Chess is a classic strategy board game that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is beloved by beginners and grandmasters alike for its strategic complexity and intellectually stimulating play. If you want to learn to play chess, you’ve come to the right place. This page is an overview of Smart Moves resources that help you do just that, either on your own or with the help of an expert.

Table of Contents

A good chess set for learning to play chess.

Getting Started with Chess

Chess may seem complicated at first, but there are really only a few key things you need to know in the beginning to get started on the right foot. Those details, plus the right tools, a plan, and good support will give you a perfect foundation for learning to play chess.

Learn the Rules

The first step when learning chess is understanding the basics of the chess board itself, along with the pieces and how they move. Of course, there are different methods for learning to play chess – self-guided and individual or group instruction are some of the most common.

You may find that you start with one approach in the beginning, but need a different approach as you grow. For example, you may initially want to learn to play chess by picking up the basic rules yourself. As your skills grow you may want to connect with an instructor to take your game further.

Learn to Play Chess through Self-guided Instruction

Are you the type that likes to learn on your own? Check out our sections of articles on the basics of chess to learn the chess board, pieces, and special moves that will get you started.

Once you know how the pieces move, it’s time to learn some basic chess strategy. Check out our recommendations for chess books, podcasts, and courses to help you master more advanced techniques like forks, pins, and discovered attacks. Internalize openings like Ruy Lopez or Italian Game to give your play style more structure.

Find a Chess Teacher

Prefer to work with a professional chess instructor or mentor to learn to play? Working with an expert can help you progress faster than you might individually. Browse or search chess instructor directory to find one-on-one lessons in your area or virtual lessons from across the world. Teachers can be sorted by location and skill level taught, from beginner fundamentals to advanced strategy. Meet your mentor and take the next steps toward mastery.

(And if you’re an instructor who is taking on new students, don’t forget to add yourself to the directory!)

Join a Chess Community

Practice makes perfect when working to improve at chess over time. Connecting with a community of fellow players at varying skill levels is key. Browse our directory of in-person and virtual chess clubs sorted by location and player rating. Join a club for camaraderie, casual play, stiff competition, or all of it. For online play, read our guide on online chess resources. Today’s options cover the gamut from casual online play to monthly rated tournaments.

In person chess clubs are a great way to meet likeminded people in your area. Not only will you get to practice your chess skills, you might meet people with whom you share more interests than just chess!

(Virtual and in-person club leaders, add your club listing to the directory here.)

Special Content for Beginners and Kids

Are you learning chess so that you can share it with kids? You couldn’t be in a better place. Smart Moves Chess has a detailed preschool chess curriculum and early learning guide that we’ve personally used to teach hundreds of young chess beginners. We make it easy and fun to learn (and to teach).

Start from the absolute basics with our guides on setting up the board properly and recognizing each piece. Our kids’ curriculum teaches rules, moves, and basic strategy using playful activities like ring tosses and songs. The lessons are designed for anyone to teach, regardless of prior chess knowledge.

With comprehensive lessons for all ages and easy access to in-person or online playing communities, we offer everything you need to progress from casually pushing pawns to crowning kings with smothered mates.

Building your bag

And last but certainly not least, you’ll want some of the tools of the trade so that you can practice and play whenever. (Or maybe just some cool clothes to share your love for chess). In our shop we have a curated selection of chess boards, pieces, and bags to get you started. We also have plenty of swag to give as gifts (or keep for yourself!) Check out our regularly updated buying guides to find the tools you’ll need or want as you pass through every level of play.

Don’t wait; start now!

Regardless of where you start – with an instructor, on your own, or by joining an online community, there’s no better time than now!