Chess Lessons Versus Book Learning

I’m a chess tutor in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah and the author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess. Let’s compare face-to-face private chess lessons with learning from one or more books on the royal game. Each method can yield positive results but the overall cost and the quickness of your progress can differ greatly.

Chess Lessons From a Tutor

Private tutoring sessions come in two major flavors:

  1. Face-to-face chess instruction
  2. Online personalized lessons

I now refer to the old-fashioned instruction from an authority you meet with in person, meaning face-to-face teaching of chess tactics, strategy, and all else you need to know.

Jonathan Whitcomb - chess instructor

Chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb, left, sometimes teaches by example

I cannot speak for all chess teachers, of course, but the following assumes you have potential access to one of the better instructors.

In a typical lesson, your chess tutor should go over one of your games, making comments to you as you replay what happened. That is an ideal and assumes you know chess notation and accurately record each of your games. It also assumes you regularly play at least one game between tutoring sessions.

If the above is not possible, your tutor may play a chess game with you, at least on occasion. The two of you can then go over the reasons why certain moves were made.

Your instructor also should specially arrange your lessons according to your precise weaknesses and strengths. This is a major advantage that private chess instruction can have over reading chess books. Your tutor can learn about your abilities, even perhaps things that you would never have guessed. And how can a chess book analyze your abilities? This is a major advantage of private instruction.

Progress can be much faster with private chess lessons, compared with trying to learn just from personal study with books.

I charge $25 per one-hour lesson, but I am available only in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. Many chess tutors charge more than that.

Learning From Chess Books

This can be much less expensive than private lessons, provided you do not purchase many chess books. One of the challenges is this: How do you know which book to buy?

To buy the best book, you need to know about two things:

  1. Chess books (a huge variety)
  2. Your own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses

Each of the above is a challenge in itself, but you need both of them to make wise choices in the chess books that you should purchase.

But even if you get excellent advice from an expert, and buy the best book for you, it’s only the beginning. A typical chess book, if it’s well written for improving a person’s ability to succeed in chess games, requires much more from you than casual reading. You will need to study and concentrate, then apply what you have learned in actual chess combat.

Let’s now consider my own chess book:

Beat That Kid in Chess

This is not actually about defeating a child in the royal game. The age of your opponent (and your own age) makes no difference. This chess book is for the raw beginner, be he or she a child, teenager, or adult.

The chess book for the early beginner

The best chess book for the raw beginner

Beat That Kid in Chess uses the new NIP method of instruction: nearly identical positions. This is a key for players to quickly comprehend what works and what does not work in chess tactics. This chess book may be the first one ever published that uses this NIP teaching method regularly throughout the book.

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Chess Instruction in Utah

Chess lessons are available in many communities in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, from chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb, who lives in Murray.

Chess Coach in the Salt Lake Valley

Many of those who are now chess grandmasters were once students of private chess tutors. . . . I’m the author of Beat That Kid in Chess, and I now am available for teaching new students in the Salt Lake Valley. Chess lessons can be tailor made for each student . . .

Chess Lessons in Utah

Chess Coach Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah (author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess), offers private and group lessons in the Salt Lake Valley.

Chess Book for Beginners

Chess Tactics for Kids—that has a title that makes it appear to be a book for beginners. It’s actually much better for experienced chess players who have seen tactics like knight forks and pins. For older children who could be called raw beginners, a better chess book would be Beat That Kid in Chess.

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