Sussex Teams

How does my child get selected for a County team?

There are a bewildering number of team events and therefore plenty of opportunity for children of all ages to play for their county. The numbers of players per team varies, but the U9 Championship involves 12 boards plus 4 reserves, while the U11 is for 20 boards plus 4 reserves. Reserve players all get to compete as they will be paired against reserves from other teams.

SJC will decide at the start of the season which events it will enter, taking into account factors such as availability of players, team managers and locations – below are the events that SJC usually take part in:

  • EPSCA U9, U11 and Girls Championships
  • NYCA U12, U14, U16, & U18
  • SCCU U13 & U18
  • SCCU U14 (max grade 130)
  • ECF U18 & U13

How are the teams chosen?

For the U9 and U11 age groups, players are selected from those who compete regularly at SJC tournaments. In particular, attendance at the U9 and U11 tournament (usually November) and the Girls Tournament (usually December) is recommended for those aspiring to play for the County.

Squad members are expected to attend training, and committment to training events is also taken into account during the selection process.

How far will I have to travel?

It is true to say that supporting a child who is selected for a county team will involve many miles of motorway, and a SatNav is a smart investment as venues are usually schools tucked away in a warren of residential streets!

It is likely that the EPSCA U9 or U11 championships will be your first exposure to team events. These take the form of regional heats (called zones) usually in March, from which the top teams qualify for a national final in April or May. The venues are decided at the EPSCA AGM in the Autumn, with member associations taking turns to host events. Therefore the committment to travel varies considerably from year to year. For example, in the 2009-2010 season the U11s will travel to Somerset for the zone, and Manchester for the final…..while the U9s get rather luckier with Leatherhead for the zone and a home final in Sussex!

SJC will consider the feasibility of using coaches where appropriate. For example, in 2008 the U11s travelled to Liverpool by coach, staying overnight in Stoke the night before the event.


Once selected, a player is entitled to buy a coveted royal blue t-shirt or sweatshirt with logo. The wearing of these at team events is strongly encouraged.

How are the tournaments organised?

Having mastered the Swiss Pairing system employed at SJC tournaments you will now become familiar with the intricacies of the ‘Jamboree’ format. There are 3 rounds in a day, and in each round each board is paired against a different county. For example, in round 1, board 1 may be playing the board 1 from Essex, while board 2 will be playing the board 2 from Oxford and so on. Each board will play a different county in each round.

Tournaments will be run formally, and chess clocks will be used on all boards.

What about playing abroad?

Sometimes opportunities arise to represent Sussex against teams from outside England.

SJC has a good relationship with the Irish Chess Union which has resulted in teams travelling to Shannon and Dublin to compete, with Sussex hosting a return event.

For International events, the age group your child is considered for will be determined not by their age as at 31st August, but by their age as at 31st December. So – for example, a child in Year 6 would be an U11 in English competitions but if their birthday was before 1st January, would be an U12 internationally.

Acronyms Explained

ECF – The English Chess Federation is the organisation that “controls, directs and promotes the playing of chess in England”. It is also responsible for calculating player’s grades.

EPSCA – The English Primary Schools Chess Association “exists to advance the education of primary school aged children by teaching, supervising and developing the playing of chess by those children”. As well as running the inter-association team championship referred to above, they also select an U11 England squad who play home internationals and compete in overseas events – more about this on the Playing for England page.

NYCA – The National Youth Chess association run under 18, under 16, under 14 and under 12 inter-association chess events each autumn term.

SCCU – The Southern Counties Chess Union is one of the five English chess unions affiliated to the ECF and as such acts as a link between it’s members and the ECF, and organises regional events including a junior team jamboree for U13 and U18.