I’ve been teaching chess in schools in and around DC since 2009. Over that time period, I’ve personally taught roughly 2,500 students. The company my brother and I own, Silver Knights Chess, has taught 100,000 students. A few of those students have won several state and national championships, but most of them were beginners looking to learn a new skill and have fun. Over time, we’d occasionally have parents or coaches ask about online classes, and for all sorts of (pretty good!) reasons, we were never interested in trying them out.
However, a year ago, we tried online courses for the first time, and after a little trial and error, I’ve learned the value of online classes! The online club we’re running is really great — the kids have fun, learn, and socialize in a way that’s easy and convenient for families. Our club is celebrating its birthday in March, and so all month we have a special for DC Area Moms readers — get $50 off the first month (so $29 instead of the normal $79) with the coupon DCMoms if for families who sign up until April 4! There’s no long-term commitment, and students can start any time.
Here are 8 great reasons to give Silver Knights Chess a shot!
1. The weekly small group classes are fun, social, and a great way to learn!
Each week each student does a small group class with no more than seven other students. The kids do an icebreaker, a lesson, and some online games of chess with each other. This is what a minute of a class looks like.
2. Every student is different, and we treat them that way.
Each new family starts their membership by chatting with a member of our staff, about how things work, and what level they should start with. We have six different levels of classes from Pawns (what is chess?) to Kings (my favorite player is Fabiano Caruana). As students progress, they move up from Pawns to Knights to Bishops to Rooks to Queens to Kings.
3. The club is built for busy families.
Our club is designed to be flexible for families. Once you’re placed in a level for small group classes, when the time comes to schedule the classes, we have 15+ time slots each week for you to choose from. Mostly these are weekday afternoons at 3:30/4:30/5:30, but there are also options during the day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. If a child misses a week, they can make it up the next week, no problem at all! Our goal is for it to work for our students … and their parents!
4. So… Much… Chess…
In addition to the weekly small group class, we offer 1-2 other things that kids can do every day from Monday-Saturday as part of their club membership with us. Our goal is to get the kids excited about chess, so they want to do more, and then we give them more! We do broadcast lessons every weekday and tournaments four times a week. Students can do as much as they want of these extras.
5. Special Events!
What kinds? When we started teaching chess online, I taught a series of lessons about Judit Polgar’s games and life, mostly drawn from her books. If you don’t know who she is, she’s been the highest-ranked female chess player in the world since she was 12 years old in 1989. When she became a grandmaster, she was the youngest grandmaster ever, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record. She’s beaten ten world champions in competition. You get the picture, right? After a few weeks, it occurred to me that over Zoom, maybe we could get her to come guest teach a lesson, and … she did!
We had almost 300 students do a live lesson with her, and twenty or thirty of them got to ask her questions. This would have been unthinkable to do in-person, but online? Easy. We’ve also done a few international tournaments with a club from Australia, and have brought in a load of other great guest instructors.
6. Chess teaches valuable lessons.
One of the best things to learn from chess is how to process mistakes and failure. Chess is a perfect laboratory for children to experience failure and loss in a situation that might feel very real but doesn’t actually matter. It then gives the child a chance to process those feelings, and to learn from those mistakes in a productive way. After a game of chess (especially online), there’s a perfect record of what happened, and a student can figure out exactly where they went wrong, and what to do differently next time. This is an incredibly valuable tool to take with you in life.
7. The families doing it now really like it.
Every month, more than 90% of our students decide to stick around for another month. In our surveys after class meetings, our average score from students is better than a 9 out of 10.
8. March is the best time to start.
In celebration of our first year of online chess, you can get $50 off your first month with the coupon code DCMoms. This takes the price for your first month from $79/month down to $29, with no long-term commitment.