interesting, fascinating, and fun! We have put
together some resources here for coaches,
schools, parents, new chess players, and chess
enthusiasts who have some questions about the
THE HISTORY OF CHESS
Chess is one of the oldest games in the world.
Unfortunately, nobody really knows just how old it is!
Some people claim chess is more than 2,000 years old.
However, the best evidence out there suggests that chess
in its earliest form was played in India in the 6th
century AD. From there chess spread around the world. In
the 15th century chess changed even more to closely
resemble the game we now play. But the chess scene
really started taking off in the 1800's when
tournaments, chess clocks, championships, and titles
like Grandmaster were introduced.
Chess is now the most popular game in the world!
There are hundreds of millions of players in thousands
of clubs around the planet. Chess is growing especially
quickly among children as schools and parents recognize
the social and intellectual benefits associate with the
game. The overall skill level of chess players is also
increasing because of the Internet and computers.
Players are able to pick up a game at anytime online and
can use computers to help them train and learn. Women
and girls are also learning chess in record numbers.
Chess will certainly grow in the future. Younger and
younger players are achieving Grandmaster status (not
even teenagers yet!). Players will have to be more
accurate in their openings as computer training becomes
more available. But most of us hope that the essence and
fun of the game doesn't change at all!
HOW TO USE A CHESS CLOCK
HISTORY OF THE
Chess clocks and timers are used to control the amount
of time that each player uses per game. People used to
play chess without clocks. There was no time limit on
how long one person could think about their move. That
made for some very long and boring games! In the
mid-1800s they started using sand hourglasses to time
each player. They soon graduated to mechanical clocks
that were connected together so that only one clock can
run at a time.
CHESS AND TIME
Chess clocks give each player a certain amount of time
to make all of their moves in a game. Quick blitz games
are usually five minutes per player per game. Rapid
games are usually between 30-60 minutes per player per
game. Tournament games can last up to 3 ½ hours per
player per game! There is not a time limit per move
– instead players may ration their time however they
want. Time is counted down until it runs out. Each
player has their own amount of time that runs down while
it is their turn to move. The game ends if one player
runs out of time, is checkmated, there is a draw, or if
a player resigns. It doesn't matter if you are one move
away from checkmate – if your time runs out before you
checkmate your opponent, you lose the game!
TWO TIMERS IN
Chess clocks have two separate timers – one for each
player. Only one timer counts down at a time. Each
player also has a button on their side of the clock that
they press when they are done with their turn. When a
player pushes their button it stops their time and
starts their opponent's time. At the beginning of the
game the player one player sets the time for both
players with buttons in the neutral position so no time
is running. Then the player with the black pieces
presses their button to start the other player's timer.
Then, once the player with the white pieces has made
their move, they press their button and the other
player's clock starts to run. That happens over and over
until the game is finished.
The player with the black pieces gets to decide on which
side of the board they want to have the clock. This is a
small advantage because you are required to hit the
clock with the same hand you use to move the pieces. So,
if a player is right-handed it is generally easier to
have the clock on the right side so they don't have to
reach across their body to hit the clock button. If
there is ever a dispute in the game one player should
stop the time for both players and get immediate help.
For more advanced rules on clock use please consult your
national chess organization.
HOW TO USE AN ANALOG
Analog (or mechanical) chess clocks were the first
clocks to be invented. They use mechanical parts like
levers, gears, and springs to control the time. Analog
clocks are much easier for kids, beginners, and those
who don't want to read a huge manual to understand the
digital clocks! Almost all analog clocks are the same,
so if you understand one you understand them all.
Analog clocks use a
regular clock face. Each side also has a small flag on
it. When the long hand of the clock starts to approach
the 12 position it will pick up the flag and raise it as
it moves. When it passes the 12 position the flag will
fall. Therefore, you always set an analog clock
backwards with the amount of time you want per player.
So, if you wanted a 15 minute game, you would set the
long hand to be on the 9 – exactly 15 minutes before the
straight-up 12 position. If you wanted to set the clock
for one hour per player you would set the long hand to
the 12 position so that one full hour would pass before
the flag would fall. Remember to set both sides equally.
The short hand of the clock is generally set back from
the 6 o'clock position. A 2 hour game would start at 4
o'clock. You use small knobs on the back of the clock to
manually move the hands on the face, just like you would
adjust the time on a clock that hangs on your wall.
How to Use a
Digital Chess Clock
Digital chess clocks and timers use LCD displays and
digital components to tell time. They are more
fully-featured than analog clocks (supporting more
advanced features like time delay, move counters, etc),
but can be very complicated for users. Each digital
clock is different, so you will need to learn the
specifics about each clock you use.
Instead of a clock face
and hands that travel around it, digital chess clocks
and timers use a digital display to show the amount of
time left. Time is usually shown in the
hours:minutes:seconds format. For example: 1:23:45
means the player has one hour, twenty three minutes and
forty five seconds before their time runs out. Both
players still have buttons to start and stop time.
Instead of a visual flag falling, digital clocks may
have an audible beep, or the display might start
flashing. Also, each clock has a different way of being
set by pushing a combination of buttons. You will need
to consult the instruction manual that comes with your
digital chess timer for its specific operational
RULES FOR CHESS EQUIPMENT
WHY RULES FOR
Chess is a very complicated game that demands
concentration and focus. Certain rules have been adopted
for pieces, boards, and clocks to keep them from
distracting from the chess game. If a set is too
detailed or the pieces are too similar then they may
distract the player who has to spend time figuring out
which pieces are which. At the same time a chessboard
with graphics on it or squares that are too bright can
become irritating after looking at the board for several
Chess pieces must be of the staunton style. The staunton
style is the very classical look of pieces that most of
our sets feature. This includes the King with a cross, a
queen with a spiked crown, a rook that looks like a
tower, a bishop with a diagonal slit, a knight that
looks like a horse head, and a round-headed simple pawn.
Many "fancy" sets are too detailed and it becomes hard
to tell the pieces apart. Some modern sets feature
pieces that look almost identical and can be frustrating
for opponents who are not familiar with the pieces. Each
set of chess pieces must also be significantly different
in color - one light set and one dark set (usually
white/cream/natural/light wood vs. black/dark brown/dark
wood). Chess pieces are generally measured by the King's
height. Tournament chess pieces should be between 3.5"
and 4.25" (King height). The base should be 40-50% as
wide as the height. The pieces should not be overly
shiny and should be made of plastic or wood. The pieces
should also be significantly weighted as to not tip over
easily. Generally if your pieces weigh at least 1 lb.
for all 32 pieces you are fine. Heavier pieces are not
needed, though they do feel nice. If you have any
questions about your chess pieces check with your
- Classic staunton
- 3.5" - 4.25" King
- Made of plastic or
- At least 1 lb set
of 32 pieces
Chessboards must be plain squares of alternating light
and dark colors. The colors should not be too bright and
should also not blend in too much with the pieces. For
this reason the most popular colors are matte green and
blue (and why black/white is usually not recommended -
it blends in with the pieces). The material may be any
material that is not too shiny. Generally vinyl
chessboards are recommended or folding paper boards.
Wood may also be used. The squares must be between 2"
and 2.5". They must fit the pieces proportionally - not
too crowded, not too spread apart.
- 2" - 2.5"
- Made of vinyl,
paper, or wood
- Not too bright
Chess clocks and timers are used to control how much
time each player uses. There are mechanical/analog
clocks and digital clocks. Both are acceptable, though
digital clocks are usually preferred if there is a time
delay featured in the tournament (check with your
Tournament Director). Clocks should be near silent. The
player with the black pieces gets to choose on which
side of the board they would like to have the clock.
- Analog and digital
clocks are allowed, though digital may be preferred
- Clocks must be
TOURNAMENT CHESS EQUIPMENT
Besides pieces, boards, and clocks, you may need some
other materials like scorebooks or scoresheets. Those
are used to record, or write down, your games for
record. Ask your Tournament Director if you are required
to write down your games.
HOW TO RUN A CHESS
Chess tournaments can be very fun if done well... or
frustrating if done wrong. The information presented
here is for schools, teachers, parents, and coaches who
want to organize a fun and enjoyable tournament where
all students learn and have a good time. If you are
looking for more serious competitive or rated
tournaments, check with your local chess federation or
WHY HAVE A
Chess is a competitive game. There is usually only one
winner! Players naturally want to compete to see who is
better, but it is very important to emphasize that no
matter who wins the tournament or each game, you can
never lose when you are learning! The only losers
are those who are too afraid to participate! Wholesale
Chess recommends that all participants should win
something, even if it is just a certificate or ribbon of
Wholesale Chess recommends that you divide players by
general skill and/or age. While it is never fun losing,
it is definitely NOT fun being beaten by somebody who is
obviously in a different category. It is usually better
to have more small groups than one large group. It is
easier to manage and also allows for more winners.
THE BASICS OF
A CHESS TOURNAMENT
The best thing you can do for your chess tournament is
make sure that everybody plays the same number of games!
Don't use elimination tournaments - they are
frustrating, discouraging and boring for those who lose
early. Wholesale Chess recommends that you use the
round robin style of tournament (see below). Chess
tournaments require that each game be scored. A win is
worth 1 point, a loss is worth 0 points, and a draw is
worth 1/2 a point. If you are not using clocks in your
tournament you need to encourage players to move
quickly. If a player feels that another player is
stalling, have them raise their hand to draw your
attention. If the game is not finished in the specified
timeframe of the game then Wholesale Chess recommends
that you call the game for the player who has a point
advantage of 5 or more points (King = not counted, Queen
= 9, Rook = 5, Bishop = 3, Knight = 3, Pawn = 1). Or, if
there is less than 5 points difference than call the
game a draw. Wholesale Chess also recommends that you
play "touch-move". A player must move the first piece
he/she touches unless it is an illegal move. Also, if
you find that players have made illegal moves, try to go
back and reconstruct the most reasonable position. Try
and make sure that both players are happy with the
results of any dispute.
You can play a round robin tournament with almost any
number of chess players, but it is usually best with a
small number of players (6 or fewer). Within each group
each player plays one (or two) games against each other
player and the player with the most points at the end
wins. If you have more players than that, try separating
them further into smaller groups. You can have the
winners of each round robin group play against each
other in an exciting playoff! Check out the following
Notice that each player
is given a player number. The chart shows how each one
did against their opponents. Notice that there is an "X"
in each space where it shows that they play against
themselves. You can see that in this tournament "Collin"
won because he had the most points of the group.
Again, make sure that each player feels like they are a
winner for participating. You might consider giving a
"Good Sportsmanship" special award to any students who
lost all of their games. Encourage all players to
practice more and pay more attention in their games.
HOW TO START A CHESS CLUB
Chess clubs can be very rewarding for organizers and
participants if they are done well. Chess clubs need the
following 6 things:
Without good organizers, coaches, parents, or
volunteers, chess clubs would not succeed. They need
dedicated and patient leaders who provide structure and
motivation. If you are an organizer, don't over-commit.
Do what you can, and do what you promise. Make sure you
are always having fun!
Almost anyone can learn chess! Even 2 year-olds can
learn how to setup the board and move pieces around. Try
and invite as many eligible participants as possible.
Make sure you advertise your club as best you can.
Clearly outline the purposes of the club and all of the
information. Don't be afraid to ask for some donations
of time and equipment from participants and their
parents (if applicable). Also make sure that you clearly
outline the many intellectual and social benefits of
participating in chess club.
Make sure that you have proper facilities for chess
club. You might have a great school, local community
center, university, or even home or business willing to
donate some space to you. You will need a well-lighted
area with enough tables and chairs for all participants.
Try and get long picnic-type tables - not round tables!
Also try and schedule all club days and activities as
far in advance as possible.
One of the worst things that can happen at chess club is
to have people standing around waiting for a chess set.
Make sure you get enough chess equipment for all
participants. You don't need the fanciest sets for
everyone. You don't even need chess clocks!
Chess club should be fun and educational. Clubs that are
not balanced are not enjoyable. Too much play without
progress can wear thin. And too much instruction without
play can be dull. Try one lesson a day (within your
participants' attention span!) and then some play. You
might also want to mix in some activities like
mini-tournaments, chess mini-games (like trying to put 8
queens on a board without any of them attacking each
Set goals for yourself as the coach/organizer and for
your students. Maybe your goal might be to attend a
local tournament a few months away. Or set your own
tournament day or chess party day. That way everybody is
looking forward to something and working on their chess
for a reason
Chess is such a wonderful thing to learn... and teach!
If you are starting a chess club or beginning to work
with a child or student then bless you! You are passing
on a wonderful gift to them. Make sure you use care,
patience and respect while teaching. Additionally, try
to be interesting! Use humor, funny voices, cartwheels -
whatever it takes to make your students pay attention
and have a good time. Below is a very basic chess
curriculum recommended by Wholesale Chess that you can
use to work with beginners. You can find materials for
your lesson preparation in the
CHESS CURRICULUM OUTLINE
- How the pieces
move and how to setup the board
- How to capture
pieces (its ok to capture the King before you learn
- Check and
- More advanced
rules of castling, en passant, and pawn promotion
- The values of the
pieces and making good captures and trades
- Developing your
pieces and controlling the center
- Using multiple
pieces to attack and defend
- Basic tactics -
forks and pins
- Basic strategies -
controlling squares, diagonals, and files
- Basic opening
principles - control key squares, activate your
pieces, get your king to safety
HOW TO BE A GOOD CHESS
If you have a child who enjoys learning and playing
chess, you should encourage that as much as is healthy.
Chess has great social and intellectual benefits that
can affect other aspects of their life. But remember
that chess is a part of life, not the purpose of
life. Wholesale Chess suggests you either watch the
movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" or read the book. We
also recommend the book.
Make sure you know how your child is feeling about
chess. If they are feeling burned out then pressuring
them may just turn them off more. If they are hungry for
chess and you are not feeding that, they make get
LOVE AND SUPPORT
Always make sure that your child knows how much you love
them regardless of whether they are winning or losing
their chess games. Never show disappointment at their
performance - they are most likely frustrated enough on
HOW TO GET BETTER AT CHESS
Chess is a huge, vast, complex, massive game - big
enough that you should never get bored with it! To get
better you need to do 3 things: play chess, study chess,
and get involved in chess. People who get burned out on
chess are probably not doing all of these things!
In order to improve at chess you will need to play lots
and lots of chess. This means winning games, and
losing games. Just remember that you are never losing
when you are learning! Learn something from every win
and every loss. And never be a poor sport! There
are lots of places to play chess. You can play at your
local club, online, through email, through regular mail,
with friends and family - there is never any excuse not
Along with playing chess, you need to study if you want
to get better. First you need to make sure you know all
of the rules. Then you should learn the basic principles
of the game such as controlling the center, developing
your pieces, attacking and defending pieces, piece
values, etc. After that you should learn more about
tactics and strategies. Don't start studying openings
at all until you fully understand all of the elementary
tactics and strategies! You will be wasting your
time. Learn to play sound and solid chess. Don't get
caught up in trying to get cheap-o wins with opening
traps. Once you understand tactics and strategies, start
learning some opening systems and endgames as well. Make
sure you study master and grandmaster games so that you
can learn what the best players are thinking and doing
when they play! Also, it is a good idea to study with a
friend. You might also consider getting a private chess
coach at some point to accelerate your learning.
If all you do with chess is play online and read books
by yourself you are bound to lose interest at some
point. Get involved! Teach a friend. Go to your local
club. Play in over-the-board tournaments. Teach chess at
a school. Get involved somehow and you will see that
chess is more than a game - it is a great community as
RESEARCH ON THE BENEFITS
A GAME FOR
SMART PEOPLE, OR A GAME THAT MAKES YOU SMART?
Everyone recognizes chess as an intellectual icon. But
is it that smart people play chess… or is it chess that
makes people smarter? Chess actually helps us learn to
think. Here are some areas that have been proven to be
enhanced by chess:
- The IQ
- Analytical skills
There is an incredible
amount of information out there that demonstrates the
many benefits of chess.