Should You Start a Scholastic Chess Club?

Longfellow Elementary in Lorain, Ohio In the Chess Zone

With the Bert Lerner Elementary Nationals under way, many schools, parents, teachers, and school administrators may be wondering – Should we start a Scholastic Chess Club in our school?

At the Elementary Nationals, New York is at # 1 with an amazing 99 schools participating, Pennsylvania is at # 2 with 62 schools participating , and Ohio is at # 3 with 48 schools participating.

Other states have a significantly lower amount of schools participating, but, the benefits of chess are evident and have led to an increasing amount of interest in scholastic chess across the country!

We can help you establish or continue your chess program!

The U.S. Chess Trust provides free U.S. Chess Federation memberships and chess playing equipment to support chess education programs across the nation!

There are two components to the Chess-For-Youth program:

  • Provision of free chess equipment (limit of up to five free boards and sets) to help start your chess program.
  • Provisions of free USCF memberships (limit of ten memberships per school) for needy students who are attending a Title I school and have never been a USCF member before (see definition of Title I under Free Membership Program Criteria).

Members receive a catalog filled with hundreds of the most up-to-date products, access to tournament information in print and on the website, as well as the right to play in rated OTB (over-the-board) and correspondence chess tournaments.

For more info about our program, click hereChess-for-Youth Program . Click here for the Chess for Youth Form/Application, fill out the form, and send it in! Its that simple!

If you have additional questions, comments or concerns, just email us at

For additional reading, below is a Guide to Scholastic Chess.


This guide was created to help teachers and scholastic chess organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program.

It covers how to organize a school chess club, run tournaments, keep interest high, and generate parental and public support.

I would like to thank the United States Chess Federation Club Development Committee, especially former Chairman Randy Siebert, for allowing us to use the framework of The Guide to a Successful Chess Club (1985) as a basis for this booklet.

In addition, I want to thank Tom Brownscombe, Scholastic Director of the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF), and the USCF for their continuing help in the preparation of this publication.

Scholastic chess, under the USCF’s guidance, has greatly expanded and made it possible for the wide distribution of this guide.

I look forward to working with them on many projects in the future.

The following scholastic organizers reviewed this work and made many suggestions, which have been included.

Thanks go to Jay Blem (CA), Leo Cotter (CA), Stephan Dann (MA), Bob Fischer (IN), Doug Meux (NM), Andy Nowak (NM), Andrew Smith (CA), Robert Snyder (CA), Brian Bugbee (NY), Beatriz Marinello (NY), Tom Brownscombe, and many others too numerous to mention.

Finally, a special thanks to my wife, Susan, who has been patient and understanding.

Dewain R. Barber

This publication is provided free to all schools and scholastic organizers.

Chess Clubs and Chessplayers

The scholastic chess club combines educational and social activities. Members come to play, to learn, to teach, and to get together with old friends and make new ones. The players — no matter what their level of skill, experience, or age — speak a common language, and one that is often not understood in other areas of a person’s life. The rivalries are friendly; the friendships are competitive.

A club can offer a wide variety of activities. There can be speed chess or rated games, or both. Club activities can include simultaneous exhibitions, lectures, and even formal classes taught by chess Masters and Experts.

Some players who regularly come to a club won’t ever try weekend scholastic tournaments. These avid club players may get their fill of “serious” chess by competing in a club ladder or one-game-a-lunch-period club tourneys. Ideally, the club will cater to all types of players — recreational as well as the serious tournament players.

EVERY member is important to the success of the club.

Should You Start a Scholastic Chess Club?

Should you become involved in starting a club in your school?

Yes! It’s not at all necessary for you to be an “expert” player, or even to know how the pieces move!

Every school in the country has kids who already know how to play chess, and more who would like to learn.

“No one at our school plays chess” is not an acceptable excuse. Most of the time kids are interested in learning and only need someone to organize and supervise them.

This guidebook will help you overcome many of the problems you will face in starting a club.

If you have not already done so, you may want to find out the location of the nearest chess club or scholastic/school club.

The United States Chess Federation (abbreviated USCF) and your state chapter are the best sources of information on officially affiliated club locations, scholastic organizers and coaches in your area.

These contacts can help direct you further in your efforts to organize a club or locate other active scholastic chess programs within your area.

Other information sources include local schools, school district offices, newspapers, libraries, chess and game stores, and your local recreational office. You might also consider contacting the county Department of Education.

By all means, you should start a club if you have some support from students and the willingness to expend the moderate amount of energy and leadership it will take to make your club a success.

Gain support from the school board, parents, your principal, and other teachers as soon as possible. Their aid will be useful later as the club becomes more active.

The fact that the National Association of Secondary School Principals regularly includes the National High School Chess Championship and the National Scholastic K-12 Grade Chess Championships on its “National Advisory List of Contests and Activities” may be of value in gaining official support for your club.

Read More…Click Here To Access the Complete ArticleA Guide To Scholastic Chess

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