Broadening Your Chess Geography

02.24.19 One of the drawbacks of living in a rural state (like Maine) with a small population (like Maine) is that the population of chess players is also small and if you play for any length of time, you end up playing the same people time after time. Chess player and chess mom Elisabeth Mock submitted this report about her experiences crossing state lines in search of chess competition.

Broaden your chess geography! image pixabay

Thanks to Elisabeth Mock for contributing to this report..

To broaden your chess horizons, leaving the state can be really helpful. Scholastic players who have the opportunity to attend national tournaments usually come back to Maine with an improved rating or, at least, better perspective on their chess skills.

You may notice that more and more chess tournaments from New England and the Canadian Maritimes are being cross posted on Other excellent sources of out of state chess opportunities are: listings on USCF, the Continental Chess website, Relyea chess, individual state webpages, club webpages or Facebook pages.

The next time you travel for any reason, try to look up a local chess club or tournament during your trip. The chess community is generally very welcoming, and they will be excited to have a new player in their club for the day as well!

About two years ago, we travelled to Massachusetts for a sports camp and found a listing for the Waltham Chess Club meeting the evening before. They were having a 15-minute rated quick tournament. Out of 19 players, seven were rated above 1800.

This week, we were back in the Boston area visiting some colleges for our chess player's sibling. I checked on the Mass Chess website and found the Waltham Chess Club would be having a Blitz tournament while we were there. Of the 21 entrants, eight were rated over 1800. The club director even remembered my scholastic chess player!

US Chess crosstable of the Waltham February G/5 d0

Waltham Chess Club meets in the cafeteria of a large office building complex in the evenings when the building is not otherwise used.

On a different trip two years ago, we attended a Quads event at the Boylston Chess Foundation. Again, coincidentally, the BCF was having a tournament this week. It was another great opportunity to play alongside 32 players (in two sections), none of which my son had ever played before.

US Chess crosstable of the Boylston Chess Club Tornado #133

The Boylston Chess Club

In addition to tournaments currently listed on, there are two big tournaments within driving distance in April 2019: One in Sturbridge, MA and one at Foxwoods in CT. Both are organized by Continental Chess. Like any other competitive or highly skilled activity, the pursuit of the chess hobby can require a significant budget. Finding chess buddies with whom to car pool and share hotel rooms can lessen the cost. Or, if you are on a family trip already, finding a meeting of a local chess club is usually free.

Chess can really open up new worlds to players of all ages!

Maine scholastic chess player Ben Mock (right) broadens his chess geography by playing outside of Maine.


FWIW, both Waltham and Boylston have tournaments almost every week. In April my wife and I are traveling to Illinois to play in the Greater Peoria Open.

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