Junior Chess

First, please be sure to have read the ICU Child Protection Policy

Starting Out

So your child has come accross a chess set, or seen a game being played by others, or "they do it at school" or you want to introduce them to the game; however you or your child initially comes to chess, those early moments can lead to a lifelong and rewarding experience.

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

Learning Chess

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Fun junior tournaments

Typically 6 games, each of less than 30 minutes, in an afternoon. The swiss pairing system usually used ensures that all players get 6 games irrespective of their results in previous rounds. There are many of these type of events around the country throughout the season. Some can be found on the icu calendar but many more are promoted locally.

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

The junior grading system

Status: DISCUSSION DOCUMENT ONLY - the following is ALL BRAINSTORMING for the moment. To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

The ICU [are exploring ideas to] run a novices grading system. Just has martial arts have white, red, brown and black belts to mark an individuals expertise and time served, Irish Junior Chess [if implemented] has [ideas for] a chess Grading system based on the chess pieces.

[For example....]

Grading can be awarded by 1 of 3 levels of (adult) grader

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie


Coaching is available from the coaches, schools and clubs around the country and this is where all juniors are encouraged to start and establish themselves, first in rapid play and then as classic players with an ICU (classic) rating. Coaching can be either group or individual.

Over the past few years, the ICU has organised a national junior squad coaching program aimed at stronger players from U12-U18 aiming to play in international tournaments, both team and individual.

Selection is usually within Jan/Feb each year with the coaching running within Feb-July.
While a full rating is not required, those with full ratings are considered ahead of those with provisional or no ratings.

Rated junior tournaments

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

The ICU Junior Page is the gateway to junior events both domestic and international.

Improving your chess

There is an expression in chess that refers to a player who does nothing other than play as a “wood pusher”. This is a way of saying that the player will never improve at any meaningful rate and certainly not relative to those who read, study, and analyse their games and the games of others.

This requires commitment and investment to improve beyond just playing games and matches and tournaments.

So what can you do?

The first and most important requirement is to record ALL your games. In a tournament, you are required to do this anyway.

And, on the same day as the game, enter it in a computer database (such as ChessBase) that supports the .PGN file format. This format allows chess players the world over to save, analyse, annotate, reference and retrieve their own games and those of others, be they top players, their peers or their upcoming opponents.

Second, is to review your own games WITHOUT the use of a chess engine (such as Fritz, etc) and find and comment on the key decision points and turning points in the game.

Also note what YOUR thinking was during the game. This will help you develop your thinking processes for important to improving your chess.

Third, compare your game against your previous games and against the games of others and against a v large database of top players.

Only once you have done that should you consider using an analysis engine.

You can add further improve by:

  1. LEARNING new openings and deepening your knowledge of your preferred openings.
  2. PRACTICING your tactics via puzzles and positional studies "sharpening your saw".
  3. KNOWING how to PLAY your endgames "like a machine.

But this is really only really useful in the context of recording and studying your own games.

Playing for Ireland

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

So you (your child) are now playing classic chess, working hard at improving and rising up the rankings. This may lead to an opportunity to play for Ireland.

To represent Ireland at FIDE, ECU, Glorney Gilbert and other international that are subject to selection, juniors and their parents should be aware of both

the Junior eligibility criteria


the High tide rankings

Further they should familiarise themselves with the regulations specific to any tournament they wish to enter.

The ICU publishes a short list of Junior-only international tournaments on the ICU Calendar - Junior Internationals

Playing for Ireland abroad - accompanying adults / supervision

As well as the ICU Child Protection Policy, please see Junior chess players- Accompanying Adults

Selecting players for international representation

To volunteer to write/improve this article, please contact juniors@icu.ie

Junior Internationals Tournaments

There are be a number of opportunities for Juniors to represent Ireland in any calendar year in either team or individual events that require either selection and/or entry by the national federation – in Ireland’s case, the ICU.

Most of the major events of this type are published in the ICU Calendar of type “Junior International” though some (parents of) players look wider to the FIDE, ECU and other calendars for other such events.

Expressions of Interest / Confirmation of Availability for Selection and Participation

In order to be considered for selection, (parents of) players should be sure to check the ICU website regularly for updates and, especially, requests and entry deadlines for Expressions of Interest / Confirmation of Availability published there from time to time.

Selection Criteria and High Tide system

(Parents of) players should also be fully familiar with ALL the guidelines on Playing for Ireland but especially the Selection Criteria and High Tide system (see above).

Irish Junior Chess Championships (IJCC)

(Parents of) players should note the selection criteria relating to participation an IJCC.


The ICU is a voluntary organisation and, for juniors, looks to parents to volunteer to assist as much as possible so as to minimise voluntary effort to the maximum benefit to players (and their parents.)

The first request is to be on the lookout for announcements on the ICU website (Note, the ICU does NOT offer or commit to any service level via email in this regard) and to respond to requests and deadlines in a timely manner and in the manner requested.

Parents looking to get more deeply involved should note the articles on coordinating international junior delegations in advance of travel and acting as Head of Delegation at events (See below).

Volunteering to support an international delegation

Guidelines for Junior International delegation coordinators

Guidelines for Heads of Delegation at Junior International Tournaments

Created 2017-07-03 ◦ Last updated 2018-02-18 ◦ Editor DB

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