Operated by the Columbia Chess Club, the Tunnelvision tournament series is South Carolina's only regular monthly chess tournament, drawing participants from throughout South Carolina and neighboring states. Here are answers to some frequent questions and what to expect before, during, and after the tournament.
The Tunnelvision series is a rated tournament of the United States Chess Federation -- the official governing body of chess in the United States. All participants must have an active USCF membership to participate in a USCF-rated event. Memberships are typically good for one year, but can be purchased for longer durations, and discounts are available for children and families. Purchase your membership here: https://new.uschess.org/join-us-chess.
Being a USCF member means that the USCF will track your personal rating and will send you monthly issues of Chess Life or Chess Life Kids depending on your age. You can review ratings information for any USCF member using the USCF Player Search: https://new.uschess.org/player-search. Here's the rating history of James Brandmair, for example: https://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlMain.php?14903162
With your USCF ID handy you are now ready to sign up to the Tunnelvision tournament of your choice. If this is your first tournament, you would be considered "Unrated" and should register in the corresponding section. You're already viewing this website, so you don't have far to go, just click the tournament of your choice in the menu.
Note that directors have the discretion to allow you to play in a higher section if you feel that is appropriate based on an established online rating at a site such as chess.com or lichess.org. When registering, simply include a link to your online profile in the notes section so that we can confirm that a higher section is appropriate. (See an example of how your online rating might translate to USCF).
Questions you might have before your first tournament:
We've got you covered. The Columbia Chess Club provides all of its own equipment for the Tunnelvision tournaments, including chess sets, clocks, notation sheets, and pens. Some players do bring their own equipment for casual play or analyzing games outside the tournament hall between rounds, but it is not necessary.
That is up to you, but there is no requirement to arrive early. When the first round is scheduled to start, you will be paired and your clock will start whether or not you are present, so even running a few minutes late is not a catastrophe. For those who prefer to arrive early, tournament directors are generally on site two hours before the start of the first round and can answer any questions you might have.
The schedule includes a 45 minute break for lunch between the first two rounds, and there are ample food options very close to the tournament hall. If your game finishes early, you'll have more time. If it finishes later, you might have less, though this is not typically the case.
During registration you can request a bye for any round you are unable to attend. A bye counts as a half-point toward standings. You can miss as many rounds as you wish, but additional rounds missed beyond the first bye will be counted as zero points. Byes do not affect your rating. Your rating is only affected when a game is actually played.
The Columbia Chess Club has regular members who are under 10 years of age and are very successful at chess--some starting as early as four years old. If your child understands the rules and is able to play quietly, they fit right in to a tournament setting regardless of their strength or experience. Chess is a great developmental tool for kids, and we are very supportive of the next generation of chess players and excited about youth participation.
To quote Charlotte, one of our 8-year-old members: "The people at Tunnelvision are very nice and welcoming, so do not be worried. You might get to know some of those people."
When it's time for the first round, pairings will be posted online and in multiple locations: first on a television in the lobby area (as shown in the photo) and second on paper pairings in the tournament hall. The white player will be listed first and the black player second, and the pairings will specify your board number.
Now that you know your board number from reading the pairings, grab a scoresheet and pen provided in the tournament hall and go to sit at your board at the color you have been assigned. The boards are conveniently marked with board numbers (as shown in the photo). Greet your opponent and wait for an announcement to start your clocks. Ordinarily your clock has already been set by a tournament director, but if it does not show the correct starting time, a tournament director can assist you.
When the announcement is given, you will shake hands with your opponent and start your clock. Each time a move is made, the players must hit the clock and write their move down on a notation sheet (exceptions for notation can be made under certain circumstances, including being too young to annotate).
A tournament game differs from a casual game you might play with friends or family insofar as: a clock is used, notation is required, and the "touch move" rule is followed.
A win will earn you one "point" in the tournament. A loss will earn you zero points. A draw will mean that each player gets 1/2 of a point. The winners of the tournament will be decided based on who has accumulated the most points. Points are also used to pair players from round to round, and you should typically be matched against someone with the same score (i.e. if you are undefeated, you would likely face someone undefeated, or if you are winless, you will likely face someone who is also winless).
When you are done with your game, you and your opponent should record the result on the paper pairings that are up in the pairing hall. You write a "1" next to the player who won, a "0" next to the player who lost, and in the event of a draw, you write a "1/2" or "0.5" next to both players, as shown in the photo example. You are done with your first round and are free until the next scheduled round. If you lost, you are not eliminated, and you should play all the rounds! In fact, it is typical that the winner of a tournament will not have a perfect score, so hang in there and enjoy the ride.
Rinse and Repeat until the tournament is over!
Questions you might have during your first tournament:
If you've ever read your moves off of popular chess websites such as chess.com or lichess.org, you are probably already familiar with chess notation even if you haven't notated a game yourself. Essentially you just write a letter such as K, Q, B, N, R (representing each type of piece) and the square it's moving to, e.g. "Nf3" would indicate the Knight is moving to the f3 square. The boards used at our tournaments have the coordinates on them. For a detailed explanation, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6PR885Rgb8
Yep. Having a record of your own game is not only required under the USCF rules, it's also helpful to keep a record so you can review your games and find improvements in your play afterward. However, beginners, particularly children can be excused from notating if they are unable. Just see a tournament director if you have any questions.
If either you OR your opponent has less than five minutes on your clock, you are excused from notating. But if you do not feel you are in danger from losing on time, you would be well served to continue notating. Tournament directors require a scoresheet in order to address certain claims, such as a three-fold repetition, and may not be able to award a draw if your scoresheet is incomplete.
If you feel like your opponent is refusing to follow the rules, you should pause the clock and raise your hand for a tournament director. We'll get things back on track.
Yes. We ask that spectators keep a comfortable distance from the players and not communicate in any way with the players. Also, we broadcast the positions of the top boards to screens in the lobby and to the internet, so we've tried to make it as easy on spectators as possible.
During our tournaments, we publish live results, pairings, and standings to the internet. Just click on the "Live" link in the site menu.
Tunnelvision guarantees that $1000 in prizes are awarded every tournament. If you finished with a score that is good enough to place, we will write you a check on the spot. If you have to leave before prizes have been determined, we can also send you a check afterward. Just let a tournament director know if you have to leave.
The Columbia Chess Club prides itself on submitting its tournaments to the USCF quickly, and ordinarily ratings will be updated the night of the tournament. Simply search your name in the USCF database the evening after the tournament concludes -- if this is your first tournament, congratulations on your new rating! Tunnelvision will also send out a tournament recap email with photos from the event and a link to the ratings report. You can now count yourself among the esteemed field of tournament chess players!
Questions you might have after your first tournament:
Consider a scenario where two players tie with perfect "4.0" scores. With a two-way tie for first, the prize money for first and second is combined and split between the two players. Third place prize money would be awarded to the player (or players tied) with the next highest score.
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