Do I have to know how to play chess to come to the club?

No! The chess club is the perfect place to learn how to play. All of our members enjoy showing new people how to play the game. Quite a few of our current members did not know how to play when they first came.

The only exception to this is that on the 4th Wednesday of every month we do a tournament night and most of the members will be playing in the tournament and will not be able to teach new players. However, you are MORE than welcome to still come and watch and if anyone is not playing in the tournament they will probably more than happy to teach you how to play.

Are there any age restrictions?

No! We have had kids as young as 4 and adults that are over 85 come and play at the club. We welcome all people, of all ages, and all skill levels.

Do I need to bring a chess set or anything else?

No! We have enough boards, pieces, and clocks for every player. We even usually have cookies or some other tasty snack as well. All you need to bring is yourself.

Do you have chess classes?

We do occasionally have some short instructional activities on the side during the first 20-30 minutes for those interested. Also, in general the stronger players in the club usually show the newer players strategies and ideas along the way. We do plan to have some more structured free classes at some point as well. We also do have a couple of members who offer paid coaching for those interested. Please see our COACHES PAGE to find out more.

What happens at chess club?

Chess happens! On most Wednesday we just casually play chess and socialize. People are free to play whoever they want and with or without a clock at whatever time controls they want. Some people chat and slowly play, some people learn from the better players, and some people just try to play as many games as they can before the library closes. It's really up to you.

On the 4th Wednesday of every month we have a tournament night where anyone who wants to can play in our FREE unrated tournament to get a feel for what chess tournaments are like and play some competitive chess.

Does it cost anything?

No! Our mission is to provide a place to socialize, play chess casually, play chess competitively, and improve at chess completely FREE with no barriers to entry.

What is the USCF?

The USCF stands for the United States Chess Federation and it is the national governing body of competitive chess in the United States (FIDE is the international chess governing body). They provide a national rating system for ranked tournaments all over the country. We are a USCF member club but you do NOT need to be a USCF member to just come and play chess at the club.

Do I have to be a member of the USCF to come to the chess club?

You do not need to be a USCF member at all to come and play chess at the club at all and many of our members do not belong to the USCF. However, we do hold quarterly USCF-rated tournaments (usually on a Sunday or Saturday). These tournaments are FREE to enter and have cash prizes and trophies but it is required that you are a USCF member for those because they are rated by the USCF. The cost for USCF membership is $40 for a senior over 65, $45 for an adult, $27 for a young adult under 24, and $20 for anyone under 19. We do provide gifted USCF memberships for FREE for people with financial circumstances that leave them unable to pay the fee but who wish to play in rated tournaments. If you are in that situation please reach out to us at admin@smtxchess.org.

You can join the USCF at their website here: https://new.uschess.org/join-us-chess

How does a chess clock work?

A chess clock is really just two timers in one box with a button that starts and stops each timer. It times you only when you are thinking and counts down from a preset time decided by the players (or tournament). When you are thinking it is counting down and after you make a move you hit the button and you clock stops and your opponents clock starts. It adds one more way to lose and makes sure the game only lasts so long. You can lose a chess game with a clock by resigning, being checkmated, or running out of time. During the casual chess club days, you are not required to play with a clock.

If I want to buy a chess set or clock what should I get?

Some of that is a personal opinion but we do have a page on our site that is nothing but advice on where and what to buy if you are looking to purchase any chess equipment. For playing at the club you do not need anything because we provide all the equipment but if you are looking for your own set for home I recommend checking out our advice page here:


How do I get better at chess?

This is a big question but joining a chess club is a GREAT start. Just always keep in mind that chess is a very deep and intricate game and it takes a long time 9and a lot of losses) to master it so don't get discouraged. We have a very wide range of players at the club from total beginner to master level so there is a level for everyone. We also have a lot of resources at he club that you can use to improve and playing against stronger players who give you advice is always helpful too.

Can I just play casual games if I don't want to compete?

Absolutely! Every Wednesday except the 4th Wednesday of the month is just casual play. While a lot of the members end up eventually playing in the tournaments and enjoying them, we do have several members who don\'t really enjoy tournaments and that is also perfectly fine. You are free do do you.

Can I just come to watch and socialize and not play chess?

Yes! You can just come and watch and socialize all you want to and there are a few people who do just that.