Modern chess tournaments began in the 1840s and the first international tournament was held in London, in 1851. Strong international tournaments were still quite rare and in the 1880s a master would have been lucky to be able to play in one reasonably strong tournament a year.
By the 1890s, however, a master could enter many strong tournaments throughout the year, and the prize money offered at tournaments made it possible for masters to have a professional chess career.
Nowadays there are many strong tournaments for masters and grandmasters, but there are also a huge number of tournaments for players of every strength. Weaker players today have the chance of improving their play by taking part in such tournaments, which are very competitive.
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Players can use more different time controls in the club.
10/30 - This is the default time control. Club level tournaments and games by pairing use this one. Here 10 moves must be taken in 30 days. Clocks start with 30 days, the thinking time is always subtracted from them, but another 30 days are added at every 10th move. The maximum the clocks can show is 40 days.
10/40 - This is a bit slower time control. 10 moves must be taken in 40 days, the addition is 40 days, and the maximum is 50 days.
10/50 - More slower, 50 days for 10 moves, 50 days addition at every 10th move, the maximum is 65 days.
5+1 - This is a faster one. Here the clocks start with 5 days on them. The used up thinking time is subtracted also, and 1 day is added at each move. The maximum is 30 days here too.
The server manages the clocks, it calculates the thinking times, adds, subtracts, and does everything. Records everything in the game logs.
If a clock runs out of time, the player will be considered as being on an unannounced vacation. If it elapses also, he'll loose the game, the opponent can claim result.
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