The FQ How To Guide

HOW TO Get Your Child into Chess

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

With some keen players in the FQ office we say that chess is the perfect way for your child to stretch their mind.

Martin Howell, father of 14-year-old David, at 10 the youngest player ever to defeat a grandmaster, says: “Chess has helped us not make decisions too quickly and keep options open. It’s strange how a game can affect you like that.” Former world champion Bobby Fischer says: “Chess is life.” And to think you thought it was just an excuse to have a few beers and look intelligent…

Set the board out, explain the rules, or learn them yourself and off you go. No great expense. David’s first set cost £1 at a jumble sale when he was five. Within a couple of hours he was beating Dad. Before he was six he joined the local chess club and was beating adults. Soon came tournaments, the grand master victory, a draw against Kasparov and he’s now set to become a grand master himself. Unlikely you’ll follow that route. But you never know and will be setting your youngster off on a game that develops concentration, self discipline, logical thought, reading skills, responsibility for one’s own actions and sportsmanship. More details on how to play chess can be found on

No wonder ex Education Minister Charles Clarke wanted chess on the school curriculum. Chess is 100% skill. You son or daughter, bored with beating dad, will require fresh opponents. School should be the place, as many run chess clubs. If yours doesn’t, volunteer to run one yourself.. The British Land Chess Championships, an annual chess competition run through primary schools, last year attracted 80,000 entries.

The complexities of chess frustrate the wisest while sometimes appearing logical to the young. Unlike other sports, where physical strength dominates, young boys and girls regularly compete against adults across a chess board. Most chess clubs happily merge young with old. They usually have set weekly times for meetings and inexpensive subscriptions. The British Chess Federation, gives details.

With over six million sites, chess on the internet is daunting, but it can be invaluable. Online you can learn, play, take lessons and replay games.

A good teacher can guide you. There’s no formal chess teaching qualification but good players, including grand masters, often offer a sideline with lessons.