Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Not Again

| Permalink | 104 comments

Colorado news sources are full of reports about chess author and coach Robert Snyder being held on charges of sexual assault against two "boys between the ages of 11 and 13." [Umm, 12?] Snyder wrote the very popular Chess for Juniors, among other books. He was found not guilty of similar charges in 1983. Innocent until proven guilty is critical when the alleged crimes are so heinous. Outraged and terrified parents don't always make for balanced investigations, as has been shown many times in the past.

Speaking of guilty, another junior coach and author, John Walker, may still be in prison for molestation, for which he was arrested in 2000. Be careful out there.


Very disheartening. This news might well serve to reinforce the not so rare opinion that chess players are all strange, if not indeed dangerous, and should not be trusted.

Such things are really disgusting, but all are not to blame for the perversions of a few. Today, coaching chess to minors should have failsafes, not only for the students, but also for the coaches! This would help ease the minds of both students and parents. Maybe in any coaching situation, there should be at least four responsible adults, two of each sex, if only to ease the minds of parents.
Chess, has to be studied to be played better, coaches are needed, but, first and formost, the welfare of the students should be safe-guarded.

I suggest we defuse the sexual energy contained in a bishop by modifying its shape. Let's re-design the chess pieces to reflect our gender-free approach.

I also think that fianchetto formations are not the best way to teach teenagers of either sex, with all their raging hormones. Their nubile minds will surely interpret a bishop's slanted and simultaneous penetration of 3 friendly pawns as correct behavior between teacher (bishop/Snyder) and students (pawns/students).

Unfortunately, this moral decay has been accelerated by the proliferation of sex-related sites on the internet. It no longer affects adults; kids, being very computer-literate, are easily exposed to the forbidden joys of what is known in certain circles as "farm action". What can they expect from "action chess"?

A truly sad state of affairs.

Is there no coaching accreditation system in the US?


closet GM asks:

"Is there no coaching accreditation system in the US?"

As far as I know, the only requirement for chess coaching in the USA is lack of better employment. Chess teaching/coaching is generally performed by people without a background in education; sometimes they are not even good players themselves. Not different that any lawyer being allowed to become a college professor, for the simple reason the guy practices law. No wonder the results are pretty bad...

I once searched for Daily Dirt on the computer at the school where I teach (I couldn't remember the exact address) and I got porn.


If parents went to Snyder's chessforjuniors.com site, they should have been suspicious when group lessons were $30/hr, but private lessons were free.

No really, they should cut off his pawns.


Who are you, Mr. Rook, and why do you waste time writing foolishness on an internet blog? There are many people who teach chess because it is a wonderful thing to be able to make money doing what one loves. Your assertion that most people who teach chess have no background in education is flawed, because many established chess teachers, if they work in scholastic chess, are quite well-prepared for the clasasroom. In fact, I just finished two weeks of training for how to teach college students, and most of what I encountered was material which I previously knew and had become comfortable with in my time as a chess teacher. It is precisely my background in education, developed through my teaching of chess, that make me confident that I will be successful in the classrooms.



I've often coached kids, including private lessons, but I've always refused to give the lessons in my residence. I never wanted ANY chance that I'd be wrongly accused of anything improper.

Btw, when I've taught at schools, they've always required a background check, which I think is a necessary precaution.

If Mr. Snyder is guilty, I hope he never gets out of jail.

Is it more important to be a strong player of good communicator? Of course they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But you know, there are some players who are qualified to teach with background in education, etc, but very poor players. Do they have business teaching? Conversely, there are strong players who are basically arrogant dumb-asses, can't convey even the simplest idea like en passant.


It is no surprise this evil has impacted the chess community as well. At a recent chess club I was told that my young son was playing chess with a convicted child molestor. The next week this man was arrested outside of chess club for violating the terms of his parole.

Everyone should protect themselves---coach, parent and student---through following simple rules applied in other settings.

1. Do not coach a student in an isolated setting.
2. Have a third party nearby


Chess, like any activity that attracts/includes children is a perfect place for a predator to find a victim.

As a pastor, our church follows a number of safety guidelines to protect both child and church.

This should not hurt chess anymore than it hurts all activities where well intentioned men want to help (truly help) children develop and grow.

Of course Short has been "entertaining" a number of young chessplayers at his home in recent times. Karjakin who he nearly killed in an RTA (what WAS he concentrating on . . .?) and David Howell for example. Let`s hope he didn`t take his shirt off - or anything else- in front of them! - not a pretty sight . 8-)

It's interesting that we were discussing Will Smith on the "Pawns Get Jiggy" thread when this story broke. Someone on this blog was praising Snyder's success at producing scholastic champions.

Snyder taught Will Smith and Nicholas Cage's son and I would hope that this will not have a negative impact on negotiations for future scholastics chess projects. Will Smith has been approached for a part in a chess movie about a scholastic chess story and will certainly be disgusted by this news.

What is noteworthy is that the alleged crime is years apart from the other so there is little chance of collusion, or "bandwagon" accusations. We'll see.

I looked at snyders book "Chess for Juniors" once at a public library and it sucked ass.

Were many of the pages stuck together . . .?

Rethinking this... those cases in which he was acquitted may not be entered as evidence (any lawyers here?), but it does cause some suspicion.

Given the list of players that "fisher" listed in the "Pawns Get Jiggy" thread, I would imagine that there will be a lot of players getting subpeonas.

I first ran into Mr Snyder some 25 years ago as a SoCal junior. To say that he gave me the wrong kind of vibes would be an understatement. Putting that aside, I would like to note that I recently chatted with Mr Snyder about being "1973 Western United States Champion" and what exactly that meant. He replied that he "won some tournament in LA, i forgot the name.."

Also, Mr Snyder never got to 2400 uscf or fide. His claimed 2405 rating is from correspondance chess and he languished in the low to mid 2200s for as long as I knew of him and hasnt played a rated game in over 2 decades.

Sorry, but i forgot to add that Mr Snyder's ICC account impressively achieved the highest active Standard Rating only to have all of his ratings reset by the admins.....


We simply must lose this habit of immediately villifying the accused. Nothing has been established regarding Mr. Snyder's case yet. I am willing to bet that most of us are not even certain what action he is being accused of taking. It is possible that he is quite innocent of these charges, as well as that he is quite guilty, but it seems as though we have an easier time accepting that someone does evil than that he does good. When claims are made about Salome, people investigate thoroughly, because such information cannot be taken at face value. Yet, when claims are made about Snyder, face value is quite acceptable. Why is it that we are so anxious to create a society of villains? Let the facts illustrate what they may, and only then should we pass judgement on a situation. To do otherwise is to admit that we either do not have the capacity or else do not have the desire to imagine a society in which individuals are as capable of being positive forces as they are of being negative forces.



no the book was in good condition it just was a really sh--ty book. I sortof reminded me of sunil weeramatry's book but much much worse.

I have personally met mr. Snyder and been offered lessons by him, and personally I would never want to take them. He's a very strange man and I've heard alot of negative stuff about him. I was asked not to talk about it much as I am a colorado chess board member, And shouldn't discuss it too openly.

the sad fact is that this kind of thing happens all the time in scholastic chess, and people half know about it, but do and say nothing. of course, maliq, it is possible snyder is innocent, but i don't really think kids make this kind of thing up.
and i think they only answer is that the next time we become aware of a coach who is creepy and raises our suspicions, we should take a risk and have a private conversation with parents where we express our concerns. this is obviously hard to do, but i don't know of any other way to deal with the problem, which i think, frankly, is extremely common.

It happens everywhere, certainly not more in chess than other areas. A news search for the words "coach" and "sexual" turns up hundreds of stories, lamentably.

In this case, we don't even know what is or isn't being made up, so presuming guilt is beyond the pale. (And making anonymous comments professing personal knowledge is pathetic and without any value whatsoever. Obviously.) There are countless cases of accusations that are either unfounded or conclusively proven to be impossible. Parents can be paranoid and manipulative, and both parents and kids can be over-sensitized. The US is a society that prosecutes grandparents for developing photographs of their infant grandchildren in the bathtub and covers every hint of a missing (blonde) child with 24/7 news coverage despite a large and steady drop in such crimes over the past 20+ years.

Of course you err on the side of caution at all times. But paranoia makes things worse, as does rushing to judgment without any information.


The problem, Liz, is that I know for a fact that kids make things like this up. At an elementary school in which I used to work, there was a group of girls who didn't like a photographer who was there to take annual school photos. They told the principal that he touched them inappropriately. Eventually, they conceded that the story was BS, but in the meantime, this guy was under such suspicion. In the same school, a girl did not like gym and therefore told her mother that the gym teacher threw a chair at her. Although the girl was known to be a liar, protocol required that she be removed from his class, so she got what she wanted. Children nowadays are a lot more cognizant of the relevance of such things than people like to imagine. They know their rights more than they know their responsibilities. All of this new awareness was well-intentioned, because it allows children to be more empowered and to have recourse when something inappropriate is going on, but they know very well that they can get adults into trouble by accusing them of things and some wield such power menacingly. Therefore, I would not jump to conclusions in ANY case, having seen the things I have seen from some youngsters. I know that there are people in scholastic chess with whom I would not trust my own daughter if I had one, but that does not mean that we should always instantly decide upon a policy of guilty unless proven innocent. People call such an approach erring on the side of caution, but this is not so, because it unnecessarily sacrifices good people in the name of stopping those who would do harm. Some find that this is a small price to pay, but as a male who has worked with children for so many years, I imagine what an accusation of impropriety would have meant for me (if I was the target of the BS instead of the photographer, for instance) and am loathe to sanction such treatment of others. Again, let the facts play out as they should, and then decide from there what to say or do.




I think the reference to Mr. Short above is totally inappropriate and that message plus this one should be deleted immediately!

I'd consider it only if I didn't know it pales in comparison to the jokes Nigel would make himself.

Daaim says “It's interesting that we were discussing Will Smith on the "Pawns Get Jiggy" thread when this story broke. Someone on this blog was praising Snyder's success at producing scholastic champions.”

What was said on that blog was “Seems Mr. Robert Snyder is closer to my view on what constitutes a National Champion than to your view”

This is typical Daaim – he does not care what was actually said (where is the ‘praising Snyder’s success’?), just misrepresents and twists everything as much as needed for whatever he wants to say. Daaim – do you really have a PhD??

Maliq argues better than you do Daaim, he has a clear focus and goes for it , even if I don’t agree with him I respect that. Maliq – you are starting a PhD, right? – I hope you go to a better program than Daaim.

What's with the insults? You could have stopped after the first two paragraphs with some content, if niggling. Instead we are then treated to two paragraphs of attacking someone.


Fisher, I have a lot of respect for Daaim. He has reached a pinnacle that I am just setting out on the journey toward, and he is doing a fine job as a university professor. Daaim had to defend his dissertation against scrutiny that is much more intense and keen than any that can be found on a message board, so to presume to question his ability to acquit himself on matters of debate is questionable. If you feel that he has taken something out of context, then feel free to claim this, but please do not try to win allies by pitting me against him. As an intelligent man told me recently regarding PhDs, he is part of the club, and I am not in the club yet. Also, if you want to better evaluate a PhD's ability to defend points, his publications are readily available; it makes no sense to ignore thse things and the credibility that he has built up within his field and then hold message board comments as examples to the contrary.



Moreover, there are PHds in math and the like who have the verbal skills of a 3 year old.

I'd consider it only if I didn't know it pales in comparison to the jokes Nigel would make himself.


Does this argument make the comment on Short appropriate? The comment was out of context and was in bad taste. It's your blog but I didn't find your stand responsible.

Nothing makes anything appropriate to anyone else. If I find something inappropriate (to me, as I judge in the interest of the blog), assuming I find it at all, I remove it. Like many other subjects, this is a touchy one, pun intended. That doesn't mean we have to put our brains and senses of humor entirely on hold like some withered church group. I find the anonymous claims about Snyder far more offensive and harmful than any joke about Nigel that is obviously a joke, however tasteful it may or may not be.

Seriously, judging from the comments on this blog, some people posting here are far more dangerous than any single child molester. i would be very reluctant to leave my children (if i had any) alone in the room to listen to the judgmental and prejudiced drivel many people here let out. i would feel much more comfortable in a society where some of you would simply not have the right to express your thoughts.

Right, everyone feels that way until they are the ones to have their rights taken away.

"When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak."


In my defense, your comments are off base, but I see the problem.

My statement was merely "a matter of fact." Mr. Snyder's name did come up in that thread and his coaching record was lauded. Yes... in fact, it was you that produced that long list of Snyder's national champions and praised his guidance, but so what? You did so before the molestation story broke. I realize how you could be offended, but that was not my intention.

Why bring my professional life into this? This is a chess blog and I'm writing as a chess player, not a professor. Why try to pit me against Maliq with the conscending remark, "I hope you go to a better program than Daaim." You've obviously been busy "Googling," but it's a childish ploy.

It's strange that not long ago you degraded yourself by purposely misspelling Maliq's name as "Malik" (a vile insult). You even announced that you did so. Now you have effusive praise for him?

The applicable spiritual principle here is that we can never judge another person, we are always judging ourself.

Those who grew up in a sexually abusive childhood will be quick to accuse another person of sexual abuse. They will not even look to ask what happened. Guilt will be immediate even if the person bringing the story does not say sexual abuse occurred. Perhaps what happens in our hypothetical case is the adult offers his hand and the child holds on while they cross the street safely. the adult with the problem childhood asks if the adult touched the child. and immediately infers sexual assault. the police will do the same. they will not ask the child what happened because that might be bad for the child. the federal government will not allow any cases to be dropped. all must go through the courts. the prosecutor gets federal money for the case. so the bureauacracy grows as innocent adults are tortured through a 2 year court ordeal that ruins their lives. all because he assisted a child to cross the street safely.

Those who grew up in a good sexually healthy childhood will be very slow to condemn another person of "sexual crimes". they will be good listeners to the story and will be able to objectively search for the truth.

All the comments here are NOT about Mr Snyder. they are all about the life of the person who is commenting on this story.

so to those who make comments about MR Snyder. I say. LOOK IN A MIRROR. while making your comments. You are talking to yourself.

And remember if you condemn mr snyder you have really condemned yourself.



First, regarding the statement that our judgements reflect our biases, this is, indeed, completely true. We don't want to get into the habit of imagining that all bias is negative, however. There are biases which are quite well and just, and we would do well to hold to them. What we do NOT want to have happen is that our biases become the sole basis for our assertions that all others must either agree with us or be rendered worthless. Impirical evidence is needed to support points, or at least compelling arguments if we are just offering opinions, and what has been presented here thus far has been, unquestionably, neither impirical to my eyes nor compelling to my ears. We have a man who is accused, and people bring forth irrelevant information about assessments of his book. Predictably, others come forward with "He always struck me as creepy," and this may or may not be true, but it does nothing to lend credibility to the argument that he did whatever he is accused of doing. Did Mr. Snyder make any statements that did not sound quite right? Were there any instances in which he was observed doing anything recognizable as not only unorthodox but suspect? These are ideas to forward, if any at all, but not "His book sucked."

On another note, Daaim does not hold a PhD in Applied Mathematics or any related area; his degree is in International Relations, and his curriculum vita can be found online by conducting a simple search. One does not earn a degree in such an area by posessing the verbal capacity of a 3-year-old, and while I realize that this was not the direct implication, the example cited is not relevant to this particular circumstance.



I want to respond to this these comments:

"Those who grew up in a sexually abusive childhood will be quick to accuse another person of sexual abuse....
so to those who make comments about MR Snyder. I say. LOOK IN A MIRROR. while making your comments. You are talking to yourself."

I think this is only a clever way to shut down a conversation. Saying that because someone perceives a problem means they are a victim themselves is only an attempt to subtlely slur that person. The accusation against Mr. Snyder is being made by multiple children, and, acting on their behalf, the federal government. Surely Tommy is not questioning the DA's childhood?
I dont think anyone would disagree with Tommy's assertions that the quality of Snyder's book has no relationship to these accusations, or that he should be denied due process. None of us want to live in a world without recourse to a fair trial. But occasionally the justice system fails: does anyone really believe Michael Jackson was innocent? Cautioning people not to leap to conclusions should not be confused with saying they don't have a right to an opinion. If multiple children independantly accuse Snyder, I don't think is is unreasonable to draw your own personal conclusion.
Finally, I think that the stories of invented molestation charges, while occasionally true, are overstated and part of a backlash. I think they quickly become urban legend, and are trotted out whenever someone says "maybe we should look at this as a real problem."
I am not trying to be over-dramatic. I just see this as a recurring problem and believe we all need to seriously think about what our ethical obligations are when, as many posters to this blog have done, we see or suspect such things.

Too many accusations by strangers does not prove any thing. We have no information on this case. I think its better to watch what happens next....Jackson's case is a different matter. The law did not fail, but those Jurors. Now some of them are feeling guilty.


The jurors in the Michael Jackson case did not fail. They did what they were supposed to. The prosecution's case was suspect, at best, and it would have been an act of bias to convict Jackson given the evidence presented and the way that the case unfolded. Seriously, Ryan and Liz, did the prosecution establish beyond reasonable doubt that Michael did what he was accused of, or did it instead forward witnesses who were found to be unreliable at best and blatant liars and cheats at worst? Conviction would have been a case of the system failing, because the case was not proven in the least, let alone beyond reasonable doubt.

Now, onto the Snyder situation: yes, one is free to form one's opinion. No, one is not free to consider that others who do not share this opinion are just being naive, because there is no evidence to support this opinion save for the personal choice to believe that the allegations are true. Liz, I understand your point about paying close attention to such things, but we now have a society fueled by paranoia, and such hysteria leads us to rush the accused to the gallows immediately. The Tawana Brawley case would not have gone as far as it did without this societal flaw, because she was inconsistent in her testimony from the beginning. What you overlook is that the people who are being accused are as much victims when false accusations are made as the accusers are when the accusations are true. No, Liz, the stories of such things happening are NOT urban legend. They are quite legitimate and part of the reality of being a male in today's society. Adult women accuse men of sexual harassment and cost them their jobs and more, and children accuse adults of abuse of all natures to get back at them. This is not something that is prevalent throughout society, same as pedophilia is not something that is prevalent throughout society. Realize that there is a balance to be found here, and that it is truly bias rather than assessment of reality that can lead a person to believe that either of these circumstances are overly common.



There are a few salient points which I think need to be mentioned here:

1) There is a desperate need for a nationwide system which gives accreditation for chess teachers. Such a system would essentially create an official resume, listing OTB and educational credentials. Background checks must ABSOLUTELY be part of any system where people are dealing with children. Also, allowing people to run around proclaiming things which may or may not be true (specifically the Senior Master claim and ancient tournament success) would be a very important part of such a system. This is about the only justification for the existence of the USCF and it fails here.

2) Mr. Snyder has been someone who, whether deservedly so or not, has been long-associated with such improprieties. His case in the early 80's, alluded to by Mig, was also associated with a very damning article in I believe the LA Times.

3) I went through a great deal of checking in order to teach at some of the schools I used to. Fingerprinting and background checks, resume checks, and checking up on references, both chess and otherwise, was a very important part of my becoming a chess teacher. Sadly, this isn't the case for 90% of the teachers in this country. That is a joke.


Yes, John, I absolutely agree that an accreditation system should be in place for those who wish to teach chess. I, too, had to provide resumes and references when I started teaching chess for Chess-in-the-Schools. They require background checks on all employees. Other organizations I have taught for have worked in the same way. CIS kept a record of ratings of its employees, so that information was readily available to whomever needed to see it. The information was not always up-to-date, as we were required to update information such as ratings only once a year before the school year started, but it was a system nevertheless, and incentives within the payment structure made it likely that one whose rating increased would be quite anxious to report it. Self-reporting on things like rating and reference was never taken at face value, and so at least we always knew who we were hiring and if he or she was making any bogus claims.

In contrast to this situation, there was a young man who decided to branch out on his own and form his own operation. When presented with a business card for him, I recall seeing that he is listed as a FIDE Master or some such, when, in reality, I am a stronger expert than he is. He had a list of employees who worked for him, and such a list COULD NOT be accurate, because I saw my own name on said list, complete with an NM title before it, although my peak is at 2100. Such things should never come to pass, and an accreditation system would save many people from the headache of hiring a 2000-rated FM.

The primary questiona with an accreditation system would be: a) Does is require a minimum rating? b) Is there a dollar-per-hour cap that would take into consideration both rating and experience? c) What would be the requirements for maintaining this accreditation? Would it be lifetime accreditation or subject to renewal periods? d) What would be the causes for revoking of accreditation, including the obvious? e) What would be a fair appeal process to allow someone the opportunity to challenge denial of accreditation or to fight to remain accredited? Answers to these questions may expediate the process of establishing such accreditation.

You have done a good thing by bringing this up, JF. Keep NYC rocking until I get back! :-)




I would suggest that you get off of Mig's you-know-what and stop throwing his rating into every discussion. How many times have you mentioned it on these boards already? It's really ridiculous. Please, give it a rest! People are trying to discuss something meaningful here and all you do is chime in to make fun of the man. Surely, life must have more meaning for you than this.



Mr. Rook

I find your obsession with mig quite fascinating! Is it a defence against the real problems in the real world?

Sometime life is hard - as you will find out when you get one.

sorry for feeding a troll....

As most parents will tell you, you can't really talk to teens these days. I went through this sort of thing just about every week at KasparovChess.com and it always turned out to be some teenager. The ISP abuse reports would of course go to their parents, leading to confusion as they wondered why dear Timmy was posting dozens of desperate love/hate notes to the editor of an online chess site. Usually such crushes are limited to teen angst; an adult would require psychosis (to go with the surplus of free time Thomas mentions) to have such pointless devotion. A kid might not realize how flattering such attention is, but from an adult it must be love!

a) Does is require a minimum rating?

I'd say 1800. You might be able to convince me that 1600 is okay, but I'm not so sure. I would say this is a rating HIGH - not something that needs to be maintained (to counter the obvious effect of teaching chess destroying someone's rating)

b) Is there a dollar-per-hour cap that would take into consideration both rating and experience?

I don't think what the teacher makes should have any impact. Some of the most important chess teaching that is done in this country happens free of charge.

c) What would be the requirements for maintaining this accreditation? Would it be lifetime accreditation or subject to renewal periods?

I would say it can be renewed every 2 years. Proof of continuining teaching, examiniations and attending classes should all be a part of it.

d) What would be the causes for revoking of accreditation, including the obvious?

I'd say a combination of not working in the field, not attending classes, and not passing examiniations.

e) What would be a fair appeal process to allow someone the opportunity to challenge denial of accreditation or to fight to remain accredited?

A set of rules would properly handle any such situation. There clearly would be some type of appellate board.


I think it would be a very good idea to have a category of coach's certification that required a certain rating minimum. But I'd make it possible for lower rated players to get a lower level of certification, too.

There are some excellent coaches in the 1400 and 1500 range who work with elemntary school beginners. (Of course, there are some excellent 2300 players who do, as well.)

Scholastic coaches, in particular, have to deal with issues like lost lunch money, two kids picking on a third, a child in tears and ready to give up after a lost game, undiagnosed ADHD, and other issues that require skills away from the chessboard.

I think any great teacher is using three separate assets: what they know, what they know about communicating their knowledge to others, and people skills.

Being a Nobel Prize winner in Physics doesn't automatically make you a good junior high school science teacher. But just being a great teacher isn't enough if a graduate student wants to specialize in particle physics.

So maybe only those rated 1600 and above can get a "Silver" rating, and only those rated 2000 and above can get a "Gold" rating. But I'd allow anyone who can pass all the other qualifications (including laws of chess, scholastic tournament regulations, and teaching simple tactics) to get a "Basic" coaching certification.


I think accreditation for chess coaches is certainly a good idea, but it should reflect a professional level.

For example, we pay money for all sorts of lessons for our children. A piano teacher, or tennis/ golf instructor, or language teacher, is expected to have a high level of competence. If your child's Spanish teacher doesn't speak the language but just mis-reads things out of a book, you and your $50 per hour won't stay there too long.

Surely a professional chess coach should be some kind of master, maybe 2200 plus. Some educational training, plus character and background checks, would also be necessary.

The people with 1600 who teach little kids how to move the pieces should not be able to get a professional certification. Maybe something like a classroom assistant, but nothing that imples they should coach non-beginners (or justify high fees).

The new FIDE system with Instructor, Trainer, Senior Trainer, etc. has some potential.

I know there are some coaches out there with 1700 level who are popular (and expensive) but I suspect they may be doing more harm than good in terms of improving chess skills. They would just not understand any given position for themselves.

Why pay a 24 handicap golf "pro" for lessons?

Duif is right. Friends & business associates (FIDE 2300 and up) who know something about chess AND chess as a business tell me that the 1300-rated adult who has a great rapport with young kids is often a more valuable teacher than the master.

We don't expect our first-grade teachers to solve differential equations.

A low rated chess teacher should not expect a professional certification as a chess coach.

And it is normal for a teacher to have a degree in the subject they teach. I don't think 1300 rating equates to 'math major' in level of understnding. Most chess COACHING operates beyond the first grade level.

But we will see a lot of low-rated chess teachers emphasizing that rating does not matter.

Like Bill Brok, I have many friends, all rated over 2300 FIDE, who tell me low-rated players should not be teaching a game they don't understand (and like Fisher says in another post, they might be doing more harm than good). They also say that any sort of professional teaching requires skill and knowledge way beyond knowing the basics of the subject being thought. That's why real schoolteachers need a college degree at a minimum.

I think they have a point.

We may be talking about two different things here.

School teachers, certainly, go through a significant accreditation process.

Most tutors, however, who are paid privately by parents, have no accreditation. The parents look for recommendations and results. (As an example, my own niece, while in high school, was a very popular math tutor for 3rd and 4th grade kids. No one would have hired her as an elementary teacher, but when it came to helping kids with homework and studying for tests, she was excellent.)

If we're talking about someone who teaches IN the schools, I see no problem in limiting accreditation to the 1600 or 2000 or even 2200 level as some have suggested, as long as there are enough teachers to go around.

The other, "uncertified" folks will become essentially tutors. As long as they price themselves appropriately, they'll still find a market.

If we start running out of teachers for the in school groups, though, it would be worth considering a "Basic" certification for assistants to the Master running the program.



People make such a grave mistake when they try to compare chess education to standard education in other subjects. The two just aren't the same. For one thing, chess teachers focus exclusively on one subject, while public school teachers do not need to do this to gain appointment. True, they will eventually have to pick a specialization and earn a masters degree in that specialization within a predetermined period of time, but nothing precludes them from stepping into a classroom for four or five years without this degree. For another thing, scholastic chess coaches need not be masters in order to train successful teams. I know of one scholastic coach who won eight city championships, seven state championships, and three national titles in his time at a Bronx elementary school, and he is a Class B player. (Yes, fisher, he won open sections!) On a related note, a person who is in high school is, ostensibly, qualified with understanding of lower-level knowledge. Teachers don't need certification to prove that they know their stuff; they need certification to prove that they know how to TEACH their stuff. The courses consist of catering to different learning styles, managing classrooms with disruptive students, designing fair examinations and things of the like, so it is clear that the emphasis is on being sure that the individual has both understanding of the laws that govern proper teaching and command of the basic techniques needed to get an idea from one's mind to the mind of a student.

To say that a kid learns chess poorly from weaker players is missing the idea of what constitutes progress. If, for example, a 1200 player learns from an 1800 player, then it is evident that more learning will have to be done in order to get this player to 2000+, but the 1200 player can learn what it takes to beat 1700 players routinely and therefore make significant progress. Furthermore, masters learn from other masters, experts learn from other experts, and Class C players learn from other Class C players. Learning from peers is not a new phenomenon, so it cannot even be said that there must be this appreciable difference in strength in order for learning to take place. The people who argue about the strength of chess teachers routinely are people who are very well-versed in chess understanding, but not so much in understanding of teaching. As one who has a perspective on both, I can say that this emphasis is quite misplaced.



All sorts of people 'coach' little kids in all sorts of activities. Sure a 6 year old can teach a 4 year old to read. Parents coach baseball, older kids teach younger kids some math, etc.

If you teach someone to read, you are doing as a master of the subject - you KNOW how to read at a very high level, I assume.

If you give a weak player a position just a couple of moves into the opening they do not understand it. They may think they understand it and be able to mouth off some principles about it, but it is nothing compared to what a master will see.

There can be one type of certification "this person is believed not to be a pervert" then they can go and volunteer to help kids all different activites - for fun.

The other type of certification, lets call it "USCF certified professional chess coach" as well as not being a pervert, should have a high level of chess knowledge (2200 at least). This is the one you will pay $50 an hour and get the level of understanding needed to improve a talented player.

Sure I learned tennis at school from a volunteer parent - but what I mostly learned were bad habits, because the teacher was so lacking in tennis knowledge.

Your golf club pro is a strong player - better to let your child learn golf from him (OK or her) than from some enthusiastic but weak volunteer, uncle, etc.

It is a problem in the US that very weak fulltime professional chess coaches are charging high fees and building their reputation on the ignorance of the parents - non-playing parents just can't judge the quality of the chess instruction.

And for Maliq - no, once ever having won a National Championship is not sufficient proof of chess skill to be a good chess coach.

If there is a shortage of master-level teachers -better learn in a group from a master than individually from a 1500.

You seem to be confusing the ability to win tournament chess games with the ability to teach chess. There little correlation between these things and I would rather have my kid with a good teacher rated 1600 than with some 2200 with no or little teaching experience. It would be more enjoyable and the kid would therefore learn more. If someone shows promise and outgrows a coach, then a higher-rated professional can be sought out. This would take years for most kids, at which point the enthusiastic 1600 has definitely done his job well, seeing as the kid still has an interest and has become a proficient player. If we're talking grade-school age, that's bringing someone up to the top few percentile in strength, a fantastic result and entirely beyond the minimum requirements.

Strong talents shine brightly at that level and if some kid is beating the teacher, he can be recommended private coaching, just like in any other sport. But worrying about the top .001% of cases at the cost of the rest is ridiculous.

By 2200 standards, every high school football and baseball coach would have to have been a professional football or baseball player, every writing teacher a best-selling author. We aren't talking about kids going on to become professionals from scratch. As for what a master sees better than an amateur, why would that be helpful to a beginner? Those principles an amateur (say <1600) is "mouthing off" will be far more useful to a novice than an in-depth analysis.

And if there is any sense to it, why not carry the snobbery to its logical conclusion and say that only Grandmasters can be accredited coaches? (Not mere IMs of course.) A system already in place, how convenient. Or would you not say a 2500 knows far more than a 2200, the way a 2200 knows so much more than an 1800?

Competence in a field is required and rating should be a part of that formula. Being able to bring someone into the top two or three percentile for his age group is more than strong enough and even top 20th percentile should be fine. As for just teaching beginners how to play, getting even high school kids to a 1400 level from nothing would be incredible. A 1600 who is a good teacher has a much better chance of doing that than a 2200 who isn't. Saying otherwise is nothing more than an admission you have no experience teaching chess or anything else.

Having coaching classes based on rating seems reasonable. There is no reason to expect (or want) someone working with elementary school kids to have the same rating as someone working with older or simply stronger kids. So you could be a "level 2 accredited coach" if you're 1600 - level 5 if you're 2200, etc. That provides incentive and reward for stronger players.

Getting back to the main topic, none of this would do anything to prevent tragedies with children. There is no way to look into someone's mind and know if they are a danger. (Certainly a high chess rating is no indication.) It would only be a matter of time before an accredited coach ran into trouble. I suppose it's better than nothing to try and make sure no one ever convicted of such offenses (or any felony, perhaps) is accredited, but that's really not going to do much, especially since thorough vetting is expensive and impossible to be 100% sure about.

This discussion has taken on an air of "I lost it over there but the light is better over here." Accreditation is a worthy project, but as discussed so far it has nil to do with protecting kids and coaches. Part of an accreditation course should include guidelines for teacher-student interaction to make sure such charges are all but physically impossible. They would also be required to provide register their clients and literature that included those guidelines would be provided. Regular checks would be required, risk of loss of accreditation if no fulfilled, etc. Quite a bit of work for this to be at all effective, but it's better than a band-aid and a false sense of security. If the problem is to be addressed it must be addressed directly.


Fisher, your argument again misses the critical point. As an expert, I never pretended to be a supreme authority on all openings, etc.; although I did teach the ones that I knew pretty well, I gave my students access to databases for that. Part of being a good teacher is also knowing how to get your students the resources so that they can help themselves improve. Teaching how to play chess without teaching how to study chess does no good if a student wants to truly compete at high levels, which is NOT always the objective.

Now, you are quite the fool for claiming that the man I mentioned won one title after I clearly indicated that he won three. Not only so, but his students continued to improve under new tutelage after they had graduated, same as I have given some of my former students new directions to go in now that I am no longer in New York City, and he gets credit for instilling in them the motivation to continue in this regard. Furthermore, and more importantly, many of his former students continued to be involved with chess all the way through to the college years, so that one of them is now a senior on the Duke University chess team and another is on the St. John's University chess team.

I find, once again, that your statements provide evidence of you having no clue what scholastic chess is about. It is foolish to say "better to learn from a 2200 in a group than to learn individually from a 1500." This assumption that everybody needs to gain from scholastic chess a clear road to chess mastery is just plain stupid. Stop it. This has clearly been identified not to be the purpose of it at all. Little League coaches do not need to be Major League Baseball quality, and although most MLB players gained their foundations at this level, there is no mandate that a coach be able to produce major league talent in order to do the job well. Don't be so simple-minded as to try forwarding ridiculous examples such as 6-year-olds teaching 4-year-olds to read, because what we are speaking of is a collective that does not fall shy of understanding the rules of chess, the laws that govern tournament play if the students and their parents decide that this is what they want, knowledge of what constitutes generally good opening play and awareness of what types of tactics appear on the 64. One does not need a 2200 player for such foundation, and it is quite a fact that many scholastic players absolutely cannot tell the difference in level between an 1800 player and a GM -- they get destroyed regardless, and it seems that they need to worry about beating the 1800s (or even lower) before they worry about beating GMs.

Once more, fisher, I was a chess coach for the last seven years, five of them with an organization and two of them on my own before this. I did not start teaching when I was 2100. I started teaching when I was exactly 1586 USCF. From which player did my competitive students gain the most? Obviously, they gained the most from the 2100 player. However, did I need to be 2100 to teach the rules of the game, what a pin or fork is, or what developing pieces toward the center meant? No, I did not. You refuse to acknowledge that teaching chess does not necessitate an attempt to create GMs, and this is your downfall. A fourth-grade teacher is not charged with teaching quantitative research methods in a science course or math course, and while to have such knowledge is good, it is absolutely irrelevant to the course being taught, same as my knowledge of checkmating with N,B+K vs. lone K was irrelevant when I was teaching my students not to hang pieces.




Mig, you are quite right that much of the recent discussion has not done much to assure the safety of children. However, accrediting coaches provides an instant buffer because background checks are a part of it. One of the good things that Chess-in-the-Schools did when I was there was to require waivers so that our backgrounds could be checked. We also had to provide references. Ostensibly, this should significantly cut down on the number of potential child molestors who get into the coaching business. There IS no safeguard against someone who has never committed an offense before, because one cannot assume that this individual, having never exhibitted such behavior before, is due to begin at any point in the future. It is only possible to guard against history repeating itself, for any other action is clearly indicative of some predisposition or bias on the part of the assessor. Now, should an individual make odd statements or be observed admiring the posteriors of young girls or boys, then this is cause for alarm, but I don't think that the people who fly under the radar are nearly so obvious as this.



Maliq - I did not claim that the 'man you mentioned won one title after I clearly indicated that he won three'. You talk all the time about 'fool' and 'foolish'. You should read other peoples' opinion more carefully before jumping in. I said that any person (hypothetically) who had themselves won one National Championship (such as your favorite under-750 events) would not, merely by being such a National Champion, be reasonably qualified, on chess understanding, to become accredited as a chess coach under some possible new accreditation system for chess coaches.

You can teach math to 5 year olds, that does not make you a qualified math teacher. Just as teaching chess - even usefully - at the levels of basic rules does not make you a qualified chess teacher.

Some professional level is needed among qualified certified chess coaches. Most scholastic chess clearly does not need such a qualified coach, and then any old volunteer will do fine.

You have just started a PhD in sociology, if I recall according to your previous posts. In 5 years or so, if you complete the degree, you will be qualified to teach university classes in sociology.

Probably you are capable to some degree of teaching those classes already, but you may be heavily reliant on a text book and lack the expertise to bring your own judgement to the classroom and be a good teacher. So to maintain overall quality, that in general university teachers are competent, you have to qualify in some way, such as through a time-consuming PhD.

Most low-rated chess players just don't know how much they do not understand chess.


Fisher, most graduate students are teaching courses well before they earn the PhD. I am on fellowship this year, but members of my cohort are teaching recitation sessions, and once we receive masters degrees, we will be teaching courses independently. One does not just grab the degree one day and then start teaching the next. Incidentally, regardless of experience and prior knowledge, professors in my discipline rely on information that they have acquired more often than on information that they have retained from previous courses. There is familiarity with the sources of important information and likely some familiarity with the information itself, but nobody knows everything about the discipline, regardless of how well-educated he or she is.

Now, you again overlook my point. If you say that one should not be allowed to teach chess without having strong chess abilities, then I submit that chess teachers also should not be allowed to teach without being certified teachers. Does this argument even make sense? If you contend that only some arbitrary level of chess understanding is necessary, then you assume that this knowledge alone is sufficient to teach chess, and it just clearly is not. I actually submit, based on experience, that the ability to teach is much more important than individual understanding of chess. One does not need to be a mathematician in order to be qualified to teach math. One does not need to have been an english major in order to be quaified to teach english. By the same token, one does not need to be a master in order to be qualified to teach chess. It is entirely possible to be 1600 and qualified to teach chess, as well as to be 2200 and not qualified in the least, based upon what really is required for one to perform the task at hand.



Hah, hah. Recitation sessions. That is not university level education. That is like teaching castling to little kids.

Did I say that one should not be ALLOWED to chess without having some level of ELO? No I did not. I said that to be a certified chess coach, as in a profession, one should have some such level.

"IF you contend that some arbitrary level of chess understanding is necessary, THEN you assume that this knowledge alone is sufficient".

Maliq! Please! For your own good enrol in a logic class! Your argument is foolish!!

A math major should know about education (and math) to be a math teacher (not just for teaching how to count). Of course a professional chess coach - educator - would better know chess and education.

I believe the point is that one is not required to have a certain level of status to be an effective chess teacher. That is very true. In fact, I have heard it said that the strongest players make the worst teachers because they assume that things will come as naturally to someone else as it did in their case.

Fisher's contention seems to be that a stronger player who is certified would make a better teacher than a weaker player who is certified. However, it would depend on what the students are trying to accomplish. If we are teaching the young students the basics then the stronger player would suffer a larger opportunity cost with his/her time. The stronger player/coach should be teaching stronger players to put his/her skills to better use (utility maximization). It is possible that the weaker player could be a better teacher than the stronger player in a number of key areas... while BOTH are still certified.

Coaches like FM Sunil Weeramantry are successful, not because of his strength, but because of how he is able to motivate kids. I remember an interview with Hikaru Nakamura where he mentioned his stepfather's "secret" in motivating kids. In teaching, it's not how much you know or a certificate, but how well you are able to convey your ideas.

I believe we may be confusing "professional chess coaches" as in Dvoretsky with "professional chess coach" as Maliq was... two different types of professional coaches. If someone asked me to choose between a certified Dvoretsky and a certified Maliq as a scholastic coach (and resources were not an issue), it may be better to choose Maliq... a 2100-player who has passion and knows how to work with kids. There are lots of people with credentials who cannot teach.

Actually the point may be... not that there are people with the credentials who cannot teach, but also who cannot teach KIDS. For example, I teach young adults and while I may have more knowledge on a subject than an elementary school teacher, they probably could teach their students in that subject better than I could.

Sometimes intangible factors such as who one interacts with kids. Maybe a coach may have children of their own (younger siblings or even nephews and nieces). This can make a difference in coaching where certification cannot. It's not so easy as discussing strength of a coach. Certainly a player can be strong and could have be certified, but do they know how to deal with kids?


You make an excellent point about certification--by definition, scholastic teaching is NOT "university level."

Most high school teachers in the US have a 4 year undergraduate degree and a teaching credential. Fewer than 20% have masters degrees, and fewer than 5% have doctorates.

A chess master in the US is in the top 2% of tournament players. Statistically, that equates to a doctorate, not an undergraduate degree. Since about half of US high school graduates now go to college (including 2 year colleges), but only about 50% of those actually graduate with a 4 year degree (US Dept of Education statistics), it looks to me like the majority of high school teachers would equate to a 1700 player.


Most US high school teachers do NOT write the textbooks that they teach from. On the other hand many university professors do. So I think your point aobut "university level education" has a direct relevance to chess teaching.

Of course there's also the coaching aspect, and that requires yet another set of skills. But as with FM Weermantry, parents can judge those skills by results.



Very well said. There's no surefire way to screen out molestors based on credentials. (Although the credential discussion is also interesting.)

Background checks can screen out repeaters, but only if they've previously been caught and recorded. As we've seen from the clerical cases, often these things are settled privately to avoid embarassment for the victim--but that harms future victims.

As you, GhostGator, Alaskan Bishop, and others have pointed out, the structure of the environment can definitely help somewhat.



Fisher, I see where you are making your error now. You make fun of teaching kids to castle, and I assume, therefore, either that you have successfully taught this to 150 students in a semester and therefore think that it is such a simple task or that you have no real appreciation for the difficulty of teaching chess at all. What you are speaking of is a trainer, NOT a coach, as I have previously indicated. However, your argument then is quite misplaced in this forum, because the entire reason that we began discussing certification was to address the idea of unsavory characters getting near children, and scholastic coaches get close to a hell of a lot more children than private coaches ever could. In a given junior high school, I had classes ranging from 25 students to 34, so let us settle on 30 per class as a number. I taught five classes, so that is 150 students. In the second half of the year, I taught different classes, so that is 300 students, and this is only in one school. At my busiest, I worked in three schools, so that is between 800 and 900 students per year (because the elementary school classes were smaller). If scholastic chess is not respected in your view of what chess should be, and therefore is not subject to this certification, then are you telling me that your ideology should determine that five students who take private lessons from Coach A are more worthy of the protections than the 900 who take instruction from Coach B?

On an unrelated note, apparently you are unfamiliar with what constitutes a college education, because graduate students who teach recitations cover the exact material that is covered in lectures, except in more specific detail and with more student input. If you are asserting that the professors who teach lectures are therefore guilty of not providing a college education, then we have nothing more to discuss, because you then clearly do not know what you are speaking about. Also, I clearly stated that once a person receives a masters degree, he or she may teach independent courses as adjunct professors. You ignore this because it does not suit your point, and you would be wise to refrain from this. Finally, when you speak of logic, explain to me how you have a better grasp of it than I do, seeing as though I argue from imperial information and you argue "But this is what I think!" You conveniently failed to include the word "only" so as to change the meaning of my phrase, and you speak to me of logic? What is the logic in challenging a post after you have changed its meaning? Please, fisher, take a logic class! Actually, take ANY kind of class so that you actually get to understand how education works.




Sorry for the grammatical mistakes. I'll never compose a post at 01:50hrs again.

I believe that certification is a good thing, but I also believe that there should be intangible factors in the screening (i.e., tournament activity, previous interactions with children, etc.). I'm not sure what the process is for Chess-in-Schools, but I'd like to see us talk about the existing screening processes for different organizations.

Maliq said earlier that the CIS tracked ratings... interesting. I believe tournament activity is VERY important. However, if a coach hasn't played in a tournament in 20 years, it should cause one to inquire, regardless of what their rating is (was).

Tournament activity is a good factor. I know a few coaches who are great, but one of the problems they may have is lack of tournament activity and lack of connection to the overall chess community. If one IS active, they are visible for all chess players to see and that may be valuable information. On another note,
students are encouraged when they see the coach playing at tournaments. This forces the coach to be sharp and be mindful of the example they are setting.

I am not saying that you need to be X strength to teach chess well. And for total beginners, I can appreciate a 1200 coach who can explain the rules and ideas of development and so on. For casual players just trying to have some fun a 1600 coach is great. I do feel that young players need early exposure to strong players(like once they have learned the really easy stuff) in order to themselves become really good because chess is really about the right fundamentals and believe it or not, I feel that good players are the only ones who have correctly mastered these elements! Yesterday, I was playing a game where I was cursing myself for about 45 minutes for not doing the basic stuff like controlling the center, protecting my kind and developing my pieces with white. My opponent, a good player, should have just hurried(even giving up a pawn at one moment) and developed and smashed me to pieces. Instead he played cautiously, I bailed out with a tricky(although not entirely sound) sacrifice based on his own lack of development. The game seemed complicated but it was just so simple, so basic and quite badly handled by players, who it should seem would have already mastered this stuff.

My point of chess strength matters wasn't in regards to teaching ability. There are a few underlying important things that a full chess teacher needs to do:

- Formulate Lesson Plans: This is both a short-term project and long-term. Today I might be teaching my kids how the bishop moves, and next week the rook, why, because the week after is the queen). At some point you really need to be able to view at least 1-2 years deep, and that is going to require you to get into some pretty tricky topics.
- Experience: This is a major major factor. Not to be disrespectful to players with lower ratings, but a 1200-1400 player probably doesn't have years of chess experience and lots of insight into the game. I happen to know of exceptions, but I think those things are case by case basis.
- Ability to answer deep questions: You'd be amazing what Kindergarteners can ask that actually require some understanding. The ability to play a beginner and steer the game into "problems" to make the game educational is very very hard, and I consider it integral to teaching.

To try to re-rail, though, a MAJOR part of this is some type of legal background check service, both for schools and parents, and for good teachers to prove they have not had any history. If chess can be pro-active in this, it might actually find a good way to both police itself as well as find a lot of schools wanting to bring chess on board - they will know that the chess community is working overtime to protect the kids.

“Fisher, I see where you are making your error now. You make fun of teaching kids to castle, and I assume, therefore, either that you have successfully taught this to 150 students in a semester and therefore think that it is such a simple task or that you have no real appreciation for the difficulty of teaching chess at all. “

I do not make fun of teaching kids to castle. I do think it is a trivial task. If you think its hard, that’s your problem.

“because the entire reason that we began discussing certification was to address the idea of unsavory characters getting near children, and scholastic coaches get close to a hell of a lot more children than private coaches ever could. “

It’s not yours to determine the ‘entire reason’ for this discussion. Chess strength, non-perversion, and teaching skills are all legitimate components of certification.

“If scholastic chess is not respected in your view of what chess should be, and therefore is not subject to this certification, then are you telling me that your ideology should determine that five students who take private lessons from Coach A are more worthy of the protections than the 900 who take instruction from Coach B?”

If and therefore then .. another classic fake logic by Maliq. Certification ‘this person is thought not to be a pervert’ is not enough to qualify that person to be a chess coach or chess trainer. Also it is possible that the private individual student is more at risk than the students in large groups.

“graduate students who teach recitations cover the exact material that is covered in lectures, except in more specific detail and with more student input.”

Graduate students teach elementary material (as for example Graduate Teaching Assistants) under the supervision and responsibility of the professor who runs the course. There are reasons for this a) TA’s are cheap; b) the work is boring so the professor doesn’t like to do it; c) the student is an apprentice learning part of a profession by gaining such experience. Like getting your hair cut for $5 at a hairdressing school.

“If you are asserting that the professors who teach lectures are therefore guilty of not providing a college education, then we have nothing more to discuss, because you then clearly do not know what you are speaking about. “

If .. then – the Maliq Logic Type A. Let us remember that Maliq is a first month, not just a first year, PhD student. He has a long way to go before he ever becomes a university educator or professor.

“Also, I clearly stated that once a person receives a masters degree, he or she may teach independent courses as adjunct professors.”

There are various types of adjunct – the rich businessman who wafts in to give a few case study lectures and funds a few scholarships; and the pathetic adjuncts who make a living out of teaching grunt work courses at $1,500 per course.

“Finally, when you speak of logic, explain to me how you have a better grasp of it than I do, seeing as though I argue from imperial information and you argue "But this is what I think!" “

I give my opinion as do most people on these discussions. You give your opinions too, but you labor under the delusion that your opinions are facts. Based on “imperial information” no less.

“Actually, take ANY kind of class so that you actually get to understand how education works.”

Maliq, you are young and enthusiastic. One day you may be a professor and chess master, and master of logic. But you have a long way to go.

The basic issue remains - how strong at chess should a professionally certified chess educator be. And a side issue - how much harm can a weak at chess coach do without even realising it.

The music teachers are better organized:


Also, seems like a strong female chess player would have a big competitive advantage as a coach/trainer. Less chance of being a predator.


How strong does a teacher need to be if they are teaching the basics? Again... the way they convey the information at this level is more important than their strength. How much better could a Master be at explaining castling for example? Certainly once the child had reached a higher level then there should perhaps be some adjustments.

If we look at other sports, coaches are almost invariably inferior to their players in skill level, yet the coaches are able to motivate and teach the players the finer points. How is this so? Some of these coaches never played competitively! It's not so much about the skill of the teacher as it is the method of teaching (pedagogy). I see this on a daily basis as an educator.

If we are saying a kindergartener would ask a coach some tough question, then I don't see it at the beginning level. Any 1500 (the average player) should be able to answer these questions. We need to think about the audience here. They are not going to be asking about "dual opposition" and pawn sacrifices in complicated lines. They're going to be asking basic principles which any 1500 can handle. If we are talking about a pawn sacrifice in the Slav or Najdorf Sicilian, then I would say go with the Master.


I'm really baffled at how you can go back and forth from complimenting someone to insulting them... from insulting them to complimenting them. Amazing.

You say Maliq has a long way to go before he becomes a professor... how would you know? You don't know how long Maliq has before he becomes a professor. There is no way for you to judge. Don't trivialize his one-month Ph.D. education. It is still more authoritative than 90% of the people on the planet.

Your analysis of why TAs are given teaching positions is true in some regard, but misses some points. I was an TA/adjunct during my graduate studies (taking over for one of my former professors) and got the position for none of the reasons you stated. In addition, I knew a lot less than the professor, but according to the students (and the department chair), I was a much, much better teacher than he was. His approach did not convey his expanse of knowledge.

fisher... you may believe teaching 150 students castling is trivial, but it is not. You also hae to teach them when they cannot castle (though check, while in check, after having moved the king or castling rook). Not so simple. Have you EVER taught? Believe me... your strength as a chess player will not help you accomplish this.


One of the most common questions I get at my site is "How do I set up a chess club at my child's school?"

Of course I suggest they get in touch with established teachers (after all, we publish the International Directory of Chess Teachers as part of the site).

But we also suggest that they start with Lev Alburt's COMPREHENSIVE CHESS COURSE as a series of weekly 15 minute group lessons, and combine it, if desired, with Bain's TACTICS FOR STUDENTS book.

These two together give a good two year club curriculum.

Again, most public high school teachers in math, chemistry, Spanish, etc. don't write the books they teach from--and generally don't design their own curriculum.

It shouldn't be necessary for every chess teacher to start from scratch in this area, either.



The music teachers' association is an interesting model, but it also shows exactly the problems involved outside a mandated state curriculum.

Less than 25% of their total membership is certified. In most states, it's around 10%.


And there's no requirement that a music teacher be good enough to get hird as a profesisonal musician. The emphaiss is on teaching skills, not performing skills.

In addition, their total membership is still very small compared to the total number of piano and flute teachers giving private lessons.

I think it's a good model--thanks for mentioning it. The publication of the directory of Certified Music Teachers is an interesting plus. The requirement of two years of actual teaching experience and a passing grade on three different multiple choice tests is an example of a practical approach.

I wonder why so few of their members actually become certified. Do you think it's the music history requirement?


By basics you are thinking of different things. To me rules and basics are not the same thing. Basics are k + Q(R,P) v. K principles of development and some simple tactics not to mention excitement for the game. I do think a 1600 is capable of teaching this stuff to another player. I don't honestly think she is capable of teaching more than this. Once the student has mastered this stuff, he should be passed on to a 2000+ player. The 2000 should then begin by adding on to this knowledge as well as correcting any misconceptions. Thus, I think you can have 2 levels of certification which would include a curriculum for level I and level II. To attain level II certification you probably should have a minimum rating of around 2K. Just a thought. It may even be useful to have a third level which is for really promising players who want to become professional grade players.


Fisher, your ability to interpret what is written before you is not impressive. In attempting to frame my statements as "if/then" clauses, you misrepresent everything that I state, and you do this continually. When did I say that a person is qualified to be a chess teacher if only he or she meet the requirement of not being a pervert? Indeed, I said that this was the point of bringing up the argument, and if you would take the time to read the thread and even recall why it started, then you would realize that this is just indisputable. This has nothing to do with ego or feeling that one has the right to determine the meaning of the conversation; we started off talking about a chess coach accused of sexual improprieties with students.

Now, onto your less relevant criticisms: At what point did I claim to be a professor? I threw your argument back at you, because you said that TAs who are teaching recitations for lectures are not providing college education. If the material provided is not college education, then how does this not reflect upon the material taught in the lecture, which is the exact same thing? (Please, it is fine to criticize my arguments, but at least identify them correctly first!) Also, at my school, graduate students may teach entire courses on their own once they have an MA; this is not the same as grading, etc., but rather is full responsibility for an undergrad course.

You refer to my experience in graduate school as though you know the territory well. You also speak of chess teaching as though you know the terrain. If you are familiar with it from personal experience, then say so. What my time in grad school has to do with logic is beyond me, because that is freshman year high school math. If you are trying to use it to support an argument that I don't have any understanding of logic, then it is you who is found reaching in this regard.

On a final note, it is apparent that you still have no grasp of what it takes to teach a collective. You claim that teaching castling is a trivial task, but I doubt that you have ever taught it to a collective of 150 students in a day. You tell me that if I think it is difficult, then that is my problem, but until you have done it, then don't tell me about what is simple and what is not. Clearly, you have never done it, so why must you insist on trying to talk down a person who has taught chess in public schools for seven years? Just to make a note, there are scholastic coaches who have won numberous National Championships and still try to find easier ways to teach the concept of check and checkmate to young students, and this does not detract from their success.




Yes, fisher, I realize that I had typographical errors. I have only been in grad school for a month, so I guess I still have to learn grammar and spelling, as well.



Oops...regarding the music teachers, I should have said, "In most states it's around 15%" instead of 10%. Still a low percentage, though.

Sorry for any confusion--

Since everyone is sending addendums, I really meant "mutual zugzwang" (advanced concept) instead of "dual opposition" which is fairly basic and taught in the famous K+P vs. K ending.

I do like DP's tiered certification.

Sorry, my mistake, Maliq is actually a first-month Master's student, not a PhD student.

How can a man derive such pleasure from being so petty? Freedom of blogging aside, you must know by now that your comments do little by way of edification or stimulation for anyone else on this blog. So why can't you mutter these things to yourself and get on with your life, rather than sharing them anonymously with the rest of the world?

It's no pleasure, DP.

Some people exaggerate, then we should wonder what that does to their credibility. Like the other blog about Kosteniuk as a 'three time world champion' when that includes Disney Under-12 Rapid Girls World Champion.

As a consumer of education, I want my teachers to be qualified to a high level of expertise in the subject they teach. Consumer rights are best protected by a transparent system that lets us see exactly the qualifications and level of the provider.

The rating system already tells prospective students what the teacher's personal playing expertise is, at least approximately. (That is, it's easy enough to compare a 1600 level teacher with a 2000 level teacher on that basis, since the ratings are available online at the USCF website.)

The real question is what else should certification measure, and how.


What is entertaining is that fisher thinks he is actually saying something my speaking about my grad school experience. Notice that he won't touch my experience as a scholastic coach, which is clearly the more relevant to the arguments on this forum. Yes, fisher, I am in the first month of my program. Why is that cause to hide my head? I worked like hell to get here, successfully navigating undergrad and graduating with honors while teaching chess in NYC public schools and taking many courses at night. Even the most powerful firearm can't load its own chambers, so I am here for guidance on loading my intellectual chambers so that I can blow holes through a lot of the unnecessary inequalities that we take for granted in this society. Every professor was at my stage at one point, so I consider it a good thing to be where I am. My parents see it as a good thing. My students see it as a good thing. Apparently, you are the only one who looks at progress as something to be ashamed of, as was evidenced on the thread concerning Salome. Excuse us for not meeting the standard that you yourself have no hope of approaching. At least we have great success stories as consolation for not being perfect in the eyes of some anonymous internet egotist.



Maliq, you are sarcastic, imperious and dismissive of other peoples opinions. Fool and foolish come easily from your keyboard. You act like because you teach 150 kids in a chess class, your opinion supersedes everyone else. I did not "touch your experience as a scholastic coach" because it is not relevant. We have no idea how good a coach you are, but probably very good. And your experience is not relevant to the issue - propounded by you - that MUCH lower rated players than you should be eligible for certification. If an individual like you around 2100 is a good scholastic coach, so what in terms of 1400 or 1600 wanting to be professional chess teachers. Even if you teach a million students, I am still entitled to my opinion on teaching chess.

I do not think progress is something to be ashamed of. IF you are in an MA program, you could say so. IF you are in PhD program, same thing. You have been floating "PhD" all over the blog for months. We can't admire you as a PhD student if you are not, but we can happily admire you as an MA student (who doubtless intends to progress to a PhD).

About the thread on Mr. S. Thomas-EL. That has nothing to do with whatever standard I cannot approach myself. His book is misleading, in a similar style to Kosteniuk's website (OK without the pictures). I can only admire him for what he did (get kids to straighten up their lives by playing chess), not for what he did not do (recreate the days when Vaux could win open championships).

By the way, Mr. S. Thomas-EL attributes a big part of the reason for the strength of the open section winners (a.k.a. National Champions) to their master-level coaching. This is relevant to this present blog. A master level teacher at school level makes a big difference.


At which point did ANYBODY dispute the idea that stronger coaches help make for stronger students? What many have contended is that someone who is 1400 can still serve a purpose as a chess teacher which makes him or her worthy of being considered for certification. I worked with a lot of teachers who were masters and I worked with a lot who were Class C, so I think I have a better handle on this than you do. Yes, I dismiss your opinions when you forward ridiculousness in an authoritative manner, especially because you portend to speak with the same authority as people who are familiar with the area of interest. Should I expect that my opinion will carry the weight of some supported analysis by one of my mentors? No, you don't have the same credibility, because you are not familiar with the arena. I'm sorry that your ego is hurt, but if you want to be respected for knowing what you are talking about, then there is a simple way to assure this: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Now, referring to my graduate school standing, you are apparently one of the people who imagines that MA must come before PhD. This is not actually true. It happens that my school has an MA program which links to the PhD program, so I don't go through this application process again. I simply take the next step in the program. Had I chosen to go to Duke University instead, there is no MA designation there. There is only the PhD Sociology program. If I was there instead of at Ohio State, would you still forward your ridiculous attempt to try to make me seem pretentious? Again, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Finally, please explain how my graduate school standing is relevant, but my years of teaching experience is irrelevant when we are discussing chess teaching and what qualifies one to be a good teacher. I find this to be the most absurd of your assertions yet.



Maliq, do you think the ONE message from you that contained the following had ANYTHING to do with deterioration of quality of discourse on this blog:

"Now, you are quite the fool for ...… you having no clue what scholastic chess is about. It is foolish to say .. just plain stupid. Stop it. This has clearly been identified not to be the purpose of it at all. Don't be so simple-minded … ridiculous examples … it is quite a fact . Once more, fisher, I was a chess coach for the last seven years. You refuse to acknowledge ….and this is your downfall.."

Do you know how you sound to other people??

You plain and clear have your own opinion on this issue, and I have mine. I favor higher strength for certification to teach chess than do you. Even if you have 70 years coaching experience, you will never convince me that my opinion is not legitimate. I am sure stronger players with more chess experience could be found to support either viewpoint.

"I find this to be the most absurd of your assertions yet". Your chess coaching experience is irrelevant because a) we do not know whether you are a good coach, b) it does not impinge on my right to believe that teaching castling to kids is easy, c) many people with more experience than you express different views.


The whole book was misleading? Did you read the book? If you HAVE read it, you hadn't read it during the "Pawns Get Jiggy" discussion. You made no direct comments toward anything in the book when challenged.

Go back to the "Pawns Get Jiggy" thread again. The book is very clear with what he claimed... page 215. Besides, who said he was trying to recreate Vaux's previous success? If you read the book (which I doubt), you would know that this was not the case. How can you compare Thomas-EL's claims to Kosteniuk's claims?

I'll tell you fisher... sometimes you sound as if you are making a good point... and sometimes you do, but then you'll mess it up by saying something that totally flies in the face of the point you made. You have trivialized educational attainment, trivialized success of youth and even trivalized chess coaching! What good are you to this discussion?

You have every right to your opinion, but your attacks and condescending remarks are downright infantile. You got Maliq defending his credentials and the spelling of his name. For what?? Because you can't stand someone who has accomplished something in life? You have a pattern of belittling everyone else's accomplishments... except Snyder's.

fisher, what are your accomplishments?? I had asked you your rating and you said you're "about 2000." The only people I've ever heard say that are well below 2000. No USCF Expert will say says they're "about 2000." You have the nerve to talk about someone being misleading!

Lastly, there are plenty of Master-level coaches who have not accomplished any level of championship success. Have you ever coached? If so, what has been you level of success of the teams you've coached?

Daaim -

a) I have read Thomas-EL's book. It is similar - Kosteniuk is "world champion" ... oh but at her level (Disney rapid girls under-14, etc.) I do not belittle that, but its not like Kasparov.

b) Maliq has accomplished something, and I admire that. It does not give him authority to dispense the truth.

c) I have not played in tournaments for several decades, so I have to estimate a USCF equivalent rating.

d) I think my level is not high enough to give good quality chess instruction so I prefer to defer to Masters to provide quality chess education. I have taught kids the basics, and it is not so hard. Really for Maliq to go on about this as something difficult is not credible.

e) I never said Maliq is a bad coach. I assume he is a good coach. His case is quite different as he is about 2100, that is a lot different from the idea of credentialing 1400's to teach chess.

f) I said, and it is a subtle point perhaps, that for Maliq to say he has coached for 7 years is not relevant to the discussion, because it is single personal case. To say we don't know if he is a good coach is not to assume that he is not.

g) I have not trivialized educational attainment.

h) I have not trivialized youth success. Actually, I think YOU do this by making out under-1000 section winners to have achieved as much as open section winners.

i) by the way, I just noticed today that you referred to the word "Malik" as being a great insult. I really did not know that when I started (accidentally) misspelling the name.

j) Now, be fair and scold Maliq for his attacks and condescending remarks. And give us your opinion as a Professor - is he a PhD student or not??


Ah... now we are getting somewhere. Your post clears up many things. I appreciate it.

However... Salome EL's book is in no way, shape or form like Kosteniuk's "world champion" claim. He only claims to be under-1000 champion (page 215). What is your claim that he is embellishing? Now whether you want to compare it with the open section is something else. No one is doing that. All we're saying is that they are "national champions" in the under-1000 section.

Again... an under-1000 champion has achieved as much as an open section winner has... RELATIVE TO THEIR STRENGTH. I can't say it any clearer than that. Think of Olympic wrestling and weight classes. The best 98-lb wrestler probably will not beat the best 167-lb wrestler, but each wrestler can be national champion in the same tournament.

fisher, I won't focus much on your rating, but you do realize that it is impossible to estimate a rating after not playing for two decades? In terms of coaching, no one is saying that it is the hardest thing to teach children, but it is not trivial either. Teaching children castling (and when they cannot castle) is not trivial at all. For example, I have to correct beginning students repeatedly when they try to castle through check.

The thing is, you may have missed DP's suggestion of tiered credentials. That would eliminate all arguments for comparing a 1400 coach with a 2100 coach. I thought that was a great point.

I do believe Maliq is honest enough to tell us about his coaching and education, but the latter is not relevant on this thread. What do I think about Maliq's program? Maliq has told me he is seeking a Ph.D. and I don't care where he is in the process. I'm going encourage him as much as I can to see that he reaches his final goal.

Daaim -

However it is not obvious why and how "Malik" is an insult - can you explain?

Both spellings are common, but like most people, Maliq only uses one spelling. If someone spelled your name differently and insisted on mispelling it after you've corrected them, would you not be insulted? You stated that you were going to continue spelling it as "Malik" after you were corrected. I'm not sure what that was about.

Oh, is that all, I thought you meant it was a swear word in Arabic or something like that.


Fisher, the situation with the name arose because I always include it at the end of my posts and on the "posted by:" line. It seemed to me that since you were delving so deeply into everything else, you had to have noticed that you were spelling it incorrectly (because you wouldn't have known the name had you not seen it the first time, anyway), which is why I addressed it. The fact that you deliberately reverted to it after I corrected you is where the evident slight comes into play.

Now, fisher, you are a man of strong convictions, and this is fine. However, your strong convictions led you to speak ill of others and talk down to me in a manner that I found unacceptable. I gave back to you what you gave to me. You took it personally that I claimed to know more about scholstic chess than you do, but I do; this is not to your shame. I am certain that there are areas with which you are more familiar than I, and I would not presume to challenge what is known in those areas with only strong opinions. What I have been saying all along is that there need be no test case for the success of the situations described, because such successes have already made themselves evident, but you continue to aim for this "Your opinion is as good as mine" position, which cannot work. Policy should have more to stand on than opinion, and since we were speaking about policy regarding chess coaches, then it is a given that the understanding of an experienced coach should not yield to uninformed opinions of one who has never done the job. I tried to get this across in a civil manner, but I do tend to meet venom with venom. I am willing to make amends, but we must first lose this hostile tone of debate.

Finally, you have twice attempted to pit me against Daaim, first by saying that you hope my graduate program is better than his and then by asking him whether I actually am a PhD student. Regardless of the nature of our debate, this is quite inappropriate and unacceptable behavior. Please refrain from attempting such things in the future, as recollection of it directly contributed to my treatment of you on this thread because of the character impression that such a move left me with.



So I believe that combining Duif's and DP's idea of "levels of certification" may be a good thing. Duif suggests a "basic" certification for 1600 players assisting Masters while DP suggests a separate certification of both 1600 players and 2000+ players. I would imagine a Level III certification would be 2400+ and maybe other certification levels for titled players.

The only issue with this model goes back to competence in teaching. The Level I certified 1600 may be a better teacher than Level III certified (2400), so we will have to figure out how to factor teaching ability in.

Maybe the coaches should submit to a counselor's screening test to check for issues that may lead to child abuse, child molestation, and personal teaching philosophy. This can be done by an educational psychologist.

Well, Maliq, much as I am tempted by friendly rapprochement with you, not at the cost of principle.

You too easily find insult, if you re-read the sentences you think are insulting you may realize they are - usually - not.

My opinion about level of chess skill that should be required is drawn from many areas. I know I have far more experience in education than you do. I suspect I have more experience as a consumer of educational provision, and indeed as a parent buying educational services for children. I also know that not all coaches with seven years experience or more and 2100 rating or more will agree with you (or me).

So we all have to come to conclusions and my conclusion is that I cannot reject the validity of my opinion and consider it less appropriate than yours because you have taught scholastic chess for a certain time period.

After all, if Mark Dvoretsky himself came along and contradicted you, you would not necessarily abandon your opinions - they are shaped out of a more holistic system than how many years someone else has taught chess.

One thing I freely admit - I CANNOT understand Daaim's argument about 'at their level' - or relative to their strength.

Let me try with the 98 pound wrestler business. A 98 pound wrestler may be the most skillful, knowledgable and generally expert wrestler in the world. Because he is so tiny, a 167 pound wrestler of lesser skill could beat him to a pulp (symbolically of course).

The 98 pounder, in retirement, may through his knowledge and skill be an excellent coach for even a top (open section) national (even a big country) team. Even for really big wrestlers.

The under-1000 is a skill/ability limited section. The under 1000 world champion, if never achieves a higher level, is NEVER going to be a suitable coach for an open section world championship contender.

OK, so no questions for Daaim about Maliq. Maliq - what do you think of Daaim's wrestler analogy??

Levels are clearly a good idea, with whatever argument about the dividing lines in rating strength. I think the TITLEs should be distinct to avoid confusion. Not USCF Coach Level 1, 2, 3, etc. Or some creative self-promotion will enable a weak coach to bamboozle parents into thinking its more or less the same thing.

For example

"Certified Scholastic Chess Assistant"
"Certified Chess Instructor"
"Certified Master Chess Trainer".

Note FIDE ideas:


Interviews with an educational psychologist - not going to happen. Educational training - limited value. Teaching people to teach is not very effective. School teachers have teaching credentials, professors don't - some of both are good and some bad at teaching.

Experience and background checks is about as far as is realistic. Or a one week seminar like the FIDE model.


In actuality, fisher, I do defer to Dvoretsky on matters of teaching chess, because what I am in search of is not the massaging of my ego but the truth of what I am dealing with. Where should my opinion of teaching chess to strong players stand against a man who has trained candidate masters and brought them to grandmaster level? Certainly, if Dvoretsky said that this or that was to be considered, I would not scoff at his remarks!

With regard to experience within the realm of education, I grant you that you may have more time in, but this domain is not exactly foreign to me. My girlfriend is an elementary school teacher who started out teaching second grade, then has moved down to first grade and now kindergarten in the time that we have been dating, so I am quite familiar with what it takes to work with young children. My mentors when I was learning to work with junior high school students were my sixth-grade teacher and my former school chess coach, a math teacher who was never an exceptional player but was a great motivator and remains a father figure to me. My perspective is comprised of a combination of my experience and my understanding of their wisdom. I know the value of a strong trainer, having trained for a spell with GM Leonid Yudasin, and I also know the value of working with people who have less talent but more command of the art of interaction and ability to both foster a love of learning and provide avenues through which to satisfy that hunger for knowledge.

There can be no fault found with the idea of a tiered certification system, and I do agree that classifications which lack ambiguity are best so as to avoid misinformation running rampant.

On a final note, people sometimes are unaware of when they say or do things that are offensive and may be taken as slights. To the person who is naive in this regard, it seems as though pettiness rules the day or the person who claims offense is just overreacting. There are times when this is the case, but more often than not, it is the offender who does not yet have an ear trained to hear what is said in its truest light. Connotation often carries more relevance than denotation, and so it is that some intended complements come off as insults and some intended insults come off as complements. Between these extremes, there is much room for miscommunication or for misunderstanding of what is said by the one who speaks as much as by the one who is spoken to.




The wrestler analogy is merely to show that people of different classes can be considered "national champions" without being compared to other apparently superior competitors. Coaching was not mentioned in this point.

In other words, why say a 98-pound wrestler isn't a national champion because he, in all probablity, cannot beat the 167-lb (or heavyweight) champion? That is your argument. You're saying the under-1000 team is not a national champion because they did not win the strongest section. At SuperNationals, they are BOTH national champions AT THEIR RESPECTIVE LEVELS. It's very simple. If you've been out of chess for 20 years, I can see how you cannot get this point. It's a totally different idea from past scholastic tournaments.

I'm not so sure how you quantify that you "have more experience in education" than Maliq. You don't have the most experience in education on this blog, so why should it matter? Stop making an issue of credentials.


Let's some valuable points you've made in this debate... the labels for chess certification. This is progress.

On the labels... I agree that the labels should be distinct and we can work on those, but even your interesting titles would be misleading. For example what does "Master Trainer" mean? Does it mean (1) the trainer is at 2200-level, (2) that they are a trainer who has taught for a long period of time, (3) someone who has established themselves as an outstanding trainer or (4) a combination? You will have to understand the shortcoming of attaching the word "Master" because it can mean many different things.

In education, we have those that are considered "master teachers," but it has little to do with their educational credentials. They are merely outstanding teachers. Duif has (and others have) already pointed out that this whole issue is about teaching ability. The 2200-level coach should only be a "Certified Master Trainer" if he/she is indeed an outstanding teacher.

I'm not sure why you say interviews with an Ed. Psych. aren't going to happen. If you require them, they will happen. There has to be some accountability. Background checks tell you NOTHING if there have been no previous propensity for child molestation or abuse. An interview by an Ed. Psych. may provide some valuable information. I think they can do background checks AND interview screening just as they do when you get any type of job.

Hmmmm... educational training. I'm not certain on that either. However, as you have stated, university professors do not get training. While I am considered a good professor, I still make mistakes. Whenever I go to visit a K-12 school (for chess) and watch teachers there, I learn a lot from these "master teachers." Training would have to be part of the certfication process.

When we did a K-12 Chess Challenge here, one guy got up during a training session and stated that we shouldn't beat the kids quickly, but stretch the game out and purposely miss moves. I don't agree with this and beat my kids as quickly as I could. I then explained to them what they did wrong and encouraged them. They sensed the urgency of being careful and as we played more, the games got tougher. I was able to gauge the level of improvement. There were a couple of kids with a lot of talent. With his method you wouldn't know whether the kid was improving or not. Training is needed but by the right people, people who can teach regardless of their rating.

We have the pieces... it's just a matter of putting them together.

Well... not really "regardless of their rating," but teaching ability (of children) should take some precedence. The levels of strength would definitely be in effect, but how does one factor in teaching ability within these levels?

Naturally chess strength would be held relatively constant among the tiers so the purpose of certification would be to help ensure that the person had a requisite amount of teaching ability

Maliq, what a struggle to "debate" with you. My experience is not relevant, but you can add in your girlfriends experience?

Strangely, I too have a combination of education, experience, and knowledge and judgement of other peoples insights and experience.

Maliq, you are not in search of "massaging your ego" but "the truth"? Maybe you truly do not get it. At heart there is NO TRUTH here. There are value judgements that a large number of similarly able people may make differently.

If Mark Dvoretsky says one thing and Susan Polgar says the opposite, who will you believe? Will you assume one is wrong? Or will you still depend on your own judgment?

Let's try politics. You may be a vehement Republican, and I may be a die-hard Libertarian, but extent of political experience, knowledge of history, etc. can't be used by one person to 'prove' the other person does not have the 'truth' as to which party is 'right'.

Maliq - you do not have the truth, you have your opinion. You favor more education and less chess knowledge as requisite to be certified trainer. I favor emphasizing chess knowledge. You think scholastic chess is more about educational or social benefits, and less about producing masters. I think that the interests of the top players deserve more recognition in the system.

Daaim, "Relative to strength" - in my opinion, meaningless.

"Again... an under-1000 champion has achieved as much as an open section winner has... RELATIVE TO THEIR STRENGTH. I can't say it any clearer than that. "


Although Maliq is my friend and I have disagreed with him many times in personal debates, I would have to say that the emphasis of education has to take precedent. This isn't to say that chess knowledge isn't important... it most definitely is. However, I have learned in the field of education that you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you cannot convey it, it is almost meaningless.

Not every chess master is able to teach what they know. I've seen this. In fact, teaching is very much an art form that takes a certain temperament and patience. It is not merely standing in front of a group and rattling off your expanse of knowledge. You have to become a part of your audience when you teach. When you teach beginners, you have to BE a beginner too! That way you'll know how to reach your audience.

Imagine a beginner learning chess from Garry Kasparov, basketball Michael Jordan, or cricket from Brian Lara. Do you think a beginner would enjoy a session with these guys? They'd be waaay over their heads and probably get upset that they don't understand esoteric intricacies of their craft. When you're teaching beginners, you lay a foundation; when you teach advanced players you give much more details, but you still have to have a pedagogy to be effective.

With the tiered approach, we agree that once a students get to a certain level, he/she will need more advanced instruction if they desire to become a professional player (tier 3 perhaps). However that doesn't mean that a 1600-rated coach cannot provide guidance and instruction to to one of their players who has advanced to a 2000+ level. As I said before, coaches are often inferior in skill to their players, but the coaches provide guidance and motivation. I still listened to my high school coach long after I had surpassed him in skill.

The key to conveying knowledge is not necessarily having it all in your head, but knowing where to find the knowledge and how to apply it in order to make it useful. I learned this going through the Ph.D. process.

New Report on this - Snyder will stand trial.


Chess Master To Stand Trial Over Alleged Sex Assaults
Robert Snyder Faces Four Sex Assault Charges

POSTED: 4:55 am MST February 7, 2006
UPDATED: 7:44 am MST February 7, 2006

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A judge has ordered chess teacher and author Robert Snyder to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting three students at his home, including one who may have been his stepson.

Robert Michael Snyder, 51, faces four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust plus two sentence-enhancing counts of sexual assault on a child pattern of abuse. After a hearing, District Court Judge David Williams bound the case over for trial.

Snyder has not entered a plea and a trial date has not been set.

Snyder, author of the "Chess for Juniors" book series is accused of incidents that allegedly happened at his home in late 2002 and summer of this past year. Snyder, through his attorneys, has denied wrongdoing.

Snyder is free on a $250,000 bond. His next hearing is March 9.

Fort Collins police officer Kim Cochran testified that two boys allege Snyder performed oral sex on them, while a third alleges Snyder put his hands down his pants.

Cochran said one incident that happened at the home between Sept. 7 and Nov. 15, 2002, involved an 11-year-old boy, whose mother was married to Snyder on Oct. 30, 2002. That marriage was annulled at Snyders' request, according to testimony.

Snyder's attorney Andy Gavaldon argued that the charges relating to his possible stepson and a 13-year-old should be dismissed because there wasn't enough evidence to support the charges.

Cochran testified that DNA tests conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation could not conclusively determine whether it was Snyder's, but that Snyder was part of a very small group that could not be excluded.

Snyder is a former Western U.S. Chess Champion. According to his Web site, his students have won first place 36 times in championship sections at the National Scholastic chess competition.

A friend of Snyder's wrote a long response to the accusations, which can be found here:


Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 15, 2005 4:32 PM.

    ChessNinja.com, the Shirt was the previous entry in this blog.

    GK in SF is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.