Chess tournaments are fun and there are lots of big trophies and medals awarded to participants.
Sarasota Scholastic Chess tournaments. In May 2012, the New Gate School sponsored the first of our Sarasota Scholastic tournaments. This was limited to K-5. We hope to have at least three tournaments during each school year and are expanding the age range. Our second tournament was on November 3, 2012 and included students thru middle school. We added high school players in February 2013, though there wasn't a big turnout in that age group, so we had to scale back the age range for our May 2013 tournament.
We aim to promote chess as a fun activity for all, and currently do not require USCF membership for these events. This reduces some of the costs of participation and makes the tournaments more accessible to local families.
Tournaments at School Clubs - Some local school clubs have their own tournaments. For example, at Phillippi Shores Elementary, the Tournament of Hearts is held in chess club each spring. A photo gallery from the 2012 tournament is found in the Sarasota Observer here. Ashton Elementary also now has club tournaments, with a Flickr photo gallery here.
USCF (US Chess Federation - www.uschess.org) tournaments - This is the largest chess federation in the US and it provides official ratings and official tournaments and championships. Membership is required for participating in their tournaments but is not expensive. Kids of all levels participate, from complete novices to quite advanced.
Some USCF scholastic tournaments our members have attended (listed by sponsor):
United Minds Chess Club (Tampa):
United Minds chess tournament. Held monthly, usually the first Saturday of the month. Three or four sections (K-3 U300, K-5 U500, K-8 U800, K-12), generally 13-20 kids per section. 4 rounds, G/30. This was a very popular tournament but is no longer active.
St Petersburg Chess Club:
- Large scholastic tournaments were held monthly for years, but went on hold much of 2012. The tournaments are now back for all ages, though with a much smaller scholastic section. www.stpetersburgchessclub.com and chessclubjoy.webs.com
Hoffer's Chess Academy (Tampa):
- Coach Hoffer has led a successful chess academy for years
- tournaments hosted by Yes2chess in the past were relatively small, with some fairly high rated participants, so it may not be the best choice for beginning players. these may have changed since our last review.
- website: http://www.yes2chess.com/
Acor Chess Academy (Brandon):
- Roland Park Tournament -- Open and U1000 categories with 14-25 players per section.
Tampa Bay Chess / Coach Taylor (Tampa):
- Mary Bryant Summer Chess Camp -- 4 sections, 17-22 players per section. Mostly unrated novice players, but a couple up to 1200.
- Mary Bryant Chess Gran Prix -- probably similar format to the Summer Chess Camp event.
- other tournaments -- check their website here: http://wflachess.org/
Central Florida Chess Club (Orlando):
- Sunshine Summer Open & Scholastic --5 rounds, G/120. Scholastic Section had 34 players of a wide range of ability, from complete novice to 1365.
- Central Florida Class Championships -- Annual event, in early to mid January. 5 rounds, G/120 over two (or optionally three) days. Divided into several sections by rating. Open to kids and adults, so it's a nice way for the whole family to play, no matter where they are rated.
- National K-12 Championships -- Huge annual event, with seven rounds over three days, held in Orlando in late November/early December. Divided into sections by grade level, not by rating (though additional awards given by rating category too).
[G/30 means that a clock is used and each player gets 30 minutes per game. U500 means that players in that section cannot have a USCF rating of over 500 at the start of the tournament. Open means there's no rating limit.]