Chess Terms
Chess Terms
Arena Tournament

Arena Tournament

What is an arena tournament and how does one work? No, it is not a tournament played at a sports arena. Read on to find out what an arena tournament actually is!

What Is An Arena Tournament?

Arenas are a special type of online chess tournament where players try to accumulate as many points as possible in a set time frame, usually between half an hour and two hours. Points are scored for wins and draws, with bonus points for winning streaks. Two players with the same win-loss-draw record can end up with different scores if only one of them won several games in a row.

Standings from a regularly scheduled arena tournament in progress. The tournament clock is in the upper right. Win streaks are shown next to each player's overall score. You can also see that the players in this arena are being matched by rating.

Along with Swiss tournaments, arenas are one of the most popular formats on Players can find an ongoing arena tournament at any time of day on the tournament page in Play. They are organized in one of two ways: 

  • Players are matched by rating regardless of their score in the tournament
  • Players are matched by their score in the tournament regardless of rating

Why Are They Important?

Multiple regularly scheduled tournaments use the arena format.

Arena Kings is a weekly event where streamers play a two-hour arena, followed by a knockout, every Wednesday. Bullet Brawl is a monthly bullet tournament also in arena format. Arena Kings is open to all streamers, even those without a chess title, while Bullet Brawl is a titled player event.

Arena tournaments also have several advantages that make them popular, despite some minor limitations.


  • Because of their predictable length, arena tournaments can fit into any player's schedule.
  • There is even more benefit to doing well than in a normal tournament, thanks to the extra points for winning streaks.
  • A player who enters after the tournament begins can simply jump in and get matched against another opponent who is waiting for a game. In other formats, because matches are preplanned between specific opponents, the late player will miss an entire round and the scheduled opponent gets a bye.
  • Players can easily leave the tournament without forfeiting games to other players. In other tournament formats, one player quitting just before a game would give free points to someone else, hurting the rest of the field.
  • Arenas work better the more people that participate and can easily handle fields of hundreds of players.


  • The main disadvantage of an arena is that a player's chances can be hurt by waiting too long for a match, as the tournament clock continues to tick. However, most players are in a game for the large majority of their time in the tournament.
  • Because of this, just as large fields accentuate the advantages of an arena, they don't work quite as well with fewer participants.
  • When the tournament clock ends, all games in progress are automatically ended without a result. This sometimes incentivizes players to make several quick draws near the end of the tournament when it is no longer possible to accumulate several wins in a row.
  • Arena tournaments are impractical for over-the-board settings.


Now you know what an arena tournament is, how they are used on, and what the advantages of this system are. Play in an arena tournament today! You can also read about other tournament formats at the following links.

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