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Running a Chess Club

  • #1


    I am leading a chess club this year at the elementary level,  grades 2 - 5.  We are time challenged with only 1/2 hr a week and have had to split the group into 2 until we get additional chess sets into circulation.  We had tremendous interest with 88 kids signing up.  Last year we were down to 23 by year end.  I imagine this was partly due to having only 10 chess sets.  I have another 15 sets on their way...

    I currently start the sessions by playing a 5 - 10 minute lesson on my PC / Projector (which is probably a small violation of my Chessmaster license agreement) and then let the kids play while I monitor and answer questions, resolve disputes...  

    I am a bit frustrated at this point trying to get organized so that I can monitor each kids progress.  Everything is a bit chaotic, especially the grade 2/3 bunch.  Ideally I want to get to a point where I have a system down that lets me see how the children are developing so that we can enter our top few players into some local tournement play.  I haven't started a ladder yet as we have only had 1 session so far to cover the basics for the beginners.  I do have about 20 kids returning from last year, 12 of whom may understand the rules completely and can grasp some of the tactical tools and fundamental strategies.

    I am in the process of getting the more interested kids registered on Chesskid, forming a group and making use of the resources there so that they can progress more quickly that the 30 minutes evry second week allows at school...

    Any suggestions from folks that have been down this path are greatly appreciated.


  • #2

    I have been running a couple of kids' chess clubs for around 3 years.  I wrote some software to help.  It is free, at https://sites.google.com/site/fredm/.  It runs under Windows.  The software can run tournaments and has a ladder that lets kids enter their games.  It calculates a rating for each kid and keeps track of their games. The website has links to the documentation.  Read it and see if it fits your needs.  I also wrote a training program, Guess the Move, which is also free at the same site.  I have used it to ask kids to suggest the best move, collect their ideas, and comment on them as we play over the games. For kids with Windows computers, they can download GTM and practice at home.

  • #3

    Thank you Fred, I'll have a look.

  • #4

    Quick Question Fred...

    Can I run two distinct ladders on the same PC?  Seems not... I would set up two if possible as I have my kids divided into grades 2/3 and 4/5... and they play on different days currently.  Most of the 4/5's are more advanced than the 2/3's with one exception.

    I may combine the groups if the numbers drop off through attrition.  But we will still have absolute rank beginners and kids with a few years experience.



  • #5

    The easiest way is to just install it twice (or copy the installed folder to another one).  Once you have two folder set up, you have two ladders. Just go to the proper folder, run the ladder.bat file therein, and you have a way to run two distinct ladders that are sharing no data between them.

    I don't see how you can combine two ladders at a later date, however.  You would have to set up the kids again in the other ladder (that they are now joining), losing their records/ratings that are in the previous ladder.

     If you have other questions, feel free to email me.

  • #6


    I run my middleschool chess club and also am the team captain.  Last year was are first competitive year and designating boards posed a major challenge.  We got by last year with a few expierenced players, but now I'm the only one... . I've tried brackets to little evail because many students are inconsistent participants.  Fred, would this be applicable to my needs.

  • #7

    Does anyone know how to interest more people into getting better at chess, not just playing for entertainment?


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