Starting a high school chess club

Would you like to start a chess club at your high school?

Several NC high schools have started chess clubs through our Game Changer Program. The teachers sponsoring these clubs and the students leading them provided these suggestions based on their experience:

1) Find a sponsor and a meeting location. Ask a teacher to sponsor your chess club, let you meet in their classroom, and let you store chess sets and clocks there. If you are not sure which teacher to ask, try contacting STEM teachers first.

2) Contact the PTA to officially register your club. Find out if there used to be a chess club. If so, ask who might know where their chess sets are. Ask if there is a small amount of funding left in this year’s PTA budget to buy a few more chess sets. Also ask for an amount to be allocated in next year’s budget.

3) Pick a meeting day and time with your sponsoring teacher. If your school has a common lunch period, meeting during lunch would allow more students to participate. If not, then pick a day when the club could meet after school that would not compete with activities that chess club members might also want to do.

4) Publicize your club. Find out how to publish information about the club on the school website and in the PTA newsletter. Find out when the Open House for the next school year will be and ask if the chess club can have a table there. Set up a chess set there and answer questions.

5) Try to find any chess sets from previous chess clubs. If you need more, buy a few chess sets online.

6) Start playing chess! Some of your stronger players could also teach some lessons.

Once the club is underway, club members could set goals like these:

  • Take a club photo for the yearbook. This will help publicize your club.
  • If at least four students are interested, play as a team in a local team tournament or in the next NC K-12 Championship. If you do well, submit your results to be included in the school announcements and PTA newsletter and display your trophy at school. This will also help publicize your club.
  • Arrange a friendly match with another high school. This website lists the NC high schools that have at least 4 students with US Chess ratings, so some of them might be interested in match. http://chessstream.com/TopNCSchoolsInChessByGroup.aspx
  • In the spring time, arrange a friendly match with the middle schools that feed your school. This would be fun and would help recruit players for the following year.
  • Design a club t-shirt
  • If a club member has contacts with a school in another country through their family or through the foreign language department, arrange a friendly online match using a combination of chess.com and Zoom or similar tools.
  • If any of the chess club members need community service hours, they could volunteer with the chess clubs at the middle schools or elementary schools that feed your school. They could also hold a tournament or simultaneous exhibition to raise money for a charity.

Please add comments with your suggestions for high school chess clubs! Thank you.

Library Chess Resumes

One of our goals at the Indermaur Chess Foundation is to promote and support chess clubs in public libraries around North Carolina (see Libraries Up Their Game By Adding Chess).

When COVID arrived in 2020, the libraries took a hit like everything else, and chess was suspended.  We were excited to learn that the chess club at the Eden Public Library, in Rockingham County, has been up and running again since October with 10 children and 4 adults regularly participating.  Rachel, the coordinator, said that the children have had a blast getting to know one another across the board and are even enjoying their own inside jokes.  She’s planning on hosting a tournament in the spring, and we’re looking forward to hearing all about it!

If you’d like to start a chess club at your local NC library, please apply for our Game Changer Program.

Partnership with US Chess to Serve At-Risk Youth

Nearly everyone knows that chess is a powerful mind-strengthening tool.  Regular play improves concentration and memory and has a profound effect on confidence and decision-making.  But did you know that children who play often also have opportunities to develop crucial social skills which positively impact their educational experiences?

At the Indermaur Chess Foundation, we partner with NC schools to offer these and other benefits of chess to all students, especially those at risk, through our Game Changer Program. We provide each school accepted into our program with 5 chess sets, Chess Step instructional materials, and ChessKid.com subscriptions.

This fall, US Chess introduced a new program supporting affiliates who offer chess at Title I schools, providing each school with 16 free youth memberships and 8 additional chess sets.  We’re excited to announce that we applied and were accepted into the new program on behalf of Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary, a Title I school in Raleigh, NC.  We look forward to helping their new chess club run tournaments as well as making it possible for them to play other NC schools online via ChessKid. 

“We are so grateful to the Indermaur Chess Foundation for helping to get Wiley’s chess club off the ground!  Our group of 28 students are in first through fifth grade and are getting so much out of the program.  The guidance from the Foundation has been invaluable. We are also thankful for their help in securing support for the club from US Chess,” said Bridget Harrington, Wiley’s parent lead for the chess club.

If you’re interested in starting a chess club at your NC school, consider applying to our Game Changer Program! Let us know if you’re a Title I school so we can also apply for the US Chess program on your behalf.

Libraries Up Their Game By Adding Chess

It’s no secret that libraries have always been wonderful gathering places for folks of all ages within their communities. While everyone expects that they’ll offer not only the best books and, occasionally, even a few lectures or classes, did you know that some also host “Gaming Day” programs?  Many of the rural libraries that we’ve reached out to have already set aside a specific time of the week to provide board games for their patrons in order to foster a little friendly competition among both old and young, alike.  Now, they’re upping the ante by adding chess to the mix.

While plenty of games offer a brain boost, chess is different.  It’s an “activity that has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and academic performance as well as being fun,” writes a 32-year veteran elementary school teacher and librarian in rural N.C.  “Playing chess gives your brain a workout and develops beneficial skills, such as problem solving, strategic thinking, and concentration that spill over into other intellectual pursuits,” says a librarian who is constantly on the look-out for personal enrichment activities for members of the community.  Even though some have admitted to being a bit intimidated by the game, they are willing to learn by going through the workbooks we provide in order to instruct their patrons.  After that, they can all continue learning together.

One of the most common reasons these librarians want to start a club is their desire to bring an intergenerational community together. The relationships that are sure to develop between players of different ages will strengthen community ties. While it can be a challenge to find activities that appeal to such a broad age range, chess can close that gap. It’s a game for the ages, because it’s a game for all ages. A few of the librarians who reached out to us have plans to contact their local high school chess clubs for ideas, instruction, and inspiration, while others will leverage the partnerships they have with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and their local homeschool association.  As one woman wrote, “Libraries are well positioned to promote the Game Changer Program.” 

January 3 Tournament and Workshop

Does your child want to play more chess during winter break?

Register them for our Friday, January 3rd tournament! They will get more practice before the Triangle and NC Championships, and you will also help NC schools start chess clubs since the proceeds from this event will help support our Game Changer Program. You can play, too, since it is a “parents play free” event. We have added a quick-rated only section for higher rated players, so they can participate without affecting their regular USCF rating.

Interested in starting a chess club at your child’s school?

Please attend our free workshop which will be at noon immediately following the tournament. Experienced chess club organizers will answer your questions. We will also explain our Game Changer Program.

Please see our flyer and registration page for more information.

Game Changer Program to help NC schools start new chess clubs

We are excited to announce that the Indermaur Chess Foundation will help up to 100 North Carolina schools start new chess clubs with our new Game Changer Program!

NC public or charter schools starting new chess programs are eligible to apply. Accepted schools will receive:

  • a Chess-Steps Learning Chess instructor manual
  • a Chess-Steps Learning Chess student workbook (and discounts on additional workbooks)
  • help setting up ChessKid accounts for their club
  • online support for their chess program coordinator
  • help arranging online or over-the-board matches with other schools in this Program

To apply for our Game Changer Program, please complete this application.

Are you interested in starting a chess club at your school?

Our goal is to provide you the resources and support so that you feel comfortable doing exactly that! Soccer leagues across NC help thousands of parents coach recreational soccer teams even if they have no previous experience teaching soccer. Through this Game Changer Program we will provide you similar help so you can start and successfully run a chess club at your school.

Resources we selected for you:

We selected the resources for this Program after testing instructional materials with elementary school, middle school, and home school chess programs led by school teachers, parents, and older student volunteers.

Learning Chess: Step 1 Manual and Workbook: the Chess Step method was originally developed in the Netherlands to teach children to play chess. It quickly spread across Europe and is now available worldwide. Each of the six steps in the method has a workbook with exercises and summaries for the student and an accompanying manual for the trainer. The manuals contain complete scripted lessons for the teacher as well as aids to address typical challenges children face at each stage of learning. The books are written so that trainers do not need extensive chess knowledge. Step 1 explains all the rules of chess and helps students develop the basic skills needed to play chess (from beginner up to a USCF rating of 800).

ChessKid.com: ChessKid is a fun, safe website and app for children to learn and practice chess. The new ChessKid Classroom Lesson Planner guides teachers and students through the most important 30 lessons that every new chess player needs to learn. We found that students really enjoyed the video lessons. Beginners liked playing against the robot while more experienced students liked playing against other students and solving puzzles. Students who practiced with ChessKid at home improved more rapidly.

Now, it’s your move!

Apply now to bring the benefits of chess to your school.

If you would like to help more schools start chess clubs, please donate to support this Program.