CHESS COACHING WITH BILL JORDAN

If you live in Adelaide, I am also available for coaching by phone or in person, for individuals, groups and primary or secondary schools.

Rates as of March 2016 are:
For more information email me re COACHING.

COACHING FAQ

Who can benefit from chess coaching?
Can anyone be a successful chess coach?
What if I am a novice?
What can you learn from an experienced coach?
What types of coaching are there?
How is my coaching done?
Which games can you learn the most from?
How can games be studied?
In what areas can coaching improve your play?
What can the coach learn about you?
What resources do you have?
What is the cost?
How do I submit games?
How are games annotated?
How can notes be used?
How can a chess server be used?
What information do I need?

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Who can benefit from chess coaching? Anyone of any age, from novice upwards is welcome. No minimum standard is required. In eastern Europe it is not unusual for players of master strength to have a coach lower rated than themselves. Some players are fairly new to chess, and understandably want to establish a good grounding in the game. Some people just play socially, and have a regular partner they would like to be able to beat more often. Many players have reached a certain plateau and stayed there for years. Coaching may help you look at chess in a fresh way and facilitate the natural process of improving. Improving your understanding and results is one of the enjoyable aspects of chess. It is fun to do with ease what you couldn't do previously, or had to struggle to do. Whatever your rating is, its fun to see it go up and be able to defeat people you couldn't previously. Good coaching can be the fastest way to improve. You may just get enjoyment from deepening your understanding of chess, without anything else to compare yourself with. This may help you enjoy playing more. Coaching can be a fun end in itself.

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Can anyone be a successful chess coach? Being a strong player does NOT automatically mean you can instantly be a good chess coach. Some strong players aim over a student's head, or are impatient or sometimes even arrogant if a student has not the experience to play well or appears slow to learn. Coaches develop their own styles. Over time, I have abandoned some methods in favour of others. Different students learn in different ways, and the coach learns to adapt to the student. Receiving good coaching may help you in time become a good coach, which has happened with some of my students. If you are willing to learn, then you can become a good coach. It stands as a separate discipline entirely - just because you're a pro does not mean you can teach others. So take it slow and learn coaching skills, and you can become a coach worth hiring.

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What if I am a novice? Chess beginners tend to be the easiest people to coach, because they are not familiar with chess, there is little danger of teaching them what they already know, material can be presented in a structured manner. I have plenty of material possible for novices.

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What types of coaching are there? Face to face coaching is best, but a serious alternative is coaching over the phone, which is better than coaching on a chess server. Its better than you might think, with your chess set in front of you, a lot can be done. It helps to be fluent with algebraic notation for this option. Its cheaper too, as there is no travel time for me. You don't have to travel either and you have the possibility of using your computer.

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How is my coaching done? My favoured method of coaching for experienced tournament players is the time proven "going over games". For players who have not yet played in tournaments, any recorded games (or games played on a computer and saved to hard disk) may be useful, such as games played against a computer, games played socially, or games played on a chess server. In the latter case, you can save the game to disk, and go over it again later. If you want to play against a computer program, but don't have one, one possibility is to download the freeware version of the very strong Rebel program. If you are new to chess on the net, it is well worthwhile learning how to play chess on a chess server. I have used other methods, but this will be my main method on the net, for the time being.

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What can you learn by studying your own games with an experienced coach? The coach is not only an experienced tournament player, but his experience with students helps him to understand what areas in chess tend to cause difficulty and which ideas are easier to comprehend.

The bulk of chessplayers, particularly those under about 2000 ELO often play games in which one or both players missed tactical chances of varying levels of difficulties, or strong attacking or defensive moves which could have turned the game. Students are often surprised at how many winning chances they missed. A coach can uncover many things, that otherwise the players were blissfully unaware of.

Players are often quite strong in certain types of positions and are aware of certain weaknesses, but on the other hand, have gaps in their chess skill and knowledge they are unaware of, and have an unclear idea of how much better developed a master's sight of the board and positional understanding is. They are also unaware of how much better they could play.

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Which games can you learn the most from? You will tend to learn far more than games you lose than games you won. Games you went wrong in, but don't know why or where, or games in which you were completely lost for ideas, are excellent candidates. Studying the latter type of games can be a great help in developing the knack of being able to find a reasonable plan in any position. Games which fluctuated a lot can also be useful as well as games that are especially even.

Games you won easily or quickly, or made very few mistakes tend not to be as useful, but still can be instructive.

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How can games be studied? The most natural method is to identify mistakes made by the student, and to suggest possible improvements. It is also useful to identify the opponent's mistakes, especially as this helps develop the skill of "spotting errors by the opponent". Possible reasons for the mistake can be suggested, as well as ways of avoiding that type of mistake in the future. This applies regardless whether the mistake is a gross blunder or a small positional inaccuracy. Games can also be used to identify strong play by the student, and reinforce when he is using a good strategy and/or a good method of finding moves. Games can also provide raw material for discussion. The current position in a game, may just be an excuse for demonstrating some new ideas. For example, "in positions similar position, this particular plan can be quite effective ...or its no so effective in these sorts of positions.

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In what areas can coaching improve your play? Coaching can help all facets of your game improve your tactical vision, ability to plan, endgame skill, ability to improvise in the opening etc. Your moves tend to be as good as the ideas behind them. Coaching can help develop your methods of thinking and using your intuition. Coaching can help you learn the methods of a strong player.

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What can the coach learn about you? The coach can form a view of your style, strengths and weaknesses. Based on this, he can suggest approaches and exercises which can help strengthen your game. A simple example might be the recommendation of studying books on tactics if you need work in that area. He may also suggest openings which suit your style.

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What resources do you have? If you provide a list of chess books and chess software you have, I can give you an opinion on the relative merits of each, and which you should give priority. For example, one student owned a book containing over 5000 chess positions to solve. I made suggestions on which sections would be the most beneficial to him and which order might best to do them in.

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What is the cost? Rates for email coaching are $25 a game, $15 each for 5 (or more) games. Rates for Fics coaching is $30 an hour (or $50/2 hours), at the main Fics I use the name "intuition". I have a PayPal account. It is easy to set up your own account and send (or receive from) to anyone who has an email address.

Send games by email. I will annotate the games when I receive them and email them when I receive your snail mail. You don't need to send all games simultaneously, for example if you choose a package, you pay up front and email the games at whatever rate you choose. You can email 2 short games (games under 20 moves) instead of one longer game. I will answer questions about my notes at no extra cost.

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How do I submit games? Email game(s) in PGN format, else in short algebraic. If not in PGN format, put the players names at the top (at least your name and colour). Put the result (1-0,0-1 or 1/2) at the end. If games are in PGN format, I will add notes in the same format so you can load the returned game straight into your game viewer program such as Winboard. As an option you could add the time limit, as this helps me establish the context, as does players' ratings. Don't include computerised auto-annotations or times, apart from perhaps noting if a player is short of time. You can include some notes of your own. Simply send the game score within an email message.

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How are games annotated? You might like to create a directory for received games. Your game/s will be returned to you with my notes embedded. Notes will surrounded by curly brackets to form game comments. There is nothing to stop you adding further notes as well, or questions with the game when you send it. Notes will tend to result from intuition, developed from many years of experience. I will using concrete analysis less and I don't guarantee 100% tactical soundness for any moves or variations suggest. The notes to be concise and convey important points. There will of a short summary of the course of the game.

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How can notes be used? An advantage of this medium over face to face for chess coaching is that you have a record of the notes. You may choose to replay the game electronically with one of the many chess database programs available and read the notes in a separate window, or replay the moves on a normal chessboard.

You may wish to use the technique which applies to studying from well written concise chess books, rereading parts of it from time to time. At the first reading there may have been some points which were obscure to you, rereading notes at a later date may make them clearer to you.

I tend to use a "talk" style, a cut down version of what I would say in a standard coaching situation. I try to use simple clear language and get straight to the point. From time to time I will mention various chess principles. If you are unfamiliar with the principle take note. If you are familiar with them, take note of the context within which it is used. I will also use various well known chess terms which I presume the reader is familiar with. If you are not familiar with a term I use, you will often be able to establish its meaning from the context. I will tend to concentrate more on your moves, but I also will point out possible errors by the opponent, as it is an important skill to be able to recognise when the opponent has erred. Comments may apply to a single moves or a group of moves. Moves with no comments on them, are usually moves that are easily best or reasonable, based on my intuition. I am very interested in feedback on my notes. Too long? Too short? Difficult to understand? Not deep enough? Helpful? I will modify my style according to feedback. Any feedback on my notes is welcome, particularly is something is unclear or omitted. I will add to this document as more ideas are accumulated.

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How a chess server be used? Save a game for study to disk and we arrange to meet at one of the FICS at a specific time. We can play over the games and chat at the same time. You need to be experienced with FICs for this option. E-mail me with times that suit you and what part of the world you are in. Perhaps email a game to me in PGN notation, as an attachment first. In E-mail messages, in the Re section, mention one of these. chess coaching email chess coaching novice chess coaching fics

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What information do I need? Give me any information you feel might be useful, including country and your time zone, your approximate age, approximate rating, how long you have been playing, how and what you play in, your playing style, what you would like to get out of coaching etc.
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