Starting A Chess Club
Scholastic Chess Clubs are on the rise in the United States. You can start a successful Scholastic Chess Club in your community using the ideas in this article.
Chess is a great sport (yes, sport) for children. It is educational, fun and competitive. It
has been proven statistically that children who learn to play chess show grade
improvements in math and some other academics. A lot of schools do not offer chess
classes or clubs, even though many tournaments give awards to school club teams, even
the national tournament held every year.
The first step to starting a scholastic chess club is to get children's attention. Advertising
should begin in the schools. Pass out flyers to each and every child. The best clubs meet
one night a week, usually in a nearby school. A good start is to involve schools in one
area and have them all meet in one school.
The second step is to get equipment. You can borrow equipment from the schools at first.
Many schools have tournament chess sets. Also, you can contact the United States Chess
Federation (USCF) at their web site, www.uschess.org. There is a lot of useful
information here. They also give free ‘starter’ kits for new clubs. Once your club gets
started, you can suggest a donation for meeting, for example, three dollars per child per
The third step is to keep the children interested. One way to go about this is to use a
point system. For each game the children play at the club, they receive two points for
winning and one point for losing. This gives every child a chance to earn points. Later
on, you can give them some points for wearing their shirt to club and points for attending
tournaments, etc. The children can spend their points at the club for prizes. Generally,
the prizes can be anything from small toys to chess books to candy.
Another good way to hold interest is to let the kids work on achieving ranks. Once they
learn how all the pieces move and some basic rules, they become “Pawns.” then, they can
learn some strategies to become “Knights”. It is at the point of becoming a Knight that
they earn the right to buy and wear a club shirt. Next would be Bishop, Rook, and
Queen/King. Ranks should never be dependent upon chess ability, but rather on
determination and dedication to learning the rules.
At the USCF site mentioned earlier, you can look at the “ratings” section to find rated
players in your city/state. You can try contacting these people to find a chess instructor
for your club. Also, check the newspaper for chess tournament information. Attend some
adult ones to let the chess community learn of your club’s existence. You can even
advertise in the paper for a volunteer chess coach for your club.
Once your club is up and running, encourage your children and their parents to attend
chess tournaments. This helps children to attain a higher playing level and also promotes
competition and sportsmanship. The USCF site also lists tournaments by state. There is even information on how a club director can become a tournament director.
You can also suggest to your players that they practice on a computer at home. There are many programs for chess available. Another route is to play on the internet. Yahoo and Excite offer free chess where the player can play others around the world.