Elementary Chess Opportunities

Beth Gasior, Gifted Resource Specialist

CCS Elementary Tournaments

Each school year, the Columbus City Schools Gifted and Talented Department hosts two elementary chess tournaments for students participating in school chess clubs or classroom instruction. If your school does not have a chess club, instructional resources and suggestions on how to get started are included below. Also, contact the Gifted Resource Specialist at your school for additional information and guidance.

W. Arthur Cullman Rookie

Who: Students in grades K-5 who are new to chess

What: The competition is structured with tables of eight students each competing as a "mini tournament" and guided by a CCS high school chess team volunteer.

When: Thursday, May 16, 2019

Where: Columbus Museum of Art

Why: Provides new chess players an opportunity to become familiar with competitive chess play in a relaxed, learning environment. Students have an opportunity to visit art exhibits, guest from the community speak during lunch and we partner with the Columbus Metropolitan Library so students can connect chess to literature.

Registration information will be emailed in late January/early February.

Nolan's Knights

Who: Students in grades K-5

What: Entering it's 33rd year, the Nolan's Knights Tournament is for more experienced players. Students compete against 60-75 other chess players in a traditional tournament environment, resulting in first-fourth place winners.

When: Friday, May 17, 2019

Where: Columbus Metropolitan Main Library

Why: Provides an opportunity for students to compete in a challenging competition environment. Students can be nominated by their chess coaches to receive a "Nolan's Knight" award. This is a sportsmanship award for students who exhibit positive behaviors while learning chess - named for Francie Nolan, the founder of CCS Chess.

Registration information will be emailed in late January/early February.

Cognitive, Academic and Other Benefits of Chess by MATCH Chess Curriculum

School Chess Teams

Just Get Started!

Visit How to Start a Chess Club for ideas on how to start a chess team in your school! A school chess team can be initiated by teachers, principals, school support staff, parents or community volunteers. High school chess students might be willing to volunteer as well. The Gifted and Talented Department has a few copies of the following resources that can be borrowed or schools can purchase for a very minimal cost. Chess sets and demonstration boards are also available. It's okay to learn along with your students! Here is a sample form for student participation -

Join the Chess Team

Welcome to the Game of Chess

Pawn, Queen and In Between Student Workbook

Pawn, Queen and In Between Teacher's Manual

Tips on Teaching Beginners

Need Help?

Instructors at the Columbus Chess Academy are willing to serve as a resource to anyone at your school who would like to start a chess club. CCA is a 501(c)(3) founded and staffed by Columbus City Schools alumni who participated in CCS chess through ES, MS and HS.

Also, current CCS chess club advisors, teachers and parents are willing to share their resources and experiences to help you get started.

Additional Resources for Starting a Chess Team

The game of chess helps young people learn to concentrate, think logically, overcome obstacles, spot patterns and categorize information. It helps with the development of problem-solving skills, planning, patience, focus of thought and self-discipline. Here is additional information about how to get chess started in your school.

Chess Teaching Manual

Chess Lessons

101 Essential Chess Tips

ChessKid.com Complete Curriculum Download

Teaching Chess in the Classroom

First Move Chess

First Move Chess is targeted to 2nd and 3rd grade standards and students. Taught one hour per week by The Chess Lady (via video), teachers facilitate the exercises; no chess experience is necessary. Columbus City Schools qualifies for grant funding but there is a per classroom cost involved and a weekly instructional commitment. Contact Kathi Cirar at First Move Chess, kat@firstmovechess.org for more information.
Overview of First Move Program - America’s Foundation for Chess

Chess Kid

Chess Kid is a free, online instructional program. Teachers can register an entire class - it's an easy to use, very kid friendly site. The complete curriculum can be downloaded here.

U.S. Chess Center

The U.S. Chess Center website has chess lessons that can be downloaded. The lessons are designed with the assumption that the instructor has little to no experience teaching chess.

Rules for Beginners

Chess Rules - The Ultimate Guide for Beginners was written by Igor Smirnov, a Chess Grand Master. Basic information about the board, names and movement of pieces, and rules of the game is the focus of this beginning guide to chess.

Online Chess Instruction

Integrating Chess Themes

There are many ways to integrate the themes of chess with reading, writing, math, social studies and the arts. For example, the pawn is called the "Cinderella Piece." This is a perfect opportunity to combine chess with a Cinderella literature unit. Students can write about how the pieces, move, plan strategies, create stories with the pieces as characters set in Medieval times or even in the future. Consider the linguistics of a chess game and the rich vocabulary that is included. Comparisons can be made to chess in the past, present and future - challenging students to think about changes over time. Math concepts such as arrays, coordinates, geometry and much more can be integrated within chess instruction.

Don't Forget the Chess Books!

Use this Columbus Metropolitan Library link to order a teacher collection of chess themed books - how to play chess, medieval times, castles, kings, queens, knights, peasants and more!

Chess Organizations

Why Chess?

My Life is a Chess Game - Parallels of Chess to Real Life

Why Chess Works - Chess helps students improve their mental abilities, such as problem solving, critical thinking, pattern recognition, planning ahead, spatial awareness, focus and concentration. This article How Chess Players' Brains are Different from Everyone Else's explains how chess can help develop advanced math and critical thinking skills, help players use both sides of the brain, teach students to think in patterns, teach students how to think like a computer and help players become expert problem solvers.

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