.e.: they are not learning much from such competition).
Tournaments nearly always include an "Open" section. If it is the only section, then all players enter that section. If there are multiple sections then it usually contains the very highest rated players, typically players with ratings over 1800 or over 2000. Many tournaments also have multiple sections usually divided at ratings levels where the Tournament Director expects there to be natural breaks or groupings in player's ratings. Typically there are 2-3 sections in most tournaments where over 80 players are expected.
Typical sections include OPEN, U2000 ("U" = "under" - only players with ratings under 2000 can play in this section), U1800, U1600 or U1300. Typically, sections are divided by choosing a "Class" as the dividing point. Classes are 200-point dividing sections for the player ratings. "Grandmasters" are rated 2400 and above, "Masters" are rated 2399-2200, "Experts" 2199-2000, "A Players" 1999-1800, "B" 1799-1600, "C" 1599-1400, and so on.
FOR SCHOLASTIC TOURNAMENTS: These tournaments are meant for children-ONLY. Such tournaments allow children to get acclimated to tournament playing conditions (how rounds and pairing sheets work, using clocks, taking notation, learning how to lose AND win graciously, etc.) before being subjected to adult playing conditions and adult opponents. They are usually organized into different sections to allow players to play against others of approximately the same age. Most tournaments include 3 sections: K–3 (Kindergarten through 3rd Grade), K–6 (4th through 6th grade) and K–12 (7th through 12th grade). Players will be placed in the lowest section in which they are eligible to play unless they request to “play up” to a higher section. For example, kindergarteners will be placed in the K–3 section, 4th graders in the K–5 section, etc.
To play in official "rated" games (to establish and build a players rating strength), players must first purchase a USCF membership. The USCF is the United States Chess Federation. This is the official, not-for-profit, membership organization for chess players of all ages and levels from beginners to grandmasters! Among other things, the USCF oversees and updates all official US chess rules and regulations, maintains the official rating system for all tournaments and requires that all participants in these tournaments maintain a current USCF membership so that it can continue to provide various services to all chess clubs, tournaments and players across the nation.
Yearly USCF membership provides players a USCF ID number which they can use to track their progress on the USCF website (look for "Players/Ratings" and then "Player/Rating Look-up" on the USCF website). USCF provides a wide variety of statistical information enabling players to track their progress and that of their friends, competitors and favorite players. ACC is an affiliate of the USCF, and all ACC tournaments are USCF rated events. Learn more about the USCF on their website.
Many non-profit, state chess associations and local chess clubs also require memberships/dues of players in their events. These are also yearly fees which help cover overhead costs for these clubs and allow players to compete in state and club events, usually for a discount (for instance, ACC usually provides at least a $5 discount to members on all tournaments and events held by the club).
USCF: Players may join the USCF through the USCF website. Membership information may be found by clicking on the link marked “Join or Renew” at the top of the USCF home page. Players can call the USCF (1-800-903-8723) from 8:00am–5:00pm, (Eastern Time) Monday–Friday and charge their membership; most major credit cards are accepted. Players may also join at most tournaments and clubs, but be sure join or renew at least several days before a tournament so that Tournament Directors will have time to verify membership information.
ACC: Players may join the ACC at club meetings on any Friday evening or at any ACC tournament. Please arrive by 7:30pm to allow time for registration before events start. ACC opens at 7:00pm on Fridays and events usually start at or just after 8:00pm. ACC takes cash or checks at the club - NO Credit cards.
USCF and club memberships are in addition to entry fees for tournaments. Many tournaments allow players to play for anywhere from $3-5 per game, large tournaments average $10-12 per game, and national tournaments can be $20 per game or higher (but they also provide many huge, guaranteed cash prizes). The USCF offers a range of membership levels. Prices for 1-year memberships range from $17-46 with lower memberships for seniors and children. Most young players chose to join as “Scholastic” member (ages 12 & under), “Youth” members (ages 15 & under) or as “Young Adult” members (ages 24 & under). Please refer to the USCF website for current information on membership dues.
ACC memberships are for 1-year and cost $50 for adults and $40 for seniors and kids. This translates to less than $1 per Ladder game if members play every Friday. In addition, members get discounts (usually $5) on ACC events.
If a player has a USCF membership but has not attended a tournament recently, their membership may have expired unnoticed. Players may check the status of their membership by checking the USCF website. The membership expiration date will be listed next to the name on their ratings page. Once players have registered for a tournament they may (not always) be able to check a List of Registered Players to see who has registered for the event.
The easiest method for paying is on-line through secure payment systems such as "PayPal," though not all affiliates, clubs or tournaments provide this option. See the USCF website or club/tournament websites for an on-line option. One either pays through a credit card or the online payment system has a very secure connection the player's banking institution to allow a quick, simple and very secure payment transfer. This option is usually administratively easier for clubs and Tournament Directors and they usually provide a discount for on-line and pre-registrations for tournaments (but not memberships).
Most tournaments also allow players/members to pre-pay by check via postal mail, but cut-off such options about a week before the event to circumvent administrative problems. Many clubs and affiliates, including ACC, DO NOT provide a postal option for memberships to avoid such administrative problems, preferring in person payment by cash or check so that members can be sure they play the first night they show up.
All tournaments allow players to register the day of the event for slightly increased registration fees. Payment is usually limited to cash or check.
This varies based on the size of the tournament. Generally, smaller tournaments or club events have discounted pre-registration periods 2-3 week before the event. Larger tournaments may allow pre-registration for 2-3 months or more before the tournament. Then regular registration is open the first day of the tournament for about an hour or two before the first round. Most regular registration periods close 15 minutes before the first round (usually giving late registrants a "bye" for the first round). Some larger multi-day tournaments allow players to "re-enter" on the second day if they lost their first or earlier rounds (re-entered players usually pay ANOTHER entry fee usually at about 66-75% the regular entry fee rate).
The USCF compiles a list of state affiliates (which organize within a given state) and most of the chess clubs within each state that are USCF affiliates. The USCF also runs regional tournament "Clearinghouses" which are used by state and local Tournament Directors to post, advertise and coordinate their events across a region. The VA/DC/MD Clearinghouse can be found at: go here.
In addition, the state affiliates (like the Virginia Chess Federation, VCF) run state-wide tournaments and advertise a list of those larger tournaments. Smaller tournaments are run by local clubs and local Tournament Directors and each usually has a webpage on which they advertise their events. Some utilize public media options such as "Meet-Up.com," "Facebook" and others to advertise their events. The smaller tournaments may not be advertised on the regional clearinghouse.
Addresses and general driving directions for each tournament location can usually be found on a club website. Tournaments usually just list an address but sometimes provide other information such as directions, hotel information and details regarding local eateries. See the ACC "Contact" webpage for addresses and directions to the club. Players can also consult an online mapping service such as MapQuest or Google Maps for door to door driving directions.
Tournament registration desks usually open an hour before the first round of the day. All players should plan to be onsite to check their registration and players at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the round. Arriving late to find out there is a problem MAY leave the player with no one to play in that round. If players plan to "walk-in" and pay onsite the day of the event, they should arrive as early as possible because lines can be long and most Tournament Directors will not delay the start of a round for late registrants. Tournament Director's cannot guarantee that late players have an opponent (versus a "bye"). Absent players will have their clocks started at the beginning of each round. Players that are very late can expect a grace period of an hour afterwhich Tournament Directors will most likely forfeit the player for that round. Also, if players are BOTH paying onsite AND also need to fill out USCF membership forms, they should arrive “extra early”. If players have mailed their fees by the deadline of Monday before the tournament, then they should expect to arrive a little early allowing time to check their registration was received and they are registered. If players are a new or renewing USCF member and need forms, they should pick those up at the registration desk when they arrive. Finally, please consider paying entry fees early by registering for a tournament and paying membership dues on-line or by postal mail, where possible, as this saves administrative headaches for the Tournament Directors. Thanks!