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

Wisconsin is not only known for its cheese, beer, and football, but also for its vibrant and diverse chess community. There are many chess clubs, organizations, and tournaments in this state that cater to players of all ages and levels. Whether you want to test your skills, learn from the best, or just have a good time, you will find a chess event that suits your needs and preferences in Wisconsin. In this guide, we will give you an overview of some of the most exciting and rewarding chess tournaments in Wisconsin, as well as some helpful information and advice on how to get involved, prepare, and succeed in them.


The Wisconsin Chess Association (WCA) is the official state affiliate of the United States Chess Federation (USCF). It is a non-profit organization that promotes chess in Wisconsin through various programs and services, such as chess education, publications, awards, and scholarships. The WCA also hosts many chess tournaments throughout the year.


Some of the tournaments they organize regularly are:

  • Rapid and Blitz State Championships: Two separate events held in April at the Doxa Church in Madison. The Rapid Championship is a four-round Swiss tournament with a time control of G/25 + 3. The Blitz Championship is a five-round double Swiss tournament with a time control of G/3 + 2. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.

  • 2025 US Open: The largest and most prestigious open chess tournament in the US, held in July at the Madison Marriott West in Waukesha. The event consists of nine rounds with various schedule options. The time control is G/60 + 5 for the first three rounds and G/90 + 30 for the rest. Trophies, medals, and plaques are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each section. The winners also qualify for the World Chess Cup.


The Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation (WSCF) is a non-profit association that promotes chess for students throughout Wisconsin. Their mission is to use chess as a tool to enhance analytical thinking, critical problem solving, social skills, and academic achievement. They offer various programs and services for schools, coaches, parents, and students, such as chess instruction, curriculum, equipment, and online resources.


They also host many scholastic chess tournaments throughout the year, such as:

  • WSCF Fall Open: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in October at the Doxa Church in Madison. The time control is G/30 with a 5-second delay. Trophies are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • WSCF Winter Open: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in January at the Doxa Church in Madison. The time control is G/30 with a 5-second delay. Trophies are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • WSCF State Championship: The largest and most prestigious scholastic chess tournament in Wisconsin, held in March at the Milwaukee Marriott West in Waukesha. The event consists of seven sections: K3, K6, K8, K12, Girls, High School Team, and Middle School Team. The time control is G/60 with a 5-second delay. Trophies, medals, and plaques are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each section. The winners also qualify for the National Scholastic Chess Championships.

  • WSCF Spring Open: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in April at the Doxa Church in Madison. The time control is G/30 with a 5-second delay. Trophies are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • WSCF Online Tournaments: These are weekly online tournaments for students in grades K-12, held on Saturdays at 10 AM. The time control is 15 minutes with a 5-second increment. The entry fee is $10 per player. The tournaments are US Chess-rated and have different sections based on rating and grade level. The top three players in each section receive trophies or medals. To register, visit their website.


The Waukesha Chess Club is one of the oldest and most active chess clubs in Wisconsin. It was founded in 1959 and has been hosting weekly chess meetings and tournaments ever since. The club welcomes players of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to experts. They offer casual and rated games, chess lessons, lectures, and analysis. They also have a library of chess books and magazines for members to borrow. The club meets every Wednesday from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at the Waukesha Public Library.


Some of the tournaments they organize regularly are:

  • Waukesha Memorial: A four-round Swiss tournament held in February, in memory of the club’s deceased members. The time control is G/60 with a 5-second delay. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.

  • Waukesha Open: A four-round Swiss tournament held in June, open to all players. The time control is G/60 with a 5-second delay. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.

  • Waukesha Championship: A round-robin tournament held in September, open to the club’s members only. The time control is G/90 with a 30-second increment. The winner is crowned as the club champion and receives a trophy and a cash prize.

  • Waukesha Quick: A five-round Swiss tournament held in December, open to all players. The time control is G/15 with a 5-second delay. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.



Chess tournaments in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Chess Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to promote chess education and culture in Milwaukee and beyond. They offer chess classes, camps, clubs, and tournaments for players of all ages and levels. They also support chess programs in schools and community centers.


Some of the tournaments they offer regularly are:

  • Cedric Thompson Challenge Cup: This is a monthly chess tournament for players in grades K-12, held at the Milwaukee Chess Foundation. The time control is 30 minutes with no increment or delay. The entry fee is $10 per player. The tournament has four sections: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The top three players in each section receive trophies or medals. The tournament is not US Chess-rated, but the results are used to determine the qualifiers for the Cedric Thompson Invitational, which is a prestigious annual tournament for the top scholastic players in Wisconsin.

  • Western Open: This is an annual chess tournament for players of all ages and ratings, held in August at the Milwaukee Chess Foundation. The time control is 40 minutes with a 5-second increment. The entry fee is $25-$35 depending on the registration date and the section. The tournament has four sections: Open, U1800, U1400, and U1000. The prize fund is $1,000 based on 80 attendees, with individual prizes for the top three players in each section and the top players in the rating categories. The tournament is US Chess-rated and FIDE-rated for the Open section.

  • Roman Levit Memorial: This is an annual chess tournament for players of all ages and ratings, held in November at the Milwaukee Chess Foundation. The time control is 40 minutes with a 5-second increment. The entry fee is $25-$35 depending on the registration date and the section. The tournament has four sections: Open, U1800, U1400, and U1000. The prize fund is $1,000 based on 80 attendees, with individual prizes for the top three players in each section and the top players in the rating categories. The tournament is US Chess-rated and FIDE-rated for the Open section. The tournament is also a memorial event for Roman Levit, a former chess coach and player who passed away in 2019.


Chess Children Inc is a non-profit organization that aims to provide chess gear and education to children in Wisconsin and beyond. Their vision is to use chess as a way to develop real life skills, such as concentration, creativity, logic, and confidence. They offer chess sets, boards, clocks, books, and software at affordable prices, and they also donate chess equipment to schools and communities in need. They also provide chess lessons, camps, workshops, and online resources for children and adults.


They also sponsor and support several chess tournaments in Wisconsin, such as:

  • Chess Children Open: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in May at the West Allis Public Library. The time control is G/30 with a 5-second delay. Trophies and medals are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • Chess Children Classic: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in November at the West Allis Public Library. The time control is G/30 with a 5-second delay. Trophies and medals are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • Chess Children Invitational: A round-robin tournament for the top 10 players in each grade category, based on the results of the Chess Children Open and Classic. The event is held in January at the West Allis Public Library. The time control is G/60 with a 5-second delay. Trophies and medals are awarded to the top finishers in each grade category.


Chess tournaments in Madison

The Madison City Chess League (MCCL) is a non-profit organization that aims to provide chess opportunities for students in Madison and surrounding areas. Their mission is to use chess as a way to enhance academic achievement, social skills, and life skills. They offer chess lessons, camps, workshops, and online resources for students and teachers.


They also sponsor and support several chess tournaments in Madison, such as:


  • 2024 Winter Knights Scholastic Chess Tournament: A four-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, held in January at the Columbia Elementary School in Madison. The time control is G/45 + 5. Trophies and medals are awarded to the top individuals and teams in each grade category.

  • 2024 City Chess Championship: A round-robin tournament for the top 10 players in each grade category, based on the results of the MCCL tournaments throughout the year. The event is held in March at the Madison Public Library. The time control is G/60 + 5. Trophies and medals are awarded to the top finishers in each grade category.

  • ChessKid National Festival: An in-person chess celebration for the entire family, held in February at the Embassy Suites in Huntsville. The event features a three-round Swiss tournament for K-12 students, a parent-child tournament, a chess puzzle contest, a chess trivia contest, a chess art contest, and a chess simul with a grandmaster.


Madison Lakeview Chess Club

The Madison Lakeview Chess Club is a local chess club that meets every Monday from 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM at the Lakeview Lutheran Church in Madison. The club welcomes players of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to experts. They offer casual and rated games, chess lessons, lectures, and analysis. They also have a library of chess books and magazines for members to borrow.


The club organizes several chess tournaments throughout the year, such as:

  • Madison Lakeview Open: A four-round Swiss tournament held in May at the Lakeview Lutheran Church in Madison. The time control is G/60 + 5. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.

  • Madison Lakeview Classic: A four-round Swiss tournament held in September at the Lakeview Lutheran Church in Madison. The time control is G/60 + 5. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.

  • Madison Lakeview Holiday: A four-round Swiss tournament held in December at the Lakeview Lutheran Church in Madison. The time control is G/60 + 5. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in each rating category.


You can find more information about the Madison Lakeview Chess Club and their tournaments on the WCA website.


Chess tournaments in Green Bay

The Green Bay Chess Association (GBCA) is a non-profit association dedicated to promoting chess for youth and adults in greater Green Bay and Wisconsin. Their mission is to use chess as a tool to enhance analytical thinking, critical problem solving, social skills and academic achievement. They organize and support various chess events, such as scholastic tournaments, camps, clubs, and workshops. They also cooperate with chess clubs, schools, and other groups and institutions throughout Wisconsin in teaching chess and conducting tournaments.


Some of the tournaments they offer regularly are:

  • Green Bay Open: This is an annual chess tournament for players of all ages and ratings, held in July at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center. The format is five games with a time control of 90 minutes with a 30-second increment. The entry fee is $45-$60 depending on the registration date and the section. The tournament has two sections: Open and Reserve (Open to 1599 & below). The prize fund is $1,500 based on 100 attendees, with individual prizes for the top three players in each section, the top players in the rating categories, and the biggest upset winners. The tournament is also a US Chess Grand Prix event, which means that the participants can earn points for the national Grand Prix standings. To register, visit their website.

  • Cedric Thompson Challenge Cup: This is a monthly chess tournament for players in grades K-12, held at the GBCA. The time control is 30 minutes with no increment or delay. The entry fee is $10 per player. The tournament has four sections: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The top three players in each section receive trophies or medals. The tournament is not US Chess-rated, but the results are used to determine the qualifiers for the Cedric Thompson Invitational, which is a prestigious annual tournament for the top scholastic players in Wisconsin. To register, visit their website.


You can find more information about the GBCA and their tournaments on their website or their Facebook page.


Gnome Games is a game store that specializes in all aspects of non-electronic gaming, such as board games, card games, role-playing games, and miniatures. They also feature chess as one of their main activities, and offer chess sets, books, and accessories for sale.


They host chess events for players of all ages and interests, such as:

  • Chess Club: This is a weekly chess club that meets on Thursdays from 6 PM to 9 PM at the Gnome Games Green Bay West location. The club is open to anyone who wants to play chess, learn new skills, or meet new friends. The club is free to join and does not require any membership or registration. The club also organizes occasional tournaments and special events for its members.

  • Chess Camps: These are seasonal chess camps for students in grades K-12, held at various Gnome Games locations. The camps are designed to teach chess fundamentals, strategies, tactics, and etiquette, as well as to provide fun and challenging activities and games. The camps are led by experienced chess instructors and coaches, and have different levels and themes depending on the age and skill of the participants. The camps usually run for three or four days, from 9 AM to 3 PM, and cost $75-$100 per student. To register, visit their website.


Game Trade is a video game store that also offers a variety of classic and modern board games, card games, and puzzles. They have a large selection of chess sets and books for sale, as well as a dedicated chess area where customers can play chess for free. They also host chess events for players of all ages and levels, such as:

  • Chess Night: This is a weekly chess night that takes place on Tuesdays from 6 PM to 9 PM at the Game Trade store. The night is open to anyone who wants to play chess, practice their skills, or challenge other players. The night is free to attend and does not require any registration or membership. The night also features occasional tournaments and prizes for the participants.

  • Chess Tournament: This is a monthly chess tournament that is held on the last Saturday of every month at the Game Trade store. The format is four games with a time control of 30 minutes with a 5-second increment. The entry fee is $10 per player. The tournament has two sections: Open and Novice (Open to 999 & below). The prize fund is $100 based on 20 attendees, with individual prizes for the top three players in each section and the top players in the rating categories. The tournament is US Chess-rated and requires a US Chess membership to participate. To register, visit their website.


Chess tournaments in Kenosha

The Kenosha Chess Association is the best public chess club in Kenosha, where you can play, learn, or watch chess for free. The club meets three evenings per month at the Kenosha Southwest Library or Panera Bread. All are welcome, children and adults, beginners and experts. Chess sets are provided, and some clocks are available as well. The club also organizes tournaments for children and adults, which are either free or low-cost ($10-$15). Some of the tournaments that the Kenosha Chess Association offers are:

  • Kenosha Open: A four-round Swiss tournament with two sections: Open and Reserve (under 1600). The entry fee is $15, and the prizes are based on entries. The tournament is held twice a year, usually in January and July, at the Kenosha Southwest Library.

  • Kenosha Scholastic Chess Championship: A four-round Swiss tournament for students in grades K-12, with four sections: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The entry fee is $10, and the prizes are trophies and medals. The tournament is held once a year, usually in March, at the Kenosha Southwest Library.

  • Kenosha Blitz: A double-round robin tournament with a time control of 5 minutes per game. The entry fee is $5, and the prizes are based on entries. The tournament is held once a month, usually on the last Wednesday, at Panera Bread.


You can visit their website to see the current schedule and locations, or contact them by email at allancarg@gmail.com.


Other options: 

Milwaukee Open “Chesswaukee”

The Milwaukee Open “Chesswaukee” is an annual chess tournament organized by the Chess Club at UW-Milwaukee. It is open to players of all ages and ratings. The tournament is held in September at the Four Points by Sheraton Milwaukee Northshore. The format is four games with a time control of 60 minutes with a 5-second increment. The entry fee is $45-$60 depending on the registration date and the section. The tournament has three sections: Open, U1500 Reserve, and U1000 Novice. The prize fund is $1,500 based on 100 attendees, with individual prizes for the top three players in each section, the top players in the rating categories, and the biggest upset winners. The tournament is also a US Chess Grand Prix event, which means that the participants can earn points for the national Grand Prix standings. To register, visit their USC Federation website.


Conclusion

We hope this guide has inspired you to explore the chess world in Wisconsin and discover the many benefits and joys of playing chess. Chess is a wonderful game that can enrich your life in many ways. It can enhance your mental abilities, boost your confidence, foster your creativity, and connect you with other chess enthusiasts. There is a chess tournament for everyone in Wisconsin, no matter your age, level, or style. So, don’t hesitate to sign up for a chess event, practice your moves, and have a blast playing chess in Wisconsin!


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