Chess Merit Badge – BSA Troop 55, Houston

Chess Merit Badge – Resources and Links

The next Chess Merit Badge class that I will conduct at Troop 55 Houston will be
Sunday, Oct. 26.   at St. John Devine.
Achievements for History, Basics & Strategy: 1:00 pm-3:30 pm.  
Achievement to Play, record, and review games: 3:30-5:30 pm.  
All scouts and adults are welcome to join in the games.  
Please sign up or send an email to me: raseysm (at)



USScouts has a good workbook.  Print it out.  Fill out what you can.  Bring it to the class.

This is a good web site for training and learning strategies.
All the problems are “find the best move.”  About 1/3 of the problems are “directed mate.”  2/3 of the problems are find an exchange to improve your position by at least 2 points, like get a rook for a knight.

This one is a second choice. It is better for beginners to learn
Mate in 1 and Mate in 2 problems, though they are not all Mate problems.  Start with Level 1 for easy problems like “mate in 1.”

Training on Openings
See my index page for Chess Openings.
These are a set of PDF’s showing board positions at each 1/2 move, White and Black.  For each position there are 2 to 5 advantageous responses and several to avoid.

See this website for looking up Openings by Name.
click the Learn menu, Book Openings by name.

An Opening Tree website.   It has favorite moves from every opening position.   The only draw back is it does not give the name the opening position.


Top Level index of Chess Openings

First Moves for White and Black’s response (PDF)

After: 1.e4 c5 (Sicilian Defense)  (PDF)  White’s responses.

In each PDF, the position a player faces is laid out on a board.   4 to 8 moves that are most popular are shown with arrows.  Green arrows are the best of the set, Cyan good ones, Red arrows are potential moves to weaker positions.   There are many more possible moves, but these are the most common and other moves are presumed to be weak.


For instance, White has many moves to open.
c4 (English Opening) is arguably the best in that if Black  replies with Nf6, White counters with Nc3 in a position White wins 40% and Black wins 29%.

But c4 isn’t the only good move.   e4 (Kings Pawn) is the most popular, but Black will probably respond with c5 (Sicilian Defense) leaving White after 2… Nc3 with a 37%/34% advantage.
Other good and common white first moves are  d4 or Nf3 or g3.

But should White open with one of the red arrows, Black could take advantage.
For instance with f4 Black will probably counter with d5 or g6 and White’s 2nd move will best be Nf3 leaving White in a 35%/39% disadvantage.
Likewise, b3, Nc3, b4 also lead to weak positions for white.

Moves not diagramed, such as Na3 or h4 are rarely done and are probably roads to defeat.

In this first PDF, what follows is White’s first moves (as illustrated above) and  are the Black best moves for each of the 5 best white moves (c4, e4, d4, NF3, g3).
First Moves for White and Black’s response (PDF)

The other PDFs all start from commonly used positions after the first move of White and Black, such as
After: 1.e4 c5 (Sicilian Defense)  (PDF)  White’s responses.