When I first played chess I was terrible at it. I was like 5 or 6 years old back then. Now I understand the rules and stuff, but is there a specific or good age to play chess? An age when it's easy to understand?

  • 6
    Any age between 3yo and 115yo. Before there is a chocking hazard if you put pawns to your mouth, after hands might shake too much.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 19:28
  • 1
    If you just play for fun, any age really. If you want to become a top player, you'd typically start early and be a grandmaster when you are 18 years old or earlier. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 21:12
  • Chess is never truly "easy to understand". Even Magnus Carlsen is clueless compared to the machines.
    – Annatar
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


Like learning to speak the appropiate age will vary from child to child.

I think 3 and older (My 10 year old brother taught me when I was 3). Children are naturally curious about any activity their parents/siblings do. Just play chess in front of them and if they show interest show them how each of the pieces move. At very young ages you will need to be extremely patient as some rules such as the knight movement and castling are quite difficult for young children to understand.


I can only answer according to my own experience.

The typical child can learn how each chessman moves at about 6.5 years old. However, at this age, the typical child cannot firmly grasp simple chess concepts like

  • guarding a piece so that, if the piece is captured, the guard can recapture; and
  • why the first move of a mate in two might not be a check.

Confusingly, the typical 6.5-year-old child is able to develop pieces if taught to do so, which can lead adults to believe that the child understands chess better than the child actually does. This is perplexing, because you can watch the child move knights toward the center and post bishops on plausible squares during the opening, but then you see the child do something that makes no sense like advancing the king to the third rank so that a pawn can "guard" the king (as though the king were a bishop or a knight).

To play chess with even minimal understanding, the typical child needs to reach about age 7.5 in my experience. Moreover, if the child does not find chess interesting, then the age is about 8.5.

Before age 7.5, many children enjoy playing chess even if they really have no idea what's going on. They just like moving bishops diagonally, and so on, not because of bishop strategy and bishop tactics but merely because diagonality is an interesting concept. They get a little frustrated, though, when time to deliver a checkmate comes, because they usually just cannot complete even a simple checkmate except by luck.

There are of course exceptions. A few prodigies are able to learn chess at much younger ages, but such children are rare.

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