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Part 4-3: Chess Club Ladders - Blitz and Standard!

by John Bain

As explained in Part 5: How to Promote Chess Clubs in Schools, Chess Club Ladder Competition is by far the activity that attracts the most attention, most interest and the most students to chess club.

Nothing will improve interest and attendance in a chess club more than a well-constructed, well-displayed and well-functioning chess ladder!

Also, good, simple, sturdy chess clocks ($24.95) and chess sets ($14.00) are essential to Chess Club Ladder Competition!

Chess Ladder with cartoon characters.

Chess Ladder Competition - How it works!

5/5 Ladder and 30/30 Ladder. Pairings and Chess Ladder Competition will become the focal point of the club. A successful chess club will have two ladders--a 5-minute "5/5 Blitz Chess" Ladder and a 30-minute "30/30 Standard Chess" Ladder.

In a 5/5 Match, students play three games with 5-minutes on each player's clock. For the Challenger to advance on the 5/5 Ladder, the Challenger must win 2 out of 3 games against the Defender. In the case of a tie match, the Defender retains his or her position on the Ladder.

In a 30/30 Match, students play one game with 30-minutes on each player's clock. For the Challenger to advance on the 30/30 Ladder, the Challenger must win only 1 game against the Defender. In the case of a draw game, the Defender retains his or her position on the Ladder.

A Fair Pairing System - How to do it!

Pairings. Besides the obvious interest in the ranking of students' names on the chess ladders, students will be very interested in the system used to make ladder pairings. Students want a sense of fairness in making the pairings--they hope to challenge when they want to challenge. Of course, on any given day due to time constraints, it is impossible for all students to challenge--half of them must defend!

Record Keeping. Keeping accurate records of students Chess Ladder results is essential to the sense of fairness students desire. For each student's match, note and record the Date, Opponent's Name, Challenge/Defend, and Result: Win, Loss, Draw.

3-Ring Binder & 3x5" Index Cards. First, maintain a 3-ring binder--or a computer data base with a good smart-board presentation--with one page for each student. On that page, have two columns--one for the "5/5 Blitz Chess" records and one for the "30/30 Standard Chess" records. On each line of the respective columns, leave room for the Date, Opponent's Name, Challenge/Defend,  and Result: Win, Loss, Draw.

Index Cards. Next, write every student's name on a separate 3x5" index card.

Making The Pairings. First, check for students who have defended three times in a row--the students will let you know! In other words, they have not had the opportunity to challenge during the last three pairings. These students are usually the higher-ranked students who have been defending their positions.

Students with three defenses challenge first beginning with the lower ranked player--they may challenge anyone above them on the ladder. If two students both have three defenses, the lower-ranked player on the chess ladder challenges first.

In the case where the lower ranked player with three defenses challenges the higher ranked player with three defenses, the higher ranked player must defend, but he or she will have four defenses and will challenge first at the next Chess Ladder Competition.

Next, after pairing the students who have three defenses, shuffle the remaining 3x5" index cards, and randomly place the cards on a table, one at a time. Allow the student whose card is displayed first to have the first challenge, and the student whose card is displayed second to have the second challenge, and so forth.

Finally, make the pairings, record them, and after the match, note the results, and make the changes in position on the Chess Ladder. In time, students will be able to manage the pairing system themselves, record the results, and make the changes on the Chess Ladder. Also in time, the three-ring binder will hold great interest for the students because their Won, Loss and Draw records will be stored there!

IMPORTANT - HOW TO MAKE LADDER CHANGES: If the Challenger wins, the Challenger is removed momentarily from the Chess Ladder. Then, everyone above the Challenger--including the Defender--is moved down one spot on the Ladder. The Challenger is then placed into the Defender's old place on the Ladder! When a player is defending, the most the player can drop on the Ladder is one space down.

What Makes "Chess Clubs For Students" Work?

Parts 1-6

by John Bain

Intro: What Makes "Chess Clubs For Students" Work? outlines practices for building a well-attended, successful chess club.

Part 1 - Basic Chess Skills and Psychology For Students emphasizes how learning the Chess Rules and Three Psychological Practices enable students to become stronger players.

Part 2 - Basic Endgame Checkmate Patterns For Students covers Four Basic Endgame Checkmate Patterns that will yield collateral benefits to all aspects of a student's games.

Part 3  - Choosing Location, Meeting Times & Equipment demonstrates that the right location, the right meeting times, and quality chess equipment will foster enthusiastic student chess club participation.

Part 4 - Chess Club Activities For Students shows that activities that are fun--and that improve chess knowledge and skills--are the lifeblood of a well-run, great chess club!

Part 5 - How to Promote Chess Clubs in Schools presents the very best, promising practices for promoting school chess clubs.

Part 6 - What Chess Teaches Kids About Life notes the virtues, lessons and life skills that chess teaches!

NEXT> Part 4-4: Chess Club Quad Tournaments - Blitz!  will introduce fun competition into the chess club, and give more opportunity to more students to compete at their level to win prizes than any other activity!