Playing Chess: Is Your Child Ready?

Wondering when the right time will be to teach your child how to play chess? Sadly, there is no designated age to start teaching a child. The best time is now, depending on the child’s interest. If you enjoy playing chess, they’ll enjoy learning from you.

A good way to start, with any age, is to teach them about each chess piece, where it goes on the board and where it moves. Encourage them to remember the pieces. Younger children will probably learn this information best as a story, where you can explain the purpose of the piece in a way they can understand, such as, “There was once an old King, and though he was wise and loved by his people, he was not a warrior. He stayed behind his people and hid, moving back and forth. By the King’s side, his Queen was strong, and moved anyway she could to defend him to her final sacrifice.” Once they know the pieces, try making it into a game to keep them interested by asking if they remember what piece does what.

After explaining the pieces, if the child is still interested in playing chess, move on to describing the way the game is played. Show them some different beginner moves. Play a few games, always using the same moves after you reset. Keep playing this way to allow them time to learn to consider moves beyond their present move and predict what your next move will be by paying attention to the pattern and learn to defend and counter moves. Children are sponges and though it may take time and a lot of patience, they will absorb the workings of chess.

Let them win sometimes. Keep it challenging, help them a little, but for most children, if they don’t see an improvement in themselves by winning or almost winning, they will most likely lose interest in the game. Don’t get discouraged if your five-year-old isn’t interested now. You can try again in a few months or a year. Let them learn to love chess.

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