Playing friends and family can quickly become a bit limiting for the aspiring chess player. So it’s quite natural to look around and see where else you can get a game and improve your skills. This is particularly important for the player who’s looking to enter competition play at some point or another.
The Chess Club
Almost every town and city in the world has a chess club and in the age of the Internet it’s really easy to find one. Chess clubs are a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts and I remember my junior playing days at Basingstoke Chess Club fondly.
Clubs will normally provide boards, pieces and chess clocks as well as other players. Some of the better established clubs will normally offer access to a wide range of literature – which you may be able to borrow if you ask nicely.
Occasionally you’ll be able to find a great public space to play in, in New York there’s Washington Square Park where you’ll often find dozens of players playing blitz chess for a little cash. Garden chess is also becoming increasingly popular. When I was a student there was a great giant chess set outside of Leeds Library, where you could play against anyone passing by with an interest in a game. In fact you can always create your own space, turn up anywhere with a table and set up a board and practice some problems – it won’t take long before you have your first volunteer for a game.
There are literally dozens of chess sites that offer online play against all sorts of opposition from beginners to grand masters. These are normally free to join and play – so you won’t need to invest much except your time to have fun. But nothing beats being hunched over a real board with a real player – so I’d recommend you do this only when you can’t get out and about. After all half the fun of chess is the friendships you can make from playing.