Basic requirements of a Chess Coach

What should a Chess Instructor be able to teach a student ?

This important and basic question often times is over looked by parents and school administrators when they are presented with slick advertising and hyped up claims of a company that is hiring novices off of Craigslist. If we believe that chess study is an important logic and skill building exercise for ourselves and our children then we must take care to insure instructors and coaches are able to properly present the concepts and have mastered the basic building blocks of chess.
This list is intended for the coaching of absolute beginners through intermediate level players. Prerequisite knowledge for coaching of more advanced tournament players (ratings higher than 1200) is naturally a more extensive list.

1. They are able demonstrate all of the basic rules of chess: Movement of the pieces including all the conditions of castling, checkmate, check, all the conditions of a drawn game, how to properly set up a chess set and last but not least the rule of Enpassant.. I am always saddened when I go to scholastic chess tournaments and I see how many children have not been properly taught how to even set up a chess board.

2. A chess instructor should be able to demonstrate all of the minimal checkmate techniques of the game. How to checkmate with King and Queen vs. King, King and Rook vs. King and even the more difficult King +Two Bishops and Bishop +Knight vs. King. Ask your current chess coach how to demonstrate these four basic scenarios and you may be surprised at his our her's lack of knowledge ! If they can not teach you how to win the most basic situations then how is it possible for them to help you graduate the novice stage.

3. A chess instructor should be able to teach the principals and basic stratagems of the three phases of the chess game (opening, middle game and endgame). The mastery of these three parts of chess should be the meat and bones of any chess education. More books have been written on these elements than almost any subject ! The strength of a qualified coach will rest in his ability to convey the principals and analysis of these elements. So good questions to ask would be, "What am I trying to accomplish in the Opening ? What are the typical plans for both sides in a certain Middle game ? What factors should I take into consideration when I am playing the Endgame in chess ?"

4. A chess instructor should teach proper conduct and sportsmanship. This one should be obvious, but sadly I have witnessed many coaches (and parents and players) place the value of winning above all other things...including following the rules! Chess is only a game and potentially a wonderful way to mold our minds into being more logical and creative. Keep the game clean and remember that there is more to chess (and life) than winning at all costs !
Carl Boor is a proffessional Chess Instructor who teaches online, in person and in schools and community centers.


  • 4 years ago


    I am far away from meeting those requisites, mainly checkmates B+B and B+N, and typical plans in certain middle games, not to mention I do know the main moves for popular openings; but still I am willing to teach kids how to play (point #1), because chess is extremely unpopular where I live.

    Such lessons will be free of charge, of course, and if I spot a kid ready to make it to the next level, I will encourage him/her to seek help with one of very few strong players I know here in town.

  • 4 years ago


    I agree. Also the ability to checkmate with a knight and a bishop shows a good understand of piece harmony and how two very different pieces can work together to control squares and to trap a king. I also agree that it seems that anyone can teach chess nowadays...and that is not a good thing. Just yesterday, I visited a friend who had a sibling getting a chess lesson. I witnessed this coach preaching slanderous things every few minutes. For example, he was showing an endgame that was dead drawn, but saying it was winnable for one side. Another time he played a training game with his student and literally hung a piece on move 4! 

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.Ng5 ... I later asked my friend how much he was charging for lessons...30 bucks an hour! 

    I wish I could charge that much for chess lessons...

  • 4 years ago

    FM Boorchess

    K+B vs. K is not needed to teach a beginner, nor is knowledge of algebra needed to teach a 1st grader the basics of mathmatics. I do however think it is a good idea that grade school teachers have a grasp of the higher level concepts so that they can lay the foundation for the students to be on the right path. The case is similar in chess; a chess teacher should be able to move the student along the path of knowledge, not just an introduction and then endless wheel spinning or worse yet hold them back due to their own lack of knowledge. The trouble these days is that there is a glut of people teaching chess who are not qualified. The consumer public is unaware of this and needs to be able to make an informed purchase. There is virtually zero standards or information on the coaching of chess and thus we have the current wild west scenarios. That is the point of my post, to educate and inform and let the reader come to their own conclusions.

  • 4 years ago


    Good article, in general.

    My only quibble is that while being able to show the *position(s)* of K+B+N v K checkmate is good, I'm not sure that teaching the method, especially to beginning scholastic players, is necessary, nor should it be a disqualifying condition I would think.

Back to Top

Post your reply: