Do you want a way for your child to improve their critical thinking skills, learn how to focus, and get better at problem solving? Look no further than online chess for kids!

One of the best ways for young children to learn anything is for the topic in question to be both educational and fun. Chess, being a game first and foremost, fits this description perfectly and allows kids to learn and enjoy themselves while doing so.

Chess is a game that stimulates the mind, teaches patience, and fosters problem solving skills, giving students of the game the perfect balance between enrichment and enjoyment. Online chess for kids allows children to learn from the comfort of their own homes, at their own pace, and do something fun in the process.

There are plenty of ways to get into online chess for kids, but one of the best is to use a professional school of online chess instruction. In this environment, children are given all the tools they will need to succeed, with lessons ranging from the basic rules of chess to more advanced strategies that will improve their playing immensely. Keep reading to find out how your child can get into online chess for kids in the best way possible by learning a few key classes, and enjoying fun classes, apps, and games!

How to play chess for kids

How can kids jump right into playing chess for the first time? Let's look at a few of the basic rules of chess so that way young learners can start playing games on their own.

1. Piece movement

The first step in learning chess is to understand how the pieces move:

  • The Rook moves forward, backward, and side-to side as many spaces as it wants.
  • The Bishop moves diagonally as many spaces as it wants.
  • The Queen moves all the ways a Rook and Bishop can, so forward, backward, diagonally, and side-to-side, as many spaces as it wants.
  • The Knight moves in an “L” shape a total of three spaces, and is the only piece that can jump.
  • The King moves all the ways a Queen can, but only one space, instead of as many as it wants.
  • Finally, the pawns can only move forward one space, unless they are in their starting square, then they can move two spaces, and they capture diagonally.

2. Capturing pieces

After learning how all of the pieces move, the next step in the game is to understand how to capture pieces. Each piece can capture or take any other piece on the board, excluding the King, more on that a little later.

For example, a Rook can capture a Bishop by moving forward, backward, or side-to-side if the Bishop is in the Rook’s row or file. Similarly, the Queen can capture a Knight by moving forward, backward, side-to-side, or diagonally, as long as the Knight is in the Queen’s row or file.

Knights, however, can only capture what they finish their “L” shaped move on, and pawns can only capture pieces one space diagonally from them. Unlike all of the other pieces, pawns do not capture the way that they move.

3. Check and checkmate

The third step is understanding the goal of the game, which is check and checkmate. Remember that all pieces can be captured except the King, so how do you take him? Well, to “capture” the King a player must put the King in check and then eventually checkmate. Checking the King means attacking it with another piece, such as a Queen or Bishop. The player whose King is in check must find a way to move the King out of danger, or use a different piece to capture the attacking piece or protect the King by moving to block the attacking piece. If the players whose King is in check cannot do this, then the King is in checkmate and the player who is checking the King wins the game.

4. Castling

The next step is understanding some of the special moves in chess, such as Castling. Castling is when the King and Rook move in a way that protects the King and brings the Rook out into the center of the chess board so the player can more easily use it. In order to Castle, both the King and Rook must not have moved at all during the game, the King must not be in check, and there can be no pieces in between the King and the Rook. If all of these conditions have been satisfied, then the player can Castle, moving the King two spaces instead of one, and moving the Rook to jump over onto the other side of the King. In this way, the King is now better protected, and the player has access to their Rook throughout the rest of the game.

5. Staircase Checkmate

The final step is to start to use various strategies to help hone your new chess playing skills. One of these strategies is the Staircase Checkmate, which uses a Queen and a Rook to checkmate an opponent’s King. Start by choosing on which edge of the chess board you will checkmate the King, and use the Rook to block the King from moving the opposite direction. Then, after the opponent moves, use the Queen to check the Queen in the King’s row or file. After that it is just rinse and repeat, with the Rook checking the King, followed by the Queen, until you have walked the King up or down the staircase to the edge of the board, and it has nowhere else to move, resulting in checkmate.

What is the best online chess for kids?

The best online chess for kids is none other than ChessKid. This free site has numerous lessons, puzzles, and ways to learn the game from various chess masters that are sure to keep any young learner engaged. Additionally, ChessKid offers a student of the game many different ways to play, from slow chess that does not use a time control to fast chess games and even tournaments that help a player make their moves quickly and efficiently.

Whether it is through playing peers, bots, or their friends and family, ChessKid allows children to learn the game at their own pace and have a great time doing so. Finally, it is one of the safest online platforms for kids to use, as only the child can challenge their friends or other kids, and will never be solicited by other players or strangers. This ensures that any child is safe and secure while they play their games.

Where can I learn chess online for kids?

Well it is funny you ask. It just so happens that Central NY Chess offers professional online chess classes with teachers of various skill levels. Whether a kid is just starting out on their chess journey or is a hardened veteran of the game looking to analyze and examine famous games and positions, there is a class for you!

Their instructional classes are run in several formats, from semester-length programs that run once a week over the course of eight weeks, to chess clubs that run twice a week and week long camps that combine our eight weeks of lessons into five days of instruction and play. Each of the hour-long meetings combine lessons on fundamental chess strategies with organized play portions, so children are always learning and always playing in each and every class.

Additionally, each class is taught by a seasoned chess coach who provides feedback and coaching throughout each meeting, helping students of the game to make the best possible move. Central NY Chess also runs online tournament events throughout the year for more competitive play, and offers private tutoring for those that want more one-on-one coaching. Central NY Chess prides itself on offering quality chess education from the beginner to advanced level and on our small class sizes, which ensures that each student is given the coaching they need to succeed.

Central NY Chess is the perfect place for kids to not only learn chess, but also have fun while doing so. In each meeting of their semester-length programs there is also an in-class mock tournament, which helps students apply the lessons they have learned through the first several weeks of class while also having them play to the best of their ability. While coaching is still provided throughout this in-class tournament, it is done so at a broader level, so all games are kept fair and each student can play their own game without getting hints on what moves to make. This allows the kids to make their own decisions and critically think about the best possible move in each position. From learning the basics of chess to checkmating quickly and efficiently, Central NY Chess will guide each of their students along their chess journey. We believe that success begins with chess!

Chess games for kids


Three Chess games that are great for kids are the Opera Game, the Immortal Game, and the Evergreen Game. These are some of the most famous games in all of chess history and illustrate how even when players lose pieces, all that matters is getting the checkmate in the end.

The Opera Game played between Paul Morphy and Duke Karl in 1858 is a quintessential example of position over material, with Morphy giving up many of his pieces in order to eventually checkmate the Duke.

The Opera Game

This game is great because it demonstrates how a player can give up big pieces such as the Rook and even the Queen and still go on to checkmate, winning the game. Often kids can get discouraged when first learning how to play chess when they lose a big piece such as a Rook or a Knight or even their Queen to a bad move. This game helps students understand that there is actually a whole strategy behind sacrificing pieces in order to gain a better position on the chess board, which helps players checkmate their opponent.

The Immortal Game

The Immortal Game between Anderssen and Kieseritzky is one of the most famous games of all time and demonstrates to newer players how getting stuck moving one piece most of the game is not ideal.

This game is great because it illustrates how several active pieces moving around the board are worth more than a dozen inactive pieces sitting in the back row. Anderssen is able to develop his pieces quickly, chasing his opponent’s Queen around for most of the early part of the game. Since his opponent is focused on saving their Queen much of the game, Anderssen is able to launch several attacks against the King and get most of his pieces out from the back rank. While Anderssen gives up both of his Rooks and his Queen in this game, his active Knights and Bishop are able to deliver checkmate, since three of his opponent’s pieces are still stuck in the back doing nothing.

The Evergreen Game

The Evergreen Game between Anderssen and Dufresne is one of the best examples of a pure checkmate and uses strategies that are still used by many players today, most notably the Evans Gambit.

This game is great because it not only uses gambits, which are the ways chess players trade material for a better position, but encompasses all of the aspects of chess discussed in the previous two games. Once again there is Anderssen sacrificing his pieces to get into a better position on the board. He loses his Rook and Queen in the middle of the game to setup a stunning double Bishop checkmate,, and demonstrates how rapidly developing pieces is more important than the amount of material a player has left on the board.

All three of these games are important for newer players, because they show that some of the best players in the game can lose their pieces on the board and still go on to checkmate. They place an emphasis on checkmating instead of simply capturing pieces, which is usually what newer players think about. While trading pieces is important, checkmate is how to win a game of chess.

Chess apps for kids


Three great chess apps for kids are the Play Magnus app, the Magnus Kingdom of Chess app, and the Magnus Trainer app. Magnus Carlsen is the current World Chess Champion, and all of these apps allow kids to learn from and even play this Grandmaster at various ages.

Play Magnus app

Play Magnus is the perfect app for kids who want to play chess and also test themselves against none other than the World Chess Champion!

Play Magnus is the first app and is meant for kids to learn chess by playing Magnus Carlsen at different ages, from age five all the way up to whatever his current age is (at the time of writing it is thirty). While he begins as a pushover at age five, children will quickly find him challenging as early as seven as he slowly learns more and more about chess from his father and his trainers. Kids can gauge where they are at their own chess level by seeing at what age they are able to beat him, as even more seasoned chess players have difficulty defeating Magnus at age ten and above. This is a perfect app to not only play chess but also find out how for yourself how you would fair against the World Champion himself!

Magnus Kingdom of Chess app

Magnus Kingdom of Chess is great for kids who want to learn chess through puzzles and an overarching story that makes each chess lesson into an adventure!

Magnus Kingdom of Chess is the next app and it turns chess into an adventure with various chess puzzles for younger and newer players. The puzzles themselves follow a storyline where the child is on an adventure and must solve these puzzles in order to progress in the game. Each lesson that kids encounter will gradually increase in difficulty and the incremental nature of the app has latter lessons build on top of the previous ones. This app is perfect for allowing kids to learn the basics of chess and enjoy themselves immersed in a game of puzzles and adventure.

Magnus trainer app

Magnus Trainer is an app for kids to refresh their chess and improve as much as they can through interactive lessons with Magnus Carlsen and chess matches that stimulate any child’s desire to learn.

Magnus Trainer takes the games of Play Magnus and the puzzles of Magnus Kingdom of Chess and rolls them into one app that trains students through interactive lessons with the World Champion himself along with engaging games that test a child’s knowledge of chess. The app starts off simple, with refreshers on the basics of the game, and then gradually increases in difficulty, asking more difficult questions and posing more advanced puzzles to kids. Whether a child is just starting their chess journey or wants to be challenged with various lessons from the World Chess Champion, this app has it all!

Enjoy online chess for kids!

Online chess for kids aims to teach children patience, focus, and improve their critical thinking skills. Chess has stimulated the minds of kids and adults alike for centuries, and the best part of it all is that it is learning through playing a game. Children of all ages can find online chess for kids both mentally stimulating and fun, and parents will find that it especially improves problem solving skills.

Learning the basics of chess is great for everyone, and online chess for kids allows children to do so in the comfort of their own home and at their own pace. While there are many apps and games that can help facilitate this process, nothing beats professional online chess instruction where kids can play against their peers in both casual and competitive settings and learn the fundamental strategies of chess that will help them grow from beginners to seasoned veterans of the game.

In fact, if professional online chess instruction sounds good to you, then check out Central NY Chess. Currently they are running one week instructional camps at all skill levels, from Beginner to Advanced, but as mentioned above Central NY Chess has everything from instructional classes to tournaments. At Central NY Chess they believe that success begins with chess, so give their online chess classes for kids a try today!

You can also join our fun, free virtual upcoming chess tournament for kids on July 17th. Save your spot for free!

Written by the Director of Academic Programming at Central NY Chess.