How to Organize a Chess Tournament

By Patrick Wilson
Organizing a successful chess tournament requires a little time and organization.

Chess tournaments provide many benefits. Players have the opportunity to test their playing ability against complete strangers and see how the best handle pressure and competition. Tournaments also provide a wonderful time to socialize and engage in a common interest. Organizing a successful chess tournament requires some preparation, but the benefits are on par with playing in the tournament. You learn the value of organization and delegation, and you have the satisfaction of providing players with a learning experience.

Select the type of chess tournament you wish to host. Chess tournament organizers commonly use the Swiss format, matching players based on a ranking devised by the tournament director or a chess organization. The Swiss format prevents the highest ranked players from playing right away as well as avoiding a mismatch between the highest and the lowest ranked player.

Select a venue for the chess tournament. Elementary schools are ideal locations for chess tournaments. The gymnasium provides ample room to accommodate all the participants. Individual classrooms are perfect places for players to rest and relax in between matches, and the cafeteria is a perfect location to serve refreshments.

Secure the necessary materials. It is the tournament director’s responsibility to ensure that enough chess boards and pieces are available for each chess match within a round. Use a computer to pair the players up and assign them a board number. Number the chess boards in the playing venue so players know where their next game is located. Players are usually responsible for providing their own chess clocks.

Announce the dates of the chess tournament. A good rule of thumb is to announce the dates six weeks in advance. This will allow chess club and team presidents to determine the number of participants from their organization.

Assemble a tournament staff. The staff’s purpose is to patrol the playing venue during a round and be available to resolve disputes concerning the tournament rules. Staff members are also responsible for issuing penalties for any rules violation.

Review the rules of the tournament with the players before the first round begins. Make sure the players know how much time they have to finish their game in each round. Some tournaments operate with a “touch/move” rule meaning that the first piece a player touches is the piece he must if move if he can do so without breaking the basic rules of chess.

Things Needed

  • Chess sets
  • Computer

About the Author

Patrick Wilson earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Western Illinois University in 2000. He then taught public school instrumental music for seven years before entering the world of professional writing. In 2008, Wilson became a content writer for websites as well as a freelance blogger. Wilson has contributed to such websites as eHow, COD and Answerbag.