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Is Chess Cool? E-mail
Written by Laura Sherman   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 18:48


Ask the average adult if chess is cool and they’d probably say, “No way!” Ask the average young child and I’ll bet they’ll give you a different answer - “Chess is way cool!” Children don’t seem to know that chess is considered “geeky” by some.

Don’t believe me? Try an experiment. Put out two chess sets in a lunchroom or other kid central location and step back. See what happens. It’s been my experience that children will flock to the boards. They love the game.

My husband and I fell in love at a chess tournament. Chess had always been a part of our lives. When we had our first child I decided to start teaching him early on.

I wondered how he would respond to the game. I realized that how I introduced the game to my son would dictate his response. I took it slow, realizing it was my job to make chess cool for him!

He took to it quickly and we had a lot of fun. Soon his friends wanted lessons and other parents began asking us to teach their children. I worked on fine tuning my techniques so that they would work for all children, of any age.

I went into the preschool at my children’s school and worked on finding ways to teach two- and three-year-olds to play. Most of the kids loved the lessons but one little boy didn’t show any interest at first. I was working on showing him how the rook moved. He’d just watch me and decline to move the piece himself.

So, how did I make chess cool for this boy? I am not one to give up easily.

I thought back to what my son loved most at age two. Trains! I asked him if he liked Thomas train and his eyes lit up. “Yes, I love Thomas and Percy and…” Well we had a fine discussion about all the trains. I was so happy I knew them all.

“You know,” I told him. “The rook moves like a train on a chess board!” Well, now he was interested. In fact I had trouble ending the lesson. He wanted to move all the rooks on the board (naming each after ones from the Thomas train story).

It’s always the teacher’s job to make any subject fun and cool. Chess is no different. As long as you teach at the right speed and level for the child in front of you, and keep things fun, your child will love chess and reap the rewards that this game has to offer.


Laura Sherman wrote Chess Is Child’s Play with Bill Kilpatrick. Chess Is Child’s Play teaches any parent, of any skill level, to teach any child, of any age, to play chess. This book will be released April, 2012.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:26


+4 #16 Laura Sherman 2012-03-05 10:26
Thank you, Dannis! YES!
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+2 #15 Dannis 2012-03-05 01:08
Chess for kids is good. It makes them to think which is good by itself. Period.

And it is cool too.
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+2 #14 Laura Sherman 2012-03-01 23:34
Wow, that's great! What a treat for both of you. Thank you for sharing your story!
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+2 #13 Yury 2012-03-01 22:55
Wow, 2-3 times a week is a lot of chess practice, she must progress quickly. I assume it's mostly blitz :-)
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+4 #12 Nate Garrett 2012-03-01 22:09
I take my 4 year old daughter to a coffee shop 2 to 3 times a week to play chess and have since she was 3. Love it!
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+6 #11 Dan 2012-02-29 18:38
I did the chess thing with my kids too. Kids love it!
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+5 #10 Laura Sherman 2012-02-29 12:10
I think the Knight's Tour could be a good way to get familiar with the knight's movements, even if they didn't complete the complex puzzle.

On a side note, I got to see Kolty give the Knight's Tour in San Francisco many years ago. He allowed me to pick a square and put my name on it. I selected e4! :-)

(For those who don't know, George Koltanowski would do the Knight's Tour blindfolded asking audience members to write something on each of the 64 squares. After studying the giant filled in board for only a few minutes, he’d perform the Knight's Tour, calling out the exact contents of every square perfectly.)
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+4 #9 Sonya 2012-02-29 11:56
The knight tour sounds awesome! I'll have to try that some time!
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+5 #8 Yury 2012-02-29 11:51
Quoting Laura Sherman:
Sonya, that's is wonderful to hear!! There are a lot of fun games around naming pieces and placing them on the board, which we discuss in Chess Is Child's Play. Children love these exercises!

Your 4 year old is at the perfect age to learn. Have FUN!

That's a good suggestion. I think another useful exercise for kids (maybe a little older ones) will be the "knight tour". That is take a knight, put it on an empty chess board and try to go through all the squares just once. After stepping on a square you can mark the used square with a little sticky note. It is pretty difficult task, so at first kids will skip some squares. Then you can make the task a little easier by allowing stepping on the squares twice, etc.
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+6 #7 Laura Sherman 2012-02-28 22:25
Sonya, that's is wonderful to hear!! There are a lot of fun games around naming pieces and placing them on the board, which we discuss in Chess Is Child's Play. Children love these exercises!

Your 4 year old is at the perfect age to learn. Have FUN!
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