A chess club is a place where all people of chess interest can gather and participate in their beloved game.
Starting a new one from scratch may seem intimidating yet not impossible, here I’m going to show the most realistic way all chess clubs I have participated in started from scratch.
If you are thinking about this a lot and don’t know what to do, this article is the one you are looking for. I will be discussing steps to create your own chess club with realistic actions.
As a chess player her is what I know:
To start a chess club in high school a person in charge has to find at least 3 people (in most cases) and be approved by the school committee. The person in charge should fulfill the requirements and find ways to acquire the chess equipment that is to used in the club
Starting a chess club includes visualizing the goal, finding a place of meeting, buying basic chess equipment, advertising membership to the club, and engaging in inner or outer tournaments.
This is not just for high school chess clubs though, I am tackling something more general that will likely apply more to my readers.
Here are the steps to properly start a chess club:
1.) Visualize the purpose of the club
This seems like the least important yet will determine the direction the club will take, all things in life starts with a goal.
Is this primarily a meeting place for chess friends? A formal community for serious players pursuing this as a career? Or maybe just a general place where all members can learn from each other.
Whatever it may be, clarify to yourself as the founder what intentions you have for pushing this through.
2.) Identify the appropriate location
Next would be finding a suitable location for your little chess community, does not have to be big just need to be comfortable.
This can be located in a room within your school if this is within a school, or can be a bar and a small room if this was in a local community.
Do not get intimidated by the lack of a big space in fact it can even be harder to communicate in such a large area.
3.) Eliminate any environment distraction
Now that you’ve got your room you should remove any psychological disturbance that may affect future club members.
This could be an alarm clock that causes noise, a poor ventilation system, or the presence of liquor/cigarettes that would have a bad influence on reaching your goal.
Chess games are standardly played in areas of silent atmosphere where people can focus and be at their best.
4.) Buy standard-sized boards
It’s time to seek out chess equipments (you need this if you want to play), which I recommend should range between 3 – 5 chessboards.
The board should strictly follow the standard size used in tournaments, if you want some deeper context of all chessboard sizes you can go through one of my other article (will open in a new tab).
Remember quantity is the focus at this point, you don’t need fancy decorative sets just those that get the job done.
5.) Consider chess mats
This could be a more convenient alternative to the chessboard since it can be rolled out and has a lower storage space.
It is cheaper too and can generally be found in most stores just as a chessboard.
Take note that this one doesn’t have a way to store the pieces you can opt for a separate container (a plastic bag or something) or the one I recommend, a chess bag (we’ll talk about later).
6.) Choose presentable chess pieces
Of course now that we have the board we need some pieces to play a game, again not fancy ones just those that are appropriate.
You should follow the standard piece/board ratio that makes the pieces not too big or too small which are good for visibility.
If you bought a set though (two in one) then this shouldn’t be a problem since the ratio in those is in default configurated to be the standard.
7.) Purchase chess bags if necessary
Chess bags are special products to specifically store chess equipments, the one I’m talking about here is the one for the pieces.
Especially if you have chosen a chess mat; any other artificial container can be pierced where the pieces will leak out and be lost.
Chess bags can be mobile and easy to carry plus ensures that no piece are missing (a missing piece will ruin the entire set).
8.) Get chess clocks
A very important component of chess practice that is involved in real games, the pressure from chess clocks.
I advise that you match the quantity of the clock with the board so each match can have their respective clock during games.
If you are on a strict budget then it might be worth considering using chess app clocks (for free) although will not train you in manual clocks at all.
9.) Find a good demonstration board (optional)
A chess club is a place to learn and polish chess skills, a demonstration board is great for implying moves during lectures.
Due to its cost however I will say that this is optional (although largely convenient) since you won’t be using this match without many people.
I advise waiting for the club to grow first before deciding for a purchase of a chess demonstration board.
10.) Choose a proper time slot
A very important step before you have actual members of the club, choosing the time which you can operate.
If this is a real brand new club then it’s likely that you don’t have all day to be working on this so you should set the time.
Don’t worry since the time slot can change over time as you gain more people that are active they can take the role when you’re gone.
11.) Bring some friends
Now let’s get some eyeballs in here starting with your friends since they are the most likely to actually join.
It’s likely that these are the people you are most comfortable with, so you would get to enjoy the early days of the club.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be people already interested in chess, you can just introduce them to the game and see if they like it.
12.) Find people of interest in your school
Schools are one of the best places to look at since most people are in the age where they can afford to invest in chess (time).
This would be much easier if the club is located in a school, but even if it’s not you can ask for existing student’s recommendations.
Believe it or not most chess players would want to be in a club just doesn’t know where to find it, so don’t be afraid.
13.) Introduce the club to school members
After engaging with people that are already playing chess it’s time to attract those who don’t, just to give us more opportunity.
Maybe it’s as simple as going room to room and saying “hey we have a chess club meet us if you want”.
The time you spent doing this will have a significant impact on the number of players you can have early on.
14.) Meet some regulations
You’ve got some people in your club now, it’s time to practice some common chess etiquettes.
This can be as simple as following the touch move rule within games or writing down moves with chess notations.
This will set the playing environment that you envision in order to properly guide the players to be at their full potential.
15.) Make your own rating system
This is an idea that I’ve thought about but never got to implement, the existence of inner ratings.
In chess there is a thing called Elo ratings which are basically numbers to indicate a player’s strength and experience.
You don’t have to follow the rating completely, you can modify it on your own (having a player gain one rating per won game and lose one if lost whatever you want).
16.) Hold inner chess events
This is intended for people that are already within the circle, a way to get entertained and possibly recommend more people.
Chess tournaments between present members can be a good incentive to attract attention and just to make things fun.
It also sparks the wonders of competition where players are trying to improve their craft at a faster rate.
17.) Look for other chess clubs
This is another way to find an even larger competition than your own where you can do some very cool stuff with some collaboration.
The event can be somewhat big too which may pick up the interest of nearby watchers that will also be interested in joining you.
But overall, this is just to participate in the chess community as all chess clubs should do.
18.) Find people in local communities
Most things that I’ve talked about include schools, clubs and the likes without actually mentioning your own local community.
These are people near your home or some of your member’s home that you think can have a passion for chess.
There might be a couple of individuals who are willing to join you, you just need to take the step in reaching out to them.
19.) Talk to a local chess coach
Chess coaches are those that have enough experience to teach some of the basic and advanced chess techniques, a good guy to interact with.
A visit from a coach will be deeply appreciated by some of your existing members especially if most are beginners.
Such coaches have students too, and they may ask for theirs to be part of your club as a supplementary experience.
20.) Include some family members
Who’s the better people to convince than your own family? chess is a pretty famous game that they will likely be interested.
It will make things more smooth too, since these are individuals that you can personally ask to take over when busy.
Plus you’re going to invest some time into this thing as the founder keeping them in the know might be a good idea.
21.) Ask for recommendations
Instead of asking for more people yourself, you can also try to get the existing members to help via recommendations.
Your members have their own school, local community, and families too, they can bring people if they like.
This in my opinion is the best way a club can grow, since there’s more than one person doing the advertising.
22.) Use online platforms
Social media are humongous in today’s era, if you’re not using it correctly then there is a missed opportunity.
Posting in a Facebook group, having a Youtube channel, or going through some local listing can give you followers and attention.
This will help with the brand and the overall feasibility of the club, since the name will become more relevant.
23.) Use flyers
This is more of an old-school approach rather than a modern one, but this might just work for all you know.
Posting in your local board with something in the line of “we have a chess club at this place” can help raise awareness.
We just want to bring as many chances for people to find out about the club, so more likelihood for them to join.
24.) Join tournaments
This is a large activity that most chess clubs are built for, collecting players and preparing them for a chess tournament.
A chess club can be recognized as illegitimate if there’s no participation in any tournament, as doing so builds credibility and trust.
It will give the members experience, entertainment, and the feeling of competition, which will all play a large part in the group’s success.
25.) Have fun
This is something that I just have to throw in after everything else, please have fun throughout the entire process.
All of this effort put into establishing a good chess club will be for naught if it becomes a drag, enjoy this.
You can do all the steps and still fail, yet if you love what you’re doing then it doesn’t matter and you stop being scared.
Building a good chess club that you can be proud of is not an easy task but is definitely worth it.
All of this does not guarantee a club’s growth but is this a good guideline to attempt such ambition.
Most important of all, it’s not about building a big thing and being happy about it, it’s about building anything and being happy regardless of the size.
Sleep well and play chess.