YEL Chess Classes for Kids

Since 2004, YEL has offered chess classes for tens of thousands of kids.  These budding grandmasters start the program learning the basics of piece movement, capture, check, piece value, and of course, sportsmanship.  Students shake hands at the beginning of each game (pre/post COVID) and at the end of each game.

YEL Chess classes for kids feature:

  • Our trademarked Teach It! Practice It! Play It!® methodology
    • Teach It! – Each class the our coaches teach a new chess lesson or concept, during the Teach It! portion of class.  The Teach It! portion of class almost feels like a game show with students eager to raise their hands and answer questions.  
    • Practice It! – During the Practice It! portion of class, students are given chess puzzles to solve on their own or in small groups.  Or they may be given a chess position to practice with fewer chess pieces.
    • Play It! – Kids love to play chess, so during the Play It! portion of class, we reserve 20-30 minutes of time to play against other students.  We pair students based on age and ability and try to switch opponents as often as possible.

      A chess student moves his king out of check.

      Play It! 20-30 minutes of each class for playing chess.

  • Dynamic coaches – Some of the best chess coaches in the region work with YEL students.  Many students have gone on to win local, regional, state, and a few have become national champions.
  • Comprehensive curriculum – YEL chess classes teach different lessons each week.  From basic piece movement through complex endgames and tactics and strategies.  YEL curriculum features dozens of lesson topics for multiple levels of students.
  • Merit points (Chess Dollars) – Students have the opportunity to earn their very own chess dollars.  Students can earn these dollars a number of ways: 1) By answering questions during the Teach It! portion of class; 2) By solving puzzles or positions during the Practice It! portion of class; 3) By playing a good chess game or coming up with an awesome move during the Play It! portion of class.
    • Students save their chess dollars like it’s their own money (what a great way to get youngsters used to managing money) and bring them back to class on the last day of each session and use the chess dollars for purchasing prizes.

Chess Tournaments

  •  YEL offers over-the-board (pre/post COVID) chess tournaments in multiple locations throughout the school year.  To learn more about these, please visit our Chess Tournament FAQ page.
Chess kids compete in non-elimination tournaments. This team won first place at a local tournament.

Chess Tournaments for Kids.

Find Classes

  • Visit our Registration   page and put in your zip code to find chess classes in your area.
  • YEL offers after school classes at your school at the end of the school day.
  • YEL also offers summer camps in your community or near you.
  • Can’t find a YEL chess class near you?  Email us at to discuss how to start classes in your area.

Summer Camps

What a great way to keep your child’s brain engaged!  Summer Chess Camps are day camps (usually 9am-noon, or 1-4pm) in your area.  We come right to locations within your community and teach our chess programs in a day camp setting.  Students of all levels can sign up.

Find Summer Camps


Chess FAQ

  • How do I register?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    To see a complete list of {YEL!} chess classes at all of our schools, visit our REGISTRATION PAGE.  

    Step 1: enter your zip code.  Then choose Chess from Course Subject.  You can filter by school, course name, start date, district, or teacher.

    Feel free to email us further questions via our CONTACT PAGE.

  • How is the class structured?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    Each {YEL!} chess class follows our method of Teach It!...Practice It!...Play It!

    Teach It!... In this portion, our instructors discuss a specific chess concept.  Castling, for instance.  The Teach It! portion of class usually lasts 10-15 minutes.

    Practice It!... In this portion, the students are either given chess puzzle pages to solve or their chess coach gives them a specific chess position to play from.  The coach then monitors their progress and gives them tips on how to master the concept.

    The puzzle pages contain puzzles for multiple levels.  From absolute beginner to 3rd or 4th year players.

    The coach reserves the right to give some more experienced students more challenging puzzles or chess positions.

    Play It!... Kids love to play chess.  We dedicate 20-30 minutes of each class to allow the students to play each other.  Our coaches matches students up based on: 1) Grade level; 2) Experience/proficiency; 3) Availability.  If there is an odd number of players, our coach may ask an experienced student to play two games at the same time (a mini simul, if you will), or have two players play against one player on the same board.  The paired up players alternate turns.

    If an experienced player is paired up against a less experienced player, the coach reserves the right to give the less experienced player an advantage by removing pieces from the experienced players side of the board.

  • What lessons or concepts do chess students study?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    Our curriculum contains 60+ lessons for players of all levels.

    Lesson concepts include:

    • Piece movement and capture.
    • Checkmate in one, two and three moves.
    • Fast checkmates and how to avoid them.
    • The Rook Ladder.
    • Basic opening theory.
    • King and a Queen versus a King checkmates.
    • Trapping a piece.
    • Elimination of the defense.
    • Many, many more!
  • What are the chess dollars?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    The chess dollars are essentially merit points awarded based on chess play, lessons and puzzles.  Students can earn the chess dollars for any number of reasons:

    • Answering a question during the Teach It! portion of class.
    • Solving puzzles or completing practice positions during the Practice It! portion of class.
    • Castling, creating a move that leads to a superior gain of material or position, checkmate, or playing hard during the Play It! portion of class.

    Once a student earns a chess dollar, they receive it immediately from their coach.  The student takes possession of the chess dollar and stores it in a wise location.

  • How are the chess dollars used?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    Students earn the chess dollars in class.  Chess dollars are like merit points and are non-transferable from one student to another.

    Students keep the chess dollars in their possession and turn them in for chess prizes.  For instance: magnetic chess board, chess keychains, chess trophies, chess medals, chess squeezes, and more.

    The chess prizes are brought to the final class of each session and the chess "store" opens during that final class.

  • What if my child loses the chess dollars?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    We prefer a note from a parent letting us know how many chess dollars the student lost.  Our coach will replace the chess dollars at the parent's request.

    NOTE: Some coaches may use this as a teachable moment and remind the student that the chess dollars are like real money and if they are lost, the student needs to find them.  After that is said, the coach will replace the missing dollars.

  • What if my child doesn't use all of their chess dollars?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    It is quite common for students to retain their chess dollars, sometimes for years.  Our most dedicated students save up their chess dollars for the biggest trophies...the Expert Trophy and the Grandmaster Trophy.  Those trophies take most students 3-5 years to save up for.

    As long as {YEL!} holds classes in your community, those chess dollars can be saved for future sessions of chess.  So, hang on to them...they are still valuable.

    If, at the end of their tenure with {YEL!} chess a student wants to use all of their chess dollars, they certainly can purchase whatever prizes they have enough chess dollars to buy.

  • Where should my child keep their chess dollars?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    Most students keep their chess dollars in a ziplock bag and keep that in their backpack.

    My preferred method, and the one I used for my three children, is to purchase a "chess wallet" and keep the chess dollars in their.  Then, store that wallet in a pocket of the child's backpack and that is the only item in that pocket.

    My three children used this method for years and it worked great!

  • Does my child need to bring a chess board?
    Chet Gunhus19-09-2018

    No.  We supply all of the chess boards and pieces.  Some students do bring their own chess set from home and that is fine.

  • Do you offer private lessons?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    Yes.  Many of the top players in the region study privately with a highly experienced coach.  We offer online and in-person private lessons.  For more information, email us at  Prices and availability vary from instructor to instructor.

  • What is
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    YEL partners with to give our students Gold Level Memberships (a $49/yr value) as part of the enrollment fee in YEL chess classes. is incredibly kid-friendly and in-depth.  The lessons on and the ones YEL Chess teaches are very similar.

    YEL chess students will be given a username and password.  It is then up to the student to use the account to their benefit.

    Give it a try.  It's a lot of fun!

  • What are the grade levels?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    YEL chess classes are designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grades.  We have had a very few pre-schoolers join the k-5 classes.  These pre-schoolers already knew how to play chess and enjoyed the class.  But that is rare.

    Kindergartners can certainly learn the game of chess, but students in this grade have a variety of levels.  A younger kindergartner might really struggle in a chess class, so it is ultimately up to the parent to decide.

    We have run chess classes for middle school students as well.  Those are taught by our most knowledgable coaches.

  • Do you offer scholarships?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    Yes, we offer scholarships on an as-needs basis.  This is also contingent on the current enrollment in the class.

    Reach out to us at for more information.

  • I can't find a class. What do I do?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    If you can't find a class near you on our Registration Page, we suggest you reach out to us at  Perhaps we don't have classes in your area at this time, but we could soon, with your help.

    YEL does offer franchise opportunities in dozens of states.  We'd love to talk to you if you are interested in owning your own local YEL franchise!  Visit our FRANCHISE PAGE for more information.

  • What is taught?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    YEL chess classes cover an array of topics.  From piece movement and capture to King and Pawn endgames, we have gobs of lessons.  We feel this is a reason why we have so many students returning from year to year.

  • How much does the class cost?
    Chet Gunhus22-01-2021

    Chess classes with YEL vary in cost dependent on facilities fees and teacher remuneration.

    We list the fees for each class on our Registration Page.  Visit our Registration Page and search for classes by your zip code and Course Subject.