Continental Chess Association

Box 8482, Pelham NY 10803

E-mail: (use @ instead of "At")

About Continental Chess Association

The business now known as Continental Chess Association (CCA) was founded in 1964 by Bill Goichberg to hold chess tournaments.  During 1964-1967, these tournaments were in the New York City area only.  In 1968, expansion to other areas began, and the name New York City Chess Association was replaced by Continental Chess Association.

CCA has held over 2300 chess tournaments in 28 states, DC, and the Bahamas, and has awarded over $24,000,000 in prize money without ever reneging on a guaranteed prize.  For many years, more players have competed in CCA tournaments than those of any other chess organizer in the USA.  CCA is not a membership organization, but is affiliated with the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and requires USCF membership to play in its tournaments.  CCA has placed first in 21 USCF membership drives.

CCA has originated and developed many ideas which were at first unusual or controversial, but were eventually adopted by other organizers and are now accepted as significant features of the American chess scene.  These are included in the history below.

1966:  First organizer to hold USCF-rated scholastic tournaments.  Other chess organizers then believed that scholastics could not be rated because students would refuse to pay $5 USCF dues, but the CCA experiment proved incredibly successful.  In December 1966, the Greater New York Scholastics attracted 614 players, at a time when the previous national record was just 265 players, and produced 400 new USCF members.  

1966:  First organizer to hold elementary school tournaments.  This age group was once believed too young to play chess with the exception of a few prodigies, but we have since learned that there is even more interest here than in high school or junior high school.

1969:  Originated the National High School Championship.  USCF would not allow the use of this name until then, believing it would be "just one more New York event," but the first one was a spectacular success with 370 players from 21 states including Hawaii and all USCF regions represented.  And it has continued to grow since.

1969:  Originated USCF-rated "Quad" tournaments, involving players of similar strength in 4-player round robin sections.  This format still enjoys a following throughout the nation, and has been especially successful in New Jersey.

1973:  Originated non-smoking tournaments.  Other organizers criticized this format as harmful to entries, but even in early years, more non-smokers were gained than smokers lost, and today very few tournaments allow smoking.

1973:  Originated the National Junior High School Championship.

1973:  Originated the World Open.  The inaugural event guaranteed $15,000 in prizes- a small fraction of today's guarantee, but 50% more than any previous open tournament.  The 1973 event was an immediate success with over 700 players, and it has drawn over 1000 each year since 1985.  

1976:  Originated the National Elementary School Championship.  The inaugural event drew just 68 players.  Today, the National Elementary draws about 2000 players!   See for details of all National Scholastic tournaments.

1976: To address the problem that few American Masters had FIDE ratings, CCA began a series of round robin Futurity and International tournaments. As a result, in 1976-1978 many US players earned initial FIDE ratings, including Boris Baczynskyj, Joel Benjamin, Calvin Blocker, Rudy Blumenfeld, Jay Bonin, Larry D. Evans, John Fedorowicz, Bill Goichberg, Robert Gruchacz, Asa Hoffmann, Ervin Middleton, Eric Moskow, Ken Regan, Joseph Tamargo, Tim Taylor, Mike Valvo, Robert Wachtel, and Michael Wilder.

1977:  First USA organizer to hold Swiss Internationals, providing FIDE title and rating opportunities for many American players. While occasional CCA round robins continued, the number of strong US untitled players looking for a chance far exceeded the spots available in round robins, as is still the case today.  During the period 1977-1993, including various round robins, about half of all Americans to achieve the IM or GM title made one or more norms in a CCA International.   

1986:  The World Open drew 1506 players, a world record for open tournaments that still stands.  This event has outdrawn all other open tournaments in the world each year most years since 1985. 

1990:  First to use alternate time controls and multiple round options with alternate playing schedules in Swiss tournaments.  Previously, some other organizers had offered only the choice of round one Friday night or Saturday morning.  CCA expanded player options dramatically to allow players to compete even if they could not spare all or most of the weekend.  For instance, the World Open now offers the choice of 7-day, 5-day, 4-day or 3-day schedules, with the convenient 3-day made possible by playing the first five rounds at a Game/45 time control.

1990: The World Open offered free analysis of games submitted by players by Grandmaster Pal Benko. This popular feature has continued ever since and been expanded to other tournaments, with analysts including Benko, Arthur Bisguier, Sam Palatnik, John Donaldson, and John Fedorowicz.

1990:  Held the Vermont Resort Open, the first USCF rated tournament in Vermont since 1979. This was followed by many other CCA tournaments in the state. 

1991:  Originated the National Scholastic K-12 Grade Championships.  Some expressed skepticism as to whether this would be a "real national," but it drew 340 players from 10 USCF regions the first year and has since expanded to over 1500 players, and many states have copied the format.  Like the other national scholastics, it is now controlled by USCF.

1992: Originated the Philadelphia International held right before the World Open, which joined that event as an open Swiss offering international title norms. The tournament was repeated in 1993 and 1994 and then after a long break, restarted in 2008.

1995:  Initiated the practice of inserting time delay clocks in response to many "no losing chances" sudden death claims, allowing these claims to be resolved objectively without requiring director judgment.   This method was added to the USCF rules later that year but is now rarely used because most games use digital clocks.

1999:  With the sponsorship of ChessWise University, initiated the CCA-ChessWise International, an open Swiss International with GM and IM norms available, in Stratton Mountain, Vermont.  17 Grandmasters competed in the inaugural event.  The tournament was held again in 2000, was cancelled for several years due to lack of a sponsor, and was held in 2004 in Vermont and 2005 in Lake George, NY as the CCA-ICC International with sponsorship from the Internet Chess Club.   

1999:  CCA established an all time record for USCF affiliates by enrolling 1,489 U.S. Chess Federation members in one year.  This number is a whopping 954 members greater than that of the second place affiliate of 1999.

2000:  CCA organized five tournaments that each had $100,000 or more in prizes guaranteed- World Open, Foxwoods Open, Chicago Open, Continental Open, North American Open.   Only two other open chess tournaments in the US have ever guaranteed $100,000 in prizes, neither of which are still held.  The World Open continues to guarantee at least $150,000 and the Chicago Open $100,000 each year.

2000:  The Continental Open in Los Angeles with $100,000 in prizes had to nine rounds, with the possibility of IM norms- the first open in the western U.S. in 20 years to do so. Greg Shahade earned his final IM norm in this event.  Unfortunately, there was a very large financial loss, so the tournament was moved to the east coast after this, with fewer rounds and smaller prizes.

2001:  CCA raised funds to continue the USCF Grand Prix, guaranteeing that the total prize fund would be at least $10,000 and enabling the event to be held without USCF financial support.

2004:  CCA's Foxwoods Open top section was expanded to 9 rounds, with GM and IM norm possibilities. In 2004 and 2005 CCA offered a record three Swiss Internationals: World Open, Foxwoods, and CCA-ICC International.

2008: After holding two Swiss Internationals each year 2005 and 2006, CCA restarted the Philadelphia International, so again offered three Swiss Internationals in 2008 and 2009.

2008: CCA began a special appeal to bring new players into tournament chess and USCF, offering unrateds adult entry fees plus USCF dues for a total of $20. With the cost of adult dues being $42, this in effect paid the players $22 to enter if they joined USCF! This special program was in effect, for most CCA tournaments, for about 18 months.

2010: With the Chicago Open top section expanded to 9 rounds and the new Continental Class in the DC area, CCA offered a record five Swiss Internationals in 2010. Foxwoods was discontinued but replaced by the Philadelphia Open.

2011: Another new record for Swiss Internationals as the Manhattan Open offered a 9 round top section, bringing the CCA total of Swiss Internationals for 2011 to six.

2012: Yet another new high in Swiss Internationals, seven, with the top section of the North American Open in Las Vegas expanded to 9 rounds and the Bahamas International, the first CCA tournament outside the USA, added for one year only. The Manhattan Open top section was shortened to 6 rounds.

2013: CCA began offering mixed doubles prizes, an idea created by Steve Immitt, at most of our tournaments. Female participation in most of our events has since increased significantly.

2015: The Southwest Class returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the first CCA tournament in Texas in 25 years. 

2016: With the top section of the Southwest Class expanded to 9 rounds, CCA again held seven Swiss Internationals in one year.

2018: CCA plans a new high of eight Swiss Internationals in one year: Southwest Class, Philadelphia Open, Chicago Open, Philadelphia International, World Open, Continental Open, Washington Chess Congress, North American Open.

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