Coach of the Month: Andrey Malkhasyan

Coach of the Month: Andrey Malkhasyan

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Andrey Malkhasyan is an expert player and chess coach. Born in Armenia but currently based in the USA, he is actively working towards his national master title. He has been a coach at the American Chess Academy since 2017, teaching the game to many young talents.

Comfortable with both in-person as well as online teaching, Andrey is currently accepting new students. Find out more about his approach to coaching below! 

Readers seeking private instruction can contact Andrey via his profile and can find other skilled coaches at

At what age were you introduced to chess, and who introduced you?

I was introduced to chess by my mom at the age of 4. My mom just taught me the moves—she did not know openings or anything like that! Shortly after she taught me, I started playing with my uncles and I vividly remember my frustration whenever they moved their pieces backward.

What is your first vivid memory from chess?

My first vivid memory related to chess is how my mom's grandfather was only letting me use his chessboard and no one else. I guess, somehow, he foresaw that I was going to become a chess player.

A picture of Andrey Malkhasyan and GM Wesley So.
GM Wesley So is among the many coaches who helped Andrey develop his chess game. Photo: Courtesy of Malkhasyan.

Which coaches were helpful to you in your chess career, and what was the most useful knowledge they imparted to you?

I started my chess career in Armenia and then continued to a more serious level in the United States. I started my first steps in my local chess school and my coach's name was Mushegh.

Then I moved to the Chess Academy of Armenia, which is a prestigious chess academy in Yerevan, Armenia to this day. I had two coaches there: IM Yuri Hambardzumyan and master Roman Akopov. They passed on to me a great passion for the game, which I use in the States to develop my skills and craft my career.

In the USA, my mentor and coach was IM Armen Ambartsoumian, who basically made me the player and the coach that I am. After being a student of his American Chess Academy for years, he accepted me as a coach. I'm still working as a coach at the academy to this day. Other chess coaches who also made a contribution to my career were WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, IM Andranik Matikozyan, GM Dejan Bojkov, GM Wesley So, and GM Melik Khachiyan

Which game do you consider your "Magnus Opus?"

I have many games that come to my mind, some recorded and some forgotten by history. A very memorable one is my blitz game with GM Wesley So in a chess camp, which pushed me towards becoming a more serious player. However, I would pick the game that led me to a 1st place tie in the Pacific Coast Open:

How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?

My approach to coaching consists of a classical method involving continuous and consistent attention given to chess. My motto in life is Aron Nimzowitsch's famous quote: "A thorough knowledge of the elements takes us more than half the road to mastership."

Nobody is ever done learning in their life, and the key to becoming better (not only in chess but in any sport or profession) is the ability to realize that constant studying is required in order to not become rusty and also keep unlocking new knowledge on the way.

Despite the fact that the above-mentioned chess coaches and players had a tremendous contribution to my chess game, I never had a private coach in my career and studied continuously by myself using the "consistency" method which got my career to where it is right now. 

A picture of My System, a book on chess theory by Aron Nimzowitsch.
Aron Nimzowitsch's ideas are a big influence on Andrey's approach to chess. Photo:

What do you consider your responsibility as a coach, and which responsibilities fall on your student?

My responsibility as a coach is to guide my students through their studying process and make sure to pick up on their mistakes and put them on the right track again. I approach my students' careers as if they were my own, in order to not let the passion fade away. 

What is a piece of advice that you give your students can more chess players could benefit from?

Many coaches teach their students solely about chess and its tactics and strategies. I find it absolutely helpful to also focus on the psychological aspect of the game during my lessons because I always personally deal with it during my games.

My advice to players is to approach their chess games as if they were situations in real life, where we talk to ourselves in our heads and try to find solutions to our daily problems and tasks. Each move in the game has an equal significance, and if the player deals with every move as a serious problem, they will definitely find a great improvement in their analytical and strategical thinking. 

Andrey Malkhasyan and GM Sam Shankland posing for a photo.
Andrey (pictured here with GM Sam Shankland) takes an all-encompassing approach to chess coaching, focusing on psychology as well as tactics. Photo: Courtesy of Malkhasyan.

What is your favorite teaching game that users might not have seen?
I love exposing my students to Nimzowitsch's ideas, but surprisingly I do not frequently present his famous game against Saemisch, which was dubbed the "Immortal Zugzwang Game". I should probably show this one more often. Here is the game annotated by NM Sam Copeland:

What is the puzzle you give students that tells you the most about how they think?

I always give my students the puzzle of a smothered mate requiring a queen sacrifice, which makes them think outside the box and tells me a lot about their personality and style.

An image of chess player Andrey Malkhasyan sitting at the board during a competitive tournament.
At only 21 years old, Andrey is a competitive chess player with a wealth of tournament experience. Photo: Courtesy of Malkhasyan.

Do you prefer to teach online or offline? What do you think is different about teaching online?

I like both. However, if I'm working with children I prefer face-to-face interaction since they also require behavioral lessons alongside chess lessons. With young or regular adults, this does not matter so much, since the learner will be serious and the online method should not be a barrier for them as long as they have correctly-provided materials.

Lastly, which underappreciated chess book should every chess player read?

Rudolf Spielmann, Master of Invention by Neil McDonald. It's a very educational work of chess literature going over Spielmann's notable games.

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