How to Start a Chess Club

Starting a chess club is a fairly simple endeavor - it requires time, patience, a place a meet, and some money for equipment.

Talk with the Principal of the school to see what the ground rules are for before/after school clubs, and their requirements. Is there any budget? Do you get money from the school or the PTSA, or do you "charge dues" or ask for donations for attending the club to raise money for equipment? Do you need a teacher to be involved? You may need to put together a proposed budget and "business plan" to pitch to the PTSA to get funding.

Put some ideas together for options of a place to meet (i.e. the school's cafeteria, gymnasium, or library, or maybe an off campus facility like a church or community meeting room…), and the time/day you'd like the club to meet (before school on Wednesday's for an hour). Before school is easier since you don't have to worry about how kids get home.

How many kids do you expect? 5-15% of the population is a rule of thumb, though in my first year we had 20% - it was a new school, with not a lot of other clubs or activities. Make sure the facility you arrange for is suitable for the size of your club. Make sure there are tables and chairs available and set up (perhaps you need to talk to the janitor?).

Put a budget together for equipment - is a terrific resource. Advertise
Once the money and facility stuff is taken care of, order the equipment and advertise. Run articles through the school paper. Put up posters in the school.

What information do you need for each student to join the club? Name, parent's names, phone numbers, email addresses, teacher's name, emergency contact info. Their estimated chess skill level… Put a membership form together and make it available - hanging next to the posters in the school, in the before/after school care center, in the office, on your chess club website. Take some blank forms with you to the chess club meetings. Put a database or spreadsheet together to organize the information you gather. Put an email distribution list together to keep the parents informed of what's happening with chess club.

Oh, you might want to put a website together for distributing information and keeping the excitement going.

Volunteers are important for running the club. One adult for every 10-15 kids is a good ratio.
Volunteers are also valuable for doing some of the stuff I've mentioned throughout this article - you don't need to do it all yourself!

Teach the kids to play "touch move" rules. If they touch a piece, they have to move it if it's legally possible. If they touch their opponents piece, they must take it if it's legally possible. No "take-backs" -- sorry, but if they ever play in a tournament, they'll need to live by those rules, so live by it in the club.

Other ideas

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