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OTB - how to get started?

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #1



    I live in Chicago and I'm seriously thinking about taking the plunge into OTB chess.  I've been playing quite a bit vs the computer and on Chess.com for the past several years, but I haven't ever really played a serious game OTB.  I was wondering if anyone could recommend the best way to get started?

    I don't have a lot of spare time, and I would like to get an OTB (USCF) rating to see how I measure up, so I'm thinking I should probably just jump into playing tournaments.  I think I'd rather play serious, slow time control games too, rather than casual games.

    Is there anyone in the Chicago area that could recommend a good USCF-rated tournament to start with, for someone with practically no OTB experience?

    Also, I'm wondering what rating range I should enter for my first tourney.  Based on people's games I've seen and playing a couple of computer opponents with 'simulated' USCF ratings, I'm guessing I would probably feel at home somewhere around the 1500-1600 range.  Although, given it would be my first OTB tourney and I'll be a bit new to playing with the board, clock, manually recording my moves, etc., I'm thinking maybe under-1500 would be a good place to get my feet wet.

    Any suggestions or advice would be welcome!  :-)

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #2


    The obvious place to start would be to find a local club and do one of their weekly rated tournaments before you jump into something "bigtime".  Have you looked for some nearby clubs onsite?  (click "share" in the top green ribbon bar, then "local chess")

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #3


    There are probably some weekly tournament, 5/0, 7/0 , 10/0 or 15/0 is oftern used in Iceland. Don't just jump into 90/30 tournament  or so, it takes time to prepare. It can be hard to play in many hours.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #4


    Hi baddogno, thanks for the input.  I have been looking on here and also the USCF website, however:

    a) There don't seem to be many clubs within easy reach of the downtown Chicago area (where I live)

    b) The ones I've seen seem to be fairly casual (i.e. midweek evening meetups) and I can't find many that say they do USCF-rated tournaments.

    If anyone knows of any clubs in the Chicago area that do regular USCF-rated tourneys, please let me know!

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #5


    unlimitedsnow wrote:

    So you've never played an OTB game and you're almost 2000 here?  That's cool, nice work.  Are you totally self-taught?

    Yes, I am self-taught - never really had any lessons.  I've mostly been reading through Dan Heisman's Novice Nook column recently - it's really good and I think it's helped me a lot to improve my game.  That rating is Online though - with the opening book and as much time as I want.  I'm not sure how it would transfer into an OTB rating, but that's what I want to find out!  :-)

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #6


    Try the Illinois Chess Association.  That's the official USCF affiliated state organization.  They do have a website.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #7


    @ skakmadurinn & unlimitedsnow:

    The thing is, I'm not that into blitz - I haven't played any blitz or bullet on here at all.  I'm really looking for slow time control chess, as I'm more interested in quality than quantity and I've read that it's better for improving your game.  Even so though, I might try the blitz on here, as you suggest unlimitedsnow - playing different time controls might give me more insight into where my stengths and weaknesses are.

    @ baddogno:

    Thanks again - I'll certainly check them out  :-)

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #8


    You might try the North Shore Chess Center in Skokie or the Evanston Chess Club.  

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #9


    Hi woton, thanks - do you have any addresses or links that I can check out?  Do they do tournaments?

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #10




    I don't know anything about them.  I live across the lake and have seen them listed in the Chess Life tournament section.


    Also, you might ask around about a chess club near Midway Airport.  I haven't seen any listings for them for awhile, so they may no longer exist.

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #11


    Hey, thanks woton - I will definitely check them out and I really appreciate your advice  :-)

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