Chess in Iowa: A Whole World of Opportunities for Kids!

If I had been asked a couple years ago to name a famous chess player, I would have said that I had no idea. I was completely and utterly ignorant to the “chess world” and of the great players like Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Liren Ding, Hikaru Nakamura, Yifan Hou, Wejun Ju, etc. They are, without a doubt, some of the most superb and talented chess players in the world. In fact, Magnus Carlsen is rated the number one player in the world, and he has been for a few years.

My fascination with the game was jump-started the day my two sons joined their school chess club. We would play leisurely at home, but never in a formal or competitive environment. Playing chess was the first time that they had EVER shown interest and enthusiasm in any type of organized sports/games. The idea that strategy and tactics play a big role in how the game is won was very captivating to my kids.

Chess in Iowa

Getting a Chess Coach

As their confidence and skills grew, they began participating in tournaments and other organized chess events. It did not take long for them to surpass us (my husband and I) in chess. Their motivation and eagerness to learn more beyond the basics led us to finding a chess coach in our area. Having a chess coach has taken their chess knowledge/game/skills to a whole new level. You will find that the majority of chess players that participate in tournaments have a chess coach. Like other sports, coaches work with their players to help them achieve their desired goals via tactics, strategies, positional play, various openings, middle and endgames training, blunder avoidances, self-evaluation, training secrets, and many other skills.

As we began attending more tournaments, I started obtaining a vast knowledge of chess and everything it encompasses. The chess community has grown over the years–especially in our area. Here, you will find chess players from all sorts of backgrounds submerged in the various levels of “chess life”. It is within this community that we were able to learn more about chess lingo, annotation, local and scholastic clubs, online tools and apps, tournaments, organizations, chess coaches, various levels of competition, chess camps, lectures, and a plethora of opportunities for chess players and their families.

Chess in Iowa

Movers and Shakers in the Chess World  

“The beauty of chess is it can be whatever you want it to be. It transcends language, age, race, religion, politics, gender and socioeconomic background. Whatever your circumstances, anyone can enjoy a good fight to the death over the chess board.”

– GM Simon Williams

I love the above quote, because it rings so true to the game of chess. I have witnessed children as young as three years old playing chess. Just recently, there was a 12-year-old boy (Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa) that made history by becoming the world’s second youngest to attain the highest title in chess–Grand Master! We have had the opportunity to meet extraordinary chess players such as GM William Lombardy and GM Timur Gareyev. The latter is known in the chess community as the “Blindfold King” because he broke the world record by playing 48 opponents simultaneously blindfolded! He won 35, loss 6 and had 7 draws. I am still baffled by how he managed to memorize 48 chess games at the same time, when I can barely memorize one.

chess in iowa

There are so many others that are doing extraordinary things in chess at various levels. Particularly in our area, there are three young girls (two 6th graders and a 7th grader) that have established an all girls chess club for elementary age girls interested in playing. My kindergartener, in fact, is a member of the Chess Butterflies Club and loves going, interacting and playing chess with other girls. The creators of the Chess Butterflies Club have done a wonderful job in creating a place for young female players to enhance their chess skills, boost their confidence and enjoyment in chess.

Moreover, there are many more local chess clubs around the area that hold meetings and events throughout the community.

chess in iowa

Chess In Iowa

Do you think your kids would enjoy getting involved in chess? The following links should help you get started:

Chess in Iowa

Iowa Chess

Iowa Chess Clubs

Chess Kids




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