What To Bring To A Chess Tournament? 9 Things To Carry

There is a saying that goes “proper preparation prevents poor performance”. This holds true for chess tournaments as lack of preparation can cause you to perform poorly in your games.

A chess tournament is a long ride that can start as early in the morning and end late in the evening. Therefore, there are few things you need to bring to the tournament that will help you sit out this time. You need to bring items that you will use during and after the match. Let’s take a look at them.

Here are 9 things you need to bring to a chess tournament:

  1. Food
  2. Drinks
  3. Scorebook
  4. Pen
  5. Phone with Chess app
  6. Chess set (board and pieces)
  7. Chess clock
  8. ID
  9. FIDE Handbook

Food and Drinks

Sitting at a board and concentrating for hours uses a lot of energy. It’s important that you bring your own food and drinks to eat at the tournament to keep your physical and mental strength up to par.

After every round you usually get at least 15 minutes break. And, depending if you finished the game early, you could end up with way more time. Use this time to eat something healthy in order to restore the energy that you’ve lost.

Don’t eat foods that make you feel drowzy and tired, because you’ll need to stay focus over your next games in order to find the right moves.

It’s also a good idea to bring a bottle of water during your games. Though most tournaments won’t accept you eating food and drinks during your game, you can always drink water over the board. Just try not to spill it over the pieces.

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Scorebook and Pen

The tournament organizers should supply scoresheets and pens to players every single round in the tournament. However, it’s a good idea to bring a spare pen just in case the ink runs dry and stops writing.

It’s also good to carry a scorebook with you as well to keep record of all your games. After a match, you should transfer your game from your scoresheet over into the scorebook.

A scorebook in chess is a book containing all your games of the past. Scorebooks are more convenient to have because a single scoresheet can get lost or misplaced.

A scorebook with all your games is helpful during training as you get to analyse your games and learn from your mistakes.

Cell Phone With Chess Engine Analysis App

I don’t have to tell you to bring your cell phone to the tournament because almost everyone uses them everywhere they go. Keep in mind that you cannot bring your cell phone into the playing hall or on your persons.

Most tournaments have a section where you put your cell phones in. They are usually placed in small boxes, and they give you tapes to put on your phone with your name written on it. That way, your phone won’t get mixed up with the others.

After you’ve finished a game, you want to collect back your cell phone and analyse your game with an engine. You should always analyse your game after a match because learning from your mistakes is how you improve at chess

The app that I use to analyse my games is Chess-Analyze This (Stockfish 14 or 15), whatever the latest version is. Having a coach or mentor can also make the task easier, because he or she will explain the meaning behind the moves which a computer engine cannot do.

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All in all, it’s a good idea to have a chess app on your phone to analyse your games with after a match. Just be mindful not to use it in the playing hall, as it could be considered cheating. If they catch you with your cell phone during a match, you may end up disqualified from the tournament.

Chess Set and Clock

After a round of chess, it’s very refreshing to play a few blitz and bullet matches with your chess buddies before the next round starts. There are a lot of chess sets and clocks in the playing hall, but it’s best to bring your own as those are reserved for the tournament only.

It’s also good to bring your own chess set for when you want to analyse your games over the board as opposed to on a chess app.


Those in school who are still under 18 don’t necessarily need an ID. Usually their schools or coaches register them in the tournament without the need for identification.

However, if you are an adult, you will probably need an ID when registering for the tournament yourself. You’ll probably need to present it on the day of the tournament as well so that the organizers know who is playing. So always walk with one just in case. This could be your passport or driver’s licence.

Walk With The FIDE Handbook

A lot of people playing chess still haven’t read even a page of the FIDE handbook which are the governing rules of chess.

You need to be aware of the rules so that you don’t do anything illegal. You need to know the rules of the chess clock, rules for moving pieces and even how to correctly offer a draw. You’d be surprised at how many players still don’t know how to properly offer their opponents a draw over the board, nor how to conduct themselves properly. All of this is covered in the FIDE hand book, which you can download here. 

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In some cases, even the arbiter may cast an unfair judgement due to lack of knowledge of the chess rules. I can tell you a real story where an arbiter wanted to declare my game drawn because he believed I wasn’t making ‘progress’.  It was a queen pawn endgame, so the position was not a dead draw, neither was there a 3 move repetition nor did I make 50 moves without a pawn advance or capture. His claim: I moved my queen back and forth and that I wanted to ‘clock my opponent’.

I knew this was a phony judgement, so I made my objection to the head arbiter, after which they argued back and forth. The case was eventually settled. There was no draw. The clocks resumed and I went on to win the game.

If I never knew the rules, I would have rolled over and accepted the draw.

Final Verdict

Bringing the right equipment to a chess tournament will help you perform better in your games and you will feel confident knowing that you are well prepared.

The most important thing to bring is food and drinks. Staying hungry at a tournament is really bad because you won’t be able to focus on your games, and you will perform poorly. It’s also good that you have breakfast in the morning because that first game can really set the mood and rhythm for the rest of the tournament.