Chess for Schools

From simple strategy games to clubs and competitions

By: Richard James


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Products specifications
Attribute nameAttribute value
Size234 x 156mm
PublishedDecember 2022

An approach to teaching chess in schools through a series of mini games which will enable all children to better understand and enjoy this magnificent game.

Written by Richard James, Chess for SchoolsFrom simple strategy games to clubs and competitions is a great resource to help teachers encourage children to enjoy the benefits and challenges of the chess game.

Chess is a game of extraordinary excitement and beauty and all children should have the opportunity to experience it. Indeed, many claim that playing abstract strategy games such as chess provides a wide range of cognitive and social benefits – such as improvements in problem-solving ability and communication skills. 

However, Richard James argues that, because of the complexity of chess, most younger children would gain more benefit from simpler chess-based strategy games and incremental learning. In this practical handbook, Richard provides a wide range of games and puzzles based on these principles which are appropriate for primary schools and explains how teachers can identify children who would benefit from starting young. 

Richard also sets out how this approach can engage the whole community, including working with children with special needs, getting parents involved in learning and playing, and developing partnerships between primary and secondary schools.

Chess for Schools shares the latest research into how children process information, combined with insights into international best practice in teaching chess to young children. The book demonstrates the transformative effect chess can have on older children, and how this can be promoted in secondary schools. Richard James offers valuable insights into the greater context of chess-playing, expressing how and why chess is a joy to so many worldwide andshares a series of resources and minigames for teachers to use with their learners. 

An ideal resource for primary and secondary school teachers wanting to introduce their pupils to chess.

Shortlisted for the English Chess Federation’s Book of the Year 2023.

Picture for author Richard James

Richard James

Richard James has been teaching and organising chess for children since 1972. Between 1975 and 2006, Richard ran the highly successful Richmond Junior Chess Club, whose members included Luke McShane, Jonathan Rowson and other future grandmasters. He is also the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, and has written extensively on chess history and trivia.

Discover Richard's websites:

Chess with Richard – Transforming children's lives through chess


  1. Richard James is famous in the UK chess world not just for Addicts’ Corner, but arguably even more so for his pioneering work with Richmond Junior Chess Club. Crown House Publishing, who also did a fine job with Barry Hymer and Peter Well’s Chess Improvement: It’s All in The Mindset, are responsible for this important release. James believes that chess is not suitable for all primary school children, but that there are ways to help realise who it might suit. These methods are fully revealed here, as all manner of useful material pertaining to parents, developing links between schools, and especially to the enjoyment which older children can get from chess. Up to date in terms of educational research, Chess for Schools will provide a fascinating and thought-provoking read for parents and those who teach chess in schools.

  2. Chess for Schools explains the limits and the benefits of chess. Chess may not improve standardised test scores. But it can enrich lives, if taught properly. Renowned chess teacher Richard James describes activities, such as minigames which use some of the chessmen, that develop skills useful both on and off the chessboard. Chess for Schools also provides the terminology and the resources to move from beginner to competitive chess player. Schools now have a road map for their chess journeys.

  3. The author's passion, experience and expertise in the field shines through every page. Whilst many readers will be drawn primarily to an invaluable and well-structured compendium of minigames and chess variants for introducing chess to younger children in a structured, gradual and progressive way (‘Slowly but surely’), the author's robustly expressed (but, of course, contestable) critique of the two main approaches to chess in schools – to enhance academic outcomes or to breed future grandmasters – is worthy of serious consideration. He argues cogently not for chess in the curriculum or a weekly after-school club, but for the infusion of chess in a school culture. A veritable treasure-chest of ideas, advice, opinions and resources for any teacher wishing to use chess to nurture the social world and well-being of their pupils and maybe, just maybe, to create the next Magnus Carlsen as a secondary gift too.

  4. Richard James has created an essential tool for teaching chess in schools. Rooted in deep personal understanding and decades of experience, this approachable, practical guide breaks down the learning of chess and maps out an effective and robust teaching plan. Tackling both social and educational benefits, this book will help you establish a chess culture that seeps through your school.

  5. When I began to read Chess for Schools, I was aware of two salient facts: that Richard James has tremendous experience teaching chess to children – in a classroom setting and as founder of the famously successful Richmond Junior Chess Club; and that he has been a consistent critic of much current chess teaching practice – particularly in primary schools, where he believes the teaching of chess is frequently pitched at an unrealistic level in relation to the cognitive development of the pupils. I was consequently well-prepared for a text that might ruffle some feathers.

    I was not disappointed. There are undeniably passages in the book which will make uncomfortable reading for some chess teachers and parents. Yet far from the feeling that Richard James is gratuitously courting controversy, I came to regard his unwillingness to pull punches with many in his target audience as a mark of the book’s uncommon integrity. His views are the product not only of great experience but also of a persistent quest to improve the outcomes for his pupils, both those with lofty chess ambitions and those who will enjoy a variety of relationships with the game. He has read widely and thought deeply, and the result is a coherent, very readable and well-structured argument which he makes with obvious passion. I didn’t agree with all his contentions, but I always found myself hungry to read on. The book will certainly prompt fresh thoughts and is also a treasure trove of practical advice and resources for chess instruction. I would strongly recommend Chess for Schools to any chess teachers, parents and others with an interest in chess pedagogy.

  6. This brilliant book is a three-layered cake. It is so well structured that you do not need to read it from end to end and you do not need ever to have touched a chess piece to find it worthwhile. The one key message for teachers is: if you can teach children, you can teach chessThat is, just as there comes a point when pupils will benefit from a specialist geographer, swimming instructor or mathematician, so it is with chess. The first layer sets the scene. It is easy to read, covers the history of chess and its place in education, what chess is – and, crucially, what it is not. The second layer is an impressively brief and comprehensive survey of the place of chess in the curriculum, and it’s not where you think it might be. This layer will make you think about curriculum development in broad terms as well as in relation to chess. It will make you think about the role of parents and parenting in children’s schooling. The book is properly, academically, referenced. The final layer is a manual of chess resources. The book stands alone as a good read without this section. My main revelation was just how many different games you can play with a chess set – it’s as if I had only ever learnt to play snap with a pack of cards.

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