Going to your first chess tournament can be little daunting. We’ve all been there: not quite knowing where to go, what to do, and whether you should actually be doing something else with your day! If you’re in that position, then here is our account of what a junior chess event typically involves.


Do plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the first game is due to start. Many tournaments are held in small venues, often in Primary Schools, and on-site parking can be limited. Allow some time to find a space on the surrounding roads if you need to, and time to make your way to the venue.

You do not need to ‘book-in’ or register on arrival at the event. It is probably a good idea to use any time you have before the first game to familiarise yourselves with where to find the playing hall, toilets, parents room and the all-important room selling drinks and snacks!

The First Chess Game

Chess tournaments use a Swiss Pairing method to determine who plays against who throughout the day. The pairings are determined by software, so there is no bias or selection by the tournament organisers. Find out more about how tournaments work and Swiss Pairing.

Find the list of pairings for your age group. Each chess game will have a Board Number, and all the boards in the playing hall will have their numbers clearly displayed next to them. The players on the left of the list will be playing White, and players on the right will be playing as Black. The Swiss Pairing system usually ensures that players will have 3 games as White and 3 games as Black in a 6-game tournament. So, find your Board in the playing hall and sit down and wait. There will be a few words from the organiser before each round, then parents and non-players are asked to leave the room. The organiser will then instruct to start White’s clock and the game will begin. Find out more about using Chess clocks.

When your game has finished, and both players agree on the result, write the result on the Result slip of paper and both players should take the Result slip to the end table where the result will be recorded. Players must then leave the playing hall.

If at any time during the game there is any confusion, then please stop the chess clock, put your hand up and wait for an Arbiter to come to you.

Six Rounds of Chess Games

Players should aim to arrive in the playing hall 5-10 minutes before the start time, and sit waiting for the organiser to speak and instruct the next game to begin. It’s important not to be late, as it can be quite a challenge keeping to the scheduled start times for games!

The latest standings will be available after each round is played, so you can see how you and your friends are doing.

Between Rounds

Players should leave the playing hall once their game is finished, and keep quiet near the doors of the hall so that games that are still in progress are not disturbed.

We suggest bringing a few things to do between rounds. There may be some supplied chess puzzles or challenges to complete, but children may prefer to play games in the parents rooms. Please do respect the venue and leave the room as you found it. If there is undue mess or any damage, then the venue will be less keen to invite us back next year.

Some venues will have wi-fi, but many will not. And it’s worth noting that 3G and 4G connection may not be available is some remote areas, so please don’t rely on the internet to provide all your entertainment for the day!


At the end of all games, there will be a presentation where players achieving places in the tournament will be awards prizes. Everyone is welcome to attend the prize-giving, but if you are not able to, then you can leave after the final game has been played.