Tutor Teaches Chess by Example

By Jonathan Whitcomb (chess tutor in Salt Lake Valley, Utah)

I had the pleasure of playing chess with two young talented players recently: a high school student and a much younger child. Both boys showed talent and abilities for their ages, yet I won both games. It seems that neither of them have ever had private lessons from a chess tutor. The high school student has not yet played in a tournament (although he played well enough to make things difficult for me in our game) and just finished his sophomore year in a school that has no chess club. We’ll look at the chess game I played against the younger boy, however, as an example more appropriate for beginners to learn from.

I offer the following as a brief online lesson from a chess coach who appreciates raw talent but who almost always wins when playing against opponents who have very limited training, very limited study, and very limited experience against tournament players. I rarely lose when my opponent has little more than raw talent.

It was the first time that I attended this chess event at the South Jordan Library near Redwood Road (Salt Lake Valley), but it will not likely be the last. The librarian was very appreciative of those attending, even though the attendance was modest. I was the only adult competing. I will not mention the names of the minors who played chess that afternoon, for privacy reasons. Let’s just call them “Boy-1” (about eight years old) an “Boy-2” (high school student).

South Jordan library - front of building

The Salt Lake Valley (County) Library in South Jordan, Utah


A Practical Lesson From the Chess Tutor

White: Boy-1 (apparently about eight years old)

Black: Jonathan Whitcomb (a chess instructor living in Murray, Utah)

1) e4      d6

This chess opening is the Pirc Defense (pronounced either way: purse and pierce)

2) Nc3  Nf6

3) Bb5+ . . . .

It may seem like there may be an advantage to checking your opponent’s king, but often there is no advantage gained from it. This is one of those many times when giving check does not bring any advantage.

3) . . . . Bd7

I, the chess tutor, made a threat with this move. Do you see it?

White to make move #4

White to move – Notice what Black is threatening, early in this chess opening


Tactical Motif: Overworked Piece

The white knight at c3 is overworked, protecting both the pawn at e4 and the bishop at b5. Sometimes there’s no harm in having an overworked piece, but often the opponent can find a way to take advantage of that tactic. In this simple example the way for Black to make use of White’s weakness is simple: capture the white bishop.

Black to make move #4

Position after White made the mistake of moving Nf3


4) Nf3?   . . . .

The young boy did not see the threat.

The black bishop captured the white bishop on b5

4) . . . .  Bxb5

Now White has little choice: He needs to recapture on the b5 square or he will be a minor piece behind, having only one bishop while Black would have two bishops.

5) Nxb5  . . . .

White had to capture the black bishop on the b5 square


Now White is no longer protecting the pawn at e4.

5) . . . . Nxe4

After Black moved Nxe4


I won the game on the 19th move, with checkmate. The above move are a simple example of taking advantage of an overworked piece and winning material with that tactical motif. To an early beginner, it may seem like I was just lucky, but this was done intentionally by looking ahead a very few moves.

Two more chess events will be held in the South Jordan public library in June of 2016:

  • June 22nd from 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
  • June 30th from 7:00 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. (adult chess players are especially invited)


Chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb

Jonathan Whitcomb (Salt Lake Valley of Utah) demonstrates the Pirc opening



Pawn End Game

Some chess books teach endgame technique: how to win when you’re ahead and draw when you’re behind. We’ll look at a simple position suitable for beginners . . .

Chess in the Salt Lake Valley

Informal Game at a Chess Club

Chess Tutor in the Salt Lake Valley

The chess-book author Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, now offers his expertise in chess instruction to residents of the Salt Lake Valley, especially the central communities closer to Murray.