The Road Warriors?

In terms of DCCL competitors, many have traveled to various locations to play chess.  However, I know for a fact that nobody from DCCL can hold a candle to Andy Rea in the number of states he has played in.  Andy has played in actual tournaments in 42 of 50 states and has 8 remaining.  Over a 40 year chess career has led to numerous locations that are hard to play in for him.  Such states as Montana, Arkansas, South Dakota and Rhode Island have been checked off the list that is kind of quiet for chess activity.

I have played in tournaments in 17 states myself.  My goal, like Andy, is to somehow play in all 50 states.  It is a very tough goal as only 10 or so people have achieved it.  Here is a breakdown of how I got to the current number of states I did and breakdown for DCCL members on how to get tournament games in different states.

  • Maryland – an easy one for any local player as did this one in high school
  • North Carolina – the site of High School Nationals
  • Virginia – an easy one for any local player as did this one in undergrad in 2001
  • Pennsylvania – an easy one for any local player as did this one in undergrad in 2001
  • New Jersey – went to USATE in 2002 as teamed with Andy Samuelson
  • Delaware – went to US Senior Open 2003 to see the section in Wilmington and played in a quad
  • Massachusetts – once I went to graduate school got this one fairly easily
  • New Hampshire – once I went to graduate school got this one fairly easily
  • Maine – went up for sightseeing but also for the Portland Open
  • Rhode Island – once I went to graduate school got this one fairly easily
  • Connecticut – went to UCONN Open in 2008
  • Vermont – landed this one in 2008 at a CCA event
  • Arizona – was on a business trip in 2016 and played two rounds of a tornado as flight left same day. Beat some 1700 easily and drew a 2230 WFM as black.
  • West Virginia – played out in Morgantown in January 2017. Nobody over 2100 and seemed inflated for ratings (i.e. a 1900 there is 1800 elsewhere). The drive wasn’t great.
  • New York – landed a game at Marshall on family trip. Will warn players though that Marshall Chess Club does not allow side games and forces people to enter entire event if they want to play one or two rounds.  Tournament Directors I found to be unfriendly and players to be rude.  Got the game but would not play there again.
  • Georgia – landed a game on business trip. Highly recommend this state as players were very friendly and I even got a ride back to metro from GM Finegold (who was nice enough to play me in skittles).  Go to Atlanta Chess Center in Roswell and you will love it.
  • California – landed game on business trip. I used metro system to get to site and played a game but had to notify TD’s in advance.  Overall players were strong but friendly.

In terms of states here is a tier-breakdown of each one.  I put them into three tiers.  First tier is you can land a tourney game on weekend easily and maybe even weekday.  Second tier is some activity but you have to actively find it.  Third tier is rare events or very far distances or both.

Tier 1:

  • Massachusetts – Can land a game literally anywhere in Boston if there.  Boylston Chess Club is one of oldest in USA and very nice.  Also, several clubs have weekday events too.
  • New York – Same scenario as Massachusetts but replace Boylston with Marshall.
  • Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh and Lehigh Valley area have weekly events on weekends. And then you have all the CCA events on top of it.
  • New Jersey – Frequent events all over northern part of state. New Jersey distance makes a trip to New York an attachment.
  • Virginia – ACC have weekly events as does DMV club plus you have the VCF and CCA events.
  • North Carolina – Charlotte Chess Club hosts weekly events and very nice facility.
  • Georgia – Atlanta Chess Club hosts weekly events. State geographically has all action concentrated within 20 miles of Atlanta for chess.
  • Texas – You have Houston and Dallas which are two major cities and frequent tournaments.
  • Missouri – If in Saint Louis, that’s an easy one.
  • Illinois – Similar to Massachusetts but replace Boylston with Chicago Chess Center
  • Ohio – Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland are all sizable cities with good chess culture.
  • Minnesota – Minneapolis surprisingly has a very good chess scene and plenty of events throughout the week. Most people live within 30 miles of Minneapolis.
  • Colorado – Denver Chess Club meets frequently and they have other events too.
  • Arizona – Lots of chess action out west near Phoenix and Tuscon.
  • California – Obviously the easiest with major cities everywhere.
  • Washington – Seattle is a major city and thus with most major cities, chess aplenty.

Tier 2:

  • Maine – Actually a very vibrant chess culture but it’s all local based. Portland is 2 hours from Boston.  Worth the drive.
  • New Hampshire – They run events about once every month up there. It’s not far from Boston so can be had.
  • Connecticut – Similar to New Hampshire but most activity confined to Hartford.
  • Delaware – They used to run events frequently but that died down around 2012.
  • West Virginia – Similar number of events to Delaware. It is tricky driving through with the mountains so be careful.  Morgantown is close to Pennsylvania while they do have events near the Ohio and Kentucky parts of state.
  • Maryland – They do not have events weekly but when they have events they get good attendance numbers.
  • Florida – Miami has a great chess scene but the rest of state doesn’t have as much as expected.
  • Tennessee – USCF headquarters is here and Memphis has lots of events. Will warn people as Memphis is about 12 hours away by car but a straight shoot drive.
  • Louisiana – Plenty of events but all confined to New Orleans in general which is kind of far away.
  • Alabama – Near to Georgia and some events. Not super active.
  • Michigan – Geographically it is a loner of the Midwest as in a corner geographically. They do have events in various parts of state though.
  • Wisconsin – Similar to Michigan.
  • Indiana – They have events throughout year but not every weekend.
  • Oklahoma – Solid Chess scene in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
  • Kansas – Oklahoma clone.
  • Arkansas – Same situation as Oklahoma.
  • New Mexico – A big state similar to a Utah where there is some chess scene but you have to find it.
  • Utah – See New Mexico
  • Oregon – the southern neighbor of Washington has some events in Portland.
  • Nevada – some events up in Reno and Las Vegas but that’s a huge distance we are talking.
  • Kentucky – they have some events in Louisville and Lexington but that’s all.

Tier 3:

  • Vermont – it’s isolated from rest of New England area as you really have to hunt to find tourneys there.
  • South Carolina – not much chess action and players are generally lower rated.
  • Mississippi – not a hotbed and I don’t know many people who have visited this state. Still a far distance from Louisiana.
  • Iowa – in the heartland but not many events.
  • Nebraska – not a huge population so tougher to find.
  • South Dakota – one of toughest due to a myriad of factors.
  • North Dakota – the toughest in continental USA to land
  • Wyoming – brutally tough as very few events
  • Montana – see Wyoming
  • Idaho – See Wyoming
  • Alaska – they rarely have events.
  • Hawaii – See Alaska.
  • Rhode Island – very few events despite being close to Boston.

Cities that border other states (i.e you could knock out two or more states in one trip)

  • Boston – New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island all within 2.5 hours of their major cities of each state.
  • New York – Fairly obvious
  • Philadelphia – Fairly obvious
  • Washington DC – Fairly obvious
  • Memphis – it borders Arkansas and Mississippi so you might be able to land those states in addition to Tennessee
  • Chicago – not far from Indiana or Wisconsin
  • Kansas City – right on Kansas/Missouri State Line
  • Cincinnati – Close to Kentucky and Indiana for one.
  • Las Vegas – not too far from Arizona or California.

If one is truly looking to see the most chess states in one week, I would go with Boston.  The clubs up there generally are well run, players are underrated and you have numerous chess pockets nearby.  Also, consider going out to Chicago as lots of big events there.  In my view the toughest states to land are North Dakota/Idaho/Montana among continentals.  The Big Sky country ain’t kind to chess!


About shoshall

Father, Chess player and teacher, Securities trader
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