I saw some chess tournaments with kids under the age of 7, and even under 5!
Surprisingly, including their performance.

Is adding the pressure of competition at this early age worth it?

  • 3
    Usually junior tournaments are organized so that the children shouldn't feel so much pressure, and are aimed to give them some experience facing new opponents, as well as establishing new friendships. This to encourage them to keep playing chess. I do not think that it's a bad thing at all.
    – Scounged
    Aug 20, 2016 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


it's no different than any other competitive activity, like soccer, or dodgeball, or anything where you have team vs. team or player vs. player.

It builds character, win or lose.

To learn how to lose is a skill that can only be taught by losing. Just don't make it a "win at all costs and we go to Applebee's" thing. That is the pressure you are talking about, and totally out of the realm of the player themselves - the child. They are unaware of it.

That is totally on you.

Don't live vicariously through your children to achieve the things you were unable to achieve. Encourage? Yes.


If the interest, competitive drive, and knowledge of the rules are there, then I wouldn't recommend against it. Even if they play competitively and find their talent for the game perhaps to be lacking, they can still take away much from the game, I feel.

Personally, I was pushed hard when I was young at the game (started at age 5, pushed relatively hard until about age 10), took a lackadaisical approach to the game as a rebellious result, but kept playing competitively through high school. I didn't do so bad, but not great either. What I took from the game though provided a niche for me for a time. Even if not used in any professional sense it can provide a potential life-long hobby. Even if it provides neither, denying them the opportunity given a desire to play competitively seems bad. It's just how one prepares.

Try and get an idea early of how good your child is. Playing with them a lot outside of tournaments first is a good way to do this. Then, you'll be able to gauge how hard to push them. If they're really good, push them just a little bit. If not, don't press them to play at all. Either way, if the desire remains to play and they're doing well in school, why not? I know I always had the desire to play competitively, and I'm glad in ways that I was pressed to play competitively.


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