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The Oklahoma Scholastic Chess Organization (OSCO) is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. We provide chess tournaments for K-12 students throughout Oklahoma. For information about volunteering or hosting a tournament at your school, or if you'd like to make a donation, contact us at

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Oklahoma Scholastic Chess Tournament Rules

At the tournament

During the game

  • Touch-move rule: If you touch a piece, you must move it if you legally can. 

  • Touch-take rule: If you touch your opponent's piece as if to capture it, you must do so (if the capture is legal).

  • Once you let go of a piece you have moved, you may not move it to a different square. 

  • Castling is a king move. Move the king first, then the rook. Don't use two hands to castle.

  • Touch the clock with the same hand you use to move the pieces.

  • You may quietly say things like "check*," "I adjust" (before adjusting a piece on its square), "Draw?" or to indicate that your opponent has made an illegal move (if your opponent is in check, for example, and makes a move that does not get out of check). Other than that, no talking!

    • *It is not necessary to say "Check." You can, but you don't have to.

  • Communicating with anyone other than your opponent and a tournament director is prohibited. This includes:

    • players at other boards

    • your parent or coach

  • Behavior that is distracting to your opponent or other players is prohibited. 

  • If you need to use the restroom during a match, you may do so, but leave your clock running. The same "no talking" rules apply when you're on a bathroom break, though it is permitted to say "I'm still playing" if someone tries to speak to you. 


IMPORTANT: If you think your opponent has broken a rule, you must report it right away. Do not wait until after the game is over. Pause your clock (if you're using one), raise your hand, and wait for a tournament director. 

When your game ends

  • When your match is over, raise your hand and wait for a tournament director to come and verify the checkmate (or stalemate, etc.)

  • Set up your board and go with your opponent to the scoring table.

  • Once you have reported your score, you must leave the tournament room. 

What if my opponent doesn't show up? 

Raise your hand if your opponent does not show up when the round begins. For round one no-shows, we will pair you with another player if this is possible. Otherwise and for subsequent rounds, forfeit time is 45 minutes. 

Spectator policy


Spectators are not permitted in the playing hall while games are being played. Players must exit the playing hall after finishing their games and reporting their scores.

When the first round is paired, parents are encouraged to accompany their players as they find their boards and listen to morning announcements. You may remain for the first five minutes of the first round only to observe your player and take a photo. After the first five minutes, we will ask you to return to the waiting area.

Parents who wish to escort their players into the playing hall for rounds 2–5 may do so. But since there will be games in progress and we will thus need to keep the playing hall quiet, no talking while finding your child's board, please, and return to the waiting area immediately once they are seated.

General rules & policies

  • OSCO tournaments are run in accordance with the U.S. Chess Federation's Rules of Chess, 7th Edition. The chief tournament director has final discretion on all questions, issues, and disputes.

  • Swiss System. 

  • One 1/2-point bye available for any round except the last one. Must request in advance and check in with the chief TD following missed round.

  • Pairings are team sensitive when possible, but players from large teams should expect to play each other now and then.

  • Any K-12-aged student may participate in any OSCO tournament. Only Oklahoma K-12 students are eligible for titles (including prizes associated with titles) and scholarships. Certain OSCO tournaments may allow college students up to age 21 in certain sections.

Time Controls

All regular OSCO tournament games have a base time control of 45 minutes (G/45 = game in 45 minutes = each player has 45 minutes). Sections labeled d5 include a five-second delay. This means that when one player completes a move and touches the clock, five seconds will elapse before the other player's clock begins counting down.



A player’s section is determined by his or her US Chess regular rating and, in some cases, other factors such as an alternative rating or the player's school grade. Section titles indicate the rating threshold players must achieve to move up to the next section. For example, players in a section titled U500 (Under 500) would remain in that section until their rating reaches or exceeds 500 points.

Second-event exceptions
An exception can occur when an unrated player has an outstanding first tournament and ends up with a provisional rating that exceeds the ratings threshold for the next-higher section. In such cases, for that player's second OSCO tournament, they are entered as if their rating had only advanced to the next higher ratings threshold. In other words, a player cannot advance more than one section in their first OSCO tournament. 


The exception only applies to ratings earned following a previously unrated player's first OSCO tournament, and only when that player's second event is also an OSCO tournament. If a player has participated in a non-OSCO event (one that affects US Chess regular rating) before their second event with us, we will enter them in the section appropriate to their rating.


Example 1: An unrated player wins 5 out of 5 games in Section I (U600). The player's post-event rating is 1120, which corresponds to Section IV (U1200). The player enters the next OSCO event without participating in any other tournaments between the two. The player will be entered in Section II (U900). 


Example 2: An unrated player wins 5 out of 5 games in Section I (U500). The player's post-event rating is 1120, which corresponds to Section IV (Premier). Two weeks later, the player participates in a tournament in Dallas and finishes with a rating of 821. When the player registers for the next OSCO, they are entered in Section III (U1100). 


Alternative ratings
Before 2021, OSCO tournaments were rated by Chess Express Ratings (CXR). Beginning in April 2022, players may choose to play in a higher section corresponding to their CXR rating, but this is no longer required. Requests to play up must be submitted prior to the tournament's registration deadline. (For more about playing up, see "Moving to a higher section" below.)

When a player entered in a regular-season OSCO tournament has no US Chess regular rating but has a US Chess blitz rating, the blitz rating (or quick rating, whichever is highest) is used to determine that player's section. A US Chess online rating is used only when it is a player's only US Chess rating.


Moving to a higher section

Rated players: If the player's rating is within 100 points of the next higher section, the player may request to be entered in that section. Requests to play up must be submitted prior to the tournament's registration deadline.

Unrated players: Players who are unrated in all US Chess categories and also have no alternative over-the-board rating (such as CXR) may request to play in a higher section based on an alternative online rapid or blitz rating. In most such cases, section will be determined as follows:


Player's rating -200 points​

Player's rating -250 points


An exception occurs when this formula places the player in Premier section. A player must have an OTB rating to compete in Premier, so this player would be entered in the next-lower section.

This rule does not apply to players with an OTB rating (provisional or established in any category). Any exception to these rules is at the discretion of the chief tournament director. All requests to play up must be submitted before the registration deadline.

Combined sections

A section with fewer than six players will be combined with the smallest adjacent section for pairings purposes only (awards are not affected). Small sections with more than six players may also be combined.




First-place ties

  1. Head-to-head results.

  2. All but the top two tied players are eliminated using these tiebreak systems, in order: Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, Cumulative of Opposition.  Click here to learn about these tiebreak systems.

  3. Two-game G/5 blitz match between the top two remaining players.

  4. Armageddon game between the top two remaining players, if tied after the blitz match. (In an armageddon game, the player with the white pieces gets six minutes; the player with the black pieces gets five but needs only to draw the game to win.  

Ties for awards other than first place

If two players are tied and there was a decisive head-to-head result, that result is used. Otherwise, the tiebreak methods described in #2 are used to break the tie.  


Team scores will be the total of the top 3 scores in a section for players from the same team. There must be at least two players from the same school to qualify for a team award. Coaches and Players must verify proper team affiliations and team totals on the posted team standings. Corrections to team affiliations must be made prior to the beginning of the last round and should be checked at the beginning of the tournament for correct team sensitivity of pairings.

School teams
A school team is defined as a group of players that have their primary enrollment in the same school. No combined schools are allowed. A school is defined as the same building or connected buildings under the same name, or a homeschool group of players who do not spend any part of the school day in any K-12 building.

Club teams
To give another option to players whose schools do not have a chess club, OSCO allows members of non-school chess clubs to compete for team awards. Club team players/coaches/parents should be aware of these rules: 

  • Club team players must meet regularly and practice together.

  • Club teams must have meeting time and place published online (on a website, Facebook page, etc.)

  • A player may compete with either a club team or a school team, but not both.

  • Only one change (from club team to school team, for example) per academic year is permitted.

  • A player may not compete on a new team for the first time at the state championship.

  • Club teams must register with OSCO prior to competing together at a tournament. Click here to register your club team

  • In order to maintain the integrity of the Club Team definition, players found to be participating in tournaments as a Club Team member but NOT meeting and practicing as part of the Club Team will be subject to a one-game suspension of both the team and player on the first offense and for one calendar year for repeat offenses.

Homeschool teams

Homeschooled players may form club teams; see the rules above. Homeschooled siblings who are not part of a club will automatically be entered as a team.

Special Awards

Award for new Premier players: A Premier chess set is awarded to players at the state championship who played in Premier section for the first time that academic year. Players must attend the state championship to receive one of these sets. 

OSCO Hall of Fame: A list of Oklahoma K-12th grade chess players who achieve a published US Chess regular/established rating of 2000 or higher prior to graduation. A ceremony to recognize these players takes place annually at the state championship, but players who are not present will still be inducted.

National Invitational rules

Each year OSCO selects four individuals to represent the state of Oklahoma in the Denker National Tournament of High School (grades 9-12) State Champions, the Barber National Tournament of Middle School (grades 6-8) State Champions, Rockefeller National Tournament of Elementary School (grades K-5) State Champions and the Haring National Tournament of Girls State Champions (grades K-12).  Points will be awarded to players in the Premier Section (with the exception of the State Championship, where Barber and Rockefeller contenders will participate in the sections corresponding to the tournament for which they hope to qualify (i.e., the middle school or elementary section, respectively) at all regular-season OSCO events and at the Oklahoma Scholastic State Championship, at which Barber and Rockefeller contenders will participate in the 6–9 Open and the K–6 Open, respectively, and girls who wish to compete for the Haring will play in an all-girls' section.


The player with the highest total number of points (the sum of their two best OSCO regular-season events + their final score at the state championship multiplied by two) will be the Oklahoma nominee. Participation in the state championship is mandatory. If the Oklahoma primary nominee declines the opportunity to play, then the player with the next highest score will become the primary nominee.


The player must meet all qualifications specified under the USCF rules for the invitational tournaments.  


Female participants may compete for either the Haring or for whichever of the Denker/Barber/Rockefeller is appropriate to their school grade.

Tiebreaks to determine invitational representatives


If points are tied in any of the invitational categories, the following tiebreaks will be used, in this order:

  1. Head-to-head result at State Championship

  2. Head-to-head results at all qualifying events that academic year

  3. A match consisting of two (alternating colors) G/60;d5 games will be held at a time/place TBD.

  4. The final tiebreaker will be an Armageddon game.

Club teams
Provisional/established ratings
Playing up
New players
Spectator policy

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