There are many types of chess tournaments out there, but most fall into one of two categories: The round robin and the open. Knockout events, while common in many sports, are rare in chess and are their own animal entirely. While, ultimately, the goals of an individual chess game don’t change much, the approach toward each tournament can vary quite a bit, especially for the professionals.
Chess players of all levels tend to get a steady diet of open tournaments. Almost all the big money events in the United States, apart from the U.S. Championships, are opens. Aside from the occasional quad, most events at local clubs are probably also of this type. You get lined up by rating, divided into halves, and get paired according to your score group and color.