Do members on here have chess coaching

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Andrew Collins
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:58 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Andrew Collins » Thu May 09, 2013 5:12 pm

I would happily have some chess coaching if I could afford it. I'm not sure I agree that a player can't identify any of their weaknesses though. I think I can look through my games and see some obvious problems that I seem to do often, but I'm sure there are many more subtle problems with my play that I would need somebody stronger to point out.

Paul Dargan
Posts: 514
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 11:23 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Paul Dargan » Thu May 09, 2013 5:26 pm

Answering Peter's direct question. I paid for some sessions with Alex Raetsky when I lived in Abu Dhabi. I felt I got quite a lot out of the sessions, particularly providing frameworks to review games and having a strong player (albeit quickly) run through the 50 or so games I'd played in the last season and offer some unbiased comments.

There were some specifc repertoirse suggestions where he felt the lines I was playing didn't suit my style. Previous UK coaches that I had while a junior will be appalled to hear he thought my opening theory was barely adequate (previous feedback was that I had far too much). He was amazed at some of the specific endgame knowledge I had e.g. R+RP v's B drawing positions (and the bishop pawn one) .... maybe that time spent with a copy of DEM wasnt a complete waste of time after all.

After a while I felt I was getting diminishing returns and we kind of drifted into meeting-up to play some blitz rather than formal coaching and I'd happen to share a couple fo recent games, or we'd play some blitz games in lines I was interested in. Of course being two foreigners with a shared interest, both living away from our families probably helped give us some common ground too.

I think that Graeme Morrison has previously written about the benefit he got from working with a Russian GM coach on his return to the game (probably when he got the best game prize for his win v's Emms in 4NCL a few seasons back?). I do find some of the numbers talked about in the UK for coaching a little extreme ... I'd suggest doing sessions via Skype with someone with lower living costs (i.e. eastern europe, India, etc). If you don't need a GM there's plenty of more than competent coaches on the mainstream websites that will work with you for $20 an hour.

Paul

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2456
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by MartinCarpenter » Thu May 09, 2013 7:19 pm

I haven't and can't imagine doing so, partially because the really major 'problems' with my game aren't really coachable as such. I'd have to sort out my mind set/spare energy levels etc before it would make any sense at all.

What I do find interesting in idle moments is wondering what difference earlier coaching might have made. Take the Warwick University team I played on back in 2000. Dave Buckley on 1 then rated 179, Martyn Hamer and Me on 4/5 both rated ~140. Now we all improved a lot - and quite fast - post university, so it seems safe to assume that early coaching would have produced higher grades then. Actually I basically didn't play any serious chess pre University.

Whether it would have a difference to the lifetime peak? Probably not that much for me and Martyn. We've both seem to have developed plausibly rounded styles. In my case probably from reading books which I'm happy to admit owning ;) Dave - as was very obvious when playing blitz! - is somewhat beyond my competence to comment on.

There are of course quite a few people you see who get 'stuck' with a particular, rather fixed, way of playing and probably would have benefited rather more from earlier intervention.

Niall Doran
Posts: 255
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Niall Doran » Fri May 10, 2013 1:54 pm

In answer to the original question, I’m a 1700-rated player and I’ve been having coaching since July 2012 by Skype, although it’s someone I’d had coaching with in a few face-to-face sessions a few years back. We work on two things mainly, my opening repertoire and analysing my games.

For the openings, nothing revolutionary, just tweaking certain openings that I play, relating them to certain pawn structures and then trying to use those pawn structures in other openings, when possible.

Regarding the analysis of my games, it’s probably the most interesting part, especially comparing to how I was feeling during the game. Sometimes in the game I’d have felt that for example I was under a lot of pressure with very few options other than to defend passively for long periods. Looking at the game with my coach reveals that I had more active options that I wasn’t aware of. Generally speaking, the coaching has shown me that I’m too passive and need to find more active plans and imbue each move with meaning, as opposed to just getting the pieces out (much as per the oeuvre of Silman).

One piece of advice I was surprised at was him telling me not to bother with studying endgames! This is because it’s not where I’m currently losing the most games, so basically there’s no point working on it until necessary.

Is the coaching working for me? On a couple of levels yes. I feel that I’m enjoying the game better, seeing it more as a battle of ideas and wills. I also feel I’m a stronger player, although it will take more games to prove that, as I’ve only played 7 Fide-rated games since starting the coaching, gaining 10 points, so nothing conclusive there.
http://ratings.fide.com/id.phtml?event=601152

Just a general point about people not mentioning that they’re getting coaching, I think there are a few reasons for this:

• Not wanting to look stupid when they lose, or don’t improve. “Look a player X, he’s getting coaching from GM Y and he still can’t play for toffee! Ha-ha!”
• Not wanting to give anything away. If opponents know that a player is getting coaching, they might try to deviate from their usual openings.
• Possibly a feeling that it’s unsporting. Other players don’t usually get coaching, so opponents might feel it’s an unfair advantage.
• Devalues wins. If player X wins, others will say “but of course he won, he’s getting lessons with GM Y”.

Simon Spivack
Posts: 600
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:06 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Simon Spivack » Fri May 10, 2013 8:16 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
Paul Bielby wrote: I, personally, was incredibly lucky in being at Cambridge at the time the late Bob Wade, recently returned from an extensive stay in Moscow studying the Russian methods. This must have been about 1956. For the best part of a year, Bob, at that time a committed communist,

I knew Bob in the 1950s, and I question that. What says Bob's biographer?
Leonard is quite right. This canard dogged Bob for half a century, one he repeatedly denied. Some details are available on Edward Winter's website. To quote Bob's authorised biographer:

Nary a word regarding Communism - honi soit qui mal y pense.

Is it any wonder that many consider the English Chess Forum a cesspit?

John Foley
Posts: 296
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:58 am
Location: Kingston-upon-Thames
Contact:

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by John Foley » Fri May 10, 2013 8:39 pm

Simon Spivack wrote: Nary a word regarding Communism - honi soit qui mal y pense.
Is it any wonder that many consider the English Chess Forum a cesspit?
It has always been legal to belong to the Communist Party. Surely it cannot be regarded as a derogatory affiliation, even if it were true.
Yesterday was a celebration held in London to mark the exploits of the merchant navy during WW2.
The Russian media was present in large numbers and still regards Britain highly for maintaining this vital supply route.

I would be interested to know more about how Bob Wade transformed chess teaching in the UK. What precisely were his methods?

User avatar
IM Jack Rudd
Posts: 3987
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Bideford

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri May 10, 2013 8:56 pm

John Foley wrote: It has always been legal to belong to the Communist Party. Surely it cannot be regarded as a derogatory affiliation, even if it were true.
Something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be regarded as a derogatory affiliation. It's perfectly legal to be a member of UKIP, but if you were to claim I was a member of that party, I might retaliate with some pretty heavy-duty uses of my mod privileges.

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3168
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Fri May 10, 2013 9:21 pm

Niall Doran wrote:Just a general point about people not mentioning that they’re getting coaching, I think there are a few reasons for this ....
The main one, of course, being that folk don't talk about getting coaching because they don't have a coach. In England at least (perhaps it's different in Ireland) there simply isn't a culture of adults paying for professional coaching. In fact in 25 years+ of chessing I've never known anybody who has (or ever had) formal coaching.

Personally, I've often thought about it, but never done it. Partly for the kind of reasons that Martin C mentioned towards the start of the thread.


It's odd really. I know people who are members of tennis clubs and golf clubs who say it's quite the norm for people to get lessons from the club pro. In chess it just doesn't seem to happen. I don't know why.

Out of interest, Niall, what motivated you to get a coach? Rather than play more, say, or buy some books or what have you?

Niall Doran
Posts: 255
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Niall Doran » Sat May 11, 2013 12:24 am

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Niall Doran wrote:Just a general point about people not mentioning that they’re getting coaching, I think there are a few reasons for this ....
The main one, of course, being that folk don't talk about getting coaching because they don't have a coach. In England at least (perhaps it's different in Ireland) there simply isn't a culture of adults paying for professional coaching. In fact in 25 years+ of chessing I've never known anybody who has (or ever had) formal coaching.

Personally, I've often thought about it, but never done it. Partly for the kind of reasons that Martin C mentioned towards the start of the thread.


It's odd really. I know people who are members of tennis clubs and golf clubs who say it's quite the norm for people to get lessons from the club pro. In chess it just doesn't seem to happen. I don't know why.

Out of interest, Niall, what motivated you to get a coach? Rather than play more, say, or buy some books or what have you?
Several reasons, Jonathan.

The first one was a desire to improve, linked to a belief (maybe it’s only a belief) that I haven’t reached my full potential. Maybe that’s only another 50 points higher, but until I reach it, or try to reach it, I won’t know.

Another more boring reason was I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and was looking for something to fill my evenings, so I scouted around for a coach in the area I was working in at the time, and found one with reasonable rates.

I didn’t see playing more as a solution, as when I started playing chess I reached the 1700 mark within 2 years, and then stagnated.

Books, I’ve come to realise, have to do more than look pretty on a bookshelf. You have to work with them, so just buying more won’t have any effect on my game. Incidentally I did recently break my "no more books" vow by buying three of Silman’s books second-hand from a local player and am now working through these, and I'm glad I did. Another piece of useful advice from my coach was to focus on one or two books only at one time and to work through them, from start to finish, as opposed to the usual hopping from book to book that most of us do.

Dealing with “what the hell do I do now” moments in my games. Sometimes I’m sitting at the board with no idea what to play. No plan, no candidate moves, no idea what to do. Now I can make a mental note to ask my coach when analysing the game later.

Ego. I'd love to be able to win the odd tournament now and then, and improving my playing strength would allow me to beat stronger players, giving me a massive ego boost. I especially dream of beating one or two pretentious and unpleasant local players that are currently stronger than me, even though I realise I would then meet other even stronger unpleasant players!

Regarding the culture of professional coaching, I'm based in France and I don't personally know anyone who has had professional coaching, apart from the juniors in my club who have a group lesson once a week.

MartinCarpenter
Posts: 2456
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 10:58 am

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by MartinCarpenter » Sat May 11, 2013 10:23 am

That seems very reasonable :)

One other thing is perhaps that quite of us actually know more or less where our (realistic) 'limit' is likely to be. I'm pretty sure I do. As with most people its a bit above where I am in a stable sense but getting there wouldn't actually change anything beyond me winning a few more games. Just not terribly meaningful really.
(I'd be playing the same boards, events etc.).

What would be quite nice is if I could cut out nonsense like the last season where I'm due to be dropping getting on for 25 grading points in half a year..... Not an awful to be done when your brain just isn't turning up though. It was at least from a peak caused by having an excess of energy. All down to outside events really.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Arshad Ali » Sat May 11, 2013 3:25 pm

This is anecdotal in nature but the youngsters I've seen who have been coached on a sustained basis have grown by leaps and bounds in rated strength -- 2000, 2200, 2400. Those who don't seem to putter around at 1500, 1600, 1800 strength, stumbling and groping in the dark for years.

Even knowing which are the good books and going through them carefully is not the same as an experienced coach who is also a strong player. I would be a much stronger player today had I had proper coaching in my formative years.

Geoff Chandler
Posts: 2059
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:36 pm
Location: Under Cover
Contact:

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Geoff Chandler » Sat May 11, 2013 4:39 pm

I think Arshad is spot on.

Although does he know any promising youngster who has not gone on in leaps and bounds
after the coachng. It may not work for everyone.

The trick is getting or being lucky enough to get the right coach for you in one to one lessons.

Never been coached but have had been in the right place at the right time
to recieve free advise from some very strong players.

I also agree with another poster. Once you have reached your niche you stay there
unless you are willing to put in a supreme effort to get through your ceiling.
I am happy being me. I try to put back as much into the game as it has given me.
I know I'll fail, I owe it so much, but I do try.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Arshad Ali » Sat May 11, 2013 4:57 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:Although does he know any promising youngster who has not gone on in leaps and bounds
after the coachng. It may not work for everyone.
The sample is inherently biased: those who go for coaching tend to be motivated and with at least a modicum of genuine aptitude (along with well-heeled parents of course). But I was motivated. Modesty prevents me saying anything about my aptitude (probably modest at best) but I spent years fumbling in the dark, not knowing what I was doing wrong. A coach could have taught me how to calculate variations, could have taught me basic endgames, could have taught me how to implement various flexible short-term schemes that would keep improving my position. I'm dead sure these basics were drummed into the skulls of the Soviet youngsters.

Out here in the West many of us were buggered from the get-go. Kotov's Think Like a Grandmaster taught us how to calculate variations in the '70s. Likewise, Kotov's Play Like a Grandmaster taught us which positions allow long-term plans, which ones only allow flexible short-term schemes and improvements of position. That's where I learnt these things from in my slow fumbling fashion. With a coach I could have learnt them much faster at a more impressionable age. My whole chess development -- such as it is -- has been hit-and-miss.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7442
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat May 11, 2013 5:10 pm

Arshad Ali wrote: A coach could have taught me how to calculate variations. [...] Kotov's Think Like a Grandmaster taught us how to calculate variations in the '70s.
Have I been missing some magic trick here? Is there some secret to calculating variations that beginners tend to miss out on? Is it something that is difficult to discover by yourself without being taught? Is it that stuff about candidate moves and not wasting your time on calculating stuff that isn't important, along with analysis trees and knowing when to stop calculating, to assess the position, and then move on to calculating another variation (or simply move)? My thinking (at the risk of seeming naive) tends to be a lot simpler.

Survive the opening in reasonable shape. Try and understand the features of the position, improve the scope and co-ordination of the pieces, probe the weak points in the opponent's position, while transforming or defending weak points in your own position, be alert to favourable/unfavourable transitions to endgames, understand how to press the advantage if material up, and or defend (actively or solidly) if material down, and don't fall too far behind on the clock without good reason.

I guess someone will say (rightly) that what is said above (at a minimum, there is lots more left out and the opening was swiftly passed over) comes with experience, and is not something that people tend to learn themselves without help of some sort. Some of it, though, is I think instinctive among the stronger players or those with the potential to be strong players. Actual concrete knowledge of tactical positions and specific endgame and positional motifs also come with experience (and are as often forgotten as remembered at the lower levels).

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18321
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Do members on here have chess coaching

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat May 11, 2013 5:28 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: Have I been missing some magic trick here? Is there some secret to calculating variations that beginners tend to miss out on? Is it something that is difficult to discover by yourself without being taught?

I rather doubt it. Grandmasters with more achievements than Kotov have written that they don't think like a tree. Instead they have suggested the "make it work" method. You spot a winning (or drawing) idea and try to remove the impediments that prevent it. Another approach is "put the pieces on the right squares". That can work without an awful lot of calculation. There are players who will try to calculate to great depths and sometimes it comes off as they find hidden resources and ideas. Other times, they just get into serious time pressure.


Personally I find that patterns go a long way, so you see several moves as just one.

Most (older) British players have a home made style. The downside of this is a likelihood of technical weaknesses, the upside is a hopefully a more creative approach.

Post Reply