If you are a chess player on the internet you have almost certainly seen IM Kostya Kavutskiy. Whether he's streaming at ChessDojo, uploading to his YouTube channel, or commentating on Titled Tuesday, Kavutskiy is always offering entertainment and insight.
Those insights also make him an excellent coach. So, without further ado, here's the Chess.com Coach of the Month for August 2021, IM Kostya Kavutskiy.
Readers seeking private instruction can contact IM Kavutskiy via his Chess.com profile and can find other skilled coaches at Chess.com/Coaches.
I learned chess at the age of four from my late grandfather, Abraham. He taught me one day after school because (I suspect) I had too much energy running around the house!
I somewhat recall playing my first ever game with my grandfather. I couldn't tell you anything that happened over the board, all I remember is that I lost, got very upset, and cried so hard my nose started to bleed. Of course, that would be far from the last painful memory of the game that I would make!
I've worked with a lot of people and would like to include them in chronological order: my dad, Jay Stallings, Alex Potievskiy, Aba Shagalovich, IM Jack Peters, GM Var Akobian, IM Armen Ambartsoumian, GM Ronen Har-Zvi, GM Elshan Moradiabadi. If I have left someone out, I sincerely apologize!
I learned a lot from my coaches, and owe everything to them. GM Akobian taught me the value of stubborn defense and sacrificing for the initiative. IM Ambartsoumian helped me develop a dynamic sense of the game. GM Har-Zvi gave me a lot of practical advice when it came to choosing openings and making decisions at the chessboard. GM Moradiabadi was crucial in helping me reach the final IM norm. The main thing I took away from him is that every newly minted titled player must bring something new to the game.
The following game was played in an IM-norm event after I spent months working on my "dynamic chess." In the past, I used to be a player that was afraid of sacrificing material, but after studying GM Alexei Shirov's Fire on Board I felt like a completely different playerthough it was only after playing this game that it became clear that all my hard work had actually paid off. Hence to this day, I'm still quite proud of this one, despite whatever stupid Stockfish 14 says!
I believe people are much more willing to "work" and "train" when they feel a genuine interest in the rich history and culture of chess. I feel like my main goal as a coach is to help students cultivate a curiosity for the game so that they can feel inspired to work on their own, and so that their training stops to feel like actual "work." Rather, it becomes something they look forward to.
There are so many geniuses in chess history, and their games are all out there, ready to be studied. To name a few: Tarrasch, Capablanca, Botvinnik, Tal, Fischer, Geller, Petrosian, Karpov, Kasparov, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Kramnik, Anand, Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Caruana, I mean the list goes on and on and onso many amazing players to choose from. Whatever your favorite opening is, there are probably at least a dozen grandmasters you could study and learn from, who can show you exactly how to play the middlegames you're always seeing.
And there are so many amazing books out there, already written, just waiting to be read. If the curiosity and motivation are there, I think there is very little stopping a truly ambitious playerso my approach to coaching is to encourage a deeper interest in the game, to get my students to not worry about their short-term rating goals, and to combine that with specific and practical advice as to how to actually work on one's chess.
I feel that with all the books, courses, and resources one could possibly need to improve already out there, a coach's main responsibility is to advise their students what to work on and how to work on it. Simply put, it's the coach's job to set the training plan, and it's the student's job to follow it!
Don't worry about your rating, and focus on improving your chess. Whatever your immediate rating goal is, whether it's 1200, 1600, 2200, etc., you're still going to want to improve after that. So you should think about the long-term and what kind of player you wish to become, and then do the things you think will get you there. Otherwise, you'll be starting from scratch every time you achieve an arbitrary milestone. If you're 1775 and just trying to get to 1800, you should instead be thinking about what it'll take to get to 2000. You're already at 1800, one or two lucky games and you'll get there. The next day you'll drop down.
Your strength doesn't fluctuate on a daily basis, only your form does. But if you want to improve a lot, you have to think about it from a long-term perspective. It often takes 3-6 months of hard work before people see any kind of significant results. Focus on enjoying the part where you learn more about the game, and the rating will eventually follow.
Tarrasch vs. Steinitz from 1898 is a simple yet elegant masterpiece.
I like this one. I got it from the incredible book Imagination in Chess, by Paata Gaprindashvili. The chapter it's from, titled "Mental Agility," has a lot of good puzzles which can help assess whether a player is flexible in their calculation.
White has a lot of good moves here, but the simplest win is 1.Qg5+ Kh8 2.Qe7! with a decisive double attack (2...Rb8 3.Qe5+). Many players start by calculating 1.Qg5+ but don't notice 2.Qe7 because they don't truly stop and think after 1...Kh8 to look for candidates.
Of course, it's also hard to find "backward" moves. Qg5-e7 is not a backward move exactly, but it does reverse the direction from where the queen came from, which is hard for a lot of players to consider.
Although I find it quite convenient to teach online, and it's great that you can connect with anyone in the world, there is nothing like just moving the pieces around with a student to get a sense of their feeling for the game. So I have to say I prefer teaching in person. Fewer distractions, more personal connection!
There are a ton of amazing tools out there, but I'm a big fan of Chess.com Drills, especially the Endgames section.
So many people think they "know" a particular endgame (for instance the Lucena and Philidor rook endgames) but then completely bungle it once they have to prove it with seconds on their clock. Drilling theoretical endgames is crucial to being able to consistently execute them over the board.
Excelling at Chess by GM Jacob Aagaard. It's the first in a series for advanced club players (1800+) but is very accessible, and is all about how to be a "real chess player", i.e. what to actually focus on both on and off the board. It was an absolute joy to read when I was a club player myself and I can't recommend it enough.
Prior Coaches of the Month:
- Like in chess, protecting the King key for No. 6 Aggies in season opener - TexAgs - September 4th, 2021
- Trinidad and Tobago fail to advance to Online Chess Olympiad Division II - TT Newsday - September 4th, 2021
- If You'd Like to Learn How to Play Chess May I Suggest Doing It With a T-Rex via The Noble Collection's Jurassic Park Set? - The Mary Sue - August 23rd, 2021
- Ending years of feud, AICF and Chess Association of India announce merger - The Indian Express - August 23rd, 2021
- The 8 Best Movie-Themed Chess Sets to Buy Online - IndieWire - August 23rd, 2021
- Chess May be Banned in Afghanistan - World Chess - August 23rd, 2021
- The Guildford Chess Club celebrates its 125th anniversary! - Chessbase News - August 23rd, 2021
- Chess, PHILSPADA athletes to be honored in 27th SKC awards - Mindanao Times - August 23rd, 2021
- Harshit Raja, Indias 69th Chess Grandmaster - Gulte - August 9th, 2021
- Nas enjoys a game of chess in Rare visual - REVOLT TV - August 9th, 2021
- Star Trek 3D chess and more out-of-this-world ways to celebrate International Chess Day - ZDNet - July 25th, 2021
- How the game of Chess has helped mold Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux - NBC Sports - July 25th, 2021
- Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand Goes Down To Anish Giri In Croatia Grand Chess Tour - Outlook India - July 10th, 2021
- The Real Queens Gambit: Ashley Priores Nonprofit Aims To Give Women An Edge In The Male-Dominated World Of Chess - Forbes - July 10th, 2021
- Of Anand, simultaneous chess and the cheating controversy - The Hindu - June 28th, 2021
- Chess in The Parks held at Myrtle Park in Indian Orchard - WWLP.com - June 28th, 2021
- The Londoner Inviting a Guy Over to Play Chess - The Cut - June 28th, 2021
- Carol Jarecki: From chess mom to one of the game's greatest referees - Washington Times - June 28th, 2021
- NBA Playoffs 2021: The chess match between Trae Young and the Milwaukee Bucks' defence is only beginning - NBA CA - June 28th, 2021
- Chess Corner: Sitting on the 7th rank - Muskogee Daily Phoenix - June 11th, 2021
- Joe Burrow is so competitive he's trash talking teammates about...chess - Bengals Wire - June 11th, 2021
- PhosAgro Renews Strategic Partnership Agreements with FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation - PRNewswire - June 11th, 2021
- Nuclear powers must stop playing nuclear chess and atomic roulette - The Mail & Guardian - Mail and Guardian - June 11th, 2021
- Joe Burrow has Been Talking Crap About Chess to a Key Offensive Target - Sportscasting - June 11th, 2021
- Aamir Khan will face the chess with chess champion Viswanathan Anand - asume tech - June 11th, 2021
- 2021 Scholar-Chessplayer Award Winners Announced | US Chess.org - uschess.org - uschess.org - June 11th, 2021
- New tables give you the opportunity to play chess/checkers at two EC parks - WQOW TV News 18 - May 30th, 2021
- A Chess Game: Everyone will win or lose after the NATO summit | Daily Sabah - Daily Sabah - May 30th, 2021
- Xiong Wins May 25 Titled Tuesday - Chess.com - May 30th, 2021
- Grandmaster Judit Polgar to Appear in US Chess Women Girls Club - uschess.org - May 30th, 2021
- Chess event promotes solidarity between Jews and Arabs - The Jerusalem Post - May 30th, 2021
- Taylor Jenkins and Quin Snyder are in a NBA playoffs 'chess match' that's years in the making | Giannotto - Commercial Appeal - May 30th, 2021
- Mind games: Two intellectuals and chess on a football pitch - The Indian Express - May 30th, 2021
- Theatre review: Chess the Musical - InDaily - May 30th, 2021
- 10-Year-Old Chess Prodigy Who Overcame Homelessness Named National Chess Master - NewsOne - May 18th, 2021
- Top chess player in the world visits Indianapolis - WTHR - May 18th, 2021
- 10-year-old boy who once lived in a homeless shelter achieves remarkable title: chess master - USA TODAY - May 18th, 2021
- Ventura sweeps National Youth and Schools Online Chess Tourney - PhilBoxing.com - May 18th, 2021
- First Ever Chess-Focused Sports Agency Launched - World Chess - May 18th, 2021
- More than a game: How Cook County is using chess to prepare inmates for life on the outside - Daily Herald - May 18th, 2021
- The Queens Gambit Star Anya Taylor-Joy: Its Not About Chess, Its About Loneliness And The Price Of Genius Contenders TV - Deadline - May 18th, 2021
- Chess Market Is Expected To Expand At An Impressive Rate By 2027 KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - May 18th, 2021
- Announcing The Botez Bullet Invitational On May 5 - Chess.com - May 5th, 2021
- New In Chess Classic: Carlsen Strikes - Chess.com - May 5th, 2021
- Jazz Cartier on His Chess Docuseries With Diddy, Skincare Line, and Next LP - Complex - May 5th, 2021
- Cover Stories with Chess Life #36: Taylor Kingston - uschess.org - May 5th, 2021
- Meet Tani Adewumi: The 10-year-old Nigerian refugee who became a national chess master | NewsChannel 3-12 - KEYT - May 5th, 2021
- Are the Rams trying to play chess with NFL Draft pick Tutu Atwell? - With the First Pick - May 5th, 2021
- The Chess Match Ahead in the East - Japers' Rink - May 5th, 2021
- Mother tongue and chess is there a connection? - Chessbase News - May 5th, 2021
- Great Moments in Chess: Kasparov Seizes the Crown - chess24 - May 5th, 2021
- 'A sport for the mind': New chess team a big hit at MHS - Yahoo News - May 5th, 2021
- All India Chess Federation launches initiative to help chess community fight COVID-19 - Firstpost - May 5th, 2021
- It's your move: Pittsburgh police invite the public to play chess in Market Square - TribLIVE - April 21st, 2021
- Aagaard on the Candidates - Round 9 | US Chess.org - uschess.org - April 21st, 2021
- What America Taught The World About Chess - Chess.com - April 21st, 2021
- The real story of women in chess - The Independent - April 21st, 2021
- Cops in Paraguay discover 20k worth of high purity cocaine bound for Ireland inside chess set... - The Irish Sun - April 21st, 2021
- Mike Tyson heads to Arnold Schwarzeneggers mansion for game of chess and golf along with UFC icon Henry C... - The Sun - April 21st, 2021
- Classic games like chess and Sudoku are now easier to play on iPhones and iPads - TechRadar - April 5th, 2021
- Clash Mini: Everything we know about Supercell's upcoming auto chess game - Pocket Gamer - April 5th, 2021
- Bucs decision to bring back Godwin and Barrett was a chess game - Bucs Nation - April 5th, 2021
- Artemiev Swindles Nakamura To Win Another Titled Tuesday - Chess.com - March 9th, 2021
- Chess lovers practice the art of the checkmate - KNBN NewsCenter1 - Newscenter1.tv - March 9th, 2021
- Play Chess With Agadmator, Nemo, Cramling, Canty, And More - Chess.com - March 9th, 2021
- Turkish chess group head works to inspire young girls - Anadolu Agency - March 9th, 2021
- Chess Player Koneru Humpy Is The BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year - Femina - March 9th, 2021
- He loves the chess aspect: is Rooney made to measure as a manager? - The Guardian - March 9th, 2021
- Battle of the Minds: 4 legends compete in chess and poker - chess24 - March 9th, 2021
- Wednesday Workout: Leveling Up Through the US Chess Rapids - uschess.org - March 9th, 2021
- John Leguizamo on Critical Thinking [VIDEO] | US Chess.org - uschess.org - February 20th, 2021
- Maharashtra Chess Association back as a governing body after 4 years - The Bridge - February 20th, 2021
- Chess and Artificial Intelligence (1) - Chessbase News - February 17th, 2021
- Rockford Chess Club Gets Revived Thanks to ' The Queen's Gambit' - q985online.com - February 17th, 2021
- Aaron Chess, District 1 council candidate, wants to bring hope back to the district - CIProud.com - February 17th, 2021
- Knight's Retreat Review - Chess but not! - TheXboxHub - February 17th, 2021
- Smashing Stereotypes - Marissa Saroca to play The Arbiter in CHESS THE MUSICAL | News - Aussie Theatre - February 17th, 2021
- Garry Kasparov at IMPROVATE Cybersecurity Conference is talking about Chess, IA and The Queen's Gambit - Yahoo Finance - February 17th, 2021
- Become a chess expert with these discounted grandmaster taught training bundles | TheHill - The Hill - February 15th, 2021
- When The Prison Banned Board Games, We Played Chess In Our Minds - The Marshall Project - February 15th, 2021