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Chess Standards

STLCC Standards: Our Roadmap for Effective Chess Instruction


The Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC) Instructional Standards provide the organizational backbone to STLCC Scholastics chess instruction.  These standards are designed to:


  • Introduce chess to students in a way that strategically introduces the basics first, so that students quickly learn to play a legal game of chess;

  • Facilitate progressive growth through the sequential introduction of increasingly complex skills;

  • Provide STLCC Instructors a road map for their classes and a common instructional language;

  • Provide students, parents, and school administrators course goals and expectations;

  • Provide the STLCC Scholastics Department a framework to measure student results.

These Instructional Standards answer the question “What is taught?”  Our Chess Curriculum addresses the question “How do we teach?” It includes the instructional materials and methods for instructors.


The STLCC Instructional Standards have the following characteristics:


  1. Competency-Based – Standards are not linked to a specific grade, and hence can be used in kindergarten, 7th grade, or even with adults.  Students and classes are advanced to the next Level when they have mastered the material, not based on an arbitrary timeline.

  2. Approximately a Semester Length – While standards are not linked to a grade, it is helpful to have a benchmark.  The twelve instructional Levels are designed so that a typical third grade classroom could complete a Level in a single semester within 10-15, one-hour classes.

  3. Sequentially-Ordered – The standards are ordered to facilitate a logical progression from a chess beginner to advanced player, with concepts scaffolded throughout the first six Levels.

  4. Grouped by Theme – The standards are grouped by overarching thematic principles to allow comprehensive coverage in lower Levels and thorough coverage in later ones.

  5. Universal – The Standards are designed to be used within both in-school and after-school classes. In instructional contexts where students have varying levels of expertise, the standards can be applied using differentiated instructional techniques.

  6. Teach More Than Chess – Each Level includes a historical/cultural chess lesson (e.g., the origins of chess, biographies of Grandmasters) or a broader life lesson (e.g., teamwork, persistence, planning, or actions/consequences).

Origin and Refinement


The STLCC Instructional Standards were created through a collaborative process by a group of chess and educational experts, including Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, STLCC staff members including General Manager Joy Bray, Executive Director Tony Rich, Scholastic Manager Kareem Talhouni, and Scholastic Coordinators Richard Pointer and Tony Chen, University of Missouri Professors Brian Kisida and Mike Podgursky, and Basis Policy Research Senior Associate Dr. Matthew Pepper. They were reviewed by an external panel of expert chess instructors, including Sean O’Hanlon, Light Buggiani, and Jim Voelker, as well as STLCC instructors. Currently, the Saint Louis Chess Club Standards and Curriculum are being revised for publication. For any questions regarding both, please contact