F.A.Q 4 - How do children get selected to play for England?

The aim of this section is to answer questions, particularly for new parents. If you have any suggestions of questions you would like answered (or that you would have liked answered when you were new to SJC) please let us know!

There are two main opportunities to be selected to represent England at chess:

(a) Invitation to join the National Chess Junior Squad (NCJS); open to players aged U10 - U16. Once invited to join, membership remains until the player reaches age 16. Most squad members are offered a fixture most years. More information about qualification and selection follows on this page.

(b) Invitation to join an English Chess Federation (ECF) delegation to a specific tournament. Selection is open to any age group but is for a specific event only. The details of selection policy are tweaked annually and vary between major tournaments (e.g. World Junior CC, European Junior CC) and 'developmental opportunities' (e.g. World or European Schools Individual Tournaments). Generally selection is based on published grade, performance in the English Youth Chess Championship Grand Prix (formerly the John Robinson GP), attainment of a 'norm' (an excellent performance in an event), or various wildcard criteria (e.g. performance at British Championships or Delancey UK Chess Challenge, other validated recommendation). Refer to the ECF Junior website for up to date criteria.

The National Chess Junior Squad (NCJS)

England sends teams to many different tournaments in Europe and the World at all age groups between Under-11 and Under-18.

The players chosen are selected from the NCJS.

So - how do I get into the NCJS?

This depends on your age.

It is usual to attempt to qualify as an U11 (sometimes as an U10), and each year it is part of the role of E.P.S.C.A. (the English Primary Schools Chess Association) to select the best 24 Under 11's from across the 50 counties of England to join the NCJS.

It is, however, still possible to qualify between the ages of 12 and 16.

The selection process in either case is rigorous and you should not underestimate the time, training and effort required. A brief outline is given below - however, if you are seriously considering this, our coaching manager will be pleased to discuss this with you in more depth in person.

Qualifying as an Under-11

Trials for the England U11 team are held in April each year, usually in liverpool. Entry is by invitation only. There are two routes to an invitation:

(a) A player (usually the U11 board 1) may be nominated by their association (i.e. SJC if you a Sussex player).

(b) A player needs to perform well in at least two qualifying tournaments. 'Performing well' is measured in 'norms' and 'half-norms'. You need two half-norms (or a norm) to qualify. The number of points needed to earn a 'half-norm' varies between tournaments and will be announced at the tournament, but will definately mean scoring more points than you have given away. Rarely, (for example if you win a qualifying tournament), you may be awarded a full norm.

Even if you are nominated under (a) - you will still be expected to attend and perform well at qualifying tournaments.

Which tournaments are qualifying tournaments?

There are usually seven qualifying events around the country to choose from and they are listed in the sidebar, right.

They are generally regular events which run at the same venues each year. Our Calendar page will always post the dates of these events for the current season.

What happens at the England Trial?

If invited to the Trial, you will play 6 games over two days.

The number of points you need to score in order to be offered a place in the NCJS will vary each year depending on factors such as the number of players competing, the number of places available in the squad, and your performance in qualifying events.

Qualifying if you are between 11 and 16

To be invited to join the NCJS you need to demonstrate to the selectors that you are good enough.

You do that by performing well at certain qualifying tournaments, and these are listed in the sidebar, right. However, not all of these tournaments are suitable for all ages - take advice from your coach, or the SJC coaching manager.

Performing well means scoring enough points to earn a 'half-norm'. The number of points needed will vary from event to event and from year to year, but will be announced at the event. Occasionally, an excellent performance such as winning a tournament, will earn a full 'norm'. You will need two half-norms or one norm to be considered for selection.

U11 Qualifying Tournaments

English U11 (Nottingham)

British Rapidplay (Halifax)

LJCC (London)

EPSCA Rapidplay (Liverpool)

South of England (Camberley)

West of England (Swindon)

Junior Squad

Dates for these tournaments for the current season will be posted on our Calendar


12 - 16 Qualifying Tournaments

British Championships

British Rapidplay (Halifax)

LJCC (London)

South of England (Camberley)

West of England (Swindon)

Junior Squad

Dates for these tournaments for the current season will be posted on our Calendar

NB. Not all of the above are qualifiers for all age-groups - take advice from the SJC coaching team if you are considering this route to selection.