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I've been invited by a club to join. I've never played in a club before. He said I should sign papers, and then I can play for fun and free and represent the club in tournaments.

My question is, do you sign a contract or some papers when joining a club? The reason I'm worried is because in my country it's common for football and Volley-ball clubs to seduce the youth into signing life long contracts. (maybe against the law but few go to court to demand justice, and most of the times the clubs win the case)

My uncle was the best volley-ball player in the country, now retired, signed a life long contract and couldn't go to other clubs because his club refused to release his contract. My friend has signed a similar contract with a youth football team and now he can't join a professional team so he quit football (soccer).

I have other concerns as well, for instance the club plays most of the times afternoon, I have university or maybe I don't want to go, maybe I prefer playing Xbox at home.

I mean if joining a club is just for fun, then why signing a contract? Signing a contract is the exact opposite of having fun. And chess is an individual game. Besides, if he wants me to sign, so he can coach me, I don't need coaching, I'm satisfied with my level of chess and all I want is to have fun if my free time by joining a club.

If he wants my signature to make sure I don't join another club, then it's none of his business, I'm leaving my country soon and when I do so, I will join another club. I want no strings attached, otherwise I prefer to play online.

So when you join a club do you sign papers? If so what do you look for when reading the contracts? Is there anything I should be concerned about.

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    Which country is this? – JiK Jan 29 '15 at 16:15
  • @jk it's Lebanon, though not relevant, what I care is to know if you sign papers when joining a club and if so, what you look for before signing – Lynob Jan 29 '15 at 16:18
  • In the US, I have never had to sign a contract. However, if the club had its own building (think Manhattan Chess Club) then there could be a contract to affirm the key would not be shared, the facilities abused, etc etc – Tony Ennis Jan 29 '15 at 22:02
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    Why do you worry about 'signing papers' if you don't know what's in them? Neither can anyone answer about 'papers' in general. You can decide to sign or not when you read them. Your examples are irrelevant. That does not make your question irrelevant, but please edit it and leave only the parts that can be answered (like "what do you look for when reading the contracts?") – user4378 Jan 30 '15 at 12:47
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Yes, usually you sign papers when you join a club. After all you commit yourself to paying the membership fee (even if in your case there is none) and for a financial commitment there has to be some kind of legal foundation. And there are other issues like whether it is allowed to play for several clubs, whether you get a national rating or an Elo and what happens with your personal data in that case.

But this shouldn't be a big deal. If the contract is a very long and complicated affair, I would get suspicious, too. Best take the contract home and show it to your parents, or somebody who can assess it.

Edit: This is the way it is usually done in Germany. But clubs are taken very seriously in our country. ;-) And our chess league system is really very thoroughly organised, so maybe that plays a role as well. Basically every club has a set of rules, pretty much like a democratic constitution, which you have to accept by signing. And although you can be a member of many clubs, you can only be an "active" member of one club at a time, so that is usually specified in the application form as well. (Except when you are a women, then you can be "active" for the normal league system for one club, and "active" in the women's league for another club …). Then you have to agree that your personal data is used for all kinds of nefarious purposes (like rating), and possibly acknowledge that it will take x month to end the membership (So if you end the membership too late, another payment is due).

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    Is this how it works in his country? In the US you don't need a legal foundation for a one time, no commitment payment. I don't sign anything when I pay cash at the store. I don't have a contract with my web hosting provider Amazon. I'm my experience, chess clubs don't involve commitment, especially not financial commitment that would in any way require a contract. – ryan-cook Jan 29 '15 at 18:30
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    I also didn't sign a contract when I upgraded my membership on Chess.com, or when I renew my USCF membership dues to play in national tournaments. @BlindKungFuMaster what club did you join that made you commit to continue paying? – ryan-cook Jan 29 '15 at 18:39
  • Well, I intentionally used the term "papers" because I'm not sure the application form I had to sign, whenever I joined a new club, should be called "a contract". On the other hand, whenever you click your agreement to terms and conditions i.e. on chess.com, isn't that legally binding as well? – BlindKungFuMaster Jan 30 '15 at 8:28
  • This makes a lot more sense now, thanks for clarifying. It's definitely a lot different from what I've seen in the US. – ryan-cook Jan 30 '15 at 13:45
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In the United States, this would be very uncommon. I've belonged to many clubs, and I have never signed a contract of any sort. They typically collect annual membership fees, and for that you do not need a contract in this country, because there is no commitment to continue paying. This money goes toward renting the club space and hosting tournaments.

In your country, things may be different. A chess club may not be as informal as it is here. It might be more of a team than a club. Or maybe this particular club is trying to be a school, or operate like a business.

If you're concerned about them trying to take away your freedom, read the contract. If it doesn't make sense why they included something, don't sign. Start your own club and make it be just for fun. Also consider joining or starting a chess club at your university. That kind of involvement looks good when you graduate or transfer.

  • What about playing for different clubs in the US? If one club puts you up in their team, although you never even joined the club, how is that kind of issue resolved? This sounds a bit like nobody could prove whether you are indeed a member of the club. – BlindKungFuMaster Jan 30 '15 at 8:37
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In Finland, chess clubs are registered associations, and there's no reason to sign anything when joining one, only to give your basic information and pay the membership fee - and I've never heard of that happening. I don't know about the culture in other countries.

On the other hand, some top players in a team of a chess club might sign contracts saying that the club agrees to pay their travel to team matches, and probably some extra, and the players agree to play in the matches.

If he wants my signature to make sure I don't join another club

I've never seen this either: the Finnish Chess Federation only allows a player to represent one club at a time (though he can be a member of multiple chess clubs) so there's no need for a club to have a separate contract for that.

Technically, the club might benefit from being able to prevent people to join other clubs ever, because that would mean they would have more members and perhaps more money. But to me this sounds no different than saying that a person would benefit from having you sign a paper saying you buy his shoes for 10 000 €. People can try to cheat you into signing all kinds of papers, and unfortunately there's no way for strangers on the Internet to know about particular cases. We don't know if that is common in your country.

As others have said, I suggest you ask the contact person what the papers are about, and read them before signing them.

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