NYC parents know: chess isn’t just for the Bobby (or Betty) Fishers of the world anymore. While some people might think of it as the kale of play (a little challenging at first, but so, so good for you) this age-old strategy game improves cognitive skills like critical thinking and pattern recognition. And the kids?: tons of them love it.  We found seven places where your mastermind can learn to clean your clock on the board, from chess classes and clinics to lessons and fun practice with the olds. Check (mate) it out!


photo: via Chess NYC Facebook page

To Save with Group Classes: Chess NYC Juniors

The stated goal at Chess NYC Juniors is to “engage kids at the youngest age possible.” They offer chess lessons to children beginning at the age of 4, and have a Chess Buddy Tutoring Program set up for groups, where children can take a class with a friend, or be matched up with others based on ability. It makes the experience more social, plus (even better) cheaper, since the cost of the lesson is split up between all participants. Chess NYC Juniors also offers chess camps in the summer, including one that and makes it clear what they’re selling by name: Gifted & Talented Summer Chess Camps.

Various NYC locations

rt-marshall chess

photo: via Marshall chess Club Facebook Page

To Play on the Shoulders of Giants on Saturdays: Marshall Chess Club

The oldest chess club in the US, the Marshall Chess Club is drenched in history. It was here that famed 1920s world chess champion José Raúl Capablanca played his final exhibition, Alexander Alekhine demonstrated speed chess, and 13 year-old Bobby Fischer defeated Donald Byrne in “The Game of the Century.”

“Devoted to the pursuit of chess excellence,” the club offers $30 Saturday Junior Chess for kids 14 and under. The sessions, broken down into two times slots — one for kids rated below 1000, another for players rated between 1000 and 1500 — aim to equip novice players with the tools necessary to understand all stages of the game.

23 West 10th St.
West Village



photo:  via NY Chess Kids Facebook page

For Chess Any Which Way — Even Online!: NY Chess Kids

Kids as young as 3 1/2 get started playing at NY Chess Kids. Choose from classes in its Learning Center to afterschool programs at select locations, Summer Camps, or private lessons. (They even offer an online tutorial.) NY Chess Kids regularly holds tournaments and birthday parties, the latter of which is for registered students only.

Various NYC locations


To Join a Tournament in Canarsie: Brooklyn Chess Club

This chess club has no membership fee and kids can play with adults in regular Saturday tournaments. (To be guaranteed a seat, you must bring your own boards and clocks.) This chess group also offers discounts on equipment, including boards and clocks, as well as books and software. Parents even have the option of watching all the action unfold on a webcam.

Seaview Building
1585 East 98th St.


To Do It the Bilingual Way: SchoolPlus Manhattan

Why settle for merely learning chess, when you can learn it in another language? Not only does SchoolPlus instruct beginners on chess rules and standard checkmating attacks; educate more advanced players on general chess theory, and help budding masters dominate in tournament play — they can do it in Russian. (Learning a foreign language is also good for children’s cognitive skills, so learning chess in Russian must be like superfood for the brain.)

3041 Broadway
Morningside Heights

To Take Matters into Your Own Hands: Chess at Three

Using a story-based curriculum developed and honed at top NYC schools and in private home lessons, Chess at Three believes that not only can anyone (as young as three) learn chess, anyone can teach it, too. The self-appointed authority in early childhood chess, Chess at Three’s cloud-based portal promises to give newbie instructors all the tools and strategies they’ll need to start their own chess class for preschoolers and up — meaning you can organize one in your home.  They’ve got video tutorials, guided game-play and even ‘chessersize,’ through which concepts learned on the board are reinforced via physical movement. Not feeling up to the task?  Chess at Three just announced a partnership with NY Kids Club at a variety of its locations, and teaches at the new DUMBO playspace Recess, too.

75 Murray Street, 2nd Fl.


photo: Chess and Checkers House by Alvaro Ibanez via Flickr

To Practice With Free Gear in the Park: Central Park’s Chess and Checkers House

This historic site is just across the road from the carousel is open to the public and provides all chess pieces, checker pieces, dominoes and backgammon sets free of charge. The game center also offers free chess clinics for kids ages 6 and up.

Mid-Park at 64th St.
November-March, Wed. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; April – Oct., Tues. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Do your kids play chess? Where did they learn how? Tell us in the comments below!

— Alina Adams