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Scholastic Championship Changes

Published on: 2016-01-24


To: Minnesota Scholastic Chess Players and Coaches

From: The MSCA Board of Directors  

Re: Explanation for the changes that the MSCA Board made for this year's Scholastic Championship. March 19-20, St Catherine’s University.

January 24, 2016 

At its January meeting, the MSCA Board debated and implemented a few changes in format for the 2016 Scholastic Tournament. Some players and coaches have asked why these changes were made. Here is the Board’s explanation of the thinking behind these changes.  

Addition of a Seventh Round  

The Scholastic Tournament this year will feature an additional round on Saturday, bringing the total to seven. The Scholastic Tournament has a wide range of skill levels, and the first few rounds tend to have large rating disparities. The seventh round is thus one more opportunity for players of all levels to play a game against a similarly rated player. For players in the top score groups the additional round will help break ties. This is important for choosing the six players for the playoff detailed below. Players at the lower score groups will also have the benefit of playing an extra game against their peers. This would also create separation for schools vying for the state team title, potentially creating more head to head matches. We also hope the addition of the seventh round increases excitement in the team competition and increases camaraderie.  

The Board realizes there may be some extra considerations. One issue is that all five games on Saturday must be played at the quicker time control of G/60. There may be mixed opinions on this and some players may prefer the old format. A large proportion of the players in scholastic events end up using less time than their allotted time. Some teams may have logistical issues with the amount of games in a two-day window. The students may feel burned out, or teams might want to head back to a hotel early on Saturday night. There is the option for players to request half-point byes in advance for these circumstances. 

Round­Robin Denker/Barber Playoff

The Board also decided that a five round round-robin playoff will be held among the top six eligible finishers of both the K9 and K12 sections who are eligible to participate in the Barber and Denker Tournament of Champions. This change is the result of a few considerations. First, this is a fair method to pick the proper Minnesota representative for those events. Last year we had a four-way tie for first place which required a playoff. In 2014, there was a six-way tie for first place, which created another playoff with shorter time controls than last year’s playoff. Furthermore, both playoffs required a scenario where a date had to be created with short notice. This year, 2016, we will have an invitational tournament that is planned in advance with a slower time control (G/90 +30) for these high level match-ups, making it more prestigious. In this regard, it is a similar opportunity to the Closed Minnesota championship, the only difference being that it is reserved for juniors.

The event will take place at the Chess Castle on the weekend of April 23­24. (pending)

These changes will be in effect for the 2016 MSCA State Scholastic Tournament. We understand these new changes may have some positive and negative consequences, which were debated at length during the Board meeting. We will certainly take into account all feedback about these changes and we will reevaluate these decisions for future years. Thank you for your support.

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