Ever since I started using Chess.com's Analysis Board to do my lessons with my students at my coaching website "NextLevelChessCoaching.com", I have always had a very positive experience with it. The analysis board is very intuitive, easy to use and looks great at the same time. Let me tell you more about it
Let's start with my preparation before the lesson begins. When I log into Live Chess, setting up an analysis board to use for a lesson is as simple as clicking on the drop-down menu, selecting "Analysis", clicking "Start Game" and then the analysis board options pop up:
The first option allows me to make a title for the board. Usually I will title the board "(Student Name's) Lesson". Then I am able to make names for both the white and black sides of the board. After that I can input an initial position using FEN if I want our lesson to start from a unique position instead of the starting board. The final option I am able to change is to alter the access level of the board. I can choose to allow anyone to see the board or limit it to people I personally invite. Once the analysis board is set up, sending an invitation is done by clicking on the name of the person you want to invite, then selecting "Invite to Analysis Board":
When the board comes up, now I have a lot more options:
Starting from the top left, I can choose who's move it is by clicking on "White to Move". When you click on that part, it will change to "Black to Move" and vice versa. "Flip Board" allows me to view the game from the opposite side of the board which is good when we are looking at a game from black's point of view. The small box of pieces underneat these two options are my free pieces. I can drag pieces from this box into the board anywhere that I chose (but I must have the "Legal" checkbox unchecked, I will talk about this later). I can choose to have as many pieces as there are squares on the board to fit them, even if the position has more pieces than are possible:
Now that's what I call a "pawn storm"
Going back to the Analysis Board options, to the right of "White to Move" is a microphone icon. This allows anyone who is using the analysis board to communicate using their computer/headset micrphone without needing Skype. I have yet to try this out (I do all of my communication with my students through Skype right now), but I will definitely be trying out the microphone ability in the near future. Under the microphone is the "Settings" button. Clicking on this brings up a few more options:
Here the board creator (the person who set the board up) can mute some of the chat abilities and change a few of the board options we covered earlier. Under the "Settings" button in the Analysis Board, is the "Legal" and "Live" checkboxes. These two checkboxes are very important. If I want to change a position in any way (move pieces to different squares, add more pieces to the board, take pieces off the board, etc.) I am only able to do this when "Legal" is not checked. When "Legal" is checked, then I am only allowed to make legal moves on the board. The "Live" checkbox allows me to change a position without my student seeing me change it. When it is unchecked, the student sees the last position that was on the board before "Live" was unchecked. This is good for coaches who want to set up a tactics problem for the student without them finding the tactics idea while the position is being set up. As soon as "Live" is checked again, the new position immediately appears for the student to see.
A few more options for the analysis board are the "Clear", "Reset" and "Reload" options. "Clear" does what it says: it clears the board and leaves two Kings with no pieces. This is good if a coach wants to set up a position that doesn't have many pieces on the board, without the coach needing to drag every piece off the board. "Reset" and "Reload" both put any position back to the original starting position in chess, with each piece on it's starting square.
Finally the "FEN" and PGN buttons allow you to put specific positions and games into the analysis board for review:
You can also use the "Current" button to save the current FEN or PGN from a game or position you have been analyzing on the chess board.
The final part of the Analysis Board to cover is the actual board itself. When using the Analysis Board to look at a game or position, you are able to draw arrows and highlight certain squares. These things are good for pointing out move options without actually making the move. Or for highlighting certain squares or pieces:
Bonus points to those who know what opening I am drawing out
So overall, I feel that the Chess.com Analysis Board has been a terrific tool for me to use when I am coaching my own students. I am very thankful that Chess.com has made such a tool available for coaches like myself to use and I am looking forward to exploring a few of the features of the analysis board that I haven't fully checked out yet. I would also strongly encourage any and all chess coaches out there that don't use Chess.com for their online lessons to seriously look into switching over to here. It will definitely be worth you while