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How to start a chess club

October 17, 2010

The Game of Chess is not merely in idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it… — Benjamin Franklin

You have all heard the benefits of chess to:
• develop abstract thought
• learn to think before acting
• react rationally to challenging situations
• enhance problem solving ability
• build self confidence
• learn sportsmanship
• build cognitive short and long term memory functions
• have fun!

So, you have thought about how great it would be to have a chess club on your campus. But, you don’t know where to start — or maybe you don’t know how to play yourself? Never fear, there are some great resources out there to help.

I must admit, I learned to play chess just recently. My boys wanted to learn how to play — so I taught them the basic moves that I picked up on wikipedia. I didn’t fully appreciate that I would be tapping into their gifted brains. My oldest would ask me questions and he was not satisfied with my weak attempts to provide an answer — “How do I know what to do next?” Just pick a piece and try to attack my king. “Yes, but which one is best” Any of them will be fine. “But, how do you know what to do?” So, finally admitting my ignorance in understanding the intricacies of the game, I set out to find a chess coach. I found a great coach in Mr. Frank at Prince of Peace in Carrollton. Actually, he was the only local chessmaster I found willing to tackle teaching a 4 year old, 7 year old, and a mom at the same time. I lucked out — his instruction was creative and insightful and helped me understand and appreciate the excitement of chess. I have now started a chess club at my children’s school.

There are also some free resources out there to help start a chess club. For example, Texas Tech University is home to the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE). Grandmaster Susan Polgar is, among other honors, a 4 time Women’s World Champion and recently nominated by the World Chess Federation as one of the top coaches in the world. She wants to bring chess to everyone — so she offers a free chess teaching guide on her website: The guide details 30 separate lessons. Simply add chess boards and students… and you will be teaching like a pro.

“Chess is not just competition, it is an intellectual growth strategy.”  — Dr. Alexey Root

After you understand the basics and some strategy, integrate chess in some other areas of learning. Dr. Alexey Root, US Women’s Chess Champion and UTD faculty member, advocates integrating chess in the areas of art, math, science, history and language arts. Chess can be used for explaining equations, maps, and the pythagorean theorem. We might all remember “Wizard’s Chess” from the Harry Potter series, and chess can also be seen in classics like “Through the Looking Glass”, “All the King’s Horses” and “The Westing Game”. Dr. Root also suggests using other games on a chess board to inspire and engage students. For example, chess adaptations of Connect 4, Simon Says, and many other traditional games are detailed in her books.

Interested in finding out more about the benefits of Chess? Mark your calendar for November 14, 2010 when CGA hosts Dr. Root in a hands-on, informative chess program.

Dr. Alexey Root
Explore Chess for Academic Success
Sunday, November 14, 2010, 2-4 p.m.
at New Tech High School

Start a chess club. If, for nothing else, studies show that students will do better on tests after learning chess. But, I agree with Mr. Franklin that students of chess will do better in life. After all, learning how to think is a skill that will serve well in every endeavor. For right now, I am thrilled I can answer my son’s question about how to determine what to do next.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 9, 2012 4:43 am

    Wonderful work, keep it going! learnt a lot from this!

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