Tries from debutant Stewart Pickering and captain Dan Rowett put Chester 12-10 in front at the break but the Tigers took control of the game in the second half, although Chester fought back to set up a nervy finish.
Widnes took an early 10-0 lead but back row forward Pickering powered over in the corner to reduce the arrears with Chris Pape booting the touchline conversion.
Hooker Rowett than forced his way over just before half time and kicked the conversion to send Chester into the break with a two point lead.
Chester kicked off the second half but Rowett's kick off went dead and the Tigers took advantage by scoring from the resultant penalty.
The Gladiators went into game with only one recognise prop and the big Widnes pack began to make good inroads, although Mike Skinner was an impressive runner for Chester while Rob Nixon also worked hard for the full 80 minutes.
Rowett reduced the home side's lead with another try from close range and Widnes were then reduced to 11 men as the penalties began to mount up but Chester were unable to find the points needed to tie the game in the final few minutes.
Chester's next game is on Saturday, March 16 against Ashton Bears A when they begin their North West Men's League campaign.