zondag 17 februari 2008

chess trainers on the Internet

One of the good things of the digital revolution is that is has expanded the possibilities to communicate and share information enormously. and though I expect that there are much more new developments ahead of us, there are already many ways to establish e-learning environments that enable teachers to instruct their pupils. One the front runners in this development is (was) ICC. On their site you can meet trainers (vendors) and make arrangements for lessons. It even has its own currency to pay for these lessons.

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:

  1. The lessons should be based on a clear study plan that has explicit goals;
    The goals should be adjusted to your playing strength.
  2. To get a clear view on your playing strength the instructor should first (before the first lesson) review a number of games you played.
  3. 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.
  4. Every two months trainer and pupil should evaluate on the progress the pupil is making.
  5. The evaluation should be on progress in skill (not on progress in knowledge).

Are there chess trainers on the net who meet these criteria?

7 opmerkingen:

transformation zei
Deze reactie is verwijderd door de auteur.
transformation zei

yes, of course, in chess this is a problem. but the deeper issue is the lack of integrity among 'our common man'.

as i mature (age 50), i see more and more my choices are my own responsibility, and blame myself for--at times--MY OWN lack of discrimination.

when we are wronged by others, often we have empowered them or allowed them to conduct misdeeds by, of course, letting things go too far.

the alternative: live with our own integrity, and cut off offenders rapidly, with, again, of course, requisite forgiveness but not without a 'statue of limitions'.

burn me once, shame on you.
burn me twice, shame on you.
burn me three times, shame on me!

warmest, dk


Phaedrus zei

Words of Wisdom DK, words of wisdom indeed.

Of course this post is founded in irritation, and I should have ended the lessons sooner. But I still think its worthwhile to think about what you should expect to receive out of instruction that will cost you something in the range $25 to $50 an hour.

furthermore I hope that the positive turn I tried to give to these events is picked up by the members of our community and others who are reading these blogs.

I would really wellcome to see that there are chesstrainers on the internet that meet up the criteria I gave. They are the ones that should receive more attention and appreciation.

Sciurus zei

If you made your expectations clear at the beginning I understand that you are irritated. I actually started to take some lessons from Diego Mussanti, a FM from Argentine (clalauquen at ICC). His lessons fulfill points 1 and 2 from your list but I am not advanced enough to know about the other points you were looking for (I am getting an introduction into middlegame strategy at the moment). So far, I enjoy the interactivity of the lessons as opposed to studying a book very much. I'll blog about this sometime (rather busy at the moment).

Phaedrus zei

Hello Scirius,

I can assure you that I made some very specific remarks on whtat i wanted the lessons to be about, but to no avail. In the third lesson he opened with: lets see some games of yours, although we had agreed on some completely other topics.

I am glad that you enjoy the lessons. If well done, nothing is more motivating than a lesson in which teacher and pupil interact.

Sciurus zei

Sounds not nice. I started with some pretty set expectations, too, but Diego convinced me of something more structured. But of course it is different to be asked first and not to come to the third lesson to find out that the coach never intended to do what you agreed upon.

As I am far less experienced than you are, I had no idea of basic chess strategy. So we decided to go through one of his standard lesson plans on the middlegame. I guess he is using these lessons quite a bit, so everything sems to be well planned.

From your experience as a chess teacher: do you prefer to teach beginners or more experienced players?

Phaedrus zei

Hello Scirius,

I don't have a preference for less or more experienced players. I do however have a preference for dedicated pupils.

This makes working with young players sometimes a bit more difficult, because only few of them seem to have enough discipline to make the most out of the lessons I give them. If they don't do the exercises I give them to prepare the lessons they may gain some knowledge, but they do not gain as much skill as they might have.