Students with varied chess skill levels in the same class

  • September 11, 2018

Have you ever found it challenging to lead a chess class because it included both beginners and advanced players? Elliott Neff of Chess4Life easily breaks down this question that has recently surfaced more often.

Within a few minutes, Elliott will help you understand a breakthrough concept that's proven in classes at Chess4Life.

After watching the video, ask your question about teaching chess or starting a chess class. Elliott has the insights to help you run a successful school chess program.



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National Master Elliott Neff, author of A Pawn's Journey (Oct 2018), has taught over 10,000 students. He founded Chess4Life in 2005 to bring kids life skills through chess.

For Chess House subscribers, Elliott is sharing weekly answers and solving challenging questions about running a chess program. Here's your opportunity to find breakthroughs and get help through video or social media.


How to Reach Varied Chess Skills in the Same Class

How do you lead a chess class including beginners through advanced players?

First, divide the class into categories as follows:

  1. Don't know how the pieces move
  2. Know piece movement but need the basics
  3. More experienced

Ideally you need one or more assistants, even if they have little to no chess experience.

With 2 groups, have the advanced group start with a practice game. Have them write down moves with chess notation.

Start beginner students with a very short lesson on one of the piece movement rules. Then practice with a fun activity to build the skill.

Next, advanced players now have a lesson while beginners play practice games with all the pieces they known how to move.

What if you have 3 groups and just 1 assistant?

Identify an activity that can work with all skill levels! For example,

With pawns setup on the board, advanced players help beginners learn rules. The students become teachers!

Pawn Game

During practice time, beginners play together while advanced students play each other.

Have an activity with a goal.

      1. The advanced players win the game by playing a pawn across the board first!
      2. Beginners simply work together to help each other get pawns across the board

          Notice ONE activity with multiple levels of challenge.

          Remember, strive in class to engage every student!

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