Chess Mentor Help Center

Welcome to the Chess Mentor Help Center! Please read these FAQs to learn more about how Chess Mentor works and how you can get the most out of it.

Chess Mentor Help Center

Chess Mentor® was designed for all levels of chess players, from beginners to experienced.

Chess Mentor is different for 3 important reasons:

  • You get more than just a CORRECT or INCORRECT - you get comments on EVERY single move, right or wrong!
  • You learn how to THINK about chess positions like a Grandmaster because you see the board as he/she does!
  • You get a measured performance rating over time that identifies the strengths and weaknesses in your game!

Chess Mentor is an combination of playing, getting a private lesson from a Grandmaster, reading a chess book, solving positions, performing in-depth analysis, and taking a computer- tracked chess test all at once. You interactively work through hand-crafted chess courses written by renowned chess authors and teachers such as IMs Jeremy Silman, John Grefe, Marc Leski, Eric Tangborn, and others.

COURSES: Chess Mentor courses are groups of lessons centered around specific categories or themes - much like how a chess book is organized.

LESSONS: Each Chess Mentor lesson starts with a specific position and then asks you to make the best move. These lessons are written by top chess trainers and focus in on critical themes and bits of knowledge that you can use in your games.

The interactive discovery process enabled by Chess Mentor allows you to freely experiment without fear of mistakes or embarrassment. In fact, the more mistakes you make, the faster and more you learn. Your rate of improvement depends on how often you use Chess Mentor and how much practice you get playing chess against opponents slightly above your current level at any time.

You have access to a multitude of graphical hints and advice. Every legal move you try receives a hand-crafted comment: every wrong move, every almost-correct move, every correct move, and every equally correct move. You learn by working out the logic of chess situations, by actually moving the pieces, and by getting feedback about the moves you make.

Situations that give you lots of trouble are automatically presented to you at a later time, mingled in with new situations you haven't seen yet. Chess Mentor is the closest thing to having your own private master chess coach at your side and at your beck and call. You will finally understand why certain moves should be made in certain situations, and why certain moves are wrong. You learn by trying and solving - the most natural way to learn.


The Chess Mentor Interface

The interface is designed to provide you with 3 things: a clear view of the board, information about the position, and tools to help you learn and make the right moves.

Rollover the graphic below to learn about the different elements of the interface.

Clicking here will show you the goal, or purpose, of this lesson. This can help you know what to look for.
Clicking here will show you the key pieces - those that you should most consider when looking at this position.
Clicking here will tell you how many moves are in this lesson and which # you are currently on.
Clicking here will show you a chart that compares the material value on the board.
Clicking here will show you the key squares in this position - those you should most consider when looking at the current board setup.
Clicking here will open an analysis board where you can move pieces around freely.
Clicking here will show you the average rating of this lesson.
Clicking here will show you the correct piece to move, but not where to move it.
Clicking here will make the correct move for you, but you will lose all points for that move.
Clicking here will show you, on a scale of 1 to 10, the importance, or difficulty, of the current move compared to the other moves in the current lesson. A move of "1" is not that difficult or important to the position, where a "2" may be the hardest or most critical move on the board.
Clicking here will show you the correct square where you will move a piece, but will not show you the piece to move.
Clicking here takes you to this help page.
Clicking here takes you to the settings page where you can choose your preferences such as board size and color, training mode, etc.
Clicking here lets you quickly report any bugs or mistakes in the lessons that you might possibly find.
Clicking here will take you to the next lesson and save your progress in the current lesson.
Click here to show the hint indicated by the active tab above it (Subtle, Strong, or Direct).
This is the most subtle hint that should give you a simple insight into the position.
This is a strong hint that will help you understand the position more clearly.
This is the most direct hint available.
Click here to replay the last move. You will need to do this after WRONG moves so you have a chance to read the text of why it was a wrong move.
Click here to continue after you have made your move and read the response text, after the computer move, or at the end of a lesson.
This is the response text to your move.
This is where the main text of the lessons will appear. Every time you move or see a response move you will see text here which will help explain the lesson. You may also find general introductory information about the lesson, the players, or historical anecdotes.
This is the timer that tracks approximately how long you have taken on each move and on the total lesson. Some short pauses are built in to allow for reading, page refreshes, etc.
This is the name of the course.
These are the authors of the course.
This shows your level of subscription to Chess Mentor.
This is the title of the lesson.
This will take you back to the Chess Mentor homepage and end your training session.
This lets you know which side is to move (the side you are playing as). You will also see the GOAL text appear here.
This shows you how well you are performing in the lesson. A green bar means you are clearly passing, an orange means you are in danger of failing, and red means you have failed.
This is the board where you make your moves and see the response moves. To make a move either drag the piece with your mouse or click on the piece to move and then again on the destination square.

Starting a Training Session

Chess Mentor uses two different modes to select the challenges that are presented to you: adaptive, and sequential.

Adaptive Mode

The Adaptive Mode uses smart logic to determine what is the next best lesson to show you. Based on your rating and past lesson scores, Chess Mentor will choose lessons within your rating range that you have not mastered. As you do more and more lessons Chess Mentor will learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and become better and serving you the best lessons.

Sequential Mode

Though the Adaptive Mode will give you the right challenges based on performance, you may want to just move sequentially through all of the Chess Mentor lessons and courses. If this is the case, you can choose Sequential Mode where you want to go through a specific sequence of lessons. The Settings page lets you switch your default setting to adaptive or solving mode.

Customizing Your Training Sessions

In addition to choosing the training mode you can also use more specific advanced choices of where to focus your attention. You can specify a rating band, a score threshold, which courses you would like to include and exclude, and which categories or themes you want to focus on.

» Click here to begin an Advanced Custom Training Session

Individual Selections

If you want to be more selective about the Chess Mentor lessons you view you can navigate directly to the lessons or courses that interest you and then click on the BEGIN LESSON link to do that one.


Tracking your Performance

Chess Mentor uses the scoring and ratings above to track how well you are doing over time. You will see your rating move up as you progress and learn. Chess Mentor also provides more detailed analysis of your performance based on different aspects of the game (openings, endgames, tactics, etc) and different themes within those categories (forks, pins, pawn structure, etc). Check your Progress Report to see more detailed information!


How do I play a chess game against Chess Mentor?

You CANNOT play a game against Chess Mentor. Chess Mentor is a completely different concept in chess training. If you were taking lessons from a Grandmaster, playing games against him would undoubtedly yield constant defeat - but unfortunately - very little instruction. To create a more productive learning experience, the Grandmaster would give you chess positions, to look at, to study, and to SOLVE. As you tried to solve these positions, the Grandmaster would give you hints and feedback to help your thinking, just as Chess Mentor does.


Is there an "automatic" mode where I can just "watch" the lesson?

No, and you can't learn to ride a bike by just watching a video either. Chess Mentor provides help and guidance - but it is only a "hands on" grappling with chess lessons that will provide a full grasp and appreciation of chess in all its complexity and beauty.


How the Score and Ratings Work

Chess Mentor uses a sophisticated scoring and rating system to track your overall performance, as well as your strengths and weaknesses in different aspects of the game.

For each Chess Mentor lesson you are given a score based on performance. This score is out of 100 possible points. Points are deducted for using hints and other help tools, for taking time, and for incorrect move attempts.

The Chess Mentor philosophy is that it is much better for you to thoughtfully discover the solution for yourself using hints, than it is to "stumble upon" the solution by making haphazard guesses.

1 min of TIME -1% of Move
Show SUBTLE HINT -2% of Move
Show GOAL -1% of TOTAL
Show STRONG HINT -6% of Move
Show DIRECT HINT -10% of Move
Show ANALYSIS BOARD -4% of Move
Show KEY PIECES -10% of Move
Show KEY SQUARES -15% of Move
Show CORRECT PIECE -24% of Move
Show CORRECT SQUARE -30% of Move
Make WRONG MOVE -30% of Move
Show ANSWER -100% of Move

The score is calculated using the following method: Each lesson has a given number of moves. Each move is given a "relative importance" from 1 to 10 which sum up to the total possible points. Then, each time you do certain things like look at hints or make wrong moves, you lose a percentage of these points. The table below shows the different actions and their associated impact.

For example, if you have a lesson that has two moves in it, the first having a move importance of 5, and the second with a move importance of 10, you have 15 total possible points.

Let's say that on move 1 you use a STRONG HINT (-10%) and a SHOW KEY PIECES (-10%). Then we get (5 -10% -10%) = 4. Then on the second move we take 2 extra minutes of time (-5% each) and the analysis board (-15%). We then get (10 -5% -5% -15%) = 7.5. Add them together and we get 11.5 out of 15 points, or 77% out of 100% on the lesson. That is how the score is calculated.

The rating is calculated by taking the rating of the lesson and then plugging in your score (in this case 77%) to the Glicko formula to get your new rating. In chess a win is usually worth 1 point, a draw .5 points, and a loss 0 points. But with Chess Mentor your score can be anywhere from 0 to 1, and your rating is adjusted accordingly. You then receive a new rating, as does the lesson!

If you have any questions about Chess Mentor, please contact our Member Support team!