Kings & Queens Chess Club

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It is the mission of the Kings & Queens Chess Club and Westside Cardinals Youth Athletics, to maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess.

Chess is becoming a more and more popular program for children as parents and educators see how learning chess can help children develop critical thinking skills and other positive academic and non-academic abilities.

Why is chess good for kids?
Chess helps teach kids critical thinking skills, to plan ahead, and to think before they act. Children learn to see patterns, solve problems and be more deliberate. Some studies show that kids that play chess do better in math and reading skills. Chess is also an antidote for the current progressive buzz that discourages competition. In chess you win and you lose and you have to be competitive and you learn that having an opponent is OK. These are important skills to learn that have been removed from a lot of the traditional activities.

Who should play chess? Is it just for precocious, highly academic kids?
Of course, I think all kids should play chess, but I’m biased. The one caveat is that they should like it. There’s no point in forcing it on a kid that doesn’t like it. While I think that all kids can benefit from chess, chess is particularly good for children who like things that make sense, like to play games and are good visual thinkers. I have taught at many different schools, including Churchill, which is a school for children with learning disabilities. Most kids can play chess and it can even help them focus, if they like it.

Actually, the children who can handle the competitive aspects of chess best are the ones who do athletics. They understand that you need to practice and that you will fail a lot until you get there. A kid who has played baseball knows that you may only hit the ball once in 12 pitches and that is considered good, so they can deal with the winning and losing of a game like chess.

What age is should kids start learning chess?
Usually around 4.5 or 5 years old is a good time to start playing. One benchmark you can use is if they like to play board games and can follow the rules. By 5-7 they should definitely begin. Chess is a symbolic language and, like with any language, it’s important to start young enough to gain fluency.

What about tournaments? Are they just for the strongest players?
The purpose of tournaments should be to expose kids to more players so they can gain experience playing against a wider range of playing styles, which helps them become better players. Kids should really know all the rules and checkmate before playing in a tournament, but other than that tournament play should be good for all players and fun.

The Kings & Queens Chess Club admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other administered programs