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Intermediate Chess

Registration for this course is temporarily closed. Contact to be notified when available.

Open to: Students in grades 4 and up

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math or verbal score required

Course Format: Individually Paced

Course Length: Typically 6 months

Course Code: IMC

Course Description


Intermediate Chess is a continuation of CTY's online Introduction to Chess course.  Intermediate Chess introduces students to commonly seen tactics and strategies in the game of chess. The course is designed for students with sound knowledge of the rules of chess and some knowledge of basic tactical and strategic ideas.

Starting with theory of the opening, students learn numerous tactical motifs and strategic goals to employ throughout the different stages of a game of chess, as well as ideas to use when evaluating a board position. Concepts are explained through interactive lessons, game studies, quizzes, and videos. Games against increasingly difficult computer opponents cap every chapter, culminating with a final game against the CTY Instructor. 

Instructors will provide individualized feedback and elaborate on concepts students have learned in the course. Students can also participate in training in CTY's weekly online chess clubs and biannual chess tournaments. 

In addition to learning chess strategy and tactics, this course will promote the growth and development of skills in concentration, logic, decision-making, planning, and self-discipline.

To help determine whether the student is ready to take Intermediate Chess, CTY recommends that they complete the placement test and play several games against the CTY Bluejay. (Leave your name and ID fields blank.)

A student who receives a grade of 85% or higher on the placement test and consistently beats the Bluejay would be well prepared for Intermediate chess. Otherwise, the Introduction to Chess course is recommended to review concepts and for extra practice.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Calculate exchanges
  • Explain piece strengths in given positions
  • Recognize when certain tactics may be employed for benefit, such as:
    • Pins and skewers
    • Forks
    • Attraction
    • Underpromotion
  • Understand basic pawn formations
  • Perform strategies for attacking a castled or uncastled king
  • Perform strategies for several common openings and endgames

For a detailed list of topics, click the "List of Topics" tab.



Materials Needed

While no materials are needed for the course, it is recommended that the student have a real chess board to play and practice on at home.

List of Topics

Basic Review

  • How the Pieces Move and Capture
  • Values of the Pieces
  • Chess Notation
  • Annotation Symbols
  • Pawn Promotion
  • Check
  • Checkmate
  • Stalemate and Other Forms of Draws
  • Practice Games

Opening Goals

  • Game Study: The Immortal Game  
  • Golden Principle 1: Control the Center 
  • Golden Principle 2: Develop the Minor Pieces 
  • Golden Principle 3: King Safety 
  • Tempo (The Element of Time)   
  • Opening Goals in Action! 
  • Tactics: Pins and Skewers

Basic Rook Strategy

  • Game Study: The Opera Game
  • Rooks Belong on Open Files!
  • Doubling the Rooks!
  • Rooks on the 7th (or 2nd) Rank!
  • Active vs. Passive Rooks
  • Tactics: Forks
  • Tactics: Escaping Forks
  • Endings: King and Two Rooks vs. King
  • Endings: King and Rook vs. King

Basic Middlegame Strategy

  • Game Study: The Evergreen Game
  • Introduction to Middlegame Strategy
  • Open and Closed Positions
  • Queenside and Opposite Side Castling
  • Tactics: Double Check
  • Tactics: Escaping Pins and Skewers
  • Endings: King and Queen vs. King

Gaining a Material Advantage

  • Game Study: The Oldest Game
  • Calculating Exchanges
  • Counting Attackers and Defenders
  • Winning “The Exchange”
  • Defensive Methods I
  • Tactics: Removing the Defender
  • Tactics: Overworked Piece
  • Endings: King and Rook vs. King and Pawn

Gaining a Positional Advantage

  • Game Study: McDonnell vs. La Bourdonnais
  • Passed Pawns
  • Pawn Majorities
  • Pawn Chains and the Phalanx
  • Pawn Weaknesses
  • Spatial Advantages and Overextension
  • Good and Bad Minor Pieces
  • Tactics: Attraction
  • Endings: King and Two Pawns vs. King

Attacking the King

  • Game Study: Byrne vs. Fischer
  • Attacking an Uncastled King
  • Attacking the f7 and h7 Squares
  • Attacking the Castled King
  • Mating Nets
  • Defensive Methods II
  • Tactics: Discovered Attack
  • Endings: King and Two Bishops vs. King

Basic Endgame Strategy

  • Game Study: Kasparov vs. The World
  • The Pawn Breakthrough
  • Centralizing the King
  • Rook and Pawn Endings
  • Triangulation and Rule of the Square
  • Queen Endgames
  • Stalemate
  • Tactics: Underpromotion
  • Endings: King and Bishop and Knight vs. King

Winning a Won Game

  • Game Study: Deep Blue vs. Kasparov
  • What to Do When Winning
  • Tactics: Deflection and Interference
  • Tactics: Zugzwang and Zwischenzug
  • Tactics: Desperado
  • Endings: The Lucena Position and Philidor Position
  • Endings: King and Pawn vs. King

First Openings and Defenses

  • Game Study: Aronian vs. Carlsen
  • The Ruy Lopez
  • Giuoco Piano
  • The Sicilian Defense
  • The French Defense
  • Queen’s Gambit Accepted
  • Queen’s Gambit Declined
  • Nimzo-Indian Defense
  • English Opening
  • Goodbye and Good Luck!

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Sample Video

Sample Video

Chess sample video1

Chess sample video 2.

CTY Chess Club

The CTY Chess Club is a time where all of our CTY Online Programs chess students (former and current) can get together once a week on our virtual chess environment and enjoy playing structured games as well as tournaments.

The Chess Club is monitored by our highly trained staff of chess instructors and meets every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. EST.

To participate:

  1. Log onto the system at or before the scheduled meeting time
  2. Check the Chatrooms to see if an opponent is online. Say hello to the CTY community :)
    Our instructors will be online to monitor!
  3. Click on Challenge on the left pane
  4. Click on your opponent's name (should be first initial followed by last name)
  5. Uncheck "rated game" and set the time. Be sure to set both the White (Initial Time 1) and Black (Initial Time 2) chess clocks to 15 minutes with no increment.
  6. Play!

When you are done, click on Challenge again and play another member awaiting a game!


Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom for discussions with the instructor. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students who are unable to attend live sessions will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.