Virginia Scholastic Chess Association Newsletter

November 28, 2012

This newsletter is sent to families who participate in Virginia Scholastic Chess Association tournaments. The VSCA is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to promoting scholastic chess in central and southeastern Virginia. Please email to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address.

Hopkins Scholastic at Hopewell Tournament (Grades K-12)

Registration is now open for the Hopkins Scholastic at Hopewell tournament, to be held Saturday, December 8, 2012 at Hopewell High School in Hopewell. Advance registration is online only, and closes at 7:00 AM Thursday MORNING, December 6.

This tournament is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Players are divided into 4 sections based on their grade in school: Trophies will be awarded to the the top 5 individuals and to the top 3 school teams in each section. Current membership in the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) is required for all players.

A VSCA membership meeting will be held at this event (see the notice below). Lunch, snacks and drinks will be sold at the tournament.

This tournament is named in memory of VSCA founder and longtime president Peter Hopkins. The first USCF-rated scholastic tournament in the Richmond area was held at Hopewell in 1993, and at least one scholastic tournament has been held there every year since then. The December 8 tournament will be the 33rd scholastic tournament at Hopewell High School.

Please visit the VSCA website at for more tournament information and to register online.

VSCA Membership Meeting

A Virginia Scholastic Chess Association membership meeting will be held during the Hopkins Scholastic at Hopewell tournament on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 10:00 am. The primary purpose of the meeting is to elect new board members and to discuss the tournament schedule for the 2012-2013 school year. The parents of all players who have participated in one or more VSCA events during the past 12-month period, including the December 8 Hopewell event, are VSCA members and are eligible to vote in the election. For more information, visit the VSCA website at

Upcoming VSCA Events

The Old Donation Center Groundhog Scholastic tournament will be held February 2, 2013 at Old Donation Center, a Virginia Beach elementary school. This tournament is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and also adult players, and includes both rated and non-rated sections. The K-5 Not-rated and K-12 Not-rated (grades 6-12) sections are strictly for fun, and are designed primarily for beginning tournament players. Games in these sections are NOT RATED by the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) and players do NOT need to be USCF members. The K-5 Open and K-12 Open (grades 6-12) sections are USCF-rated sections. All players in these sections must be current USCF members. The Open Quads sections are USCF-rated sections open to advanced scholastic players (USCF rating 1000+) and adult players.

A VSCA tournament is being planned for January 2013, and will be announced on the web site and in a future newsletter.

A scholastic chess calendar of Virginia and national events for the 2012-2013 school year is available at

What If It Snows?

Snow and other winter weather is always a possibility at this time of year. We make every effort to hold our tournaments as scheduled, but occasionally we do have to cancel an event due to safety concerns and school regulations. If we have to cancel a tournament, we will post a notice on the VSCA website as soon as a decision is made, and we will also email a notice to everyone who has registered. If you have mailed a check in advance we will refund your payment. Please be sure your email address is correct when you register in case we need to contact you.

Holiday Chess Camp for Scholastic Tournament Players

A chess day camp for scholastic players will be held Thursday, December 27 through Saturday December 29, 2012 at Brookland United Methodist Church in Henrico County (near Richmond). The camp is organized and conducted by VSCA vice-president Kate Brown and VSCA secretary Mike Callaham. This camp is open to players who attended the August camp, and also to other players who intend to play in tournaments. Instruction will focus on openings and the middle game. For more information, please see the camp flyer at The camp is not organized or sponsored by the VSCA.

Scholastic Chess Movie

Brooklyn Castle is an inspirational documentary about the chess team from IS 318, a New York inner city junior high school. In 1999, chess coach Elizabeth Vicary arrived and began teaching after-school classes to ten students, none of whom had ever played in a chess tournament. That year the team won the national junior high school championship, and since then the school has won more national titles than any other junior high school in the country. The movie has received excellent reviews and won numerous awards.

Brooklyn Castle is showing at these theaters:

It's Your Move!

VSCA secretary and Class A player Mike Callaham has generously offered to analyze and comment on VSCA tournament games which players send him. If you have a game that you're proud of, or a game where you feel you could have played better, and would like Mr. Callaham to take a look at it, all you need to do is send him a copy of your complete and legible scoresheet (game notation). He will respond by email, and games which are especially interesting or instructive will be published on the VSCA website at Mr. Callaham has recently posted three games which he played against scholastic players (with surprising results) at the Charlottesville Open in July 2012: Scholastic Means Young – Not Weak!

Mr. Callaham currently coaches chess clubs at J. B. Fisher Elementary School and J. E. B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond. He would like to visit as many other school chess clubs as possible on behalf of the VSCA. Mr Callaham recently visited the chess club at Providence Classical School in Williamsburg. The Providence Chess Club sponsor writes "[Mr. Callaham] gave me many excellent ideas about how to organize the club so that we will actually learn to play better chess..." Parents and coaches, if you would like to have Mr. Callaham visit your school club for a free simul, chess clinic or lecture, please contact him at Be sure to provide contact information for the school chess sponsor/coach. This is a wonderful opportunity for your school to benefit from the help of an experienced chess player and teacher.

Echo Lake Tournament Results

50 scholastic players participated in the Echo Lake Scholastic tournament on November 17 at Echo Lake Elementary School in Henrico County. Players were divided into 3 sections: K-3, K-8 (grades 4-8) and K-12 (grades 9-12). The K-8 and K-12 sections were combined with separate awards. There was no team competition at this event.

Ronit Jain took first place in the K-3 section with a perfect score of 4.0 points. In the K-8 section, Ritvik Kumaran won the first-place trophy by tiebreaks over Ryan Balser. Ritvik and Ryan each had perfect 4.0 scores. Ben Schenck won first place in K-12 with a score of 3.0 points in 4 rounds. Congratulations to these players and to all of our tournament participants. Complete tournament results are available at

Tournament Registration and Entry Fees

Advance registration for VSCA tournaments is ONLINE ONLY at, and closes at 7:00 AM on the Thursday before the tournament. In order to accurately process entries, we cannot accept mail, phone or e-mail registrations. The scholastic advance registration entry fee of $7 may be paid by mail (preferred) or at the tournament. Players who do not register before the 7:00 AM Thursday deadline can register at the tournament between 8:00 and 8:45 am on Saturday, but they will need to pay the late entry fee of $14. Players who register later than 8:30 am on Saturday may or may not be paired for the first round, depending on the number of late registrations.

The entry fee for Open Quads sections is $20 for both advance registrations and on-site registrations.

Please note that the above information applies only to Virginia Scholastic Chess Association tournaments, and does NOT apply to the Virginia Scholastic and Collegiate Championships or other Virginia Chess Federation events.

Tournament Check-in

In order to help us complete registration and start our tournaments on time, please check in at the registration desk by 8:45 am, even if you have mailed in your payment. This will minimize the number of names that we have to call in order to check attendance, and will also allow our volunteers to close registration and balance the books earlier. Players arriving after 8:45 am (8:30 am if you have not registered in advance) will risk not being paired for the first round.

If you have registered online, but later find that you will not be able to attend, please email as soon as possible so that we can withdraw your name. If you have to change your plans at the last minute and will be absent or late, please email or let someone else know so they can tell us at registration.

USCF Membership

Current membership in the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) is REQUIRED in order to play in VSCA tournaments, except for sections specifically designated as non-rated. In order to avoid delays on Saturday, please join or renew directly with USCF at Please do not mail a paper application form or check to USCF, since this may cause delays in processing your membership. If you are unable to join or renew online, please plan to fill out a membership application at the tournament. You can check membership status at The U.S. Chess Federation maintains a national database of ratings (relative playing strengths) for adult and scholastic players. In order to update the ratings following each tournament, all players in the tournament must be current USCF members.

Please visit our website at for the latest news and information.