As a followup to What is the earliest possible age to start teaching children how to play chess?, I'm wondering: What is the easiest possible way to start teaching children how to play chess? The point is that at such an early age, it's possible, if not likely, that the best way to teach an adult would not apply to a young child. Any suggestions?

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    Lead by example. Let them see you playing chess with your friends. Let them see you solving problems online. Etc.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 1:26
  • I think there's no better way for them to learn how to become really good at chess than playing in tournaments. Then they will notice a general pattern in the gameplay of their opponent. The more they win, the higher the rated opponent they will play. Then it's not so easy that they already know how to win and it's not so hard that they never win. The high rated players got the high rating because they sometimes put let their opponent fall into a trap. When random fluctuations making letting your opponent fall into a trap happen less often, then the ones who do it are more likely to get a
    – Timothy
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 19:03
  • higher rating. The fact that people will encounter people with that style of play will teach them to be prepared for it and not assume how their opponent is going to play. That helps them do more of their own thinking independently of their past and actually think for themself how to play and not just assume how to play.
    – Timothy
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 19:07
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    "the orphan i adopted sucks at chess, fml" Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 2:35

12 Answers 12


The easiest way depends on age.

If they are really young, just start simple with how a plain board and introduce the pieces one by one (where they go on the board and how they move). Then put all the pieces on the board and show how the pieces move together.

If they are a little older, I would play show them short games with tactical ideas and mating patterns. No need to dwell too much on the opening yet or the endgame. Stick to the fundamentals first and make sure they have a firm grasp on that.

You probably will also find some tips on http://www.chesskid.com and http://www.chesskids.com


There are some fundamental differences between adults and children. Namely, the attention span to focus on a long game of chess might not be there. There are also some psychological differences: An adult (most likely) already knows what it means to win and lose, where children may not have grasped that concept yet. Adults also probably can grasp the concept of a turn-based game very easily, where young children might not as easily understand that.

So, yes, it will be quite different than teaching adults.

I don't profess to be an expert in child psychology, but I've been exposed to some rather interesting ideas via books. I recommend reading: Nurture Shock, Chess Child, and Chess is Child's Play.

If you like movies and chess, check out "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (PG), and "The Knights of South Bronx" (PG). Also, "Queen to Play" (unrated because it's French, but doesn't contain much controversial material that I can recall), is about a woman who gets into chess as an adult. Aside from being good movies, they might serve as inspiration or even as a way to get your spouse excited about chess and the kids.


Bill Kilpatrick and I wrote a book, which was recently published called, Chess Is Child's Play: Teaching Techniques That Work. This book teaches a parent to teach a child as young as four to play chess.

We made the lessons super simple, allowing the parent to learn the game along with their child, if the parent isn't familiar with chess.

We employ a “mini-game” strategy that is a lot of fun. With mini-games a parent and child can focus on one element at a time, learning and perfecting it before moving on. It has been my experience that younger and older children really enjoy playing these mini-games.

I have used these techniques to teach adults chess as well as young children. It really works well!

Here's the link to the book on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Childs-Play-Teaching-Techniques/dp/193627731X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338048903&sr=8-1. Please do check out the reviews.


My 5 cents to Wes' answer.

I disagree about understanding of "turn-based game". From my experience it's easily possible. I agreed about duration of game. Long game will be broken! About win / lost, all children understand this, then tend to win of course and don't like to lost, tested :)! Children are small people. As adult they like playing.

I think playing of playing chess is a way to tеach and using chess to disclosure of intelligence of the child.

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    I think your positions are different to mine because your daughter is much older than mine (so age does matter here, although no age was specified by the poster). ;) I've met children (even 5-6 years old) that didn't want to play chess because they didn't like the idea of winning or losing. In these cases, it might help to make it a team game, although in practice that didn't work as well as I had imagined. Commented May 18, 2012 at 14:27
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    @Wes Freeman I thought it is a part of educational process to teach child be first (win) and getting bonus; and understanding that sometimes be second (lose) and analyzing why it happened (to be first next time). It is other question that should be discussed on parents web site :)
    – garik
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 15:03

When coaching young kids, I have found that they love doing the simple checkmates (King and Queen v. King, etc.). They like beating the coach. There are some good books out there as well that are written at the kids level, but I even use some so called "adult" books that start at the beginning.

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    +1 Welcome to the site - and agree, everyone likes winning, including kids. Mini-chess is an interesting take on "mini-game" play.
    – blunders
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 2:26
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    They like it more when you make a sad face :-D
    – Rinzwind
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 14:04

Start by playing with only pawns on the board. First person to the opposite side of the board wins the game. This was Magnus Carlsen's training method used by his father when he started to learn chess. It's much simpler for a child to understand this, and it's a highly effective method to learn about sacrifices, pawn structures and zugzwang.

My experience is that young children find it hard to grasp the movement of the knight. I would suggest to make a chess board out of a whiteboard or a similar material, as long as it's easy to draw and erase on it it's good enough. Challenge the child to find the shortest routes for the knight from A to B. Increase the difficulty when he/she has grasped n-ply solutions. To further increase difficulty you may add pawns as obstacles. Let the child draw possible solutions on the board.

This is just an idea, but I think it might be pretty effective for learning simple calculation and visualization.


My little brother learned chess with a video game called "Learn To Play Chess With Fritz and Chesster" (OT "Fritz und Fertig"). It teaches kids the basic moves of the pieces with mini-games, moving on to games with only some pieces, and finally with all of them. The sequels go more in-depth into basic, and then more advanced strategies. He went from not knowing anything about chess to beating everybody in the family at 10 years old after playing that series, so I would suggest at least giving the game a look to see how they teach and guide the players.


I suggest you get a spare set for the child to mess around with, let them see you playing a proper game, and wait for their questions.

I would expect that you just tell them rules (legal moves and aim of game) to start with.

There are a couple of books, Chess for Children and More Chess for Children that introduce simple strategies such as pinning and forking.

I think, overall, I'm saying "let the child dictate the pace".

[This is my opinion, based on how I and my siblings were taught. None of us turned into prodigies, but we all picked up the basics easily and painlessly. If we had been given "Even More Chess for Children", we might have gone further with it.]


I originally learned to play chess using a product called "No Stress Chess" http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Moves-1091-Stress-Chess/dp/B0007Q1IO4

This game has cards that the players can draw and then you are required to move that piece. This allows the player to focus on learning the moves and makes the strategy simpler as they are only concerned about what a single piece can do.

As the player increases in skill, they can hold multiple cards in their hand and then must pick one to play and then draw a new card. As the number of cards in the hand of the player increase they learn more about which piece they should move. Finally they are able to go and forget the cards and play chess for real.


As a kid's chess teacher I would say keep things fun.

1)Talk in pictures. Make them dream : chess is war, with a king, soldier, knights, fighting on a battlefield, call a fork a special secret weapon and so on.

2) Use games. For example when I wanna teach them the value of the pieces I play a market game where they would trade pieces and after 10 minutes we would see who's the richest.

3) Compliment them a lot. I like to go all like "wow you're a world champion" when they find something out. Carot works much better than the stick imo.

4) Make them compete and earn prices. Kids like rewards and competition for some of them. That way they'll do their hardest to get better and learn new chess tricks. Make sure though everyone is rewarded and congratulated.


For any beginner, the process will be a success if the instructor can relay the fundamental truth about chess: the game is, at it's core, numeric and is all about accumulation of small advantages. We all know what this small advantages consist of: material, piece activity, pawns, king safety, but that comes next. As the simplest pedagogical example of my main point, have the place place knight in the corner and count the squares it can reach. Then repeat when it's in the center. Let them reason (with your help) which N is stronger.


As others have suggested for younger children using chess minigames which focusses on only one or two pieces is a great way to engage them. I used this approach with both of my boys when they were around 5 years old. I found the book 'Chess is Child's Play: Teaching Techniques That Work' by Sherman and Kilpatrick to be excellent for teaching from age 4 up. Later I went on to run a school chess club for a few years for children aged 6-11 and found again that minigames were very popular with those children just getting to grips with chess.

The key is to make it fun. If it's not fun kids especially younger ones will lose interest very quickly.

Most software and online tools sadly don't support minigames which is why I decided to build my own and Acorn Chess was born.

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    Welcome to Chess! Thanks for mentioning you're the author - this complies with our rules about self promotion. Please note that they also mention and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 19:45

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