Volume 2, Issue 2 


Edited by Bob Ferguson, Member of USCF Scholastic Council

If you prefer, you may read this news online at www.chess.isgenius.com.  The direct link for the Scholastic Chess Update is http://www.geocities.com/chess_camp/update.html.  The American Chess School funds this eNewsletter.  Please visit our sponsor’s website at www.amchess.org and read the details for the 2002 Castle Chess Camps.

In this issue:

1) Bringing The Stronger Players Back To Scholastic Chess

2) Registration pages on www.chess.isgenius.com now active!

3) Thank you for trying the Coaches’ Certification Test

4) FREE Chess Research Summary

Greetings to All Chess Folks,

Welcome to the fifth issue (Volume 2, Number 2) of the Scholastic Chess Update.  One of the Scholastic Council’s goals is to improve communication among members of the scholastic community.  This e-Newsletter is the second step towards reaching this goal.  Our first step was the creation of a Scholastic Chess Website to communicate what the Scholastic Council is and what goals are being pursued.  For details, please visit www.chess.isgenius.com.

If you are NOT interested in scholastic chess, please click the reply button and type “remove” in the subject line.  If you know others who would like to receive this information, please forward the URL for the website to them.  If you are receiving multiple copies, please let us know so we can correct our error.

Bringing The Stronger Players Back To Scholastic Chess

by Bob Lakata [[email protected]]

   Since becoming involved in scholastic chess about six years ago, through a local scholastic chess club which my children have joined, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in local scholastic chess tournaments. As soon as a scholastic player's rating started to get a little on the high side, the scholastic player with this high rating stopped coming to local scholastic chess tournaments.  I inquired about this when I first noticed it six years ago, and I was told that it was because the high rated players were afraid of losing their high rating.

   At the time I first heard this, I thought it was a little silly to attach such a high importance to a chess rating. I thought it was because of the relative young ages of the players. But as I continued to be involved in chess, I began to notice that adults playing tournament chess put just as much emphasis on chess ratings, if not more, as the scholastic players.

   Six years ago I was a relative beginner to scholastic and tournament chess and I didn't feel that I knew enough to make any suggestions or comments. But now that I have been involved in scholastic chess for six years and now that I myself have begun to participate regularly in tournaments, I think I have enough experience and knowledge to comment on this "phenomenon". 

   I think that it would be better for scholastic chess to try to bring the strong players back to the local scholastic tournaments. And it would be good for the strong players for them to once again include local scholastic tournaments among the tournaments that they go to for the following reasons: 

   To attract strong scholastic players back to local scholastic tournaments, I would suggest some changes to scholastic ratings. Strong scholastic players avoid local scholastic tournaments for fear of losing their ratings. I believe that this is a justifiable fear. Adults have Rating Floors below which their ratings cannot fall. I would suggest implementing Rating Floors for Scholastic Players as well. 

   However, in addition to Ratings Floors, I would suggest the USCF re-consider their Ratings Algorithm as applied to scholastics. The USCF considers their Ratings Algorithm extremely accurate when in fact it is not accurate when it comes to scholastics.

   In particular, it seems to me that the probabilities that the USCF assigns to certain rated players defeating other rated players is not accurate when it comes to scholastics. For example, the probability of say a 1400 player defeating a 1000 player is on the order of about "0.9" (zero point nine). However, I attend about a dozen scholastic tournaments a year and I find that "low" rated players defeat "high" rated players at a much higher rate than the USCF probabilities would indicate should happen. I see numerous "upsets" at every scholastic tournament I attend. Of course, I almost never see a 1000 player defeat 1400 players. But that's not because of the accuracy of the USCF ratings. It is because there are almost never 1400 players at local scholastic tournaments. 

   I don't know if the USCF probabilities are educated guesses or not. But my experience tells me that they are not empirically accurate from what I have observed. So I would suggest either actually observe the rate at which lower rated players defeat higher rated players at scholastic tournaments or do away with probabilities in the Algorithm for scholastic ratings.

   Any mathematician knows that expected values are only meaningful when standard deviations are published along side of them. A car dealership offering Chevy Luminas and Mercedes Benz's would have an average car price of about 25,000 when in fact the buyer would never pay anywhere near this price for a Chevy Lumina or a Mercedes Benz. The USCF assigned probabilities may be accurate for adults who have been playing for twenty or thirty years. But for scholastics, a 1000 player may become a 1400 player in less than a year. This implies that there is a very high standard deviation for scholastic players.

Registration pages on www.chess.isgenius.com now active!

Thanks to George John our registration pages are now working properly.  Please suggest to your scholastic colleagues that they visit the following links to be added to our mailing lists.



Thank you for trying the Coaches’ Certification Test

 More than 30 coaches from across the USA have tried our Club Level Coach Certification test and/or our Basic Skills Chess test.  We have received a few ideas to improve the test, which we plan to implement in the near future.  Thanks for helping to improve the program and keep those ideas coming.

FREE Chess Research Summary is available at www.amchess.org/research.  Educators around the world acknowledge that chess is a powerful tool for developing higher order thinking skills, creativity, numerical and verbal aptitudes, and memory.  Now, you can have the documentation to support your belief in the positive value of chess.

How do you contact your scholastic representatives?







[email protected]




[email protected] 




[email protected]




[email protected]




[email protected] 




[email protected]




[email protected]


* Tom and Steve are ex-officio members. 

A message from our sponsor:

Details for the 2002 Castle Chess Camps are available at www.amchess.org. The Bradford Castle Chess Camp will be held July 21-28 and the Atlanta Castle Chess Camp is scheduled for June 9-16.  Both camps feature current U.S. Champion Joel Benjamin.

Registration info is at http://www.amchess.org/camp/registration.html. The full camp fee for residents at the Bradford camp is $739, but the early bird price is only $599.  Fees increase $20 per month after the early bird deadline. For more info, please visit the www.amchess.org website and click on Joel’s photo or the "Castle Chess Camp" button.

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