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Is there a need for this?
As I've mentioned before in these forums, I recently began spending the bulk of my chess time on over-the-board games (face to face!), having found a club a couple of towns over with convenient meeting times. But it was a bit of an accident that I stumbled across them at all. When I first came "back to chess" a few years back, I poked around looking for local clubs, but didn't find a lot of helpful information. I'd heard of the club I'm currently at, but all the "official" information suggested they only played on Saturday afternoons--I was shocked to find that they play less formally on Wednesday and Friday evenings as well...but it was precisely *this* information that I needed.
Since I've been playing there, I've become aware of maybe half a dozen other local spots where you can drop in for pick-up games; but of course, there appears to be no central listing of these either. And so came my general idea: a regularly updated website listing places you can get a face-to-face game, with maybe a bit of information on contacts, etiquette, and whether or not you should bring a lot of cash.
I don't think it would be too difficult to knock up a website to achieve this goal, and I'm sure there are a lot of you out there I could hit up for your local knowledge. But it occurred to me that maybe the reason I couldn't find an OTB site for so long was that I'm hopelessly out of touch--maybe these things are common knowledge among serious chessplayers, or maybe these "informal" sites don't want a lot of patzers dropping in on them. But the flip side is that I bet there are a fair number of internet-only players who might enjoy pushing some wood for a change. It's done me a world of good.
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US Chess Federation lists all affiliated clubs:
(The list includes scholastic and prison clubs, so read listings carefully.)
Many of them have web pages and email addresses, and all of them have phone numbers. Listings are reasonably up to date, since affiliates have to renew their memberships regularly.
Finding chess in the park is a little trickier, in part because such gatherings aren't always popular with local authorities. Still, asking your favorite search engine for "chess in the park" for a nearby city is likely to turn up some good ideas. And once you find one, it's easy enough to ask about others.
As for you being hopelessly out of touch, I would say that it's more a case of local organizers being almost universally overwhelmed, trying to fit all the details of running a club around their own playing time and personal lives. With few exceptions, keeping the club web page up to date is lots of work for little reward. But they are doing it at all because they love chess, and so they'd be delighted to answer your email or return a phone call. Or, once you find somewhere with chess players, just show up.
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I think the reason that these don't get listed is because schedules tend to fluctuate seasonally. I was in a group that met to play casually, and we wound up changing schedules three times through the year.
Many years ago, I played with a group that hinged upon a bagel store. When the place closed down (due to the Atkins diet craze), the chess players moved along.
I'd suspect that this is the reason no one has tried to compile all the casual chess groups out there. The nature of casual play is varying meeting times.
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...I think the USCF listings rather underscore the problem. Consider Connecticut, my home state, home of the Foxwoods Open and several other semi-major OTB tournaments each year. The USCF club list has 17 entries, three of which are elementary schools, two are collegiate clubs, and one other appears to be a wrapper for the rating status of the state's USCF affiliate. Of the remaining eleven, only three have listed websites, and only one of these is still online; two others have no email address listed. My club, which used to be a USCF affiliate and ran a bunch of rated weekend quads not too long ago, is not found anywhere.
The club I play with has at least two regular players in the expert range and a healthy handful of class A players; yet the father of the state's middle school champion (a kid with a 1600 rating from my town) recently complained in the newspaper that there is no serious competition in CT and he has to schlep his son to NYC so he can improve.
I just feel like it shouldn't be so difficult to find an answer to the question, "where can I get a game tonight?"
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Perhaps you need to get on (or create) your club's publicity committee?
I'm not saying your proposed web site wouldn't be useful, but its usefulness would depend on members of casual and formal groups being willing to share their existence with the world. Many venues for doing that already exist. If people are not taking advantage of them, I'm not sure adding another venue will help.
(And yes, any such listing would need the cooperation of the listed group. Or at least of one person willing to maintain the listing and respond to inquiries. A database with outdated information is worse than none at all.)
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Sounds like a great idea to me. I think it may be dormant now?! But a few years ago I'm sure it was operation ... a website that was run by the Nebraska State Chess Assoc. to list upcoming tournaments, events , and some places where players were meeting to club. I think there may have been some playing at one of the colleges for eg. Tho around here, it is more likely that players begin to gather at some coffeehouse, until inevitably "kicked-out" for taking too much space, or not purchasing coffee, etc. (I once ate 4 frozen dinners one evening to that our table could keep playing ... as long as someone was eating! :)
Anyway, back to the website ... for awhile, when the Nebraska Knights Team was active here on GK, there was even a link to the NSCA website from here on GK, from the Teams info here. And part of the site was even tracking where former Nebr. players were residing now and could be reached. It was a nice thing while it lasted.
Tho it was hard pressed to keep up with the latest on where players Were gathering, since coffeehouses can come and go really rather quickly! The same for bookstores. But churches or schools can last a bit longer it seems.
I do think it would be a great thing to see such a site again.
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The Nebraska Chess Association does have a website that lists upcoming tournaments; I actually used it when looking for tournaments to go to about a year ago, and ended up playing in the 2006 Omaha City Championship based on that.
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Thanks for the corrected info, Dan. I wasn't sure, as there was at least one stretch of time where it was not being updated, so I thought they might have given up on it.
Glad to hear that it's still running.
Jeff , just to clarify tho re my prior remarks on it: that Nebraska site is only showing info for that area, not the entire nation~! So I was siting it as our "local"/ regional example, and not as a comprehensive listing. But this brings me to a thought. Probably a USA board would want to list things by state, and then could use links to existing local/regional/statewide type bbs like this which are already in existence; rather than hunting for and completely republishing all the info !?
PS// I'm not certain, but seem to have a faint thought that perhaps I HAVE seen something like that, where some state sites were listed. Can't swear to it now tho, or say where, or if it was just for tournaments or clubs and orgs too. Maybe USCF site?!
Or maybe it was England for that matter?!! Sorry its so hazy :(