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John Balch Memorial



Please announce this tournament in your school and community.



Vermont students compete for State Championship titles in the following six divisions: Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5, 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 K through 5.  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.  Home schooled students in a program that doesn't use traditional grade levels should enroll in a section appropriate to their age.


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



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. 

This 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.

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 remain ties. 

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

11:10 AM

Lunch Break 12:00 PM

Round 3

12:30 PM

Round 4

1:40 PM

Round 5 2:50 PM


4:00 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.


2023 Rockefeller National Elementary School Selection. The top finishing student in the Grade 5 division will be selected as the Vermont representative to the Rockefeller Tournament of Elementary School Champions, a national competition with a representative from each state.  The Rockefeller is a national tournament that corresponds with the U.S. Chess Open and this year is being held in Grand Rapids, MI from July 29 to August 1, 2023.

NOTE: Any player in grades K-4 who is interested in competing for the opportunity to represent Vermont in the national Rockefeller event may declare their intent prior to the tournament and compete in the Grade 5 division instead of their actual grade level.



All players must pre-register and pre-pay for the event by 6 PM on Friday, April 21st.  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 online or check by mail. Click a link below to register:





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 36th Vermont Scholastic Elementary School Chess Championships will be held on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 at the Capital City Grange Hall on Vermont Route 12 in Berlin, VT.

All Vermont elementary school students are eligible to compete for individual State Championships in six divisions -- each grade Kindergarten through Grade 5.  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.