These lesson plans are being used in successful chess clubs throughout the country.
Our lesson plans are designed assuming that neither the teacher nor the students have substantial experience with chess. The lessons are updated occasionally and may be downloaded for free as PDF files.
Chess helps students improve their mental abilities, such as:
- problem solving
- critical thinking
- pattern recognition
- planning ahead
- spatial awareness
- focus and concentration
Chess teaches students that there are consequences for their actions and that making good decisions based on planning and reasoning has happier outcomes than being impulsive and making poor decisions.
You do not need to be a great chess player to teach chess. You need to be able to follow a lesson plan and you need to find time consistently to allow the students to learn.
Chess is not an academic subject, yet chess players become better students. Chess is an amazing tool in the hands of educators as it produces students more ready to pay attention and learn.
Some of our best chess teachers did not know even the rules of the game when they began teaching chess. They had open minds and the desire to learn along with their students. They now are convinced that chess is an extremely valuable tool to use in the classroom.
They followed our lesson plan; now they have great classes with happier, more productive students.
Rules of Etiquette
- Every game must begin and end with the players shaking hands.
- Between the two handshakes, no talking is permitted. "Check" need not be said. Players are responsible for noticing where all of the pieces on the board are located, and what threats are pending.
- Never do anything to distract any other player in the tournament, especially your opponent.
- Always use the "touch move" rule.
- If an illegal move is made, the tournament director should be summoned. In a tournament using a "Sudden Death" time control, the other player receives an extra two minutes when one player makes an illegal move.
- Never gloat over a victory, or become despondent or hostile following a defeat. It is always best to analyze the game with your opponent, after the game ends, and in a different room from where you played. Leave the playing room quietly when you finish so as not to distract the other people who are still playing.
- Never comment on a game that is in progress, whether the game is yours or one that you are just watching.
- The tournament director has the authority to punish breaches of etiquette, and may add or subtract time as a sanction. In extreme cases, players may be forfeited.
Did You Know?
Chess Benefits All
- Chess was invented about 1500 years ago in India. Since then, it has spread to every country in the world and is now played by an estimated 700 million people. The 2016 Chess Olympiad had teams from 175 countries.
- Chess is part of the elementary school curriculum in nearly 30 countries. In Turkey, it is an elective course in all primary schools.
- On December 17, 1992, New Jersey Governor Jim Florio signed into law a bill to establish chess instruction in public elementary schools. The bill states, "In countries where chess is offered widely in schools, students exhibit excellence in the ability to recognize complex patterns and consequently excel in math and science...."
Chess Increases Test Scores
- After chess was incorporated into the math curriculum in New Brunswick, Canada, in grades 2-7, the average problem-solving score increased from 62% to 81%.
- One study (Margulies (1993)) concluded that playing chess enhances reading performance. A related study found that the group receiving instruction in chess and logic had higher reading scores than the control groups, which received additional instruction reading, math, or social studies.
- Non-honors elementary students in a Chess Club showed twice the improvement of non-chess players in Reading and Mathematics between third and fifth grades on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.
Chess Improves Social Skills
- Chess teaches "impatient kids the value of hard work and delayed gratification" (Drummond, 2000) and allows them to channel aggression in a socially acceptable way (Vail, 1995). At one New York City school, suspensions and altercations decreased by at least 60% after a chess program was established. (Palm, 1990).
- Chess allows students from varied socio-economic backgrounds to compete with each other on an equal footing. Any child who understands the basics of chess belongs in the group. Kids become friends as they analyze games together. With chess in common, kids learn to interact with others who are different, dispelling stereotypes and creating a stronger sense of community.
Chess Has A Fascinating History
- What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Beethoven, Catherine the Great, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sigmund Freud, Anwar Sadat all have in common? They all played chess.
- Chess is the only game that has been played in multiple centuries and in many cultures. It is widely believed that more books have been written about chess than all other games combined. The earliest recorded game was played in the 10th century; the astronauts on the Soyuz spacecraft also played chess.
- There is even a story that chess contributed to victory in the American Revolution. General Rahl of the British Army received a note from a spy that George Washington was about to cross the Delaware and attack. The general was so immersed in a chess game that he put the note in his pocket unopened, where it was found when he was killed in the subsequent battle.
Chess is a Bridge to Future Technological Innovation
- Cognitive scientists showed that good chess players are like good scientists. Instead of trying to corroborate theories, they learn by looking for flaws in what they believe. (Nature Magazine, Aug. 8, 2004).
- Chess is the foundation for artificial intelligence. British mathematician and computer science pioneer Alan Turing asked, "Can a machine think?" His "Turing Test" could be solved by a machine that could play chess indistinguishably from a strong human player.
- Chess teaches kids how to think – to reject facile solutions and deceptions in favor of careful planning and analysis needed to a reach a goal.
It is the U.S. Chess Center’s mission is to bring these benefits to children, especially disadvantaged youth, in the Washington D.C. metro area. Since its founding in 1991, the U.S. Chess Center has taught more than 35,000 children the rules and etiquette of chess.
World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov planted the seed for the U.S. Chess Center when he came to Washington, D.C., to promote using chess to battle drug use by children. After two pilot programs for kids in public housing, community leaders decided to establish a permanent chess program.
Although many of the Chess Center's students have won state and national championships, our greatest successes involve students who used the skills they learned from chess to succeed in school and break the cycle of poverty in which they grew up.
- Tournament Clearinghouse
- U.S. Chess Federation
- D.C. Chess League
- Virginia Chess Federation
- Maryland Chess Association