Chess in Florida | Playing Chess in the Sunshine State

Florida is a particularly convenient state for chess enthusiasts. It has everything you could need to indulge your passion. Should you be living in or visiting the Sunshine State. Then our guide to playing chess in the state of Florida should provide you with an invaluable reference point to continue your chess journey.

chess in Florida map with chess pieces

The United States of America is a great place to be a chess player. There is a wealth of chess resources available. Regardless of which State, City, or town you live in.

There are countless workshops, exhibitions, clubs, shops, and programs in every corner of the country. In these places, interested parties can access the resources they need to learn the game, watch it as it’s played. Compete against other players, and grow their chess skills.

Chess in Florida

Florida, also known as The Sunshine State, is a diverse state located in the Southeastern region of the country. And it is home to a highly diverse and metropolitan population.

It was named Florida after the Spanish term for lush greenery. And it was the first region of the continental United States to become a permanent European settlement. Since Spanish explorers first settled it in the early 1500s, it has been a fertile ground for the game of chess. Thousands of new players are picking up the game to this day. 

Chess in Florida was likely started when the land was first settled by people from European countries, who brought the game with them. Since these beginnings, the game has flourished in the state. You’ll find chess enthusiasts of every age, race, and socio-economic standing living here. Florida residents and visitors have numerous options for fulfilling their chess aspirations. 

Chess in Florida graphic

Even though some clubs and associations charge nominal fees for membership and participation. The overwhelming majority of chess associations welcome visitors and new members free of charge.

Some of the best places to find clubs and associations offering chess lessons, games, and competitions are educational institutions (colleges, high schools, etc.), public libraries, social centers, public parks, churches, and other public institutions of various types. Wherever you are, a great place to start your search for a place to learn and play the game is the internet, as most of them will have some social media presence.

Chess Masters in Florida

According to the Florida Chess Association, there are plenty of notable chess players in Florida. These players are officially rated by the association and constantly engage in competition with one another to increase their profile and expertise. While there are thousands of players in Florida. You will only find a few over a hundred that have achieved the rank of National Master and above. 

Chess master in play

The beauty of chess is that you can find notable players across all age groups, whether in grade school, college, high school, or nursing homes. As long as they have their cognitive functions intact, they can hold their own against the world’s best.

Among Floridian chess players who have reached the heights of chess mastery. One of the most well-known Grandmasters is Lars Bo Hansen. He has achieved a high level of fame and notoriety in the global chess scene as an effective instructor and tough competitor. Being a Grandmaster is the highest rank you can strive for. In fact, there are less than two thousand in the entire world and less than a hundred in the United States. 

Another famous name in the chess world hailing from Florida is Hikaru Nakamura. A chess prodigy who earned the title of Grandmaster at the tender age of 15. He is a five-time United States National Chess champion. Attaining these levels of accomplishment in the game of chess requires a great deal of talent, hard work, dedication.

Chess Clubs in Florida

There are plenty of places in Florida where residents and visitors can play and practice their chess games.

While a few places require membership fees before you can join them or participate in their events. Most places welcome people free of charge as part of their efforts to encourage the spread and growth of chess in their communities.

large group of people playing chess

Some of the most prominent chess clubs and societies in the Sunshine State include:

The Palm Beach Florida Chess Club

Every Tuesday, from 5 pm to 9 pm, this club meets at the Habit Burger Grill in Palm Beach Gardens. Entry is free of charge, and players of all skill levels are welcome to participate in casual and competitive matches, even though competitive players need to have the United States Chess Federation Membership if they want their matches to be ranked. Ranked matches only occur on the last Tuesday of the month, so note that casual games will not take place on these days. 

The Shannon Staub Club

This club holds weekly meetings at the Shannon Staub library. The club aims to foster an interest in chess among the local community, especially the younger generation. As a visitor, you’ll typically find approximately 30 players in attendance every week, which makes for a close-knit community of chess enthusiasts, making it ideal for beginners and learners.

The Orlando Chess Academy

This chess association was set up in 2015 with the aim of bringing chess to younger, school-going generations. They sought to introduce the game to them and help them learn, develop, and sharpen their talents. Aside from the game as it is played on the board. The club hopes that playing chess can help them in other areas of their lives. As chess is a powerful tool in teaching strategic thinking, discipline, perseverance, and other life skills.

The Sarasota Chess Club

This club has not been around for very long but has managed to gather a substantial number of chess enthusiasts who meet each month to learn the game and participate in casual games. This is an ideal place to learn the game and sharpen your skills in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. 

One of the best things about chess is that it can be played anywhere without the need for much in terms of resources or facilities. Wherever you find any group of people interested in the game. You’re likely to find a chess association or club where you can sharpen your skills and indulge your passion for the game. Some of the best places to locate such clubs include libraries, colleges, community centers, churches, etc. 

Mixed group of people playing chess

You will also find that there are multiple online resources and websites that can provide you with all the information you need to locate such associations. Including the websites of the United States Chess Federation. The International Chess Federation (FIDE). Also the Florida Chess Association Facebook page, and the Florida Chess Association site.

Chess Events and Tournaments in Florida

Once the chess bug has bitten you, it’s hard to go anywhere without wanting to play or watch a game whenever you can. Luckily for the residents of Florida, there are plenty of events and tournaments constantly going on in the state. 

large chess tournament

These events are typically organized by official chess federations (local, state, or national). Local educational institutions, churches, libraries, chess societies, and so on. Some of the events you will typically find on Florida’s chess calendar include:

  • The 13th Annual Turkey Bowl
  • The Orlando Autumn Open
  • The Orlando Sunshine Open
  • The Summer Solstice Open
  • The USCE Palm Beach Chess Quads

This is by no means a comprehensive list of events and tournaments in Florida. To find out where and when any potential events worth visiting or participating in may be taking place.

The best place to do your research is online, as almost all the organizing bodies and associations involved will have social media pages where all the pertinent information is posted. A great site to start your search from the Florida Chess Association website.

Chess Shops in Florida

Unless you want to go the online route. You won’t be able to enjoy your favorite game unless you have the right equipment. Even though the game is quite simple in terms of what you need to get started. (All you need is a checkerboard and the appropriate pieces). It can get quite confusing when you’re on the lookout for unique boards, ornamental pieces, and high-end designs. 

Luckily for Florida residents, there are a large number of excellent shops and outlets that stock everything you could need under the sun. 

Chess Shop graphic

Rec Rooms USA

If you need a place where you can get everything you need for your rec room, then you’ll feel right at home here. This outlet specializes in chess strategy books and playing sets, although you can get much more here.

Central Florida Chess Club

This center has been at the heart of the Florida chess scene for many years, and it still plays a big role today. Aside from its wide selection of boards and pieces, its main attraction is that players can come in and play against fellow chess enthusiasts on their premises at no charge, whether or not they make a purchase. This makes it a welcoming, popular spot for Florida’s chess community.

Chess and Games

If you’re looking for unique, high-quality chess sets to give as gifts or use as commemorative ornaments in your home, then this is where you will want to be.

The shop has an incredible inventory of board games from all over the world, meaning that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll surely find it here.

Final Thoughts on Chess in Florida

If you are visiting or residing in Florida, you can be sure that you will always have a place to play chess.

Folded chess board

Whether young or old, rich or poor, an expert player or a beginner, you’ll always be welcome to the chess scene here.

There are all the facilities, resources, and communities any player needs to learn the game and excel at it.

Whoever you are, and wherever you happen to be, here’s hoping you have every success on your chess journey!

Jenna Ostria
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