The advantages of Internet instruction are numerous. You can choose form a great number of instructors all over the world, the interface is even faster and more flexibel than the board and pieces you would use with face to face instruction, and you can have a chess engine running on the background to check the analysis. The main disadvantage is however that the amount of information exchanged depends to a large degree on the typewriting skills of teacher and pupil.
Nevertheless a really good instructor should be able to overcome this handicap, and give you some high quality training. Unfortunately I recently had a very bad first experience with Internet chess training. I got into contact with a trainer who had gotten a very favorable review (albeit for a grouplecture not on the Internet). Because the stuff presented in this review was very interesting, I send him an e-mail, and we arranged for a chat on ICC. In this chat I explained to him what I expected to get out of the lesson, and asked him if he would be able to do this in a series of 5 lessons of an hour. His answer was: "of course".
The first lesson was OK, but all of the next lessons where a huge disappointment. He would not show op on time (although I had explained to him that I had to make arrangements with my family to have an undisturbed hour). He did not prepare, which became very apparent after he began to repeat stuff in the third lesson that we had done in the first. And he even took a break in two of his lessons of at least ten minutes, without compensating with extra time at the end of the lesson. On one occasion he showed up 10 minutes late, just to tell me he didn't feel very well and wanted to postpone the lecture to another day later that week. After the fourth lesson I was so fed up with it, that I stopped.
When you are really disappointed in the quality of a product or the service, sometimes it is good to think about what demands the it should have met to satisfy you. In this way you will be more aware of what exactly you are looking for. And I came up with the following criteria for Internet lessons that would be worthwhile for me. Besides the most basic demands that should be respected with any service you get like showing up on time and delivering nett time, the following criteria should be met:
- The lessons should be based on a clear study plan that has explicit goals;
The goals should be adjusted to your playing strength.
- To get a clear view on your playing strength the instructor should first (before the first lesson) review a number of games you played.
- At the end of the lesson you should get some study (or even better training) material that enables you to train with the knowledge acquired in your lessons.
- Every two months trainer and pupil should evaluate on the progress the pupil is making.
- The evaluation should be on progress in skill (not on progress in knowledge).
Are there chess trainers on the net who meet these criteria?