Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the club provide coaching or instruction?
A: The club itself generally doesn’t provide coaching but occasionally we have special events that do. The club has a small library of chess books, many of which have good instructional material, that members can check out. The following club members do provide coaching (contact us if you are a club member and want to be added to this list; note that the club itself does not endorse any particular person):

Nick Raptis – FIDE Master, 5-time Oregon State Champion, 2017 Washington State Champion, coach for 20+ years. Coaches all levels based on old Russian training methods. Looking for students who are very passionate about the game and willing to improve through hard work combined with excellent guidance and coaching. njraptis@yahoo.com.

Q: Am I ready to play in a Portland Chess Club tournament?
A: We recommend that players be somewhat above the beginning level and know how to notate before playing in a PCC Open tournament. In addition, we recommend that scholastic players be comfortable playing in a serious tournament and against adults before playing in a PCC Open tournament. For players who meet these prerequisites, the Sunday Quads is an excellent way to get introduced to the club and PCC Open tournament play. This tournament groups the participants into a number of sections based on rating, often allowing players to compete against others who are at a similar level. It’s also cheaper to enter and does’t last as long as most of our other tournaments. The Friday Scholastic Quads are the best PCC tournament to start with for the scholastic players who are slightly above the beginning level (we also recommend that these players check out some of the scholastic information in the “Other Organizations” page).

Q: What is the strength of the players who attend the Portland Chess Club casual chess?
A: It attracts players with a wide range of abilities, usually with players just above the very beginning level (knowing a little more than just how the pieces move) to players around 1600 strength in the US Chess rating system.

Q: Which chess clock should a tournament player buy?
A: Most tournaments these days (including all current PCC events) are played with one or two time controls and have an increment or delay of up to thirty seconds so you should get a clock that supports these features. For time controls with delay, it’s important for the clock to show the delay countdown in some form when you are low on time, either through it simply showing the delay countdown if the clock supports the countdown (also known as simple, US) form of delay and/or through the clock supporting the Bronstein form of delay, so you can always tell exactly how much time you have for a move if you are low on time. The clocks that support these features that we recommend players in the US choose between are the VTEK 300, ZMart Fun (also known as the ZMF II), Chronos Blitz/GX/FX (the shorter Chronos), Chronos II (Also simply known as Chronos and the longer Chronos. Make sure it’s one of the more current versions that does all of the features listed above.), DGT 3000, DGT 2010 (make sure it’s the current model with dark blue buttons on the front of the clock), Omcor GT960, Saitek Competition Pro (makes sure it’s the “Pro” model which has a silver case), Leap PQ9912/Wholesale Chess Advanced (these are essentially the same clock but sold under different names), and the Leap KK9908. There are some advantages and disadvantages to each of these clocks.

Q: How do US Chess ratings and titles work?
A: For an overview of how rating and titles work, click here. For a technical description that includes more of the mathematics on how ratings and titles are computed, click here and here.

Q: What’s the difference between official and unofficial US Chess ratings?
A: US Chess currently publishes “official” ratings once a month. A players rating on the third Wednesday in the month, if it’s based on at least four lifetime games, will be their official (or published) rating for events starting the following month. A rating based on less than four lifetime games remains unofficial. Using the official ratings allows one to know farther in advance what sections and prizes they will be eligible for at an upcoming tournament. However, using the latest “unofficial” (or “live”) ratings (which must be announced in advance) can put players in more appropriate sections, have them be eligible for more appropriate prizes, and lead to better pairings. Currently, the PCC generally uses the official ratings for all its tournaments except the Sunday Quads which generally uses the “live” ratings.

Q: How do the pairings at tournaments work?
A: The two most common methods of pairing chess tournaments are the Swiss and round robin. All PCC tournaments are currently paired in Swiss, double Swiss, or round robin format. There are different methods to the Swiss system that sometimes produce slightly different pairings (for example, US Chess and FIDE Swiss pairing rules) but for a good overview of how the Swiss system works, click here. In a round robin, everyone in a section plays each other. A four player round robin is known as a quad. In a round robin, players are seeded randomly (“by lot”) with the exception that under US Chess rules, it’s preferred to seed quads by rating. Under US Chess rules the order of pairings and colors in each matchup are determined by the Crenshaw tables and under FIDE rules they are determined by the Berger tables. In a double Swiss or double round robin, you play each opponent twice, once as White and once as Black. In double round robin blitz tournaments, the rematches are almost always played immediately. In double round robin regular rated tournaments, you usually play everyone once before playing the rematches.

Q: Why is Oregon Chess Federation (OCF) membership required for Oregon residents, and only Oregon residents, to play in the two and three day annual PCC tournaments?
A: The reasons it’s required for Oregon residents is because it allows the tournaments to be qualifiers for the Challengers section of the Oregon Closed (see the links section below) and it helps support the OCF financially. The reason membership in the OCF or the players home state isn’t required from players outside of Oregon is because these players aren’t eligible to play in the Oregon Closed.

Q: How can I check to see if I am a current member of the OCF?
A: Currently, the best way is to inquire via email at email@pdxchess.org

Q: When does the next round start?
A: At most PCC tournaments the starting time of the next round is shown on the clock above the pairings and/or on the pairings sheet.