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Chess tournaments in New Mexico: Where to look for the best ones?

If you are a chess fan living in or visiting New Mexico, you will be happy to know that there are several chess clubs and institutions that offer regular chess tournaments for players of all levels. Whether you want to compete for prizes, improve your skills, or just have fun, you will find a chess tournament that suits your needs and preferences. In this guide, we will introduce you to some of the best chess tournaments in New Mexico, and provide you with some useful information about their formats, dates, locations, and ratings. Let’s get started!


The New Mexico Chess Organization (NMCO) is the official state affiliate of the United States Chess Federation (USCF). It promotes chess education and competition in New Mexico by hosting state championship tournaments, chess clubs, and club tournaments. Some of the chess tournaments that NMCO organizes are:


  • New Mexico State Championship: This is the most prestigious chess tournament in New Mexico, where the top players compete for the title of state champion. It is usually held in June, and it is open to all USCF members with a FIDE rating. The tournament is divided into four sections: Open, Reserve (U1800), Booster (U1400), and Novice (U900). The entry fee ranges from $30 to $80 depending on the section and the registration date. The prize fund is $2,000, with $300 for first place in the Open section. The top finishing NM resident in the Open section will be invited to the New Mexico Closed Championship, a round-robin tournament with the best players in the state. The tournament is held at the UNM Continuing Education Center in Albuquerque.

  • New Mexico Santa Fe Open: This is an open chess tournament for players of all ages and levels. It is usually held in July, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a six-round Swiss with a time control of 90 minutes per player per game. The entry fee is $50, and the prizes are cash awards for the top three finishers in each rating category. The tournament is held at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel in Santa Fe.

  • New Mexico Albuquerque Rio Rancho Open: This is the state championship event, which is usually held in June at the UNM Continuing Education Center. It has four sections: Open, Reserve (U1800), Booster (U1400), and Novice (U900). The Open section is FIDE rated and the winner qualifies for the New Mexico Closed Championship. The entry fee ranges from $30 to $80 depending on the section and the registration date. The prizes are based on the number of entries, with a minimum of $300 for the first place in the Open section.

  • Empire Chess Open: This is a one-day rapid chess tournament with a time control of 15 minutes plus 5 seconds increment per move. It is usually held in September, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is divided into five sections: Championship, Reserve (U1800), Booster (U1200), Rising Stars (U600), and Scholastic (U900). The entry fee ranges from $15 to $50 depending on the section and the registration date. The prize fund is $1,500, with $500 for first place in the Championship section. The tournament is held at the Ramada in Albuquerque.

  • John Michael Baca Memorial & Senior Championship: This is a memorial tournament in honor of John Michael Baca, a former NMCO president and a chess enthusiast. It is also a senior championship for players aged 50 and above. It is usually held in August, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment per move. The entry fee is $40, and the prize fund is $500, with $200 for first place. The tournament is held at the Meadowlark Senior Center in Rio Rancho.

  • New Mexico Mark Wells Memorial and Senior Championship: This is another memorial tournament in honor of Mark Wells, a former NMCO board member and a chess lover. It is also a senior championship for players aged 50 and above. It is usually held in April, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is divided into four sections: Open, Reserve (U1700), Novice (U1200), and Scholastic. The entry fee ranges from $20 to $60 depending on the section and the registration date. The prize fund is $1,000, with $300 for first place in the Open section. The tournament is held at the Meadowlark Senior Center in Rio Rancho.

  • New Mexico School for the Deaf Chess Tournament: This is a chess tournament for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and interested in playing and learning more about chess. It is usually held in March, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 25 minutes per player per game. The entry fee is $10, and the prizes are medals for the top three finishers in each grade level. The tournament is held at the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe.


Chess tournaments in Albuquerque

Learners Chess is a chess academy that teaches chess as a fun way for kids to learn thinking, analyzing, and strategizing skills. It offers chess classes, camps, clubs, and tournaments for students of all ages and levels. Some of the chess events that Learners Chess organizes are outdoors, what gives it a more enjoyable envirovement


A bunch of people gathered outdoors for a chess tournament

  • Learners Chess Scholastic Tournament: This is a monthly chess tournament for students in grades K-12. It is usually held on the third Saturday of each month, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 25 minutes plus 5 seconds delay per move. The entry fee is $15, and the prizes are medals for the top three finishers in each grade level. The tournament is held at various locations in Albuquerque, such as schools, libraries, and community centers.

  • Learners Chess Summer Camp Tournament: This is a weekly chess tournament for students who attend the Learners Chess summer camps. It is held on Fridays, and it is open to all campers. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 15 minutes plus 5 seconds delay per move. The entry fee is included in the camp fee, and the prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each camp level. The tournament is held at the Learners Chess Academy in Albuquerque.

  • Learners Chess Online Tournament: This is a biweekly chess tournament for students who want to play chess online. It is held on Wednesdays, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 10 minutes plus 2 seconds increment per move. The entry fee is $5, and the prizes are gift cards for the top three finishers in each rating category. The tournament is held on the Chess.com platform.


Learners Chess in Albuquerque 

  • Learners Chess Monthly Tournament: This is a monthly tournament that is open to all students who are enrolled in Learners Chess classes or clubs. It is usually held on the last Saturday of each month at the Learners Chess Academy in 532 Adams St NE, Albuquerque. It has four sections: King (1000+), Queen (800-999), Rook (600-799), and Pawn (0-599). The entry fee is $10 for Learners Chess members and $15 for non-members. The prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each section and medals for all participants.

  • Learners Chess Spring Break Camp Tournament: This is a special tournament that is held during the spring break week at the Learners Chess Academy in 532 Adams St NE, Albuquerque. It is open to all students who attend the Learners Chess Spring Break Camp. It has four sections: King (1000+), Queen (800-999), Rook (600-799), and Pawn (0-599). The entry fee is included in the camp fee. The prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each section and medals for all participants.

  • Learners Chess Statewide Tournament: This is a statewide tournament that is open to all students who are enrolled in Learners Chess classes or clubs in New Mexico. It is usually held in May at a different location each year. It has four sections: King (1000+), Queen (800-999), Rook (600-799), and Pawn (0-599). The entry fee is $15 for Learners Chess members and $20 for non-members. The prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each section and medals for all participants. The winners of the King and Queen sections also qualify for the National Elementary Chess Championship.

A group of kids playing chess and learning from teachers in a classroom

For more information about Learners Chess' tournaments and events, take a look at their events calendar or contact them at 505-369-6026.


This is a sports card store in Albuquerque, NM, that also hosts chess tournaments and events. It has a spacious and comfortable playing area, a friendly staff, and a wide selection of chess sets and books. They are affiliated with the USCF and the NMCO. Some of the tournaments GameTime Sports Cards & Collectables offers are:


  • GameTime Chess Club Tournament: This is a weekly tournament that is open to all chess players. It is held every Monday night at GameTime Sports Cards & Collectables in Albuquerque, NM. It has two sections: Open and Scholastic (U1200). The entry fee is $5 for adults and $3 for kids. The prizes are store credit for the top finishers in each section.

  • GameTime Chess Championship: This is a monthly tournament that is open to all chess players. It is held on the first Saturday of each month at GameTime Sports Cards & Collectables in Albuquerque, NM. It has two sections: Open and Scholastic (U1200). The entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The prizes are cash for the top finishers in each section, based on the number of entries.

  • GameTime Chess Blitz Tournament: This is a monthly tournament that is open to all chess players. It is held on the third Saturday of each month at GameTime Sports Cards & Collectables in Albuquerque, NM. It has one section: Open. The entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The prizes are cash for the top finishers, based on the number of entries. The time control is 5 minutes per player with no increment.


Chess tournaments in Las Cruces

The Las Cruces Chess Club is the largest and most active chess club in Las Cruces. Players of all ages and skill levels are welcome. The club organizes tournaments, classes, and other chess-related activities on a weekly basis.

A group of people playing chess in a bar

For updated info can go to their Facebook group or visit their events calendar.


New Mexico State University Chess Club

The NMSU Chess Club is open to both students and non-students. They offer weekly meetings and participate in local and national tournaments. The club also hosts lectures, workshops, and social events. Some of the tournaments NMSU Chess Club offers are:

  • NMSU Chess Championship: This is an annual tournament that is open to all chess players. It is usually held in March at the NMSU Corbett Center. It has four sections: Open, Reserve (U1800), Booster (U1400), and Novice (U900). The entry fee ranges from $20 to $40 depending on the section and the registration date. The prizes are based on the number of entries, with a minimum of $300 for first place in the Open section.

  • NMSU Chess Blitz Tournament: This is a monthly tournament that is open to all chess players. It is held on the last Friday of each month at the NMSU Corbett Center. It has one section: Open. The entry fee is $5 for adults and $3 for kids. The prizes are cash for the top finishers, based on the number of entries. The time control is 3 minutes per player with a 2-second increment.

  • NMSU Chess Scholastic Tournament: This is a quarterly tournament that is open to all students in grades K-12. It is held on the second Saturday of January, April, July, and October at the NMSU Corbett Center. It has four sections: King (1000+), Queen (800-999), Rook (600-799), and Pawn (0-599). The entry fee is $10 for club members and $15 for non-members. The prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each section and medals for all participants.


More info at the chess club Facebook page.


Ruidoso Chess Club

Although not located in Las Cruces, the Ruidoso Chess Club is only a short drive away and offers a friendly and welcoming environment for chess players of all ages and skill levels. They meet on Wednesday evenings at the Ruidoso Public Library. The club also organizes tournaments, camps, and trips. Some of the tournaments Ruidoso Chess Club offers are:


  • Ruidoso Open: This is an annual tournament that is open to all chess players. It is usually held in July at the Ruidoso Public Library. It has four sections: Open, Reserve (U1800), Booster (U1400), and Novice (U900). The entry fee ranges from $25 to $50 depending on the section and the registration date. The prizes are based on the number of entries, with a minimum of $200 for first place in the Open section.

  • Ruidoso Blitz Tournament: This is a bi-monthly tournament that is open to all chess players. It is held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Ruidoso Public Library. It has one section: Open. The entry fee is $5 for adults and $3 for kids. The prizes are cash for the top finishers, based on the number of entries. The time control is 5 minutes per player with no increment.

  • Ruidoso Scholastic Tournament: This is a monthly tournament that is open to all students in grades K-12. It is held on the second Saturday of each month at the Ruidoso Public Library. It has four sections: King (1000+), Queen (800-999), Rook (600-799), and Pawn (0-599). The entry fee is $10 for club members and $15 for non-members. The prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each section and medals for all participants.


More info about the chess club events at the Ruidoso Chess Club contact 575-630-7892 or find them at the NMCO website.  


Chess tournaments in Santa Fe

Capital High School Chess Club

Capital High School Chess Club is a school-based chess club that welcomes students of all skill levels who are interested in playing and learning more about chess. The club also participates in local tournaments. Some of the chess tournaments that Capital High School Chess Club organizes are:


  • Capital High School Invitational: This is a scholastic chess tournament for students in grades 9-12. It is usually held in February, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 30 minutes per player per game. The entry fee is $15, and the prizes are trophies for the top three finishers in each grade level. The tournament is held at the Capital High School.

  • Capital High School Open: This is an open chess tournament for players of all ages and levels. It is usually held in May, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a five-round Swiss with a time control of 45 minutes per player per game. The entry fee is $25, and the prizes are cash awards for the top three finishers in each rating category. The tournament is held at the Capital High School.

  • Capital High School Online Tournament: This is an online chess tournament for students and alumni of Capital High School. It is held on the first Saturday of each month, and it is open to all USCF members. The tournament is a four-round Swiss with a time control of 10 minutes per player per game. The entry fee is $5, and the prizes are gift cards for the top three finishers. The tournament is held on the Chess.com platform.


More info at the Capital High School Facebook page.


Chess tournaments in Roswell 

Roswell Chess Encounter is a friendly and welcoming chess club that meets every Wednesday at 7:00 pm at the Roswell Public Library. The club is open to all ages and skill levels, from beginners to advanced players. The club organizes monthly tournaments with prizes for the winners, as well as special events such as blitz games, puzzles, and lectures. The club also participates in local and regional chess leagues and events. If you want to join a fun and supportive chess community in Roswell, NM, Roswell Chess Encounter is the place for you.


Conclusion

The state has a diverse and growing chess scene, with many local clubs, organizations, and events that cater to various interests and needs. Some of the benefits of participating in chess tournaments include improving one’s strategic thinking, problem-solving, concentration, and mental health.


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