You can only get good at chess if you love the game.
— Bobby Fischer
You've watched The Queen's Gambit and loved it ... and now you are keen to learn how to play chess yourself.
The only problem is you have no idea how to set up the board, let alone what a pawn is.
It sounds like you might need a lesson or two from a chess tutor — someone to help you move from the raw beginner to a more advanced level, all while having fun.
Keep reading to find out how to locate a private chess tutor or coach.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
Unfortunately, you won't become a master player with just a few lessons. Learning to play chess takes time, and a professional chess coach or tutor can be expensive, so make sure you are clear about your goals first.
As a beginner, your first step is to understand the role of each chess piece on the board and the rules of the game. In your lessons, you'll want to learn about:
- how to set up the board
- the pieces (king, queen, rooks etc) and how they move during the game
- difficulties and common errors
- openings and ending the game
- basic attack and defence moves.
You won't need to find a top level chess coach to learn the basics, there are plenty of great tutors out there with lots of experience even if they don't personally have a high player rating.
Once you can play a game independently, and even win one every so often, you can ask your tutor to start teaching you more advanced tactics, such as Ruy Lopez and Fool's Mate.
A good chess teacher should lead by example, modelling a calm exterior and giving nothing away when they play. In order to improve, you need to practise — a lot. You also need to develop the ability to memorise tactics and predict what opposing players might do next.
What if I already know the basics?
More advanced players will obviously need a chess tutor or teacher with a good rating when it comes to game skills and experience. Students at any level who want to play in a team or tournament, or perhaps join a club or federation, benefit from having a chess coach who can help them with advanced sequences and strategies. A good chess coach with tournament experience should also be able to help you analyse your game and those of other players.
As already mentioned, becoming a master at chess takes time and you need to work hard to win on a regular basis.
If students at a beginner level struggle with thinking on their feet, a great game to play is Blitz Chess. If you're at a more advanced level, Blitz Chess is also great to help you improve your gameplay strategies. This fast-moving version of the game does not allow players the time to overthink their moves and is the best way to learn sequences and play them out automatically.
You can play Blitz Chess against the computer or against another player.
When you're playing against a computer, you can test out new tactics before playing against other players.
Which Private Chess Coach or Tutor is Right For You?
As well as knowing what you want to gain from your chess classes or private lessons, there are a few other things you can do to help you find the best chess tutor for your needs.
Find the best chess classes and private lessons with Superprof.
Whether you want to learn to play chess competitively or just for fun, you can find a tutor to help you improve your game.
Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect tutor.
Ask to see their references
A professional chess teacher will have a CV to show you. However, you can also check their game records or level if they belong to a club or team and ask other players about them. You may want to know about their character when they're playing, for example.
Ask other students for their opinions
Most tutors will have a list of testimonials from past students. You may also find these online if the chess tutor has been teaching in the online environment or has a website. Speak to past students and ask any questions you have about the training technique of the tutor and their experience.
Talk to the tutor
Talking to tutors before you hire them is very important because a simple conversation can help you know whether or not you'll 'click'. You can also ask questions about their teaching style and discuss your aims.
Trust your instincts
Listen to your gut. If you don't feel comfortable asking your potential tutor questions, will you be comfortable learning from them? Do they rush their answers? Or do they seem genuinely interested in you?
Finally, don't be afraid to ask tutors if they do trial lessons.
The Cost of Chess Lessons or Private Chess Tutoring
Lesson costs vary depending on the type of lessons (online, group, in-person), the experience of the tutor and your learning goals.
Before you get started with your chess lessons, buy yourself a board. You don't need to get a fancy one, just something basic from your local game shop or online. You may also want to invest in a travel chess set to pop in your bag if you're away.
A chess clock is also a good investment. You'll need it if you're playing blitz chess, and it's useful for managing the time and pace of your games. Pen and paper are also handy to write down your moves.
If you decide to take online lessons with your tutor, you'll need to invest in a good webcam and headset. Reliable internet is a must, too.
You can learn and play chess online with Superprof tutors.
Just because tutors are cheaper, doesn't mean they don't know the game — their rating may simply not be as high as other players or tutors. A lower rating has nothing to do with their teaching experience either, just their playing experience.
As a beginner, you really want a teacher who can help you with the basics and the rules. You want to learn how to play and have fun at the same time. This is particularly important for kids — if children aren't having fun, then learning won't happen.
Superprof chess tutors charge an average of $20 an hour.
Advanced player level
If you've been playing for a while, you may have reached the stage where you want to improve enough to win a tournament.
If securing a win or two is important to you, then you'll want to learn from the best tutors who are also players of considerable experience at an advanced level themselves.
An advanced player with great teaching skills can help students with all manner of techniques, including:
- top tips for memorisation
- complex attacks
- move sequences
- openings and endgames.
Playing against other students or team members who have more experience than you can really challenge you — and being challenged means growing.
Thanks to our ever-expanding online world, it is now possible to learn from and play chess with players from anywhere in the world.
You can have a private online chess lesson with a teacher in Europe one day, and play against another of their students on the opposite coast of Australia the next.
What matters most is that students and their tutors both love playing chess.
Chess Tutor or Chess App
Whether you choose to take 'lessons' from an online app or get some coaching from a real person will depend on your personal learning style. Although, in fact, both can be handy.
Click here to learn chess online
If you want to learn and play online, in your own time and at your own pace — there is a chess app or website for you.
Chess.com is a popular site that includes videos, articles, puzzles, community playing and the ability to access coaching. Most of the features are free, too.
A chess app, such as Lichess, Chess24 and ChessFree, allows you to either match your skills against the computer or play against other live players from around the globe.
As with a private tutor, research the apps to make sure they meet your specific goals before you download them.
Ask around at your school, community centre or online and you'll be sure to find a chess club with members who can either provide private lessons or know a teacher who does.
Another great option is the Superprof platform. Currently, there are over 1,000 tutors with Superprof who offer chess lessons for every level from the basic beginner through to advanced. With an easy-to-search platform, you can find a tutor who will suit your level, your time schedule and your budget. Learn online or in person.
If you're interested in learning more about chess, such as its history in Australia, the State Library of Victoria has an extensive resource collection, as do other state libraries.
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