Teaching Chess To Kids

Chess may at first seem too complex for children. Yet each year, thousands of children, some as young as five, turn up to play chess in organized tournaments, frequently besting adult players. In fact, children as young as fourteen have been awarded the title “Grandmaster”!

The primary trick when teaching chess to children is to avoid overwhelming them. Start by teaching them just one piece at a time, perhaps starting with the pawns. Once you explain how the pawns move and capture, play a game with just pawns, declaring the winner to be whichever player is able to “promote” a pawn to a queen first.

After this first lesson, add the king next, explaining its central role. The concept of checkmate is subtle, so don’t expect a child to get it right away. Just make it clear that whoever loses his or her king loses the game. After that, add one piece at a time, saving the knights for last since their move is rather strange.

Once the young student has learned the basic rules of the game, take a hands off approach for awhile. Kids usually prefer to learn by doing more than by listening to adults, which is too much like being in school. Let them play and make mistakes and perhaps make some suggestions after each game. Remember that having fun is the most important thing.

If a child demonstrates an aptitude for the game, begin introducing them to some of chess’s strategic concepts. It would also be good to join a chess club where the child will be able to interact with players at all levels.

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