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Your child enjoys chess and wants to play more. How?
It’s best to join a chess club. Ideally, the first club joined should be a school club. If one does not exist why not start one? Most head teachers will be supportive. And Chess Scotland can help with information on how to run the club and with teaching materials.
If your school plays against other schools in its area or in some of the Chess Scotland national tournaments, this is a good way into more competitive chess.
A benefit of joining a club is the training provided. This may not be formal training but simply a better player explaining where your offspring went wrong in the game they have just played. Such lessons are often the most useful.
There are many junior only events held at weekends throughout Scotland which involve tournaments for young beginners. Children can enjoy the beginner section or try and progress through the ranks to stronger sections.
The next stage up is to a weekend congress which involves adults and children. Many of these congresses have sections which are restricted to children – either primary or secondary. Some run separate competitions on Saturdays and Sundays so that children who can only manage along one day can still take part.
During the winter you will find a chess competition most weekends somewhere in Scotland! Click here to look at the current calendar of competitions.
There is a grid on the front right of the home page and front of the schools page which lists all forthcoming junior events.
So you need to decide what to play in and why. Some will be local – other will involve travelling further distances.
Your child is keen and good for his or her age. Is there more I can do to encourage him or her?
If possible join a second club! A club which contains a mixture of adults and juniors has advantages in providing greater experience but you should choose the club carefully as some are not welcoming to junior players, especially at primary school age. Don’t give up if you are dissatisfied with your first choice of club, either try to get the club to change or move elsewhere. Do not be put off by advertised club hours, except when tournaments are being played members can come and go as they please.
As your child improves, it’s important to try to let him or her play in some adult competitions to gain wider experience. This is more difficult because they are always over both days – but it’s invaluable. Congresses usually have a range of tournaments for different strengths of player so you can start in the lowest and gradually build up as results improve. But don’t abandon junior tournaments – a sensible mixture of junior and adult is a good solution.
The best young players will be selected to represent Scotland in international competitions at various ages.
Is all this not too much pressure for a young child?
Chess Scotland believes that excess pressure should not be placed on children to perform at a high level. However, if a child enjoys playing chess and shows ability, increasing the challenges for the player is clearly important.. An added bonus is that children who study chess do better at school work as well – though not always!
Is just playing enough?
No. To improve you need to study chess too. Work at improving. There are vast numbers of chess books on the market aimed a different standards of player. You can relive the games of the great players from the 19th century on – and learn from them.
You can keep up to date with what’s happening in Scotland either on the website or through Scottish Chess magazine. Find out who the strongest Scottish players are and follow their results on the web. And play over their games, almost as they happen!
What about the internet for playing chess?
Nothing replaces actually sitting opposite an opponent but the internet can provide options for playing when over the board isn’t possible. Several sites allow people to subscribe and play against others from throughout the world.