The Gazette - February 2018
Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.
Anyone for Coaching?
One of the aims of our organisation is to improve the playing strength of those members who are interested in pursuing BCA training activities and, to this end, I hope to encourage more of the membership to take up any coaching opportunities which may arise. When sending our teams abroad for world events we provide coaches to help to maximise their chances of success. Now if our top players can benefit from such coaching it must be true that the rest of us can also find it helpful, not only in improving our game, but in making it more enjoyable by improving our understanding of chess through examples and by teaching us the principles which make it easier to find good moves rather than flounder in a wealth of possibilities each time it is our turn to move. There are plenty of books and articles available from the BCA library and elsewhere which enable us to study chess by ourselves and this is clearly an immensely valuable resource. However, it is easy enough to fall into bad habits or become lazy and coaching is a good way to revitalise our efforts when sitting down at the chess board.
For anyone joining the BCA, particularly those who have never taken part in tournament chess, the experience can be very daunting. The intensity of a weekend's competition may be something quite unfamiliar to a beginner. Coaching can be a great source of inspiration to such players, providing access to learning in a non-pressured situation, a means by which any questions or concerns can be addressed to give confidence and insight to any beginner and a friendly environment in which to participate and get to know other members in pursuing a shared interest. For those of us who are experienced but not necessarily particularly good players coaching can give us a lift, provide us with new ideas and even completely change the way we think about the game, providing us with fresh ideas to try when we play our next game.
Over the years we have organised coaching events in small groups in various locations. The problem with face-to-face coaching is finding the right mix of trainees and a suitable venue. The cost is also a factor. The demand for training has not tended to be high, but I believe it can be of help to all of us. In recent times Skype has become an additional way to provide coaching. For those not familiar with it, Skype is a program which can be downloaded onto a computer, free of charge, and used to hold conversations directly with another person who has the same program. Skype calls to other computers are also free of charge. It is possible to host more than two people in any conversation and so it would be feasible to have a coach and a group of trainees on one call. Setting-up and familiarisation with Skype may be an initial concern, but I believe we have enough expertise in our organisation to help with this. In the last year or two our emphasis has been on one-to-one coaching via Skype or phone. Currently each UK-based BCA member is entitled to six hours' coaching per year paid for by the BCA. If anyone would like coaching sessions in this way would they contact me and I will try to arrange something suitable. My contact details are on the website.