Searching for a Coach
By Joel Benjamin   
August 22, 2006
How do I know that a chess teacher wouldn't be greedy in charging too much or too less... in other words... what are signs of a good chess teacher. Thanks!

Searching for a Coach,
Acerook Yang

Teachers set their rates according to what the market will allow. There are two factors in play here. The first is the status of the teacher. The higher the title (master-IM-GM) the more it will cost you. A teacher with a proven track record (successful school programs, famous pupils) may be able to charge more.

The second factor is the community standards. While very few teachers charge less than $50 per hour in New York City, grandmasters in some other parts of the country may have difficulty charging more than that.

You should learn what you can about a prospective teacher before commencing lessons:

Know their playing strength - How much someone knows about chess really does make a difference. The stronger the student, the more important the strength of the teacher becomes. You should verify ratings and titles on the USCF and FIDE websites, because sometimes teachers lie to enhance their status!

Learn what you can about their teaching experience. Teachers improve on the job, so you'll want to know how much teaching (and at what levels) someone has done. Ask them if necessary.

Consider communication skills. Some players know a lot but may not impart that knowledge to others well. A Russian coach with limited English may be great for Russian students, but not others. A teacher who has only worked with adults might not be right for teaching a child.

Once you determine how much a teacher has to offer, you can ask around in your community to get a sense of the going rates. You, of course, are the final arbiter of the teacher's worth. You can tell after a few sessions whether the lessons are worth the money (but please don't base it on whether your rating goes up!).

Joel Benjamin