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We have a holistic approach to teaching chess. Broadly speaking, there are two areas in chess: technical and non-technical.
Technical knowledge includes knowledge and understanding of chess openings, including three main groups: open-openings, closed-openings and half-closed or half-open openings.
The type of the openings is normally defined by what is happening in the center of the chessboard. Is the center open, which leads to a dynamic position where most of the files and diagonals are open or is it closed, in which case the battle is ensued on either the king’s side or the queen's side or both or is it half-closed opening, in which case we have a battle which is somewhere in the middle of the above two description.
Furthermore, technical knowledge includes knowledge and understanding about the middlegames arising from specific openings, the ability to identify active and passive pieces and to deal with them appropriately, the ability to identify outposts and use them effectively, to understand the importance of open files and diagonals, how these are created and how to make the best use of them.
Lastly, but not the least, there are many basic positions in the endgame that we need to be aware as without that knowledge we would not be able to play a challenging game for our opponent. We need to learn about the concepts of passed pawn, connected passed pawn, number 7, the opposition, including close, distant and diagonal opposition, the rule of the third / sixth rank, triangulation, outflanking, and this is just to acquire some knowledge about the pawns endgames. Then, we have other types of endgames, knights, bishops, rooks, queens, minor piece, to name a few.
The non-technical aspects of chess is about what is happening in our mind and how we process all the knowledge and more as described in under technical chess. It is the thought process and the mental state.
In addition, the non-technical aspect of the chess also include dealing with our emotions known as emotional intelligence, time management, planning, and the art of analysis to name a few.
The skill that underpins everything else, and not only in chess but in life, is Emotional Intelligence, or the way we are dealing with our feelings. I am sure we will all agree that when we are feeling under stress, we can not think as effectively and in the same manner as when we are under no stress.
Let me just clarify one thing here before we continue. We are not talking about a little amount of stress; we all need small amounts of it to perform at our best. We are talking about the amount that is greater than needed for our optimum performance, the amount that impairs our thinking.
While we play a game, there will be ups and downs and when we suddenly realise that we have just made a blunder, a blunder in chess means we have made a big mistake, how do we react? When we are in a meeting at work and our manager or someone else, makes a statement that we strongly disagree with, how do we react?
Chess, together with proper coaching, can help us learn how to react in those situations, how to remain positive, how to motivate yourself in those moments, how to get up and start to formulate our reply.
Time management is another crucial aspect of chess. When we play a competitive game in a tournament, we have a time limit of say 5 minutes, or 30 minutes, or two hours per game per player. We need to ensure that the game is finished before our time runs out. If that happens, we will lose the game no matter what the position on the board might be. Chess will help us learn how to divide and manage our time during the game.
The above is a summary of what our holistic approach of chess coaching entails.
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