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Coach Of The Month: Frank Johnson

Coach Of The Month: Frank Johnson

PedroPinhata
| 50 | Fun & Trivia

Chess.com's October Coach of the Month is the ChessCoach himself, Frank Johnson! Frank is not only the man behind the popular Twitch chess channel ChessCoachNet, but is also among the select group of chess players who have signed with an esports organization.

If you're a fan of Frank's, you already know he's a great coach. If this is the first time you've heard of him, you could probably guess from his Twitch handle that coaching is his passion. Learn more about this OG chess streamer below!

Readers seeking private instruction can contact Frank Johnson via his Chess.com profile and can find other skilled coaches at Chess.com/coaches.


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

I was introduced to chess as a freshman in high school when I was 16. Dr. Minder Rucker, my first chess coach, introduced me to the game.

What is your first vivid memory from chess?

When I was in high school, my best friend and I were already gamers. One day we were walking around the school, looking for an available computer lab. That's when we came across the chess club meeting in the math lab.

We peeked into the room and were quickly invited in by Dr. Rucker. He offered us unlimited access to the computers if we agreed to learn to play chess. This was an awesome challenge for a couple of teenage gamers. We were quickly all-in.

Frank Johnson Coach of the Month
Frank Johnson. Photo: Frank Johnson.

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

I have had several chess coaches over the years. One of my most memorable experiences was with the late IM Emory Tate. I worked with Tate over a span of maybe eight years, often meeting at chess tournaments around the country. One of the biggest lessons that Emory passed on to me was the importance of knowing the recommended theory, but also to never miss the opportunity to think for yourself and create new ideas.

Other coaches include IM Stephen Muhammad. I sought assistance from Muhammad when I was having some particular problems in the French Defense. His in-depth understanding of this opening gave me the confidence I have today when confronted with it.

IM Carlos Perdomo also helped me solve my Caro-Kann issues at a young age. He taught me how to look for complications in quiet positions as well.

Frank Johnson Coach of the Month
Photo: Frank Johnson.

Which game do you consider your "Magnus Opus?"

I have very fond memories of my game against GM Arthur Bisguier. It happened in 2003 during the Emory Castle Grand Prix, and it was the first time I ever defeated a grandmaster over-the-board.

How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?

First and foremost, I consider myself a data-based coach. When working with students, I look at a large body of their games in slow time controls—blitz and bullet games are not considered at all. Secondly, I focus on fixing weaknesses that are most glaring. Once we get past the simple mistakes, we focus on their crutches and fears.

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

I consider it my responsibility as a coach to clearly differentiate fact from opinion when discussing ideas with my students. I often say, "this is definitely a move, but not one I generally would consider because of these factors." However, if chess was only played one way, the game would be dead because of lack of variety.

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

There are so many pieces of advice I could offer to the average student... Some of which have been discussed time and time again. The simple and consistent bits of advice would be to always check to see if you have any material directly under attack. Also, pause after any capture and always consider changing the move order when captures are initiated by your opponent.

Frank Johnson Coach of the Month
Photo: Frank Jonhson.

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

I have taught offline for over 15 years, and I have to say I absolutely prefer online coaching now. It is much faster and a better use of time. When coaching online, I'm able to quickly set positions up or play multiple people, review games, etc.

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

I am a big fan of Chess.com and have been for over 12 years, so for me, Chess.com is the best online training tool out there. There are so many resources available on the platform that it would be practically impossible to list them all.

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

Anthology of Chess Combinations by GM Aleksandar Matanovic.


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