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Updated on 08.10.2014 by John Rockefeller & Chris Kim

Welcome to the 2014-2015 qualifying season for the 2015 Maryland Sweet 16 on 03.07-08.2015. Since 1995 this annual invitational tournament has featured 16 of the top K-12 Maryland residents competing in a separate section of the UMBC Open at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The MD-Sweet-16 Champion will receive a MD-Sweet-16 UMBC Chess Scholarship: a fixed-dollar scholarship valued at $41,536, spread over 4 years. (The scholarship covers tuition & fees, but not room & board.) Incidentally, there are 2 other types of UMBC Chess Scholarships for high-school seniors who reside either inside, or outside Maryland.

Of the 9 scheduled MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers this season, the first scheduled one will be MCA Roland Park September on 09.13.2014 in Baltimore, & the final scheduled one will be MCA McDuffie Memorial on 02.21.2015 in Baltimore.

Click below for the MD-Sweet-16 qualification rules & scoring rules.

MCA schedules only 2 rounds of G/90, inc/30 games in the Varsity section at MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers (a.k.a. Local Scholastic Tournaments), to give elite scholastic players the opportunity to compete in games with the same control used at the MD Sweet 16, the Denker High-School National Championship, & the Barber Middle-School National Championship. MCA sets the Varsity floor at 1400 to keep the sections reasonably sized & competitive.

Qualification Rules

      • Qualifiers for the MD Sweet 16 must be full-time students in grades K-12 who are currently enrolled in school or home-schooled.
      • Qualifiers must be residents of Maryland, or non-residents of Maryland who attend a school in Maryland.
      • Qualifiers must have competed in all scheduled rounds of at least 1 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier (a Local Scholastic Tournament) during that qualifying season. There are 3 exceptions to this rule:
            • 1) If a player were to receive a 1-point bye because there were an odd number of players in a round at a MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier, then MCA would consider the player to have competed in that round & the player would receive Varsity Points, as if the player had competed in that round.
            • 2) In the event of an emergency, a player may be excused from competing in at most 1 round of a MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier. The emergency-exemption claim must be approved both on site by the Chief Tournament Director & subsequently by the MCA Scholastic Director. After the tournament the player must submit to the MCA Scholastic Director documentation (such as a medical doctor’s note, a relative’s obituary, etc.) that affirms the legitimacy of the emergency-exemption claim.
            • 3) If a player were to have registered for only the final scheduled MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier of a qualifying season, if that tournament were cancelled, & if that tournament could not be rescheduled before the MD Sweet 16, then the player would have fulfilled the MD-Sweet-16’s tournament-participation requirement by virtue of being considered to have competed in the cancelled MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier. However, the player would be considered to have competed in all scheduled rounds of that MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier for qualification purposes only; because the player will not receive any Varsity Points for having “competed” in the tournament, the player could qualify for the MD Sweet 16 only by rating.
      • Qualifiers must commit to competing in all 4 rounds of the upcoming MD Sweet 16.
      • Qualifiers who do not intend to participate in all 4 rounds of the upcoming MD Sweet 16 are required to contact MCA in a sufficiently timely manner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Failure to do so will result in the player being barred from participating in subsequent MD Sweet 16s—or from MCA’s open tournaments for 2 years, if the player is a high-school senior.
      • Any Qualifier who decides not to play will be replaced by the next highest-rated Alternate. That is, MD-Sweet-16 Varsity Points will NOT determine which Alternate will replace a withdrawn Qualifier. Regarding the replacement of a withdrawn Qualifier, it is immaterial whether the withdrawn Qualifier qualified by USCF rating, or by Varsity Points.
      • MD-Sweet-16 Champions are ineligible to compete in subsequent MD-Sweet-16s; however, they are welcome to compete in subsequent MD-Sweet-16 Qualifiers.

Scoring Rules

      • The number of MD-Sweet-16 Varsity Points at stake at each tournament is weighted by the strength of the field thusly:
              • 8 points: Expert+ (2000+)
              • 4 points: Class A (1800-1999)
              • 2 points: Class B (1600-1799)
              • 1 point: Class C (1400-1599)
              • 0 points: Class D- (<1400)

        A Class D- player will be permitted to play in Varsity under only 2 scenarios:

            • 1) The Class D player has an unpublished rating of 1400+.
            • 2) If an odd number of Varsity players were to have registered, then MCA would invite a Class D player to play up in Varsity, because having an even number of Varsity players would prevent the lowest-rated 1400+ player from not being paired (& having to receive a full-point bye) in Round 1.
      • Varsity Players who do not meet the residency requirement count toward determining Varsity Points, but they do not count in the Varsity-Points standings for MD-Sweet-16 qualification.

      • After the weighting system has been applied & the total # of Varsity Points at stake has been tallied, the following formula will be used to determine the allocation of Varsity Points at a particular tournament:
        the # of Varsity Points allotted to each player who is not tied with other players = the total # of Varsity Points at stake + 1 - (the place the player finished).
      • Tied players share evenly the average of the total number of Varsity points they would earn cumulatively, if the scoring method were determined in a purely linear manner for each player—that is, if tied players were allotted Varsity Points purely according to their place, as determined by tiebreak. (If, for example, 2 players were tied for 3rd place, in a purely linear scoring system the 3rd-place finisher by tiebreak might receive 15 points, and the 4th-place finisher by tiebreak might receive 14 points. In MCA’s scoring system, however, each of the tied players would receive 14.5 points.)
      • Every MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier will be worth 10+ Varsity Points. That is, even if fewer than 10 Varsity points were at stake formulaically (that is, according purely to the cumulative allocation of points, based on the players’ various ratings classes), then the section would nonetheless be scored with 10 Varsity Points actually at stake. So, as long as the 1st-place finisher does not tie for 1st place, the 1st-place finisher at every MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier will earn a minimum of 10 Varsity Points; as long as the 2nd-place finisher does not tie for 2nd place, the 2nd-place finisher at every MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier will earn a minimum of 9 Varsity Points; etc. (This compensatory form of scoring distribution ensures that a significant number of Varsity Points will be at stake, even in the infrequent instance of a small Varsity section with few/no Class A+ players.)
      • If a player were to compete in only 1 round of a MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier because of an alleged emergency, & if the player’s emergency-exemption claim were not to be approved either on site by the Chief Tournament Director, or subsequently by the MCA Scholastic Director, then the player will earn Varsity Points for the single round in which the player competed, only if the player has already competed or subsequently competes in all scheduled rounds of the Varsity section of at least 1 MD-Sweet-16 Qualifier during that qualifying season.
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