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John Balch Memorial



Please announce this tournament in your school and community.



Vermont students compete for State Championship titles in Middle School (Grades 6 through 8 combined) and High School (Grades 9 through 12 combined) in the 35th Vermont Scholastic Chess Championships. The tournament is named in honor of John Balch, a great promoter of scholastic chess in Vermont, who passed away in 2004. He taught chess to hundreds of Vermont youth.



This tournament is open to Vermont students in grades 6 through 12.  Participants must be Vermont residents, or be enrolled full time in a Vermont public or private school.  No prior tournament experience is necessary.  Home schooled students are eligible, as long as they are Vermont residents and under 19 years of age.  Home schooled students in a program that doesn't use traditional grade levels should enroll in a section appropriate to their age.


The High School section will be USCF rated, and current USCF membership is required for participation in that section. Please make certain that your membership is current prior to the tournament.


All players must pre-register and pre-pay for the event. No day-of registration and no walk-ins will be allowed.



The following stipulations are in place as of now.  Conditions and requirements may change prior to the event, so please stay apprised.

  • The venue requires that all attendees (players, guardians, and staff) will wear a mask at all times while inside the hall.

  • The hall will be continuously ventilated using an air filtration and ventilation system.  Players may wear ear plugs or muffs to block out the noise of the fans, but electronics (earbuds, headphones, etc.) are not allowed.

  • Tournament play will be on sanitized chess sets provided at the venue. You may bring your own set for skittles play, but not for official games.

  • All players must use hand sanitizer before each game, or wear gloves (rubber, latex or nitrile.) Gloves and hand sanitizer will be provided at the event, but feel free to bring your own if you prefer.

  • Contact with other players, including the common acts of sportsmanship such as shaking hands, high fives, hugs, etc. is discouraged.


The Vermont Scholastic Chess Championships will follow standard United States Chess Federation (USCF) rules for scholastic tournaments.

All players will play 5 rounds  - there are no eliminations.  The champion for each division will be determined by the best overall score after all rounds of play. 

The Middle School section will be an unrated event, and USCF membership is not required.  First round pairing will be by random draw. Pairing for subsequent rounds will follow Swiss pairing rules, which matches players who have accumulated a similar score for the day's event. All games in each round are expected to be completed within one hour.  Any game lasting longer than 40 minutes will have a clock applied to assure timely completion.  Players are encouraged to notate their games (i.e. write down each move as it is made) but it is not required.

The High School section will be USCF rated, and current USCF membership is required for participation.  Please make certain that your membership is current prior to the tournament. All High School games will use a chess clock.  Matches will be “Game 30, delay 0” meaning each player will have 30 minutes, for a total of 1 hour maximum per game, with no clock delay per move.  Clocks will be provided.  High School players are required to notate their games.  If unfamiliar with notation, do your best.  Notation becomes optional for both players once there is 5 minutes or less left on the clock for either player.

Ties:  If there is a tie for the top position, the event results will be checked to see if the top tied players have already played each other that day.  If they have and there was a winner of that game, that player will be declared the winner of the event.  If not, a playoff game will be played between the tied players to determine the champion.  If that game ends in stalemate, additional games will be played at successively reduced time controls until a winner is declared.  Ties in all other positions except the top position will be determined using the USCF recommended tie breaking procedures of Modified Median, Solkoff, and Cumulative, in that order. 

A word about notation:  Notating chess games is not hard, it just takes a little practice to get into the habit of writing down your moves after you make them.  A printable notation sheet can be found here.  There are many places to learn notation online, and we believe that if you can play Battleship, you can notate chess!  Notation has many benefits including the ability to review your games after the event, as well as help to correct errors and resolve disputes.

Questions about tournament rules may be directed to

Mike Stridsberg, Tournament Director:



The schedule for the day is as follows.  Please arrive and check in at the registration table on time -- players arriving late may not play in the first round.





9-9:30 AM

Greeting &
9:45 AM

Round 1

10:00 AM

Round 2

11:15 AM

Lunch Break 12:15 PM

Round 3

12:45 PM

Round 4

2:00 PM

Round 5 3:15 PM


4:30 PM


Each player will play five games, unless they receive a 'bye' due to an odd number of players in a division. A bye is worth one point (equivalent to a win.)  No player will receive more than one bye.  A player who arrives late and does not play in the first round due to their tardiness will not be awarded a bye, and receive no points for the missed round.  If a player needs to leave for any reason before the end of the event, the tournament director must be informed of the early withdrawal.


All national tournaments correspond with the U.S. Chess Open and this year are being held in Rancho Mirage, CA from July 30 to August 2, 2022.

2022 Denker National High School Selection. The top finishing student in the High School division will be selected as the Vermont representative to the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, a national competition with a representative from each state.

2021 Barber National Middle School Selection. The top finishing student in the Middle School division will be selected as the Vermont representative to the Barber Tournament of Middle School Champions, a national competition with a representative from each state.



All players must pre-register and pre-pay for the event by 6 PM on Friday, April 15th.  There will be NO day-of registration and NO walk-ins allowed.  Registration fee is $15, and may be paid by PayPal or credit card. Click a link below to register:






USCF membership:

Current USCF membership is required for players in the High School division in order to participate in this tournament.  You may obtain or update a USCF membership online prior to the event at  Please make sure your USCF membership is current prior to registering. 

Important Note:  If registration and/or membership fees are a financial hardship, please contact the tournament director.  Scholarships are available, and no one should fail to participate for lack of funds. 

DIRECTIONS to the Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championships:

The tournament will be held at the Capital City Grange Hall ( on Vermont Route 12 in Berlin, VT, approximately about 1.5 miles from downtown Montpelier.
The physical address is: 6612 VT-12, Berlin, VT.

NOTE: If you are using GPS for directions from I-89, the GPS may instruct you to go "the back way" following Dog River Road, which is rough and unpaved.  It is better to go straight on Memorial Drive into the center of Montpelier and take a right onto Route 12 (a.k.a. Northfield Street.)


Public WiFi is available at the hall.



The following notices or their likenesses may be used for advertisements, newsletters, or other promotional material.


The 35th Vermont Scholastic High School and Middle School Chess Championships will be held on Saturday, April 16th, 2022 at the Capital City Grange Hall on Vermont Route 12 in Berlin, VT.

All Vermont students are eligible to compete for State Championships in Middle School (Grades 6 through 8) and High School (Grades 9 through 12) divisions.  All abilities are welcome and encouraged to participate. 

Advance registration is required.  Complete rules and registration information can be found at or by contacting Mike Stridsberg, Tournament Director, at

For a copy of a printable poster, click here.