The Internet is providing a huge boost to chess. If you wake up at 3 a.m.
with the perfect opening sequence mapped out in your head, all you need to
do is log on to an Internet chess server and grab a game!
Chess is a two-player game of skill and strategy. The equipment is the
same everywhere -- a board and pieces -- but strategies vary. That's the beauty
of chess. The object of the game is to capture your opponent's pieces and
force his surrender.
People play against friends, by letter or e-mail, in tournaments, against
computers, and even over the Internet. There are regional, national and international
associations that offer guidance and administer rankings.
Chess has its origins in fifth-century India, but no one knows who actually
invented the game. It spread to Persia and the Middle East in the sixth century,
and Europeans were playing it by the 10 AD.
The game gained popularity during the Middle Ages. One of the first books
printed in English on any subject other than the Bible was a chess book published
in 1474. By the 17th century, the game had settled into its modern form.
There are several different ways to get involved in chess. Here are the
Casual games with friends or family members. Most people start off learning
the game this way.
Many people join local chess clubs and play against other members. Games
played in club settings can be informal or rated. In rated games, the outcome
is noted and the players' rankings are adjusted accordingly.
Big Tournament Chess:
Large rated tournaments with titles, trophies, and significant prize money.
Many chess players never meet their opponents face to face. They play
correspondence chess by postcard or e-mail. Each person takes his turn and
then sends the move to his opponent. These games can literally go on for years,
though e-mail chess tends to be much quicker.
The same as casual correspondence, but outcomes are tracked by a club
or national organization. Large tournaments can also be conducted this way.
One of the growth areas in chess. These are sites on the Internet where
players congregate and play live games at any hour of the day. There are also
online tournaments. These games can be rated, but by a different system than
the "official" ratings used in other types of chess.
Many players like to match wits with computer opponents, and there are
several electronic chess games to choose from, as well as chess software.
It's tough to say exactly how many people play chess. The U.S. Chess Federation
has 82,349 paid members. The International Chess Federation -- which oversees
all national chess clubs and keeps official rankings -- lists 25,415 ranked
individuals in the world.
Chess is a workout for the brain, so you don't have to be in tiptop physical
shape to play it. You can earn a living as a chess player, but you've got
to be good. Many tournaments have big money at stake. The 1998 World Open
offered up nearly $200,000 in prize money.
The skills you learn playing chess can also be applied to different careers
-- mathematics, computer programming and engineering. There's also a lucrative
market for collectible chess sets, and there are some people who earn money
buying and selling them.
Getting involved in chess can be as inexpensive -- or costly -- as you
want. "Chess costs very little to start, though serious players will often
end up investing a lot of money in the game," says chess player Glenn Frazier,
a chess player in Pennsylvania.
For under $10 you can usually pick up a small plastic chess set. If you
want to get more serious, then you'll need a full-sized board ($20), a standard-sized
set of pieces ($10), a chess clock (around $40) and a score pad ($5).
Once they start playing, many chess enthusiasts find that they want to
learn new opening moves, game strategies and endgames. "I currently have about
50 books devoted to various aspects of chess theory," says Rodney Payne. "A
small collection -- but it's mine!"
Clubs have annual dues. Tournaments have entry-fees ranging from $5 to
$40. Bigger tournaments can cost even more. "Learning the basics of how to
play is easy," says Frazier.
Family members, friends, or club members make for good chess mentors. The
U.S. Chess Federation also has an introduction to the game on its Web site.
United States Chess Federation
3054 NYS Route 9W
World Chess Federation
Chess Mail Magazine
Exeter Chess Club
Gives links to other clubs
The Week in Chess
Up-to-date tournament results
Free Internet Chess Server
Provides coverage of major chess events
The Internet Chess Club
Play some online chess
Yahoo's Chess Resources
A ton of links