The NSCF configures the sections in its tournaments in a manner that evens the competition for all individuals. Following is a description of our sections and who should play there.
Ths United States Chess Federation is the official governing body of chess in the nation. Sometime after you have played in a tournament, the USCF will publish your new rating. This rating can be compared to that of all other US Chess players. As your rating rises, you may find yourself on the National Top 100 list for your age group! For more information about the USCF, visit USChess.org.
The NSCF rates all sections. To compete in a rated section, you must be a current member of the USCF. A section can not be rated unless all players in the section have memberships. Existing members may update their memberships online. If you have never been a member, you may join by paying a reduced fee to the NSCF. You may include payment when you register for a tournament by mail. If you register online, the fee may be added to your charges.
To understand what the term "USCF rating" means when used below, see "Which USCF rating is used in NSCF tournaments?" Bear in mind that you may not play in a section if your rating fails to meet the minimum or exceeds the ceiling for that section.
Future Masters section
The Future Masters section is for accomplished young chess players, grades 12 or under, who have achieved a USCF rating of 1300 or higher. This is a very competitive section. If you are rated below 1300 and want to play in this section, you must meet one of the criteria listed at "May I play in a higher or lower section than my rating allows?"
If there are not enough players to fill this section (4 or more), players who have registered for this section will be moved into the Championship section to form a combined FM/Champ section.
The Championship section is for improving young chess players, grades 12 or under, who have achieved a USCF rating of 950 up to 1349. If you are rated below 950 and want to play in this section, you must meet one of the criteria listed at "May I play in a higher or lower section than my rating allows?"
Once your USCF rating goes above 1350, you must register to play in the Future Masters section.
This USCF rated section is primarily for students in grades 4 and up who have achieved a USCF rating of 500 up to 999. Most of the players in this section will be improving students in grades 4-6, but older and younger players who are in the 500-999 ratings bracket may also compete here.
Once your USCF rating goes above 999, you must play in the Championship section. See the "Which USCF rating is used in NSCF tournaments?" and "May I play in a higher or lower section than my rating allows?"
This USCF rated section is intended to provide more reasonable competition for students in grades 4 and up who are unrated or have USCF ratings under 550. Once you acquire a USCF rating above 549, y ou must play in the Reserve section. See the "Which USCF rating is used in NSCF tournaments?" and "May I play in a higher or lower section than my rating allows?"
The Primary section is for experienced players in grades 3 or under. There is no ratings ceiling or floor for this section. It is open to all levels, rated or unrated, who are in this grade group. However, if you are unrated or rated under 500, we recommend the Primary Novice section.
Primary Novice section
The Primary Novice section is for players in grades 3 or under who are not rated or have not achieved a USCF rating higher than 500. If you are not currently a USCF member, you can join through the NSCF when you register. A reduced-rate membership is available - see below.
Players in this grade group with ratings above 500 should play in the USCF rated Primary section.
K-1 section (USCF rated)
The USCF rated K-1 section is for all players from pre-K through first grade. If you are not currently a USCF member, you can join through the NSCF when you register. A reduced-rate membership is available - see below.
K-1 beginners should always register for this section - do not be intimidated by seemingly high K-1 ratings, as those ratings were primarily obtained in competition against other K-1 beginners.
As noted above, if you are registered in a rated section you must have an up-to-date USCF membership. The NSCF offers first-time USCF members a one-year membership at the bargain price of $10.