Chess.com Staff
Titled Player

Feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your chess improvement? 


I can help. I teach engaging, enjoyable lessons geared for players who are interested in seriously improving their game.


With a reasonable amount of training, effort, and practice, I believe that anyone can improve significantly. Time after time, throughout my 8 years of teaching experience, I’ve helped students discover that they are capable of far more than they realized.

My Focus: High-quality lessons designed to suit the individual goals and learning style of each student

What I Can Uniquely Offer: Exploring the fascinating, creative side to chess while learning how to practically apply your knowledge to a variety of positions

My personal playing style focuses on the imaginative and dynamic aspects of the game. I can especially help students understand how to:


  • Develop a memorable, enjoyable, and understandable opening repertoire that suits your style of play

  • Enhance your board visualization and calculate clearly numerous moves ahead

  • Decide when to sacrifice material to gain an attacking or positional advantage 

    "You must take your opponent into a deep, dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one." -Mikhail Tal

  • Find hidden resources and fight back from a disadvantage

  • Maintain your confidence throughout the ups and downs of competitive chess

  • Exploit tactical and positional weaknesses in your opponent’s position

  • Apply key endgame principles to a wide range of positions

  • Improve consistently both in short-term bursts and progressively long-term


Testimonials from Students


“Chess Master Vanessa West is far and away the most thoughtful, student-centric, and dedicated chess teacher that I have ever known. She individually tailors her lessons to meet the exact needs of her students. Every week she shows up with a plan and after each lesson I feel energized, more confident, and beaming with enthusiasm about chess.  

Before I started taking lessons, I was an intermediate-level player, but only in an online environment, and never having played in any "actual" matches I was very intimidated to play real over-the-board games in a tournament-style environment.  Vanessa has completely changed my perspective, because she recreates a tournament experience during the lessons. Most (if not all) of the bad habits that I used to have are disappearing due to Vanessa's advice and teaching style. She has shown me how to study, how to progress, how to make the most of my limited time with this 'sport of kings'.  

She is able to focus on all areas of the game, openings, middle-games, endgames, compositions, tactics, and psychological aspects of playing. Also I should mention that she is extremely patient, has a good sense of humor, and is very open and willing to share her wealth of experience and expertise with her students. I have seen Vanessa work with children who are new to the game as well as with adults of differing levels of experience, and would give her my highest possible recommendation!”


        -Evan Pepper, Professor at Santa Monica College and West Coast University 


“I feel so fortunate to have Vanessa as our daughter’s chess teacher! She has a high level of knowledge and expertise in chess, as well as a wonderful ability to connect with students and get them excited about the game. She makes the lessons fun and engaging, and encourages students to challenge themselves and believe in themselves. I have been amazed by the way my daughter’s chess skills have progressed through these lessons. She has learned strategies and tactics, developed creative problem solving skills, and gained self-confidence. My daughter eagerly looks forward to her lesson each week. I would wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa to other parents.”


         -Heather Gordon

"Vanessa has been beyond instrumental in developing our daughter’s love of chess.   Her teaching is methodical and age-appropriate, moving from the basics to gameplay and strategy seamlessly, while challenging her students with her engaging teaching style.   In addition to a weekly “duo” session with friend, Vanessa also taught small group lessons in our backyard last summer, where 5-6 kids were able to learn and play together with her oversight.   The most magical part of our experience has been hearing squeals of excitement and laughter during lessons, as this is a true indication of how much fun our daughter is having with Vanessa!  Lastly, I am embarrassed to say that our daughter can now regularly beat us at games of “farmer and piggies” (queen vs. pawns).  Vanessa is a gem."
- Shari Rosenblum Botnick, Parent


For examples of my personal playing style, here are a couple of my favorite tournament games:



The following game won the "Best Game Prize" at the 2012 Southern California Open:



I’m also an experienced chess journalist and was awarded “Chess Journalist of the Year in 2017” by the Chess Journalists of America.

.If you’re interested in trying out a lesson or discussing my unique approach to chess and learning, shoot me a message. I’d be happy to hear from you.