Watch out for T.R.U.M.P. or 5 Ways to Spot a Lousy Chess Teacher- Sad
by National Master Stephen Colding
Some people would say that our President Donald Trump is a racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, baby man but even he can be useful especially as a mnemonic device. ( that’s a memory tool for you Mr. President.)
Our children’s chess development is very important. A vital part of any program involves a chess coach or chess teacher. There are many charlatans out there. So how are you to tell the goods one from the bad. I have 5 telltale signs for identifying an awful chess teacher. They are:
- Trouble with explaining material:– A Chess coach’s or teacher’s job is to make the difficult game of chess easy. Each concept that they are trying to teach must be explained clearly and precisely. It is not yours or your child’s job to interpret what the instructor mean. You are paying them for instruction and if it is not getting through then it is their fault and not yours.
Are there not difficult concepts in chess, of course there are, but that is why you hire someone like me! Just make sure that they are capable. They don’t have to be a master but they should know what they are talking about. Some of the best teachers I know never broke 1400 but their students receive the best care and training.
Another thing to look out for is the teacher that teaches in secret. What are they afraid of? Of being found out of course. Monitor your chess instructor, all the best ones welcome it.
- Really doesn’t like kids– There are many strong players in the world and even some of them are good teachers but if an instructor cannot make a connection with his pupil he has failed and should step aside and let someone else try. Everyone does not get along with others and some people just don’t like children., no matter how adorable. If your child and his coach don’t get along , don’t try to force it. Misery is not what you are after, knowledge is, and who can learn when they are miserable.
- Unrealistic Expectations – If you coach has unrealistic pie in the sky expectations himself or his charges then your children are in a precarious situation.
Coaching is hard we must strike a balance between expectations and realities. We must always act a lot of our children but we can’t ask for the impossible. It take usually 9 years minimum of hard work to become a chess master. If your coach says that he is really one but doesn’t have the rating, or that your child will become one with just a few months of study…Run, run for the hills. Chess is hard work and the coach should convey that to you and your child. I f he does anything else he is trying to hoodwink you.
- Memorization or Rote learning- When all the chess coach does is try to teach your child and endless series of variations without explaining the reason behind the moves he is doing a disservice to you and wasting your time and money.
One of the first things I tell all my students is this “ Memory is like a bad friend it’s never there when you need it.”
In chess, you must first seek understanding and only after the child understands the reasons behind the moves, do you go on to the actual process. In chess, the inversion of just a move or two can lead to tragedy. If this is how your coach teaches, get rid of them immediately.
- Profit based teaching – Is your instructor always looking at the clock? Does he charge you for every little bit of feedback that he gives you? When out in public, is he only concerned with his paying customers? Is he always trying to sell you something? If so, you are dealing with an instructor who is only concerned with money. ,
Yes, I know chess is a business, but it is a service business. A person who gets into chess should do so because he loves to teach. It should be a passion. If it is only about money, than there are plenty of other ways to make much more money. Release that coach and let him find his true calling.
Look carefully at your chess coach or teacher, and if they exhibit any of the symptoms shown here , maybe you should consider a replacement.
I have been teaching chess to children for almost 40 years now and I consider it an honor to be entrusted with the mental development of my parents children. You deserve the very best for a task so important.
So remember, whenever you see T.R.U.M.P, kick the sorry coach outta town.
originally published on