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Parents - New to chess?


I had never played a single game of chess before my 6 year old son took a chess class in an afterschool enrichment program.  He LOVE it and kept asking to play.  I was clueless as to what was next.  I didn't know how to play.  I didn't know anyone else who knew how to play.  I had no idea what to do.  So I researched high and low for clubs and classes or anywhere he could play chess.   I ended up networking and meeting another chess parent who coincidently was starting a new local chess club.  We attended weekly.  I didn't see much point in hanging around while my son played, so I decided to participate too.  I had my son teach me how to play chess and I started competing in club tournaments with him.  It has been life changing for me.  It gave me an opportunity to bond with my child in a way I could not have imagined.  Monday nights quickly became our favorite night of the week.  Because I saw the positive effect chess was having on my son and I knew what is was doing for me, I wanted to share this experience with others so I started writing a local chess newsletter.  The newsletter started to get some attention from not only chess parents, but chess masters and coaches too.  I even had an article I wrote reprinted in Chess Life 4 Kids magazine.  That newsletter is what has turned into this website.  Funny how that stuff happens.


Anyway, there is no need for you to have to go through the painstaking measures I did so that your kid can play some chess.  I am going to break it down for you........

How old should my child be to learn to play chess?


The best age to start playing chess is 5-6 years old.  Kids this age can learn the basics and as long as it is kept basic and fun, they are able to grasp the simple concepts at this age.


Where do I start?


The best place to start is at school.  If your elementary school does not offer chess as an enrichment program, speak to the Principl or the PTA and see if they are willing to bring in a company like Academic Chess to run an enrichment program at the school.  


Also check with your local Parks and Rec and the local library. Often they have classes at little to no cost for Beginning Chess.


My child knows how to play but where can he find other kids to play with?


The first place to start would be to go to the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and look for clubs in your area.  If your child wants to play online, there are several sites where they can play for free. Check my links page for recommended sites.


How do I kwow when my child is ready for a tournament? 


If your child understands the basic rules of chess and understands touch move and basic checkmates like two Rooks and a King vs. a King and King and Queen vs. a King, he or she can start with an unrated scholastic tournament.  Once they learn how to notate their moves and use a clock, they will be ready for rated tournaments.  Your child will need to be quiet and able to sit and focus, as well as be able to maintain composure after a game.  With practice, these skills will come.


What is a tournament like?


Scholastic tournaments are great introduction to tournament play and give kids a sense of community.  It typically is a very long day for parents. There is a lot of waiting.  I will not lie, it is a time commitment and can eat up your whole day and sometimes a whole weekend.  My suggestion is to make friends, bring a chair and a book, but do not leave the tournament or have another parent take your child.  Your child needs you between rounds.  Either to encourage them with a high five when they win or give a big hug when they lose.  You are their homebase. This  is a great opportunity to bond and support your child.


Should I hire a chess coach?


A coach can be helpful once a child has been exposed to rated tournaments and has reached a rating level of 900+ and the the child is serious about competing. Studying tactics is a huge part of training with a coach and a child must be self motivated for it to be worthwhile.


How can I help my child become a better chess player?


Encourage your child to do a couple of tactics every day on the computer. However, do not pressure your child to play.   There will be periods of time when they will be self motivated and there may be times when they need a break from chess.  Follow their lead.  But always look for opportunitites for them to play.  Find a club, find a weekend tournament, find a friend that plays, sign them up with a account and have them play online.  Have them teach you how to play.


If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop me an email.  I will do my best to point you in the right direction.



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