Author: Jonathan Whitcomb

Chess Tournament Tiebreaker

Published / by Jonathan Whitcomb

By the chess tutor Jonathan D. Whitcomb (Salt Lake Valley of Utah)

While directing two chess tournaments in Utah recently, I devised a tiebreaker system for double round robin events:

Whitcomb tiebreaker (especially useful for Double Round Robin chess tournaments)

First Part

Use the two-game match (or matches) between players who have tied.
If that does not resolve one or more ties, use the following system for
the tie or ties that have not been resolved:

Second Part

A player’s score for the last played game is multiplied by four.
That sum is then added to the final score of the opponent in that game.

Third Part

Use a variation of Part One: count only the second game (chronological) of the two-game match (or matches).

Fourth Part

Use a random method (tossing a coin)


Explanation for the second part

This gives more weight to performance at the end of the tournament, for
prizes are awarded after the tournament is completed. It allows for the
possibility that a player has improved during the event, giving credit for that.

Example #1

The first part of calculations did not resolve a three-way tie, so the second
part is used:

Player-A and Player-B and Player-C are tied at the end of a double round robin.
Here are the last played games for those three persons (remember these are only
the last games that were actually played by those three players):

Player-A: won against an opponent who had a final score of 2: tiebreaker = 6
Detail: (4*1)+2=6

Player-B: drew against an opponent who had a final score of 3: tiebreaker = 5
Detail: (4*½)+3=5

Player-C: lost against an opponent who had a final score of 4: tiebreaker = 4
Detail: (4*0)+4=4

Example #2

Player-A and Player-B are tied at the end. In their individual match, however,
Player-A scored 1½-½, meaning Player-B scored ½-1½, so Player-A wins the tiebreaker.
There is no need to go to the second part of calculations.

Example #3

Player-A, Player-B, and Player-C are tied at the end of the chess tournament. Here is
how they did against each other:

from Example number 3 of the Whitcomb tiebreaker for chess tournaments





After looking at those games those three played against each other, we have this:

Player-A = 2½
Player-B = 2
Player-C = 1½

The above points are used for tie-breaking.


Two Double Round Robin Chess Tournaments in Utah in 2017

Many chess tournaments in Utah, as in other states of the USA, are Swiss system competitions. Double round robins, aside from speed games, are indeed rare tournaments, but that’s what we’re having in the spring and early summer of 2017, in the Salt Lake Valley. In fact we’re having two of them at the same time, in two senior centers.

At the Sandy Senior Center, a few miles south of Salt Lake City, we’re winding down the first annual chess club championship, although the top players have basically completed their games. Of the six players competing, over a period of many weeks, the following three will be receiving awards:

#1 Jonathan Whitcomb – score: 8-2

#2 Bruce – score: 6½-3½

#3 Steve – score: 6-4

It’s possible that another player, Greg, may attain a final score of 6-4, if he wins his last three games, but Steve will win the tiebreaker. For this double round robin chess tournament, the tiebreaker is this: whoever completes his or her games first. The Whitcomb method of tie-breaking is not used in this event, for it was developed during the competition.

At the Harman Senior Center in West Valley, Utah, Grant Hodson is almost sure to be the winner. If he wins his last game, his score will be 10½-1½. His only loss was to me, but it seems that the best I can hope for, in this year’s championship chess tournament, is getting second place, half a point behind Grant. Like the Sandy tournament, the tiebreaker goes to the player who finishes all his or her games first, and Grant has only one game left, while I still have four games to go.



Lessons From a Tournament Chess Game

The following game I [Jonathan Whitcomb] played on June 14th against Grant Hodson, the tournament leader in the Harman Chess Club Championship (2017) in West Valley, Utah.


Utah chess lessons

I’m Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess, and I’m now offering my services as a chess coach in the Salt Lake Valley.


Utah chess tutor

A free chess tournament gave about half of the children their first ever experience in tournament competition. The event was organized by the local chess tutor Alexander Gustafsson and the Youth-Services librarian Laura Renshaw, with publicity help from the author Jonathan Whitcomb.


Utah Chess Instruction

Published / by Jonathan Whitcomb / 1 Comment on Utah Chess Instruction

Chess lessons are available in many communities in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, from chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb, who lives in Murray. The following are only a portion of the cities to which he can drive for giving private or group instruction in the royal game, and the cost is very reasonable: $25 per lesson, at 45 minutes to an hour for each lesson. (Not all of the youngest chess players, less than about six years old, will do well for more than 45 minutes of tutoring.)

For most chess players, improving basic tactical ability is very important.

A partial listing of the communities available for chess tutoring in Utah is here:

  • Murray
  • Taylorsville
  • Holladay
  • Kearns
  • West Valley City
  • Midvale
  • Cottonwood Heights

The chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb may also be available to travel to further locations in the Salt Lake Valley, depending on this schedule. Phone him for details and any potential extra transportation charges that could apply for cities further away from Murray.

He has taught chess to students of many ages, from young children to older kids, teenagers, and adults. Instruction is available for those of many different levels of ability.

In general, the following subjects may be covered in various lessons (depending on the skill of the student, for each person is given precise individual attention):

  • Basic tactical awareness
  • Motifs of tactics
  • Strategy as a chess game progresses
  • Opening basics and details
  • Middle-game battles
  • End-game principles
  • Precise methods in the end game


man talks on telephone while playing chess

Jonathan Whitcomb wrote the book Beat That Kid in Chess, which may be the first chess publication using the NIP system of chess instruction: nearly-identical positions. This can make it much easier for a chess player to learn most thoroughly the most important aspect of winning chess: tactics.

To communicate with Whitcomb, and ask questions or make an appointment for your first free introductory meeting, use the CONTACT page or call him: 801-590-9692.



Chess Tutor in Salt Lake Valley

Convenient (at your home or at a nearby library) . . . The following communities in the Salt Lake Valley [Utah] can easily be visited by the chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb . . .

Chess Lessons in Las Vegas

Atanas Kolev is a chess grandmaster with more than 30 years professional chess experience as a chess player and coach in many countries all over the world – Bulgaria, Spain, USA, Greece, San Salvador and so on. [$100/hour]

Chess Lesson Reviews – San Diego, California

(Although the title page mentions St. George, Utah)


Utah State Elementary Chess Championships of 2016

Published / by Jonathan Whitcomb

This chess event, at the University of Utah on March 12, 2016, was actually seven independent tournament sections, one for each grade from kindergarten through sixth. Each was a Swiss system, which means that after the first round the children are paired according to cumulative scores. In other words, in the second round the players who won their first-round games will play each other and the players who had lost will play each other, and similar pairings apply in later rounds.

The 2016 Utah Elementary Championship, held in Salt Lake City, had a total of 451 children competing in six rounds, with the largest section being the fifth-graders: 91 chess competitors. In this post, we look at the more impressive rating improvements shown by some of the players, rather than extoll just the trophy winners. (Most of the children, however, were unrated before they competed in this tournament.)

grownup plays chess with a kid

Kid plays an informal game against a grownup, before the chess tournament begins


Major Rating Improvements in Fourth and Fifth Graders

Fourth-Grade Children

Sapphire Wang: from pre-tournament-751 to post-tourney-853 (both provisional)

Chendi Luo: from 424 up to 698 – What a great jump!

Andrew Garzella: 421 to 656 – Another big step

Brigham Call: 390 to 579 (both provisional)

Natalie Germanov: 699 to 786 – Well Done!

Jared Hardy: 456 to 609 (both provisional)

Evan Luo: 398 to 593 – Great improvement! (both prov.)

Nayantara Nair: 436 (prov) to 588 (prov) – Super!

Olivia Li:  234 to 548 (both provisional) – Excellent!

Arianna Foutz: 118 (prov) to 363 (prov) – Great progress!

Audrey Young: 405 to 503 – Big improvement for an established rating

Leif Larson: 357 to 412 (both prov.) – Well done, Leif!

Benjamin Jones: 108-P to 178-P – Beat a player who eventually got three points: Great!


pre-tournament - chess trophies

Children admire the mountain of chess trophies before the tournament begins

Fifth-Grade children

Brendon Young (who tied for first place): pre-tournament-1002 up to 1087

Benjamin Watanabe (tied for first with Brendon): from 1019 to 1079

Dylan Woodbury: 592 to 790 – What a great leap upward in chess!

Ronak Agarwal: 529 to 727 – An equally impressive gain for Ronak

Felicia Che: 542 to 654 (both provisional) – Good work, Felicia!

Joseph Pachev: 471 to 651 (both prov.) – What a big upward step!

Youlhee Choi: 505-prov to 646-prov – Doing better at chess, for sure

Joseph Krois: 466 to 580 (both provisional) – an impressive gain

Kaiyi Zhang: 461-P to 558-P – Well done, Kaiyi!

Samuel Stoehr: 371 to 513 (both prov.) – Samuel keeps improving

Adam Hill: 101-P to 359-P – Adam had only one loss in this chess tournament

Kiley Almond: 589-P to 720-P – Kiley won three chess games: well done!

Sean Babcock: 278 to 360 (both provisional) – Sean is getting better

Zachary Durtschi: 101-P to 292-P – What excellent progress for Zachary!


Fifth-grade section of the tournament

Fifth graders concentrate on a chess game, late in the tournament



Final-round pairing of fourth graders in the chess tournament

State Elementary School Championships of Utah – “Hundreds of children, with countless parents and grandparents, swarmed into the Union building at the University of Utah, early in the morning of March 12, 2016, to compete in the annual state chess tournament . . .”

New Chess Book for Beginners

Do you know someone who learned to play chess but then got discouraged from losing? “Beat That Kid in Chess” is for readers of many ages: adults, teenagers, and many older children. It accepts you as you are, leading you into knowing how to win.

Sixth grade pairings for the final round

Posted pair-ups for the 2016 Utah Elementary School Chess Championship, 6th-grade, round six

Chess book for beginners

. . .  the choice of a book on chess should depend on the playing level of the one who reads the book. . . . For a teenager or adult who knows the rules of chess but little else, the choice may be easy: the new book Beat That Kid in Chess or the old one Chess for Dummies. If the book purchase is for a gift, the first title is obviously much better . . .

Teenagers’ chess book for beginners

This chess book [Beat That Kid in Chess] is balanced in depth and breadth, with lessons on how to checkmate your opponent, gain a material advantage over another beginner, promote a pawn to a queen, pin one of your opponent’s pieces, make a knight fork, avoid becoming checkmated, and much more.