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Resources include the Chess merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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The Chess merit badge is an option for the Designed to Crunch STEM Nova Award.

Chess merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 2011
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 147
Requirements revision: 2013
Latest pamphlet revision: 2016


Chess is an exercise of infinite possibilities for the mind, one which develops mental abilities used throughout life: concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, to name a few. Through chess, we learn how to analyze a situation by focusing on important factors and by eliminating distractions. We learn to devise creative solutions and put a plan into action. Chess works because it is self-motivating. The game has fascinated humans for almost 2000 years, and the goals of attack and defense, culminating in checkmate, inspire us to dig deep into our mental reserves.

U.S. Chess Federation, July 23, 2010

Chess merit badge requirements

  1. Discuss with your merit badge counselor the history of the game of chess. Explain why it is considered a game of planning and strategy.
  2. Discuss with your merit badge counselor the following:
    a. The benefits of playing chess, including developing critical thinking skills, concentration skills, and decision-making skills, and how these skills can help you in other areas of your life
    b. Sportsmanship and chess etiquette
  3. Demonstrate to your counselor that you know each of the following. Then, using Scouting's Teaching EDGE*, teach someone (preferably another Scout) who does not know how to play chess:
    a. The name of each chess piece
    b. How to set up a chessboard
    c. How each chess piece moves, including castling and en passant captures
  4. Do the following:
    a. Demonstrate scorekeeping using the algebraic system of chess notation.
    b. Discuss the differences between the opening, the middle game, and the endgame.
    c. Explain four opening principles.
    d. Explain the four rules for castling.
    e. On a chessboard, demonstrate a "scholar's mate" and a "fool's mate."
    f. Demonstrate on a chessboard four ways a chess game can end in a draw.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Explain four of the following elements of chess strategy: exploiting weaknesses, force, king safety, pawn structure, space, tempo, time.
    b. Explain any five of these chess tactics: clearance sacrifice, decoy, discovered attack, double attack, fork, interposing, overloading, overprotecting, pin, remove the defender, skewer, zwischenzug.
    c. Set up a chessboard with the white king on e1, the white rooks on a1 and h1, and the black king on e5. With White to move first, demonstrate how to force checkmate on the black king.
    d. Set up and solve five direct-mate problems provided by your merit badge counselor.
  6. Do ONE of the following:
    a. Play at least three games of chess with other Scouts and/or your merit badge counselor. Replay the games from your score sheets and discuss with your counselor how you might have played each game differently.
    b. Play in a scholastic (youth) chess tournament and use your score sheets from that tournament to replay your games with your merit badge counselor. Discuss with your counselor how you might have played each game differently.
    c. Organize and run a chess tournament with at least four players, plus you. Have each competitor play at least two games.

* You may learn about Scouting's Teaching EDGE from your unit leader, another Scout, or by attending training.

The official source for the information shown in this is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2018 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Chess is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Chess requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

3. Clarification of requirement #3, per BSA National: “Scout” refers to a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout only. "...does not know how to play..." means a Scout who is unfamiliar with the game. It does not mean teaching an existing player a new skill or strategy.


Boy Scouts of America to Introduce New Chess Merit Badge...

Contact your local council if you are interested in becoming a merit badge counselor.

— BSA Innovations and Research, August 2011

Requirement resources

1. The History of Chess
2. The Benefits of Chess Statistical research that supports the benefit of playing chess.
3a and 3b How to Set Up the Board and the Names of the Pieces
3c. How Each Piece Moves; Castling; En Passant Capture
4a. Chess Notation and Keeping Score
4c. Opening Chess Strategy
4d. Rules of Castling
4e. Fool's Mate and Scholar's Mate
4f. When Does a Game End in a Draw?
5a. Glossary of Chess Terms
5b. Chess Tactics
5d. Mate in One A collection of one- and two- move checkmate puzzles.

Note: The following resources cover learning (and teaching) chess, and the specific requirements for the Chess merit badge.

Powerpoint presentations:

1 - Benefits of Chess and Chess Etiquette (22 Slides)
2 - The History of Chess (31 Slides)
3 - Setting Up the Chess Board and Basic Rules of the Game (30 Slides)
4 - Algebraic Notation for Recording Chess Games (22 Slides)
5 - Some Quick Checkmates (7 Slides)
6 - Chess Strategy and Tactics (34 Slides)
7 - Chess Opening Principles (16 Slides)
Video - Opening Principles - Morphy vs. Consultants (a.k.a "The Opera Game") (08m:48s)
Video - Chess Openings - London System (15m:20s)
8 - Chess Endgames (6 Slides)
Video - Endgame Vol 1 (02m:35s)
Video - Endgame Vol 2 (03m:17s)
Video - Endgame Vol 3 (02m:27s)
Video - Endgame Vol 4 (02m:44s)
Video - Endgame Vol 5 (03m:13s)
9 - Chess Problems (52 Slides)
10- Chess Tournaments (19 Slides)



  • If you (the merit badge counselor) are likely to be beaten in Chess by 10 percent of the scouts (scholastic players), why not let a better player teach? (Review your rating vs. Cumulative Percentiles by USCF Chess Ratings, above.)
  • Districts should consider proven ability to play -and- teach Chess before approving counselors.
  • Recommendations for Chess merit badge counselors
  • Trainer's EDGE – Extremely useful method in teaching Chess — highly recommended for Chess merit badge counselors.

Related awards

Hobby-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

CAUTION: "" is NOT the URL for the US Chess Federation website; the correct URL is "".
"" contains malware; so, stay away. — Last scanned: September 14, 2011

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