New York, New York!!!
As a scholastic chess coach based in Virginia I am constantly trying to find ways to improve my teaching skills, chess knowledge, and net-working with trainers and coaches from around the world. After becoming a level IV certified USCF certified coach I became interested in becoming a certified trainer on an international level through FIDE. The seminars to become a FIDE trainer are mostly held in Europe, and at this time in my life a lengthy travel was not ideal. When I learned that the United States would be hosting a FIDE seminar for trainers at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York at the same time as the World Championships, I knew I could not miss this opportunity. WIM Beatriz Marinello together with GM Efstratios Grivas organized the 3 day 15 hour seminar at the Marshall Chess Club.
Portrait of Frank Marshall
GM Grivas is the secretary of the FIDE Trainers Commission and came with a wealth of knowledge and experience from conducting seminars all over the world. WIM Beatriz Marinello brought years of experience teaching in a variety of settings, and is currently the trustee of the US Chess Trust. In 2008, Ms. Marinello also received the honor of receiving Chess Educator of the Year award from the University of Texas Dallas.
Unfortunately, on the Sunday before day one of the seminar there was a problem with Mr. Grivas’s passport flying out of Turkey. Mr. Grivas was not going to be able to physically be on location to conduct the seminar. Though not ideal, Ms. Marinello was able to solve the problem last minute allowing Mr. Grivas to conduct the seminar using Skype and Team Viewer, and Ms. Marinello would help facilitate.
Creating a nice learning environment was the excellent exhibit “Into the Human Light: Uganda.” – photo exhibit by Dora Leticia Martinez. Eye catching and inspiring photos greeted everyone at the entrance of the Marshall Chess Club all the way into the room where the seminar took place. Here are two of my favorite pictures from the exhibit.
Most of day one involved solving all the technical issues needed to conduct the seminar. Audio was a big problem, but thankfully one of the coaches lived close enough to the Marshall and had a blue tooth speaker ready! Also, connection issues were frequent – everyone of course was patient and understanding.
My favorite topics of the seminar spoke of the importance of nutrition and sport. I know every coach cringes when they take their teams to states and nationals and their students are eating a ton of fast food and junk food. By the later rounds the students are burned out and cannot perform their best. Also, students are excited to be at such events and never take a break from chess, and are usually found playing a ton of bughouse between rounds. I try to encourage the families of my students to bring healthy snacks, go for nice walks between rounds, etc…I remember at the last Super Nationals IM Daniel Rensch from chess.com saying that coaches should even minimize analysis between rounds as the hard work for the event should have already been completed! The point was not to burnout your students with heavy analysis between games which often can demotivate them-especially after a long game that was a loss. It is more beneficial to relax, go for a walk, and eat something healthy before the next round.
The class also discussed valuable points such as; working with parents and schools when developing your programs, being open and honest with parents – even if they do not like what you are saying at first, base your training with students around their common mistakes, do not follow rating blindly as they are just an indicator of what you did in the past – not where you are going (love this one!), when playing online play 15-30 minute games with analysis instead of hours of blitz. Lastly, we discussed the mysterious word “talent”. Mr. Grivas addressed this word by stating that, “Talent is the ability to work hard. In order to create talent you have to provide good education, good teaching skills, and develop a good program.”
Coaches and Trainers in discussion
I also enjoyed the discussion of innate chess assets, and attainable chess assets. I have listed them below for the readers to think about and discuss.
Innate Chess Assets
2) Ability to think on subjects.
3) Intense mental activity.
4) Obedience of will.
5) Proper distribution of attention.
6) Perception of position dynamics.
7) Combinative creative skill.
Attainable Chess Assets
1) Good health condition.
2) Strong nerves.
3) Perception of data conveyed by our senses.
4) Objective thought-process.
5) Powerful memory.
6) High mental level.
8) Control of emotional urges.
9) Feeling for the position (combination of thought and emotions).
As you can see there are more areas in attainable chess assets that can be worked on for the trainer and student. The two I see frequently from both sides with scholastic chess is self-control and controlling emotional urges. These two areas are common in scholastic chess at the elementary level which is what I mainly work with throughout the school year.
For me personally, the most advantageous part of the seminar was meeting and networking with coaches from all over the country and world. Spending three days with others who share your passion for teaching is inspiring and motivating. I took so much away from listening to how the other coaches approach their classes, small-groups, and private lessons. It was an honor to meet, make new friends, and make connections with everyone. I would attend another seminar just for this alone in the future. I encourage all coaches and trainers to attend one of these seminars if possible.
All of the participants with seminar completion certificates
In a follow-up article of my New York trip I plan to talk about experiences visiting the world championship.