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MCA Poly & Western February Scholastic 2016
Saturday 20 February 2016, 09:30am - 05:00pm
Hits : 4810

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute & Western High School
1400 W. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, MD 21209

Recent History of the Tournament, Site, and/or Date

Open to all K - 12 players from anywhere.

Players in the Varsity section who are Maryland residents can earn MD-Sweet-16 Varsity Points to qualify for the MD Sweet 16, an annual invitational tournament at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The top 16 players who compete in at least 1 of MCA’s 9 scheduled MD-Sweet-16 qualifying tournaments from September - February, will qualify for the MD Sweet 16 on 2016.03.05-06. The MD-Sweet-16 Champion will receive a 4-year MD-Sweet-16 UMBC Chess Scholarship, valued at $44,024. (Additionally, there are 2 types of UMBC Chess Scholarships for which high-school seniors from any state are eligible.) The MD-Sweet-16 tournament-announcement page contains all tournament details.

Round 1: 9:30 AM.  Subsequent rounds: as soon as possible.


US Chess Rating



Time Control





K - 12


G/90 +30


Top Under 1800


Junior Varsity

1200 - 1599

K - 12


G/30 +30

Top Under 1400



800 - 1199

or strong unrated HSers

K - 12


G/60 d5

Top Under 1000


Intermediate HS & MS

under 800 or unrated

6 - 12


G/45 d5

Top Under 600


Intermediate ES

under 800 or unrated

K - 5


G/45 d5

Top Under 600


Novice ES

under 400 or unrated

K - 5


G/30 d5

Top Under 200




  Top ≈ 25% of players, or players with ≈ 70% of available points (3.5+/5, 2.8+/4, or 1.4+/2)

Top Under X

  Top player with a published rating under X who does not earn a place trophy (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)

  (Unrated players are ineligible for class prizes.)


  Top ≈ 35% of teams, or teams with ≈ 50% of available points (10+/20, 8+/16, or 4+/8—top 4 players)



 X = # of rounds in which a player plays 1 game against an opponent determined by Swiss-system pairings


 X = # of minutes per game each player has to complete all of the player's moves (a player's initial base time)


 X = # of seconds of delay that elapse before a player's base time begins to elapse when a player is on move


 X = # of seconds of increment added to a player's base time for each move


Which Section is Right for Your Player?

      • Sections are listed primarily in order of rating strength & secondarily in order of grade range.
      • Players who have never competed in a US-Chess-rated tournament (the vast majority of unrated players) are not eligible for the strongest sections.
      • A player's eligibility by rating for a section is determined primarily by the player's official/published US Chess rating during the month in which a tournament will be held. A player's official rating remains the same number throughout a month, because US Chess calculates a player's official rating only once per month. That is, a player's official rating does not change during a month, because a player's official rating throughout a month is what the player’s unofficial/unpublished rating was on the 3rd Wednesday of the previous month. Conversely, a player's unofficial rating can change an unlimited number of times per month, because US Chess calculates a player's unofficial rating a few hours after the conclusion of every US-Chess-rated tournament in which a player competes. When registering a player for a tournament in month X, apply the player's official rating in month X. When registering a player for a tournament in month X+1, apply the player's unofficial rating on the 3rd Wednesday of month X. Look up a player's official & unofficial US Chess ratings here.
      • Sections have a marginally flexible floor (at MCA scholastic tournaments), but an inflexible/hard ceiling (at all US-Chess-rated tournaments). So, if the player's official rating is ≤ 50 points below a section's floor, and/or if the player's unofficial rating either is ≤ 50 points below or is above a section's floor, then a player may play up in that higher section—unless the Tournament Organizer and/or Chief Tournament Director decide it's not in the tournament's best interests. However, if a player's unofficial rating is below a section's ceiling, but the player's official rating is above that section's ceiling, then the player may NOT play down in that section.
      • If a player is registered for a section for which the player is ineligible by rating, then MCA (without notification) will move the player to the lowest section for which the player is eligible.
      • If a player is registered for a section for which the player is ineligible by grade, then MCA will take 1 of 2 steps. If MCA thinks a player has been registered intentionally so as to play up or down in a grade-inappropriate section (in the hope of either stronger or weaker competition), then (without notification) MCA will move the player to a grade-appropriate section. (MCA might also impose punitive measures.) Conversely, if MCA thinks a player has been registered accidentally with a discrepancy that, given the player's designated grade, renders the player ineligible for the player's selected section, then (without notification) MCA will pair the player in a section according to whichever is higher: the designated grade or the selected section. For example, a player designated as a 3rd grader but registered in a HS-&-MS or 9th-grade section, will remain in the HS-&-MS or 9th-grade section; conversely, a player designated as a 9th grader but registered in an ES or 3rd-grade section, will be moved to a HS-&-MS or 9th-grade section. Why? Because MCA considers it wiser to err on the side of accidentally letting a player in a low grade play against players in a higher grade or grades, than of accidentally letting a player in a high grade play against players in a lower grade or grades. To prevent your player from being paired in an incorrect section (by grade) because of a registration error, please review both the registration-confirmation email MCA sent you & the Wallcharts below. Send corrections to MCA at

For more information about MCA tournaments, contact MCA at

This tournament is supported generously by the Baltimore Kids Chess League.

Registered Players & Wallcharts

Tournament Registration Fee

      • Registration will open 1 month before the tournament. Click on Register Now! at the bottom of this page.
      • $15—if completed by 11:59 PM, Tuesday, 2016.02.16 (Early)
      • $25—if completed by 7 PM, Thursday, 2016.02.18 (Regular)
      • $40—if completed by 5 AM, Saturday, 2016.02.20 (Last-Minute; ½-point bye possible in Round 1)
      • $50—8 - 9 AM, Saturday, 2016.02.20 (At-the-Door: if space is available; ½-point bye likely in Round 1)

US Chess Membership

      • A player must have a current US Chess membership to compete in a US-Chess-rated tournament.
      • During a tournament a player without a current US Chess membership is ineligible to play, will not be paired in any round, & will receive a 0-point bye in all rounds, until the player purchases a new US Chess membership or renews an expired one, by filling out MCA's US-Chess-membership form in the Tournament Directors' room. A 0-point bye reduces a player's ability to win an individual trophy and a school's ability to win a team trophy.
      • A US Chess membership can be purchased with registration for the tournament. For Registration Type select the 2nd option: Tournament Registration & US Chess Membership (new or renewal).

Which Players Are Required to Record Their Games?

      • Players in grades 4 - 12 must record (notate) their games, unless they are unable to. K - 3 players in all sections are exempt from the recording requirement.
      • Recording affords several benefits:
            • it helps to resolve disputes;
            • it discourages cheating;
            • it enables players to improve their skills through post-game analysis.

Do Players Need to Bring Anything?

      • Players do NOT need to bring any equipment. MCA will provide all necessary supplies: boards, pieces, scoresheets (for recording), and pencils. (MCA’s pencils might be dull and do not have erasers. If you want a sharp pencil with a good eraser, then bring your own.)
      • Players do NOT need to bring a clock; however, we encourage them to bring one. A game may be started without a clock, if neither player brings a clock to the board. Clocks can be purchased at the tournament.
      • Food (pizza, candy, soda, etc.) can be purchased at the tournament.

How to Register Online for an MCA Scholastic Tournament

Which US Chess Rating Determines the Section(s) in which a Player May or Must Play?

MCA’s Scholastic Team Policy

MCA’s Scholastic Bye Policy

MCA's Refund Policy & Fees for Registration Changes

Tournament Announcements before Round 1 & Section Schedules

Procedures, Rules, and Etiquette for Players and Spectators at an MCA Scholastic Tournament

Increment Time Control

Even when More Than 1 Player in a Section Can Achieve a Perfect Score, There Will Be No Major Variations; However, There Might Be Minor Variations. The following might be changed for any section, according to the number of players in the section: whether there are natural pairings (the norm at a Swiss-system tournament) or accelerated pairings in Rounds 1-2, and the number of trophies. In the rare instance of a section having an exceptionally low turnout, it might be merged with another section.

Tournament Results

How MCA Determines the Individual Winner of a Section when There’s a Tie for First Place

How to Find a Player’s New Unpublished/Unofficial US Chess Rating after an MCA Scholastic Tournament

MCA's Social-Media Profiles

If MCA's Photographer takes photos of players at the board & in the Skittles Room, then they will be available for purchase at the MCA Photographer's website.

For more information about the tournament, contact the Maryland Chess Association at

Location Poly & Western HSs