Getting Started Over-the-Board

Perhaps you already know how to play the game. Maybe you've been playing for a long time with an old friend. Maybe you're quite new to the game. Now you're ready to join the world of organized chess.

Join Your Local Chess Club

Most chess clubs meet on an informal basis and don't charge dues. So just show up and play! You can see a list of Mississippi chess clubs here.

Help! I Can't Find a Local Club!

If there's not a club in your area then you can always start one. Just email us and we can add your club to our list. It's not too hard. You probably already practice your chess. Just pick a public place (fast food restaurant, mall food court) in your local area and start doing your practicing at a standard time and day of the week. Between advertising your club on our web site and walk through traffic you've got a good chance to have your club catch on.


The Mississippi Chess Association and Mississippi Scholastic Chess Organization are the official chess organizations in Mississippi. These are inexpensive to join ($5) and membership may be required to play in some Mississippi tournaments.

On a national level, the US Chess Federation is our national organization. There are a variety of membership options that are described here along with their costs. Membership typically runs on an annual basis and most membership options include the magazine Chess Life.


In the old days many chess tournaments would have only one game per day. These days our schedules could never accomodate that! To limit how long a game lasts chess clocks are used. These clocks are actually two clocks in one. There is a separate clock face (or digital clock readout) for each player. Each player is given a certain amount of time to play an entire game. This can make for very long (2 hours per player or more) or very short (5 minutes or less) games.

Keeping Score

Keeping score in chess refers to recording the moves of each player throughout the game. It's a great way to keep track of your game so you can go over it later. Under tournament conditions both players are expected to keep score.


If you're interested in playing on a more competitive basis, then you can start attending tournaments. There are a wide variety of tournaments held. Most are held on weekends. Typically each player has at least 45 minutes to an hour. Clocks are always used. Players are expected to keep score. Usually you play 3-6 people in each tournament.

Most tournaments charge entries fees. This can range from the very cheap such as $5 to the largest tournaments in the country where they charge as much as $250. Most local tournaments are in the $25 range. Most tournaments pay cash prizes, although scholastic tournaments or championship tournaments may give away trophies instead or in addition to cash. The entry fee pays for the costs of getting the tournament rated, renting the tournament site, advertising the tournament, and of course the prizes.


In chess a rating system is used to determine the relative strength of players to each other. Ratings serve multiple purposes. A rating helps you track your progress as you get better at chess. Ratings let players know their relative strength compared to each other. You get a rating once you start playing in tournaments.

Tournament prizes are usually broken down by various rating ranges, so that even if you aren't the best player in a tournament you are typically competing against someone who is about as good as you for a prize.