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Chess Tournaments in Minnesota: Where to find the best ones

This guide is for chess the enthusiasts of the North Star State. I will introduce you to some of the best chess clubs and institutions in Minnesota that offer regular chess tournaments for players of all levels. Whether you are looking for a casual game, a rated event, or a state championship, you will find something that suits your needs and preferences. Let’s get started!


Chess Castle of Minnesota is the state’s largest and most active chess club. It is located in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, and it is open four nights a week (Monday-Thursday) and most weekends. The club hosts a variety of chess tournaments, such as:


  • Monday Action Quads: Quads, Game in 30 with a 5 seconds delay (G/30;d5), 3 rounds, players grouped by rating.

  • Tuesday Fire & Ice: A two-part event. First, a Slow Burn; Open Swiss, G/60 + 5 second increment, each Tuesday for a month. 

  • Wednesday Casual Night, Game Review & Unrated Blitz: Perfect for new players or returning members to learn about the club, play some friendly games, or join the US Chess Federation. 

  • Weekend Tournaments: The club organizes various weekend tournaments throughout the year, such as the Chess Castle Championship, the Hall of Fame Classic, the Northern Open, the Franklin Catfish Days, the Rochester Open, the Lake Superior Open, and more. These events usually have multiple sections, longer time controls, and higher prizes.

You can check the club’s website for the latest updates and details.


Minnesota State Chess Association (MSCA) is the official state affiliate of the US Chess Federation. It promotes scholastic chess, chess education, and competitive chess through USCF rated tournaments. The MSCA organizes some of the most prestigious and popular chess tournaments in Minnesota, such as:


  • Minnesota Open: The state’s flagship event, held annually in February. It is a 6-round Swiss, G/90 +30s, with two and three day schedules.The event also features a Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday. MSCA membership is required to play in this event.

  • State Scholastic Championship: The state’s scholastic championship, held annually in March. It is open to students from kindergarten to 12th grade, and it has four sections: High School K-12, Middle School K-8, Elementary K-5, and Primary K-3.

  • State Championship Playoffs: The state’s closed championship, held annually in March or April. It is a round-robin event, with four players who qualify from the Minnesota Open, the Summer Grand Prix Series, the Class Championships, and the State Senior Championship. 

  • Summer Grand Prix Series: A series of six events, held from May to September. The events are the St. Cloud Open, the Minnesota Blitz Championship, the Lake Superior Open, the Rochester Open, the Franklin Catfish Days, and the Northern Open.


You can check the MSCA’s website for the latest updates and details.


School Chess Association

The School Chess Association (SCA) is the largest scholastic chess group in Minnesota. It runs chess tournaments and summer camps for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. The SCA also provides chess equipment, books, and instructional resources for chess players and coaches.


Some of the upcoming chess tournaments hosted by the SCA are:

  • The Frozen Open on January 27, 2024 at Diamondhead Education Center. This is an open team tournament for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and a USCF rated section. The teams are made up of the top 3 players from each section. Registration is online or at the door.

  • The Double Bug and Open Section on February 10, 2024 at Diamondhead Education Center. This is a fun tournament where two players form a team and play against another team. One player plays black and the other white. A checkmate on one board is a checkmate on both boards. Adults are welcome to play with a school-age partner. There is also an open section for K-2, K-5, K-8, and a USCF rated section. Registration is online or at the door.

  • The Statewide Primary, Elementary, and Middle School Championship: on April 20, 2024 at Diamondhead Education Center. This is the final and most prestigious tournament of the season. The top players from each grade level will compete for the state title and trophies. There will also be a Coach of the Year Award ceremony. Registration is online only.


The SCA tournaments are a great opportunity for students to enjoy chess, improve their skills, meet new friends, and have fun. The SCA also provides trophies, medals, certificates, and prizes for the participants and winners. For more information, visit the SCA website.


Rochester Chess Tournaments

Rochester Chess is an educational nonprofit organization that promotes chess in the community and provides opportunities for youth and adults to play chess and receive chess instruction. They host regular chess tournaments at the Rochester Chess Center, which is also a chess store and a USCF affiliate.


Some of the chess tournaments they offer are:

  • Community Chess Club of Rochester (CCCR): This is a weekly club meeting every Wednesday night at the Rochester Chess Center, where players of all ages and levels can play one USCF-rated game with a time control of G/80 d5. US Chess membership is required and can be purchased on-site.

  • January Scholastic Chess Tournament: This is a yearly tournament for students (K-12) that is held in January at the Rochester Chess Center. The tournament is USCF-rated and has four sections: K-3, K-6, K-9, and K-12. 

  • Minnesota Class Championships: This is a state-wide tournament that is open to players of all classes (Master/Expert, A, B, C, D, E, and Unrated). The tournament is held in different locations each year, and in 2024 it will be in downtown Rochester. The tournament is USCF-rated and has seven rounds with a time control of G/90 +30. 


Rochester Chess tournaments are a great way to enjoy chess, improve your skills, and meet other chess enthusiasts in the area. Whether you are a beginner or a master, you will find a tournament that suits your level and interest. To learn more about Rochester Chess and their upcoming events, you can visit their website or contact the Rochester Chess Center.


Other Chess Clubs and Institutions

Besides the Chess Castle of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Chess Association, there are also other chess clubs and institutions in Minnesota that offer chess tournaments for players of all levels.


  • The Edina Chess Club: Chess players in the Edina, Minnesota region should check out what they have to offer. The club meets every Thursday from 6:30 to 9:00 PM at the Edina Senior Center. The club hosts casual games, lectures, and rated tournaments. The club also organizes the Edina Open, a 4-round Swiss, G/60 +5s, held annually in October.

  • University of Minnesota Chess Club: is a student-run organization that welcomes chess players of all skill levels. The club meets every Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at the Coffman Memorial Union. They hosts casual games, lectures, and rated tournaments. The club also participates in intercollegiate chess events, such as the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship and the President’s Cup.

  • Level Up Games: is a gaming store that sells board games, card games, video games, and more. The store also hosts chess tournaments every Wednesday from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. The tournaments are open to players of all ages and skill levels, and they have a $5 entry fee. The tournaments are usually 4-round Swiss, G/15 +5s, and they have cash prizes for the top finishers.

  • Games by James: is another gaming store that sells board games, card games, puzzles, and more. The store also hosts chess tournaments every Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The tournaments are open to players of all ages and skill levels, and they have a $10 entry fee. The tournaments are usually 4-round Swiss, G/25 +5s, and they have gift card prizes for the top finishers.


Conclusion

There are many chess clubs and institutions that offer regular chess tournaments for players of all levels. Whether you are looking for a casual game, a rated event, or a state championship, you will find something that suits your needs and preferences. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your chess set, check the calendar, and join the fun!


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