I’ve been conducting post round analysis for Virginia Scholastic tournaments and championships for 11 years. This year it was my job to collect games for the VA bi monthly newsletter. After having surgery in August, I was in no mood to play or direct so I decided that I’d do post round analysis for the amateur and novice sections.
A recent article by Women’s Grand Master and 2 time Czech Women’s Champion Katerina Nemcova,
“Katerina’s Seven Tips For Effective Preparation For OTB Tournaments”, see Chess Life August 2021, pages 33 and 34 seemed like a must read, especially when preparing to play in a “heritage event like the 84th VA Closed! I had my issue of the magazine with me and continually asked the participants if they had read the article. The answer I got 100% of the time was no!?! I was in disbelief! As a coach, I had read this article word for word to all of my students and to some parents before this event. So then I started asking how many books they had read and if they were being coached.
Come to find out 75% of them had not opened even 1 book to get ready for the championship. They been solving on line puzzles, playing Blitz, and watching videos. That threw me for a loop when I also discovered nearly half of them had online coaches.
The next thing I noticed was how fast they were finishing their games and how unaffected some of them seem to be by the result they had gotten. When I asked about their online activity, I was hearing ratings of 1500 blitz, 1300 Bullet, Puzzle Rush scores in the high 20’s and 30’s. Even with this level of activity, the quality of the scoresheets left a lot to be desired. I thought it was because some of them were in their 1st tournament, but I was wrong on that assumption. I was getting inaccurate and incomplete scoresheets from people that were bragging about having played for years!?!
Since the pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people playing chess! Since they couldn’t play over the board, they have to play online. Chess, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, is an industry. As with any industry, there are people that give great service and people that give terrible service. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents making is they think chess instruction is a commodity!
What should you ask to protect yourself?
If you want to get a quality coach, here are some question to ask;
1.) What is your US Chess Membership #? 2.) How long have you been coaching chess? 3.) Are you licensed and Insured? If yes, What is the name of your company and what states are you licensed in? 4.) What is the name of your US Chess Affiliate? 5.) What is the age requirement for becoming a US Chess Certified Coach? 6.) What is the age requirement for becoming a Certified Tournament Director? 7.) What qualification do you use for endorsing US Chess Certified Coaches? 8.) What is the age requirement for being a US Chess Affiliate? 9.) What is the minimum age required to coach for you? 10.) What is the measure of success you use for your students? 11.) Are you a for profit or a non profit organization? 12.) What is the age requirement for a business license? 13.) What is the age requirement for going to college? 14.) What is the highest rating one of your students has achieved? 15.) How many teams have you coached at any one time? 16.) Do you have your own chess club? 17.) Do you sponsor tournaments? 18.) Have you authored any books? 19.) Do you write for any publications? 20.) Is your coaching staff required to have background checks?
The 1st question will tell you a great deal about the person offering lessons or coaching. Lesson and coaching are not the same. Once you have their membership # you can find the truth about them at, http://www.uschess.org/index.php/Player/Rating-Lookup-Old-format.html There you can see their membership status, tournament history, norms performance/category, whether they are a tournament director, their peak rating, and career statistics. To see if they are a Certified Coach visit, http://www.uschess.org/index.php/Scholastic-Misc/Certified-Chess-Coach-List.html. There are people asking $25.00-$75.00 per hour that won’t even know what you are talking about or why you are asking so many questions!!! Just remember they are a business… If they don’t know the answer, don’t know what you mean, or ask why do you need to know that, move on to the next organization.
Everyone knows that when it come to following grandmaster advice, interpreting the results of the surveys that have been done on chess, and using chess to bolster school applications, college applications, and resumes, I am unrelenting and uncompromising!!! It was disheartening to watch players tell me they were playing the Sicilian and have no idea that …a6, …b5, Rc3, Re8, or Bh8 were all moves of standard consideration. I watched and listened as coached players tried to explain why they had played 2. d3 or 2. Nf3 instead of 2. d4 in response to the French, Caro, Modern, and Pirc. I saw games where they took on d4 in the Scotch, and moved both the e and g or the b and d pawns when fianchettoing. Too Many of the players I met were still missing 3, 2, and even 1 move blunders by their opponents because they were still stuck in the, “you take me, I’m going to take you back” mentality! Many parents and coaches just don’t realize that the longer it takes to get the kids thinking right about chess, the closer the kids get to putting the game on the shelf. They’re kids not adults!! They’ve actually told me, “If I haven’t learned how to play after spending, “all this time” it’s going to take forever to fix my game!” I don’t know who’s fault that is, I just know it’s preventable. As I’ve said for years… sooner or later if you stay with chess long enough, you are going to realize that tournaments are the only way to the benefits you were seeking. When you go up to that nice, friendly, polite, and professional clock watching coach that you’ve been paying for a year or 2 and ask them why they never stressed going to tournaments, they will say, “You never said you were interested in tournaments… we had to start somewhere?!” What that always means whether it’s chess or some other endeavor is, they got paid, and you got nowhere!!!
Yes, I’ve got openings! Call Coach Mike @ 804-426-6058!