In many schools the chess sets are locked away in a cupboard and only allowed out for the chess club once a week.

To promote chess actively within the school, chess sets should be available for all children to use for friendly games.

While most chess players enjoy social chess, not everyone is interested in playing competitively. If you’ve ensured that children learn the basics correctly, you won’t need a chess tutor to provide social chess. You will need some sort of supervision, to ensure that children are reasonably quiet and not misusing the equipment, but there’s no reason why this couldn’t be a class teacher. It would help to have posters round the walls or some other way of reminding children how the pieces move. You might also want posters explaining the rules of some of the minichess games and activities.

Not all children enjoy running about outside during break and lunchtime (I certainly didn’t) and many will welcome the opportunity for a game of chess (or minichess) inside.

Assuming you already have the equipment, promoting social chess comes at virtually no cost. If you’re prepared to spend some money you can provide more facilities for children to play chess outside.

Many schools have a giant chess set in the playground. This is another great idea to improve the profile of chess in your school. If you’re in the UK you can buy online here.

Another option is to buy outdoor tables with inlaid chess boards so that children can play chess in the open air.

There’s not much point learning chess if you’re only allowed to play once a week. I’d recommend that all schools offering chess in any form should provide facilities for all children to play social chess (or social minichess). Locking your sets away in a cupboard and only allowing their use once a week when most other children have gone home isn’t promoting a positive message about chess to your school community.

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