|Scholastic chess involvement has been steadily growing in the U.S. in recent years, as is evidenced by the increasing membership numbers of school-aged children in the United States Chess Federation. The number of student participants in national scholastic chess tournaments has been steadily climbing, as is best evidenced by the huge growth of the major national championship, known as the National Scholastic Chess CHampionships. The events held in this tournament are traditionally a k-6 (elementary school) championship, k-8 (middle school) championship, k-9 (junior high) championship, and k-12 (high school) championship. Normally some of these events will be held in different locations at different times, to allow participation in multiple events. However, twice before (and in the upcoming 2005 school year) there has been a single event known as the "Supernationals," where all events are held in one place simultaneously. The previous two Supernational events have shown huge participation numbers, which has gone a long way toward increasing interest in chess in young people in the U.S., at the expense of creating an atmosphere of bedlam (at least as far as parents are concernced). The tournament scenes from the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, while an overexaggeration of the truth, does a fairly accurate job of capturing the intensity and even slight insanity of parents, family members, and coaches when it comes to such huge events. Of course, with the exception of the few students competing at the top level, most participants are there to make friends, learn new skills, and simply have a good time. With events held in various locations across the U.S., such events provide students with travel opportunities that are rarely afforded to so many students of such varied ages.|
As far as the competition and awards are concerned, there are both team and individual awards at each grade and skill level. This format encourages players of all levels to compete for trophies and awards against opponents of similar playing ability. Generally, the tournament consists of seven rounds (games) spread over 3 days, where players with the same score coming into that round are paired against each other. With one point for a win, half a point for a draw, and zero points for a loss, the players with the highest individual score after seven rounds are ranked for individual awards. In the team competition, the four highest scoring players from a particular school or club sum their scores for an overall team score. With so many scoring possibilities based on many individual outcomes, the team event usually causes the most discussion, planning and anticipation between coaches, players, and parents. Previous repeat winnes of the team events for the different age groups include the J.R. Masterman School, from Philadelphia, PA, Stuyvesant High School, from New York, NY, and The Shelby School, from Payson, AZ.