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Blog - For Parents - Chess

Top Mobile Apps to Learn and Play Chess for Kids

Jan. 11, 2021

mom and son playing chess

Learning to play chess can be one of the most worthwhile and meaningful games to play, boosting a child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills across a lifetime. We also know that certain circumstances might make it a hard sell for many families, since many adults don’t know how to play chess, and community resources and lessons may be scarce.

Thankfully, when it comes to chess there’s an app for that! This ancient game has been fully brought into the 21st century with a wide array of engaging apps that are geared specifically toward teaching kids to play and offer ample opportunities for practice! Many of these apps are developed alongside the most prominent players and coaches in the game today, allowing little learners to master skills authentically.

If you’re looking for app suggestions to get your kids started playing chess, look no further; we’ve compiled a list of the very best, and oftentimes free, online chess lessons and apps for kids! 

For Beginners: Learning the Game

At first glance, chess might not seem like a game that many kids could play. When thinking about online chess for kids, many parents would struggle to figure out how and where to even begin, since the game is notoriously complex. However, when thinking that young children also learn to play musical instruments or dance starting from an early age, it can be easy to see how starting chess can certainly work.

For starters, there are a few apps that focus on introducing the game and its rules and pieces to budding young players. Try the following apps to get started:  

  • Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess

Anyone who knows anything about chess has heard of the legendary chess grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion. Carlsen isn’t just the world’s best chess player, but he also strives to teach others how to play the game, especially kids! One of his apps, called Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess, is a fun app that is best suited to early learners from ages 4 through 8 and is available on the Google Play store as well as the App Store.

This chess app for kids, teaches the game indirectly by introducing concepts of the game through engaging RPG gameplay. Each “character” in the game is actually a chess piece in disguise, and the only way to move them is the way one could move them through the game is in the way the piece moves in chess. While the app doesn’t explicitly teach chess, the concepts it presents are the same.

In general, this app:

  • Introduces children to chess concepts in a fun and engaging way
  • Includes puzzles battles that indirectly teach chess strategies such as checkmate and avoiding being captured
  • Rewards students with incentives such as collecting coins and treasure, and discovering new characters and outfits
  • Utilizes elements of video games to entice and encourage kids to learn chess

If your child struggles to stay focused or needs a learning method that is less like a lesson and more like video game, Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess might be the best fit!

  • ChessKid.com

This site and the app is hosted by chess.com, but offers so much more! Known as Chess for Kids- Play & Learn in the App Store, users can create a free account on a web browser, or on both Apple and Android devices. Chesskid.com offers a whole host of information, lessons, puzzles, and live games to help kids aged 4 and up learn to play and perfect their skills!

At the free account level, students can still learn to play, practice, and compete against bots or other players. To break it down, this app offers the following:

  • Full lessons, which include videos, articles, chess terms, and more!
  • Different ways to play, such as against a peer, against a bot, in tournaments, or a slower version
  • Players can connect with others live by playing virtually with friends or in clubs

What makes chesskid.com so great is that it allows students to practice their skills and hone their strategy by playing live with other children. While other apps teach the game and provides puzzles, this one does all that and offers a way to create and compete in clubs and tournaments.

  • Kids Academy Chess Course

The Chess Course by Kids Academy is a great way to introduce chess to your early learner! Developed for ages 4 through 8, students are directed through modules that start with the basics of the game. Kids progress through each chapter, building upon the knowledge they formed in earlier modules, progressing through the app and gaining more opportunity to build their skill.

Some key features of the app include:

  • Engaging child-appropriate videos and lessons guided with the expertise of the qualified chess expert
  • On-screen worksheets that offer immediate feedback
  • Follow-up application of the skill through an interactive chess puzzle game 

Overall, the Chess Course by Kids Academy is a great way to introduce and teach chess. Are you a parent or caregiver that doesn’t know how to play? Let the app take care of it, and you may even find yourself learning a thing or two. Find it in our Takented and Gifted app available on Google Play and App Store.

Try Chess Course Now  girls playing chess on ipad

Improving Skill and Playing with Others

Once kids learn the basics, it’s time to take those skills up a notch so students can master the art of special moves and hone their strategy. The following apps provide kids with additional ways to play a live virtual chess game versus a computer or real live opponents!

  • Chess.com

Chess.com has a lot to boast about considering that it hosts millions of live games each day online through a web browser or its apps, available for both Android and iOS users! In fact, chess.com owns chesskid.com, so the interface and available lessons are very similar, but geared towards older players. While chess.com is not a chess app for kids specifically, it can give children an extra challenge by playing more formidable opponents online, while parents supervise.

Just like chesskid.com, chess.com, this app offers:

  • Lessons that include beginner’s videos to learn pieces and moves
  • Different types of puzzles and drills that may offer more of a challenge for young players
  • The ability to play a computer or live opponent

When playing via a browser, there is no need to sign up for an account! Just go to the webpage, or launch the app, and start playing for free!

  • Play Magnus

Do you think your kid can grow up to beat world champion chess player Magnus Carlsen? What about when he was a kid? Play Magnus is designed to mimic the legendary player’s gameplay at various stages in his own chess development. 

Available on the web, iOS, and Google Play, subscribers actually gain access to three apps, one of which will be highlighted below. The Play Magnus app is unique because it:

  • Allows access to Magnus’ own video lessons, straight from the expert himself
  • Gives players a way to keep advancing skill level to beat Magnus at advancing ages from childhood through adulthood
  • Offers new players and member exclusive content that can motivate players as they move forward

As your child is progressing through his or her own skill level, tackling this app is one intriguing way to keep your little learner challenged.

  • Magnus Trainer

Perhaps your child needs yet another way to engage or learn the game. Magnus Carlsen certainly seems to understand the difficulty of learning to play chess as he offers a suite of different apps that all teach chess in a slightly different way. Unlike the offerings above, the Magnus Trainer app offers a variety of exciting puzzle games that allows players to keep track of their progress.

Specifically this app:

  • Hosts a growing collection of different puzzle games that utilize chess concepts
  • Offers interactive lessons that are based on actual games Magnus has played
  • Allows players to compete with friends while keeping detailed progress statistics

Just for Fun

And finally, any kid will  appreciate these additional resources as they to play chess! Check out the following apps for a slightly different take on the game, plus one to keep up with the latest and greatest in chess news!

  • ReallyBadChess

If your child is struggling to learn, or is perhaps stuck in a rut, try out this app to jazz it up! ReallyBadChess puts an entirely new spin on the game by giving players a completely random set of chess pieces and allows them to focus on earning checkmate instead of studying opening moves. For a completely off-the-wall experience that still allows players to utilize their chess skills, download this app to keep kids entertained with their new skills! 

  • Follow Chess

Want to get your student wrapped up into the game with the same enthusiasm that football fans have when they follow teams? While it might not be possible to go to an actual live tournament, your family can still keep track of all the latest competitions between the very best players in the world today! Check out the Follow Chess app to get live coverage and updates from the top international tournaments and check out the moves of the greatest players from around the world and keep your own analysis board as notes!

Parents: even if you don’t teach chess, your child can still become an up-and-coming player, mastering the moves and strategy needed to compete in tournaments, and have fun the whole while! To get started, check out the apps listed above and pick those that suit your own budding chess champion! 

Try Chess Course Now

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