Right age to introduce chess to your children?


Hello all,

I was wondering what is the right age to introduce chess to your children. This question does not have an immediate relevance to me as my 2 kids are still very young. The oldest is 4 and 1/2 years old. Although she is smart (I suppose parents are predisposed to think that way about their kids) 5 or even 6 may be too early to start. What should be the ideal age to introduce a logic stimulating exercise like chess?

I learnt chess moves at the age of 9 myself. One of my uncles gifted a couple of books to me and my sister during family visits. She got a book on introduction to chess and I got a book on Karate. I liked the chess book more :) and read it and got hooked. Ironically my uncle did not play chess and neither did my parents. Since then I have had an on off relationship with the chess and have played it occasionally ever since.


TechnoGM wrote:

If you're a pregnant girl eat a chess piece and have the fetus play with it LOL

You learnt chess as a fetus? Impressive!!! No wonder you were the fastest swimmer of the lot.


I learned chess when I was four. I don't think there's any age which would be too young, I think the earlier, the better.


as long as they are interested in it.


Just make sure they do not choke on the pieces :)


Dear all, Thanks for the inputs, 

@kco You are right, interest is a big factor and I will teach them only if they show interest.

@tarrasch Thats an early age to start learning. I felt at that age the biggest problem would be attention span.

@TechnoGM - I realize it is a joke, I was paying back with the same coin Tongue out


my family isn't big on playing chess, but i learned the basics and played against my dad when i was 7 or 8, but wouldn't say i really learned the game or understood (maybe i should say aware :) ) of subtleties (i.e. en passant/castle) until i was 12 or 13


Teaching chess to kids is tricky.

I have seen parents try to teach chess to their 2-3 year old kids with no success.

We had a local kid who was 4-5 when he started playing and was competing with kids at a high level. (he also won the US national k-1 Ch this year.)

before that at 2-3 years old he just watched his older brother play and during lessons , his parents just encouaged him to follow his interests but having an older sibling was a HUGE factor in his interest level.

Let the child guide his interest, forcing kids to learn tends to create resentment. having them play 'fun' chess is great! 200 games against the easy computer, 5 min chess, bughouse, just play and move pieces!


My son was four, he wanted to learn so I taught him how to play.  I think it needs to be up to them, the younger the better because they are little learning sponges.  My son has taken such a desire for the game, that at 9, I will never again beat him. (Did I just say that out loud)?


As long as they're interested, why should any age not be right?


I don't think this question can be safely answered by today's standards.

Late last year, the 5 yr old girl that I was mentoring was having the time of her life destroying kids 2-3 years older than her round after round at the at the Nationals tourney ...   until her penultimate round, where she got viciously mauled  by a 4 year old girl!!!

Both of them were well adjusted kids who didn't have pushy parents ... they just couldn't think of anything else that was more enjoyable than chess.

So it's really a question of seeing if it is fun for them ... and THEN seeing if they can't get enough of it.

 You know the little one is ready if she wakes you up in the morning at 6 a.m. with a chessboard in her  hand. (I believe the one I was fortunate to work with did, according to her parents!)


My 5 1/2 year old son loves chess.  He plays me occasionally at home, online just about daily (chesskid.com is great), and he looks over my shoulder when I'm playing online.  On chesskid.com he will make a move in the morning, including typing me a note in his cute phonetic style, and I will make my move and respond.  It's a fun little way to stay connected during the day.  He also likes watching video tutorials and doing chess puzzles on shredderchess.com on the computer.  I don't know exactly how much he retains, but he has fun and is definitely understanding more and more. 


It's really up to the child.  My parents tried to teach me when I was eight and I wasn't interested.  But, lo and behold, try again six years later and the kid can't get enough.


I guess it all depends right. I mean, if you're child is Boris Spassky or another other Super GM, then they are probably earning their first FIDE norms by about 9 years old, so that would be waaaaaaaaay too late to teach them chess.

Then again, if you have a normal kid, they might not even understand how to correctly move a Knight or execute Scholar's Mate until they are 10-12+


My son plays here often and is 8 years old :)  He learned to play when he was 4 turning 5.  He took to it immediately but only played casually for a year or so.  When he was 6 something lit a chess fire inside him and he just took off.  

At 5 he understood the game well and played with focus and intensity..planning ahead and using strategy regularly.  Before he turned 6 he would sit with chess tactic books and independently solve the puzzles with relative ease.  

I personally think that adults underestimate kid's abilities to learn and understand the game at a young age.  They're young..their minds are fresh and a lot less cluttered than ours, lol :) .


I learned at five...

Samuel2002 wrote:

At 5 he understood the game well and played with focus and intensity..planning ahead and using strategy regularly.  Before he turned 6 he would sit with chess tactic books and independently solve the puzzles with relative ease.  


Damn... smart kid lol. I first played when I was 5, and continued to play more than the average person but still very casually until recently, but at age 5 strategy for chess was impossible for me to grasp.


This is my life story, from another thread I posted in a while back, to firstly say don't start teaching too early, and secondly don't push too hard! I hope you can all learn lessons from my young experiences.

--- --- ---


I began learning chess at the age of 3 weeks. We started with basic king + pawn endgames. (Or, as I liked to call them, "goobo-wabba".) Every time I got a move wrong I was flogged. If I successfully finished an endgame with no mistakes, I was given a doggy treat.

By the age of 3 years, I had memorised every variation of the Ruy Lopez, Italian Game and Queen's Gambit. I could also perfectly play any 6-piece endgame, a human tablebase, if you will. Perhaps my most impressive feat at this time was discovering a depth-to-conversion of 517 moves in one particular endgame- unfortunately, some greedy tablebase creators claimed they had found it themselves.

At 9 years old, I was already stronger than some of the best chess computers in the world. I would train on Fritz each day- my record for the week beginning March 3rd 2003 was my best up to that point, with a score of +6, -0, =1. I was easily the best chess player on the planet, but my father wanted more out of me before he would allow me to see the light of day.

At the age of 12, my dad finally decided I was good enough to leave the basement I was locked in. The light outside was a shining brilliance. I wandered around, dazed by all the colours and sounds. I stepped out into the road and was promptly hit by a bus.

Four weeks later, I awoke from my coma. Everything seemed to be working fine, except for one problem- I had forgotten how to play a decent game of chess. My father promptly disowned me. My dear mother, however, allowed me to stay at her home.

Now I am 16 years old, coming on 17, and though I have improved somewhat since I left hospital, I fear I shall never reach the greatness that I once held in my cold, damp basement.



...is that all a metaphor for leaving Southampton?


We have video of my dad teaching my older sister the names of the chess pieces. She was about three or four. He would pick up a piece and say it's name. Then he would let her hold it. After letting her hold the king, he took it away again and replaced it on the board. Almost emediatly, my sister begin repeating "That, that, that, that, that..." over and over again while pointing at the king until dad gave it back to her.

She was to young to learn, but he was already introducing her to the pieces.