No Stress Chess: A classic way to teach chess

No Stress Chess

has always been on my radar as a great way to teach chess — so when my almost 5 year old asked to learn, I figured I’d buy a copy and give it a try!


No Stress Chess 

is played on a regular chess board with regular chess pieces.  The board is, however, two-sided and for the newest gamers, you’ll start on the side with the pictures of where the pieces start.  In a beginner game, you’ll start with two pawns moved forward (you can see the two arrows on the board of the picture below).  Then you shuffle the deck of No Stress Chess cards and you’re ready to play.

No Stress Chess Cards

How to Play

In the easiest level of play, players will draw the top card off the deck on their turn.  It will show them a chess piece and how that piece moves.  They must one of these pieces and discard the card in a pile next to them.  If they can’t legally move it, their turn is over.  This is why those two pawns are moved forward on this side of the board; it makes more pieces able to move on the board at the beginning of the game.  There’s one type of special card in the deck and allows you to move one of the last pieces drawn.  Because you each have your own discard pile, there should be 2 cards face up and you can choose to move one of those two pieces.

Once someone takes out the other player’s king, the game is over — just like chess!  But in this beginning level of No Stress Chess, you’ll need to wait to get a card to move that piece you have in just the perfect spot to take out your opponent’s king.  More advanced players will definitely find it frustrating, but it’s a great way to level the playing field between you and your child.

Leveling Up

No Stress Chess cards showing the different types of pieces and their moves

When you’re ready to move past drawing the top card, you can draw a hand of 3 cards and choose which one to play on your turn.  It’s still limiting in many ways, but it gives you more choices and more to think about on each turn.  And once you feel you’ve mastered 3 cards, you can move to 5 cards.  And when you’re ready, you can flip to the back of the board which is a normal chess board and you’re ready to go!

My Thoughts

I’m actually quite thrilled with my purchase of No Stress Chess.  It’s exactly what my preschooler needed to learn the game, and it really evens out our playing so she has a real chance of winning (and HAS won several times).  Would I buy this if I already knew how to play chess? Probably not, although my husband and I have had some fun playing the 3 and 5 card versions because it really does take some pressure off being the BEST.  The cards force you to rely on a bit of luck, and that respect it’s a very less-stressful way of playing chess.

No Stress Chess Stats:

~$16 No Stress Chess on Amazon
2 players
~15-60 minutes (This really depends on how quickly players take their turns)
Ages 7 and up (box says 7+ but I played this with an interested 5 year old with little problem)