Chess Tournament Tips

Chess tournament tips that will bring you better results!

Tip #1: Choose time controls you enjoy

This seems like obvious advice, but a lot of players ignore it! It’s among the most important tips.

Once you have played in a handful of tournaments, you’ll have an idea of what’s best for you. In case you don’t know, the time control is the amount of time in minutes each player has; double the time control to figure out the maximum time for the game.

The main sudden death time controls in the United States are Game/30; Game/45; Game/60; Game/90; and Game/120. Sudden death means the entire game will finish during that time period; a Game/60 could last up to 120 minutes (two hours), for example.

Then there are two-time control events like 30 moves in 90 minutes, followed by SD/60. The SD refers to sudden death, described above.

A 28-move game in this scenario could last a maximum of 180 minutes (2 x 90 minutes), because the additional hour isn’t added until move 30 is completed.

A 31-move game could last a maximum of 300 minutes (five hours): 2 x (90 + 60).

Don’t forget about increment and time delay. Increment adds free seconds after you complete each move, while time delay gives you free seconds before your time runs on each turn.

Tip #2: Play where you feel comfortable; avoid venues you dislike

Again, this should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many players don’t consider it! Environment should factor into your choice of tournament. You’ll feel relaxed and confident in some venues, while in others you might be “snakebitten.” Plan accordingly.

Tip #3: Consider your choice of section carefully

What are your goals in the upcoming chess tournament? Are you trying to gain rating points (a safe small gain or gambling on a large gain)? Are you trying to win money (and how much)? Is a prestigious title on the line, like a Club, Regional, or even National Championship?

Quads (events with sections of four players) are a good choice if you want to face players near your own level. Your rating gains won’t be huge even if you win every game, but possible losses are more limited, too.