Learning something from someone with expertise is always a good idea, it allows the transfer of knowledge to be much more smooth than when done alone. However there’s a monetary cost when deciding to hire someone to teach such expertise, so the question becomes is it worth the cost to be able to learn chess?
I have wondered about this myself when I was still a beginner, hoping to provide insights after years of learning, so, is a chess coach worth it?
A chess coach can correctly identify the deficiency in learning and solve them, prepare a player for a competitive environment, be relatable and make the study much more fun, and will serve as a guide to learning important things, they are helpful but not necessary to excel in chess.
I know a lot about chess already to correctly identify whether this is a good idea, I have also read a lot of testimonials online to further support the information written here, hoping to get it correct, I think I have a reasonable opinion on this one that you will enjoy.
What benefits are there for having a chess coach?
A chess coach can recognize the mistakes committed by learners pretty fast, they can then create recommendations to fix such issues that wouldn’t have been figured by the learner alone making chess coaches worthwhile.
The real value of a chess coach is their interaction with the buyer (feedback), and the compilation of relevant information that is hard to gather on your own. When someone is learning something alone there is a degree of isolation, that all the knowledge can only be processed by the learners only.
If something has been forgotten, erased, or not well-documented there is a high chance that such knowledge will never be discovered again. When there is someone else keeping notes there is another that would track your progress and make everything clear, eliminating potential hazards on the learning process.
It also gives a partner that would raise feedback, a feedback that can give third-party opinions on the mistakes you are making. It is after all very hard to be critical of ourselves (though sometimes we think that it is easy) and just having someone to point your mistakes can definitely make you better.
Chess coaches are typically knowledgeable
A chess coach will not only be able to identify lapses within your abilities but also tailor recommendations on how to improve them practically, it is a double-value system. Not only is your mistake being pointed out but a solution is created, finding a solution to the issue is actually one of the most essential skills of a successful chess coach, which they can deliver to you.
Perhaps you know about the things you are lacking in your chess abilities but don’t know how to deal with them. A good chess coach has likely encountered such cases in the past and knows how to solve the problem. If rook endgames are the problem for example, a suggestion of a chess coach may not only be to study theoretical endgames but also basic rook checkmate patterns in order to familiarize the rook’s movements.
This is something a beginner would never consider but someone who specializes in teaching knows very well, which is pretty insightful.
Is the knowledge of a chess coach compatible to a beginner?
Some chess coaches are used to working with beginners to improve their games and therefore have the correct attitude to teach in a relatable way, though some might be too much of an expert to teach simple ideas coherently.
Good chess coaches can understand the problems of beginning players and be much more tolerant to their questions, that is what you want. Chess coaches usually explain the game in a relatable way, students are more likely to retain the knowledge if they have been taught like this.
A coach due to their expert nature might mention a few complicated things here and there but should not be getting in the way of the communication. I have seen a lot of other people taking this route (though I did not take it personally) and hiring a chess coach, and I can say that they form a pretty good connection with the learning.
Having an expert eliminates the horizon effect
The horizon effect is a problem in artificial intelligence but can also be applied to human learners, where uncharted knowledge is very hard to identify for beginners in chess. It basically means that you don’t know what you don’t know, and therefore would not know how to find such knowledge even if you have the power to do so.
This is a true parallel to our modern digital world filled with information, there is so much information online talking about chess but you will not know how to search for them. Chess coaches can suggest things to study that someone who is new will not even consider, they can serve as a guide to learn things that they know would work for you.
They can completely eliminate the barrier of the horizon effect and gather all the relevant information available for you to learn quickly. If you can somehow acquire all the important bits on the internet yourself that will bring results then I am glad for you (since that is how I did it) but most people cannot do that.
As such it is good to have someone that can compile everything step-by-step, formulating a guideline that can be easily followed for success.
When should you consider hiring a chess coach?
Chess coaches are only useful if the player already has a basic understanding of how the pieces move and their roles, it is also required if one is serious about pursuing competitive play and excelling against other competitors who have studied chess themselves.
You see what is basic for a chess coach is most likely pretty advanced for someone who is new to the game, therefore such ideas could not be absorbed properly. Chess coaches are only ever useful if you already have a fair understanding of the basics of the game since if not, you are unlikely to understand what they are talking about anyway.
If you are not even aware of how chess pieces move then just do a google search online and do it that way, don’t spend money on a chess coach. They mostly focused on positional development, planning, or improvement in one of the three phases which are already pretty advanced for most people.
So if you are trying to learn the basics of the basics then you absolutely do not even need to consider any about this, just find some free tutorials online. This is only reserved for those who are already initially invested in studying and just trying to look for improvements.
Chess coaches are for competitive players
If you are planning to enter competitive chess a coach is essential, there aren’t any competent players that have not met a coach at some point. When you are entering a tournament chances are that your opponents have studied the same amount of things that you have studied, a win will be difficult.
The thing that would break the stasis is a third party that will develop your skills further than any available resources out there. And such is a chess coach, which can provide their own experience and strategies when dealing with competitors in a tournament, giving a player an edge.
This is not an easy win by any means, but will just make things easier since the preparations and studying will be accompanied by someone who is an expert.
When does hiring a chess coach become a waste of time?
Some chess coaches don’t have the capability to handle students and bring results because of their lack of expertise, being socially unlikable during studies, or teaching incompatible concepts that do not suit the needs of the player, these kinds of coaches are a waste of time.
A chess coach can be a waste of time if you have found the wrong one, therefore it is important to filter those that are competent and can bring results. There are titled players out there (especially online) that have figured out the opportunity on the internet, they set up shop without any prior teaching experience.
They might be an expert in playing chess but not teaching chess, which is the job description that you are looking to hire. This incompatibility will be apparent later on where they would be just chucking every knowledge they can think of in your throat and expect you to absorb it without feedback or any other interaction.
They just want the money, and when someone likes to have the money they wouldn’t put in any extra effort to identify if the value they are giving is helpful. Such careless chess coaches are what’s giving the industry a bad name. This is why when I did the research about the best chess coaches myself (on my recommended products page) I have struggled to do so since they are pretty hard to find.
Finding a good chess coach is very important
If you’re going to hire a coach it is important to know their background, expertise, and get their general impression before continuing to invest more money. It is very helpful to look at the reviews and see what are the opinions of other people who have taken them, this is usually a good idea.
If someone gives unrealistic promises they are likely a scam, those are the chess coaches that are not worth considering and you should run away as fast as possible. If you actually find one who is helpful though it would be a blessing, you can skip so many steps ahead in your journey to improve in chess.
Can you be good at chess without a chess coach?
A player can improve their chess abilities by going to platforms such as Youtube or Google and finding chess-related information to be implemented in their studies, a chess coach is not necessary to improve but should make things easier.
There are many sources of information available in the realm of the internet, going to a blog, youtube videos, free chess ebooks, etc. can be useful if you don’t have the money. Some would say in a sales-like manner that it is impossible to have the sort of specialized knowledge if you do it this way, but this is simply not true.
Blogs and youtube videos are improving year after year, all the pools of information are getting more accessible with the increase in quality. However the problem is sorting through all those information to find the one that you are looking for, there’s so much content out there that it is hard to distinguish the good from the bad one.
A chess coach will give you the specific knowledge in a specific scenario that will most likely fit your needs unlike if you have just gone to the internet. They are also much more likely to make you attached to the game by being relatable and making chess look like something that is easy to understand. If you do not know what I’m talking about just look at the video below:
Now this is a free youtube video but you should get the point, a chess coach can see what you are looking for in real-time and find something that suits your needs. This video is well presented but there are many other videos out there that are not well-presented, along with the problem of actually finding the one that you are looking for.
One can master chess without a coach but will be hard
You can absolutely be good at chess by doing things on your own (that is how I roll) but that is if you are willing to spend years of studying until being decent which I did. What I mean by being decent is my highest rating on lichess is around 1900-2000, definitely better than most people but borderline rookie for professionals.
And I have been playing for years only to get to this point, there are definitely limitations when doing things on your own than with a partner (such as a coach). I definitely could have learned faster and better if I had access to such a person, but yes, you can definitely improve all on your own (but it will be hard).
Do you now know the value of a chess coach?
Not everyone will have the monetary fund to purchase a chess resource such as a coach (like I do) but we definitely cannot deny that some paid things are helpful. There are others out there who want their problem solved fast and can buy the solution and this is a valid answer to that.
I definitely think that the industry is being hit by a lot of imposters who cannot teach chess but try to, so you have to be careful when choosing something out there. But all of us should not eliminate the actual values that these kinds of services offer because it is real, and it is a disadvantage to ignore that.
I hope I have provided my own value to you coherently, sleep well and play chess.