I had started a chess club in my school along with my friend who plays with me regularly, it has been 2 months now and only 3 more people have joined (and 2 more people who have no idea how to play and have no interest in learning I don't know why they joined). The others have improved but the chess club is mostly boring even for me since we have varying ratings so tournaments and puzzles are not possible. We have pieces and mats but we don't have clocks and the school is reluctant to buy any so basically, we have nothing to do and my friend is just suggesting to shut it down but I really don't want that to happen can anyone suggest anything to do in the club to keep it alive?

  • 1
    Varying ratings, huh? There's always Hand/Brain tournaments, Bughouse, and other things to keep things spicy. Play games from a position that comes out of various interesting openings (each player take W & B). Get creative and have fun. Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 14:27
  • Print an advice several times and publicite it.
    – user27142
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:48
  • 2
    Of course it's not the same, but there are out there several apps for using your smartphone as a chess clock.
    – emdio
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


Actually, I've been in a pretty similar position as you and there were a couple of things I found helped the popularity of my school's chess club.

  1. The most important thing is promotion because clubs tend to have a network effect. You have to get the word of your club out there as much as possible, as there may be people who are interested but just don't know about it. Does your school allow PA announcements for clubs, allow students to put up posters or have club fair events periodically. Even promotion by word of mouth is helpful, like mentioning it to all your friends. I would also emphasize to people that you don't necessarily have to know how to play, because there are likely people who are interested but are just too intimidated to join (especially with the Queen's Gambit boom).

  2. Adding incentives to joining, which goes hand in hand with promotion. For example, we mentioned that there was going to be an in-school tournament and that the winner would receive a small cash prize. As well, if you just participated in the tournament you would be entered in a small raffle cash prize, which appealed to beginners who knew they couldn't win the tournament. Of course, having these incentives does nothing if nobody knows about it, so this would be mentioned on your school announcements/posters.

  3. Add a competitive aspect to it. This may be more so geared towards how to keep people interested once you have them, but we created a tier system in our club, where you would climb tiers by winning against people in your tier. This also ensured that people of a similar skill level ended up playing. Additionally, we reached out to neighbouring schools and set up an exhibition game, which spiced things up.

I will say that people tend to join clubs at the very start of school years, so you may find more success starting it up next year with some of these ideas. Also, we just downloaded free chess clock apps instead of buying physical ones, which honestly worked better. The first year my friends and I tried to start the club it failed, but we decided to try again the following year with some of these ideas and got a good number of people (40ish), so don't be discouraged by the situation right now. Hope it works out in the future and best of luck!

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