Richard James: An Expert On Chess For Children

As Dirty Harry Callahan said in Magnum Force, “A Man’s gotta know his limitations”. Knowing mine I’ve realised that I’m not particularly good at coaching children (my speciality is in helping my fellow mid-life crisis males to improve, despite all the odds). So when I my 8 year old son turned out to have considerable chess talent and a very sensitive nature I went in search of inspiration about how to handle the situation.

I didn’t have to look far as I was aware that Richard James knew a thing or two about children’s chess. I’ve read all the articles on his Chess Kids web site and read everything he publishes with great interest. And he’s been largely instrumental in my decision not to expose my son to competitive chess, focussing instead on friendly games and chess problems.

What’s the best source of chess problems? Well we’ve worked through Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess and are well into Laszlo Polgar’s Chess: 5334 Positions, Combinations and Games. I figure Laszlo also knows a thing or two about children’s chess given that out of his three daughters two gained the male International Grandmaster title whilst the third got the male International Master title.

Besides his web sites it’s worth checking out Richard’s Chess For Kids book and also this interview. It reveals his level of expertise and deep thinking to which I personally am deeply grateful.


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: