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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 !!!

21 May 2024




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


Also worth checking out regularly is Leonard Barden’s weekly column:



A website focusing on chess in UK:



A chess news website with a US slant:





For the many fans of the Sicilian Dragon variation, GM Chris Ward, an expert in this opening, has a monthly article at the Chessbase website. All the games he demonstrates can also be downloaded in PGN format. His latest article has just appeared and this and all previous articles in the series are available at



German GM Matthias Wahls has some instructive material at his (sadly intermittent) blog: here are his latest thoughts:



GM Greg Serper’s articles at are always instructive and well worth attention. Here’s his latest.



Interested in adding the Pirc Defence to your opening repertoire? You could do a lot worse than watch the quite detailed free Chessable video accompanying this Chessable “Short & Sweet” course:

You will need to log in, click on Learn and then click on the video Play symbol, click anywhere on the video and finally click on the Full Screen symbol. Of course, if you like the Chessable “spaced repetition’ method you can also use that to help you to learn the suggested variations



Popular streamer IM Miodrag Perunović shows some ideas for White against the popular Najdorf variation of the Sicilian:




The latest (April 2024) edition of the free ECF magazine ChessMoves can be downloaded in PDF. There is some excellent content by British titled players: merged.pdf



There is an excellent ongoing series for experienced or ambitious players by GM Jan Markos; at the Chessbase website; here’s the latest:

All the earlier episodes are still available (just scroll down at the above web page)



Want to learn or revise the basic checkmate patterns online, rather than from a book? Go to Or Or


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.


*** Chessable are offering a FREE course in basic endgames. ***

                                                  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”.


“We need a habit of asking only one question before we touch a piece: What will my opponent do” Nick Vasquez MD at his blog Chess in Small Doses “
A chess position is like an iceberg. The surface conceals an enormous wealth of possibilities.”

Legendary trainer IM Mark Dvoretsky

“When playing weaker players, motivation is a big problem for the stronger player. There is nothing to prove and there is pressure to win because that would be the ‘normal’ thing to happen. Compare that to the maximum motivation of the weaker player, who still knows how to play some chess, and you have the stronger player drop their level while the weaker player raises his, thus increasing his chances.

” GM Alexander Colovi


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

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.

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.  

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!

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.

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


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