Clubs are usually attached to a national federation, either directly or through membership of a regional chess association. The national federation in turn is a member of FIDE, the international governing body of chess. This helps to establish uniformity of rules and playing conditions internationally, though some countries such as the United States use their own official set of rules with minor differences from FIDE rules. The United States has many chess clubs affiliated with the United States Chess Federation (USCF). A club's affiliation with its national chess federation helps to standardize chess tournament rules.
Chess clubs typically provide at least some of the following:
- Informal, 'friendly', games
- Club and inter-club competitions
- Opportunities to play in one or more leagues organized on a geographical basis
- A rating system where the results of inter-club games are rated to enable players to judge their standing and progress. Many clubs use the rating system provided by FIDE or their national chess organization.
- Coaching by a more knowledgeable chess player and lectures/tuition evenings
- A library of chess books