I am currently writing a capstone position paper about the optimum age for a person to start learning chess. I have come to the conclusion that the optimum age is 5-6. I need help brainstorming reasons though. So far I have:

  1. Most grandmasters learn chess at this age.
  2. Children's brains are like sponges at this age.

Any other ideas would be very helpful. Thank you.

  • This article seems to share a few interesting bits on the matter: education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/… – bucketman Dec 13 '14 at 22:39
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    Best age in what sense? The age that will allow them to become best at chess? The age at which learning chess will best help to develop as people? (The two may well be very different: many child prodigies come to regret their "lost" childhood.) – David Richerby Dec 14 '14 at 11:52
  • I think there are two major aspects of learning chess. 1) The rules. 2) The ultimate goal of the game. Part 1) can be learned at any age. Part 2) is harder, because the urge and desire to win is more complex and my guess is that it should vary from person to person at what age you start becoming interested in winning. – Rauan Sagit Dec 14 '14 at 16:42
  • Magnus Carlsen wasn't interested in chess 'til he was eight. So there is obviously some leeway to how early you have to learn it, to reach the top. – BlindKungFuMaster Dec 15 '14 at 15:09

Some famous players learned at 4 or so, for Carlsen it was 8, for me it was 11.

My daughter is 6. I'd love to teach her chess. She loves playing games, but she hates the fact that someone has to lose (if a player is behind in a multiplayer game, she'll help that player instead of trying to win). She also hates the concept of a fixed set of rules that daddy knows and that have to be abided by... so she's invented her own "chess" (take a board and two sets of pieces, put all the white ones on white squares, all the black ones on black squares, and that's it). She also likes to take my Yusupov books and put the pieces on the board just like they are in some diagram, but is completely uninterested in the purpose of those diagrams. This is wonderful, she has her own mind.

It's completely impossible to actually teach her chess at this age though. So the answer to the question can only be "it depends entirely on the child". Whenever the kid becomes interested in learning chess is the best age.

(that said, if they taught the rules of chess at school right now, she'd probably soak them up. But what would that accomplish?)

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As a hobby, it can be learned at any age and enjoyed.

As a career or competitive endeavor, as with other sports, the earlier, the better.

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The best answer is - any.

I got my first chess-board when I was 5 years old, and that is the time when I learned chess.

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