How To Grow A Champion

Comments: 13

Today I’d like to provide some advice on chess training for kids. This will be especially important for both the chess coaches and for the parents of chess playing children.

If you don’t correspond to either of these groups – do not despair. Thankfully, the general principles of chess training are the same for everyone.

Below I’ll highlight typical mistakes, and the ways to overcome them.

1)    Mistake #1: Providing too much information at a time.

Do you know how to eat an elephant? :) You should eat 1 piece at a time. This advice is totally applicable for chess lessons.

For example, how many rules or pieces of advice should be provided in a good lesson? The more information you have the better? Correct? NO!

Most likely you will not be able to remember more than 1-3 major ideas at a time. If you are given more than that – most likely you will digest nothing. This is reality, and we must face it.

2)   Mistake #2: Pushing a child (or yourself) into studying chess.

We all know that if you want to get good results, you should train intensively. Thus if you have some goals in chess, you may start forcing yourself to make an intensive study.

This attitude doesn’t work, however. Chess is a game and we should have joy while studying/playing. Otherwise you got bored (tired, stuck), lose motivation, your results go down and … you will have to force yourself again.

If a child wants to have fun instead of a serious training – that’s totally OK. You may tell him/her some fairytales about 2 kingdoms (white and black). You might even invent some funny tasks (let’s say a knight should chase opponent’s king, and if it reaches the king, the monarch shouts “Ouch!”). The main thing here is to keep the child’s INTEREST. Then all future training will be highly productive.

If as an adult you find that you don’t have too much enthusiasm today, or if you see that your chess studying/playing doesn’t go so well – just take a pause.

M. Botvinnik (3-time World Chess Champion) suggested that one should NOT study chess at all during the week before a tournament. That’s how Botvinnik raised his ‘appetite’ for chess to maximum!

3)    Mistake #3: Not allowing WINS regularly.

Winning is cool! It makes us feel excited, raises our motivation and therefore favors our future positive results.

While this is true for adults, it is especially important for children. Give a child a chance to win and to feel good :) You can help make this happen by assigning him/her tasks that you know he/she can handle.

Also, it’s a good idea to give PRIZES, even for relatively small achievements. Such prizes do not have to be large, of course. The point here is not the prize itself, but the far more import recognition of success.

For adults, I recommend that you make a separate database of Your Best Winning Games. This is a very powerful tool indeed!

You may go over these games before you are going to play chess. This will tune yourself on the right wave, on the winner’s wave! You will feel more confident, will play bolder and will get better results.

Also, you will notice what kind of positions you play the best. Thus you will strive for such positions in your next games.

In view of the fact that I’ve suggested not studying more than 3 ideas at a time, let’s stop here. :)

You may grow a champion from your child or from yourself – I wish you success in either situation!


Panchanatham – Lenderman

Black’s turn

Of course black has a decisive advantage, but what is the fastest way for a win?


Gelashvili – Ehlvest

Black’s turn

White sacrificed a pawn for developing attack on the Black’s centralized king. Is there any way for Black to hold a position?

After you come up with your solution in both positions, please download the ANSWER here: LINK

P.S. Your questions or any comments are highly welcome. Please write your comment in the area provided below.

Comments: 13

Comments 13

  1. “The main thing here is to keep the child’s INTEREST. Then all future training will be highly productive”….this’s the main thing in all education..thanks so much GM Igor

  2. kids learn fast they change fast , they are not nervous , when they move they Always walk around , I drink Always coffee or red bull when I play chess . kids drink coca cola 🙂

    I lost on my chess club from a very strong kid his rating is 2134 in a long time control game no blitz.

  3. I just found myself doing this. I mean for some time i didn’t want to play chess but i was kept pushing myself to compete just to get bad results. I actually didn’t enjoy chess. And it seems that that is the secret: to enjoy the game any time! Thanks Igor. These kind of lessons are very helpful to us and to our children!

  4. Hi Igor,

    very interesting topic. In our case, we do not do so because we want our children to be Masters of chess, but simply for their enjoyment and intellectual development. Of course, I would be very happy if that happened, but it is not the most important for us.

    How and when to start teaching children the game of chess?

    I once read in a Polish newspaper article that children in Azerbaijan are learning chess in the early grades of elementary school. Because in the early years children develop their imagination and abstract thinking. Unfortunately, there is no chess subject taught in Polish schools. Because recently I started to play chess (I’m 43 years old and playing for two years), so I decided to encourage this game also my sons. The older son now is 10 years old and younger 8 years. Learning all the time is through fun and pleasure
    for children.

    We started with the Fritz & Chesster. This computer program for children, teaching children through play chess basic game’s rules.

    Then we started to play on a real board and with a computer program where we could set the difficulty level.

    Children need a success, so it is important not to discourage any “serious” playing at the beginning. There is no better motivation for them than winning with his father. From time to time I was winning, but so slightly that the children understand that sometimes you lose, and to learn to deal with defeat. But do not do it too often.

    The next step was when we showed children a chess puzzle ( and let them play online chess service ( They do puzzles and play quite regularly.

    The older son already knows enough English that he often during the game chatting with his opponent in English. Often, after the game the children come and ask where is a country of which was the opponent. It is also an opportunity to talk with them about the different cultures, respect for the opponent and tolerance. Developing independent thought and character.

    For us, chess is not only a game, but learning English, geography, tolerance and respect for the opponent.

    And certainly they will be better chess players than I and their English will be better than mine :).

    And we do it with great fun.


  6. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks..Also visit my page win at chess .

  7. Hello GM, i have lost all your email which i order all your lessons. i deleted all my inbox. the problem is i can not view your courses again because of the code authentication comes out when i view the video lesson. the courses in 1. GM Opening Laboratory, 2.Your winning plan 3.How to beat titled players 3.GM positional understanding and 4.endgame expert. i can not improve because i can not view the courses again. so sad. i think you have the reference those email who bought your products. i bought your product using my email :[email protected] i bought your courses since 2011. after i formatted my PC i can not open the courses again because of the authentication problem. hope to hear from you soon. i really want those courses but the buying using credit card had been deleted.
    i used my friend’s credit card…i hope you have the payment data. i am from Malaysia. the chess addict.

    1. Hi Boby,

      Igor Smirnov has a busy schedule but I will help you as much I can.

      It is unfortunate that you lost the courses.

      I have contacted you personally to your e-mail “[email protected]” regarding the issue.

      Prasaadh / Student Support Officer

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