By Jonathan Whitcomb, a chess coach in Murray, Utah
A generic online chess lesson cannot equal the value of a quality face-to-face session of chess instruction, yet the following may help you improve your skill in playing the royal game. My private chess lessons are individualized for each student and cost only $25 per one-hour session. A face-to-face coaching lesson allows me to come to understand how a student thinks about particular chess positions and how that student makes decisions about what move to make on the chess board. That allows the student to get exactly what is most needed in chess instruction.
Different Kinds of Chess Beginners
Before getting into a brief online chess training for beginners, let’s be clear about two kinds of novices in the royal game:
- Knows nothing, or nearly nothing, about the rules of chess
- Knows most, or all, of the rules but has little skill in playing the game
This post, “Chess Lessons in Salt Lake City Area,” is mainly for the second kind of beginner, yet let’s consider the first one, before moving on.
I recently began a new style of chess instruction for teaching the first kind of beginner. Instead of just demonstrating how each of the six types of pieces moves, I showed this chess beginner how to checkmate a lone king with a queen and king. She was given a choice between three different squares that the queen could move to, all three squares being close to the opposing king. She naturally learned how the queen moves by making the moves herself, rather than just watching me move the queen around.
But let’s move on to the brief lesson for beginners who know at least some of the rules.
Brief Online Chess Lesson
If you are a chess beginner who knows most of the rules of the game, how long does it take you to find the best move for White in the following position? If you quickly found the best move, and you’re positive it is the best move, this mini-lesson may be too easy for you. You might try “queen versus rook endgame.”
White to move, what is best?
If you did not quickly find the best move in the above position, please look at the following diagram, which gives you four choices (out of many) for a queen move:
Which of these four squares should the queen move to? (h4, f6, f7, or f8)
Let’s look at the position after White moves the queen to f7:
This would be a blunder, for White has given Black a stalemate draw
Moving the white queen to f7 would prevent the Black king from moving anywhere, yet it would not put that king into check. Instead of winning with checkmate, White would get only a draw by stalemate.; instead of getting a full point from a win, White would get only half a point from a draw. Moving the queen to f7 would therefore be a big blunder.
Now here’s the position after the queen moves to f6 instead of f7:
Moving the queen to f6 would check the black king, but it’s not checkmate
Qf6 is far better than Qf7, but it’s still not the best move. After the black king moves to g8 (the only legal move), White will then have two ways to get an immediate checkmate.
Let’s now look at the move Qh4:
Moving Qh4 is not the best choice, but White can win on the next move
Qh4 checks the black king, so it cannot be stalemate. Yet Black is not yet checkmated, for that king will now move to g8. Now let’s look at the best move for White from the original position in the first diagram:
White made the best move: Qf8, an immediate checkmate
Moving the queen to f8 is best, immediately checkmating the black king.
Now, if you will, consider lessons from a chess tutor, namely me.
Chess instructor Jonathan Whitcomb in an instructional video
Whatever your skill, or lack thereof, in the royal game, a private lesson is generally the fastest way to learn chess. Whether you want to simply learn the rules or learn to win a game, face-t0-face chess lessons can be individualized for you. That is how I prepare for private chess instruction after the first free introductory session.
I usually drive to the home of the chess student, and this is generally in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. Age makes no difference, and you’re free to ask questions.
Call me at 801-590-9692 or send me an email to learn more. The getting-acquainted session is FREE, so you don’t need to hesitate. Decide in your own time what you’ll then do about the possibility of regular lessons, which are only $25 for each one-hour session.
Before I go into details on how I teach chess lessons in Utah, lets look at a game I recently played with a child. Playing a chess game with a student is not always the best use of time during a lesson, but this particular child had few opportunities to play the royal game during the preceding two weeks, and he needed the practice.
Jonathan Whitcomb . . . is the developer of the NIP system of chess instruction (nearly-identical positions) and the author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess. This new chess book may be the first such publication that systematically uses the NIP method of instruction.
I wrote [“Beat That Kid in Chess”] for the raw beginner who knows how to play chess but who always loses (or almost always) for lack of knowledge and skill in competing. “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” (HBYDC), on the other hand, is much more useful for more advanced players, those who have had more experience than the low-level beginner.
YouTube instructional video: a brief introduction on how to play a chess end game and prepare to promote a pawn or to draw when you have a lone king