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I think Kasparov was beating his headmaster at age 4. I can barely beat kids at age 41.
I have to say that I am truly impressed at the quality and quantity of the responses that I've received on this post. Thanks again to everyone who added their insights.
We are not concerned with our player's rankings matching up to any external ranking system at this time. We just need to ensure that an advanced player doesn't get accidentally paired with beginners on a regular basis. If we were dealing with adults, then it wouldn't be much of a problem. But kids have difficultly with self ranking. If I take their word, then our school probably has the highest concentration of advanced chess playing kids in North America. :)
I think a ladder would work, but we would probably have to implement it next year. It would certainly add a lot more structure to our routine, but we would need some way of dealing with the crush of students clammering to record their results at the end of the session. (It turns into absolute chaos when the bell rings.) I'll discuss it as one of the possibilities with our group.
if kids rate themselves they, like adults, rate themselves too highly.
if kids rate their opponents they are probably less biased.
so don't ask the kids how they rate themselves but ask how they rate the other kids. this is the information you need.
Hey Bradison, I teach chess in six different schools here in San Francisco and the first thing I do is divide the kids into three groups. While using a USCF rating system is fine for tournaments, for what you're doing, its a bit to difficult. What I would suggest is dividing your students up into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups. Use the following as your criteria: Beginners: Anyone who hasn't played chess, anyone who has trouble moving the pieces correctly, anyone who doesn't understand Castling and and special rules such as En Passant. Intermediate: Students who have a grasp of piece movement, Castling, En Passant but have a limited understanding of tactics Advanced: Students who understand and use tactics (pins, forks, etc) in their games. You may find some students who are really advanced. Try to pair the best students up and give them more difficult problems that the rest of the group. Rather than watching all 150 kids play to determine their levels, give them a simple test. Let me know (send me a message) and I'll send you some PDF tests for determining students levels and abilities.
USCF rating system
bad idea especally when the kids only play a few games
If it was up to me I would make one up like this one I just made up...
give everyone a starting rating lets say 100
everyone that wins aginst someone thier own rating gets +10 pts. Everyone that looses to someone with thier own rating gets -10 pts. If someone looses to someone with a lower rating take away the difference from thier two ratings. the winner of the game has plus the difference.
To let kids report their results, you can have a sheet of paper for each game, with the players' names on it, along with "white win", "black win", "draw", have them circle the result, and both sign it. When the bell rings, you end up with a messy stack of papers rather than a messy stack of students =)
If you go with a ladder system, there may be a way to just use Excel to sort students into groups for you. Let's say you only care about quantity of wins. One column can be the student's name, the next their total score, and every column after that can be a new session/game. I think there's a way to lock rows together so that when you sort the 'total score' column, the names and record move with the total score. I'm sure you can find specialized software to do this, but Excel may be an easier (and cheaper) solution. If you wanted to go even further, you can have another column with the cumulative score of everyone that that particular student has beaten...think strength of schedule (or tiebreak); it's probably not necessary though.
I like the ladder system and separating into a few general groups. This is handy for kids to have a similar level group to play within and is useful for small group teaching sessions. Our school is K-5, with about 30 club members.
Since a few of the kids in our club play in USCF tournaments, I was able to use their ratings as a guide for our club's internal ratings. The kids with USCF ratings (about 500) start there. I start total newbies in the club between 100 and 350, based on their grade level, something like: Initial Club Rating = ((Grade Level * 100) / 2) + 100, where kindergarten = Grade 0. Kids with some experience I estimate somewhere between the top and bottom kids, then with each game they play, their ratings self-adjust relative to each other.
I volunteer for two chess clubs and have written software that let's kids enter their games and calculates a rating for them. I use a projector attached to a computer and after a kid enters the game, the new standings are displayed to the entire club. You can download the software (and/or read the documentation) at
Try to first separate them by rating. Then have them record game results in the group to see the players who are winning.
If they know how to spell pawn and knight and are 6 years old then put them in the advanced group.
Give them a test. Ask them to solve random tactics. You can also ask them what a skewer is, what a pin is, etc.........
to make an accurate rating, you cant make up this rating with blitz games.
..kids no matter how wise they are always 800 rating players... but their inner Bios hears the inner meanings of others like the zoom of a camera and that causes those freaky defeats...Its reflexive chess anyway and it is a dangerous way experimented only at intermediate level..
Have a tournament, it'll get you a good idea. Then you can give them tests to see where they are at.
...kids rating its an art not a science!
..play in a mirror, its better regarding to light refraction or direct stealing ideas!
do a quick elimination tournament and divide them into groups according to their place.( give them small prizes so they will play at their best)