Why Teach Chess to Young Children?

The game of chess, long considered a game for elite intellectuals or older individuals, has recently seen a resurgence among younger students. Chess lessons and clubs are now ubiquitous throughout many NYC elementary and secondary schools. Chess At Three, has revolutionized the game of chess, now teaching chess to children as young as THREE years old. Teaching children chess at the preschool level helps propel them ahead of the curve, so they are confident in the game and equipped to participate and even compete when they get older.

Beyond that, there is copious research to support the many cognitive benefits that stem from learning the game of chess, such as strengthened academic performance, improved test scores, increased IQs and enhanced arithmetic skills and critical thinking.

Why Chess at Three?


Moreover, learning how to play chess instills confidence within a child and even boosts their emotional intelligence. As our founder, Tyler Schwartz, has said, “With Chess At Three’s curriculum, we pay attention to the unexpected benefit of emotional intelligence from chess. Children will have to deal with the elation of winning and the disappointment of losing, sometimes for the first time.”

We Are The Authority in Early Childhood Chess

Chess At Three is the authority in early childhood chess. We understand the profound benefits of chess and the effectiveness of learning through storytelling. Our mission is to extend the benefits of chess through the power of storytelling. We create an unforgettable and interactive learning environment which teaches 100% of our children, as young as the age of three, to play and fall in love with chess.   

A typical Chess at Three lesson teaches children much more than the rudimentary rules of chess. In an era of “everybody wins a trophy” many kids struggle with learning how to graciously win and lose. Our Chess at Three kids learn the importance of sportsmanship and they honor one another with a handshake at the end of each game. We also teach kids chess history and math, and our Certified Storytellers (aka “chess tutors”) even help kids get their wiggles out with physical movements (“chessercizes”).

Chess at Three is now being taught in preschool curriculum around the country, reaching as many as 14,000 children each week. Help your child get ahead through the many benefits of learning chess at a young age. Call us to schedule your first chess lesson TODAY!  (844)-692-2437

Chess at Three's Tyler Schwartz featured in WCBS Radio 50 People to Know

Tyler Schwartz (Credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

Tyler Schwartz (Credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

Listen to WCBS Radio's feature on Tyler Schwartz and Chess at Three using the player below.

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Tyler Schwartz was more than 3 years old when it started for him.

“I started playing in college because I was going to study with someone from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and someone told me that all the guys in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra love chess,” he told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman one afternoon recently as they sat in toddler-sized chairs on opposite sides of an adult chess board. “So I figured I’d learn the game so if it came up, I could at least talk about it.”

Schwartz found a chess club in the Village and within a few years was playing in competitive tournaments at night. As his passion for the game grew, one day came a call asking if he’d be interested in teaching chess to preschoolers.

He figured Google might give him some insight into how to help children so young comprehend such a heady game.

“But there was just nothing out there,” he told Silverman. 

On his first day, Schwartz had seven classes in a row.

“I went into the first class and I said, ‘hey everyone, this is the king, he moves one square at a time,’ and the kids all asked, ‘Why?’ So I said, ‘it’s kind of just one of the rules,'” he said.

You can imagine the blank stares.

By the seventh class, Schwartz was beginning to get frustrated.

“(But when the kids asked) ‘Why?’ I said, ‘because he has a huge belly,’ just out of pure instinct. And the kids were like, ‘What?'” he said.

The lightbulb came on.

“I said, ‘he had pancakes for breakfast, 10 pancakes.’ And I asked the children, ‘If you had a belly that big, would you walk fast or slow?'” he said.

When Schwartz put the king on the board and asked the kids how he should move, the answer was, remarkably, a single space at a time.


When the complex, thinking-person’s game of chess becomes as simple as story time, Schwartz said there’s no need to be a grand master to teach it. Some of Chess At Three’s 50 instructors are actors and stand-up comedians.

“The environment is so creative,” said Rebekah Melocik, who’s a musical theater lyricist when she’s not teaching at the club on Madison Avenue. “They encourage you to really make every lesson your own.”

“They’re kind of unknowingly going into this mental gym,” said Schwartz. “They just think it’s fun, it’s silly. They we play this game and they don’t know they’re doing these really difficult calculations and predictions.”

Now that he’s licensing his curriculum to preschools around the country, Schwartz and Chess At Three reach as many as 14,000 children a week.

“You really get to connect one-on-one,” said Melocik, as she prepared to teach three boisterous boys, Max, Ben and Charlie, an afternoon lesson. “I feel like of any job I’ve had in my adult life, this one you really have to show up for, you can’t phone it in.”

And it’s easy to see how they learn about far more than just chess.

“If a 4-year-old really loves chess and he loses a game, he’s going to be really upset,” said Schwartz. “Trying to get that child to shake hands and say, ‘good game,’ is the most difficult thing we can do. So we have a five-week story about how it’s important to shake hands even after you lose and even if you feel rotten.”

(Credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

(Credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

Chess At Three Helps Children Succeed

Chess At Three Helps Children Succeed

If you are raising young children in New York City, you likely know the pressure surrounding school admissions all too well. Getting into private NYC preschools and elementary schools is often touted as equally or more competitive than admissions to Ivy League universities. There are many factors at play contributing to this notoriously competitive process, but one well-known catalyst is the New York baby boom. Census figures demonstrate the high increase in young children living in Manhattan. With NYC’s rapidly growing population of youngsters, it has become even more challenging to secure a spot in the city’s best private preschools and elementary schools.

Press: A Wild Dove blog

Lifestyle blog A Wild Dove wrote a great article about Chess at Three, reprinted below.

If you could do something for your kids that would increase their IQ, enhance their memory, verbal skills and critical thinking while fostering emotional intelligence and confidence, it would be a no-brainer.  Well, there is, and it’s hiding in the most unlikely of places.  It’s called chess. Yes, that chess.  And no, your kids are not too young to learn.  At least that’s what Tyler Schwartz and Jon Seiber realized when they introduced Chess at Three, an after-school program that teaches the game to kids as young as three through a powerful storytelling method.  Yes, the pieces spring to life, where kids learn sequencing, strategy, language and math all through connecting with the characters on the chess board. 

We sat down with Chess at 3’s director of tutors, Harlan Alford to talk about the program and why storytelling is such a meaningful teaching mechanism.



Chess At Three was created by Tyler Schwartz and Jon Sieber.  Tyler taught chess at the Village Chess Shop and was approached to teach chess to 3 year olds, an age younger than anyone has taught before.  After several lessons it was not working. His traditional attempts to teach chess were not affecting the children.  The kids were not having fun with the game.  So one day he made a story up about the piece that was super funny and had all the children cracking up.  The story simply told how the King moved.  The kids loved it.  They wouldn't stop talking about it that week.  So the school’s staff brought Tyler back.  And he did it again.  The kids fell in love with the game because they loved the stories and the characters.  Tyler brought Jon on to see what he was doing.  Jon is not a strong chess player but had been working with children for years.  Jon tried teaching a lesson through stories and it was fantastic.  This is the moment that I think is special.  Realizing that fun is the best way for young children to learn.  Games are important. We can teach them sequencing and strategy, how to win and lose and how to work on language and mathematics all in a fun lesson with silly teachers that love working with children.


Our trigger moment was when the stories were developed.  When we realized if we get children having fun playing chess they will fall in love with it. If we tell them stories and develop a world, they will dig into it to discover more and more.  The other trigger moment was when we realized that we didn’t have to be grandmasters to teach these kids.  We needed to be amazing storytellers. Stories are a powerful tool.  Being told what to do doesn’t help us absorb what we need to know or to do or how to play, but being set free in a world to discover it for ourselves does. And our teachers are incredible story tellers and creatives who make the game come alive. 


While people of all ages (3-93+) benefit from playing chess in a variety of ways, starting at a very young age can jumpstart early childhood development. We discovered that teaching chess at the surprising age of 3 is both possible and beneficial.  So we believe this is the best age to start.


Kids are the best!  Well I’ve personally learned that I’m not as sneaky as I thought I was.  They are very perceptive, not a lot gets past them.  I’ve also learned to be clear, intentional.  Kids don’t stand for insincerity. Having fun and being genuine is the best way to get anyone to listen. 


We will soon be rolling out our own chess board game. I know there are hundreds of them out there but ours is going to be completely different.  It will still keep the traditional chess pieces so kids can learn exactly what chess is, not just a version of it, but then we developed a way to incorporate our silly characters to the pieces as well.  And our stories will be attached.  It’s going to be super fun and helpful so that when a tutor is not around parents can play with their kids and everyone can have a blast.


Figuring out how creativity and strategy can come together and provide something for people.  I believe we are doing that.  We want to help parents get their children ahead.  Chess is the best way to do that.  It has all the ingredients to make the best brain and I believe we have created a learning experience that allows kids at a very young age to gobble up good learning tactics.  Every day is my favorite day of the week when you get to play games and tell stories!

Originally published at http://www.awilddove.com/diary/2017/2/25/check-mate

Press: World Magazine

Chess at Three is featured in an article by Emily Belz in World Magazine entitled Kings and Pawns which covers the World Chess Championship:

Tyler Schwartz, Chess at Three Co-Founder

Tyler Schwartz, Chess at Three Co-Founder

Can children as young as 3 learn chess? Tyler Schwartz, the co-founder of Chess at 3 and a Christian, thinks so. Nine years ago Schwartz was teaching chess to New York preschoolers, and they kept asking him why chess pieces moved in certain ways. Why does the king only move one space? Schwartz told the kids the king had a big belly and he had just eaten a lot of pancakes, so he couldn’t move very much. The kids laughed, and then he asked them to show him how the king moved. They moved the king one space.

Out of those interactions, he developed a story-based curriculum to teach chess. Schwartz thinks most elite chess players aren’t very good teachers because they’re such geniuses that they don’t know why they’re good. His curriculum is designed for non-chess-playing teachers.

Now 14,000 students learn from Chess at 3 every week. Schwartz’s company licenses its curriculum to schools–he said it’s affordable enough ($25 for parents paying for their child) that a group of parents should be able to bring the curriculum to the school even if the school doesn’t have it. While attending the chess championship, even on Thanksgiving Day, Schwartz saw some of his older students who had stuck with chess and came to watch.

“[The kids] don’t think of chess like everyone here does,” Schwartz said, gesturing at the room full of championship spectators. “‘Oh, you need to think 10 moves ahead and you need to memorize this opening.’ They just see it as a really fun game that they can do with their friends.”