Chess provides students with an opportunity to develop higher level cognitive skills, improve concentration, learn good sportsmanship, build self-esteem, and form lasting friendships. Many studies have shown the positive correlation between chess and mathematics, and it not difficult to understand how chess can improve a child's aptitude in recognizing patterns, making rational judgments, and analyzing positions. Chess also teaches students to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace. It is not surprising then, that chess is part of the required curriculum in nearly thirty countries.

Perhaps you are a parent of an enthusiastic chess player, or a teacher that has been asked to help students form a chess club. Your first task should be to ask the school principal about the requirements for starting an extracurricular club. Then survey your student body to find out how many students are interested in joining the club, how many already know how to play chess well, and how many do not play but would like to learn. You may also need to send a questionnaire to parents and faculty members asking for volunteers to help sponsor the club and/or teach or coach chess to the students. Keep in mind that you will probably need more volunteers at the outset because the spectrum of skill levels may be quite varied. You can also solicit the Parent Teacher Association of your school for donations of chess sets, clocks, and other materials. Finally, find an appropriate space for your meetings. Although a classroom may be available, the space should be sufficiently large and contain enough tables and chairs to allow students to play games.

Once you have the basics in place, you can begin your club meetings. You should start your first meeting by dividing the group according to each memberís playing ability. Assign one adult to monitor games played by already proficient players, another to help those who already know the basics, and as many adult volunteers as possible to teach those needing to learn the game from scratch.

How the CMSCA Can Help

You may also discover that you need a little outside assistance. The CMSCA can provide your club with a knowledgeable chess instructor at least once per month, free of charge to your students; and additional instruction at a reasonable rate of $50 per session (up to 1 1/2 hour). Typically, you will have the same instructor at each meeting unless it becomes necessary to change. Our instructors will visit your club according to the posted schedule on the CMSCA website.

To get started, register your school with the CMSCA. Time slots for instruction are filled on a "first come, first served" basis. While we have several instructors, some time slots are more popular than others and fill up quickly. Click here for our online school club application form. If you are interested in paying for instruction, please click here to download the Contract for Services (in Microsoft Word format).

Instructors will come with a demonstration board and be ready to teach. If you have a large club, you may wish to designate a certain location for the instructor to work with a smaller group while the rest of the club plays games. Our instructors are great resources for information on upcoming tournaments, the Charlotte Youth Chess Club, and of course, chess-related issues, so please don't hesitate to ask them if you have questions.

In addition, students from any school and geographic area are always welcome to participate (as individuals or as a team) in the many tournaments and special events hosted by the CMSCA every year. One of the easiest and best ways for children to truly develop a passion for chess is through playing games with other children from all over the city, country or world.

Finally, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system has provided a list of duties and responsibilities of a club sponsor, and the CMSCA also has added some helpful "do's and don'ts" for your reference (click here to view online). We want your chess experience to be a good one for both you and your students. Please contact us if there is any way we can support your club with instruction, materials, and resources.

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