Learn Chess!

Rock River Chess has collected the following resources to help players learn the game of chess! If you have any questions or would like a coach to guide you, contact us. If you're looking to play chess online with members of the Rock River Chess Club, join our team on LiChess.

The following are all printable .pdf files containing lessons that any beginning chess player can use to learn chess or improve their chess game. All of these are free to use and distribute for noncommercial purposes. If you have any questions, contact us.

Learning the Basics

Lesson 01 - The Board.pdf

The Board

This lesson teaches the very basic ideas contained within the enigmatic chess board.

Lesson 02 - The Pieces.pdf

The Pieces

This lesson teaches the basics about all the pieces: How they move, how they capture, where they start, and a little strategy about each.

EnPassant.pdf

En Passant

This lesson teaches the often-confusing concept of "en passant," a unique pawn capture move

TouchMove.pdf

Touch Move

This lesson teaches the competitive rule of "Touch Move" that is required in all rated chess competitions

Notation:

The following 3 lessons are all different ways to teach chess notation. Choose the one that makes the most sense to you!

Lesson 05 - Read & Write Notation.pdf

How to Read & Write Notation

This lesson teaches the very basic concept of long-form algebraic notation followed by an explanation of short algebraic

AlgebraicChessNotationintroduction.pdf

Algebraic Chess Notation Introduction

This lesson was designed for young players just learning to play

BecomingFamiliarwithACN.pdf

Becoming Familiar with Algebraic Chess Notation

This lesson was designed for a little older player who is new to chess.

Fundamentals

Lesson 03 - Check & Checkmate.pdf

Check & Checkmate

This lesson teaches the basics of Check and Checkmate

Lesson 04 - Stalemate & Draws.pdf

Stalemate & Draws

This lesson teaches the basics of Stalemates and Draws

Lesson 07 - Material, Position, and Time.pdf

Material, Position, and Time

This lesson teaches the 3 core elements of all chess games: material, position, and time. These core elements are the fundamental building blocks of all chess strategy

Lesson 06 - Basics of Defense.pdf

Basics of Defense

This lesson lays out the basic options for when a piece is attacked. These concepts help new players learn to think methodically.

BasicMateKingandQueenversusKing.pdf

Basic Mate: King and Queen versus King

This lesson teaches one of the most basic checkmate patterns: King & Queen vs King

BasicMateKingandRookversusKing.pdf

Basic Mate: King and Rook versus King

This lesson teaches another of the most basic checkmate patterns: King & Rook vs King

ScholarsMate.pdf

Scholars Mate

This lesson teaches one early checkmate trap: the Scholar's Mate; more importantly, teaches how to avoid falling into it!

Basic Tactics

Lesson 08 - Tactics-Forks.pdf

Forks

This lesson teaches the basic tactic of Forks

Lesson 10 - Tactics-Pins&Skewers.pdf

Pins & Skewers

This lesson teaches the basic tactics of Pins and Skewers

Lesson 09 - Tactics-Discovered Attacks.pdf

Discovered Attacks

This lesson teaches the basic tactic of Discovered Attacks

Lesson 11 - Tactics-Removing the Defender.pdf

Removing the Defender

This lesson teaches the basic tactic of "Removing the Defender"

Miscellaneous

Understanding Swiss System.pdf

Understanding Swiss System

This document gives a very basic explanation of the Swiss System: the method for arranging pairings in chess tournaments

Understanding Tie-breaks.pdf

Understanding Tie-Breaks

This document gives a basic explanation for Tie-Break systems used to determine standings in Swiss System competitions

BenjaminFranklinOntheMoralsofChess.pdf

Ben Franklin's "On the Morals of Chess"

This one-page document was written by Ben Franklin and explains the basic etiquette and morality of chess.

Documents

Notation Sheet - Full Page.pdf

Notation Sheet - Full Page

This is a notation sheet ready to print on 8.5" x11" paper. It goes to 120 moves and has two sides

Notation Sheet - Half Page.pdf

Notation Sheet - Half Page

This is a notation sheet ready to print on 8.5" x 11" paper. It has two notation sheets that go to 120 moves and has two sides

Quad Group Scoring Card.pdf

Quad Group Scorecard

This is a half-page sheet that lays out the competition for a simple 4-person quad group.

Positional Analysis Blank - Board.pdf

Positional Analysis

This form, designed by Erik Czerwin, can be used to delve deeply into a single chess position to help a player discover nuances within that position.

01_Post Game Study Guide - BASIC - half.pdf

Post-Game Analysis - Basic

This form can be used to help a player review their own game after it has been played. Guiding questions help players discover their strengths and weaknesses. The "Basic" form is meant for beginning players.

02_Post Game Study Guide - INTERMEDIATE - half.pdf

Post-Game Analysis - Intermediate

This form can be used to help a player review their own game after it has been played. Guiding questions help players discover their strengths and weaknesses. The "Intermediate" form is meant for players familiar with basic tactics and strategies.

03_Post Game Study Guide - ADVANCED - half.pdf

Post-Game Analysis - Advanced

This form can be used to help a player review their own game after it has been played. The "Advanced" form is meant for advanced players to systematically review their gameplay.

How to study chess.pdf

How to Study Chess

This document contains the ramblings of a chess coach and provides many tips on how players can study chess.

A Bust to the King's Gambit - Fischer -algerbraic.pdf

A Bust to King's Gambit

Written by Bobby Fischer, this is a very famous article where he lays out how to defeat the "King's Gambit" opening.

Other Resources

Links to online chess resources

This page set up by Rock River Chess contains links to a ton of online chess resources to help players play online, learn the game, and practice their skills in a variety of ways.

Info about Chess Clocks

This page produced by the Illinois Chess Coaches Association contains a listing of just about every chess clock on the market, the pros and cons of each, and links to user manuals and videos.

Organizations

This page set up by Rock River Chess contains links to various chess organizations in the Rock River and Illinois area (and beyond!). These organizations can help connect players to scholastic programs and state/national programs.

Chess Supplies

This page set up by Rock River Chess contains links to our partner chess equipment vendors. Purchasing from these vendors by first clicking on those links helps to support Rock River Chess through our affiliate accounts.

Suggested Books for Study

Having a great library of chess books allows you to learn from the best! Self-study using these recommended texts can be a great way to improve. Most of these titles can be found online for relatively small costs. Used editions are just as good and usually far less expensive.

Chess Progress - by Erik Czerwin

THE ideal chess book for the beginner, THE ideal chess book for the improving player, THE ideal chess book for the teacher. Absolute beginners can learn everything they need to know in order to play chess competitively. More experienced players will encounter deeper concepts and be able to approach chess from a new perspective, enabling them to take their play to the next level. Chess coach Erik Czerwin’s unique training method begins by studying the simplest chess positions with very few pieces – and then moves on, step by step, adding more pieces to the board. Complex ideas are always built up from simpler situations, ensuring that the learning curve stays flat. With helpful exercises throughout, Chess Progress is the perfect book for every chess enthusiast.

The Chess Tactics Workbook - by Al Woolum

The Chess Tactics Workbook contains page after page of pre-created worksheets with puzzles for students to practice their chess skills. It has resources to help coaches teach the most basic skills all the way to some basic basic tactics and strategy. The exercises are expertly arranged to gradually increase difficulty while teaching students about key ideas and how to stretch their thinking just a little further. Overall, an amazing resource for any chess coach!

How to Reassess Your Chess, 4th Edition - by Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman is not only a skilled chess player and coach, but a very accessible writer. His skill in making Grandmaster-level thinking accessible to the amateur player is unparallaled in the world of chess literature. Reassess Your Chess is a standard text for players who wish to move from the level of amateur to a more professional skill set. The 4th Edition is completely rewritten with lots of new positions and is much more focused on teaching students to use skilled planning methods.

The Amateur's Mind - by Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman is not only a skilled chess player and coach, but a very accessible writer. His skill in making Grandmaster-level thinking accessible to the amateur player is unparallaled in the world of chess literature. The Amateur's Mind zeroes in on how amateur chess players think and how to adjust their thinking in order to move away from those patterns of thought. It's really an excellent tome for any developing player who has hit a wall.

Silman's Complete Endgame Course - by Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman is not only a skilled chess player and coach, but a very accessible writer. His skill in making Grandmaster-level thinking accessible to the amateur player is unparallaled in the world of chess literature. The Complete Endgame Course is designed for any player to study endgame theory in great detail. Each section is divided by the level of player (by rating) that should understand those concepts. Players can read a single lesson, an entire section, or the entire book. No matter how the book is used, it is simply the most comprehensive collection of endgame study that anyone can find in a single text.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess - by Bobby Fischer

Great book of learning. Builds checkmate patterns to help students learn how to think chessically and in combinations

Combinational Motifs - by Maxim Blokh

Arguably the best book on tactics ever published, and the bases of the popular software CT-ART 3.0 (now updated to CT-ART 4.0). Blokh’s book contains over 1200 diagrams, with each problem graded by level of difficulty. Many of his problems contain two problems in one position. That is, the position can be solved once as if it is White to move; and then again, as if it is Black to move.

Other recommended titles...

  • My System: 21st Century Edition - by Aron Nimzowitsch
  • Modern Chess Strategy - by Ludek Pachman
  • Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy: Advances since Nimzowitsch - by John Watson
  • New Ideas in Chess - by Larry Evans
  • Ideas Behind the Chess Openings:Algebraic Edition - by Rueben Fine

Suggested Software

Having the following recommended software will be a great resource for any chess player:

LiChess.org

A great online, FREE website that has fantastic tools for coaches and players alike. Run on a donation-based funding model, you and your players can use all the features for free and donate if you feel it's worth it.

Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition

A great tool for learning, teaching, and play chess. Developed by Josh Waitzkin and Ubisoft

Fritz

A comprehensive Chess Trainer developed by ChessBase

ChessBase

A Chess database is an invaluable tool. It allows players and coaches to save a games for future study. It also contains a massive database of professional-level games for students to study with.