My kids are 5 and 3 years old. I would like to teach them chess by playing alternative mini-game. Where can I find those mini-game instruction?

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    Hi JudgeProphet, welcome to the site! I agree with xaisoft that mini chess is a fun way to learn, but it seems that the hardest part of learning chess is sometimes just figuring out how the pieces move!
    – Andrew
    Feb 8 '13 at 18:17

If your just looking for instructions, here is the wiki on mini chess. Make sure you checkout the external links.

To take Andrew's comment a bit further, I will give my own experience with my 3.5 year old. This is what he knows now with limited time. He can name all the pieces and he can set the board up, but that is about it. If I ask him to move the bishop, he will swipe it across the board, but that is OK. He does not have the concept that it is a game for two people and I am black or white (every piece is his :) ) Your 5 year old probably will get a better grasp on mini chess, but 3 may be too young for it.


GM Maurice Ashley invented Pawn Mower. It is great fun for learning how pieces move AND how to visualize the future board position after a few moves.

  • +1 I was unaware of this, but downloaded and tried it just now. What a great way for kids to learn the pieces one at a time!
    – Halvard
    Sep 7 '13 at 13:16

There is an android game on Google play called Capture the Queen. The idea is that you are on a 4X4 board with several pieces vs a lone queen. Using legal chess moves, can you capture the queen before she captures all you pieces.

I taught my kids (around 6-7 years old at the time) using this type of exercise. It teaches them the pieces and their moves without the complexity of a full game. You can control the placement and the size of the board to match the skills of your child. As they grow more mature, introduce them to the full game.

Another trick is to allow them to 'flip the board'. So when they reach a point they can't find a move, they call flip the board and you and they switch sides. Now it is your turn and you can show them the move they needed to make. But now, they play your side. Eventually, my kids got smart and learned to play into a crappy position and then 'flip the board'. It became a challenge to dig my self out of the hole they had gotten into.

Also look at http://smile.amazon.com/Think-Fun-3400-ThinkFun-Solitaire/dp/B0032UKQFO/ref=sr_1_61?ie=UTF8&qid=1423605790&sr=8-61&keywords=chess


I would recommend using some very stripped down versions of the chess which are superb for learning, as they are simple to set up, establish the rules but teach chess aspects quickly and in a FUN way (the most important!) :)

They help to understand each piece, taken by turn:

a) Pawn vs pawn, where the first person who cannot move loses. This is an idea from Richard James Chess for Kids book - recommended.

E.g. place a pawn for each side on its starting square, facing each other. The Pawn Wars of Andrew Soltis has extended versions of this.

b) Bishop VS 3 black pawns (usually on a,b,c file) .

One person takes the bishop and tries to stop all the pawns. Black wins if one pawn reaches the other side.

c) Try same with Rook vs 4 / 5 pawns... teaches seventh rank and attacking power of rook from side and behind.

d) Queen vs 8 pawns...nice to play

e) King maze. Set up a position where white has a king which has just single route to c8 (say) giving black plenty of pieces. Then these are "Frozen" and the pupil should find a way through for the king. Can vary this in several routes - find the fastest route.

Repeat similar with a piece on h8 and a Knight on a1 and has to take in as few moves as possible, perhaps with more of his own side pieces to obstruct and make it tricky.

f) Another good rook one is Rooks starting squares for both players. Then pawns placed radnomly but they cannot move. First to eat up all the pawns wins. If you can play with rooks you can do well at chess ;)

g) one person has two bishops the other has two rooks. First to take a piece wins. (Should be drawn, but be careful!)

This website lists and explains several mini-games, a great resource: http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/mini-chess-games

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