How To Start A Chess Club, Part 3

Hello, new chess coaches!  In this article I will talk about what a chess club meeting can look like and some ways in which I incorporate into my meetings.

When I was in college, one of my professors said "the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure, remember that!" 

At the end of the day, when most chess clubs meet, students have been in classes all day.  They want to learn chess, but they're also tired.

In my club room I have a computer with a projector hooked up and I have something displayed for the kids to see as they come into the room. 

It may be a tactic, it may be a mate-in-one problem, or it may be a position to play against the computer. 

So as the kids are settling in, I have the students who are already seated trying to earn a small prize for solving the warm-up

I have about 60 useful minutes in an average chess meeting.  The first five minutes are getting the kids into the room and settled down.

1. The Focus

This is the lesson of the day, and I typically have a "theme" for each week.  Recently, I have been talking about the importance of rook activity.  I like to show a video that covers this theme.



I try to keep the entire lesson for chess to 10-12 minutes. 

"How do you eat a whale?  One bite at a time!"  How do you teach chess? One concept at a time.  I look for videos that are 6-10 minutes long -- or I will show a longer video over two or three days. 

Another good way to start a lesson is with a game that the students have played in  It's fun for the kids to see their games displayed.  I like to use a program like Chessbase to display their games from the PGN files you can download from ChessKid.  But you can just show the game and play it out. 

One bite at a time. 


 Highlight key squares, put in variations and have a chess engine running to analyze the game and tactical advantages.


2. The Veggies

Ten or 15 minutes should be max for your lesson of the day.  Ten is typical for me.  However, I have a number of computers in the room and I have the students rotate through on them.  I ask them to do 10 tactic problems (puzzles) a day.  I tell them this is like eating veggies.  They don't always want to do them, but after a couple of tournaments they realize the importance of being able to seize a tactical advantage in a game.  One bite at a time.


3. The Snacks

Kids are hungry at the end of the day, and kids love having snacks available to them.  One bite at a time.

4. The Meat and Potatoes

Let's play chess.  I devote about 40 minutes to chess play for the kids.  Sometimes we do variant activities during this time (I have an upcoming article on variant games for chess practice), but most days we play chess.  One bite at a time.

5. The Closing

At the end of the meeting I make announcements, pass out permission slips for upcoming tournaments, etc.

I have a rule in my club:  It needs to be quiet during my lesson at the beginning and during announcements at the end.  My chess practices tend to be active and full of chatter in between.  I'll talk about using experienced players for tournament preparation in a future article. 

Don't worry if your kids seem a little squirrley at the end of the day!