Chess Player Information

Insider Info

dotThe 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!

dotChess 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.

dotPeople 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.

dotChess 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.

dotThere are several different ways to get involved in chess. Here are the basic seven:

Kitchen Chess:   Casual games with friends or family members. Most people start off learning the game this way.

Club Chess:   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.

Casual Correspondence:   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.

Rated Correspondence:   The same as casual correspondence, but outcomes are tracked by a club or national organization. Large tournaments can also be conducted this way.

Internet Chess:   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.

Computer 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.

dotIt'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.

dotChess 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 Started

dotGetting 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).

dotOnce 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!"

dotClubs 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
New Windsor , NY   12553

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