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How to Teach Chess to Your Children–Colorado State Chess Champ Shares Tips!

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Have you ever met someone who has a gift to teach children?  Colorado State Chess Champion Lior Lapid is one such person. We were privileged to have Lior come to our house to teach my kids Hadley and Bode how to play chess. We expected to learn the basics but we didn’t anticipate that he would instill an enthusiasm and understanding for the complex game after just one hour.  I knew my son Bode (a STEM-oriented kid) would enjoy chess but was thrilled when my artistic, out-of-the-box daughter fell in love as well.

 National Master Lior Lapid is the owner and head coach of PALS Chess Academy and has been a chess coach for the past 20 years–and believe me, it shows! He started with a fun history lesson as he taught the kid how to setup the chessboard and then very patiently walked through through each game piece, making them a fun game. In fact, Lior is currently writing a book that makes the chess pieces come to life for kids. 

 I’ve tried online tutorials to learn chess but frankly, have found the game too overwhelming. But after a short session with Lior, we all fell in love with chess! As soon as he walked out the door, my kids were challenging me to a game and begging to download a chess app for extra practice. 

I’ve asked Lior to share some of the basics of teaching chess to your children.

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Over the past 20 years as a chess coach, I’ve found that the one question parents ask most frequently is how to teach chess to their kids, even if they are beginners themselves.  In this brief article, I’d like to share some of the best resources to enable you to get started playing, learning and enjoying chess with your children. 

The Benefits of Chess Education

 Chess has always been fun to play, but modern research suggests that chess also confers a multitude of life skills that extend far beyond the 64 squares of the chessboard.  These include critical and creative thinking, short-term and long-term planning, abstract reasoning, memory enhancement, decision-making in difficult situations, concentration, perseverance, and more.  Chess also promotes good character, as students of the game take responsibility for their mistakes, respect their opponents with a handshake and sportsmanship, and learn and grow from every loss. 

Patrick McDonald put together a very impressive compilation of research on the extraordinary benefits of learning chess, with articles focusing on many of the academic and life skills listed above.  In addition, Dr. Robert Ferguson wrote a fascinating guide on the topic, citing studies, facts, anecdotal materials, as well as testimonials from parents and educators about their experiences teaching chess.

Books:

 Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by former World Champion Bobby Fischer and Stuart Margulies

This was my very first chess book, which I eagerly read cover-to-cover when I was nine.  It is a fun and interactive book filled with instructive puzzles on every page covering a variety of basic but critical chess strategies and tactics.

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess by Grandmaster Murray Chandler

Warning to all dads: buy this at your own risk! This fun and excellent book teaches kids to master the 50 most important checkmating patterns. 

The Right Way to Play Chess by David Pritchard

A classic.  Pritchard covers everything from how to move the pieces to explaining the fundamentals of the opening, middlegame, and endgame, also including a great chapter of illustrative games that feature all of these strategies in practice.

Websites and Software:

Chesskid.com

This is a great place for your children to hone their skills against other kids from all over the world.  There are many instructive and kid-friendly videos featuring animation and humor to make each lesson more fun.

Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster: Complete 3-Pack

 Highly recommended for kids ages 6 and up.  These programs teach chess via imaginative scenarios such as a prince trapped in a dungeon, workouts in the Brain-Building IntelliGym, and a happy-go-lucky guide named King Kaleidescope who shows you around the royal kingdom.  Lots of learning and lots of fun!

 Local Resources

 Local clubs such as the Denver Chess Club and the kid-friendly Highlands Ranch Library Chess Club offer opportunities for you and your family to practice and meet new chess buddies.  Also check whether your child’s school offers an extracurricular chess club. 

Feel free to contact me with any questions about how to take the first steps with your children into the incredible world of chess, a game aptly described by Pascal as “the gymnasium of the mind.”

About the author:

National Master Lior Lapid is the owner and head coach of PALS Chess Academy, a Denver-based chess education company whose mission is to make chess learning fun and popularize “The Royal Game” for children across the state of Colorado.  He is the 2015 and 2016 Colorado State Chess Champion and a two time National Chess Champion in the K-9 and K-12 divisions.  He can be reached at lior@palschess.com

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Comments
  • comment avatar Emily September 12, 2016

    Is this the same place that offers summer camps? My son would love this.

  • comment avatar Nils September 12, 2016

    Hi Emily, Great to hear that your son is into chess. We would love to see him at our 2017 chess camps or scholastic tournaments this fall. For regular updates feel free to join us on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/PalsChessAcademy/?fref=ts or contact Lior personally! Have a nice week!

  • comment avatar Jennifer Egbert September 18, 2016

    This is an awesome overview! I can think of so many kids that would love this. I’ll be sure to pass this along!

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