Scholastic Programs

The first thing you should know: we believe learning should be fun! Our curriculum is designed to impart the many benefits of learning chess- such as critical thinking, sportsmanship, and learning from our mistakes- in a challenging and exciting way. In addition to our lessons and “regular” chess, we incorporate a number of chess variation games that build teamwork and foster a genuine enjoyment of a game that is over a thousand years old! chess-wizards-evanston-camp-2013-photography-0009

On the first day of Chess Wizards, our staff (who the kids refer to as “Wizards”) evaluate each student on their chess knowledge and group the students accordingly, into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced groups. We never refer to each group by these names to the students, not wanting anyone to feel that because they are new to chess they are in any way inadequate, and we usually have the students themselves pick the name for their group so that they start to take pride in it. This is the group they will stay with during the course of the session. If one student displays an amazing aptitude for chess and advances much more quickly than normal, we will not hesitate to move them to a group that is suited to their abilities.

After the first day, a typical class will begin with 10 to 15 minutes of playing chess. This gives the students a chance to put their stuff away, settle down, get their nametags, and so on, so that their minds are ready when it comes time for their lesson:

The Beginners lesson familiarizes the student with each piece and its movement. Once this knowledge is thoroughly demonstrated, the students learn about ‘check,’ how to escape from ‘check,’ and the concept of ‘checkmate’. If the students have thoroughly digested these skills, they will move on to pawn promotion and castling, and will be ready for the next level.

At the Intermediate level, students already know the pieces, ‘check’, and the concept of ‘checkmate’. These skills are refined throughout the session, especially that of ‘checkmate’. Students at this level master pawn promotion and castling, and are introduced to basic chess tactics such as ‘forks’, ‘skewers’, ‘pins’, and pawn chains. Basic strategy is also introduced, such as the development of one’s pieces, controlling the center, and king safety. chess-wizards-evanston-camp-2013-photography-0020

Students at the Advanced level come to class with a diverse repertoire of chess skills. They are well versed in all of the curriculum that is taught to the Intermediate level, and are ready to move on to more challenging concepts. At this level, the previous skills are refined with puzzles that require students to apply them to complex positions and to create these opportunities in their games. Advanced tactics such as ‘discovered attack’, ‘double threat’, and endgame strategy are introduced. Chess is a very deep game and students who have been at this level for a while will continue to find new challenges. If you find that your child’s skill has evolved beyond even our Advanced level, we encourage you to enroll them in our Advance Chess Team. More information for these classes will be on our website as the classes become available.

For each lesson being taught, students will receive a corresponding puzzle worksheet that will give them a chance to apply the concepts they are learning to sample positions. These worksheets are for fun, and completion is not mandatory, but they are a great way for them to earn extra points and should give you both some fun if they come to you asking for help.

Our lessons are supplemented with chess puzzles, group activities, chess variations such as Bughouse and Allies, team chess, and more! Throughout the session, children earn Chess Wizards Points by completing puzzles and worksheets, answering questions, completing chess games, and showing good sportsmanship. At the end of the session, students can exchange their points for their very own chess trophy!

Our Wizard Staff is always available for your questions and feedback. Please do not hesitate to ask our instructors about your child’s progress. All the members of our organization have a great enthusiasm for chess and education, from our teachers to our program directors to our office administrators, and we take pride in our approach. We hope you enjoy your experience with Chess Wizards!