Chess in Massachusetts – The Ultimate Guide

If you reside in Massachusetts and love chess, you’ll be glad to hear that Chess is a big deal in the Bay State. In recent years, Chess has exploded in popularity in Massachusetts with active chess clubs and exciting tournaments where you can further your love for the game. Massachusetts boasts many talented chess players from all kinds of backgrounds. 

Chess in Massachusetts map and chess pieces

This comprehensive guide dives into the chess scene in Massachusetts. Where to get started, practice or showcase your skills in the state, notable organizations you can be a part of, competitive opportunities, and where you can enjoy the game. I

t will help you connect with other players of varying skills, including beginners, novices, masters, and even grandmasters, and is a useful resource about everything chess-related in the area. 

The Massachusetts Chess Scene

The best way to describe the chess scene in Massachusetts is that it is strong and growing. The state is a testament to the current phenomenon where chess is growing in popularity locally, nationally, and globally. This is more evident in the state capital Boston, where a unique, long-standing outdoor chess scene exists. 

Chess pawn in a Massachusetts map

This local display of the love of the game centers around Harvard Square, Quincy Market, Christopher Columbus Park, and South Station and has been active for decades. It is currently a vibrant square with several outdoor and indoor chess tables, often teaming with curious onlookers. You should definitely check out this epicenter of outdoor chess to get a taste of the Massachusetts homegrown talent. 

You may even meet the renowned Grandmaster Larry Christiansen, who promotes outdoor chess in the area and offer free tournaments, lessons, and simuls. Massachusetts has something to offer for both young and old. The adult chess scene is robust, and Bay State’s scholastic players have numerous opportunities to practice and build their game. 

This diverse chess community means that as a chess enthusiast, you will encounter all types of players allowing you to learn different techniques, tactics, and play styles. The Massachusetts Chess Association  (MACA) is the leading organization that advances and promotes chess-related activities in the state. This non-profit organization provides various helpful resources regarding chess in Massachusetts. 

You can always find out about all the latest chess news, as well as upcoming chess tournaments and scholastic events, on MACA’s website. MACA has a strong online presence where chess lovers across Massachusetts can interact and connect. You can find the organization of social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. 

Chess Grandmasters from Massachusetts

Massachusetts is home to many outstanding chess players, including upcoming and experienced players. The Bay State has nearly 800 players officially rated by the United States Chess Federation. One of the most highly regarded chess players in Massachusetts is undoubtedly the veteran Grandmaster Larry Christiansen, who earned his FIDE GM title back in 1977. 

Chess Master cartoon

He is a unique case in that he became a grandmaster aged 21 without first being an international master. Christiansen won the U.S. Chess Championship, one of the most coveted chess titles, thrice in 1980, 1983, and 2002. While he grew up in Riverside, California, Christiansen currently resides in Boston, MA, and is an important member of the local chess community. He is a very active member of the popular Boylston Chess Club and promotes the game in the public eye in and around Boston. 

Women FIDE Master Carissa Yip is a fellow member of Boylston Chess Club and a young upcoming chess player popular in the local chess circles. She became a master at the age of 11 and was the youngest female master in the country at the time. Another well-known and exceptionally talented chess player from Massachusetts is International Marc Esserman from Cambridge proper.

His fellow International Masters from the state include Samuel Sevian, Alexander Ivanov, Fidel Corrales Jimenez, Steven Zierk, Bill Paschall, and Denys K. Shmelov. As you can see, there is no shortage of exceptional chess players in Massachusetts. The good news is that some of these players are active members of their local chess communities and regularly participate in various state tournaments.

Chess Clubs in Massachusetts

Being part of a chess club in Massachusetts is the best way to enjoy the game, as it offers plenty of benefits. You’ll become part of a chess-loving community, meet, connect and play with all-caliber players, participate in local and state tournaments, and develop your chess-playing skills. Depending on where you reside in Massachusetts, there are many active chess clubs and groups where you can interact with fellow enthusiasts.

Chess clubs are available in many states of the US

Below are some options you should check out:

1. The Boylston Chess Foundation

The Boylston Chess Foundation is Massachusetts’s most well-known and largest chess group. Tracing its roots to the early 20th century, the club is over a century old and the 3rd oldest chess club in the United States. Today, The Boylston Chess Foundation is a flourishing chess center that serves the community of the greater Cambridge and Boston areas and is home to some of the best chess players in the state. 

Active members include the aforementioned Grandmaster Larry Christiansen and female chess prodigy Carissa Yip. The club has organized nearly 2000 rated chess tournaments over the past two decades. The Boylston Chess Foundation holds club championships, online events, and Swiss nights regularly.

2. The Harvard Chess Club

The Harvard Chess Club is the official chess club of Harvard University. The club was founded back in 1874 and is one of the oldest chess clubs in Massachusetts. 

This prestigious club advances and promotes chess within the Harvard and Cambridge communities. And it is open to players and learners of all levels and experience.

The Harvard Chess Club holds periodic meetings, organizes its own tournaments, sends teams to scholastic and open tournaments and also tutors chess in the local schools.

3. Massachusetts Chess Wizards

Massachusetts Chess Wizards is an organization that offers a safe place for children of all ages and skills to learn, play and build their chess prowess. The organization has an interactive extra-curricular chess program that it offers to schools across the Greater Boston area to help kids both on and off the chess board. 

Partnering with many school districts. The fun classes have group settings focusing on face-to-face interaction that facilitates sportsmanship, critical thinking, and social bonding. Massachusetts Chess Wizards boasts a network of more than 250 instructors. The organization also holds program-wide chess tournaments and special interschool events.

chess club

4. Metro West Chess Club

Metro West Chess Club is based in Natick, MA, and has served the Metro West Boston chess community since 1983. This chess club is affiliated with FIDE and the United States Chess Federation and members. Who include adults and children, meet weekly every Tuesday for rated chess games.

It is a great community where you can connect with chess players of all abilities and hone your skills. Metro West Chess Club organizes monthly tournaments and offers group chess classes overseen by experienced chess masters, including Lou Mercuri.

5. Chess Empire Kids

Chess Empire Kids offers a great community for the younger chess players in the greater Burlington area in Massachusetts. This academy is affiliated with the United States Chess Federation. And aims to make the game more professional yet fun for children. Chess Empire Kids organizes an online chess arena where kids can play with each other anytime and build their confidence and skills. 

Massachusetts graphic

During these tournaments, the games are recorded for later analysis and tutorship. Chess Empire Kids offers an amazing place to learn different skills that are important for chess and other areas of life. The club imparts crucial skills, including cognitive knowledge, strategy, logic, and problem-solving.

Other notable chess clubs and organizations in Massachusetts include Wachusett Chess Club. The New England Chess School, Nessp Kids’ Chess, and The Massachusetts Chess Association Scholastic Chess. 

Massachusetts Chess Tournaments

There are numerous competitive opportunities in Massachusetts if you want to try out your chess-playing skills in Massachusetts. Below are some of the top chess tournaments you can participate in in the Bay State:

large chess tournament
  • Massachusetts State Championship (MA Open) – The Massachusetts Open is a popular FIDE-rated event held in Quincy, MA, between the 9th and 11th of October. The Massachusetts Chess Association organizes the tournament, which is open for players rated 1800 and above. 
  • Boston Chess Congress – The Continental Chess Association organizes the Boston Chess Congress at the beginning of each year, usually between the 7th and 9th of January. The highly popular tournament has been going on for nearly a century and offers thousands of dollars in guaranteed prizes. Boston Chess Congress encompasses different chess sections based on ratings. Including over 2,000(major section), under 2000, under 1700, and under 1400.    
  • Massachusetts Blitz Championship – The Massachusetts Blitz Championship is a USCF blitz-rated tournament held in Quincy, MA. The championship is open to out-of-state chess players and is usually held on the 10th of October.
  • The New England Open – The New England Open is a long-running chess tournament organized and sponsored by the Massachusetts Chess Association. Every 4th to 6th of September in Westford, MA, the contest draws hundreds of elite players from all over the Bay State. The New England Open includes a Grand Prix, Enhanced Grand Prix, and Junior Grand Prix. 
  • Boston Elite Thanksgiving Open – The Boston Elite Thanksgiving Open is a FIDE-rated tournament. It usually happens between the 26th and 28th of November in Norwood, MA. The Boston Elite Chess organization sponsors the tournament. Which features Enhanced and Junior Grand Prix with thousands of dollars worth of prizes at stake.
  • FMCA Scholastic Tournament – The Future Masters Chess Academy organizes the FMCA Scholastic Chess Tournament every year on the 24th of October in Burlington, MA. This unrated tournament is a great opportunity to compete if you are new to the game.
  • Wachusett CC Championship – The Wachusett Chess Club organizes the Wachusett CC Championship. Which happens on the campus of Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg, MA. The annual tournament is held on the 6thof October and welcomes players of all ages.  

The Best Chess Shops in Massachusetts

If you want to purchase high-quality chess products. Including chess sets, boards, clocks, and other related accessories. You can check out the following shops:

chess shop

Pandemonium Books and Games – If you reside in the Boston area. Pandemonium Books & Games is one of the best places to purchase anything board game related. This well-established store has served the region for more than 30 years. You are sure to find any chess products you are looking for here.

Eureka! Puzzles & Games – Located in Brookline, MA, Eureka! Puzzles & Games has one of the most impressive collections of hobby supplies catering to children and adults in the area. You can find your next chess set here at an affordable price.

That’s Entertainment – That’s Entertainment is a popular shop for hobby supplies and collectibles in Worcester and Fitchburg, MA.  The award-winning store offers board games, video games, toys, and comics and has been operational since 1980. If you are in Chandler Street and Fitchburg, you should check out what’s in store at That’s Entertainment.

Video Game Castle – Don’t let the name put you off. Video Game Castle offers a wide selection of games, including chess. If you reside around Chicopee, MA, this is the place for quality chess products and more.

Massachusetts Chess Guide- Summary

The State of Massachusetts boasts an exciting chess scene with an active community. With plenty of opportunities for different types of chess players to meet, play, socialize and share their love for the game.

Chess is only getting increasingly popular in Massachusetts. And Bay State continues to provide great avenues and platforms for beginner and expert players.

Jenna Ostria
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