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Playing in your first tournament:

It's easy! All you need is a basic understanding of the game, a little preparation, a board, some pieces, a clock, and an adult sponsor (like a parent or coach). 

What you should know:

Know the rules of chess: first off, you should know how to play chess. For instance, how the pieces move, how to checkmate, and how to castle, etc.


Know chess notation: if you're old enough to read and write, you should also know how to keep track of your moves during the game, which is called taking notation (It's actually pretty easy once you get used to it, so don't worry too much. And it's normal to make mistakes when you're first learning.)


Know time controls: there's usually a time limit in scholastic chess tournaments, so make sure you know how to manage your time during the game. Gateway will always tell you in advance what the time control is, but practicing with a friend, family member, or online before a tournament can help you get used to playing using chess clocks and time controls. Again, pretty easy once you get used to it. 

Know tournament etiquette: you should know basic tournament etiquette, like shaking hands with your opponent before and after the game, not talking during the game, and not touching the other player's pieces. Also, be sure to always practice good sportsmanship. Even if you lose, you should congratulate your opponent after the game and accept defeat gracefully.

Know the tournament details: you'll want to know the number of rounds, how long each game is, what time each round starts, and when to arrive.


Know how to play a game from start to finish: before the tournament, you should practice playing chess regularly, review basic opening principles, and study common tactics and strategies. You should also know how to checkmate your opponent, what stalemate means, and should understand the basic concept of insufficient material. 

Know what to bring: a tournament board with pieces and a basic clock are all you really need to bring with you.   

Still not convinced? Here are some benefits of playing competitive chess:


Chess is a complex game that requires concentration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Regular play and competition can enhance cognitive development and improve skills such as memory, attention span, and decision-making abilities.

Social/Emotional Development

Chess is also a social game that requires players to interact with each other and engage in good sportsmanship. Children can learn valuable skills such as patience, respect, and humility, and also develop a sense of community and teamwork through chess clubs and tournaments.


Chess can enhance critical thinking, logic, and creativity, which are valuable skills in many academic areas such as math, science, and language arts. Playing competitive chess can also teach children the importance of hard work, perseverance, and goal-setting

When you're ready:

Go to our events page and get registered for your first tournament!

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