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I live in St.Louis, Missouri. How would I find a local USCF tournament in my area? Would I get a rating? How does their rating system work, is there a certain rating I would start at?
great questions! i'm working on getting people to start posting events in the CHESS EVENTS section of the site. right now nobody really knows about it, but in the future i hope that all chess events will be posted on chess.com!
You can just go to the USCF website http://www.uschess.org
Also to consider is what your motivation is for membership. There are annual dues for the USCF. If you are just looking to get better at chess, you could use that money for some good chess books, and hop on to http://www.freechess.org to play some online chess in a more serious atmosphere than yahoo.com for example. Tournament chess has it's plusses, but your time and money may serve you better in other ways. Keep in mind that there is a difference between chess rating and chess strength. Ratings are often superficial numbers that we chess players toss around to feed our egos, so just make sure you are wanting a rating for the right reason. Tournament chess IS fun, but just make sure you don't let your rating DEFINE you as a chess player. Just focus on your enjoyment of the game and your own progression of skill. Now that I really don't care about my rating, I get much more out of chess. I hope this advice is helpful to you.
OTB play is really a great experience. Let me give you some of nuances you will encounter. First, your equipment will consist of chess pieces and board, a chess clock and score pad. The rules of board behavior; touch a piece/move that piece where legally possible. remove your hand from the piece/ it stays where you placed it. Punch(the clock) with the same hand that you move your piece and record your moves and those of your opponent on your score pad. make no unnecessary noises ie. humming, finger tapping, knee bouncing, ruffling of food packages etc.; most tourneys/ no food or drink at the table. Usually, who arrives at the table first and sets up the board and pieces/those pieces will be used provided they are regulation staunton design and size for tournaments. Time controls are usually 40 moves in 2-hours; then 20 moves in 1-hour; then 10 moves in 1/2 hour etc.. Most games are finished within the first time control. expenses vary; entry fees, hotel fees, parking , food(most tourneys are 5-7 games or more) over a Holiday weekend. You'll have more fun when your friends are participating. Then your group can analyze the notated games. the leader board will display all game win-loss-drawn. You'll learn many things about yourself and how you function under pressure. Good Luck.
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