Back to School

I’ll return to Move Two! shortly. But first, something else.

Readers of my articles will probably be aware that I stopped most of my chess teaching several years ago because of my frustrations with the whole concept of after-school chess clubs in primary schools.

With a successful book for children published and a new book for parents about to appear, I thought I ought to return, and have just started teaching at an after-school chess club at a local prep school (private school for boys aged up to 13, girls aged up to 11).  This is one of the leading schools in the area, whose pupils regularly win scholarships to top secondary schools. The children there are polite, attentive and enthusiastic, the teachers highly skilled and devoted, the parents always fully supportive.

I had been talking to the pre-prep department (children aged up to 7) about starting a chess course for beginners based on the ‘slow’ methods I recommend, in September, and as the chess teacher at the main school had left at Christmas the pre-prep head put me in touch with them. The children were clearly very fond of my predecessor and, from talking to them, he’d taught them all the right things.

Aristocratic Allies, or indeed any very much else at all. These basic concepts need to be repeated and reinforced over and over again, at home by parents as well as at school by chess teachers. At present it just doesn’t work because not enough parents understand the basic concepts themselves.

This is why the after-school/lunchtime chess club system is not, in my opinion, a good model. Teaching the basics on the curriculum, as CSC are doing in Newham and elsewhere, is great, but in an affluent area like Richmond, schools just won’t buy it. What I’m planning in this school is to run a beginners’ group in the pre-prep teaching the basics (the Head Teacher fully understands where I’m coming from and is totally supportive) and perhaps eventually introducing a test for membership of the main school club. I’d be very interested to hear from any other teachers or schools interested in promoting and developing this method.


Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy ( or and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard is currently the Curriculum Consultant for Chess in Schools and Communities ( as well as teaching chess in local schools and doing private tuition. He has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966 and currently has an ECF grade of 177. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon.