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Intermediate Chess

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Open to: Students in grades 4 and up

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

Course Format: Session Based. See calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 12 weeks

Student Expectations: Students are strongly encouraged to work at least 30-60 minutes per day, 5 days a week

Course Code: IMCY

Course Description


Intermediate Chess is a continuation of CTY's 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. 

This course will contain regular forum discussions and optional synchronous meeting sessions to encourage a community of chess enthusiasts! Students will also have the opportunity to participate in training games against bots at any time as well as against and their fellow students at the Monday Night Games.

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 play several games against the CTY Bluejay. (Leave your name and ID fields blank.)

A student who 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
    • Underpromotion
  • Understand basic pawn formations
  • Perform strategies for attacking a castled or uncastled king
  • Perform strategies for several common openings and endgames

Virtual classrooms, and student activities in the classroom, may be recorded and added to the course as an ongoing asset for all class students to review. Students may be invited to interact in CTY community spaces that include students and instructors and potentially specially invited guests that are not enrolled in their course.

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

  • A Brief overview of Chess History
  • Chessboard Anatomy
  • Basic Chess Concepts and Rules
  • Capturing
  • Chess Notation

Opening Goals

  • Control the Center
  • Protect the King
  • Develop your Pieces Well
  • Tempo
  • Connect the Rooks
  • Opening Goals in Action

Piece Placement

  • Transitioning From the Opening to the Middlegame
  • Evaluating a Move: Is This a Safe Move?
  • Counting Attackers and Defenders
  • Where are Your Pieces Happiest?
  • Good vs. Bad Pieces

Middlegame Strategy

  • Piece Mobility
  • Material Advantage
  • Exchanging Pieces
  • Rooks

Pawns and Pawn Structure

  • Backward Pawns
  • Doubled Pawns
  • Isolated Pawn
  • Pawn Islands
  • Passed Pawns
  • Strong Pawn Chains
  • Trading and Creating Pawn Weaknesses

The Endgame

  • When is the Endgame?
  • Basic Checkmating Patterns
  • Building a Mating Net Against the King
  • King and Pawn vs. King
  • Avoiding Stalemates

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Game Night

Game Night 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. Game Night is monitored by our highly trained staff of chess instructors and meets every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET.

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 which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.