Learning how to play chess sets kids up with the decision-making skills to change their entire lives. While learning the game of chess may be intimidating, there are simple ways that beginners can learn chess without stress. We will cover beginner chess strategies, kids chess sets and more ways that the entire family can embrace the beginners chess game.

Child playing chess - close up of child excited about the game with chess pieces in the front of the image - Kids Activities blog
Let’s Learn to Play Chess!

This article contains affiliate links.

Why Learning Chess is Good for Kids

Making decisions is notoriously hard, for my kids. Ask them what they want for supper, or which of two things they would prefer. Usually, I’ll get an “Ummm…”, if I’m lucky.

Related: Funnest board games

When the kids go to bed, I have been watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. I just can’t get enough! It is the story of a young orphan’s rise to stardom as a chess prodigy. Obviously, there are some downfalls to such a life. What struck me, though, is Beth’s amazing ability to make decisions. That is a key skill in learning how to play Chess!

kids playing chess and The Queens Gambit movie clip
Learning to play chess!

How to Learn Chess

Learning how to play chess can seem daunting, even for adults! So many different pieces move in different ways! Fear not! Anyone can learn to play chess. It is never to early or late in life for learning the game of chess. Encouraging high level thinking is critical at any stage in life.

how to play chess book cover - for absolute beginners
This book is great for beginning chess players.

How to Play Chess Book

This How to Play Chess book is a great way to learn the game, as well as to teach it to little ones!

Kids and adults alike can become chess masters in no time by following the simple steps in How to Play Chess for Absolute Beginners.

Steps to Learn Chess The Easy Way

Start to play chess - pawns only - picture of chess pieces showing just the pawns
These are the pawns!

1. Start the game off slowly, with Pawns only!

  1. Start with the easiest piece! Take turns moving one pawn forward, one space at a time. Then, let them “capture” one of your pawns, diagonally!
  2. Next, set the pieces up on the second row, as they would in a regular game, and teach that the very first move can be two spaces. But, only the first move of each pawn.
  3. Once the pawn is mastered, it’s time to add new pieces!
chess pieces pictured with the bishop and rook circled
The Bishop moves diagonally and the Rook moves in straight lines.

2. Introduce the Bishops and the Rooks

  1. So, your kid is beating you with only pawns, and you need to bring in other pieces. Been there! The next ones to introduce are the Bishop and the Rook! You can break this into two steps, if you need, and play with one at a time, alongside the pawns.
  2. Place these pieces in their positions on the board. The rooks go at either corner, behind the pawns of the same color. Skip one space, and then add the Bishops, between.
  3. Now you introduce these pieces movement! The Rook can go straight forwards, or backwards, and side to side. The Bishop can move diagonally.
  4. It helps my kids to see diagonally as the bishop can move to spaces of the same color, only. And then the rook has to change colors, each time, in the same direction.
  5. Play so that you try to be the last person with a piece on the board.
Chess pieces shown with the knights circled
The Knight is the hardest piece to learn!

3. Time for the Knight to join the Game!

  1. The knight’s movements can be complicated. It has to go two spaces in one direction, and then one space in a perpendicular direction. Take time with your child, and one knight on the board, to make as many connecting Ls as you can. The L-shape movement of the knight makes it as fun as it is troublesome to learn.
  2. Next, pick a spot on the board and have them try to get there, using different L shapes.
  3. After they get this, you’re almost ready for a full game! Play a few rounds with the Pawns, Rooks, Bishops, and Knights available.
Image of chess checkmate
Checkmate is the goal of Chess.

4. Teach Check and Checkmate

  1. With only four pawns per color, the two rooks, introduce the King and Queen. Reveal that the King is the target, and you must capture him. Using two simple pieces, the pawn and rook, makes it easy to now focus on the Queen, who can move in any straight line.
  2. Learning to use the queen, and not forget about the opponent’s queen, is crucial! Play several games, in this style. Learning that the King is always in danger helps to develop the skill of thinking ahead!

5. Turning a Pawn into a Queen

At this step, you can also teach that getting one pawn to the other side of the board will turn it into a queen! This game style makes it possible to have several queens on the board at one time without it being overwhelming.

two kids on the floor playing chess
My boys love to play Chess together, these days.

Finally: Play A Full Game of Chess!

It is time to bring it all together, now! Place all of the pieces on the board, and let the battle begin! Make sure to keep things fun and upbeat, and to leave opportunities for them to capture your pieces.

Remember, if your child wants to go back to playing without any of the more complicated pieces, like knights, that’s ok! They can always add those pieces back to their games when they are ready.

WikiHow has a really great guide to teaching kids to play Chess, if you would like more information!

What is the real Queen’s Gambit?

I am far from a master of chess. I have never been able to pull off a Queen’s Gambit, even against my kids! Check out this video that does a great job of explaining it.

The Best Chess Sets for Kids

Getting started with the right chess set really helps kids to get drawn in! That initial interest is key to building a lifelong love of Chess.

No Stress Chess set up showing box and set up chess board
Yes, there is No Stress Chess!

1. No Stress Chess Set

Grab your No Stress Chess Set and you can play instantly because the special game board guides you to set up your pieces and each card in the innovative deck shows you how to move the piece it pictures.

You just set the pieces on the board, shuffle the deck, and begin to play!

2. Family Fun Chess Set

Click here for more info on Family Fun Chess set. This color-coded, learn-as-you-play game is great for kids and adults!

What a fun way to learn chess together!

family fun chess set for the entire family including kids set up with instructions and pieces in image
Family fun at game night!
pink and purple travel chess set for kids
What colorful chess fun!

3. Easy Travel Chess Set for Kids

Click here to find out more!

The adorable kids chess pieces with their bright colors makes this set perfect for our littlest learners!

4. Iconic LEGO Chess Set for Kids

Click here to see more about the LEGO chess set.

This is LEGO chess set is such a fun option for kids who already love Legos! They can even insert their favorite minifigures in places of pieces, for extra fun!

LEGO Chess set for kids in box
LEGO chess set for kids!
outdoor chess set for families set up in backyard

5. Outdoor Giant Chess Lawn Game

Click here to see it on Amazon!

My kids always have so much more fun with giant things. Games and toys that seem too big, seem to hold their interest for so much longer! And being able to play chess out in the sunshine is an added perk!

This outdoor chess set is even bigger, but needs a space to be devoted to it. Definitely something I’ll consider if my kid’s are still playing chess, this time next year!

6. Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set

Bring the Wizarding World home to your family room with the officially licensed Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set.

Go head-to-head in the ultimate duel with this highly detailed miniature recreation of the Wizard Chess Set as seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry potter chess set for kids
Cool Harry Potter chess set!
Marvel themed chess set for kids
Marvel chess set for kids!

7. Marvel’s Avengers Chess Set

This Marvel Chess Set is just too cool!

S.H.I.E.L.D. side characters include Iron Man as King, Captain Marvel as Queen, Black Widow & Captain America as Bishops, Spider-Man & Black Panther as Knights, Hulk & Thor as Rooks, and S.H.I.E.L.D. as Pawns. HYDRA side characters include Thanos as King, Hella as Queen, Kingpin & Red Skull as Bishops, Killmonger & Venom as Knights, Loki & Ultron as Rooks, and HYDRA as Pawns.

8. Star Wars Chess Game Set for Kids

Click here to see it on Amazon!

 Featuring traditional chess game play, this edition includes pawns that are modeled after characters from the Star Wars universe. It includes those featured in the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Star wars chess set

Playing Chess Just Like In ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Learning to play chess doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time for your children to build their skills. That is the most important part, though.

Even more important than technical knowledge of how to play chess is the decision-making skills they are building.

Alongside that, chess builds crucial abilities to think ahead and make strategies. Even if they are not a prodigy, learning to play chess can change their life, forever.

More Games & Strategic Fun from Kids Activities Blog

Have you started learning chess with your kids? Do you have any tips on how to learn to play chess for beginners?

You Might Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *