National Chess Day Date in the current year: October 12, 2024

National Chess Day American chess enthusiasts observe National Chess Day annually on the second Saturday of October. It celebrates one of the world’s oldest strategy games that is recognized internationally as a sport.

Chess is a two-player board game that has a very long history. It is believed to have evolved from chaturanga, an ancient Indian strategy game considered the common ancestor of several chess-like board games such as Persian shatranj, Chinese xiangqi, and Japanese shogi. The game reached Europe via several routes around the 9th century and had become widespread by the 13th century.

Modern chess rules started to develop in 15th-century Spain. Around the same time, the first books on chess theory were published. By the 18th century, the center of European chess had moved from Spain to France. The rules of chess were finalized in the 19th century; all rule changes since then have been minor and technical in nature.

The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851, and the first official World Chess Championship took place in 1886. It was a match between the world’s two leading chess players, Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, that consisted of twenty games played in New York, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Steinitz was the first to win ten games and became the first world champion in chess.

The International Chess Federation (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, FIDE) was founded in 1924 with the purpose of having chess recognized as an Olympic sport. The first attempt to include chess in the program of the Olympic games failed, and FIDE organized a team chess tournament in Paris instead. It ran concurrently with the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. In 1999, the International Olympic Committee finally recognized FIDE as the supreme body overseeing international chess competitions.

October 9, 1976 was recognized as National Chess Day in the United States by President Gerald Ford. It should be noted, however, that this was a one-off proclamation only for that year and that it wasn’t fully official because it is not customary for the U.S. president to issue proclamations that are not authorized by Congress.

Since then, the United States Chess Federation has tried and failed to have the observance recognized by Congress. However, the unofficial status of National Chess Day doesn’t stop millions of American chess players, beginners and experts alike, from celebrating it every year on the second Saturday of October.

There are many ways to celebrate National Chess Day. You can play a game of chess with a friend, participate in a chess tournament, join a local chess club, buy a new chess set, teach someone to play chess, read a book or watch a movie or a TV show about chess, learn interesting facts about chess, and promote the holiday on social media with the hashtag #NationalChessDay.

If you’re not from the United States but love chess, you can celebrate World Chess Day, formerly known as International Chess Day, on July 20. It was established by the International Chess Federation in 1966 and added to the list of United Nations observances in 2019.

Remind me with Google Calendar


Other Observances



National Chess Day, holidays in the United States, unofficial holidays, United States Chess Federation, chess