Mad about chess?

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post whizzes around the chess board. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

Three months ago neither Nell, 11, nor I could play chess. But then a notice popped up on the nearby community noticeboard offering a chess club every Monday. I tried to ignore it, but Nell had no inhibitions – “We’ve got to go to this,” she insisted. And eventually we managed a trial session.  It was great.

Turns out that chess is more popular with older blokes, but a few precociously clever tots are at the club too, escorted by their dads. The youngest is six years – apparently the best age to start. In other words you might well be able to play chess before you’ve mastered all those phonics or read a whole picture book.

A lovely man called Ed (who runs the club) taught Nell and I the basic moves – and for a while I was a little better than my daughter. This stage did not last long.

Thanks to Harry Potter – which contains a couple of chess scenes – the HP-obsessed Lola is also quite interested so we can play tournaments, or just little knockabouts. Even as the proud possessor of a chess board (found in a charity shop in Somerton, Somerset) I still feel in the dark about how to win chess (anyone know how I find out more about strategy?). But at 48 years old there’s a part of me that is extremely proud of having finally learnt how to play this elitist game. I love the way Richard the Lionheart and Sulamen were playing it all those years ago. And I loved seeing the giant chessboard at the surprisingly OK (albeit pricey) Harry Potter theme park near Watford Junction.

Over to you?
Any thoughts on teaching children chess? How old were you when you learnt? Or how old was your child? Was it a bloke who taught you? Should chess be taught in schools?

More posts on chess, see http://islingtonfacesblog.com/2012/09/16/edward-smith-chess-player

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9 Comments on “Mad about chess?”


  1. my son is six and is intrigued by chess! my husband and i don’t know the game and I am on the lookout for someone who could teach him. Wish we had a chess club!!! so nice that you too opted to take lessons. its never too old to begin something new and 48 is particularly young 🙂 have fun!

  2. homemadekids Says:

    From Facebook:
    Annie: There’s a prescribed series of moves called “Fool’s Mate” I used to play with my father…

    • homemadekids Says:

      Thank you for this. I checked the link and was amazed by how many blog awards you have won (what I mean really is how many blog awards there are), and also how much time you make to read so many blogs – you are very generous to us all. Thanks again. Nicola


  3. Unfortunately, for my seven year old, I wasn’t very good at chess — couldn’t form (or tell) a Sicilian Defence from Sicilian pizza. But he’s good with words, then scrabble became his next love.

  4. Nick Says:

    It’s a fun game and it’s not only that it’s also a very intellectual game because you really have to plan in order to win. This is the best educational tool for kids for they shall be taught how to concentrate and think of strategies to win.

    Like http://smartdolphins.net/online-chess-coaching/ chess has been designed to be of great benefit among schoolchildren. You might want to visit the site for additional insights.


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