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Chess Merit Badge Helps and Documents

Scouts develop their critical thinking and strategy skills while doing the requirements for the Chess merit badge. They learn the history of chess, and chess notation. Scouts familiarize themselves with the tactics, board, pieces, and moves. Then they demonstrate their skills by playing some games of chess.

Chess is an elective merit badge.

Chess Merit Badge Resources

Help with Answers for the Chess Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Chess merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 1: The History of Chess

Discuss with your merit badge counselor the history of the game of chess. Explain why it is considered a game of planning and strategy.

Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

The History of Chess

The earliest form of chess was a game called chaturanga which was played in India in the 7th century or before. The version we play today developed around the 16th century. It became popular, and books about theory showed up in the mid 18th century. Read more.

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 2: Skills, Sportsmanship, and Etiquette

Discuss with your merit badge counselor the following:

  1. 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
  2. Sportsmanship and chess etiquette

Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

Chess Sportsmanship and Etiquette

  • Be polite
  • Don’t talk trash or intimidate
  • Don’t argue
  • Don’t give or ask for advice
  • Don’t be annoying or distracting
  • Stay near your game
  • Don’t talk with those in the playing room
  • Don’t try to trick your opponent by pretending to have made a bad move
  • Be a good winner or loser
  • Say “check” when appropriate
  • Don’t be late to your game
  • Read more

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 3: Scouting’s Teaching EDGE

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:

  1. The name of each chess piece
  2. How to set up a chessboard
  3. How each chess piece moves, including castling and en passant captures

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers


Scouting’s Teaching EDGE (BSA Edge Method)

This is a four step method for teaching a skill. It is sometimes called Scouting’s Teaching EDGE.

Chess Terminology

These are some very basic definitions to get you started.

Chess Terminology Scramble Puzzle

Use a word scramble puzzle to reinforce the meanings of some of those terms.

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 4: Chess Knowledge

Do the following:

  1. Demonstrate scorekeeping using the algebraic system of chess notation.
  2. Discuss the differences between the opening, the middle game, and the endgame.
  3. Explain four opening principles.
  4. Explain the four rules for castling.
  5. On a chessboard, demonstrate a “scholar’s mate” and a “fool’s mate.”
  6. Demonstrate on a chessboard four ways a chess game can end in a draw.

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

Using Chess Notation

If you are not familiar with chess notation, this might seem a little daunting, but it really is pretty easy to learn.

Opening / Middle Game / Endgame?

The opening is the first 10 to 15 moves of the game. The middle game generally starts when pieces have been deployed and the kings have castled. When only a few pieces remain, you are in the endgame. Read more details.

4 Basic Chess Opening Principles

  1. Central control
  2. Progressive development
  3. King safety
  4. Piece activity

Read the details

4 Rules for Castling

  1. The king and the rook may not have moved from their starting squares if you want to castle.
  2. All spaces between the king and the rook must be empty.
  3. The king cannot be in check.
  4. The squares that the king passes over must not be under attack, nor the square where it lands on.

How to Draw a Game

  1. stalemate
  2. threefold repetition
  3. agreement
  4. insufficient material
  5. perpetual check
  6. the 50 move rule

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 5: Strategy and Tactics

Do the following:

  1. Explain four of the following elements of chess strategy: exploiting weaknesses, force, king safety, pawn structure, space, tempo, time.
  2. Explain any five of these chess tactics: clearance sacrifice, decoy, discovered attack, double attack, fork, interposing, overloading, overprotecting, pin, remove the defender, skewer, zwischenzug.
  3. 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.
  4. Set up and solve five direct-mate problems provided by your merit badge counselor.

Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

Exploiting Weaknesses

A weakness is simply a flaw in a position that we can exploit. These weaknesses can be anything from an open line to poor piece placement to overworked pieces. Depending on what stage we are at in the game we will see different weaknesses in our opponent.

Forcing Moves

A forcing move is one which requires the opponent to reply in a certain way, or which greatly limits the ways in which he can respond. Essentially, a forcing move is either a check, a capture, or a threat.

Space and Attack

Space is “control of squares”. So a player with a “space advantage” is one who controls a greater number of squares. If one side controls more of the board, the other side’s pieces are cramped and trip over each other.


The time is for each move. It can be anywhere from a few minutes to a day or more. So 1 day to move would mean you have 24 hours to make your move, and after your opponent replies, you have another 24 hours to make your next move, etc.

Pawn Structure

In chess, the pawn structure (sometimes known as the pawn skeleton) is the configuration of pawns on the chessboard. Because pawns are the least mobile of the chess pieces, the pawn structure is relatively static and thus largely determines the strategic aspect of the position.


Interposing is a way to block a check. An interposing move would be one in which a player moves a piece between their king and the opponent’s piece which has placed the king in check.


Overprotection refers to a strategically important pawn or square that is given more protection than it seemingly needs. Essentially a prophylactic maneuver, the side that overprotects does so in order to dissuade the opponent from launching an attack against that point.

Chess Merit Badge Requirement 6: Playing Chess

Do ONE of the following:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Organize and run a chess tournament with at least four players, plus you. Have each competitor play at least two games.

Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

How to Organize a Chess Tournament

  • Select a date and site
  • Determine the format
  • Form a committee to help
  • Work with the site facilities
  • Purchase awards
  • Arrange for concessions
  • Run the tournament
  • Read more details

Other Resources

Antichess Game

Antichess Game

Do you feel like you always lose when you play chess? If you are better at getting your own pieces captured than capturing your opponents pieces, then Antichess is the game for you. In Antichess (sometimes called Suicide Chess or Giveaway Chess) the object is to lose all of your pieces.

Bughouse Chess Game

Bughouse (or Bunk House) is a game which helps even the playing field. Basically, there are two teams which simultaneously play chess together. Each player has a direct opponent, but when he captures a piece, he passes it to one of his teammates to play on the board. The key is to have the direct opponents as evenly matched as possible and then to have the teams fairly well balanced in skill level.

Atomic Chess Game

Do you think regular chess is boring? Then try atomic chess. In atomic chess, pieces don’t just capture other pieces, they explode! Both pieces involved in the capture are destroyed along with any in the surrounding area. Sound like fun?


2 responses to “Chess Merit Badge Helps and Documents”

  1. Tylene Byrd Avatar
    Tylene Byrd

    Is there a printable checkoff sheet for this merit badge?

  2. Nick Patel Avatar
    Nick Patel

    Very Helpful

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