Texas Armed Forces Chess

Proud Host of the 62nd Annual US Armed Forces Open Chess Championship

8-11 October 2021

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Logo for 62nd US Annual US Armed Forces Open Chess Championship in Grapevine, Texas

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Revision: 17 September 2021
Please check often for updates

New Items and Updates: 1, 2

  1. Byes Policy
  2. Veterans Banquet
  3. Are Masks required?
  4. Default Forfeiture Time
  5. Tiebreaks
  6. Texas Armed Forces and Veterans Chess Champions
  7. USA FIDE ID numbers required
  8. Arlington Chess Club Online Fundraiser Tournaments to support the 62nd USAFOCC
  9. How to get a FIDE Rating
  10. FIDE Tournament Pairings
  11. FIDE Rapid Pairings
  12. FIDE Blitz Pairings
  13. Armed Forces Chess Committee Meeting
  14. Uniform Policy
  15. Hometown News Releases
  16. Electronic Device Policy
  17. WiFi Code
  18. Game Email Account (mailto:)
  19. Recording of all Moves is Required
  20. Assistance finding a Roommate
  21. 2021 USAFOCC Tournament Life Announcement (TLA)
  22. What about the 2022 USAFOCC?
  23. What about the 2023 USAFOCC?
  24. What about the 2024 USAFOCC?
  25. US Armed Forces Chess Website
  26. Best Game Certificates
  27. Late Registrations, Byes, and Veterans Banquet RSVP
  28. Where to park RVs?
  29. Who are our Staff members?
  30. Who or what are Snake Eaters?
  31. Civil War Trivia
    1. Byes Policy

      A single half-point bye is available. Byes must be requested 30 minutes prior to the start of round 2. Byes for rounds 4 & 5 may not be cancelled after the start of round 2. Players requesting a half-point bye for round 1 must notify the Organizer NLT Wednesday 6 October 2021. If not coordinated prior to check-in, ZERO-point byes are awarded for missed rounds.

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    2. Veterans Banquet

      Veterans Banquet Announcement
      Good news. The number of planned meals is increased from 110 to 120 and is funded. Anyone who registered for themselves and/or a guest by 20 September 2021 is invited to the Veterans Banquet. The cost is covered by many generous donors and sponsors.

      The bad news. We are tracking 3 to 6 players who will be on the STANDBY LIST. We are monitoring this closely and will let the affected players know. We anticipate some drops. That means another can fill a slot. Also, anyone who isn't playing Saturday will be dropped from the banquet and their slot will be filled by someone on the STANDBY LIST.

      If you registered a guest or registered after 24 September 2021, please check with Jim Hollingsworth during check-in.

      More good news, sort of. The SKITTLES ROOM will be open for players not attending the banquet. Chess, poker, and whatever will be available. We will ask for one volunteer to man the SKITTES ROOM. Jim Hollingsworth will throw in a couple of pizzas from Room Service. There are also things to do and see in Grapevine and nearby communties.

      We appreciate everyone for their patience and understanding. As a bonus Jim Hollingsworth will make it his personal mission to ensure anyone who missed the Veterans Banquet gets free entry to the 2022 USAFOCC.

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    3. For the protection of all, masks are required for

      • Group Photos
      • Awards Ceremonies

      For all other USAFOCC events and activities masks are optional as long as the person has been inoculated.

      Note: Effective Monday, August 23, 2021, Great Wolf Lodge requires the use of face coverings regardless of vaccination status in all public areas. This policy will apply to all guests 5 years of age and older with the following few exceptions:

      • While consuming a meal inside a restaurant or a designated, physically distanced table positioned near food outlets.
      • When actively eating or drinking, as long as stationary and maintaining appropriate physical distancing from other guests.
      • While swimming or actively enjoying the water park attractions.

      Acceptable face coverings must have at least two layers, fully cover the nose and mouth, secure under the chin, and fit snuggly along the sides of the face. Face coverings should not require the use of hands to hold in place, it should secure using ear loops, ties or elastic bands. Facemasks with exhalation valves, made with mesh material, cloth bandanas, veils, and costume masks are not acceptable.

      Note: USAFOCC Organizers were first told of the new policy on 7 Setember 2021.

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    5. For the AFO and VOC, the default forfeiture time is 60 minutes and white's clock will be started at the start of the round if there is a clock available. If there is no clock available, time remaining will be split evenly with bonus time added accordingly when a clock becomes available.

      For the FIDE Rapid the default time is 15 minutes.

      For the FIDE Blitz the default time is 3 minutes.

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    7. Individual Championships and Tiebreaks:

      Individual championships will be decided using standard chess scoring and the following standard US Chess tiebreaks when necessary:

      1. Modified Median
      2. Solkoff
      3. Cumulative
      4. Cumulative of Opposition

      This same individual placement will be used to determine team scores for the team championships (see Team Championships below).

      Team Championships:

      Teams championships will be decided using the Rollins (Military) System, the official scoring system of the US Armed Forces Open Chess Tournament. Teams scores will be determined by the five (5) highest placed players from each team within a single section. Player placement is determined by each players' placement within the individual championships (see Individual Championships and Tiebreaks above). For additional information, please see rule 31A1 of the US Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess: 7th Edition Updated for 2020.

      Team Pairing Restrictions:

      Team pairing restrictions will be observed for the first round (if possible) and will be observed at the director's discretion for the second round. Team pairing restrictions will be removed for the third round onward.

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    9. The USAFOCC is a National Championship. A few years ago organizers offered state affiliates the option of crowning their State Armed Forces Chess Champion, if they pay for it. The 62nd USAFOCC continues that tradition. Some state affiliates decline, which is perfectly okay. Often they have other plans for recognizing their chess-playing military and veterans. We only make the offer to help.

      We have a huge number of Texans in this USAFOCC. The Texas Chess Association is one of our sponsors and is allowing us to crown their Armed Forces and Veterans Chess Champions. A private donor, who wishes to be anonymous, is covering the cost.

      We are grateful to the Texas Chess Association and the private donor for making this special gesture possible.

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    11. As you know, the 62nd USAFOCC is a FIDE-rated event. That means everyone is required to have a USA FIDE ID number. To obtain a USA FIDE ID number your birthdate is required and you must give US Chess permission to award you a USA FIDE ID number. Without doing this now there will be a HUGE BACKLOG during registration. We want everyone to enjoy their USAFOCC experience. That means being able to walk in, show your ID card (and DD 214 for VOC players), and hear these wonderful words, "Hey, welcome! We're glad you're here. You are checked in and good to go! Relax and we'll let you know when the pairings are up!" 😀

      Birthdates are "Personal Identifying Information" (PII). All PII must be protected. The Texas Armed Forces Chess website's Registration page is secured with encryption.

      If your MSA page does not show a FIDE ID number, please register a second time so we can capture your required PII securely. Your FIDE ID number be processed and shown on your MSA page.

      In early July, we had 38 players needing a USA FIDE ID. As of 25 August we have
      • 14 AFO players who need a USA FIDE ID
      • 9 VOC players who need a USA FIDE ID
      • 23 total

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      • Many thanks to the Arlington Chess Club for raising $1,813 to support this Championship!
        Certificates will be sent to all participants.

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    12. How can I get a FIDE rating?

      FIDE rated players are TOUGH. They are serious about their chess. But they are like the rest of us; they put on their pants one-leg-at-a-time and they occasionally make the last mistake in a game.

      One "draw" (yes, ½ point) is all that's needed to achieve a FIDE rating. One draw total against five FIDE rated opponents within a twenty-six month period. One draw in only five FIDE rated games. This can be accomplished in one, two, three, four or even five FIDE tournaments.

      Normally, the VOC is not FIDE rated. When John Farrell urged Jim Hollingsworth to organize this Jim said, "Only on one condition. It's FIDE for all or FIDE for none!"

      We have two FIDE Arbiters on staff to make it happen.

      One draw. Five games. The "Clock" starts after your first draw or win against a FIDE opponent. Good luck.

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    14. How are the Pairings determined for the 5-Round FIDE Standard tournament?

      By US Chess ratings, even though both sections are FIDE rated for ALL. Chief Arbiter is Louis Reed.

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    16. How are the Pairings determined for Friday's four-round FIDE Blitz Tournament?

      The AFO and VOC will be combined into one tournament. US Chess ratings will be used to determine the pairings. As this is being written we have 39 players and three have a FIDE Rapid rating. Also US Chess rated. Time control is Game in 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment. Starts at 6:00 PM.

      All players are automatically entered in the FIDE Rapid Tournament. Tell Gary Gaiffe, Arbiter, if you have other plans.

      FREE TIME, Skittles Chess, TEXAS HOLD 'EM, and the Annual Armed Forces Chess Committee Meeting will occur immediately after the FIDE Rapid Tournament.

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    18. How are the Pairings determined for Saturday's six-player double round-robin FIDE Quick Sectionals?

      The AFO and VOC will be combined. US Chess ratings will be used to determine the composition of each section, however adjustments will be made to attempt ensuring two FIDE rated players are in each section. This goal could a challenge. As this is being written we only have 37 players (because 2 are leaving after Round 1 for NATO) and only one has a FIDE Quick rating.

      All players in the section will play two games, with alternating colors, against each opponent. Also, the number of players may be increased in some sections to eight. Time control is Game in 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment. This event will also be US Chess rated.

      Starts right after Round 2 and a dinner break. We will do our best, but please be flexible and prepared for this event to be US Chess rated only.

      All players are automatically entered in the FIDE Blitz Sectionals. Tell Gary Gaiffe, Arbiter, if you have other plans.

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    20. Is attendance at the Annual Armed Forces Chess Committee Meeting mandatory?

      When: Friday Evening right after the FIDE Rapid Tournament.

      All are welcome to attend, however this meeting is primarily intended for the Chair and the service reps.

      • Mike Donovan
      • John Farrell
      • Rob Getty
      • Leroy Hill
      • Jim Hollingsworth (Chair)
      • Ernie Schlich

      After meeting with all players for 10 minutes the Armed Forces Chess Committee and USAFOCC organizers will move to an Executive Session in the Skittles Room.

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    21. What is the Uniform Policy?

      • Friday.   Casual.
      • Saturday Morning.   Check-in, Opening Ceremony, Round 1, and Group Photos.   Class A for Active Duty and appropriate business attire for all others.

        NOTE:   Saturday morning is when we are most likely to have visits by Media, elected officials, and other dignitaties. So please look as sharp as possible.

      • Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday.   Casual for All.
      • Monday.   Business casual for All (Class A is okay and optional because many have to catch a plane).

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    23. What about Hometown News Releases (HNR)?

      HNR's improve Active Duty morale, raise public awareness, keep family and friends informed, and help fundraising efforts so the USAFOCC can be held in future years. Please send us contact information for your local newspaper or media outlet.

      We will also have HNR forms available during check-in. POC:   Jim Hollingsworth.

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    25. What is the Electronic Devices Policy?

      No electronic devices are allowed in the tournament hall during any FIDE play. This includes cell phones and "watches" or any watch which may look like one. Fortunately, we have good news for all. Each suite is equipped with a locking safe and ample room for storing laptops, cell phones, valuables, etc. If more space is needed the Concierge Desk in the main lobby offers secure storage.

      IMPORTANT, see EXCEPTIONS below.

      Exception 1. US Chess approved notation devices may be used as long as they stay on the table, next to the board, at all times while the game is in progress. This means players cannot take them to restrooms, etc.

      As this is written (September 2020) only three personal notation devices are US Chess approved.

      Exception 2. Arbiter Staff will have computers, printers, and muted cell phones to perform their duties. These will be strategically positioned away from the boards. Screens will be protected to prevent unauthorized viewing.

      Exception 3. Support staff, such as the Chief Organizer (when not playing), Adjutant, Games Judge, Facebook Administrator, Twitter Administrator, and others TBD may be using computers and muted cell phones. We will also have at least one photographer on staff. All equipment will be strategically positioned away from the boards as in Exception 2 above.

      HELPFUL HINT: Make sure your notation device is fully charged. Also have a fully charged "Power Bank" device available, just in case. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to scramble and update a scoresheet (on your time) because your battery died (Voice of painful experience).

      ANOTHER HELPFUL HINT: If you are new to using notation devices, be sure to test yours with an emailed game before you leave home.

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    26. WiFi CODE

      When you arrive at the USAFOCC, the Lodge's WI-FI code will be available at the Chief Arbiter's desk.

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    27. GAME EMAIL ADDRESS (mailto:)


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    28. "Do we have to write down the moves?"

      Yes. Recording of moves is required. This is National Championship and FIDE event. All moves must be recorded and Score Sheets turned in. If using written score sheets, the signed WHITE copy must be turned in. If using a notation device, email your game to the GAME EMAIL ADDRESS.

      Also nominate your best games to Bob Curtis, Games Judge.

      NOTE:   We anticipate using DGT boards on the top boards. How many is to be determined. Logic says DGT makes manual recording of the moves unnecessary. However, all DGT boards are hooked up to a computer. On rare occasions computers can unexpectedly update and that round's moves will be lost. We'll have backup computers, but they can't protect against lost moves. A few years ago, one of the Organizers witnessed this at a collegiate championship. Again, recording all moves is a FIDE and US Chess requirement, even with DGT.

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    29. Can I reduce lodging costs with a roommate and can I get help finding a roommate?

      Sure! Contact Jim Hollingsworth for a list of potential roommates.

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    30. Is there a Tournament Life Announcement (TLA) for the 2021 (62nd Annual) US Armed Forces Open Chess Championship?

      Yes there is!

      2021 (62nd Annual) US Armed Forces Open Chess Championship

      NOTE: The TLA was published in October 2020 and contains a link to this website. This website has priority for all USAFOCC details, as it's the quickest way to communicate any changes. Recent changes include adding the FIDE Rapid tournament, the FIDE Quick sectionals, and the possibility of a Veterans Banquet Standby List. Please check this website, especially the FAQ page, for the latest information.

      Also, emails to the Organizer are always welcome and answered quickly: texasarmedforceschess@gmail.com. Back to the Top

    31. What about the 2022 USAFOCC?

      Air Force is the sponsor of the 63rd Annual US Armed Forces Chess Championship. Scheduled for October 8-9, 2022. Location TBD. Other details pending.

      Contact Chief Organizer Leroy Hill, leroyhj@msn.com.

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    32. What about the 2023 USAFOCC?

      Marine Corp is the sponsor of the 64th Annual US Armed Forces Chess Championship. Scheduled for October 14-15, 2023. Location TBD. Other details pending.

      Contact John Farrell, john.f.farrell1@usmc.mil.

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    33. What about the 2024 USAFOCC?

      Navy is the sponsor of the 65th Annual US Armed Forces Chess Championship. Scheduled for October 12-13, 2024. Location TBD. Other details pending.

      Contact Tom Belke, belke_tom@hz-hq.com.

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    34. Does US Armed Forces Chess have a website?

      Yes they do!

      US Armed Forces Chess Website

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    35. How about Awards for Best Games?

      It is a USAFOCC tradition to award Best Game certificates in several categories. We are proud to continue that tradition.

      Players MUST nominate their games for consideration by telling Bob Curtis, Games Judge. Games in Rounds 1 to 4 are eligible. Unfortunately there isn't enough time to consider Games from Round 5.

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    36. I prefer registering for the tournament and the banquet as late as possible, even as late as check-in. Is that a problem?

      The two best short answers are "Registering to play during check-in or later is not a problem. Late arrivals will receive ZERO-POINT BYES." However, banquet registrations now cost $50 each."

      The USAFOCC tradition is to allow "walk-ins" to register at the last moment and play. Last year, 2020, was an exception. Because of the pandemic, space limitations, and funding, the announced available slots was 20 players. Everyone else was on standby. Ultimately 21 played, including the TD. This 62nd Annual USAFOCC will return to tradition. Anyone qualified will play.

      "I say again. Anyone qualified will play. Period." (Jim H).

      The Veterans Banquet is different. It is a combination of players, non-playing staff, speakers, VIP's, other guests, space, and available funding. As this is written we have 120 slots. 119 are filled. After (date under review), anyone, player or guest, wishing to participate in the Veterans Banquet will be charged $50 during Check-In. Depending upon fundraising this could change. Please keep checking this website for updates or contact Jim Hollingsworth.

      No other USAFOCC has ever offered a Veterans Banquet. However, your hosts are Texans and we do things differently in Texas. Recently, two Texas Armed Forces and two Texas Women's Chess Championships all featured a banquet. It's a great opportunity to recognize players, sponsors, donors and others. It's just one reason why the 62nd USAFOCC will be known as an epic championship adventure few will ever experience.

      Today is September 15, 2021. Again, if you are PRE-REGISTERED to play AS OF (Date under review) you are also PRE-REGISTERED for the Veterans Banquet. We look forward to hearing from you. Email Address: texasarmedforceschess@gmail.com

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    37. Where to park Recreation Vehicles (AKA RVs, motorhomes, campervans, caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers)?

      For lodge guests, RV parking is available around the back. For people not staying at Great Wolf Lodge, RV parking is off campus.

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    38. We proudly introduce our hardworking Staff. Most are Texas Chess Association (TCA) members (one of our sponsors). They are listed in REVERSE alphabetical order because all are important. 😀

      • Chris Wood   TCA Webmaster and Arbiters Staff.
      • Larry Tipperreiter   Arbiters Staff
      • Jocelyn Stephens   Graphics Artist.
      • Doug Stephens   Arlington Chess Club Board Member and Games Judge.
      • Robert Shearer   TCA Life Member and Deputy Adjutant.
      • Louis Reed   Texas Knights Editor and Chief Arbiter.
      • Shelby Lohrman   Fundraising and Promotion.
      • Jim Hollingsworth   TCA Vice President and Co-Organizer.
      • Troy Gillispie   TCA Volunteer and Deputy Organizer.
      • Gary Gaiffe   Former TCA President and Deputy Chief Arbiter.
      • John Farrell   TCA Life Member and Co-Organizer.
      • Mike Donovan   TCA Volunteer and Recruiting.
      • Bob Curtis   TCA Life Member and our "Fireman".
      • Dale Chaney   Retired Air Force Finance NCOIC and Adjutant.
      • Carmen Chairez   TCA LIfe Patron Member and Recruiting.

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    39. Who or what are Snake Eaters?

      The Top All Veterans Chess Team at the 2021 US Amateur Team South.

      You can read about them here: Snake Eaters

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    41. Is Jim Hollingsworth really the last known living Union Soldier who served under General Grant?

      Yes he is!

      "Okay, what Jarhead has been hacking my website?"
      — Jim —

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