Chess

BEST COACHES…BEST RESULTS

  • We mean it.  At the 2013 SCA State Championship K-3 division.  9 of the top 20 students were from YEL chess programs.  Those 9 students were represented by 6 different YEL teachers.
  • Our coaches have coached State Championship teams (Igor Rybakov), National Championship teams (Sima Sokolovskaya), multiple individual state champions, are former state champions, and are actively among the best chess players in the state.
  • All of our coaches, regardless of their playing proficiency, are kid-friendly and love the teaching process.
  • One of our most prevalent comments from parents is, “My son played me in chess last week and really gave me a run for the money.”  Or better yet, from a student, “I beat my dad/mom/grandpa/etc. in chess yesterday.”  We are very confident that our chess program the basics and helps accelerated students become the best they can be.

Our classes have three phases:

    • Lesson (15-20 minutes per day)
    • Our lessons start with basic instruction on a chess concept. As the lesson progress, the examples get more complicated. This cements basics for new and returning students, allows returning students to apply more advanced concepts and introduces new students to these same concepts. We find a cooperative learning environment works best for these lessons.
    • Practice (10-15 minutes per day)
    • Students are asked to apply the daily lesson into simplified chess games (or drills), puzzles and workbooks designed to challenge students of varying experience.
    • New students play rudimentary chess games and do worksheets that apply basic concepts.
    • Returning students play the same simplified chess games, but are asked to apply advanced concepts and work through strategic concepts on a deeper level. The worksheets and booklets will have more advanced puzzles.
    • Advanced students will work as above, but will have even more complicated puzzles and booklets to work through.
    • Playing (25-35 minutes per day)
    • Players are paired up with students of similar age and skill level. Our instructors direct them on strategy, application of studied concepts and analyze each ongoing game. We emphasize sportsmanship and applying studied concepts.

OTHER YOUTH ENRICHMENT LEAGUE EVENTS INCLUDE:

  • CHESS TOURNAMENTS – We host chess tournaments throughout the metro area. Look for information for:
      • Anoka-Hennepin School District Chess Tournament – January 29, 2011.
      • Western Metro Chess Tournament – Usually held each March.
      • Southern Metro Chess Tournament – Usually held each April.
      • Northern Metro Chess Tournament – Usually held each April.

  • SUMMER BLITZ CHESS CAMP
  • A great way to strengthen chess skills over the summer. These camps are taught by some of the more accomplished chess instructors in the metro area. Call YEL for details.
  • Call or email us at info@youthenrichmentleague.com if you would like to receive information about evening chess classes.

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.   From there you can search by your zip code, school, school district, subject, course, or your favorite 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.

Upcoming Tournaments

Visit our EVENTS PAGE to find upcoming tournaments.

Private Chess Lessons

We take a lot of pride in our after school courses.  We have seen many students emerge from those classes with well-honed chess skills.  

However, a number of accelerated and dedicated students are looking to take that leap into prominence and are willing to put in the extra time it takes to become a top-notch chess player.  1-on-1  or small group lessons are fantastic ways to add more depth, skill and understanding to your chess skills.

Below is a list of instructors who also teach private and semi-private (no more than 4 to a group) lessons.  Fees are based on teacher remuneration, drive time (if in your home) and the number of students.  Please call our office for scheduling and fee information.

Instructors include:

  • Sima Solovaskaya – Sima (Serafima) is certainly one of the top chess coaches in Minnesota.   She has coached state and USA National Champions as well as a bevy of Russian and European Champions; she is the second highest rated female in MN; she is a former coach of the Russian Olympic School of Chess; she has authored a myriad of chess curricula for YEL.  Need I say more.  She is primarily interested in working with dedicated, hard working students who have a thorough understanding of basic chess concepts.
    • AVAILABLE – Saturdays in St. Paul.
  • Nathan Hoover is in the elite National Master category of USA chess players  (USCF rating of 2,200 or more) and he is a former Minnesota State Champion (1989).  Nathan’s students are highly skilled and he had many students in the top 30 at the 2013 state tournament.  He is particularly gifted at analyzing games and positions in significant detail.  Nathan is also a certified computer scientist.
    • CALL FOR AVAILABILITY.
  • Mark Ball – Mark is a highly sought after instructor with years of experience teaching hundreds of students in the southern metro area. Mark’s students often place high in local tournaments and sign up year round to learn the next great chess move from Mr. Ball.
  • John Satre – John has taught thousands of students the basics of chess and is the coach for two of the top six schools from the 2013 k-3 state tournament.  He is particularly good at creating team atmosphere and getting students interested in attending local tournaments.  John is also a wood-smith and archer.
  • Jerry Christians – Jerry has experience in many fields, including chess.  His students and schools are climbing the ranks at local and regional chess tournaments.  Jerry is a former Honeywell project manager and has taught many YEL courses.
    • AVAILABLE – Evenings and Saturdays near Maple Grove area.