Approaching coaching

Do you need a chess coach?

I think, if you want to improve, you should be

  1. Writing down all your slow-play games and others if you can
  2. Going over your games, (a) by yourself, (b) with another player, and/or (c) with a computer
  3. Checking your opening moves against a book or database – who made the last ‘book’ move?
  4. Doing a bit of study of (a) openings, (b) tactics, and (c) endgames
  5. Playing often

If you aren’t doing any or all of those things, you won’t improve as fast as you could.  None of that needs a coach, but a coach might be able to give you pointers about your games (#2) or what you might look at to study (#4).  There’s a terrific amount of free instructional material online these days, so be sure you’re making the best use of your time and money before you hire a coach.  Here are some starting points:

Hiring Dr.Dave

If you want to talk to me about coaching, I usually offer a free first consultation, to decide (a) if we like each other enough to spend more time talking,
(b) if I think I can do you any good, and
(c) if so, how and how often.
I’d like to do the consultation after having looked at your last dozen chess games – not your best dozen, or your last dozen wins, but your last dozen games, preferably with at least 30 minutes each on the clock.

You can send games to me as scoresheets, photocopies or scans of scoresheets, transcribed typed moves, read to me over the ‘phone, or best of all as a PGN file.

Portable Game Notation is a way of swapping games between computers, and any chess software worthy of the name should be able to read and write PGN files. A PGN file looks like this:

[Event "Game for stakes"]
[Site "London, Simpson's"]
[Date "1879"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Schilling,PDQ"]
[Black "Blackburne,JH"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C50"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nd4 4. Nxe5 Qg5 5. Nxf7 Qxg2 
6. Rf1 Qxe4+ 7. Be2 Nf3# 0-1

Usually, a programme will give you a board to make the moves and a little form to fill in the game information.To enter and email chess games in PGN format you can use:
iPad/iPhone: Smallfish/Smallchess –
Linux :XBoard
Windows: WinBoard:
Windows: Penguin chess game database –
Linux, Mac AND Windows: ChessX

If you play chess online, your server or software should be storing your games somewhere, and you should be able to find the games and send them along.  However, I never find ‘should’ much of a guarantee in life, so best of luck with that.

I am also interested to know about chess books, DVDs and software that you have in the house and also about any chess books that you may have devoured in the past and websites you may have plundered.

I can work face-to-face, over the ‘phone, or over the Internet using something like Skype and/or a chess server like FICS.  Depending on your telephone contract and Internet
speed, either may be the best option for us, but happy to discuss and experiment.


2 thoughts on “Approaching coaching

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