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Chess Coach's FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

I have been repeatedly asked the questions below by parents, coaches, and tutors who have browsed this website. Therefore, I provide the information below with the hope that it will reduce the weight of email in my inbox. If you are a parent, coach, or tutor, then please read (or at least scan) the information below before you request further information from me. Thanks.

Beginners should play (in tournaments, against computers, and with chess club members), record and analyze the moves of their games, study tactics, middle game strategies, tactics, positional elements, tactics, endings, tactics, openings, tactics, grandmaster games, tactics, and attend the tutorials provided by respected players at your local chess club. There is no simple way to learn chess (if there were, there would be more grandmasters). Chess is a game of tactics, strategy, tactics, psychology, and tactics — all aspects must be learned. Tactics are relatively easy to learn by solving tactical puzzles like those found on our sister website Logical Checks. Tactical ability will help the most in the beginning. After becoming proficient in tactics, beginners should learn the positional elements of chess and their relationships to tactics. I have created two documents on the subject of Opening Principles and Middlegame Principles to guide chess students. It is also valuable to learn basic ending play.

Many top chess players began learning chess before the age of 8. Some as early as 4 years of age. (I began at 33.) If your child shows interest, then teach them the rules of chess. The game of chess has many parallels in life. Seize the opportunity to teach chess and life.

  • Show how adults win graciously, and lose with dignity.
  • Praise carefully planned moves even if inaccurate at first.
  • Teach your child the proper way to point out bad moves. "Your move is weaker than this one, because..." sounds so much better than the abuse they all too often get from their peers and immature adults. ("That was a stupid move" or something equally degrading.) We learn from our mistakes on a chess board — and in life. If your child is abused after every mistake, then he/she will learn nothing but how to abuse in kind. Ugly criticism has no place in chess.
  • Tournament games begin and end with a respectful handshake.
  • Two players often meet to analyze their game after the result is posted.
  • The path to victory is paved with many losses. Each loss teaches a lesson.
  • Etc.

I believe that Chess makes kids smart. My experiences show it to be true. Students who learn to play chess show noticeable improvement in grades, standardized test scores, and attention span. Chess play hones spacial and sequential logic skills. Many teachers are finding that chess shows children the rewards of study and practice. Through independent reading and research, students learn principles that they can apply immediately not only to chess but also to real-life problems as well.

Mr. John A. Bain reports in his Chess Tactics For Students, "A New York public school study shows chessplaying students gain in reading comprehension skills at a greater rate than non-chessplaying peers."

Many parents and teachers have used chess as a tool for teaching critical thinking skills by emphasizing that learning how to solve a problem is more important than the solution. Through chess, students learn how to analyze a situation by focusing on the important factors and discarding the distractions. They learn to devise creative solutions and to put their plans into action. Chess helps to encourage patience, sharp memory, the ability to concentrate, problem-solving skills, and the understanding that certain behaviors carry certain consequences. Chess works well with developing minds because it is self-motivating. It is fun to play.

I sincerely believe that chess play improves intelligence and academic performance.

One excellent list of scholarly studies about the relationship of chess to academic achievement is the United States Chess Federation.


The Logical Chess Bookshelf has a good selection of the best books.

Logical Chess Move by Move by Irving Chernev in our Logical Chess Bookshelf is an inspiration for this web site. The book presents 33 games with comments on the thought behind every move. For novices who would like to become intermediate players.

First, understand that there are more books written on the subject of chess than any other single subject. (Isn't that an amazing statement?!) There are many periodicals and web sources of information. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of quality information and instruction available once you begin looking. All beginning browsers of chess information should start with the USENET Chess FAQ.

Be guided by this advice. One book well understood is better than 100 on the shelf.

Still want more information? Try the Chess History and Trivia.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)