Back in the good old days, chess clubs were very common. Because of the noise Bobby Fischer made in the 1970s when he defeated Boris Spasky, in what was probably the most exciting and widely publicized chess match of all time, chess clubs starting popping up all over the place. And why not? Kids were playing chess on their front porches. People were carrying around chess sets wherever they went. Chess was the biggest thing around for a long time and the chess clubs were the big winners. You couldn’t walk a city block without finding one to join.
Today, it’s a little different. Bobby Fischer is gone and while Gary Kasparov is considered one of the greatest chess players of all time, he just doesn’t have Fischer’s personality. So chess isn’t quite as popular as it used to be. Thus, there aren’t as many chess clubs as there used to be. But they still exist. So the question is, how do you find one?
You can either look in the phone book, where most of them will be listed right under chess clubs in the yellow pages, or you can go on the Internet and do a search for local chess clubs in your area. You won’t find a lot of them, but with any luck you will find one within driving distance of where you live.
As for getting into a chess club, it’s not hard. Yes, there is a yearly membership fee, but it’s usually not very much money. You certainly don’t need to know anybody to get into one. They usually have their meetings once a week. Some clubs that are in more densely populated areas may meet twice a week.
Chess clubs are usually run by somebody who is at least a master of the game but not always. Membership is open to players of all skill levels. The main purpose of joining a chess club, aside from getting to play against others, is to get ranked. The ranking system is very complicated, so we won’t get into it here. If you’re currently ranked, you’re going to have to show proof of this. They won’t just take your word for it. If you’re not, they’ll assume you are at beginners level and begin the process of ranking you from there.
Each chess club has different rules and regulations so make sure you learn them quickly. Breaking the rules is a sure quick ticket out of there. The rules mostly govern match play against the other members. Chess is a gentleman’s game and should be played as such. Bobby Fischer may have been popular, but many say he was a bad example of a good sportsman.
Chess clubs are a wonderful place to really learn the game and truly get better at it as you are forced to play against people who are probably much better than you. That is the only way you will improve. So try to find a chess club in your area. You’ll be a much better player for it.