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

Are you a chess enthusiast and you are in Ohio or on your way there? What a lucky coincidence! Ohio has a lot of chess fun to offer, with tournaments for every level and taste.


This guide will reveal some of the top chess clubs and events in Ohio, and explain how they work and what they offer. Whether you are after a casual game, an academic competition, or a FIDE-rated challenge, this guide will help you find it.


The Ohio Chess Association (OCA) is the official state affiliate of the United States Chess Federation (USCF). The OCA organizes and supports chess activities in Ohio, including tournaments, clubs, scholastic programs, and publications. The OCA also maintains a calendar of chess events in Ohio and a list of chess clubs in different regions of the state. Some of the tournaments that the OCA features or sponsors are:

  • Ohio Chess Congress: This is the annual state championship tournament that determines the Ohio Chess Champion. It is usually held on Labor Day weekend in September at various locations across the state. The tournament has five rounds and eight sections, including two FIDE-rated sections. The prize fund is $10,000 based on 140 paid entries.

  • Ohio Grade Level Championships: This is a scholastic tournament for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. It is usually held in November at The Wellington School in Columbus. The tournament has seven rounds and 13 sections based on grade level. The top three players in each section qualify for the National Grade Championships.

  • Cardinal Open: This is a major open tournament that attracts players from Ohio and neighboring states. It is usually held in January at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbus Airport. The tournament has five rounds and eight sections, including two FIDE-rated sections. The prize fund is $10,000 based on 140 paid entries.

You can access the OCA calendar here. (They have many other tournaments to offer!)


The Columbus Chess Club is a community where people who love the game can gather. Players of any age or skill level are welcome and there are no membership fees. The club meets every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Cooperative Chess Cultural Center. The club offers regular tournaments, classes, and other events for players of all levels. Some of the upcoming tournaments are:

  • Columbus Open: A three-day tournament with four sections (Open, U2000, U1600, U1200) and a guaranteed prize fund of $5,000. The tournament is usually held in October at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

  • Columbus Scholastic Championship: A one-day tournament for students in grades K-12, with five sections (K-3, K-6, K-9, K-12, and Unrated). The tournament is usually held in November at the Wellington School.

  • Columbus Blitz Championship: A one-day tournament with a time control of 5 minutes per game.

Take a look at their calendar and find the tournaments that best fits you


Chess Tournaments in Northeast Ohio

The Northeast Ohio Chess Club (NEOCC) is a start-up organization created in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote the game of chess throughout Northeast Ohio. The NEOCC provides safe and precautionary in-person chess tournaments of all formats and time controls, simple casual play, master lectures, and private lessons. Some of the tournaments that the NEOCC organizes or participates in are:

  • NEOCC Monthly Swiss: This is a monthly tournament that is held on the last Saturday of each month at various locations in Northeast Ohio. The tournament has four rounds and four sections based on rating. The entry fee is $25 for adults and $15 for students.

  • NEOCC Rapid Championship: This is a rapid tournament that is held twice a year in June and December at various locations in Northeast Ohio. The tournament has six rounds and one open section. The time control is 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move. The entry fee is $30 for adults and $20 for students.

  • NEOCC Blitz Championship: This is a blitz tournament that is held twice a year in March and September at various locations in Northeast Ohio. The tournament has nine rounds and one open section. The time control is 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment per move. The entry fee is $20 for adults and $10 for students.


The NEOCC also has an online presence on Chess.com and Facebook, where members can interact and play chess online.


Progress With Chess is a non-profit organization that provides chess classes, clubs, and tournaments for Northeast Ohio youth. It aims to promote chess as a tool for academic and personal development. The organization offers regular tournaments, camps, and other events for players of all levels. Some of the upcoming tournaments are:

  • The 23-24 Greater Cleveland Scholastic Chess League: A USCF-rated scholastic tournament league with eight events throughout the school year. The time control is usually G/30 (or G/25), d5, and there are eight sections to accommodate players of all skill levels. Trophies, medals, and $1,500 in scholarship prizes are awarded.

  • The Annual Eastside Chess Tournament: A free USCF-rated rapid tournament open to adult and scholastic players on November of each year at the East Cleveland Public Library. The time control is G30 d5, and there are three sections: Open, U1700, and U1200. $1000 Prize Fund! Free lunch for all participants!

  • The Inaugural Cleveland Rec Center Tournament: An unrated tournament open to players of all ages and skill levels held in August at the Zelma George Recreation Center. The time control is G/15 d5, and there are four sections: Open, U1600, U1000, and Unrated. Trophies and medals are awarded.

They offer many other tournaments throughout the year! Check their calendar here


Cleveland Chess is a chess club and center that offers regular tournaments, classes, and other events for players of all levels. The club meets every Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Brecksville Community Center. The club also hosts the annual Cardinal Open, which is one of the largest open tournaments in Ohio.

  • Cardinal Open: A two-day tournament with four sections (Open, U2000, U1600, U1200) and a guaranteed prize fund of $6,000. The tournament will be held on January 27-28, 2024 at the Brecksville Community Center. The entry fee is $60 if paid by January 20, or $80 at the site.

  • Brecksville Quads: A one-day tournament with four-player round-robin sections based on rating. The tournament will be held every Tuesday night at the Brecksville Community Center. The entry fee is $10 per player.

  • Brecksville Blitz: A one-day tournament with a time control of 5 minutes per game. The tournament will be held on every last Tuesday of the month at the Brecksville Community Center. The entry fee is $5 per player.

Wanna take a look at their weekly meeting schedule? Click here



Chess Tournaments in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Chess Club (CCC) is the oldest and largest chess club in Cincinnati. The CCC meets every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Deer Park Community Center. The CCC offers casual play, rated games, lectures, lessons, tournaments, and special events for players of all ages and skill levels. The CCC also publishes a monthly newsletter with club news, game analysis, puzzles, and articles. Some of the tournaments that the CCC hosts or co-hosts are:

  • Cincinnati Open: This is a major open tournament that attracts players from Ohio and neighboring states. It is usually held in April at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash. The tournament has five rounds and eight sections, including two FIDE-rated sections. The prize fund is $16,000 based on 240 paid entries.

  • Cincinnati City Championship: This is an invitational tournament that determines the Cincinnati Chess Champion. It is usually held in September at the Deer Park Community Center. The tournament has six rounds and one open section. The participants are selected based on their rating, performance, and activity in local events.

  • Cincinnati Scholastic Championship: This is a scholastic tournament for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. It is usually held in February at the Deer Park Community Center. The tournament has four rounds and six sections based on grade level. The top three players in each section qualify for the Ohio Scholastic Championship.

Since 2007 Cincinnati Scholastic Chess (CSC) has been organizing chess tournaments in the greater Cincinnati area for scholastic players (grades K through 12). The annual CSC Series offers one tournament per month from October through March.


Conclusion

You have seen some of the chess tournaments in Ohio that you can enjoy and compete in. Ohio is a great state for chess lovers, with many options for all levels and interests. Whether you want a casual game, a scholastic competition, or a FIDE-rated challenge, you will find it in Ohio. So, get ready to play chess and join one of these tournaments today!


Want to know more about other tournaments in the area? Visit wheretoplaychess.info


Have a great day!


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