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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:29 pm 
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My attention was drawn today by the following recent blog post:

http://www.chevanneschessacademy.com/2012/02/beware-chess-coaching-scams/

since it appears to make reference to the ECF Accredited coach scheme.

Comments anyone?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:41 pm 
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I can't see that's it's too hard to check up on a coach's references these days. The ECF accredited coach scheme shows that 1) The coach is CRB checked, 2) They have managed to get a couple of references. Surely it's up to the parents to do further checks!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:29 pm 
Must be that old YMCA player U.Avebincond , making a reappearance on the scene. Strangely, he defaulted every game he played in the Middlesex League.

It was seriously worth it just to see the blissfully unaware opponent write the name down on the scoresheet.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:36 pm 
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Strangely, this post made me wonder how much I could charge for being a chess coach... :D

[If anyone takes this seriously, how much can you charge adult players graded below 100 for hourly sessions promising that they will be able to improve their play and attain 150-ish playing strength? I suspect the market for this is relatively small, unfortunately, with most people going the self-help route of chess books and DVDs and advice from other chess players they know.]

PS. Does coaching others help improve one's own chess strength?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:44 pm 
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This raises interesting issues. We have often debated whether a highly graded or titled player automatically has the skills and experience to teach children. What really are the credentials needed for a coach/trainer/teacher to ensure that juniors become competent players and continue to play? Perhaps a necessary criterion is a teaching qualification or experience, although this of course might mean that excellent trainers are excluded. There is no doubt that someone who can plan a scheme of work and transmit knowledge in a clear enthusiastic manner will produce good and happy chess players. There seems to be strong anecdotal evidence that most children over the age of 11 give up playing or learning chess, so rather than an end in itself, perhaps it could be seen as a transferable learning tool for the acquisition of knowledge .


Last edited by abi&timadams on Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:14 pm 
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Hi all,

Since I am the author of this post, I thought I would make a contribution here.

The main thing I am referring to is the situation in London where there are chess teachers in schools, not school teachers who teach chess, but external chess teachers, who charge a ridiculous amount of money and do not even know the rules of the game! They have made up their own credentials which sound impressive and the schools are getting conned by this.

These people are also coaching privately and some charging £100 an hour for their services. I guess some parents have the belief that the more expensive it is, the better it is. As far as I am concerned, this is fraud - posing as a chess international or master and making money out of it.

I don't believe every chess master is good at teaching children and I don't think they do either. Some are really suited to teach the more advanced players, some not suited to teach at all. This isn't the problem here. It is the fact that non-chess players, non-teachers and people who actually don't have the skills for either are conning families.

It is frustrating as a teacher as when coaching children individually that have one of these teachers at school, you have to constantly undo their mistakes. You have to tell them that the king does not go on its own colour and that there is no rule that say six checks and it's a draw and whoever turns their rooks upside down first when sitting at the board can start with three queens. These are just the beginner mistakes I am talking about.

It goes up further... There are some "coaches" who are teaching stronger children (say, 130 grade) and are only about 60 grade themselves. Whilst I believe that they can be mentors etc and role models and help on a psychological level, at this level of chess, I do not think that the 130 grade would benefit too much from chess advice from a 60 grade (that doesn't even compete). I have heard: "Well my other coach said that the Sicilian is a bad opening because you should be playing e5", "The Dutch is bad cos it weakens the king", "All King n Pawn v King is a win, no matter what cos you can force the pawn to the end of the board".

Once children are young and impressionable, it is difficult to undo bad habits and unlearn things.

I have also had bad behaviour from coaches that is being taught. For example, one coach has taught his school that they can put their hand out at any time and say : "Checkmate" and if they shake it they win. Even when the position is not check. They should all do it when they are losing so they don't lose. Or, offer a draw and then pretend it was checkmate.
Things like that are unacceptable to teach children.

I think that behaviour like this needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. Therefore I am happy for any school to contact me with details about their coach. Schools may not know where to find out this information, but I should be able to. I am sure that all of my team will help too. We just want the children to get the best education and this nonsense is not helping!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:28 pm 
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Hi Sabrina.

Name and shame these clowns.

Can you not contact the Schools Education Board to send out a flyer to
all schools warning them of this scam.
You are possibly in the best position to do so as you are in the hot seat and
have the credentials and backing of the ECF.

The handshake claiming checkmate is new to me. (I'm going to try it.)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:35 pm 
Sabrina,

Do you actually have the backing of the ECF to make these statements? Some of the comments about the Accredited Coaching scheme are very close to the mark.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:40 pm 
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Sabrina Chevannes wrote:
Therefore I am happy for any school to contact me with details about their coach. Schools may not know where to find out this information, but I should be able to. I am sure that all of my team will help too.


As Sabrina observes, those who play chess at a reasonable level leave a footprint behind them. At the higher levels it's a game collection, at lower levels it will be appearances in both international and national grading and rating systems and event cross-tables.

As far as British chess is concerned, anyone of any sort of standard over the last fifty years would probably find a still active player or two that could remember them.

On another forum, I noticed a comment that one of the main lines of the Scotch had to be dubious. This was 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4 Bc5 5 Nxc6. Apparently his first coach took the "don't move a piece more than once in opening" to extremes, so that 3 moves out of 5 with one piece broke the "laws" of development.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:29 pm 
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In general it should be the ECF who should be contactable for advice like this (about validity/suitability of a coach). There must be some conflict of interest in you offering coaching and also a confidential service on a coach's credentials. I'm not of course suggesting you would do anything untoward of course, merely that it seems more sensible for the two things to be separated.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:35 pm 
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Thomas Rendle wrote:
In general it should be the ECF who should be contactable for advice like this (about validity/suitability of a coach).


Who in the ECF would you contact though? I would not have thought the office in Battle to be experts in the finer points of researching the experience and strength of an unknown chess player. That's Sabrina's issue, unknown players, or even non-players, making claims to be experts or masters.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:40 pm 
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Thomas Rendle wrote:
In general it should be the ECF who should be contactable for advice like this (about validity/suitability of a coach). There must be some conflict of interest in you offering coaching and also a confidential service on a coach's credentials. I'm not of course suggesting you would do anything untoward of course, merely that it seems more sensible for the two things to be separated.


Whilst I agree, in theory, given that the ECF Manager of Coaching is one of nine ECF posts currently listed as vacant on their website it may not be obvious who to contact. Of the current ECF officials, Sabrina probably has more knowledge of current coaches and coaching techniques than anyone else, myself included.

To clarify my earlier post; we do have a Manager of Coaches, it is Manager of Coaches (International) that is a vacancy :oops:
http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=79


Last edited by LawrenceCooper on Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:52 pm 
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Thank you for mentioning this, Sabrina. There have been people teaching in the London area for some time claiming to be strong players - but I've never heard of them. We haven't come across any of them in Richmond, though.

But there's another problem, of children not understanding what they've been taught and getting confused.

A few years ago I was controlling a kiddie tournament. After 3 rounds a boy who had lost all his games came up to me: "It's not fair. My opponents are all cheating." "Really? What are they doing?" "Their knights are all jumping over other pieces. My chess teacher told me knights can't jump." "That's interesting. Who's your chess teacher?" Knowing what school he was at, I already knew who his chess teacher was, and as expected he gave me the name of a very strong and much respected GM, who is certainly aware that knights can jump. Needless to say, his mother took his side and withdrew him from the tournament.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:58 pm 
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If someone is making a false claim - to hold a title or even be an active player - that is relatively easy to challenge with published data. But I'd tend to agree with Thomas that you need avoid conflicts of interest, and when it comes to challenging a coach's credentials who may not be making any false claim, but simply not be regarded as capable of coaching, it's much more tricky.

Sabrina has rightly pointed out that you can't just equate over-the-board strength with teaching ability. So what we really need is a beefed up accreditation system with minimum standards as well as the references and CRB, including some coaching for the coaches.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:16 am 
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A new ECF Manager of Coaching has been appointed but I leave it that person (should they wish to) to make themselves known to this forum.

The ECF coaching web site will be updated by Yours Truly shortly.

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