A Beginner’s Guide To
Coaching Scholastic Chess
Ralph E. Bowman
Copyright © 2006
Page 1 of 65
I started playing tournament Chess in 1962. I became an educator and began
coaching Scholastic Chess in 1970. I became a tournament director and organizer in
1982. In 1987 I was appointed to the USCF Scholastic Committee and have served
each year since, for seven of those years I served as chairperson or co-chairperson.
With that experience I have had many beginning coaches/parents approach me with
questions about coaching this wonderful game. What is contained in this book is a
compilation of the answers to those questions.
This book is designed with three types of persons in mind: 1) a teacher who has
been asked to sponsor a Chess team, 2) parents who want to start a team at the school
for their child and his/her friends, and 3) a Chess player who wants to help a local
school but has no experience in either Scholastic Chess or working with schools. Much
of the book is composed of handouts I have given to students and coaches over the
I have coached over 600 Chess players who joined the team knowing only the
basics. The purpose of this book is to help you to coach that type of beginning player.
What is contained herein is a summary of how I run my practices and what I do with
beginning players to help them enjoy Chess. This information is not intended as the
one and only method of coaching.
In all of my college education classes there was only one thing that I learned that
I have actually been able to use in each of those years of teaching. That was an
offhand remark by a professor one day who said, “Every good teacher is a thief. They
steal the best from all of the good teachers they have observed, wrap it up with a little of
their own personality, and use that combination to educate kids”. Steal some of these
ideas, steal some ideas from other coaches, incorporate your own ideas, you then will
have the proper