How to organize a small chess tournament?

It’s a great joy to see people come together to spend a day playing chess. But how do you organize a small chess tournament? Learn more through this guide!

How to organize a small chess tournament?
Written by
Ranveer Mohite
Published on
Oct 20, 2022
Read time
3 min

Organizing a small chess tournament can feel extremely fulfilling. It’s a great joy to see people come together and enjoy playing chess because of your initiative.

But how do you go about organizing a tournament?

In this article, we’re going to break it down into 6 steps. It’ll help you organize a small 1-2 day chess tournament.

Let’s get started!

1. Set a tournament vision

This is the foundational step to organizing a tournament. This should include:

  • Why you’re conducting the tournament?
  • Who will participate in your tournament?
  • Approximately how many participants do you expect?
  • What’s the entry fee?

Setting these expectations at the start will give you a direction.

2. Decide the time control and format

Once you know for whom you’re organizing the tournament, decide on a format. We suggest you stick to a Blitz (5 mins each) or a Rapid format (30 minutes each) for small one-day events.

Make sure to keep 5-10 minutes of rest time between the rounds.

When deciding the format, we suggest you organize Swiss tournaments. Here, unlike knockout-type events, every participant gets a chance to play all the rounds.

3. Find a venue

To conduct a tournament, you need a place where players can play. Community halls, bars, clubs can be good places to conduct a chess tournament event.

It’s a good idea to decide how many players put a cap on the maximum limit of players who can participate. This way, it’s easier for you to choose a venue.

For example, if you know that 40 players will participate, it’ll help you find a venue to accommodate these many players.

4. Incentivize players to participate.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of a chess player. So why would they want to play in your tournament? There has to be some incentive.

And one of the best ways to incentivize the players is by giving away prizes. There are 2 ways you can go about it:

Find sponsors

This is crucial, especially if you’re looking at your tournament from a financial perspective. To find sponsors, you must first understand what value you bring them.

Are you offering them more exposure to their target audience? Think how they’ll benefit by sponsoring the event.

If you can make it a win-win deal for participants and sponsors, there’s a good chance you’ll find a sponsor.

Use the entry fee as a prize

Another way to attract participants is by creating a prize fund with your entry fee.

The Pomysl pub used this strategy well and were able to attract many players to their tournament. More you can find in the linked article.

Also, ensure you promote the event you’re organizing in relevant groups so that more players can find out and participate.

5. Bringing the necessary chess boards, clocks, and other equipment.

On the day of the event, you’ll need the following:

  • Chessboard and pieces
  • Chess clocks
  • Tables and chairs
  • Table numbers

The precise number depends on how many players will participate in the tournament.

So if there are 40 players, you’ll need 40 chairs and at least 20 tables where the players can play. At the same time, you’ll need 20 chess sets and clocks.

You might also need some extra chairs for the spectators.

Deciding the number of rounds

This number depends on the people participating in the tournament. But for tournaments up to 50 players, 7 rounds is a reasonable limit.

On the other hand, if you have fewer than 25 players, 5 rounds would be a good limit.

Player refreshments

You don’t always need to provide these directly. Just ensure there are enough facilities near the tournament venue from where players can grab snacks, beverages, and meals.

6. Managing chess pairings and results.

Creating chess pairings can be a challenging task if you don’t have a professional arbiter.

That’s where ChessManager comes in. It’s a tournament pairing software, and anyone with basic computer skills can create pairings using ChessManager. You don’t need to download special software. All you need is a browser. Everything is hosted on a cloud, so it’s extremely easy to access with a basic internet connection.

Learn more: How to prepare a chess tournament using ChessManager

7. Find a team to oversee tournament

When players play in a tournament, you need to ensure they follow the rules and play the game in the right spirit. Disputes must be resolved if they arise.

Also, you might need someone to upload the results to a chess pairing software like ChessManager and make announcements.

Big tournaments usually have arbiters and volunteers for such tasks. But for a small tournament, a 2-3 person team is more than enough to fill this gap.


Here’s a list of things you can refer to when organizing a small tournament:

  1. Set a tournament vision
  2. Decide the time control
  3. Find a venue
  4. Incentivize the players to participate
  5. Have enough chess sets, clocks, tables and chair
  6. Manage chess pairings
  7. Find a team to oversee the tournament

Have fun organizing!

Try It Out

See how ChessManager can help organize Your Tournaments.