Coach of The Month: FM Amir Hadzovic

Coach of The Month: FM Amir Hadzovic

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We are pleased to recognize FM Amir Hadzovic as the Coach of the Month for April 2022. Amir has won youth championships and defeated grandmasters, but it his excellent coaching that separates him from most chess masters. With more than 20 years of playing experience and over eight years of coaching experience—he became a FIDE Certified trainer in 2016—Amir has students all over the world.

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

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

I started playing chess at the age of six. My country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has a long chess tradition, and it feels like everyone here knows how to play the game. It wasn't different in my home, with my father often playing chess with his friends and my older brother. That was the way I got involved in chess. At first I just ruined their games by throwing the pieces off the board, but then I learned the basics and started trying to play against them. Soon afterward I joined a chess school, and that's how my chess journey started.

Amir Hadzovic
Beyond the "throwing pieces" stage and representing Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photo courtesy Amir Hadzovic.

What is your first vivid memory from chess?

I remember playing for my school team when I was eight or nine against much older opponents. I wasn't tall enough to reach the pieces, so I had to literally stand on the chair, but I was still able to beat a lot of those older kids.

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

To be honest, back when I was growing up, my city was recovering from the war that had just ended, and unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to work with many coaches. I did have one coach, IM Zlatko Basagic, who taught me almost everything that made me the player I am now. The most important thing was showing me how masters think about and understand the game. He was also an all-around great guy, which made our lessons very enjoyable and fun. Coach of the Month Amir Hadzovic
With other prize winners at a 2020 Bosnian event. Photo by Emir Krpo courtesy Amir Hadzovic.

Which game do you consider your "Magnus Opus"?

I had Black against GM Bojan Kurajica at the 45th Bosna Open in 2015. It was the second round of the most prestigious chess tournament in my country, one which the likes of GMs Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, and Mikhail Tal had won in the past. My opponent was also a former winner and is a living chess legend here in my country. GM Kurajica has been a winner of an Olympic silver medal for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994, a four-time European club champion with chess club Bosna, and joint third-fourth place (together with Tal, whom he beat in their individual game) at Wijk aan Zee in 1976.

I was a 2200 rated player at the time pushing for my FIDE Master title. Going into this game, I was nervous, but at the same honored to have a chance to compete against such a great player. I managed to pull off a great win with the black pieces by playing an offbeat opening and then getting a strong attack going. I feel that this game is a nice example of my playing style.

How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?

First, I need to see what the main weaknesses of my students are. I analyze their games and then play some games against them to get a sense of their level firsthand. After that, I create a long-term plan for every student individually. My main focuses are the positional aspect of the game as well as endgames. At the end of the day, my approach also depends on my student's needs and what is appropriate for their current level.

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

I strongly believe that I have a lot of responsibility to my students. I try to teach them and lead them by my example, showing them how I think, and, importantly, how I behave when I play chess. I always have to be very prepared for the lesson and give my best for my students of course, but I also try to bring a lot of positive energy into the whole process.

Working with kids is a special kind of challenge for me. I feel obliged not only to teach kids chess, but also to give them the best that chess offers, so that they can become better people.

What I expect from my students is a positive attitude and a good work ethic. Coach of the Month Amir Hadzovic
This kind of scenery probably helps maintaining the positive attitude. Photo courtesy Amir Hadzovic.

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

It's not new wisdom when I say to my students that hard work always pays off, but I think everything comes down to that.

If we talk about concrete chess advice, especially for beginners, I always say think twice before you make a move.

What is your favorite teaching game that users might not have seen?

There are a lot of chess classics that are very important for every chess player to study, and I am sure a lot of them are very well known. I will share one game of mine that I show to my advanced students to explain how important it is to prepare for a chess game, and how it looks when that preparation works perfectly.

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

This is one position I use a lot to see how my students understand basic positional elements. As you can see, moves are not required here, just discussing weak pawns, open files, and strong squares. We can see isolated, double, and backward pawns, semi-open files, and a couple of strong squares for both sides. Coach of the Month Amir Hadzovic

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

I do both and I like both. I have a lot of experience teaching chess offline as I run some chess schools for kids here in Sarajevo. Teaching online has more advantages when we think about the practical side of things since it is easier, and it gives my students and me more flexibility. It is also great that working online allows us to connect with students and coaches all over the world from the comfort of our home. Coach of the Month Amir Hadzovic
What about playing online vs. offline? Photo courtesy Amir Hadzovic.

What do you consider the most valuable training tool that the internet provides?

Nowadays, it looks like we can find everything on the internet. I think it is a great thing, but sometimes it's easy for students to lose themselves in that huge sea of information. We have easy access to a lot of chess sites where anyone can learn and, importantly, play against millions of other players across the world. is a perfect learning tool, and the puzzle training is excellent for players of all levels. One thing I found to be very useful is a tool called "Study" (on a different chess website) and I have to say I was thrilled to see that now offers an improved version of that: Classroom.

Which under-appreciated chess book should every chess player read?

Modern Chess Strategy by GM Ludek Pachman.

Previous Coaches of the Month:

Nathaniel Green

Nathaniel Green is a staff writer for who writes articles, player biographies, Titled Tuesday reports, video scripts, and more. He has been playing chess for about 30 years and resides near Washington, DC, USA.

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