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Coach Of The Month: WGM Jennifer Perez

Coach Of The Month: WGM Jennifer Perez

Mick
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May's Coach of the Month is WGM Jennifer Perez Rodriguez, a titled chess player and coach representing Paraguay. She has won numerous honors as a competitive over-the-board player, and is also known for sharing her love of chess on her Twitch channel in her spare time.

Readers seeking private instruction can contact Jennifer via her 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 had my first introduction to chess when I was eight years old. Nobody in my family played, and I had no knowledge about it. One day they had an awareness campaign about the game at my school, and I signed up for the program. I learned to play relatively easily and let's just say it was love at first sight.

What is your first vivid memory of chess? 

Chess captivated me from the very beginning. I've had two important moments that have marked my career.

I remember that I began to participate in provincial tournaments, then national tournaments by age categories, until 2006, when I won the National Women's Championship of Cuba for the first time—my first great triumph as a professional chess player! The tournament was a 14-player round-robin with several titled players, including WFMs, WIMs, and WGMs. That's where I got my first grandmaster norm, and it led to me representing Cuba in a World Chess Olympiad for the first time.

My second great moment was very recent when I won the Women's Continental Championship of the Americas near the end of 2022 and earned my international master title.

WGM Jennifer Perez at an over-the-board chess tournament in 2022.
WGM Jennifer Perez at an over-the-board chess tournament in 2022. Photo courtesy of Perez.

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

During my process of transformation into the chess player I am today, I have worked with great coaches. International masters and grandmasters, each of them instilled in me the discipline that one of my main characteristics, the responsibility of studying, and resilience in difficult moments during tournaments.

Currently, I am collaborating with GM Neuris Delgado; we will begin a training process to help me with some major events that I plan to play this year. I am sure that with their knowledge and my desire to learn, we will go far!

Which game do you consider your "Magnus Opus"?

Recently in the penultimate round of the Continental Championship, I faced one of the strongest players of the tournament, WGM Yaniela Forgas. This game meant a lot to me due to the heat of the moment and what it would mean to beat her. It was also a very nice game technically, where I could play chess at a great level.

How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?

I've always been very interested in being a coach and being able to transmit to my students the knowledge acquired in almost 25 years of experience in this beautiful sport. I've had the privilege of teaching in several countries: Mexico, Cuba, Paraguay, and Ecuador, where I currently reside.

The ages of my students vary. I've had children from six years old to seniors. One of the things I like the most about chess is that it can reach everyone, regardless of age, sex, ideology, race, etc. It is a world full of opportunities, and with the role of a trainer, you can guide them in this process. It's really incredible.

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

A lot can be said about this question, but I believe that a coach is a guide that a student needs to progress and to organize their work based on their strengths and weaknesses. This is a process that can take years. My role as a coach is also to give that psychological support, that confidence, that encouragement that your students need when things don't work out (or when they do), to the point of creating a strong bond. I like my students to love what they do above all else, to work hard in every training session, to be responsible and disciplined, and to set realistic, achievable goals.

WGM Jennifer Perez Rodriguez at a simul event featuring young chess players.
WGM Jennifer Perez at a simul event featuring young chess players. Photo courtesy of Perez.

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

The biggest advice I would give to my students is to always respect the opponent. I always say, "You do not play alone on a chess board; your opponent has the same intentions as you, so never underestimate the opponent either by his Elo rating or his moves. You always have to remain alert."

I also advise them not to be afraid of their opponents. Respect them, but do not be afraid of them. When two people are at the chessboard, they both have a 50% possibility of winning. It happens a lot that people play against an opponent with a higher Elo or title, and psychologically they feel defeated. As I said before, enjoy what you do. In a chess game, everybody wins, as the great Capablanca said: "You learn more from defeats than from victories," so in one way or another, you are a winner.

WGM Jennifer Perez playing a match against IM Lisandra Ordaz.
WGM Jennifer Perez playing a match against IM Lisandra Ordaz. Photo courtesy of Perez.

When I have a coach and student relationship, I like to analyze their games. Game analysis is a good place to start. From their games, they can learn from their mistakes. I can visualize where their strengths lie and what weaknesses they should focus on. We could compare this work to an architect creating a plan before building or a doctor providing an initial diagnosis before giving you the prescription for your ailments. It is as simple as that!

I like to instill in my students a general knowledge of chess to be able to manage any position or situation in a game. To be daring when preparing for a specific tournament game, always thinking about where their opponent's weaknesses lie. Chess is very rich in possibilities. Why limit yourself?

I also believe that a great chess player should know the classics; the history of chess is very rich, and from each of these classics, we can learn a lot. They say that every trainer has their own little book. Nobody has the absolute truth; it's just a personal opinion.

What is your favorite teaching game that our readers might not have seen before?

I want to share with all the readers one of the games I enjoyed the most in my last tournament, the zonal championship 2.5 qualifiers for the world cup. I played it in the first round, and what is special about the game is that I invested quite some time in my opening preparation, and my opponent entered one of the lines I prepared. It is somewhat mysterious because the most logical move at a certain point of the line we played is technically a mistake! During the tournament, it was selected by the ChessBase site in Spanish as the attacking game of the day.

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

I usually work on different calculation processes with my students. It varies a lot depending on the level of each one. Tactical motifs and checkmate patterns are some of the problems that I usually assign for them to train their tactical vision. This example is irrefutable proof that you should never throw in the towel!

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

At this point, I prefer to teach online due to the great benefits that technology offers us when accessing different platforms. You have everything you need and more. It is very easy to teach, there is so much interesting material for all levels, and if you want to study any phase of the game, you can go to Chessable and pick one of its infinite courses; you no longer need to waste a lot of time setting up the chessboard for a new game or tactic—technology does it for you.

I would dare to say that nowadays, there is as much content about chess on the internet as there are stars in the universe. Everything at the reach of a click, you save a lot of time.

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

Without any doubt, I would recommend Chess.com. You have everything you need to learn: a high-level playing area and, above all, a committed fair play team that works hard to eliminate cheaters from the platform. The tactics trainer is spectacular in its different options, and I love the puzzles on Chess.com!

If you love video courses, you can also access the Chessable library that is already integrated into the Chess.com platform. Also, with Chessable's Move Trainer, you can easily gain a lot of knowledge.

If you love watching streams, I consider Chess.com's streamers community to be the best, with varied and interesting content for all levels. In short, everything is in one place!

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

Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide by Mauricio Flores Rios. "Pawns are the soul of chess" is a famous phrase by the historical and fantastic master Philidor, and knowing how to play according to each pawn structure can be the secret to triumphing in chess.


Are you a chess coach who's looking to find new students, build your brand, and get paid more for the work that you're already doing? Check out Chess.com's Coach Affiliate Program.


Previous Coaches of the Month:

Mick
Mick Murray

Mick is a writer and editor for Chess.com and ChessKid. He enjoys playing the Caro-Kann and Italian Game to varying degrees of success. Before joining Chess.com, Mick worked as a writer, editor, and content manager in Japan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

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