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Introduction to Chess

Registration for this course is closedComplete the waitlist request form 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 3 months

Course Code: CHE

Course Description


Introduction to Chess provides new or beginning students of chess a strong foundation in the rules and strategies needed to play the game of chess. The course is designed for students with little to no experience with chess.

The course begins with a brief history of the game of Chess. It then introduces the student to the board and pieces, explaining through interactive lessons, quizzes, videos and games how each piece moves. A full chess game is built up through the nine chapters, with students trying to defeat a computerized Johns Hopkins Blue Jay in chess at the end of every chapter. The last two chapters have the students play against the computer (the JHU Blue Jay) in full chess games of varying difficulty. The course ends with general tactics and strategies to improve the student’s game.

The course teaches the rules of the game, basic strategy, important opening concepts, recognition of tactical themes, calculation of material exchanges, and elementary endgame knowledge. Students can also participate in training games by participating in CTY's weekly online chess clubs.

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

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

  • Read and write the algebraic notation for chess moves.
  • Correctly place pieces on the board to set up of a game of chess and know the legal moves of each piece.
  • Understand and explain how a game of chess can end in either checkmate or a stalemate.
  • Understand and perform the strategies for basic openings and end games.
  • Competently attack the opponent’s king while defending their own king.

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

Chess video screen shot

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

The Board and Pieces

  • The Board
  • The Pieces

The Pawn

  • Basic Pawn Moves
  • En Passant
  • Captures and Exchanges
  • Looking Ahead
  • Pawn Promotion

The Rook

  • How the Rook Moves
  • Attack and Defense
  • Forks and Skewers

The Bishop

  • How the Bishop Moves
  • Making Choices

The Queen

  • How the Queen Moves
  • Playing It Safe
  • Queen Forks
  • Pins and Skewers

The Knight

  • How the Knight Moves
  • Knight Forks
  • Knight Tours

The King

  • How the King Moves
  • King Maze
  • Hit or Miss
  • Trick or Treat
  • Check and Checkmate
  • Stalemate

Other Rules and Your First Games

  • Castling
  • Other Ways to Draw
  • Values of the Pieces
  • Attacking
  • Defending
  • Exchanging

Basic Tactics and Strategies

  • Simple Checkmates
  • Checkmates with a Queen
  • Checkmate with Two Rooks
  • Basic Openings
  • Basic Capturing Tactics
  • Combination Attacks
  • Basic Attack and Defense Tactics
  • Chess Notation

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Sample Video 

Sample Video

Click on the image below to view examples of the virtual classroom sessions.

Intro to Chess virtual classroom video

Click on the image below to play a sample video lecture.

Chess demo

CTY Chess Club

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!
  7. 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.