A New Chess Club for Children

48 years ago, my late friend Mike Fox and I were discussing starting a junior chess club. This would become Richmond Junior Chess Club, which is still going strong today, although I no longer have any connection with it.

If you’re in my part of the world and are looking for a professionally run centre of excellence offering formal instruction, rated games and competitions, then Richmond Junior Club would be an excellent choice for your children.

Over the past few years there’s been a big change in adult chess. Not so long ago all my club did was play competitive chess: there was no demand for anything else. But now all the talk is about social chess. Here at Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club, we’ve picked up on this and now actively promote our social chess facilities as well as our teams in local leagues. Some of our members now only play social chess, some only play league chess, while some do both. In some ways the club has reverted to what it was like half a century or more ago. I guess that, in these increasingly stressful times, there are those who prefer the enjoyment of a casual game to the pressure of a competitive game. These days, I’m one of those myself.

Is there also a market for a junior chess club providing social chess and informal instruction? One that is run by volunteers rather than paid tutors? One that is free or minimally priced rather than one that’s expensive? One that is stress-free and enjoyable rather than one that puts pressure on children to be successful? In other words, something very much like Richmond Junior Club was in its first few years, before competitive chess took over.

Here’s another issue. The main problem I had with primary school chess clubs was that the children had been taught incorrectly by their parents. Some of them were playing to the wrong rules, others were using poor strategies, very few of them were thinking like chess players.

Is there also a market for a junior chess club in which both parents and children can learn to play correctly? Most people involved with teaching young beginners understand that they will learn best through a year or so of ‘minichess’, games, puzzles and other activities based on subsets of chess, and that teaching children the moves in 20 minutes and throwing them into a complete game really isn’t a good idea?

48 years on, I’m going to find out. Along with my friend Marie Gallagher (GM Joe Gallagher’s sister) we’re starting a new chess club for children in Twickenham Library. We have a large room booked for three hours on Tuesday afternoons where we can offer both services. Younger children, along with their parents, will be able to learn to play using a ‘minichess’ approach. Older children, along with younger children who can already play a proficient game, will be able to play social chess with their friends. We’ll see who turns up and take it from there.

If you know anyone in the Twickenham area who might be interested, do let them know. Our website is https://twickenhamlibrarychess.uk/

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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