How to be an Great Chess Coach

Since 2012 I have dedicated my life to bringing chess to thousands of children across Colorado and the world. I’ve had time to reflect on what it means to be a great coach and I’ve made many improvements to my own technique.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Be a fun/entertaining coach. Students learn best when they’re having fun. You could be the most knowledgeable person in your field and yet find that you’re an ineffective coach that can’t keep students. Why? The most likely answer is that your students aren’t smiling or laughing during the lessons. I make it point to make my students smile regularly. I make the learning fun for them. Being a chess coach has its advantages because we already play a game. We have a head start! However, many strong chess players haven’t spent time developing the necessary social skills and awareness to observe their clients aren’t having a great time. Many coaches are focused on the quality and effort that went into their lessons. They are pounding their students with knowledge in a dogmatic boring way. This is not the way to retain students or to be an effective coach.

    KEEP IT FUN!
  2. Have structure – everyone thrives better in an environment that is predictable. When conducting lessons with my students they know we’re going to start off with tactics, followed by endgame training, move on to some important drills and finish off with finding the right plan just as a WARMUP before we play chess and review afterwards. We very well might spend a day just going over their lastest tournament games or driving home a really important concept, but for the most part I stick to this structure. It provides security/predictablity for the student which in turns provides a safe environment. From this safety the student feels the self comfort needed to grow.
  3. Keep it simple – Many coaches I meet wonder why their students aren’t growing, understanding and retaining the information being taught. I’d like everyone to try your best and remember back to K-12 or college. We’ve ALL had a teacher that was absolutely brilliant but also spoke and tried to convey new complex ideas in a way that was extremely hard to follow. This is the teacher who unfortunately makes the mistake of teaching others the way they understand it themselves. We must put ourselves in the shoes of the novice. There are so many patterns, basic skills and foundation that are inherently lacking. We can’t teach Mate in 1 if our student is having trouble remember how the pieces move. When we do teach advanced concepts we need to break it down into basic language, relating to other real life examples, that drive home these points.

2021-2022 Colorado Chess League Season Results with a forward by Vice President Jesse Cohen.

Hello everyone,

The Colorado Chess League, formally the Denver Chess League,
has been around for over 20 years. I was asked by Bruce Galler in 2013 to take over managing the league. While we saw strong numbers, they slowly began to decrease as time went on. In 2020 I turned control of the Colorado Chess League over to the CSCA. I did this with the belief that their nonprofit status and greater sphere of influence would increase the scholastic participation of the league across the state. Funny enough, when I was asked to take over the role of Vice President – the job of managing the league fell back into my lap.

I’m not going to sugarcoat things. This has been a trying
season for the league. Between the pandemic, reluctance from some to transition the league to an online format, and trying to educate parents on how to navigate chess.com; things became frustrating and confusing for many. This was a trial by fire season but the good news is that we learned a lot! One of the biggest things we learned was the importance of finding student leaders at schools to spearhead their chess clubs because, frankly, we don’t have enough parents/staff members stepping up.

All struggles aside – I want to say how proud I am of our board, this league, and the students/staff that stepped up to make the league
happen this year. We ended up with 14 teams that competed in a round-robin format and one playoff game to determine 3rd place.

I am personally putting a request out to all readers. If you, or someone you know, can help increase participation in the league for our 2022-2023 season (beginning Oct 2022) PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Thanks, J.

Here are your final standings for the 2021-2022 Colorado
Chess League:

1st Place – Cherry Creek High School

2nd Place – Chatfield High School Team A

3rd Place – Regis Jesuit High School

destituefailure

Kimball_W

White to play.

Answer: Bxf7+!! Kxf7 (if Kf8 Bd5 c6 Nxd4!! Bxd1 Ne6+!) Nxe5+
1-0

 

Cswhitehouse12

Shivensaxena

White has just played Bg5??

Black to Play

Answer: Bxf3!! Bxd8 (if Qxf3 Qxg5 0-1) Bxd1 0-1

 

Sunbear96

QGal190

White has just played g4 to launch a Kingside assault but has missed something.

Black to Move.

Answer: e5! Bishop moves e4! Winning a piece.

 

WaffleCap

Prettypinkunicorns

Black to play.

Answer: Qh4!! 0-1

Get Excited for Tomorrow’s Chess Tournament

Chess Kids Classes

There are only a few more opportunities this season to catch the greatest tournament series in Colorado.

What makes us the greatest chess tournament series? While being conveniently located in the heart of Denver, Colorado – we are proud to boast the most generous prize fund in Colorado chess tournaments. We provide half as many awards as the state championship meaning that many children have an opportunity to take home a prize and feel pride in their accomplishments. We smartly split up with introductory sections for newer players and more competitive USCF ranked divisions for our seasoned competitors looking for a good challenge.

Remember, a school needs 4 students to qualify as a competing team

An amazing OPEN section featuring 80% of prizes on entries and a variety of local masters and experts who attend!!

Remember we’re now located at Embassy Suites by Hilton Denver Tech Center North!

Get Excited for Amazing Chess Tournaments For Kids/Adults

Get Strong NOW – Solve Top Tactics

Tactics win 99% of chess games.

Solving chess puzzles is the single most important thing you can do each day to become and maintain your chess skills. 

Whether you are new to chess or a master – Jesse’s thinking method is fresh and relatable. Chess doesn’t have to be so hard. Let’s do this together! 

Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE & RING THE BELL so I’m motivated to make more content. Thanks! 

This video was edited by Nish’s Place! Check her out! – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoNP… 

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Chess Master Training – How to Make Your Opponent Blunder

The 1st world champion Wilhelm Steinitz commands us, “If you have the superior position, you must attack!” He also commands us to search for the weak point in our opponent’s position and to strike.

However, against a formidable opponent – they WILL NOT just give you weaknesses to play against… YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO PROBE THEM!!! 🤣🤣🤣

A weak square for White is located on the 3rd and 4th ranks, for Black on the 5th and 6th ranks. When one of these squares can no longer be defended by that side’s pawns any longer – it becomes weak. It means powerful pieces will have to “babysit” these small undefended points instead of being the fierce attackers they’d like to be! Knowing how to recognize and target weak squares is extremely important when looking to defeat other chess players, especially masters!

Want to learn how to induce your opponents into weakening themselves so you have great targets to attack? This is the video for you!

SOLVED – Jeremy Silman Simplified – How to Plan in Chess

Jeremy Silman is an International Master, bestselling chess author, and some I quote often during my lessons. Silman often lays out a system of planning easy to digest for most. The keyword is MOST. My mission is to break these ideas down with a more modern approach. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please go pick up one of Jeremy’s books and put in the good word for me, will ya?!

Learning from World Champions – Gelfand v. Korchnoi

 

Black to Move

Gelfand – Korchnoi 1994

Anything in bold are black ideas.

5 step method to planning.

  1. List all the imbalances that exist or can be created for BOTH sides
  2. What side of the board should I play on? (this should be where I either have or can create a favorable imbalance – as a general default it is usually where you have or can gain the most space).
  3. Dream position – We create a position in our minds of where we like all our pieces or the piece needed to complete the improvement/use of a particular imbalance or combination of imbalances. DREAM BIG and then go back and figure out what is possible and what is too farfetched and then revise your dream position to one that is achievable.
  4. A) Figure out if the opponent can stop our plan with one or two moves. If they are able to stop our plan but it comes at a serious cost of creating new weaknesses, we can exploit then this shouldn’t deter us from our idea. The main way to determine if we should pursue a plan is if the opponent can easily stop us with moves that don’t hurt them. B) Figure out if the opponent can IGNORE our plan altogether and launch a stronger faster idea against us.
  5. CALCULATE AND EVALUATE – We list the moves in our current position that lead us to our dream position. We list them in order of what looks best naturally and through calculation and evaluation we come up with a final move to play now. If a particular move is time sensitive (meaning it can be stopped by the opponent if we don’t act now) then it should be moved to the front of our candidate move list.

1 – Bishops v. Knights – “It’s more open because not a lot of pawns are locked up but both Bishops seem completely useless. The Knights are clearly superior – the Ne4 especially. White’s Light squared Bishops is caged and maybe can find some future on the Kingside.” I think this position is semi open generally favoring Bishops however in the current situation the Bishops are struggling. Bc1 is a bad inactive Bishop. This needs to be fixed. One idea is to play d5 and Bb2 to give it an open diagonal. Another idea could be to get the Bishop to the h2-a7 diagonal via d2,e1 but getting g3 might be tricky considering Black’s control over it. White Ba2 is a good inactive Bishop. Technically it has a job of guarding c4 however this isn’t an ideal lifestyle. It would be much happier on a square like d5 doing the same thing while also applying pressure to Black’s camp. Perhaps it should find a way to drop back to b1, move the Rd3 and trade off for Ne4 if it can’t find a way to get active. Black’s Ne4 is better than any Bishop on this board. The e4 square is a wonderful home that paralyzes White’s center and is ready for anything. Black’s Na5 isn’t the happiest square in the world but it is mostly secure on Black’s 4th rank applying pressure to the c4 pawn and keeping White’s Ba2 tied down to its defense for the time being.

Space – technically White has more space on the Queenside (d4 and c4 v. c5) and in the center (e3 and d5 v. nothing.) Black has more Kingside space technically because of the g5 pawn. However this being said – the main thing Space gives it’s owner is more mobility for their pieces and less for the opponents but if anything it’s White’s pieces that feel restricted because of the cramping nature of White’s Bishops. White can gain more space and a passed pawn by playing d5 but it does close the position more in favor of Black’s Knights. Black could gain more Kingside space by playing f5 which also engages the Rf8 and reinforces control over the outpost on e4. This might be risky opening up White’s King but it’s hard to see anyway for White to capitalize on this. White has the superior pawn center and that informs Black that he should seek to destroy it.

Material – is even

Pawn Structure – White has 3 pawn islands. The isolated a pawn doesn’t seem easily targeted. Black has two pawn islands but no specific types of pawns. White can create a passed d pawn by playing d5 and give Bc1 a new hope on b2 but at the cost of closing the position more for Black’s Knights. Black could change the pawn structure by playing cxd4 but this opens the position in favor of White’s Bishops and the resulting hanging-ish pawns on c4 and d4 seem more favorable for White than Black.

Development – It seems that if anyone has a lead in development its Black because of the highly inactive nature of Bc1, Ba2 and Ra1. A move like f5 activates Black’s only inactive Rf8 immediately so Black does seem to have a slight lead in development. This could indicate the right to launch a quicker attack and pressure to convert this short term advantage into a long term one.

Initiative – No side seems to have any immediate threats on each other but if Black plays cxd4 it seems to come with the additional threat of Nxc4. Can White gain enough compensation by the open nature of the position with his Bishops after losing this pawn? Is there a tactic availa”ble?

Control of key files – “Black has two half open files on e and d and White has two half open files on f and b” How much does these files matter? “If Black puts pressure on the half open d file it would pressure White’s d4” If White does play d5 (a move that has plusses and minuses it would negate all pressure on the d file. I think Black’s e file is more important to control because of the importance of maintaining Ne4 as well as the potential target on e3 that can’t be covered up so easily because defending it another White pawn seem very unrealistic.  “What if we made Alekhine’s gun on the d file and (while supporting moves like g6 and f5 keep the Ne4 and Kingside under wrap) play a sacrifice like b5 to weaken d5 and win it?” I like that you are already looking for plans however we should finish the steps to determine if this is indeed where we should be focused. White’s half open b file leads to the b6 pawn which isn’t not about to be undermined so is therefore useless. White half open file might be very useful if White is the one keeping dominance over f5 square but even then it’s hard to imagine White putting enough pressure on the f file that Black couldn’t easily handle. “Black also has half open h file”

Control over weak squares – White has the weak square g3, e3, e4, c3, c4, b3, a3 and a4 A LOT! But do any of these squares matter? The vast majority of these are located in the center and on the Queenside. Black already has domination of the e4 square and pressure on c4 and b3. More pressure could be applied if we put pressure on the d file. Black also better control over g3. Black can gain enough more control over e4 by playing f5 and g3 if he ever wants to play f4. Black has weak squares on a6, c6, d6 and d5. White has control over d5 however doesn’t seem to be able to put any pieces on that square and there’s no Black targets there. The same goes with d6 and a6. So White’s control over those squares don’t seem to matter.

Dynamics v. Statics – White can open the position more by playing dxc5 which would benefit the Bishops but voluntarily destroy his own center, weak his pawn structure terribly and stop all chances of if creating passed d5 pawn possible advantage.

2) What side of the board to play on? White’s main advantages are superior pawn center and superior center/queenside space, the ability to create a passed d5 pawn (but it can easily be blockaded by Nd6 so I’m not sure how advantageous this is. Black’s main advantages are kind of everywhere. Black has a beautiful Ne4 with more space currently on the Kingside and more space that can be gained by f5. Black has pressure on c4, the possibility of gaining a pawn by cxd4 unless White plays the ugly Rxd4 and a ton of weak squares on the Queenside. Black also has a lead in development/piece activity that is taking aim at the Kingside/center so Black should first and foremost consider quick pressuring dieas against that area. Black should look to play wherever but I think center and Kingside calls out the most based on current placement of Black pieces including ideas like f5.

3) If we play for a Kingside attack then it needs to be based around a pawn break. The two possible pawn breaks are g4 and f4. It seems logical to but Black’s Na5 to d6 via b7 to blockade any potential passed d pawn as well as support it’s brother on e4. Black also would want to play f5. If we are playing for a g4 break then having a Rook on h6 which could get there via e6 seems ideal. Also, a Qh4 would be great but this seems too unrealistic. We could also play g6 and Qh7 before g4. “f4 is difficult because of White’s control but might be worth looking into” For the sake of time let’s just look at playing for g4 because it’s more destructive to the Kingside.

White trades off both Bishops for both Knights and is successful at mobilizing center pawn majority, passed pawn and space advantage. However this is pretty farfetched.

Based on time we need to skip ahead. A revised position if we can’t trade off is

Trying to prevent f5, make a passed d5 pawn, bring the Bb2 to life.

4) Can opponent stop us? F5 can’t stopped if we play it now, Nb7 to d6 can’t be stopped, Re6-h6 can’t be stopped and g4 can’t be stopped. Seems good. Can White launch a counter attack that is stronger and faster than ours? White’s plan takes quite a while and is still farfetched because if Black plays f5 right now then the Queen never reaches f5.

5) Calculation and evaluation – The candidates moves are f5, Nb7, Re6 and g4. G4 isn’t prepared and doesn’t work tactically. “F5 seems clearly to be the best move because it anchors the Knight and prepares g4.

Here is the game listed below.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 O-O 7.O-O

Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Qc7 11.Ba2 e5 12.h3 b6

13.Qc2 e4 14.Ng5 Ba6 15.Rd1 Rae8 16.f3 Bd3 17.Qf2 h6 18.fxe4

hxg5 19.Rxd3 Nxe4 20.Qf3 Na5 21.c4 b5 22.cxb5 c4 23.Rd1 Nb3

24.Bxb3 cxb3 25.Rb1 Nc3 26.Rxb3 Nxd1 27.Qxd1 Re4 28.Bd2 Rfe8

29.a4 Qd7 30.a5 g4 31.hxg4 Rxg4 32.b6 axb6 33.Rxb6 Qf5 34.a6

Qe4 35.Qf1 Ra8 36.Rb7 Rxa6 37.Qxf7+ Kh7 0-1

We were completely off because we never considered playing b5. Yes this makes sense as it trying to undermine White’s Center however it seems like it opens the Ba2 but it also looks like after cxb5 and c4 that all this gets shut down.

Black played played mostly to create a Good Knight versus Bad Bishop opportunity and played on the Queenside despite all the evidence that suggests Kingside play. Were we wrong?

We looked at the computer analysis with Stockfish 10.

The number one move is f5 with -1.88

The number two move is Nc6 with -1.42 to Black

The number three move is Nb7 with -1.15 for Black

All at a depth of 26.

So it would seem that Black came up with a clever idea to play this position but our hard work seems like it was more accurate than the world champions play.

World Chess Champion Position Analysis – How to Plan!

1) Imbalances – list all that exist or can be created.


A) Bishops vs. Knights – Semi-closed center (probably can’t be opened). Black has a Bad Inactive Bishop. It seems the only way to try and help this Bishop AT ALL is to play c4, b4, Bf8, and bxc3. If he plays bxc3 we can try for Ba3-b2 to target the new isolated c3 pawn. If he takes back with Nxc3 then we should have a nice target to attack b2. White’s Knight is active and in a good position. Black seems to have no way of dislodging this beautiful steed. Perhaps white should play c4 to stamp out any hope of Black fixing the Bishop.


B) Pawn Structure – Black has double isolated e pawns. They are potentially weak but it’s going to take some time. (i.e. if White plays Ng5 right now, besides the fact that it can be defended by Rd6 and no new attacker can apply pressure, Black might simply play Rd2 quite happily.) Other than that if White plays for an h5 idea it could change the pawn structure (either hxg6 hxg6 will leave Black with an isolated g6 pawn or if gxh5 and eventual Rh1 the remaining h7 pawn will be isolated on an open file. Other attempts to change the pawn structure might be playing for b4 or a5. Or Black playing for a3, b4, or g4.


C) Material – is even. There doesn’t appear to be any way to sacrifice material for either side for positional compensation.


D) Development – Black is up to one tempo with the Rd8 however it’s White’s move so it’s likely even. No visible way to get ahead in development for either side.


E) Control of a key file – Black has control over the open d file however the only penetration square is d3, but what does this accomplish unless he can quickly double and dominate the file. White can easily play Rd1 to challenge this open file (if we wish) and White’s King easily gets over to e2 to cover the d1 square so control over this open file seems to lead to nothing substantial. What if Black plays Rd5 with the intention to double? It seems like White will play c4 to prevent the time needed for this yet another reason to play c4. Can any new files be created? White might play for h5. White could play f4 but it seems pretty bad helping Black undouble the isolated e pawns as well as provide some free activity to the Bg7 but it does open the f file which would give us access to the weak f6 square. Is this worth it? In reality, the other attempts by White to open the position with b4 can be locked down by c4 and if White plays a4 intended a5 it could be shut down by Black playing a5 although I don’t know if Black wants to lock the position even further with his Bad Inactive Bishop.


F) Control of weak squares. White has a weak square on d3. Black has control over it with a Rook but as we stated early – what does this actually help accomplish for Black other than trying to quickly double on the d file? Black has weak squares on a6, c6, d6, e6, e5, f6, and h6. QUITE A FEW! Can this be taken advantage of? The d6 and f6 squares are already being fought for by Ne4 and d6 can further be fought for by playing Rd1. If white plays for h4-h5 ideas it might open up a file to the weak h6 square (more incentive to do this idea) as well as a4-a5 to open up lines to the a6 weakness. I have more incentive to do the h4-h5 idea because it also comes with the bonus of isolating another Black pawn. If Black tries to stop h4 by playing h5 – it creates an outpost on g5 and then it seems like White can play for g4 open up lines against the new weaknesses created on g5 and g6.


G) Initiative – neither side seems to have any clear initiative.


2) Which Side of the board to play on? Black doesn’t seem to be able to successfully play on the d file too much but might play Rd7 followed by Rad8 but where these Rooks are headed for pressure – I don’t know. Black’s ability to try and expand on the Queenside to fix the Bf8 seems more likely so I say Black is mostly looking Queenside and keeping an eye on the center. White powerful Ne4, as well as the double isolated e pawns for Black and the possibility of creating new open files with weaknesses to attack the Kingside, seem to suggest that Center and Kingside play belongs to White.


3) We took a close look and see that there doesn’t seem to be a way for Black to stop White’s idea of playing for h5. Black also doesn’t seem to have a plan that comes quicker and stronger than ours by playing c4 followed by b5,b4 Bf8. This actually combined steps 3 + 4


4) See above


5) What moves led to our position? H4, c4, f3 to play Kf2
We decided that c4 would be the right move in this position because of the time-sensitive nature that Black can play c4 himself if we don’t do this immediately. It turns out this move is best but Alekhine’s Rfd1 also satisfies because if Black plays c4 White has Nd6 which will win a pawn despite complications. Alekhine only plays c4 once the Ke7 prevents Nd6.


[Event “London”]
[Site “London ENG”]
[Date “1922.08.04”]
[EventDate “1922.07.31”]
[Round “4”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Alexander Alekhine”]
[Black “Max Euwe”]
[ECO “D02”]
[WhiteElo “?”]
[BlackElo “?”]
[PlyCount “99”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. Nbd2 c5 5. e3 d6 6. c3 Nc6
7. h3 O-O 8. Bc4 Re8 9. O-O e5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Bxe5 dxe5
12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Nde4 Nxe4 15. Qxd8 Rexd8
16. Nxe4 b6 17. Rfd1 Kf8 18. Kf1 Ke7 19. c4 h6 20. Ke2 Rxd1
21. Rxd1 Rb8 22. Rd3 Bh8 23. a4 Rc8 24. Rb3 Kd7 25. a5 Kc6
26. axb6 axb6 27. Ra3 Bg7 28. Ra7 Rc7 29. Ra8 Re7 30. Rc8+ Kd7
31. Rg8 Kc6 32. h4 Kc7 33. g4 Kc6 34. Kd3 Rd7+ 35. Kc3 Rf7
36. b3 Kc7 37. Kd3 Rd7+ 38. Ke2 Rf7 39. Nc3 Re7 40. g5 hxg5
41. hxg5 Kc6 42. Kd3 Rd7+ 43. Ke4 Rb7 44. Nb5 Re7 45. f3 Kd7
46. Rb8 Kc6 47. Rc8+ Kd7 48. Rc7+ Kd8 49. Rc6 Rb7 50. Rxe6 1-0

We can see the plan taken by Alekhine is somewhat similar but mostly different than what we choose. Is our plan wrong?
CONCLUSIONS
We’ve taken some time to look at the position and these are some conclusions we’ve made.
1) White can’t really get away with playing f3 and Kf2 because Black will play Bh6 and Rd3 and have a target to apply pressure against.
2) White needs to get the Ke2 because when we go for our plan Black has options like taking on g4 or h4 and when we recapture (with doubled Rooks on the d file can play Rd1 and force a trade-off of Rooks. One of the main things about White’s plan is that it seems only effective with both Rooks on the board so that we can create enough pressure against newly formed targets on g6 or h7(h6).
3) Black (if given enough time) after we’ve played c4 will play for a6 and b5. This can be problematic for White because if Black is allowed to play bxc4 bxc4 and Rb8 Black finally has achieved a penetration point on b2 that we have trouble stopping and has targets on our isolated a and c pawns. We can stop these ideas by having Rac1 and b3 however we seem to need both Rooks to generate enough pressure on the Kingside – so having one that needs to stifle Black ideas on the Queenside limits these ideas as well.
We mentioned ideas of opening new files for White with a5 or b4 in the imbalances but we didn’t take the time to address them – we probably should have because White ends up playing a5 and creating an open file later in the game which proves decisive.