MEET OUR COACHES

Michael Cuthbert 

 

Why I love chess

Chess is a game with unlimited opportunities. When I play chess I feel like I’m in control and whatever happens on the board is a direct result of how hard I’ve trained and how much I focus. Every other game I’ve played gets frustrating after a while as luck and other factors affect my success, but I don’t feel that way with chess. Chess is the one game I can play over and over again and still feel like it’s a new experience. The more I learn about chess the more I realize how little I know.

Why I love coaching chess

I’ve been coaching chess for nearly 4 years now and the people I’ve met have had a large impact on me as a person. It always excites me to work with people who are passionate about the game and helping people achieve their goals brings a lot of joy to me.

My coaching style

My coaching style differs depending on the student. Some students require more of a gentle touch whereas others need a more rigid environment to thrive. I am big believer in the Dutch steps method for beginner to intermediate players as it offers a methodical approach which helps build a strong chess foundation.

For intermediate to advanced students I like using Artur Yusupov’s training course as a reference because the comprehensive nature of the course will help any player round off their chess. I also try to use my experience to help identify player’s weaknesses and help them find ways to improve that. Self-study is a vital part of chess improvement and I try to provide all of my students with all the tools they need to improve by themselves.

My desire for my students

My goal for my students is to help them achieve whatever goals they have. If the student does not have specific goals I will help them set measurable goals and achieve them. I believe chess should be a fun activity and I do my best to promote this as in my experience the students who enjoy chess most are the ones who will succeed.

Message to students, parents, and teachers

There are numerous studies on the benefits of chess. Improved concentration, creativity and better memory are just a few of the upsides. I’ve seen enough people (kids specifically) mature and grow as they improve their chess skills that I think it’s very good for any child to learn chess.

Francois van der Westhuizen

Why I love chess

It is the feeling of making a great move after a mistake, the joy of the fight against someone who loves the game as much as you, the look and feel of an expertly crafted chess set. My love for chess is as simple and complicated as the move of a pawn.

What I love about coaching Chess

Teaching chess is not as easy as it seems, there are many factors that go into its success and I love all of it. Having your student go from moving randomly in the opening to having a repertoire is a great feeling. Even better is the excitement of winning against an opponent they had problems with for months or years. But my greatest love is when a student picks up a bit of that chess passion and starts talking about Morphy and Tal and asked if I saw the latest Magnus game.

My coaching style

I adapt to each person. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses and I take time over the course of the year to address each student. Everyone thinks differently about moves and positions and I believe that everybody should have a chance to be heard and corrected if wrong. Growth in any subject is a two way street.

My desire for my students

I want each and everyone of my students to walk away with a deeper understanding of chess. Even if it just surface level knowledge. Not every student will be a chess fanatic but I believe everyone can love the game if they have the right teacher.

Tatenda Mushininga

 

Why I love chess

I cannot have enough of the thrills I have during a game, mostly of suspense, action and mystery. Although occasionally drama and comedy. Then every one I am sure, like me, will attest that some games are just plain Survivor Series and horror stories. All this is the entertainment chess brings, entertainment with discipline and focus cultivated, a rare sport.

Why I love coaching chess

I have a motto I live by. LIVE. LEARN. EVOLVE. I can only live by it if I share what I have and that automatically pushes me to evolve. I love the process of replicating my years of learning in my students in a few lessons. I teach others so that together we evolve up the chess ladder.

My coaching style

I teach how to think, how to see, and how to analyse. I have countless examples of students whom I taught from having no chess knowledge to becoming national finalists and gold medalists within a month or two of training. I don’t believe in teaching opening traps, I want my students to know what to do at each point of the game whether new or theoretical.

My desire for my students

My greatest desire is for my students to be able to finally play like titled players with ease in no time.

Message for students, parents, and teachers

Chess teaches discipline, smartness and critical thinking. Kids are thus captured from a tender age and discipline is instilled in them. Analysis and the ability to take responsibility for every move one makes in life, the ability to sacrifice one advantage for another, like material for time to win…. kids are taught currencies of real life by this and thus become smarter than their contemporary classmates.

Whatever your age, chess will teach you to be a better person. It will not only sharpen your brain and save your brain from aging too quickly, but it’s a whole new world of entertainment full of feelings and memories that is much better than video games and TV .

Nico Martin 

 

Why I love chess

Through chess I have gotten the opportunity to travel to different provinces and even other countries. I love chess because of the unique positions and struggles that each game brings to the table. Although the rules are relatively simple, they create a game that is beautifully complex.  There is always something new to learn in chess. Each game is a battle of the minds – based on skill not luck.

Why I love coaching chess

Sharing my passion for the game and helping others to achieve their goals. Others in the chess community helped me to improve so now it is time for me to pass on the chess knowledge that I have gained over the years.

My coaching style

I’m more of a tactical player by nature and enjoy playing dynamic positions. I mainly place an emphasis on knowing the middle game plans combined with concrete endgame knowledge. Every chess player is different, but I will try to identify each student’s weaknesses and work to eliminate them.

My desire for my students

Most importantly I want my students to have fun and enjoy themselves. To be hard working and be willing to put the effort in in order to improve. It is also important to be eager to learn new things and be in a fighting mood over the chessboard.

Why you think it’s important for kids to play chess?

Science has proven through a multitude of studies that chess is a game of many benefits including: increasing concentration, teaches visualisation and planning ahead, improves creativity through problem solving and helps develop logical thinking skills.

Message for students, parents, and teachers

Losses can be painful, but in the words of Henry Ford “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Mistakes are the pathway to improvement and fixing them allow you to move on to the next level.

 

GM Marian Petrov 

 

Why I love chess

For me, this is my life. I have started from a young age and most of my friends and important people who I met were because of chess.
It helped me to visit many countries around the world, to win many trophies and titles. Improved my overall knowledge of the world because of traveling and meeting people from all over the world.

Why I love coaching chess

I actually have studied 5 years and got a bachelor’s degree in our National Sports Academy. So I was preparing for this when I was younger and already have over 20 years of experience. It helps me again to meet even virtually many people from different countries. Everyone has a different level but I like to help them to improve their level.

My coaching style

It depends on the level of the student. For beginners, I try to teach them the most important basic things but above all to try to understand every move they make. For more advanced players to improve the areas where they are struggling and to use the strongest part of their game.

My desire for my students

The most important is to enjoy the game.  They can have different goals. Simply to learn the game, or to try to understand it better or even to master it. If they want to commit more I wish they become good players, travel around the world and win tournaments. Then to try to make a career by playing or later with coaching.

 

Ignatius Chama 

 

Why I love chess

I Love chess because I find joy in playing the Game. When I play chess it opens my eyes to new possibilities, it helps me come up with good plans and strategies. Which I can focus on and find different ways to execute and implement. Also the fact that it’s Mind games and tactics.

Why I love coaching chess

I love coaching chess because it opens the mind to new ways of thinking. When someone is facing a challenge chess can help you plan or think of a solution to the problem.

My coaching style

My style of coaching will differ depending on the student or person and what they know. I can take them from beginner to advanced with time.

My desire for my students 

My desire is for students to realize the endless possibilities and ways they can achieve their goals weather in chess or life in general.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

Kids should play chess because it helps with coming up with ideas and critical thinking.

 

Sachin Hastie 

 

Why I love chess

Chess has taught me many invaluable lessons. I have learnt the importance of respect and to never undermine the ability of yourself or that of others. It is a game for all to enjoy – it does not discriminate. I love chess as it rewards patience, persistence and hard work. There are billions of variations that can be played and thus there is something new to be learnt in every game.

Why I love coaching chess

I have a love for all things related to chess. As such I get excited when others show an interest in the game and are wanting to know more. I also love seeing growth. And to me it is a privilege to be a part of someone’s development.

My coaching style

My focus is on the player’s ability to develop a plan and to improve their positional understanding and strategical play as this will ensure sound reasoning behind each move. I appreciate tactical play and awareness and its fundamentality in all games thus tactical themes is important in coaching. The endgame is a struggle at all levels of chess thus I focus on developing an understanding of endgame themes and memory of the basics.

My desire for my students 

To develop a teachable spirit and a growth mindset. To celebrate the wins and appreciate the lessons that come with losing. The student should stretch themselves and reach their potential all while having fun and enjoying the game.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

It improves kids’ ability to concentrate and hold large amounts of information. It helps them to think critically and not rush when making decisions. Chess players are great people and kids will make lifelong friends at tournaments and school. 

 

Shane Willenberg

 

Why I love chess

I love chess as a sport because it keeps my mind active and captivated even when I’m not sitting in front of the board I’m able to work through games and variations. Chess has been a lifestyle for me from a very young age. The game has naturally allowed me to be a logical, critical thinker who is calm in all kinds of pressure situations. Chess has allowed me to become a leader, and I think it’s because chess teaches one to have a sense of ownership and responsibility because if I were to make a mistake over the board it’s on me.

Why I love coaching chess 

I enjoy imparting my chess knowledge to others, especially kids as it is a real joy to see them improve and become strong players.

My coaching style

In general, my coaching style is to help my students work on their weak points so that when they encounter certain positions they will be more comfortable making strong, accurate moves.

My desire for my students 

My desire for my students is to play chess and enjoy the game for its strategic artistry, complexity and beauty.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

Chess is good for developing minds and enhancing critical thinking. Lessons learnt in chess can also be used in school which might help kids grasp certain academic concepts faster. Chess also helps kids perform under pressure and improves mental fortitude.

Message to students, parents, or teachers

Professional chess coaching will place your child ahead above the rest. Their ratings will improve and they will be motivated to win tournaments, earn chess master titles and become ELITE CHESS PLAYERS.

 

 

Tane Ressel

 

Why I love chess

I love chess for so many reasons, from the thrill of a time scramble to the elegance of a creative positional manoeuvre to the amazing friends I’ve made at tournaments. It’s a game of endless possibilities that reveals new secrets whenever I look.

Why I love coaching chess 

Seeing students mature into strong players is one of the best feelings in the world, second only to seeing them develop a love for chess. I was lucky enough to have some excellent mentors early in my chess journey, who helped to shape me into the player I am today. Now I’m honoured to have the opportunity to do the same for others!

My coaching style

The most important thing by far is that the student enjoys themselves. Ultimately, we play for enjoyment – to lose sight of that is to turn play into work, and fun into a chore. No one ever improves without loving chess, so I aim at every step to instil a passion for the game! Each student has their own strengths, weaknesses and personality, so I always customise the syllabus to some extent while still making sure to teach the indispensable skills that every player needs.

My desire for my students 

I want my students to enjoy the game, achieve their goals, and agree to work hard!

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

Chess teaches discipline, focus and determination. Besides, the best players in the world were all child prodigies. Who can say how many potential Magnus Carlsens will never reach the top levels because they started playing too late?

Message to students, parents, or teachers

No matter your age or what stage you’re on in your chess journey, chess offers untold benefits. I urge everyone to at least give it a try!

 

 

Ahlisha Chetty

 

Why I love chess

I love chess because it is a game that requires a lot of thinking and suspense. There is no better feeling than winning a game after playing strategic moves. On the chess board, you are in control of all your movements and everything you do on the board impacts the game. Each chess game is a new experience and filled with so many opportunities. Chess has allowed me to develop the ability to think logically and concentrate on a task.

Why I love coaching chess 

I love coaching because I love the idea of imparting my passion and knowledge to anyone who takes an interest.

My coaching style

My coaching style is based on meeting the student at the level that they are on and making the lessons fun! If a student is able to enjoy the game, they will want to learn more and improve as a result thereof.

My desire for my students 

My desire for my students is that they would learn to love the game as much as I do. Chess has been a part of my life since Primary School and has allowed me to travel across South Africa and make so many different friends. My desire is that my students would improve and be able to achieve the goals that they have set for chess.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

It is important for kids to play chess as many life lessons can be learnt from the game. Chess teaches strategic and analytical skills as well as patience. Kids who play chess will be able to apply those skills to their school work and daily life. Problem-solving skills can be used on the playground or even in Rugby matches!

 

 

James Allison

 

Why I love chess

I love chess because there is always something new to learn. There is no luck or chance involved – the result of a game is determined entirely by the abilities of the two players.

Why I love coaching chess 

I enjoy helping people to reach their chess goals, and seeing the sense of achievement my students feel after reaching a particular milestone.

My coaching style

My coaching style is adaptive, and changes depending on the student’s particular goals, skill level, and experience. However, analysing the student’s games to find strengths and weaknesses and giving them puzzles which target areas in which improvement is most needed is a constant.

My desire for my students 

I aim to help my students to overcome their barriers to improvement while having fun along the way.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

Playing chess as a child is a great way to improve concentration and logical reasoning skills. This makes it much easier to learn other skills later on.

 

 

 

Lebohang Mphela

 

Why I love chess

It challenges the mind, and it is peaceful. Chess is visible, you can play it anywhere. It has so many books written about it. It is always there for you, and you just need to give it time to know it better. All the chess movies are interesting to watch.

Why I love coaching chess 

I like to expose chess and make it visible to the community. I encourage my players to play more games.

My coaching style

I do not have a certain coaching style. I teach specific students according to their level by analysing their chess games. 

My desire for my students 

To play more and learn more. I would encourage them to play in rated tournaments so that they can play different players and grow their ratings. Playing different players with different ratings makes you know your game plan and become familiar with the pattern that you play. You can understand the game deeper when you play. Remember the world champion was also a beginner. Chess exposes you to greater things in life. Chess has a good story to tell.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

It helps them to focus and be responsible. It keeps them busy, and it makes them set themselves goals to reach an upper rating. It makes them dream to be on top like champions.

Message to students, parents, or teachers

Do not give up. Keep ‘chessing’ and learn more about the game. Parents be patient with the growth of your kids in chess. Teachers support kids and create more school tournaments or friendly games.

 

Sandiso Kedama

 

Why I love chess

Chess has helped me in many different ways. It has not only enhanced my level of intelligence but also honed my analytical thinking skills, leading to receiving excellent results in high school, particularly in Geometry. Beyond academics, chess has instilled a sense of discipline and respect. Chess is an excellent sport which can be stressful and very competitive, and that is what I love the most because I am a person that loves challenges so that I can improve in some ways. One of the aspects I cherish most about chess is its diversity, as it welcomes individuals of diverse gender, race, age, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Moreover, chess has also helped me stay out of trouble as some of my peers are engaging in drug use and other risky activities.

Why I love coaching chess 

I get to share my knowledge with others, help them fall in love with the sport, and keep them away from potential troubles. I take pride in coaching a diverse range of students, some of whom may face challenges at home, and I am dedicated to providing support and assistance wherever I can.

My coaching style

Each student is different; some love attacking, so I try to strengthen that attacking side. Some students think strategically, and with those students, I try and teach them positional chess and become strong on that. Additionally, I ensure to impart tactical knowledge to all my students, recognising that tactics form a crucial 90% of chess mastery.  

My desire for my students 

For my students to improve and understand what I am teaching them. I want my students to win competitions and proudly represent the country so that their parents and me, as a coach, can be proud of them so that they can also be proud of themselves as their hard work is paying off.

Why I think it’s important for kids to play chess

Chess will improve their critical thinking skills, which, in turn, positively influences their academic performance at school. Moreover, engaging in chess fosters a sense of respect and discipline in children. They will learn more about equality and not discriminate against each other.

 

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