MACA 2023 State Scholastic Championships
Spiegel Cup Tournaments

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Rules Governing the Conduct of the Spiegel Cup / Massachusetts State Scholastic Championship Tournament and Championship Qualification Events

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

This document comprises the rules that govern conduct of the Spiegel Cup / Massachusetts State Scholastic Championships and qualification events for the school year 2022 - 2023. These rules were developed by the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA), Scholastic Committee. Players playing in any qualification event, or in the state championships, are assumed to be familiar with these rules. Ignorance of the rules has no merit for exemption of violations. In addition, US Chess Federation (USCF) sanctions all chess played during the State Championships and Qualification Events, and thus USCF chess rules are in effect. We strongly recommend that parents understand these rules. Please see Part IX on who to contact in case of any questions or comments.

  1. Definitions of Terms
    1. State Championships: An individual-play chess tournament sanctioned and organized by the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA). Games are rated and played according to USCF rules. The winners of this event are recognized by MACA as "State Champions" for school year 2022 - 2023.
    2. Qualification Event: Any of four individual-play chess tournaments sanctioned and organized by MACA for the purpose of qualifying players for the state championship event. Games are rated and played according to USCF rules. The High School championship is a specially organized tournament (see below), so there are no High School sections in the Qualification Events.
    3. Eligible Player: A player who meets the eligibility requirements described in Part II of this document.
    4. MACA Board of Directors (“The Board”): The body of officials that form the core of MACA's decision-making authority.
    5. MACA Scholastic Committee: The Scholastic Committee is a group of MACA Board of Directors members, led by the Scholastic Committee Chair, who administers MACA's scholastic chess programs, which include the state championship tournament and all qualification events.
    6. Tournament Director (“TD”): A TD will preside over each of the Qualification Events and State Championship. The TD will be a US Chess certified Director and be the final decision maker for all rules related to the tournament.
  2. Player Eligibility
    1. Definition: Eligibility is determined by residence, age, and rating. A player must be a legal resident of Massachusetts or attenting school in Massachusetts on the date of the State Championship. The age of a player cannot exceed 19 years on or before the State Championships (e.g. a player cannot be 20 years old or older). The rating of the player must exceed the minimum set for the respective section of Qualification Events or Gus Gosselin Grade Championship if applicable. Some players will directly qualify for State Championship based on their rating. See additional information on that below and examples in Part IX of this document for illustrations of eligibility.
    2. Resolving Matters of Eligibility: The MACA Scholastics Committee Chair is responsible for resolving questions of eligibility and bringing the decision to the MACA Board of Directors for approval. When any player's eligibility is in question during a qualification tournament, the issue shall not be adjudicated at the tournament site. Instead, MACA shall resolve the situation after the tournament and take appropriate corrective action.
  3. Tournament Format
    1. Formula: The State Championship Series for school year 2022 - 2023 shall consist of 5 events -- 4 Qualification Tournaments and the State Championships. All of these events will be scheduled by the Scholastics Committee. Details about the times, places, and locations of these tournaments can be found on the MACA's Scholastic State Championship Page.
    2. Qualification Tournaments: Qualification events shall have 4 rounds of Swiss System play. A Qualification Tournament’s Chief Tournament Director has the authority to employ the Round Robin System when there are 5 or fewer players in a section (which means a player could play the same person 2 or more times). "Half point Byes" cannot be requested by or given to any player for any rounds of qualification events. To qualify for the State Championship tournament, a player must finish in 1st place in one of the four Qualification Events. In the event of more than one player tying for first place, the winner is determined through a playoff (see Tie Break Rules below). All Qualification Events are open to all eligible players. Further, the "ages as of 31 December 2022 rule applies to all Four Qualifiers. For example, if the player is 8 but will turn 9 on or before December 31st, 2022 then he/she must play in the 11&U or higher section for all qualifiers. The dates of the Qualification Tournaments are listed in both Future Events and Scholastic State Championship Page.
    3. State Championships: The State Championships will have 4 rounds of Swiss System play, unless a tie break is required (see Tie Break Rules below). "Half point Byes" cannot be requested by or given to any player for any rounds of the State Championship tournament. Section winners are declared State Champions. The State Championship dates are TBD. Section 8 & Under will play only the first day, while the other sections will play on both days.
    4. Parent and/or Coach Involvement: Except for special circumstances (e.g. to assist a disabled player, to help player who suddenly becomes ill), a parent, guardian or coach will not be allowed in the tournament room where play is being conducted. Should a disabled player require assistance, the Tournament Director will select someone considered by both players and the TD to be "neutral" to both players' interests. In addition, the right to "claim an issue" regarding a game that is scheduled, in-progress, or already completed rests entirely with the two players. Parents have no right to make claims regarding any games. Parents or coaches wishing to photograph their children/students may do so immediately prior to the start of a round, or by requesting permission of the Tournament Director to take photographs during the round.
  4. Tournament Sections
    1. Four Classes of Players: There are four classes for the State Championship: Age 8 & Under (8U), Age 11 & Under (11U), Age 14 & Under (14U), and a High School (HS) Championship section. The three age related classes will have Qualification Tournaments to determine who will play in the State Championship. The High School Championship will be an invitational tournament (see below). For the age specific classes, lower rated sections (e.g., Reserve Under 400) may be organized in Qualification Tournaments, but players can only qualify for the state championships by playing in the “open/top” section for their age class. Any lower rated section in a Qualification Tournament will not be eligible for the State Tournament. At the State Tournament, the winner of each of the 4 classes is recognized by MACA as "State Champion" in his/her class.
    2. Combining Sections in Qualification Tournaments: The Chief Tournament Director will make every effort not to combine sections during a qualification event. If there are 5 or fewer players in a section, then a Round Robin System may be employed. If there is only 1 player in a section, then that section will be cancelled and the qualification berth shall be filled by that player.
  5. Time Controls, Round Start Times, Clocks, and Recording of Games
    1. Time Controls at Qualification Events: G/45; d5 shall be used for all rounds in 8U. G/60; d5 shall be used for all rounds in 11U, 14U and HS. Time delay digital clocks are strongly preferred. An analog clock may be used when no digital clock is available. See USCF rules for more details about clocks.
    2. Time Controls at the State Championships: G/60; d10 shall be used for all rounds in 8U. G/90; d10 is used for all rounds in 11U, 14U, and HS.
    3. Start Times: Tournament rounds may be started based on either a pre-announced “fixed start time” (e.g. Rounds at 10 am, 12:30 pm, 3 pm, etc.), or the TD may start later rounds for all sections on an “as soon as possible” basis. If fixed times are announced (in either a TLA, an official flyer, or verbally by the Tournament Director), players shall abide by the schedule.
    4. Breaks: The TD shall grant players a minimum of 10 minutes between rounds and will grant players a “suitable" period of time for lunch at the TD’s discretion.
    5. Starting Early: A pair of players who mutually agrees to begin their game earlier than the announced start time for a round (other than Round 1) may begin early after and only after they secure approval directly from the tournament director. Starting early does not allow additional time to be added to a player's clock. Starting early may expose players to noise and commotion from other players preparing to start the round at the prescribed time.
    6. Chess Clocks: MACA recommends that all players use a clock. A digital clock will be used if either player has one available (regardless of who is playing black), and the digital clock will be set according to the Time controls defined in Section V. In the event a digital clock is not available, an analog clock may be used. Analog clocks will not have “time added” to compensate for the lack of a time-delay feature. In the event neither player has a clock, play may begin without using a clock. The Tournament Director shall "place a clock" on the last game in progress or on any game the TD believes is proceeding at an uncharacteristically slow pace. During the State Championships, all games will be conducted using a digital clock.
    7. Recording of Games: The qualification and championship tournaments will observe the rules set forth in Section 15 of the USCF Official Rules of Chess (6th Ed). There are two modifications that Tournament Directors will observe at qualification and state tournaments:
      1. 8U Section: Players in section 8U will not be required to record their games, but will be penalized 5 minutes on their clock [10 minutes in the state championship]. Further, by not recording games, players restrict their ability to make certain types of claims (for example, a claim of "3-fold repetition of position").
      2. Other sections: Players in remaining sections who cannot keep score will be penalized 10 minutes on their clock.
    8. Tie Breaks: See Section VII below.
  6. Qualification Methods, Notification, Acceptance, Disqualification, and Replacement Players
    1. Qualification Methods: Eligible players in section 8U, 11U, and 14U “qualify” for the state championships in one of two ways—by winning their class in any of a Qualification Tournament or by being "seeded" into the tournament based on their USCF rating. Eligible players in HS class qualify in one of two ways—by placing 1, 2, or 3 in Gus Gosselin Grade Championship, or by being seeded into the tournament based on their USCF rating.
      1. Qualification Based on Tournament Performance:
        • a) Sections 8U, 11U, 14U: a player who finishes in first place in his/her class of a Qualification Tournament has “qualified” for the State Tournament. This process will feed 4 players (1 from each Qualification Tournament) into the appropriate class of the State Tournament.
        • b) High School Section: players who finish first, second, or third in the High School Section of the Gus Gosselin Grade Championship qualify for the State Tournament. This will feed 3 players from the same tournament into the High School class of the State Tournament.
      2. Automatic Qualification Based on State Ranking:
        • a) In all sections except High School, eligible players qualify automatically for the State Championships if they are ranked in the top six of their age-class of Massachusetts as given by the official USCF May, 2023 rating list rating list. If a player has previously qualified for the State Championship by winning a Qualification Event, the player will be omitted from the age-class ranking selection process. Therefore, qualifying players shall be seeded first, followed by the remainder of players by rating. A field of ten will be selected for the State Championship for each age-class. Players whose USCF rating is listed as "provisional" in the May, 2023 rating list rating list will not be considered for automatic qualification.
        • b) In the High School class, the top seven players qualify by USCF rating.
      3. Summary:
        • a) The procedures listed immediately above will produce a total of 10 players in all sections of the State Tournament. Note that the order determining finalists is:
          1. 4 winners of qualifiers
          2. Top 6 by rating (4 players determined above are excluded from the rating list for the purposes of determining finalists)
        • b) In High School the order determining finalists is:
          1. 3 players from the Gus Gosselin Grade School Championships, and
          2. Top 7 players by rating.
    2. Notification of Qualified Players: MACA's Scholastic Committee will notify players of their "automatic eligibility status". (See also Part VI-E below, "Inviting Replacement Players.")
    3. Player Acceptance of Qualification Status: All players who qualify for the State Championship Tournament, whether by automatic qualification or by winning a qualification tournament/Gus Gosselin Grade Championship, must notify MACA's Scholastic Committee that they "Commit to Play" in the State Championships.
      1. To "Commit to Play" in the State Tournament means two things. First, it means that a player (and his or her parents/guardians) has decided that the he/she intends to participate in the state tournament. Second, and most important, "commit to play" also means that the player (or parents/guardians) has notified MACA of the his/her intent to participate.
      2. 2. Players (or their parents/guardians) must notify a member of the MACA Scholastics Committee by phone, email, or in person. The Chair of the Scholastics Committee can be reached at email. Persons emailing should clearly state and spell the name of the player(s) committing to play and provide a return email address and phone number so the Scholastics Committee can confirm a player’s commitment or call if there are any questions.
      3. 3. If a qualified player does not "commit to play" by the deadline time and date, then he/she shall be disqualified from playing in the State Tournament, and MACA will pass the qualification berth to another player using procedures outlined elsewhere in this document.
    4. Disqualifications:
      1. Disqualification from a qualification event or the state tournament can occur for many reasons. Examples of reasons for disqualification include, but are not limited to, voluntary and involuntary reasons such as: a player becomes ineligible to participate due to a change in his/her eligibility status, a player withdraws him/herself from a tournament, a qualified player fails to "commit to play" in the state tournament by the deadline time, or a player is disqualified from a tournament for cheating. Regardless of the circumstances, MACA will view "disqualification" as an extreme event and will make a reasonable effort to avoid this situation. Further, the MACA Board of Directors reserves the right to dispose of the matter in the best interest of MACA and its general membership.
      2. Disqualification from a Qualification Tournament does not necessarily mean disqualification from remaining qualification events. MACA will treat these incidents on a case-by-case basis and provide the child, parent, or guardian with an answer upon request.
      3. A tournament site is not the time and place to resolve most matters of player eligibility. The result of any tournament held under conditions in which the eligibility of a player was at issue requires special consideration by the MACA Board of Directors. The Board reserves the right to review such cases on a strict “case-by-case” basis using the information extant (known and unknown) at the time of the eligibility incident. In a case where The Board decides that pertinent information was sufficient to have declared the player as ineligible, then a player’s qualification status and/or championship title could be taken away by The Board and passed to another player.
    5. Inviting Replacement Players: MACA anticipates the possibility to invite one or more "replacement players." It is MACA's intent to make every effort to invite a replacement player and fill-out each section in the draw for the State Tournament to a total of 10 players. MACA's Scholastic Committee, which is responsible for filling vacancies in the State Championship, will identify the names of potential replacement players using the following process:
      1. The Committee will rank-order the player pool by USCF rating in May, 2023 rating list rating list. The Committee will extend State Tournament invitations to as many replacement players as necessary to fill all vacant championship berths--rounding-out all 3 invitational sections of the draw to 10 total players. Replacement players will be notified immediately by The Committee and required to "commit to play" by an agreed upon timeline.
      2. In summary, this process will result in the next highest-ranking players in each section being invited to fill vacancies in the appropriate sections of the State Tournament.
  7. Awards, Qualification Berths, Titles, and Tiebreaks
    1. Championship Awards: Players who finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each section will be given an appropriate award (trophy, plaque, or similar award). Because only one person can qualify for the State Championship in the case of a Qualification Tournament, or for the respective National Championship in the case of the State Championship (where applicable), the nomination will be adjudicated in Tiebreak Playoffs as described in MACA Tiebreak Format and Rules.
    2. Titles: At the State Championship Tournament, MACA will bestow the title of "State Champion" to all players in first place based on their performance after 4 rounds of play. A tiebreak will not be used to award a title. All players tied for 1st place in the state championships will be recognized by MACA as “State Co-champions”.
    3. Qualifications for Nationals: In the case of a tie in the High School section, there will be a Playoff to determine who plays in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions. In the case of a tie in the Age 14 & Under section, there will be a Playoff to determine who plays in the Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. Players who are not eligible for the Barber tournament (for example, because they are in 9th grade) may not participate in the playoff. All tiebreaks will be held according to MACA Tiebreak Format and Rules.
  8. Appeals Process
    1. Appeals to any aspect of this document will be addressed to the MACA Scholastic Committee. The responsibility of The Committee is to gather the facts related to an appeal, develop recommendations, and to transmit the appeal and recommendations to the MACA Board of Directors. The Board will consider appeal based on the merits of each individual appeal, on a case-by-case basis. All decisions made by the board are final.
  9. Illustrative Examples
    1. The following examples are intended to address common situations.  Any person with a question should contact the Scholastics Committee Chair.
      1. Example:  Sam Smith is a student at Jones Junior High School.  He qualifies for the state championship tournament in accordance with the rules set forth in this document, but quits school before the State Championships to pursue a job.  Then, Sam is no longer eligible to participate in the state championship tournament.  Why Sam has dropped out of school does not matter, the fact the he is no longer enrolled does matter.  As set forth in this document, Sam must be enrolled in a Massachusetts public, private, or home school in order to participate in the State Championship tournament.  If a case like this occurs, the MACA Board of Directors reserves the right to identify and invite a replacement player using the methods set forth in Part VI of this document.
      2. Example:  Sally Jones qualifies for the state championships, but is subsequently expelled from school for the remainder of the school year.  Why Sally has been expelled from school does not matter, the fact that she is no longer enrolled is the issue.  Sally is no longer eligible to compete in the State Championship tournament because she must be enrolled in a Massachusetts public, private, or home school in order to participate.  If a case like this occurs, the MACA Board of Directors reserves the right to identify and invite a replacement player using the methods set forth in Part VI of this document.
      3.  Example:  Mu'ad Dib qualifies for the state tournament, but then graduates from High School prior to the State Championships.  Mu'ad is no longer eligible to play in the state scholastic championships because he is no longer enrolled in a school--he has graduated.  However, if Mu'ad were still enrolled in high school and taking college courses as part of some type of “special study” program, then he would be eligible for the state championships (because he has not graduated from High School).
      4. Example:  Kathleen Johnson, a very high-ranking player, moves to Massachusetts (or becomes enrolled in a Massachusetts school) in February 2023.  Kathleen desires to play in the State Championships.  Unfortunately, because Kathleen was not enrolled in a Massachusetts school by January 3, 2023 she is not eligible to play in the State Championship tournament for school year 2022 - 2023.
      5. Example:  Jadzir Tobias plays in a qualification tournament and wins it, but is later determined to have been ineligible (due to some infringement of eligibility criteria).  In this case, MACA reserves the right to fully review the case based on its merits and further reserves the right to pass the qualification berth to another eligible player as outlined in Part VI-F.
      6. Example:  Ima Wiz qualified for the state championships in the 11U Section in the state.  A family emergency the week prior to the state championships caused Ima's parents to notify MACA that Ima would not be able to play in the state tournament.  Will Ima's vacancy be filled?  If so, how?  MACA will make every effort to fill Ima's vacancy by inviting a replacement player using the procedures specified in Part VI of this document.  In short the player invited to fill the slot will be the next highest-ranking player in the state.
      7. Example:  Sheez Young is a 1st Grader whose rating is given as "985/23" in the May, 2023 rating list.  This means Sheez's USCF Rating of "958" in the May, 2023 rating list is based on her over-the-board play in 23 rated games.  Her parents claim that her rating places her in the eligible players QUALIFY AUTOMATICALLY 4 rated players in her section for Massachusetts.  They want to know whether Sheez automatically qualifies for the State Tournament.  Sheez's parents believe they can "prove" their daughter has played several more rated games than are shown by the ; therefore, they argue, she no longer has a provisional rating.  Does Sheez qualify automatically for the Championships?  Under the rules in this document, Sheez is ineligible for the State Tournament under "automatic qualification" criteria because she still has a provisional rating according to the Rating Supplement.  The "fact" that she may have more rated games is irrelevant, as the decision is based entirely on games shown in the Rating Supplement.  Clearly, however, Sheez would qualify if she won any of the 4 Qualification Tournaments ... regardless of the number of rated games she has played.