#18 Chess


Chess can sometimes be regarded as ‘old fashioned’ by pupils and staff alike, but I have always found it to be a powerful and useful social tool to encourage friendly competition, improved social skills and interaction between pupil categories that would not usually meet.

Chess can help pupils with the following:

  • Problem solving.
  • Social interaction.
  • Self discipline.
  • Tackling curricular work.
  • Consideration for others.
  • Encouraging and controlling competitive instincts.


As with other clubs, it is essential that activities are undertaken in an exclusively allocated space. Equipment and extra materials should be laid out in advance if at all possible. Pupils may be given special incentives (such as permission to eat and drink in the library) if the activities take place at lunch time.

Chess is often a magnet for pupils with behavioural difficulties. They tend to behave completely differently in front of a chess board than they do at other times. This is a phenomenon that has been commented on by teachers, senior management and support staff.

Specialist chess equipment is available at very reasonable prices for club quantities, and funding can often be obtained from ‘curriculum support’ budgets.


The English Chess Federation produce a lovely booklet which contains a good introduction to the subject: