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How To Teach a Child To Play Chess


Learning chess at an early age can help with the development and growth of the child. It is a great tool that helps children learn to think for themselves and develop the ability to focus and think critically. This improves their memory at the same time. Even if a child loses the game, they subconsciously analyze what they did wrong, developing the ability to learn from their mistakes. Chess is an excellent tool for child intellectual development.


As a chess coach with students all over the world and with different ages, I divide all children in 3 groups. Here are the various benefits for each age demographic:

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A young chess player must understand the meaning of the moves he makes from a strategic point of view.

Pre-school age

-Learning to reason and think on their own

-Developing their thought and attention spans

-Developing planning and organizational skills

School age

-Building intelligence

-Improving memory and school performance

-Processing the ability to imagine and predict the consequences of their actions

High school age

-Improving emotional resilience and self-confidence

-Competitive drive to take on even the most difficult tasks

-Learning to be more goal-oriented

How Do You Start Playing Chess With a Kid?

A child under the age of 3 would likely not understand the game of chess, therefore it is recommended to start at the age of 5. In order to get a child interested in chess, it is best that they play with their parents, so that they can demonstrate and encourage the child in a genuine way. Lessons should be very short so that the child doesn’t get bored: 10 -15 minutes is enough at the beginning. Every time, discuss only one chess piece, or a few at a time, and tell stories about who the pieces are and what they represent. For example: If you introduce the pawn as the piece that eats/cuts other pieces, they will gladly want to test it out, and it will feel like a video game to them. If the student feel engaged, like they are having fun, and feel like they still have more to learn, then they will start asking you to play chess with them.

Should I Let Them Win The Game?

kid playing chess
The goal is to find a balance. Some coaches think you should let the child win so that they are motivated and continue to pursue learning. However, if the child wins all time, they will think that playing chess is easy and that they are already a strong enough player. A great way to balance the wins and losses, is to give the child the opportunity to fix their moves or change their steps. If they are about to get their pieces taken or if they are on the verge of checkmate, give them a hint or show them the opportunity that was missed. You can give several “chances” during the game. To my mind, this approach will encourage your child to think and try more. Your goal is just to teach the basic rules of the game and encourage them to do better.
moving chess piece

My Child Is Already Showing Interest In Chess Classes

That’s great! The most important thing for success in chess is interest. The skills, talent and patience require can be taught and learnt. If your child enjoys playing chess and is looking forward to the next lesson, half of the job is already done! You can decide if you want to set them up with a chess coach or continue playing with them for fun. At this point in the process, you should be ready to set your child up with a chess coach, and you should choose the best style of coach that will work best with your child.

Chess As A Tool For Growth

A young chess player must understand the meaning of the moves they make from a strategic point of view. Each move should be a part of a plan, which is based on the weaknesses of the opponent’s position. During a chess game, it is extremely important to arrange the pieces in such a way that they can interact with each other. It is impossible for a person to calculate all the combinations and understand how to arrange the pieces, but it is necessary to teach a chess player to understand the basic principles! This should be taught from childhood since later it will be much more difficult to re-teach or even impossible to do so.

To sum up, I would like to note that chess can become something more than just a game for a child. But no matter if the child becomes a professional chess player or not, they will benefit from playing chess anyway. It is quite difficult to really interest a child in something, although the choice of various activities is growing rapidly. So, if you notice your child showing some interest in chess, support them! 

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