How Chess and Math are Related… and How They are Not.
Chess and Math: Will I Be a Better Chess Player if I Know Math Better?
Chess is a game that can trace its origins back as far as the 6th century with the game as we know it beginning in the 13th century. Math goes even further back than that. There are examples of Math problems involving arithmetic, algebra, and geometry from 3000 BC. Chess and math are two things that each go back thousands of years but do they have any relation? Here we will examine the relationship between the two subjects and look at whether a better understanding of math will make you a better chess player.
General Connections Between Chess and Math
Math and chess have many connections in the way you have to think about each. They both require high order thinking, patience, planning, following rules and learning from mistakes. However, chess is not necessarily like blackjack where the game itself is inherently one big math problem. So, can knowing math better make you a better chess player?
Math and Chess Study
To answer that question, we can start by looking at a study done by researchers in Denmark called, “Your move: The effect of chess on mathematics test scores”. In this study, the researchers looked at the question the other way around asking, will learning chess help you better learn math? They replaced math lessons for students in Grades 1 – 3 with chess lessons and looked at the results. What they found is that chess lessons WILL help improve math scores as well as reduce boredom and unhappiness with math classes.
Specifically, they found that chess, “works with concepts as correlation, it uses the coordinate system, geometric concepts such as rows and columns (called ranks and files in chess), diagonals and orthogonal, and it requires continuous calculation. It also develops visual memory, attention span (concentration), spatial reasoning skills, the capacity to predict and anticipate consequences, critical thinking, self-confidence, self-respect, and problem-solving skills”.
Chess lessons will help improve math scores as well as reduce boredom and unhappiness with math classes.
Transfer of Abilities Between Chess and Math
There is a concept called transfer of abilities that states that the skills you pick up in one area of practice or study can be easily transferred to another. You see this concept applied a lot recently as one of the big reasons that young athletes should play more than one sport and not specialize until they get older. The reason for this is that the skills picked up in one sport will transfer to another and increase the rate at which players develop. For example, when you learn to box a defender out for a rebound in basketball it can help you to know how to get a better position on a player while going for a header in soccer.
There are varying thoughts on how much transfer of abilities there is between math and chess. On the one hand, math and the game of chess are more dissimilar than similar as far as the mechanics of each go. This would tend to say that there is not a lot of transfer between the two. On the other hand, to do both you must have many of the same general cognitive abilities. This implies that there, “may be a transfer of non-specific knowledge (i.e. problem-solving and flexible thinking)”. This is the big finding of the study, that the thinking behind both is similar enough that developing in one field can help you in the other.
Specific Mathematics Disciplines in Chess
There are some mathematical concepts that can help in the game of chess though, specifically, ones that come from geometry. There is the “rule of the square” which is a geometric concept that helps a player look moves ahead and understand what a piece can accomplish further into the game. There is also the “rule of Bahr”. This is a concept involving diagonal lines intersecting and again, helps players see the consequences of positioning and moves down the line.
Math and Computer Chess
Since the dawn of computers, the people who create and design those computers have looked for ways to program human-like thinking into the machines. One very famous way they have tried to do this is by creating computers that can play games against humans and chess has always been one of the preferred showcase games.
The most famous of these is IBM’s Deep Blue, which played World Champion Garry Kasparov in 1996 and 1997. In the first match, it took 2 games but Kasparov ultimately prevailed 4-2. In the rematch, the upgraded Deep Blue (sometimes known as Deeper Blue) won in a 3 ½ – 2 ½ victory. This computer used what is called an “exhaustive search” algorithm to calculate the many possible moves and outcomes on a chess board. As the math behind artificial intelligence has gotten more sophisticated the next generation of chess-playing machines such as Houdini, Rybka, Deep Fritz, and Deep Junior has become much faster and more efficient.
Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue
Here again, we see that with improved math, there is improvement around the edges but not necessarily with the strategy of chess. When Deep Fritz played world champion Vladimir Kramnik in 2006 it was able to evaluate 8 million positions per second! However, even with all that calculating power, it was still only able to beat Kramnik by a score of 4-2
Will a better understanding of math make you better at chess? The answer is probably yes, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Memorizing Pythagorean theorem or a certain algorithm will not automatically allow you to beat a chess Grandmaster or take down Deep Blue. What will happen though is that developing and improving the skills that it takes to be good at math will train your brain in a way that will allow you to transfer many of your math skills to the game of chess. So, next time you can’t find a friend for a good game of chess, pick up a Sudoku or balance your checkbook, it will help you next time you are going for checkmate!
Forward Chess is one of the best websites out there for chess e-books! Forward Chess features an impressive selection of hundreds of chess e-books for sale, and their e-reader app keeps your chess book collection at your fingertips, and takes them to a whole new, interactive level! Read on for our full review of all that Forward Chess has to offer.
What can the Forward Chess app do?
Forward Chess lets you browse, purchase, and read hundreds of high-quality chess e-books. E-books are a convenient (and eco-friendly) way to ensure your chess books are always close at hand – without having to carry paper copies around (or find the room at home to store!). Plus, any time you purchase an e-book, you receive it instantly – no extra shipping costs or waiting for delivery!
One of the best parts about the Forward Chess app is that you can actually practice playing chess on it. The “example” chess diagrams in many chess manuals are actually playable in the app! This allows you to explore alternate versions of the tactics suggested in the books, with any legal moves being fair game. This can be an exciting way to practice the exercises from workbook-style chess books – without a pen and paper or physical chess board! While this app is not designed to be a chess game in and of itself, there are a few workarounds in the software that you can implement to play a game of chess on it, if desired. It also includes Stockfish engine, which lets the app act as a powerful move analyzer.
You can access all of your Forward Chess e-books any time, from any supporting device, on their app. The Forward Chess app is free to download and works with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. The app itself comes with a few free samples to let you explore what it can do. All of your Forward Chess e-books sync to a “cloud,” allowing you to access them on multiple devices – even on different operating systems. For example, if you purchased an e-book on your Android phone, you can still read it on your iPad. You can download the Forward Chess app onto as many of your devices as you like.
Well-organized and user-friendly
The Forward Chess website and app are expertly designed to be easy to use and navigate. The e-book search feature allows you to filter by nearly any important specification, from price to part of the game (openings or endgames, for example). You can even search by publisher. You can also create folders to “shelve” your e-book collection by author, subject, playing level, or any other modifier, making it easy to quickly find the book you want.
You can also easily search inside each individual e-book in your collection. As with most e-books, each item in the table of contents is clickable, letting you jump right to that chapter or section. In the Android and iOS versions of the app, you can type and save your own study notes throughout the book. On the Andriod and iOS versions of the app, you can also create and name multiple bookmarks to place on important pages. Plus, the app will remember where you left off in any book you are reading, and the next time you open that book, your place will be waiting for you.
In addition to Forward Chess’s caring customer support team, their website also includes a detailed user’s guide and extensive FAQ section to guide you if you have questions about how to use any features.
An impressive selection of chess titles
Forward Chess currently lists over 300 chess e-books on their site, as well as issues of Chess Informant magazine. New titles are added every month, and there’s even a place on the Forward Chess website where you can request titles you’d like to see added.
Forward Chess has books for sale from a number of major publishers, including Mongoose Press, New in Chess, Quality Chess, Chess Informant, Chess Publishing, La Casa del Ajedrez, Chess Stars, Russell Enterprises, Metropolitan Chess, Chess Evolution, Russian Chess House, Thinkers Publishing, and many independent ones.
Forward Chess is a great place to find and read many of the titles from our own Best Chess Books List – including classics such as The Agile London System by Alfonso Romero and Oscar de Prado, The Woodpecker Method by Axel Smith and Hans Tikkanen, and Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, just to name a few! We invite you to read through our list and buyer’s guide to help you figure out which chess book is right for you and your current playing level. We’ve also included reviews of the best books for each skill level and phase of the game.
Two complete books are included as free downloads with the app: On Life and Chess by GM Sergey Shipov, and GM Lluis Comas Fabrego’s True Lies in Chess. You can also access free previews of the other chess books Forward Chess sells. Most titles tend to cost within the $1.99 – $19.99 range. Every month, Forward Chess sells different selected titles at a discount, and you can find out which ones in Forward Chess’s monthly newsletter as well as on their facebook and twitter social media pages.
Our Final Thoughts
We highly recommend Forward Chess for their excellent e-book selection, user-friendly interface, and the uniquely interactive way this app allows you to practice the exercises in your e-books as you go! We think e-books are a great resource for learning more about chess. You can bring your entire collection everywhere you go, and with this app, you can practice on the go, too. Forward Chess has everything you need to get the most out of your chess e-books no matter where you are!
We’ve reviewed the best chess books out there, and we’ll help you figure out which ones you need to read!
The Best Chess Books in Every Category – Which One is Best for You?
There are thousands of chess books currently on the market, making it impossible to tell which are guaranteed to be the very best chess books ever written. However, we have read and reviewed a huge number of chess books, across many different categories, and geared toward all the different playing levels. From these, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite chess books and some enduring classics that we think all chess players should know about. We’ll explain what makes each of these books stand out, what level of players they are appropriate for, and why we feel you should read them.
We’ve also put together a Chess Books Buyer’s Guide to help our readers figure out how to select the best chess books for their individual needs. We aim to make the chess book selection process simple so you can save your mental effort for the work of improving your chess game!
List of Our Favorite Chess Books:
The Best Chess Books for Beginners
When you’re brand-new to playing chess, the right learning materials can help you develop your skills quickly and effectively. These books are a great place to start!
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
This classic chess book is an essential read for any new player. Written by chess master Stuart Margulies and Donn Mosenfelder, an educational specialist and publisher, with input from the legendary chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess is essentially a highly effective chess course in book form. This book teaches via the “programmed learning” method, which Margulies is an expert in. You’ll be met with questions and chess puzzles that build upon each other as you go. And you’ll need to reach the correct answer before you can progress to each next level. Originally published in 1966, this is the best-selling chess book of all time and continues to be popular today.
Jeremy Silman’s classic chess book is now in its 4th edition, which has been re-written and is full of all-new examples. This book goes into the psychological processes of chess play and gives easy-to-implement advice on overcoming common blocks. How to Reassess Your Chess also gives a lot of attention to understanding and working around “imbalances” – the differences between your position and your opponent’s. This book may be loaded with detailed information (including assessments of hundreds of games), but it’s written in a manner that’s entertaining as well as easy to follow. This book is perfect for players in the 1400 – 2100 rating range.
One of the most beloved classic chess books ever written. Logical Chess: Move by Move will help any beginning chess player take their learning to the next level. Irving Chernev, one of the highest-regarded chess book authors in the world, takes you in this book through 33 chess games. For each game, Chernev explains in great detail the thought process behind each move taken. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the best use for each piece, and become better at planning your moves and assessing your opponent’s potential motives during gameplay.
Your first moves can potentially make or break your entire chess game. Fortunately, some excellent books have been written to help you craft a strong opening.
The Agile London System
The Agile London System is a comprehensive guide to the London System strategy for playing with the white pieces. The London System has been used by world champion Magnus Carlsen, as well as many grandmasters, including Alexander Grischuk, Baadur Jobava, Gata Kamsky, and Richard Rappaport, This chess book was written by grandmaster Alfonso Romero and FIDE master Oscar de Prado and they provide an engaging, easy-to-follow explanation of how to carry out a number of tactics and attacks – and what to expect from the black pieces in response. This book can be of use to any chess player interested in the London System, from beginner to advanced.
This remarkable book teaches excellent opening strategies for white and black pieces. Grandmaster and former senior world champion Larry Kaufman walks you through a repertoire with explanations of “what makes sense and why” instead of venturing into complicated theory. The Kaufman Repertoire is a follow-up to his original chess book, The Chess Advantage in Black and White but contains an entirely new repertoire of moves and strategies that even a beginner can learn to implement with confidence, thanks to Kaufman’s “common sense” approach to teaching chess.
This book, as the name suggests, gives an in-depth look at the opening sequence known as the Berlin Wall (also the Ruy Lopez). This particular opening sequence is tailored to work best for the black pieces. Written by John Cox, an international master from London, this book gives a thorough look at every move of this opening. The goal of this book is not for you to memorize the moves and theory behind them, but instead for you to understand the “whys” of the sequence so well, that playing it will make natural sense to you in a game.
Developing a sense of middlegame tactics and strategy can be overwhelming at times. These chess books provide a dose of inspiration and practical exercises to help you master the middlegame.
This book has long been regarded as absolutely essential to any serious chess player’s education. My System was written by acclaimed author Aron Nimzowitsch, who was one of the highest ranked chess players of the 1920s -1930s. This classic chess book was originally published in Germany in 1925. In its 1947 English translation, some the original essence of Nimzowitsch’s bitingly witty writing was lost. This newest edition restores the spirit of the original version and continues to be an invaluable chess strategy guide. This book delves into some deeper aspects of chess theory and is most appropriate for advanced chess players.
Authors Axel Smith and Hans Tikkanen share their unique and effective chess strategy, the Woodpecker Method, in this interesting tactic book by the same name. This method will help players improve their intuition, tactical vision, and ability to think on their feet in challenging scenarios. The simplified description of this method is that first, you solve a large number of chess puzzles and then must solve the same puzzles over and over again. It’s more challenging than it may appear on the surface! This book includes over 1100 puzzles to practice with. The puzzles progress from “easy” to “advanced” with the majority of exercises falling in the “intermediate” category.
This excellent chess book was written to fill the gap that trainer Martin Weteschnik kept seeing in his students’ tactical chess play. Weteschnik was dissatisfied with the results his students were getting with puzzle-based learning programs and wrote his book to help them overcome their weak spots. Despite the excellent reviews it received, Weteschnik was still dissatisfied with the first edition and completely re-wrote and re-structured the book. The current version is even better than the first and in addition to top-notch descriptions of when and why to use each tactic, it includes puzzles to practice application of the tactics. Chess Tactics From Scratch is recommended primarily for players ranging from “advanced beginner” to intermediate.
This eye-opening middlegame book by grandmaster Ivan Sokolov focuses on the often overlooked importance of pawn structures. Winning Chess Middlegames covers a lot of ground. In addition to detailed yet accessible explanations of the four basic pawn structures, this tactic book helps players develop their own personal play style, learn how to quickly assess structures during a game, and discusses winning opening strategies. Sokolov included many inside stories about top-level chess players (himself included) providing objective and honest insight on where even their strategies could be improved upon. This book gives you nearly everything any player needs to develop their own sold middlegame strategy.
This excellent book takes advanced strategies and tactics and breaks them down in a way that’s accessible even for beginner-level players. Winning Chess Tactics is the second book in a series of chess books by Yasser Seirawan. This particular volume starts out with an analysis of a variety of basic-to-advanced chess tactics and how to use them – separately or in combination. The second half of the book gives real-life examples of the tactics at work, taken directly from the games of other highly-skilled chess players. Seirawan’s accessible writing and teaching style will help even newer players confidently and successfully navigate the middlegame.
This award-winning chess book by international master and seasoned chess coach Herman Grooten is the perfect middlegame book for beginners. The techniques shared in this book are largely inspired by those of Wilhelm Steinitz, the first world champion, which Grooten has managed to skillfully update and expand upon. Chess Strategy for Club Players gives a thorough explanation of each of the basic elements of positioning, from pawn structure to king safety, and each chapter closes with highly effective practice exercises. Grooten also teaches what to do when the basic principles you’ve learned seem to conflict – something that not all chess books cover!
Techniques of Positional Play is an updated version of a classic Russian chess book that answers questions players might not have even realized they had! Authors Valeri Bronznik and Anatoli Terekhin don’t go overdo the theoretical explanations of the tactics they offer. The result is a concise and highly readable book that clearly outlines how to implement 45 specific chess skills. This book also features a section full of training exercises to help cement these new skills in your mind. This book is appropriate for beginners but contains nuggets of wisdom that will also serve intermediate and advanced players.
This classic chess book is an essential read for anyone (at any playing level) learning how to calculate their moves in advance. In this latest edition of The Inner Game of Chess, grandmaster Andrew Soltis gives clear insight into exactly how to assess your current position and use that information to plan and visualize your next moves, as well as when to stop looking. One of the best things about this middlegame book is that Soltis covers the common blocks and problems that players run into when trying to visualize their future moves, and gives useable techniques to overcome them.
Despite its importance, many players struggle with the endgame. These books will ensure you know how to close the game as effectively as you set it up!
Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual
Mark Dvoretsky has a reputation as one of the best world-class chess instructors in the world and his Endgame Manual gives a shining example as to why. This remarkable chess book delves deeply into endgame theory, making it a highly worthwhile read for advanced players. But this book is also beginner-friendly! The basic theory overviews and many must-know facts and pieces of advice are highlighted throughout the book in blue text. This classic chess book, now in its 4th edition, is worth any player’s time, from beginner through master-level.
This fantastic manual gives players of all skill levels the knowledge they need to confidently navigate endgames. International grandmaster, former champion of Spain, and renowned chess coach Jesus de la Villa shares these concepts in a way that is engaging to read, easy to understand, and easy to remember. This book gives examples of how to play through 100 typical endgame scenarios. The author’s primary objective is for readers to walk away remembering why each move is recommended, rather than simply memorizing a “script.” This book also includes activities and tests to help you practice the material.
In this book, acclaimed chess book author and international master Jeremy Silman demystifies the often-misunderstood endgame. Silman has a gift for understanding how the mind of an amateur chess player works, and how to explain chess concepts so that the reasoning behind them sinks in. This book is a highly recommended read for all chess players of all levels. Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is broken into sections for each level, from beginner to advanced. The book ends with an overview of endgame tactics that anyone can use, and an interesting look at the strategies of five of the greatest all-time endgame players.
The Chess Website is a unique platform designed to cater to both the beginning chess enthusiast and the seasoned player. It offers an extensive database of educational chess information, much of which is actually created by members, for members. We haven’t seen anything quite like The Chess Website in the chess world, so we’re excited to dive right in and take a closer look for this review.
What Is The Chess Website?
The Chess Website is a platform for learning and practicing chess online. It can help you at any stage in your chess game, from absolute beginner to strong player. If you stick with it long enough, you may even see yourself transform from beginner to expert!
Through its modern and user-friendly interface, The Chess Website delivers high quality, educational chess tools directly to your computer. Much of this content is free to anyone with an internet connection. When you visit The Chess Website, you can immediately get started learning about the basics of chess, openings, end games, chess strategy, traps, and even solving a few chess puzzles or studying some famous games.
An impressive amount of these lessons are available for free to anyone who wants them, with only a few being held back for members only. You can really learn a lot from The Chess Website without spending a dime, though there may come a time down the line when you’ve advanced past all of their free content and want to buy a membership to learn the more advanced concepts.
We really like this “freemium” business model for The Chess Website. You can actually learn a ton of great information from the free lessons they generously offer. The free version of the site actually offers a lot of value to beginning and intermediate players, rather than hiding all of the “good stuff” behind the paywall.
With this amount of free content available, you can not only learn a lot about chess, but also about The Chess Website. Working your way through its free lessons will give you a really good feel for the product and help you determine if you want to spend the money for a membership.
Who Is The Chess Website For?
Since it does offer so much free content, The Chess Website could be good for anyone. You never know when you’re going to stumble across a new strategy or trap that you hadn’t heard of before! That being said, it’s free content is most suitable for beginner and intermediate players, simply because they have more to learn than a more experienced player!
If you do want to spring for the membership option, The Chess Website could be a great fit for someone who can’t necessarily afford a personal chess coach or enroll in a chess school. It’s also a great option for people who want to learn to strengthen their chess game, but do it at their own pace.
If you work unpredictable hours, take care of children, or just don’t have time to get out of the house once a week or so for chess lessons, The Chess Website is a great option because all of the learning takes place online, on your schedule. You can do it in 10-minute bursts at the breakfast table while you’re still in your pajamas, or go through a lesson or two on your lunch break. Whatever works for you!
Membership Costs and Benefits
Let’s talk about the actual costs of membership to The Chess Website and what you’re getting for that price. Right now, there is one membership tier which costs either $7 per month or $50 billed annually, which is a savings of about 40% over the monthly version. That’s not too bad. For less than the price of your Netflix subscription, you could spend your spare time doing something that actually sharpens your mind rather than melts it away!
But what does that price get you?
Well, as a member, you have access to ALL of the content on The Chess Website, not just most of it. Members can partake in exclusive members-only videos, puzzles, and practices, with more new content being added all the time.
Members also have access to The Chess Website’s exclusive chess analysis software and tournament analysis that can tell you your next move and help you find areas of your chess game to improve.
Other Projects from the Minds Behind The Chess Website
Kevin Butler, the mind behind The Chess Website
The brains behind The Chess Website and all of its great content have also created a website dedicated to helping you learn math. If you want to learn even more great skills, head over to themathworld.com.
You can choose from a variety of subjects including pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and calculus, so just about anything you need to learn should be covered. It’s a great tool for supplementing what you’re learning in school or brushing up on what you may have forgotten since your school days!
Our Final Thoughts on The Chess Website
We think The Chess Website is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about chess. Whether you’re a beginner or an already strong player, you’re bound to find something there that will strengthen your game.
The amount of free content that they offer is impressive, and it is information that players will actually find useful, not just regurgitated rules and basics. Full membership is also quite affordable and offers a great value as well, so we definitely recommend becoming a member after you’ve worked your way through all the free content!
Just a note to leave you with – we think big things are coming to The Chess Website pretty soon, with even more robust features just around the corner. This may cause the cost of membership to go up, but existing members will be grandfathered in at the old rate, so if you’re interested, don’t wait!
Have you ever wanted to strengthen your chess game, but found yourself lacking the time, energy, or money to do anything about it? Do you look at the shelves and shelves of different chess books and software, unable to decide which ones are worth your while? Have you ever looked for a qualified chess coach in your area only to come up empty handed? Worse yet, have you ever actually gone through with a lesson plan, only to find yourself forgetting what you learned? If any of those things have happened to you, you might be excited to try out Chessable.
What Is Chessable?
Chessable is a new online learning platform that lets you deepen your knowledge of chess from anywhere with an internet connection. You could be studying opening moves at home in your pajamas or learning new endgame strategies at the airport terminal in between connections. Wherever you are, Chessable will be there for you, without the need to schedule a meeting with a busy chess coach or lug along bulky books or software during your travels.
How to master chess openings using Chessable - YouTube
This incredible program actually began as a private tool made by David Tenemaza Kramaley, one of the co-founders and CEO of the Chessable company. He used it to teach himself a variety of chess openings in a more efficient way than they were usually taught. Seeing how well this initial version of the program worked, he knew he was on to something and built a team to turn a simple, private learning tool into a powerful public product, Chessable.
The Chessable Team
That team began with IM John Bartholomew, a full time professional chess coach and current Chessable CCO and co-founder, and gradually grew to include more than 10 team members in total.
David Tenemaza Kramaley and IM John Bartholomew
All of these people have dedicated their time and energy to working together to make Chessable a great product. Their effort and dedication really shines through in the finished product!
How Does Chessable Work?
Chessable works better than any other educational chess book or software on the market because it harnesses the psychological power of gamification and it is built upon powerful algorithms that keep you coming back to new ideas at the optimal intervals to make sure you learn them for good rather than just forgetting them after the first lesson.
The Power of Video Games, Harnessed for Your Benefit
The first secret to its success, gamification, may sound a little silly at first if you aren’t familiar with the term, but it is actually rooted in a deep understanding of human psychology. What it basically means is making the process of learning a bit more like a game. It draws on video game design and certain game elements that are so effective at keeping people coming back for more, and translates them into an educational tool. This method stays true to old wisdom that says learning should be fun, but it also taps into new science that shows us exactly why that approach works so well.
Researchers are now finding more and more concrete evidence on the link between dopamine release in the brain and improved learning.
Researchers are now finding more and more concrete evidence on the link between dopamine release in the brain and improved learning. As you probably know, dopamine is released in response to certain stimuli, and produces an uplifting effect in the brain. Pinpointing these stimuli isn’t always easy, but video game developers have been able to root out many of them through trial and error over the last several decades of developing games that people want to play and keep playing. Now, educators can benefit from that knowledge by implementing dopamine inducing triggers like rewards, points, badges, titles, and other similar elements into their lessons. This is exactly what Chessable is doing, and it really works!
Algorithmic Reminders at Just the Right Moment
The second piece of what makes Chessable so effective is its unique algorithms that keep the knowledge you’ve gained fresh in your mind by cycling through it at just the right interval. The science behind this method is really nothing new. It began in the 19th century, when Hermann Ebbinghaus thoroughly tested it and became an early pioneer of the spaced repetition method.
The basic theory is that, to learn efficiently and retain that knowledge, you should review what you know not on a regular basis, but in a series of increasingly spaced out intervals. Now, this can be a difficult method to implement, since it requires a lot of dedication and, more importantly, organization! Keeping track of exactly what you learned when and calculating the next optimal interval is a lot to stay on top of. Luckily, Chessable handles all of that for you!
All of the intervals are handled by a specialized algorithm that keeps things running smoothly. As you go about your lessons on Chessable, you will periodically be prompted to review certain things that you’ve learned before. If you demonstrate that your knowledge is still fresh as a daisy, you won’t see questions on that topic until the next meticulously calculated interval. If you get a few questions wrong, though, the algorithm will know that you need a little refresher on that particular material and bring it up more frequently. This way, not only do you learn new information in the most efficient way possible, but you also retain it almost perfectly!
Spaced repetition in learning theory - YouTube
These are just two of the cutting edge, science-based learning methods that make Chessable so great. The program also takes advantage of additional psychological phenomena like the testing effect, which shows that testing improves learning even when you don’t answer correctly, and the enactment effect, which proves that you can learn well by imitation even when you don’t fully understand what you’re doing, but gamification and spaced repetition are the two things that we think have the biggest impact on learning and knowledge retention in this program.
What Can I Learn with Chessable?
Chessable began as a way to efficiently learn chess’s many and varied openings, but now it’s expanded and become so much more than that. Chessable has a large and always expanding library of lessons on different topics from openings to endings, and everything in between. You can also take lessons on certain strategies and tactics you’re specifically interested in, or more general lessons that give you a wider view of the game.
There are lessons available from FIDE titled players, from traditional chess publishers, and even from members of the Chessable community! There are lessons available for all levels of player, from absolute beginner to advanced, and even the casual player who wants to learn a bit more without too much of a time commitment.
There are even a few free lesson packs available so that you can try out the Chessable format and see if it works for you before you invest money in a course.
Chessable’s course database is being updated and expanded all the time, so even if you don’t see anything that captures your interest right now, if you check back frequently, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for sooner or later!
Our Final Thoughts on Chessable
There are thousands upon thousands of educational chess resources available out there, from books to software to coaches, and even many online learning platforms. However, the way that Chessable integrates the most cutting edge developments in educational science research into its lessons is extremely unique.
The gamification that makes the original learning process so much fun, along with the spaced repetition that keeps all that you’ve learned fresh in your mind really set Chessable apart from the rest of the pack. These are things that you may get from the best of the best chess coaches out there, but no chess book or simple software can offer it. Chessable’s algorithms make this efficient learning system available to anyone with an internet connection, and it comes at a much more affordable price than lessons from a top-quality chess coach!
With Chessable, you’ll learn the same techniques in a fraction of the time and retain that knowledge for longer, which will not only give you a better learning experience, but actually save you money in the long run! Whereas a chess coach will charge you for every lesson, once you pay for a course on Chessable, you can go back and revisit its lessons any time you like!
In addition to the savings of time and money, Chessable offers one more thing that traditional chess educational materials can’t match, and that’s access to an online community of other chess players! When you take a course on Chessable, you can converse with other players who have also taken that same course to discuss the lessons or just socialize. With all of these unique features you can’t find anywhere else, why wouldn’t you give Chessable a try?
A true labor of love for a Mayor in South Florida, The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess has seen an outpouring of community support as it has brought the game of chess into local public schools, libraries, and other social centers.
One of the things that sets the Sunrise Chess Center apart from many other chess programs is that (thanks to generous funding) all of their classes, including chess teacher instruction with two of America’s greatest chess coaches, are completely free of charge!
Michael J. Ryan
Michael (Mike) Ryan, a former PTA leader and parent himself, knew how beneficial learning chess is for developing critical thinking skills of children, as well as improving academic performance in other areas. Ryan and his staff paired up with the Broward County School Board to secure funding and bring chess education to Sunrise’s children.
In 2011, the Sunrise Chess Challenge was born, and an after-school chess club was established at each of the 11 public schools in Sunrise. Mayor Ryan donated 220 chess sets to the program, ensuring that each club would be well-equipped.
The “First Move” Program was launched in the 2013-14 school year, with a grant from AF4C (America’s Federation for Chess) and Sunrise’s own Police Department. That first year, the program brought chess education to all 40 second and third-grade classrooms in 3 out of the 8 elementary schools in Sunrise.
The program received an outpouring of community support and expanded the following year to include all 1,800 second and third-grade classrooms in Broward County – over 30,000 students!
In 2014, the City of Sunrise began a partnership with the National Scholastic Chess Foundation (the NSCF), a New York-based chess education non-profit, to expand the chess initiative beyond early elementary schools and provide instruction and recreational activities for older students and adults. For their first event together, they invited Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura to come to Sunrise where he was presented the Key to the City and dropped the puck to open a Florida Panthers hockey game. Enjoying the reception, soon afterwards Nakamura found a real estate agent and now calls Sunrise his home. The Florida Panthers Foundation later stepped up as well providing a $25,000 grant to help grow the chess program.
In November 2016, the City Commission agreed to provide funding to establish the Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess. The Center’s goals include, of course, continuing and building upon their successes so far, providing events, training, and new programs, as well as establishing Sunrise as a leader in the world of scholastic chess.
Mayor Ryan has also created the “Municipal Template for Chess Initiatives,” a roadmap for the other cities of Broward County to easily implement the same types of programs that have been so successful in Sunrise.
The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess was actually born of an initiative to train chess teachers. The NSCF, City of Sunrise, and Broward Education Foundation teamed up to create The Next Move Chess Initiative.
The goal of this initiative is to improve educational outcomes for Broward County schoolchildren, through teaching them the game of chess.
Sunil Weeramantry with a special guest, Hikaru Nakamura, during a teacher training workshop.
Demystifying Chess Workshops
Chess teachers are trained in a series of up to 3 full-day workshop classes designed by NSCF. After completion of the training, NSCF certification is available upon passing an online exam.
These workshops focus on the key concepts of the game. Just the first workshop alone gives even people who have never played chess before the ability to teach the game to others, at all grade levels!
So far, over 500 teachers (and other professionals working with children) have completed at least the first workshop. And over the last two years, 1,000 children have received chess instruction through the Sunrise Chess Center’s summer programs alone!
The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess is fortunate enough to have two acclaimed chess Masters leading their teacher training program!
A FIDE Master, with over 40 years of experience, Sunil Weeramantry, founder of the NSCF (National Scholastic Chess Foundation), has made a huge impact on thousands of chess students all over the United States!
Sunil’s impressive accomplishments include the creation of comprehensive chess curriculum for a school for the gifted and talented in Manhattan in 1979, and for an elite all-girls’ school in Greenwich, CT, in the more recent past.
For seven years, Weeramantry also served as director of a chess program at Jr. High School 45, in the Bronx. This program served as an impressive example, not only of training award-winning chess players but also enhancing their lives and character development through chess-related community involvement.
A FIDE Master, with over 40 years of experience.
In addition to a great many other accolades, Weeramantry is an author, a two-time winner of the New York State Chess Championship, and renowned as one of the top chess coaches in the United States.
National Chess Master Bill Cornwall worked with Sunil Weeramantry to train new chess teachers for the Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess, who have gone on to use their training to enhance the lives of thousands of children in the Sunrise, FL area!
An award-winning chess columnist for the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Bill first fell in love with the game at age 8. In his teens, he frequently won championships – including the Florida Chess Championship, World Open, and National Open. He created and ran a great number of tournaments and competitions in South Florida, as well as working as an Assistant Director for the Closed U.S. Championship and the U.S. Closed Women’s Championship
Programs Available at Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess:
Open Play Chess
Every Saturday morning, from 10 AM – 12 PM, The Sunrise Chess Center hosts a free open play chess session. This event is open to all ages and all skill levels – including those who are brand-new to chess.
Teacher/mentors Robert McKenzie,FM Ramon Lorente Pupo, WFM Amelia Hernandez, and Chris Goldthorpe offer small group chess lessons – also at no charge – during this event.
The open play chess event is open to all ages and all skill levels
Open Play Chess is held in the lobby of the Sunrise Civic Center Theatre, located at 10610 West Oakland Park Blvd.
Open Play Chess also happens every Tuesday evening on the city’s east-side, at the Village Multi-purpose Center, led by the Center’s program coordinator, Mourice Hylton.
Tuesday Chess Class for Kids
The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess offers a formal 8-week chess class for students in grades 4 – 12. Classes are free but do require registration and commitment to attend all eight sessions.
These classes are held on Tuesday evenings, from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at The Dan Pearl/Sunrise Branch Library at 10500 Oakland Park Drive.
Mayor’s Chess Challenge
This fun, free, open-play chess event was the brainchild of Sunrise Mayor Michael Ryan. Since the 2018-19 school year, community leaders and elected officials from all over Broward County have been regularly coming together to mingle and play chess with citizens of all skill levels, novice to pro.
Instructors are on hand to help newcomers, and each participant gets a “Mayor’s Chess Challenge Passport” to log their participation over the course of the school year.
“Champions of Chess” Tournament
Since 2012, Sunrise Chess Center has hosted an annual tournament for elementary, middle, and high school players from the City of Sunrise – and has now expanded to include players from neighboring cities. The Center also produces three other free tournaments for older elementary through high school students throughout the school year.
Juvenile Detention Programs
Another influential project Sunrise Chess Center has taken on is bringing the benefits of chess to inmates in two juvenile detention centers (Broward Youth Treatment Center and Pompano Beach Youth Treatment Center). An additional program for young men on probation was also initiated in 2018.
Chess in Broward County - YouTube
Our Final Thoughts on Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess
We are thrilled to see how successful Mayor Ryan’s vision has been, making the game of chess accessible not only to all schoolchildren in Sunrise but to the entire community! We are looking forward to seeing their continued growth and future impact on Sunrise and its surrounding cities!
Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess website: Sunrisechesscenter.org
Phone: (754) 229-5901
Address: 12712 Sunrise Blvd, #140
Sunrise, FL 33323
Braille and Beyond – Exploring the World of Chess for Blind Players
Blind and visually impaired chess players have a much stronger presence in the international chess world than many may realize!
Playing chess without the use of one’s eyes requires being able to “see” the layout of a chess game in the mind. In reality, this isn’t dramatically different than the way sighted people play chess. Sighted people are simply used to the extra visual input of seeing the board laid out before them.
Support for Blind Chess Players
Support, education, and chess-based community for blind players are readily available from national-level Braille Chess Associations in a number of countries across the world. These associations offer chess lessons, access to Braille learning material and chess sets, as well as chess tournaments specifically for blind and visually impaired players.
Playing chess without the use of one’s eyes requires being able to “see” the layout of a chess game in the mind.
The FIDE-affiliated International Braille Chess Association’s (IBCA) influence reaches across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. FIDE has also established a few guidelines for anyone playing a tournament game against someone who is blind.
● Both players must announce their moves aloud
● “Talking” chess clocks must be used to ensure fair timekeeping
● Tape recorders may be used instead of traditional scorecards, so that the blind player may keep a record for future analysis.
Two of the larger national-level Braille chess associations are The Braille Chess Association of the United Kingdom and the United States Braille Chess Associaition.
The BCA offers a wealth of materials and resources, hosts tournaments, and also encourages blind players to participate in non-blind chess events and competitions.
BCA membership fees are as follows:
1 year: £10.00
5 years: £20.00
Lifetime membership: £50.00
Membership for blind UK residents under age 18, and for visually impaired UK residents under age 25 is free!
BCA members may have the opportunity to play in BCA-run events as well as to represent the association in other events all over the world. Members are also granted access to a number of other resources.
BCA Resources and Materials for Members
● A subscription to the BCA’s newsletter, The Gazette, as well as any supplemental publications
● Access to a library of e-books and audiobooks about chess. The audio materials are available in a few formats, cassette, compact disc, or mp3.
● BCA Shop discounts. The BCA operates a small online shop, selling tactile chess sets and talking chess clocks at a discount for members (limit one set per member, due to limited quantity). They also sell polo shirts and tote bags (that are the perfect size for a small chess set and a chess clock) with the BCA logo.
Polo shirts and tote bags with the BCA logo.
For inquiries about membership, or to make a donation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among other perks, members are eligible to participate in casual chess games with other members, as well as in the association’s tournaments (both via correspondence and in real-time). The US BCA keeps an active rating list, where all members can track their personal ratings.
Resources and Materials for US BCA Members
● Quarterly magazine “Challenger” published by the US BCA, delivered via email
● Access to an extensive library of chess books in Braille, as well as materials available on cassette and compact disc.
● US BCA Vice President Jim Thoune shares his 40+ years of chess experience with members in a weekly online class. These classes are held in the “Chess Castle” chat room on a website called Out of Sight, on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. EST.
● For those who are brand new to playing chess, The Hadley School for the Blind offers two free online courses to get you up to speed. An amazing perk of this course is that it includes a free adaptive chess set, and an opportunity to join US BCA for free upon completion!
● Ability to play chess games (both friendly and competitive) with other members via email correspondence or in real-time via Skype.
For questions about membership or to donate to the USBCA, send an email to email@example.com.
Chess Products for the Blind
There are a few products on the market today specifically designed with blind chess players in mind.
Braille (Tactile) Chess Sets
A few small tweaks to a traditional chess set can make gameplay easily accessible to the blind, and these are generally available at a reasonable cost.
These “tactile” chess sets, as they are called, have a few distinctive features:
● A sharp contrast between black and white spaces, often with all spaces of one color raised a few millimeters above those of the other.
● All pieces of one color will have a distinctive marking on the head (e.g. raised bumps or a metal pin) for easy differentiation.
● All pieces have a peg at the bottom, which inserts into a small hole on each square on the board.
Some blind-friendly chess sets are also made with magnetic pieces instead of pegged. These sets will often be smaller and also function well as travel chess sets.
Talking Chess Clocks
These chess clocks still feature a digital display, but there are headphone jacks for each blind player to be able to hear how much time is left or whose move it is. These clocks are designed so that they could be set and used without the help of a sighted person.
Braille Chess Books
A great many books about chess have been translated into Braille or recorded in audiobook format. Getting in touch with your country’s Braille Chess Association is one of the easiest ways to get access to these titles – all in one place, too!
Accessible Chess Software
Playing chess to your heart’s content on a computer is an option for blind players on several different online platforms!
Use of the world-renowned “International Chess Club” site, ChessClub.com, is still an option for visually impaired players with the simple download of a plug-in called “Blitz-in Speak Move.”
BG Chess Challenge is a totally free program, in which you can specifically select blind, visually impaired, or sighted modes of play. This program also includes features like “hint” and a gameplay tutorial, making it a great choice for newcomers to the game.
Other online platforms that are reasonably easy for blind players to use include:
● Winboard 4.5.2 for Jaws
● KChess Elite
Blindfold chess is a challenging version of the game that ups the ante on multitasking and memory skills. One of the interesting things about blindfold chess is that it allows full chess games to be played without any visual input – which may place some high-ranking blind chess players at a learning-curve advantage over sighted players when learning this version of the game!
Blindfold chess is a challenging version of the game that ups the ante on multitasking and memory skills.
As the name suggests, blindfold chess is played without being allowed to look at the pieces (though in most cases the players simply face away from the board – wearing an actual blindfold is not a rule).
The other catch to this game? It’s not just one game! In blindfold chess, multiple chess games are being played against multiple players simultaneously – and no one is allowed to look at the board.
Accounts of blindfold chess games go back over 1,000 years! The world record for most simultaneous blindfold chess games played is currently held by the American Grandmaster Timur Gareyev.
In December 2016, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Gareyev played 48 games over the course of just under 19 hours – electing to wear an actual blindfold for the experience. Of these games, he won 35, drew 7, and lost only 6.
Gareyev goes by the (well-earned!) nickname “Blindfold King” and publishes a monthly newsletter about his adventures, in chess and otherwise.
Timur Gareyev during his blindfold chess game in Las Vegas, where he set the world record in 2016.
Blind Chess Master Albert Sandrin
Albert Sandrin (1923-2004) was perhaps the best-known blind person to have achieved the rank of Chess Master. Since childhood, Sandrin had a vision impairment, which worsened to the point of total blindness by 1968 – at which time he was the top-rated player on the US Braille Chess Team. Already at near-total blindness, Sandrin won the US Open in 1949. He also placed second in 1952 and won the Illinois State Championship in 1944. In 1958, when the International Braille Chess Association was founded, Sandrin played (and won!) many championships, representing the United States.
Our Final Thoughts:
We feel that chess is a game that nearly anyone can benefit from learning and playing. It’s very exciting to see how many resources there now are to make chess accessible to so many blind and visually impaired players! We admire and support the collective mission of the Braille chess associations worldwide that have made this a reality.
The First Move foundation provides educational chess lessons to school children all over the country, but it’s not a chess school. It actually operates no brick and mortar locations of its own, and the majority of its business is done online. The children benefiting from its program are taught by different coaches and teachers in school districts all over. How can this be? It’s all made possible by First Move’s unique business model.
First Move – A Unique Model for a Unique Mission
Unlike a typical chess school, First Move doesn’t concern itself with teaching its students directly – instead, it focuses on teaching the teachers! The First Move program is designed to enable educators, teachers, and coaches with no prior chess experience to teach chess confidently in their classrooms. You don’t need any chess knowledge whatsoever to implement the program, it works the same whether you’re a Grandmaster or you’ve never seen a chess set before in your life. When you put it like that, it almost sounds too good to be true!
The First Move program is designed to enable educators, teachers, and coaches with no prior chess experience to teach chess confidently in their classrooms.
Who Educates the Educators?
First Move does, of course! Their programs are designed to be implemented in a classroom or after school setting. It can be implemented in almost any educational environment, from the public school classroom to an extracurricular after school setting, or even in a homeschooling program. Wherever you have the impulse to use it, it can probably be utilized!
Each lesson follows the same basic structure – the children watch an instructional video in which The Chess Lady, the cartoon mascot of First Move, walks them through the subject of the day. After the lesson, they’ll have exercises to complete in each of their workshops, and after that it’s time to play! Each exercise may seem difficult at first, to both the student and even the teacher, but as long as the student follows the given instructions, they will succeed. This built-in success keeps children motivated and builds their confidence, along with their skills, with each win.
First Move students at Embassy Creek Elementary
The consistency of the three-part system used in each lesson allows the students to know what to expect from each lesson, making it that much easier to digest. It also helps the teachers by supplying all of the education the students will need. While the teacher will be on hand to guide the learning experience and answer any questions, they don’t need to supply the actual lessons or lesson plans, which cuts down on their workload while still providing a top quality education experience to students. That’s a win-win!
Student Experience with First Move
The First Move lessons are optimized for group learning in virtually any environment. In the classroom, at a church group, after school, or even in a group homeschooling environment, these lessons will guide students of all skill levels through the key concepts each week, with no one being left behind.
That being said, the lessons are quite uniform, and they don’t leave much room for individualization. This program provides a good baseline chess education, as well as broader benefits such as cross curricular elements, critical thinking development, and fostering creativity.
First Move chess lessons provide a fun way to learn with others, but students who take to chess keenly may get ahead of the class. In that case, it may be beneficial to the child to be enrolled in more traditional chess lessons with a coach who can provide individual attention. As we’ve mentioned, First Move is not actually a chess school, so the lessons they provide will not be a replacement for individualized chess lessons that you’d receive from a professional chess coach or chess academy. Of course, First Move’s lessons are also more accessible and, in many cases, more affordable than the chess-focused lessons from a traditional chess school.
Once again, producing future chess masters is not the mission First Move is trying to achieve with its lessons, so as long as you don’t go into the program with unrealistic expectations, you should be satisfied!
Dedication to Education
The minds behind the First Move program are undoubtedly dedicated to education through chess. In fact, they consider their program to be first and foremost and educational chess program, as opposed to a chess education program. The focus of the First Move lessons is on developing creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills in children through the medium of chess, rather than teaching them how to become great chess players and having them memorize countless openings and endgame strategies.
The focus of the First Move lessons is on developing creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills in children.
The lessons are designed to be cross curricular, and to meet the academic standards of students in second or third grade, though they can also be used in other grade levels. The First Move lessons cover much more than just Kings, Queens, and Pawns – there are also math, reading, history, and science skills baked in. In fact, First Move’s lessons have been shown to improve aptitude in both reading and math!
First Move Pricing and Costs
One of the biggest benefits of First Move’s unique business model is that there is more often than not zero cost for the students benefiting from the program. If there is a cost, it is usually minimal, allowing children from all walks of life the ability to join in on a program without putting undue strain on their family’s finances. With the lasting mental and social benefits that this program imparts on its students, this kind of equal playing field for children is a huge benefit.
For educators and school districts, the program is quite cost effective at just $225 for a new classroom to be set up with all the resources needed to teach all lessons. There is also an annual $35 per classroom subscription cost. At less than $9 per student, that’s not a bad price, especially when you consider the lasting benefits that the program has been shown to impart in its students!
Donating to First Move
Even though the curriculum is quite reasonably priced, we all know that our public schools don’t always have leftover money to be able to spend on extra programs, no matter how worthwhile they are. Luckily, First Move has a donation system which allows donors to provide funding for programs at their local public school, or wherever they like!
Sponsoring a school through First Move’s donation program is a wonderful way to give back to your community. But it’s not completely selfless – the children who participate in First Move’s programs learn critical thinking skills that serve them well throughout life, including once they grow up and become society’s CEOs, politicians, teachers, and more! Sponsoring a school in this way is a very effective, hands on way to secure a better future for both the students in the classroom you sponsor, and for yourself!
Avista CEO Makes First Move at Westview - YouTube
Oftentimes, schools and other organizations considering the First Move program are put off by the initial startup costs. However, once those same schools have completed the first year and seen firsthand the academic and behavioral benefits it imparts to its students, the organizations are more than willing and able to foot the bill for the annual subscription, which is substantially lower. So, to get the most bang for your donation buck, you may choose to fund the first year of programming in several different schools, one after the other. In this way, you can maximize your impact and provide educational chess lessons for thousands of kids!
Our Final Thoughts on First Move
First Move Chess is a one of a kind organization. Over its 15 years in business, it has supplied educational chess lessons to countless children, securing brighter futures for each of them. The impact of this is hard to quantify exactly, but has no doubt been immense. If you want to be a part of the good work that this organization is doing, there are many ways to get involved.
For educators, the easiest way to join the First Move family is to introduce the lessons into your classroom. In public schools, it may be a challenge to convince administrators that the program’s benefits will be worth the initial costs, but you may be able to soften the blow by securing a sponsor for the program, whether corporate or individual.
Be a part of the good work that this organization is doing.
Speaking of sponsors, making a donation to First Move is another great way to get involved in their mission. Every little bit helps to make a difference in the lives of children in your own community and beyond!
We’re very impressed with the impact that First Move has been able to achieve in its first fifteen years of operation, and we encourage you to get involved in whatever way you can, whether it’s through a donation, as an educator, or by enrolling your child in a local First Move program. Hopefully they’ll have fifteen more years of success, and even more!
It seems like nowadays there are more festivals being held than ever before. Whereas they used to be quaint little traditions in local communities, like a harvest festival, now music festivals and other big events are attracting thousands of people from all over, all crammed into a small space over a long weekend.
The festival environment is said to foster a unique culture and sense of community that can’t be found anywhere else, so if you’ve ever wanted to find out what that’s like, but haven’t been able to find a festival that caters to your interests, a chess festival could be the perfect thing. Yes, they even have festivals for chess lovers now! They take place all over the world and attract thousands of visitors from all over. Most include some sort of tournament between top players, and other chess themed events are held throughout the duration of the festival as well. What these activities are exactly depend on the individual chess festival.
So, if you want to have fun meeting new people who share your love for chess, keep an eye out for a chess festival coming to a city near you. To get you started, here is a list of some of the biggest and most popular annual chess festivals, as well as a description of what to expect from each one in terms of attendees and events.
The Biel International Chess Festival is held each year in, of course, Biel, Switzerland. It normally takes place over 11 days toward the end of July. The main attraction during the festival are the two tournaments it holds- the round robin Grand Master Tournament and the Swiss style Masters Open Tournament. The Biel International Chess Festival is one of the oldest annual chess festivals, having been held consistently since 1968. In the beginning, it was only the Masters Open Tournament that was held, but the first Grand Master Tournament was added on in 1977.
But just because those two tournaments are the main events doesn’t mean they’re the only ones! There is plenty going on to keep all of the hundreds of attendees entertained over the course of the 11-day festival. There are Youth tournaments, simultaneous exhibitions and tournaments, rapid chess, blitz chess, and, of course, a grand prize-giving ceremony once all of the results are in. You won’t lack for things to do while you’re at the Biel International Chess Festival, that’s for sure!
There is also plenty of fun to be had in the beautiful surrounding city of Biel. Lying right on the border between French speaking Switzerland and German speaking Switzerland, the entire town is bilingual, giving visitors ample opportunity to practice their foreign language skills. It is packed with all the natural beauty you would expect from Switzerland, nestled right at the base of the Jura mountain range, with access to beautiful Lake Biel, and the river Suze.
Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival is one of the best known chess festivals out there. It is held every year over the course of 10 days in December, but don’t worry about packing your winter clothes, because the festival takes place in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. Not a bad way to spend the run up to Christmas – playing chess and soaking in the Mediterranean sunshine!
Another exciting thing about the Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival is that it features more than €25,000 in prizes to be given away over the course of the tournament. This not insubstantial sum attracts many top level players, including GM Dmitry Andreiken, GM Vassily Ivanchuk, GM Ernesto Inarkiev, and many others.
The festival will have many different activities going on in addition to the chess tournament, like showings of chess themed movies such as Life of a King and Searching for Bobby Fischer. There will also be simultaneous exhibitions by various different players, a Blitz tournament and Junior Blitz tournament to participate in, a masterclass by GM Ernesto Inarkiev, and more. If you want to step away from the chess table for a moment, there are also other activities you can do, like taking a cocktail making masterclass, going to a wine and beer tastings, getting your blood pumping with aquagym classes, taking a tapas workshop, watching a broadcast of the FIFA World Cup, and learning how to make sangria. And that’s just what’s offered within the festival itself! If you want to venture out and explore all that Barcelona has to offer, your choices are nearly limitless.
The Global Chess Festival is a chess festival that is run by famous chess player Judit Polgar. She may have retired from professional play, but it’s obvious that chess is still a big part of her life, and through the Global Chess Festival, she hopes to share it with the world. The mission of the Global Chess Festival is to introduce the game of chess to 5 million new youth players by the year 2025, so that we can all see how chess connects us to one another.
The Global Chess Festival grew naturally out of the Polgar Chess Festival, which was first held in 2007. It is held each year in Budapest, Hungary and the schedule is jam packed with fun activities all day long. This event is a one day only festival, typically held sometime in October in various locations around the city of Budapest. The 2018 festival was hosted by the Hungarian National Gallery, which gave participants a unique opportunity to play chess while surrounded by some of the greatest works of art of all time.
The festival also features performances by dancers, singers, and all sorts of acts with a chess spin to them. Polgar herself also holds a simultaneous chess exhibit, which 100,000 viewers all over the world tuned into watch as it was livestreamed. Still, there’s nothing quite like being there, so if you can make it to Budapest in the fall, you’ll be in for a treat at the Global Chess Festival!
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, it’s true – but we have a feeling you won’t be able to keep quiet about how much fun you had at the Las Vegas Chess Festival. This one happens in June typically, so you’ll have plenty of time to pack up your chess set and head out to Sunay Sitges if you’re so inclined.
The Las Vegas Chess Festival hosts a number of simultaneous tournaments that attract more than 700 chess players annually. Tournament categories include the National Open, US Women’s Open, International Youth Tournament, Youth Trophy Tournament, Walter Browne Memorial Blitz, Blitz Sectionals, Youth Blitz, and the Spirit of Chess GM Invitational.
As if all of that weren’t enough to keep you busy over the 5 day duration of the festival, there are also a number of side events going on at the same time as well, including GM simultaneous exhibitions, Grandmaster chess camp, free lectures, free analysis of your games by GMs, and even a chess festival poker tournament! Of course, attendees also have available to them all the delights that Las Vegas has to offer, which they can enjoy in their free time during the festival.
Make sure that you don’t gamble all of your money away though, because you’ll want a little bit left in case you spy a custom chess board or chess pieces that you want to buy from a vendor. They have a lot of unique chess sets at festivals that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else!
The Gibraltar Chess Festival is held in late January or early February each year at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. It’s one of the longest chess festivals out there, running for 11 straight days. The main event held during this festival is the Masters Open, which is open to all chess players and was voted the best open chess event in the world by the Association of Chess Professionals for four years in a row!
The prize money up for grabs at the Gibraltar Chess Festival is substantial, which is likely why it consistently attracts such a high caliber of chess player. First place in the Open tournament comes with a prize of £25,000, but second place need not feel left out with a prize of £20,000. Third place is still made in the shade with £15,000 and fourth place will be taking home £10,000. Even coming in 15th earns you a prize of £1,000!
There are also separate prizes for the Women’s Open, though first place only earns you £15,000 there. Additional prizes are awarded for best relative rating achievement, best game, and in additional tournament categories like Juniors, Seniors, and Blitz. There are even prizes available for amateur players and challengers. All told, the total amount of prize money given out during the course of the Gibraltar Chess Festival comes just short of £200,000!
Which Chess Festival Will You Be Visiting?
These 5 chess festivals we’ve introduced you to are really only the tip of the iceberg. These may be the biggest, most well-known, and most prestigious, but there are plenty of smaller chess festivals that may be happening in a city near you. As you can see from this small sampling, chess festivals are being held all over the world, at all different times of year. If you really wanted to, we bet you could travel from country to country and attend a chess festival every week of the year, or at least most of them! If you’re a highly skilled player, you may even earn enough in prize money to offset the cost of your travel. Not a bad way to spend a year, and wouldn’t everyone like a free chess vacation?
These 5 chess festivals are really only the tip of the iceberg, there are plenty of smaller chess festivals that may be happening in a city near you.
Even if you don’t have the time or money to make a special trip out to a chess festival, you may consider adding the experience on to an upcoming vacation. If you were already planning a vacation to, say, Spain, it could be a good idea to schedule it in December. Not only will flights and accommodations likely be cheaper due to it being the off season, but you’ll be in town for the Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival!
If you prefer to be home for the holidays, you could always fold a trip to Budapest into your summer vacation plans. The Global Chess Festival is held there in July, and it’s only one day, so you would still have plenty of vacation time left over. If it’s held in another historic location like the Hungarian National Gallery, the rest of your travel companions could be adequately entertained while you participate in all the chess festival has to offer.
The Global Chess Festival
There are so many different chess festivals happening in so many different places across the globe that if you want to participate in one, you should certainly be able to find one at a time and place that works for you. If you have a flexible enough schedule, a chess festival would make a great focus for your next chess vacation. Happy planning!
Chess Tourism: Discover a Whole New World of Chess with a Chess Vacation.
We’ve talked a lot about various different organizations and tournaments for professional chess players, but we rarely mention the ones for amateurs. This may make it seem like no one is looking out for the little guy, but that’s simply not the case at all!
The majority of the world’s chess players are amateurs, and there are plenty of chess clubs and organizations that cater to this type of player. The Amateur Chess Organization, or ACO is just one such entity.
About the Amateur Chess Organization
The Amateur Chess Organization is an independent organization whose members are amateur chess players with an ELO rating of about 2400 or lower. It’s estimated that 99% of all chess players fall into this range, so they have no shortage of potential members!
The ACO was originally started as a way for amateur chess players to band together and represent their unique interests. Up until its foundation, there was no organization actively representing the interests of amateur chess players, even though the amateur players vastly outnumber the professional players. The ACO changed all this when it came into being.
The Amateur Chess Organization is a completely independent entity and is not in anyway associated with FIDE or the US Chess Federation. It considers itself to be a complimentary organization to those, but the interests of its membership are understandably quite different.
ACO is independent organization whose members are amateur chess players with an ELO rating of about 2400 or lower
Amateur Chess Around the World
Just as there are grandmasters from all over the world, there are even more amateur chess players from even more places. For every 1 professional player that you see in the public eye, there are at least 99 amateur players back home! In every country that plays chess, there are amateur chess players, guaranteed.
The headquarters of the ACO are located in Stuttgart, Germany, and the ACO has official representation in 16 other countries. Organizers are working all the time to increase that number and expand the reach and influence of the ACO to all amateur chess players who are interested in joining.
Promoting Amateur Chess Globally
A large part of the work that the Amateur Chess Organization does on a day to day basis is simply spreading the joy of amateur chess to new people. One of their core messages is that you don’t have to be in the top 1% of all players just to have fun with the game. You also don’t need to be anywhere near a top tier player to reap the many mental and physical benefits of chess that have been scientifically proven to exist.
Some of the ways that the ACO promotes amateur chess is through its many youth and and scholastic chess programs, chess leagues without club structures, a new kind of chess community, and, most visibly, the annual World Amateur Chess Championship.
Winners of the 2017’s Amateur Chess Championship in Kos
ACO World Amateur Chess Championship
The World Amateur Chess Championship is an annual tournament event held by the Amateur Chess Organization, and is probably their single most well known operation. Any chess player with a rating of 2400 or lower is welcome to compete in the tournament.
The location of the tournament changes every year, bouncing between the 16 countries with representation in the ACO and others. In recent years, the tournament has been held in Kos, Rhodes, Crete, and Dubai.
The 2019 World Amateur Chess Championship (WACC) will be held once again on the Greek island of Rhodes. It will take place over 9 days in late April, which is a lovely time to be in Greece. The tournament schedule leaves ample room for participants to explore the area in between competition. After all, the participants are amateur players and there is no prize money awarded, so you may as well get a nice vacation out of your trip in addition to the tournament experience!
The 2019 WACC will be held once again on the Greek island of Rhodes, where you can get a nice vacation out of your trip in addition to the tournament experience!
The Amateur Chess Organization website has a Section dedicated to helping attendees book their travel and accommodations for the event. If you are coming from within Europe, many of the flights are actually quite affordable, so the tournament could feasibly be something you do just for the fun of it. If you’re coming from somewhere farther away though, say, the United States or Australia, the cost could be prohibitive for an amateur competition. People in those countries may choose to wait to participate until the tournament is held in a location closer to home.
There are other activities happening during the tournament as well. You can not only play your own games and watch the games of others, but also be entertained by lectures and performances, and sometimes even surprise appearances from chess superstars like Judit Polgar, who appeared at one lunch during last year’s tournament and surprised players!
Judit Polgar at the last year’s tournament.
ACO World Senior Chess Championship
In addition to the WACC, the Amateur Chess Organization also hosts the WSCC, a championship competition for senior amateur chess players. This is a relatively new event, with the inaugural tournament held only last year. Nevertheless, it was widely considered a success, so keep an eye out for another World Senior Chess Championship in October of next year if you’re interested in participating.
Final Thoughts on the Amateur Chess Organization
All in all, the ACO is an admirable organization. We were surprised to learn that before its existence, 99% of chess players had nowhere to really “belong.” The ACO changes all that by accepting all players with no minimum Elo score, only a maximum.
We think that the Amateur Chess Organization is doing great work in organizing professional-level events for amateur players. It is also great that they are so dedicated to spreading the game of chess to those who haven’t discovered it yet.
The love of chess shouldn’t be limited to the 1% who are fantastic at it, or even to those who are any good at all! No matter what your skill level, you can enjoy and benefit from chess, and the ACO is helping to get that message out.