Are there any over-the-board tournaments open only to persons over 18?

Everywhere I go it's like a school field trip, more than half the players are from some elementary or middle school, all parents in tow. And as I am in the ~1600 rating range myself, I end up playing nothing but kids and I find it unpleasant.

First of all, it's a no-win situation. If you beat them, you feel like a bully taking candy from a baby.

Most of the time it's fine, but I've had a few very negative experiences, especially:

  • A kid about 9 years: he played a fantastic opening against me, he was up a pawn and had a crushing position. He proceeds to go get all his friends to look at the board, all snickering. Then, I fight back and when he realizes I'm about to win his rook and take the initiative he breaks out into tears, like inconsolable. It was horrible. The TD awarded me the game as forfeit.

  • A kid about 14 years old: He plays really fast, and I go up a knight and have a good attack going. It's a complex position but I'm easily going to be able to finish it. He proceeds to get up, walk around for 20 minutes (game 60 time control), comes back, makes a move, then gets up again, another 10 minutes, and on and on until he had a few mins left and then he played to the end (I won easily.) It was ridiculous. I complained to the TD but he said there's nothing he could do.

So I can't play tournaments anymore, it's unpleasant. Are there any tournaments that are open to only adults?

  • 19
    Assuming you're playing under USCF rules, I believe the TD was being a bit too conservative when he told you there was "nothing he could do" in the second situation you described. At minimum, the TD could have given your opponent a warning under rule 18G1 - "An emergency situation could arise, for example, if a player with substantial time remaining and a poor position disappears for more than 15 minutes or is present but shows little interest in considering the position. Such behavior is unsportsmanlike and the director is encouraged to adjudicate, possibly after a warning."
    – patbarron
    Mar 9 '20 at 1:54
  • 6
    That being said, I can sympathize with your situation. In my case, I'm in an area with an active scholastic program. Their behavior is always good - but for their first several events, they start with very low age-based imputed ratings, and they're only playing each other - so they're basically only trading rating points back and forth their first several events. Then when they come into the "general population", they might have a rating around 900 "on paper", but they're really playing around 1400 or so. My own rating is around 1100 (and has been lower), so it often doesn't go well for me...
    – patbarron
    Mar 9 '20 at 2:05
  • 3
    I would be surprised if Chess Boxing tournaments were open to children, and Duchamp and Babitz' nude Chess match most probably was 18+ material too.
    – Evargalo
    Mar 9 '20 at 8:50
  • 9
    @patbarron Funnily this is not a chess-specific problem. I used to play Table Tennis, and it's similar. If you are too weak for the "strong" adult population, you mostly play against up-and-coming young players while they are climbing the ratings, with all the downsides you and OP mention - lacking sportsmanship, some severely underrated players, emotional breakdowns when they lose. I had a racket thrown at me at some point.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 9 '20 at 11:03
  • 7
    Fun fact: When I was playing in team events as a teenager, my only negative experience with another player was a man of some indeterminable age (but above forty). He arrived half an hour late, very noisily munched on some meatball and slurped coffee (for breakfast), and reeked of tobacco abuse and sweat. – So maybe you should just be looking for tournaments with stronger etiquette.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 10 '20 at 9:19

There are definitely some, but they are, clearly, not the norm as most organizers want to get the most players they can, and thus, make the most money they can.

Here are a few links of places that have regular adult tournaments. Some of these tournaments have gone by, but if they did them before, they probably would do them again. There are surely more, but I am not going to try to track down every one of them.

Of course, and I am one now, there are also senior events for those over 50; so you have something to look forward to.

Starting a local club that does one game per week, and excluding kids, might also work for you.

I do feel your pain. I got whacked by the number one 8-year-old in the country a week ago. His behavior was totally fine, but kids are always so underrated.

Berkeley, California

Austin, Texas

New Jersey

Tucker, Georgia


There are tournaments for 50+ years old. This is great as you can avoid immature 30 year olds.


There aren't many, but there are some. Sometimes, oddly enough, it can help to find a largish scholastic event and see if there's a corresponding adult event at the same time. For example, Wisconsin holds the Wisconsin Junior Open every year. And, at the same time and location (but on a different floor), they also hold the Veteran's Tournament, which is only open to adults.


If you find yourself in the UK, the Central London Chess Congress at Imperial College has an over-18's policy due to licensing restrictions on the venue. It is, not just for this reason, one of my favourite events on the chess calendar.

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