Checkmate: Where Kids Can Learn to Play Chess in Central Iowa

Checkmate: Where Kids Can Learn to Play Chess in Central Iowa

With the wide array of extra-curricular activities kids have to choose from, a 1500-year-old board game may not rank at the top of their (or your) priority list. Although, maybe it should. The popular and ancient game of strategy fosters patience and impulse control as players learn to plan and visualize their moves on the board. Research shows that chess improves test scores on math and reading. Kids can have fun while learning about chess moves, important rules and game etiquette, strategy, openings, endgame, and tactics at local chess clubs in Central Iowa. 

Iowa State Chess Association

The Iowa State Chess Association is the official Iowa affiliate of the United States Chess Federation.  It is a nonprofit membership organization devoted to the promotion of chess in Iowa.  They oversee and host chess tournaments and they also provide information about scholastic events for school aged children.

Fees to join the Iowa State Chess Association:

  • Regular $10 per year
  • Patron $25 per year
  • Affiliate $15 per year
  • Family $20 per year
  • Library $25 per year

Iowa State Chess Association
c/o Ronald Nurmi
1424 E Walnut Street #4
Des Moines, IA 50316

Central Iowa Chess

Central Iowa Chess Inc. is a non-profit organization formed to promote chess in the central Iowa area through the organization and promotion of youth and adult chess tournaments.  The website lists upcoming events and Central Iowa Youth Chess Standings.  They also provide information for parents about openings and endings for beginners and preparing your child for tournament play.


YMCA of Greater Des Moines Chess Club – John R. Grubb YMCA

This FREE club, focused on middle schoolers, meets (starting in September) on Thursday evenings at 5:00 pm at the Y. Chess boards and pieces are provided- clocks available. Practice games and coaching are included.  For more info., contact or

John R. Grubb YMCA
1611 11th Street
Des Moines, Iowa
Phone: 515-246-0791

If your child is ready to start playing chess, one of the first places to look for a chess club, close to you, is to check your local school and library. Many public libraries offer chess classes and family chess nights which are open to all ages. Also, schools all over the greater Des Moines area are catching on to the benefits of chess and offering chess clubs that provide training and play opportunities.


Got any more suggestions on where kids can learn to play chess? Let us know in a comment below.

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