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Junior coaching ... keep it simple !

By Phil Adams (3Cs' chief coach)

His ability as a chess coach ?   Just look at 3Cs' records !!!

If any 3Cs' members or any former members of the club do not receive Phil's regular newsletter and would like to do so then please e-mail Phil to let him know on ""

 21 March 2023




You can keep up with events in the chess world by regularly checking out these chess news websites:

TWIC is an invaluable resource for all strong or ambitious players. Every Monday night or Tuesday morning Mark Crowther provides a FREE file in PGN or CBV format of all the available tournament games played in the previous week !

There is also a website focusing on chess, technology and IT:


Click on the approprite link above to access the desired website


National and international over-the-board chess has been picking up again, as a scan of the above websites will show, but has yet to regain pre-pandemic levels.



The 2023 British Championships will take place in Leicester 20th to 30th July 2023. In addition to the championship itself, there are events for all standards and all age-groups. Details at



A very strong tournament is under way in the USA; it is being held at the prestigious Saint Louis Chess Club and is being reported, in some cases with live games and commentary, at most of the usual chess news websites above. The official website is:




Joseph Henry Blackburne of Manchester was a chess professional and one of the strongest players of the 19th century. You can read an article about him and play through some of his most famous games here:



The Chessable website continues to offer some good FREE ‘taster’ material, including some videos, on openings and other chess topics, obviously to tempt you to buy one of their courses, many of which are very expensive! Nevertheless, some of you might find this free stuff very useful and instructive in its own right. There are some high-rated authors now, including strong GMs such as Wesley So, Anish Giri, Peter Svidler and Sam Shankland.


Look for the free “Short and Sweet” versions of the courses, often with a free video of about one hour! These can be very useful for getting you started on a new opening, which you can then practise online. You will just need to register (but it’s free):


For fairly strong or ambitious players, one of the most useful sources for keeping up to date with the latest developments in your favourite openings is You have to subscribe (to one or more sections) to be able to read or download the detailed annotations, but the free-access pages can be useful in their own right, for pointing you towards the most important recent games in each opening, which you can usually then find at TWIC and download for study.


There is also a “forum” where you can ask questions and discuss openings and other chess topics

                                                  Some suggestions for self-preparation


The recent health crisis gave many chess players more free time to practice their skills, yet, although the pandemic has largely abated, such self-assessment and training is still required in order to maintain a level of play in readiness for when regular competitive matches restart.

Hence, the following are some suggestions to prepare for such occasions ...


1: Learn or revise basic endgames from books such as Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, How to Play Chess Endgames by Müeller & Lamprecht or 100 Endgames You Must Know by De La Villa. The work you put in now, learning and practising basic endgames, will be useful to you for as long as you want to keep playing chess and (unlike openings) it will never go out of date!


2: Play through practical endgames, using books such as Endgame Strategy by Shereshevsky, How to Play Chess Endgames by Müeller & Payeken or the excellent books by Glenn Flear or John Nunn.


3: Play through as many of the great games of the past as you can, collected in books such as The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games.


4: Learn and practise some strong main-line (or at least “respectable” secondary) openings and defences.


5: For relaxation as well as practice:

a) play some on-line blitz at 3’+2” or 5’+3”, but use these games mainly to practise your openings – save each game in PGN as you go along and look at them again later, especially in respect of the opening;

b) solve puzzles or endgame studies e.g. at, maybe  using “puzzle-rush”.

Anyone who would like to gain some practice playing longer games with more thinking time can easily do so at this free website ...

                    Free Online Chess Lessons for Kids


The "Chess in Schools and Communities" organisation have launched a campaign to get one million children playing chess during the period of lockdown by offering 3 months free membership of their online service.  Click on the following link for further details

3Cs' head coach Phil Adams providing valuable instruction to 8 year old Zayeem Alam as well as his dad Shahed who also plays for the club ..... we shall refrain from discussing which one of them is in more need of Phil's coaching !

x Shahed

“Almost all combinations are based to some degree on well-known patterns.  In order to be good at calculation you need to pay your dues and spend a significant amount of time solving combinations.”

GM, author and trainer Jacob Aagaard


“Look wide before you look deep.”

Wise advice on choosing ‘candidate moves’ from IM, author and trainer Cecil Purdy (1906-79)



“It’s not what is removed from the board that matters, but what remains.”


GM and author Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)



“Check the move order. Your ideas may be right, but the move order could be wrong.”


GM, author and trainer Jacob Aagaard

Ideas by 3Cs' senior coach Phil Adams on how to specifically make new young players feel welcome at a chess club as wel as tips on coaching methods for them and which can be downloaded via this link....


Although the attached notes were written several years ago (ie: ask your parents if you don't understand what Phil means by a "VHS tape" !!!), the ideas are still very much relevant and have proven to be very successful at 3Cs for generations of young players at the club.

3Cs often ask other people to assist with coaching at the club so as to gain different points of view.  This photo shows FIDE Master Alex Longson (grey top near the door), himself a product of the 3Cs' coaching system and a former England junior international, who has taken charge of many of the club's coaching sessions.  Alex also organises the Delancey UK Chess Challenge along with his wife Sarah who also assists at the club.

How do you learn tactical patterns?

My first and absolute top recommendation would be to read these two books one after the other (available from the 3Cs' library):

1) "How to beat your dad at chess" teaches you all the most important checkmating patterns.

2) "Chess tactics for kids" teaches you all the most important chess tactics patterns....

.......and then read them again!

Learn these simple rules ...


a:  Often the best moves do TWO good things; most notably the double attack (eg: a fork)


b:  Always look at the forcing moves


c:  f2 and f7 are the weakest points in the first part of the game


d:  In the opening, don't move the same piece twice without a good reason


e:  When ahead on material, exchange pieces not pawns


f:  When losing on material, exchange pawns not pieces


g:  With the safer king, keep the queens on


h:  When under attack, try to exchange queens


i:  When attacking, invite everyone to the party


j: Every pawn move creates a weakness.

(ie: Don't move a pawn when stuck for a move - try to improve your worst piece instead)


k: Chess is two-way traffic - always look at what the opponent is trying to do


A Longson coach (4)

A suggested thinking routine after your opponent has moved ...


1:  Write the move down.


2:  Check it is a legal move  (Some people may try to cheat or bluff you).


3:  Is there a threat ?


4:  Can I ignore the threat ?


5:  What are all my options ?


6:  What seems to be my best option ?


7:  Give your proposed move a final "blunder check" before touching the piece.  

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