Private Lessons


 

Denver Chess Lessons

Lesson

 

Todd offers professional chess lessons for individual students at his house in the Denver Tech Center area and also offers Skype lessons for those who do not live nearby. 

 

He has spent over 25 years creating and refining a chess teaching curriculum that is second to none, has produced many state and national champions, and his curriculum is taught all over the world.

 

Call National Master Todd Bardwick at 303-770-6696 (wk) for information on:

  • Private chess lessons
  • School chess programs
  • Group chess lessons
  • Chess teacher training
  • Guest chess speaker
  • Simultaneous chess exhibitions
  • Chess camps
  • Career Day speaker
  • Business motivational speaker

 

Denver and Colorado Chess Teacher referrals:

Contact Todd for a recommendation of a good chess teacher anywhere in Colorado.

Todd is a nationally recognized by the other top master-level chess teachers in the country as a leader in the fields of chess instruction, education, and journalism. He has over twenty-five years of full-time teaching experience in the classroom, camps, private and group chess lessons, and training other people how to effectively teach the game and is by far the most experienced chess master teaching in the Rocky Mountain region of the country.
ToddPointers - 2007 RM Unrated

Todd grew up in Denver and knows most of the Denver chess players and Colorado chess players who give lessons. There are many quality chess instructors in metro Denver and Colorado that he can refer you to for lessons in your area.

Keep in mind that a competent chess teacher with a good reputation will not have to travel very far from home or to a new city in search of new students; his plate will be overflowing where he lives. Any chess teacher who looks for students outside his hometown or moves around the country should raise a red flag that something isn’t right. History has shown that these individuals usually run low-quality programs and need to have a constant influx of new students to survive.

There a variety of people willing to give chess lessons across the country (and some know very little about the game!).

Tips for selecting a chess coach

Here is some guidance on selecting a good chess coach in an article written by Dan Heisman (from Philadelphia), one of the top chess coaches the county. Dan wrote an excellent article on ChessCafe.com, entitled, “Finding a good Instructor,” where he points out, “Keep in mind that there is only a weak relationship between the two skills of being a good player (which requires little or no interpersonal communication skills) and the ability to instruct (which requires excellent communication skills)”.

Besides good communication skills, two things that are absolutely required of a top-notch chess teacher – high playing strength and an established system of teaching with proven student success. It takes years of experience to achieve both.

Playing Strength

If you truly want to get good at chess and maximize your time spent, you really need to look for a highly rated chess coach. A highly rated player has the proof that he has a decent knowledge base of the game to draw from. Of course, someone who can’t play chess well has no business charging money to teach kids or adults how to play the game…you can’t teach what you don’t know…but, amazingly, some people actually attempt to do this!

Some strong chess players are more brilliant and creative geniuses’ and some are more methodical and logical. The best coaches I’ve observed definitely tend to fall on the methodical side (you can’t teach genius and most of us aren’t geniuses!) and tend to have engineering, computer science, or some other type of technical background. About 15 years ago at one of my summer chess camps, one of the parents observed that almost every engineering field was represented on the resume of the instructors…we could probably build anything you would like and could teach chess well too!

Proven Teaching System

Proven teaching success is where looking at the prospective teacher’s coaching resume is key if you are comparing coaches. Years of experience developing an effective, proven, teaching system and learning how to best communicate the information to the student for maximum learning efficiency can’t be emphasized enough. Most high rated chess players will tell you they are great teachers – even if they have relatively little experience – check their teaching resume to see if they have actually contributed anything to the field.

Pilot

A few key questions to ask a prospective coach are:

Has the coach exclusively taught students who won State or National titles?

Is the coach held in high esteem by his peers locally and/or nationally?

Is the prospective coach desperate to get your business…or is he willing to give other good referrals that may live closer to you? Ask for references. (Keep an eye open to someone claiming to having more experience than they actually have – this happens a lot …teaching a fellow student way back in high school or teaching little brother 30 years earlier doesn’t realistically add 30 years to the teaching experience part of the resume!)

A huge indicator of a person’s character is does he embellish his resume to make himself look better…hoping nobody will logically think through the details. Remember you are considering allowing this person into your child’s life as a role model.

Especially with the recent boom in popularity of the game, a good chess coach will never have to travel far from (or even leave!) his home to give private lessons as there are plenty of available students living nearby that are willing to come to him – if he is good, his schedule will be pretty well booked with students from his own classes wishing to also take private lessons.

Communication between student (or student’s parents) and teacher are important. Realistic expectations from the parent are critical and unrealistic expectations are the most common reason someone looks for a change. If you have a good coach, there usually isn’t a good reason to jump from coach to coach. If you are ever considering switching coaches, communicate perceived problems with the existing coach first. In most cases, the coach can put your concerns to rest – of course, he can’t read your mind and you may have to ask if you have a concern – and, if the student is progressing naturally, he likely won’t be aware of a potential concern. Experienced coaches will agree that jumping the student from coach to coach will often be detrimental to the student.

Speaking of rating expectations, the student’s rating jumps do not normally move up in a straight line…it is almost always a stair-step. To get a feel for a normal rating progression, here is an article I wrote back in 2003, entitled, “Observations about Chess Rating Distribution and Progression,” that still holds true today and shows how a student’s chess skills normally progress.

What to Look for in a Chess Coach:

  • Make sure there is a large rating differential between the student and the coach. Beginners are fine learning from Class A, B, C, and D rated players for a while. Once the student reaches the 1000-1200 rating range, you should look for an Expert or Master level teacher in order to keep the chess strength differential high and avoid learning bad chess habits. Keep in mind, however, that in chess as in any other field, the best players do not necessarily make the best teachers.
  • Make sure your prospective coach has a track record of success with students in your rating range.   Ask the coach for referrals.
Chess Coaches for Children:

When it comes to teaching children, first and foremost you should look for an instructor who is a good role model for your child. This day and age, it is prudent to screen and do a background check on anyone who is working with children (ALWAYS do background checks on any and all prospective chess teachers who are working for an organization from out of state prior to attending their event).

Once again, ask for referrals and check out the reputation of the prospective instructor because adult chess players, as a subculture of society, can be quite a bit stranger than the average person you meet in the general public.

Characteristics of Good Chess TeachersPilot

  • A good chess teacher has a written plan or road map of their teaching philosophy and what areas are most important for the student’s progression from beginner to the Expert level (95th percentile of all rated chess players). Ask the teacher what his plan for your progress is!
  • A good teacher can give you referrals of current and previous students who are in your rating range.
  • The teacher should focus on teaching the student the game, how to think, and how to correctly evaluate the position and how to come up with the proper strategy. Chess fundamentals should be the focus. The best teachers are skilled at getting inside the student’s head, relating to the student, and teaching at the student’s level.
  • A chess teacher should not focus on giving out tactics problems, but structure the lesson based on a chess theme. Tactics are an important part of chess, and they will come up naturally in the lesson as a matter of course. The student can get a good problem book like Combination Challenge (Hays/Hall) or Chess Gems (Sukhin) and solve tactics problems on his own time.
  • Openings (and opening traps) should not be the focus of the chess instructor’s program, especially for students rated under 1200. Inexperienced chess teachers tend to teach specific opening lines to beginners because they don’t know what else to teach. Most of the games of players who are rated under 1400 (Class C), don’t get very far into chess opening book lines, and what the student does learn about openings, tends to be memorization, not chess understanding. Does it really matter if you have to think on your own after eight moves instead of six? Without a fundamental understanding of the game, opening knowledge won’t matter much in the end (especially to the beginner); the student gets little bang for their buck and study time by focusing on different opening variations.
  • Effective chess teachers spend time teaching, not playing against the student or having the student watch the instructor play online. Speaking of teaching online, it is usually much more effective to teach the student face-to-face, in person. Also, it is a good idea not to allow children to play chess online because most sites have a “chat” feature and you don’t know who your child is talking too (see warning about chess teachers from out of state below).

Chess Class Instruction for Children

Teaching chess classes requires additional skills than just teaching private students. Not only should the teacher have the traits listed above (good role model, sufficient playing strength, and a proven plan of action), but also be an energetic and exciting speaker, relate well to the class (getting inside many student’s heads simultaneously), keep control of the class, and make chess fun for the students. As a general rule, the higher rated and stronger the chess teacher is as a player, the poorer the social skills and ability to relate to and effectively teach the children in the class. Carefully check out the personality of a chess teacher before hiring him. Strong chess players tend to have social interaction issues and may act in a quite strange manner to normal people. Children quickly identify weird acting adults … always put good role models in front your students! Your students will learn much more from a normal, average rated player with a more limited knowledge about the game who makes learning fun, than a master, with communication and personality issues who can’t effectively relate chess knowledge to young students. For more information on Chess Class instruction, click here.

For chess curriculums for teaching school classes, go to www.ChessDetective.education

 

Books

National Master Dan Heisman of Philadelphia is generally recognized as one of the finest chess coaches in the country. He gives an extensive list of recommended chess books for the student clicking here. From this link on Dan’s website, you can click around and find a wealth of information on pretty much anything chess related on his website.

(Both my workbooks, Chess Workbook for Children and Chess Strategy Workbook are on Dan’s recommended list.)

 

Below is Todd’s Internet Chess Club interview on how to teach chess with Fred Wilson