The Maryland Sweet 16 is an annual invitational tournament for the top 16 scholastic chess players in Maryland that is usually held in February at UMBC. The Champion of the Maryland Sweet 16 will receive a 4-year scholarship (covering tuition & fees, but not room & board) to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), valued at $35,000.


Players in the Rally section at MCA scholastic tournaments can earn Rally points, with the top players qualifying to compete in the Maryland Sweet 16.


Qualifying Rules for the Maryland Sweet 16

1.Qualifiers must be residents of Maryland.

2.Qualifiers must compete in all rounds of the Rally section of at least 1 MCA scholastic tournament during the scholastic year in which the Sweet 16 is held.  However, if a player were to receive a 1-point bye because there were an odd number of players in a particular round at that tournament, then the MCA would consider the player to have competed in that round.  Only in the event of an emergency may a player may be excused from competing in at most 1 round of that tournament.  The emergency-exemption claim must be pre-approved by the Chief Tournament Director.  Furthermore, after the tournament the player must submit to the MCA Scholastic Director documentation (a doctor’s note, a relative’s obituary, etc.) that affirms the legitimacy of the emergency-exemption claim. If the tournament is cancelled by the MCA, then the player must compete in 1 of the remaining Rally tournaments.  However, if the tournament were to cancelled by the MCA, if the tournament could not be rescheduled before the Maryland Sweet 16, and if the tournament were the final Rally tournament before the Maryland Sweet 16, then the player will have fulfilled the Maryland Sweet 16’s tournament-participation requirement, by virtue of being considered to have competed in the cancelled Rally tournament.  However, Rally points will not be allocated to a player in this situation.

3.The formula for determining Rally points accrued per tournament is: the number of players in the Rally section of an MCA scholastic tournament divided by the player’s place in the Rally section.If there are ties, then each player with the same score (the number of tournament points) receives the average number of Rally points earned by all of the players who tied but placed differently, according to tiebreaks.(Players from out of state count toward determining Rally points, but they do not count in the Rally point standings.

4.The 16 Qualifiers are the top 6 players by USCF rating and the 10 players with the highest number of Rally points (excluding the top 6 players by rating).The March Rating Supplement (which includes the results of tournaments submitted by the first Friday in February) is used to determine the Qualifiers by rating.

The 2 players with the next highest number of Rally points are the Maryland Sweet 16 Alternates.

5.Sweet 16 players are required to compete in all 4 rounds of the tournament, with exceptions made only in the cases of a medical emergency or another extraordinary situation.Failure to play in all 4 rounds affects place and tiebreaks for the other players; so, if a Qualifier cannot commit to all 4 rounds, then she must decline the MCA’s invitation to participate ASAP.That way, the MCA will have time to determine and notify an Alternate.

A player who fails to compete in all 4 rounds without an excused absence, will be barred from participating in any future Sweet 16 tournament—or in MCA adult tournaments for 1 year, if the player is a high-school senior.

6.The winner of a Maryland Sweet 16 may not compete in subsequent Maryland Sweet 16s.