The Caltech Chess Club welcomes chess players of all levels from the Caltech/JPL community. Weekly meetings are held to provide members with the opportunity to play casual blitz games, bughouse, learn how to play, or participate in other chess-related activities. The club also sponsors tournaments, competes in matches against other schools, and hosts other special events from time to time.
The club was founded in October 2002. In its past, the club has achieved many great successes, including winning the US National Amateur Team Championship twice and the US Amateur Team West Championship three times. Additionally, Caltech defeated MIT's chess team in two matches hosted by the Internet Chess Club. The club's winning ways prompted International Master and LA Times columnist Jack Peters to label the chess program a "dynasty."
After a decade of relative competitive inactivity, the club sent a team to the Panamerican Intercollegiate Chess Championship for the first time in December 2019, winning its division. A few months later this was followed up by a very successful showing in the inaugural season of the Collegiate Chess League, where the A team placed 3rd in Division 2, while the B and C teams placed 1st and 3rd respectively in Division 4.
In accordance with school club policy, only currently registered Caltech/JPL undergraduate and graduate students can be considered official members of the club. Other members of the Caltech community such as faculty, staff, postdocs, family members, etc. are welcome to participate in club activities as affiliates. There are no fees required to become a member/affiliate of the club.
A player automatically becomes a member or affiliate by attending two out of three consecutive weekly meetings. To maintain membership, a player must attend at least one club meeting per academic term, excluding the summer.