Leeds is a fun place to be. There are lots of carnivals and outdoor activities, and the Leeds Festival is always keenly anticipated. As for the nightlife? Leeds boasts the fourth-largest student population in the country, making pubs, clubs and venues some of the most frequented places in the city.
There's a lot to say about Leeds and Loiners: they love their sports and the great outdoors and, most of all, they like to have fun. There are even some who consider a good game of chess fun, even though it might not take place outside and the activity is more cerebral than physical.
Whether in Leeds or anywhere else in the world, those people who don't see chess as a fun and engaging pastime tend to think of chess players in a host of mildly derogatory terms, like nerd and geek.
However, if you loved Game of Thrones and can't get enough of The Queen's Gambit, you should have an idea of what the game is about and how intense playing chess can be. After all, what is chess but strategizing to make your opponent's king fall?
Maybe those shows sparked your desire to learn how to play chess, as they have for so many others. If so, come along with Superprof to find where you can take lessons with a chess master.
Chess Lessons Online
Chess, like many board games, is essentially a solitary affair. For all that schools and cities may have chess clubs - Leeds has lots of those, when it comes to playing, it's just you and your opponent. You may represent a league in tournaments but, again: come time for your opening move, it's just you on your side of the board.
That makes chess a game tailor-made for cyberspace.
But even before our lives revolved around the internet, people were learning chess remotely. Chess masters would engage with their students via correspondence, sending chess notation back and forth through the mail. Playing that way, it sometimes took months to finish one game.
Those masters would also send their students book recommendations. Those books might be over beginner chess strategy, how to set up a board, the value and power of each chess piece and perhaps even biographies of famous chess players.
All of that still happens today, only the communication is instantaneous. In fact, there might not even be any interaction with any chess masters; you may simply direct yourself to Learningchess.net to learn from their interactive chess lessons utility or head to YouTube to watch a few videos on how to set up a chessboard.
Granted, online chess lessons are accessible all around the country, from Glasgow to Gloucestershire and everyplace in between. Nevertheless, they bear mentioning.
Other websites that you can learn how to play chess from include:
- www.learnchess.co.uk - they are working to set up an online course to teach chess one to one!
- lichess.org: after learning, play chess against a computer or with other players around the world
- www.chess.com - a well-developed site; everything explained in easy-to-understand language
- boldchess.com: the online chess academy for the more serious chess player...
... not that chess isn't a serious undertaking to begin with. Still, as you cycle around these and other sites to find the one that suits you the best, keep in mind that, at some point, you should face an actual opponent if you truly want to feel the intensity of this game.
For that, you should join a chess club, like my mate who took remote chess lessons in Manchester did...
Chess Lessons in a Chess Club
Once you've mastered the basics of playing chess - or even before you do, it would be a good idea to find a chess club near you so you can commune with like-minded individuals.
While none of the Leeds chess clubs we looked at offer chess lessons and nor do they have any chess coaches on standby, all of them welcome chess players of any level of experience, from absolute beginner to advanced and beyond.
How could this serve aspiring chess players who've never faced off with an opponent? For one, you can get an idea of the camaraderie unique to chess players.
These are a rather intellectual bunch, for all that they're warm and welcoming. Indeed, many are rather protective of new members and very keen to pass on their preferred openings as well as opinions about chess grandmasters past and present.
If you should happen to have some chess club member take you under their wing, is there any harm in asking for a bit of coaching? Probably not, but don't be surprised if s/he recommends that you read this chess book or watch that chess tournament.
Really, where learning how to play chess is concerned, chess clubs are best for those aspiring players who learn best by watching; in other words, visual learners.
For some chess players, it is uncomfortable to have spectators looking over their shoulders and recording every move but, if your chess club is so equipped, they may have projection equipment that displays games being played. Or you could ask if you could sit a respectful distance away...
We really like the Alwoodley Chess club. They usually meet in the Alwoodley Community Centre but, during these pandemic times, have resorted to meeting online. Their website betrays their lightheartedness; they've chosen for their site's backdrop a screengrab of The Queen's Gambit and they make references to Beth Harmon throughout their site.
If Aldwoodley happens to be a bit out of your way, you might turn to the Leeds Chess Association page to find a chess club closer to you. Unlike London, a city lousy with chess clubs - some of which have chess coaches on standby, Leeds' selection of clubs is trim and well-curated.
Again, let us emphasise that none of the Leeds chess clubs we consulted offered private or even group chess lessons. However, nothing says you can't discreetly ask any of the club members whether they'd pass on a few tips and tricks.
Chess Lessons for Junior Players
If you want to teach 'em good, you gotta get 'em while they're young.
These days, everyone from education experts to child development specialists aver that, the younger children are, the better they learn. Even animal trainers will tell you the best time to send a dog to obedience school is while it's still a pup.
Hence, that old saying about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks, probably.
To be sure, anyone of any age can learn how to play chess but there's a particularly good reason to teach children the game while they're still in primary school.
The intellectual nature of chess demands that its players think a lot and, especially when playing in tournaments, to think quickly. Thus, chess players in general have enhanced reasoning and planning capabilities; they are better able to learn, remember and use information.
Wouldn't those be great skills to imbue your children with?
The Leeds Junior Chess Club thinks so, that's why they welcome aspiring chess players as young as seven who know at least the basics of how to play chess. This club is led by three full-time coaches and one who is still in training.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a crimp in their regular club activities but they are still quite active online, much like the Junior Chess Club in Birmingham that also has coaches and gives lessons.
As though things aren't confusing enough these days, there is another Leeds Junior Chess Club but its web address is lichess.org. They boast an impressive list of chess coaches and lots of bite-sized lessons young chess players can easily understand.
Still, learning seldom happens in a vacuum; that's why you might need a chess tutor.
A Tutor for Chess Lessons
In these days of virtual learning, finding a chess teacher online can be easier than locating a master for an in-person lesson, at least in some places. And, true to form, Superprof leads the pack.
Superprof has hundreds of chess tutors scattered across the globe and four in Leeds proper.
Bernard is a national chess champion currently studying law at the University of Leeds. He has taught many chess hopefuls in his time as a chess coach and, judging by the feedback his students have left on his profile page, he's really good at explaining the intricacies of the game.
All of Leeds' chess Superprofs offer their first lesson for free and most have similarly glowing testimonies to their skills, both at their depth of knowledge of the game and their skill at teaching students how to play.
Naturally, as long as current pandemic conditions remain, every lesson will be held online but later, once we may congregate again (and everyone feels safe doing so), Superprof chess teachers in Leeds are happy to welcome you to their home or meet you at yours.
And if your Superprof chess tutor lives outside of Leeds?
Discover how chess coaches, tutors and masters give lessons all over the UK...