The question of what to teach and learn in chess is like knowing what to type in Google, there’s just too much information, but you got to start somewhere. (me)
Teaching chess is a hobby for some, and a job for others. For me it’s kind of both. If you ever want to become a chess student, or even a chess teacher, this is the node for you. It will help you decide how to choose your teacher, how to start your chess teaching career, and some basic tips.
Just like every other semi related field the teacher must continually learn curriculum to teach his or her pupils. This is often a struggle, as learning chess on your own is extremely difficult, and boring. For every one hour lesson I teach, I’ve probably read five hours worth of study. I’ve read chess books on everything from Jerry Silman’s Reassess Your Chess to Aron Nimzowitsch’s My System 21st Century Edition. And let’s not even count how many tournaments and casual play hours.
There are many problems that face you as a prospective chess teacher besides the obvious, I suck at chess, how can I teach? Problem.
Over coming issues
- Notation, if you can’t read both Algebraic Notation and European styles, you’re not even able to read a chess diagram, let alone explain one.
- Rating. Your ELO matters if you want to pickup advanced students. You need a 2200 USCF rating to be called a master. I’m sitting at 1800, an A-class player, not even worthy of the 2000 expert title. Ideally you want a chess teacher who is 400 rating points higher than you, they will increase your rating by 100 rating points quicker if so.
- Boring your chess student, you have to keep the learning process upbeat. Especially with particular age groups.
- Speaking the same language as your chess student, chess is a world game, you’re probably online, and your student/teacher could be from Russia, South America, United Kingdom, or the States.
Okay, so you don’t have a clue what a rating is, and you’ve never played in a tournament… can you still teach chess? YES. Your pupils will be far younger and probably at the basic of all basic beginner levels, how to move the chess pieces. It’s important to explain the piece movements in story like manner, or at least with some added mnemonic device. Rooks are easily compared to jesters being thrown in a tower and can only move where they can see through windows. Queens need to match their dress to the color they start on. Kings are old and decrepit, moving one square at a time with the exception of sliding towards the rook like he did when he was young (sliding socks on the kitchen floor). Pawns are peasant farmers who are scared into moving two squares forward at the beginning to get away from the clutches of the monarchy. Bishops stay on their same color at all times, because they are trying to covert other pieces to their light or dark religion. Knights are horses with glitch, falling over to the side after moving two squares forward.
You get the idea.
Chess teaching tips
Once your student is passed the basics, start teaching them your strongest strategy. This should not include Fool's Mate or Scholar's Mate, you know better! I’m talking about, control the center, castle early, develop all your pieces. I like to start with a magic wizard called Chad, you tell your student to remember his name to know what to do on any particular move.
CHAD, your first chess acronym
- C is for Checkmate or check.
- H is for Hanging piece.
- A is for Attack.
- D is for Develop and Defend.
Intermediate and Advanced learning
Your student will need to know the difference between The Opening, The Middle Game, and the End Game. They’ll need to know their own opening, and I suggest you first teach them The French Defense as black against 1.e4, as well as the Semi-slav against 1.d4. Both have similarly formats, and most intermediate to advanced players struggle against both of these openings. On a side note, don't forget to teach them the concept of tempos. If they move their knight three times in the opening, a lecture is likely in store. Any way, as white, teach them 1.e4 and gradually prepare them for the assault of twelve different replies they’ll get…
Damiano's Defense is possibly the most entertaining example of what not to do (as black) on move 2. following 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3. I usually teach this on week 3 for any new chess student.
The Middle Game is full of tactics and positional play. Your student will need to know many types of motifs to survive traps as well as to create them. Pins, Forks, Skewers, and even sacrifice exchanging are among the first places of analysis. Back row mate is also a worthy mention.
The End Game is the most important. If your student isn’t just trying to blow up all the pieces on the board, it’s quite likely they’ll trade down the board equally instead. Leaving maybe a pawn difference between the players, and often the case a rook end game. Teach pawn end games, how to promote a pawn with K+P verse K scenarios, ie keep your king in front of your own pawn. Zugzwangs are extremely common with pawn end games, and color theory is the simplest most under rated theory there is in chess. (Basically its knowing how to control the colors of either dark or light on the board, it can lead to controlling zugzwangs, and pertinent positioning.) For a beginning grasp at color theory read my node The Opposition, King vs King and single pawn.
Oh and don’t forget to teach them all the check mating nets. Go look at the chess meta node for all sorts of mates, end game positions, and frequent chess combinations.
I’ve always wondered when to know if your student is ready for the move en passant or not. It’s really crazy on the head if you’ve never done it before, your pawn captures the shadow of another pawn, type of deal. What I suggest you do is don’t teach it until you have a real world position to show them. Makes it a lot more understanding. However, The French Defense is an opportune moment of learning for en passant and I suggest you read that node if you want to learn or teach this peculiar move.
Finally a word on choosing your own chess teacher.
Contrary to what you might think, it's not a good idea to hire a Grand Master as your coach unless you're rated 1900+. You'll get better at chess no matter who you choose, but you need to be able to incorporate what you learn immediately into a game or it's practically useless. That's why I previously mentioned above to pick someone 400 ELO points higher than you. Grand Masters range from 2400-3000+ in rating, and you casual readers are likely 1000-1200 in skill. Beating people at your own level is not only the task you want to accomplish the most, but the most necessary in climbing the ladder of chess. You know your chess teacher is good if they make good use of time, show you as much as they tell you, and awe struck you occasionally. If they pull out a six move tactic on you and you're having a hard time figuring out three move tactics, ask them to teach you shorter combos or you won't learn anything! Obviously finances will help you make your decision of who you pick, I even found an International Master for like $18.00 an hour over ICC (I charge $25.00 lol). I even suggest going through many teachers, the more the better, and if you are finding it difficult to find a good teacher, that's because you're book learner bound...
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