What is Guppy Chess? A few years before COVID changed our world, younger siblings were running amok at Hampton Roads Scholastic Chess Club, so we decided to create another “fish group” for them to learn chess in their own way and at their own pace. Led by a chess-loving parent who used a lot of patience, repetition, and mini-games (using one or more pieces to play a fun game to help solidify how the pieces move), the original crew of Guppies thrived, and several of them currently reside on the US Chess “Top 100” lists for being among the best in the country for their age. During COVID, Zoom was extremely difficult for this age group, and our beloved Guppy coach was unavailable, so we diverted for two years and used the award-winning Story Time Chess program with our youngest students. While we are big fans of that program, we ultimately decided it wasn’t the best fit for our pre-competitive Guppies with aspirations of becoming Masters one day, so we decided to bottle the original Guppy magic, and we brought it back in 2022-2023, with many young students moving on to the developmental tournament club within the season.
Who can take this class? This class is specifically designed for total beginners ages 4-6 (Pre-K through 1st grade). Younger students may be admitted by exception. If students show mastery of the basic rules of the game before they turn 7, they are welcome and encouraged to move on to Hampton Roads Scholastic Chess Club and continue honing their skills in our “Minnow” and “Rockfish” pre-competition groups. We even have players as young as 5 or 6 who are well into playing rated chess. Age will not hold your child back, but start with Guppies if your child is under the age of 7. You do NOT have to have an older sibling in our programs to be a Guppy!
When does this class meet? This class meets on Tuesday evenings between 5:15 and 7:00 PM (a 45-minute class – times tailored to the group). Fall session begins September 12th and ends December 12th. There is no class on 10/31 (Halloween) or 11/21 (Thanksgiving week break). There are 12 total classes in the session. Fall registration opens August 7th (click the “Return to Registration Page” link at the bottom of this page).
Where does this class meet? This class meets at King’s Grant Presbyterian Church, 745 Little Neck Road in Virginia Beach.
Who will coach my child? Coach Julie specializes in working with young beginners and will be leading the Guppies again this year. In the event of a substitution, rest assured that we will hand pick a coach with the right disposition to teach this age group, and that all of our coaches are certified by US Chess and background checked through HRCA.
Will my child compete on Tuesday nights? NO, not yet. While Guppy Chess meets alongside Hampton Roads Scholastic Chess Club, it is a separate program.
Do I have to stay with my child? YES. Guppy class requires a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult to be in the classroom with their children. This approach ensures not only classroom management and active engagement for our youngest children with their short attention spans, but it has proven critical to the success of the program, as families can review and practice what they learned at home. Repetition is key at this age.
How much does this class cost? This class is $150 for the 12-week session. The default payment method will be $50/month (contact us if you want to pay up front in advance). There is a $35 annual registration fee due upon initial enrollment, which includes HRCA membership and ChessKid Gold.
What if I can’t afford to pay? The Joan H. Schlich Memorial Scholarship is available to help give children opportunities they otherwise could not afford. We strive to turn no child away for inability to pay. CONTACT US to request a scholarship application, then go ahead and register! Your card will not be charged for your class until your scholarship application is processed and a co-pay (if any) determined. The deadline for fall session scholarship applications is August 22nd.