Chess Classes, Clubs, and Teachers

Parent Q&A

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  • Chess playing teens for hangout

    (0 replies)

    We are relatively new to the Berkeley/Oakland area, and my 15 year old son is having trouble meeting people his age (he attends a very small independent school). He is a passionate chess player and would love to meet others who play, for games and general hangouts. Any parents with chess-playing teens out there? Or does anyone know of some informal groups he might try (he is already familiar with Berkeley Chess School/Club)? Many thanks!

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  • Private chess coach for 5yr old

    (1 reply)

    Hi, we are looking for a private chess tutor for our 5yr old, who's been consistently playing against adults. And we are hoping to develop his interest. (Yes, we are also looking into the offerings at the Berkeley Chess School).

    We are flexible on weekday late afternoons or evenings and most times on the weekends. We would start on Zoom, and potentially move to in-person when it's safe to do so. 

    Please send me any referrals you have! 

    Thank you,


    My 8 year old twins have been taking classes and playing in tournaments at Berkeley Chess for a couple years. We have also taken lessons with Kingsland Chess via Zoom. Finally, they’ve taken lessons and played in many Mechanics Institute tournaments. If you don’t find what you want at Berkeley Chess you may want to email Kingsland or Mechanics Institute. They are all well known chess clubs in the area. Bay Area Chess is another one; it’s based in the South Bay but everything is on Zoom right now. 

  • Kids chess online with a friend

    (3 replies)

    My son is in 2nd grade, loves chess, and would like to have virtual chess playdates with buddies from school. (possibly with facetime set up next to him so they can talk while playing.) When I google, I am overwhelmed by options and wonder if anyone has already figured out the best solution to this.  I'm not interested in him playing against a computer or playing strangers on the internet. It's not about learning chess. It's about having some social time with friends during this time away from school. Any recommendations? Thank you!

    We have been using Chess with Friends app since last week to play with family and friends.  There are ads to close but it works great otherwise and is free! We all had to download the app and make usernames but that was it.

    My daughter just started playing chess with a friend on the app. It’s great! They FaceTime at the same time using a separate device.

    My third grader uses ChessKid app on our iPAD. It seems to work fine. Would you like to join and play with us?

  • ISO chess teacher for Kindergartner

    (1 reply)

    My son goes to Kensington Hilltop.  We were under the assumption he would have access to an after school class on chess but it turns out it's not available.

    We weren't able to organize a chess class within the KASEP umbrella and because chess is one of his few preferred activities, we are ISO a chess teacher for 1 or possibly up to 3 Kindergarten students.   Details flexible aka time, location (either at one of the student's house, or perhaps the Kensington Library)


    Berkeley Chess School has a beginner class on Friday evenings. There's also free chess class (mixed ages and abilities) at the San Pablo Library every Friday from about 3-5pm. If you can't find an instructor, perhaps one of these options will work for you. Good luck!

  • Searching for Chess Tutor

    (1 reply)

    We recently relocated from New York City, where my sons were avid chess players.  Can anybody recommend an engaging chess tutor who gives private coaching sessions?  We are familiar with the Berkeley Chess School and the boys are enrolled in class there, but I am looking to supplement with private lessons.  As background, their current ratings are around 600 and 1200.  Thank you!

    Please  contact the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco.

    They are  the oldest Chess Club in the U.S. and have a wide network of chess teachers across the Bay. They also host classes on Saturdays for players of all levels and their Tuesday Night Marathon is legendary in the Bay Area. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Classes, Teachers, & Groups Where to Buy a Chess Set

Casual Kids Chess Games?

April 2016

My 6 year old has started to really get into chess, and is progressing quickly. He has beaten me several times. I looked into the Berkeley chess club, but that seem super structure for anything else besides their afterschool class (which sadly is not at our school). I am just looking for something casual where he can play games with someone besides me, and maybe pick up some pointers, not a sit down class. Does anyone have suggestions? And if my understand of how the Berkeley chess club is wrong, please correct me, as I am just inferring from their website. Any favorite chess apps or online strategy videos geared towards kids would also be appreciated.
Much Thanks
- Now i have to learn chess too mom.

Here's several upcoming opportunities at the Dimond branch of Oakland Public Library: A tournament mid-month: Public Library Fan

I know there is a chess club that happens weekly at the UC village. There is a weekly chess club meeting at the Dimond Library with chess enthusiast on the 1st Saturdays of each month from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. Beginners, all levels, and all ages are welcome. The berkeley chess club has a weekly tournament on friday nights that are very relaxed and fun for kids to play. Check out They have video lessons, puzzles and you can play in a kid friendly environment with someone his level. i know alot of kids who play chess

I think you should give the Berkeley Chess School a chance. My daughter has done both their after school program and their main program, and it is actually a great, informal environment to learn chess. Yes, they do start with a lesson, but the rest of the class is just playing chess. The teachers are all enthusiastic and just enjoy sharing their love of chess to the kids. Now the main Berkeley program does have a tournament after the sessions, but that is optional (my daughter opted out). My daughter is not at all competitive, but loves chess and it's the one activity she requests to do. Marie

The Berkeley Chess School is awesome. They teach and host chess tournaments, but it is low key, age appropriate and fun. If your child loves chess and wants to play, check out the Friday night chess events. There is a class, then one tournament game. Kids are paired against kids at the same level, learn the ''touch move'' rules, how to use a clock and, as they advance they learn how to record games. The kids learn focus, patience and sportsmanship along the way. There are also camps in the summer and school breaks. It's all good. Some kids catch the bug as early as kinder and 1st grade. If your child loves it, great. If not, stop going. My son discovered chess late -- 5th grade. He started with the Berkeley Chess School. He is now a grandmaster and professional chess player, who owes his career to the early exposure and encouragement he got at BCS. Sam's Mom

Looking for a chess class/club for my 5 year old

April 2014

My five-year-old son's chess class will end the first week in June. I've been looking for a summer chess class or a chess club but only have been able to find camps (doesn't fit our schedule). Does anyone have tips or recommendations for weekly chess class or chess club appropriate for a five year old? My son has been taking classes for the last year. Last summer I worked with him on chess puzzles, but this year I'd like him to play more with kids at his own level (novice, unranked). Spencer

My 5 year old also loves chess and we are looking for summer play opportunities. We have one other friend he sometimes plays with. Maybe we can coordinate a young kids chess meetup at the library? Alameda library has a bunch of nice tables and rooms. Berkeley main could work too. Of course it would be cool if they could get some mentoring or instruction as well, but that's not my forte. Robin

If you haven't discovered the Berkeley Chess School, then you need to check them out. They are a great organization, with camps, classes and tournaments for kids year round. BCS holds Friday evening classes, followed by a tournament. If your son hasn't tried them, he should. They are low key competitions, and they are a great way to learn how to play tournament chess (use chess clock, record moves), improve at the game, and -- perhaps most important -- find other chess-minded kids. My son (now a grandmaster) got his start there. There also is the chess room at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. They run local tournaments and hold classes (Saturday mornings) and lectures (Tuesday evenings). The tournaments are for adults, but kids play in them too, once they have gotten the hang of tournament chess at places like Berkeley Chess School.

The CalChess website ( has listings of local events and tournaments (click on the ''scholastic'' link for the kids' tournaments).

Have fun. Chess is a great game, and the chess community has a lot of great kids. Sam's Mom

Seeking chess player for my 11yo son

Dec 2011

Hello. My 11years old son loves to play chess. He is looking for someone who can play chess with him regularly. He is attending Berkeley Chess school but once a week is not enough for him. Is there chess club or places where he can drop in and play chess in East Bay? Thank you. sami

Congrats on your chess-playing son. My son caught the chess bug at age 11 too, started with classes at the Berkeley Chess School and now is a Grandmaster. You asked about drop-in games. The Lafayette Public Library has monthly drop-in chess. The Library calendar shows there is a session on Saturday, December 17 at 4pm. If you have discovered the Berkeley Chess School, then you probably have learned about their Friday tournaments. If your son hasn't tried them, he should. They are low key competitions, and they are a great way to learn how to play tournament chess (use chess clock, record moves), improve at the game, and -- perhaps most important -- find other chess-minded kids. There also is the chess room at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. They run local tournaments and hold classes (Saturday mornings) and lectures (Tuesday evenings). The tournaments are for adults, but kids play in them too, once they have gotten the hang of tournament chess at places like Berkeley Chess School. The CalChess website ( has listings of local events and tournaments (click on the ''scholastic'' link for the kids' tournaments). Have fun. Chess is a great game, and the chess community has a lot of great kids. Sam's mom

Chess teacher or class for adults

Sept 2009

Does anyone know of a chess instructor/class for adults? I want to learn, but don't think a book will do it for me. Alameda would be my preference. chess fan

Hi Chess Fan, I would suggest that you contact the Berkeley Chess School - you could google them for the contact info. The Berkeley Chess School is primarily a non-profit that teaches chess to children (and an award-winning one at that!) but from time to time they have adult classes - I think they had one for a while aimed at boosting memory and adaptive thinking for (baby)''boomers'', and I know they host a weekly adult chess tournament on Friday nights.

They do really great outreach throughout the Bay Area, and they have been around for decades, so if they aren't actually having an adult class right now, they might be able to make a recommendation. I agree that learning by yourself from a book might be overwhelming (there are *so* many chess books); the Berkeley Chess School's approach to teaching chess emphasizes learning strategy and the basic principles of the game in order to develop your own playing style, instead of memorizing a bunch of positions, or getting lost in the analysis of a single game. (If you have ever had a lesson from a chess master who was out of touch with the beginner's perspective, you know what I mean!) Good luck! It's addicting!

Another poster recommended the Berkeley Chess School, which I second. There also is the Chess Room at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. They run local tournaments and hold classes (Saturday mornings) and lectures (Tuesday evenings). The classes, like those at BCS, are mostly for kids, but there might be some adult students too. And there are players (adults and kids) who play both in Berkeley and at Mechanics who would be happy to be paid to teach you privately. My son teaches chess; he won't take on a beginner, but he may have some ideas for you. Sam's Mom

After-school chess for 8th grader

Aug 2009

Our eighth grader would enjoy participating in an after-school chess club. We can no longer find any info (website, etc) for the Berkeley Chess Club. Wondering whether anyone knows of an equivalent or another way to find said club. We're in North Berkeley and school is in El Cerrito. Many thanks. Deborah

The Berkeley Chess School is alive and well, and has classes and tournaments.

The Mechanics Institute also has a chess club, with classes for kids and frequent tournaments.

The practical challenge for your child will be that most of the classes are oriented towards grade-school kids. There is relatively little casual/recreational chess for older kids: By the time they are in middle school, kids are either serious chess players (i.e., playing with/against adults), or they have moved on to other things. Chess mom

Where to buy a nice chess set for eager child

April 2007

We are looking for a nice set of chess pieces for a 2nd grade graduation gift for our son who loves to play chess, something less than $75 and probably carved wooden pieces (sans board, just the pieces). Are there any stores in the east bay that sell such items? Is this a reasonable amount to assume or will what we want cost much more?

We've bought our set of tournament chess pieces at They are not works of arts, but ... what the pros use! Iris

For a nice chess set, try End Game on Washington in downtown Oakland/Old Oakland ( We found a beautiful, portable wooden chess set for my 1st grader for about $30, if I remember correctly. Amy

Try Games of Berkeley at Shattuck and Center (southeast corner). I've never bought a chess set there, but I have been in the store many times and seen they have a large selection of chess sets. anon

Try Games of Berkeley on Shattuck. They should have a wide variety. As someone who also has a chess enthusiast son, and who has bought and received as gifts several chess sets (many of which have been virtually unplayable) here's what I think you should look for:

  * inexpensive (so it can go to a friend's house, the park, wherever if desired with no worry.) * large board (there is nothing more frustrating than knocking down other pieces when trying to move one.) * resonably large pieces * set where black and white can cleary be told apart (this has been a problem with two sets people have brought us back from abroad that were made of wood or stone.) * traditional piece design, where which piece is which can cleary be identified (no star wars or animal themes...) 

Enjoy the game! If he likes it, you'll be buying several more over the years. Also check out the Berkeley Chess School. anne

Finding other child chess players

March 2006

Hi, I have two children (5 and 7) who love to play chess....I play with them, but I wish I actually *liked* the game myself. Our local public elementary does not have a chess club so we are looking for children who are interested in playing. We'll travel to pretty much anywhere in the East Bay to play. thanks! ----lucia

Berkeley Chess School has Friday night classes for kids of all levels in Berkeley and Walnut Creek. Claire

Berkeley Chess School provides chess classes to children in various schools and they may be able to help you. Also, they hold tournaments for kids and I am sure that your children will meet lots of other kids who are interested in chess as well: MK

Cool chess set for girls?

Jan 2005

My daughter has recently taken to chess, and I would like to get her a set for her birthday. Does anyone know of any cool chess sets made especially to appeal to girls? (i.e., pink/purple, or fairy characters, or...just something cool.) She will be six. Thanks for any leads. elizabeth

I bought my son a beautiful chess set at one of my favorite local artisans' workshops: Fellowship Foundry Pewtersmiths, just a short & easy drive down the freeway in San Leandro. In fact, whenever I want to find a special gift for a child or anyone else for that matter, I like to check Fellowship Foundry first. They have unique and beautiful handmade gifts, many of which are practical (check out their cake servers, under wedding accessories, and their fairy baby cups under ''new items'' -- too cute!). They have a great website ( and if you call them, they'll give you easy driving directions to their foundry/shop. I decided to buy my son their chess set because it was simply the most beautiful one I'd ever seen (you have to see their little characters, so delightfully detailed). I recommend against getting a chess set that might seem too age-appropriate for a little kid, because if you're lucky, they'll keep playing chess all their lives, and it's nice to have a chess set that they can keep. Just my two cents' worth. Anyway, my son loves his Fellowship Foundry chess set. Melissa

Have you checked Games of Berkeley? They have a nice variety of chess sets, some sure to please your daughter. G

Nice chess set for my husband

Dec 2003

I want to give my husband a chess set for Christmas. Where can I find a nice one? I am hoping he'll play with our child, so I want a traditional style - not too abstract - that is, the knights should look like horses and the castles like castles...? Fran

Games of Berkeley on Shattuck across from Berkeley BART. They have all kinds. --

Have you tried Games of Berkeley, on Shattuck & Center? anon

Try Games of Berkeley across the street from the downtown Berkeley BART. Parking may be a challenge. Anon

If you're in Oakland, try Endgame on Lakeshore Ave. Their phone is 465-3637. I bought a chess set there a couple months ago. Given the season, I'll also mention that they carry Cheapass games -- games that cost only $6 because they don't include the money, dice, etc. Fun! Cheap! Imaginative! We love ''Unexploded Cow.'' dawn

You may wish to consider a chess set from the Berkeley Chess School (843-0150). Their sets are reasonably priced and of good quality. Donna

Seeking chess class for 10 year old

February 2003

Does anyone know of a good chess school, club or tutor in Berkeley or Oakland? My 10 year old son has loved chess since he was 3 and has a natural talent for the game (despite the fact it does less than nothing for his parents). After years of playing pick up games with whoever walks in the door, he very much wants to learn more advanced stuff (openings, gambits, etc) and meet other kids who play. His school does not have a chess club. He needs interaction as he wouldn't study it out of a book on his own. I checked the archives and couldn't find anything. Does anyone have any specific recommendations? Thanks. Out of Depth (as to chess) Mom

The Berkeley Chess School is the best. Check out their website and a telephone number 510-843-0150 All sorts of great chess learning opportunities for kids of all ages and skill levels. My kids (7 and 10yrs now) have followed their programs - summer camps, afterschool classes, tutors, chess club and competitive local team for 4 years with great success and joy. Judith

i don't have a specific answer, but my brother (age 8) is a member of some chess club in ohio that has sites across the country--i went to their webstite, they do list at least one club in berkeley. you might want to check it out! good for other chess info too. jessz

The Berkeley Chess School is a good place to start. Visit They run chess classes at bay area schools but also offer a friday night session and summer school. Mary

Best place to start is the berkeley chess school. Phone number is 843-0150, or for private tutor Ben Russack was good working with our son who is now 7. He is USCF rated and has taught for 5 years. 510-665-6074 or email benjamin_russack AT kathryn

Two things in Albany: 1. The Community Center offers kids' chess classes. 2. The Albany library has FREE drop-in chess for all levels on Tuesday evenings. R.K.

Albany Library has good quality chess class, which I think is free on tuesday or wednsday. Good place to meet other kid players with very good instruction. Class starts with teacher going over some facit of the game followed by open play with teacher support. Berkeley has chess club, Im pretty sure. Dont have contact. Peter

Looking for the chess teacher from Montessori Family School

January 2003

Hello, I am trying to find out a gentleman named 'Ed' who taught Chess as a hobby class at the Montessori Family School. My son really bonded well with him and wanted to continue learning the game. It would be great if anyone can give me his phone number. Thank you priya

Ed the chess teacher's last name is Hirsch. He teaches at Madera elementary school after school, so you could probably get a phone number for him from Madera's flyer for afterschool programs; ask at the school's office. Alternatively, the school's afterschool coordinator, Sandy Thacker, should know his number. My son took chess classes from Ed; he was a great teacher. brian

Chess groups for 6 and 8 year olds

June 2002

My 6 and 8 year old boys have discovered chess, and I would like them to learn and play with others more skilled than I am and to provide opportunities for them to play with others their own ages. Does anyone know of any chess instructors or groups for kids their ages? andrea

The Berkeley Chess School is great. They have summer camps this summer, teach classes in many of the local schools as well as their own Friday evening class, and run a VERY low key US Chess Federation kids' chess tournament every Friday night (except in the summer; they start again on Sept. 6). The Director, Elizabeth Shaughnessy, is a former Irish National Champion, and a wonderful, colorful character. Check out their web site: Leslie

Berkeley Chess Club is an excellent resource for chess for all ages. They have a web site. They have a 'tournament' for children and adults every Friday night at Epworth Church in North Berkeley. My 6 year old enjoyed it the one time we were able to make it. They also have a summer camp which we will be trying out later this summer; and they teach a lot of the after school chess classes at various schools. Hope this helps. ellen

Our 6 year old son started with The Berkeley Chess School at Berkeley Montessori when he was 4. We moved to Washington School this year and he continued with the afterschool program (even though the minimum age was supposed to be 1st grade). He played kids up through 5th grade. He enjoyed it for the first semester, then felt that they weren't learning anything new. He started tournament chess with kids his age in December or so, played in three tournaments and then has taken a break from the whole scene. I think the Berkeley Chess School is great. The tournaments were pretty intense (some ''stage dads'' evident and it was almost entirely boys). He won his first game and felt very positive about it. Then he lost and drew on his next two games and at age 6, I think that bummed him out. We play with him at home so I am sure he will pick it up again. The after school club is pretty low key and available at many of the Berkeley Public Schools. The number for the Chess School is 843- 0150. The Chess School is also running summer camps. Kathryn

There is a free Chess Club at the Albany Public library every Tuesday night from 6:00 - 8:00. The young man who runs it is David Pruess. It is for all ages, but there are many who are your children's ages. There is also the Berkeley Chess Club, and they are listed in the phone book. It is not just in Berkeley. They have chess club every Friday night I think, at the Northbrae Community Church (?) on The Alameda near Solano Avenue. There are private instructors in this area, as well. If none of that pans out, you can contact the US Chess Foundation. They have an internet site (http:.// and have been helpful to us in finding instructors for our 15 year old. Feel free to contact me via e-mail, and I could give you some phone numbers. Good luck. Tobie

The Berkeley Chess School runs a summer chess camp for children. It also runs programs during the school year at many of the public schools in Berkeley and around the bay area. Phone 510-843-0150 for information. Pamela

The Berkeley Chess School offered chess classes for children in the past, so you might call them: 843-0150 anon