There’s a tangible buzz in the air all around Silicon Valley because the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys is on the horizon. Facebook walls and Twitter news feeds have begun to highlight the coming event and of course the hundreds of talented youngsters who will be competing. Even my five minute coffee breaks aren’t immune from the last minute concerns of the young chess parents entering their child in the SPFNO for the first time. It is for these parents that I dedicate this post in which I will share my answers to the most frequently asked questions about the 2015 Susan Polgar National Open for Girls and Boys. Check back often as this page may grow!
Q: Where and when will the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys take place?
A: The SPFNO will take place at the San Mateo Event Center on February 28 through March 1. The address is 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
Q: Can I sign my children up online?
A: Of Course! Just follow the instructions on our webpage
Q: Is my child ready for the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys?
A: Whether your child has just learned how to move the pieces or is a seasoned tournament pro, the 2015 SPFNO has you covered. In addition to the two day championship event, we also are offering a one day non-rated tournament for new chess players. Every child in attendance will also have access to free instruction from the excellent chess instructors from the Torres Chess and Music Academy. We guarantee that the 2015 Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys will be a quality learning experience for all who are in attendance.
Q: If my child loses his/her first game is he/she eliminated from the tournament.
A: Losing will not eliminate your child from the SPFNO. The tournament structure we will be using is commonly referred to as a Swiss Style. In a Swiss Style tournament all participants are allowed to play in every round and are paired based on their current score with another player with the same score.
Q: Does my child need to bring a chessboard from home?
A: No, all boards and chess sets will be provided by the tournament organizers. However, it is advised that your child bring his/her own chess clock if they own one.
Q: Are parents allowed to watch their child’s tournament games?
A: At the start of every round, parents will be permitted into the tournament hall to help their child find his/her proper seat but then will need to return to the designated waiting areas in order to ensure fair play.
Q: What is a USCF ID number and rating?
A: A United States Chess Federation identification number is required in order to play in the rated main event. All games played in this section will be submitted to the USCF for rating purposes. A USCF rating is a number that reflects the skill level of a player based on his/her past performance in rated chess play. If your child does not have a USCF Membership they may purchase one for $17 at the tournament or online at ChessAndMusic.com
Q: I see that there is also a Simul, Blitz Tournament and Puzzle Solving Competition. Can you briefly explain how these side events work?
A: Sure thing!
On February 27th, Susan Polgar will be facing 30 children simultaneously at the Bay Area Chess Center in Milpitas, California. 25 of the children have already reserved a spot in the simul and five more will be randomly chosen from any other children in attendance who are signed up for the SPFNO but didn’t get a reservation in the simul. Anyone is welcome to come and watch Susan Polgar play her games and meet her after she finishes.
Blitz is chess lingo for speed chess. The SPFNO’s Blitz Chess Tournament is scheduled for 5:45PM on Saturday, February 28th at the San Mateo Event Center. All participants will be placed in one section and play five games each with 5 minutes on each side of the chess clock. After all five rounds, trophies will be awarded to the top ten players with the highest total score.
Solving chess puzzles is an important part of every chess players studying routine. At the Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open for Girls and Boys solving chess puzzles is an event unto itself. Any child signed up for the puzzle solving competition will be given a limited amount of time to solve chess problems of varying difficulty levels. Trophies will be awarded to the top ten performers as well as the top under 1600 and top under 1000.
Q: What time should I arrive?
A: I advise chess players to arrive a half hour before the tournament starts and double check their name and section placement. Since round one starts at 9:00am on February 28, I recommend showing up to the tournament hall at 8:30am.
Q: Do I need to bring food?
A: You can but the Event Center also has a great restaurant with affordable priced kid friendly food.
Q: I need a hotel. Where can I stay?
A: The Sofitel San Francisco Bay is a modern luxury resort located next to the Event Center. Susan Polgar, the entire tournament staff and many of the participants will be staying at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay If you decide to stay at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay be sure to ask for our special chess rate for a price that’s almost too good to believe!
Q: When will it be done?
A: The award ceremony for the unrated sections starts at 6:45 on Saturday, February 28th and will be over around 7:30. For the rated section in the Main Event, the award ceremony also begins at 6:45 but on Sunday, March 1st. I imagine that all the awards will be distributed by 8:00pm.
Q: My child is not getting a trophy. Do I need to wait for the award ceremony?
A: I have ordered custom medals for all participants in the main event who do not qualify for a trophy. The medals have the State of California cut into them as well as the official SPFNO logo.
Q: Can my child participate in the Unrated Section if they already have a USCF rating.
A: No, any rated players who are accidentally signed up for the unrated section will be automatically moved into the appropriate Main Event category.
Q: The San Mateo Event Center is really large. Where will the tournament be exactly and where should I park.
A: the tournament will take place in the Fiesta Hall at the San Mateo Event Center. You should park in the East Parking Lot by gate 7. We are in the Fiesta Hall. See the diagram below
Q: Are there midday lunch breaks?
A: Of course, anytime that your child is not involved in a tournament game he/she may enjoy a snack or meal. I would recommend eating lunch around 11:30am.
Q: If we can’t attend both days can we just enter the simul or blitz and what requirements are there for participation?
A: I highly recommend treating the simul, blitz and puzzle solving competitions as added bonuses. However, any child who knows how to play chess may enter the side events regardless of if they are participating in the main event.
Q: What time does tournament play end each day… What restaurants can you recommend for dinner?
A: On both Saturday and Sunday the main tournament rounds will be concluded before 4:45 pm. If your child is playing in a side event, I recommend taking advantage of the restraint on site at the San Mateo Event Center. If not, there are numerous restaurants in the area.
Q: What activities are available on site or nearby for families to enjoy?
A: During the SPFNO, we will be providing free chess instruction, musical performances and demonstrations from the designer of Coach Jay’s Chess Academy. After the event, your family will have access to all the great entertainment the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer on any given weekend!
Q: Must parents remain on site while their children compete?
A: I always recommend that at least one parent stay on site to support their child. However, if your child has an adult (such as a chess coach or parent of a friend) who is willing to watch your child, you may make arrangements for them to do so. Please make sure your child knows who is supposed to be watching them and when you will return.
Q: What advice should I give my child before they play at the SPFNO?
A: Most important is to take their time. Next every time it is their turn they should analyze all checks, captures and threats. Also, if they have a question about the legality their opponents move they should pause their clock and raise their hand to signal a tournament director. Finally, once they agree to a result of a game it is over, regardless if it was truly checkmate or not. So again, remind your child to take their time.
Q: How do I know who my child is supposed to play?
A: Before each round we will post pairings that are alphabetical by name as well as pairings listed by tournament rank. In addition, we will post tournament standings for each section regularly during the event.
Q: Is this tournament played with the touch move rule?
A: Of course! The SPFNO is played following all of the rules of chess according to the United States Chess Federation rule book. If your child touches a piece that he/she does not intend to move he/she needs to announce, “adjust” immediately before placing his/her hand on the piece.
Q: In the description of the tournament, I saw “In all sections the top 3 teams win trophies.” Is the team the school used at the time of registration for USCF or can it also be a club where the kid is getting chess coaching from?
A: The team trophies are for the school chess teams. To play for a school chess team, a child must attend that school for his/her overall education.
Q: I registered my son for the 2015 Susan Polgar Foundation’s National Open Championship for Girls and Boys. I haven’t received a registration confirmation. How can I check to see that he is registered in the appropriate events and age categories?
Q: What’s the best way of getting updates during the tournament without slowing down the tournament directors?