FIDE Trainers' Commission

by ChessBase
7/15/2010 – While chess has benefited greatly from the Internet, and experienced explosive growth, this has also led to poorly regulated standards for chess instruction. The FIDE Trainers' Commission now exists to standardize instruction with a system of certification for trainers. Chairman Adrian Mikhalchishin and FST Jovan Petronic explain.

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The Role of Chess Trainers and their Education

By Adrian Mikhalchishin and Jovan Petronic

The chess community worldwide understands that the key role in developing chess activity belongs to the chess trainers and teachers.

Nevertheless, until only recently, the formal education of chess trainers had not been organized as needed. Exceptions were authorities in the Soviet Union, which had created Chess Trainers’ Departments within their Sports Faculties, which operated successfully. Graduates from the Soviet Sports Faculties and Konservatoriums were able to apply for a chess trainers’ position in other countries, as these had no Trainers’ Faculties of their own. Nowadays, more than 100 trainers hailing from the former Soviet Union are employed worldwide, though they are a mere drop in the sea.

A few Trainers’ Courses were held in Poland, in a successful cooperation between their Chess Federation and their Ministry of Education. A small number of Trainers’ Systems were developed and adopted in Germany and the Netherlands, which helped develop chess for youth, but the trainers had to educate themselves. In many countries, and especially ones without an established chess tradition, chess education and chess training did not exist as such.

Many chess enthusiasts worked hard on developing chess, without any rewards whatsoever. In recent times, we have unfortunately begun witnessing the appearance of a large number of trainers both live and on the Internet, who have not passed the ongoing efforts of the chess trainers’ education system. We can even hear of stories of self-proclaimed titles such as in the conversation below:

A conversation with a talented junior

Who is your trainer?

Grandmaster John Doe.

Who told you that he is a Grandmaster?

He told me!

No comment! Similar problems can be best addressed with Federations establishing their own formal chess training structures, minimizing the exposure of trainees to non-certified trainers, thus seriously reducing the number that drop out of chess. At the very least, we need simple and unified chess education programmes for schools and chess clubs. Our priority is to create these, enabling the work of chess trainers even in remote places.

The newly formed FIDE Trainers’ Commission has started to realize this huge programme, in order to help Federations conduct education and certification of their trainers. We have started communication with all chess trainers around the world.

There have been reports of influential chess teachers creating chess programmes, in which trainees are taught to play chess without Kings during the first year of education! Such training is useless in our opinion, resulting in players having problems using their King in endgames, when entering the competitive environment. Another, in Germany, marketed a Ukrainian method of variation calculation which never existed! Of course, every top trainer can develop their own methods, but the chess world lacks a clear basic educational system.

For these, and other reasons, among our primary tasks lay efforts to coordinate our work with the Chess in Schools Commission, to create chess programmes for schools. At the moment, the Trainers' Commission is preparing the basis from which a unified educational system will be established, which is no easy task. The first step is a course in Chessbase usage at every TRG Seminar, as this is the primary tool for trainer activity. Nowadays many top trainers conducting training sessions on Playchess. Furthermore, Chessbase also started the extremely important series of Training DVDs. We believe that development of this programme will allow every student to hear the lessons of world-class trainers.

We are actively working with Trainers' Academies in Singapore, Berlin (Germany), and New Jersey (USA), as well as a Training Center in Slovenia. Chess Academies are presently in the process of reorganizing, and Academies such as those in Moscow and Slovakia have applied for recognition.

Powered by, a special webpage has been allocated to the FIDE Trainers’ Commission where all are welcomed by five TRG representatives: the Chairman, GM and FST Adrian Mikhalchishin, Secretary GM and FST Efstratios Grivas, and three Councillors, GM and FST Uwe Boensch, FST Michael Khodarkovsky and IM and FST Jovan Petronic. As advisors, we also have famous trainers such as Arshak Petrosian, Miguel Illescas, Anatoly Bykhovsky, Mikhail Gurevich and Jeroen Bosch. Thanks to such an invaluable team, it was possible to establish the right direction in which to develop trainer education.

With a total of thirteen sections, TRG attempts, via its web pages to give the general public an up-close view on its many and continuing activities.

The Trainers’ Commission (TRG) succeeded the “Trainers’ Committee”, as of March 9th, 2009, with the FIDE President’s letter appointing Grand Master & FIDE Senior Trainer Adrian Mikhalchishin as its Chairman.

Its purpose evolved to bringing a higher level to worldwide promotion and the certification of chess trainers and excellence in their education of chess players.

The most important task of TRG was the introduction of a system of titles and licenses as demanded by the IOC. The main idea was that the titles will boost the importance of trainers’ positions in the chess world. The “FIDE Trainers’ System” has been revisited and detailed by TRG, with the following titles attainable: FIDE Senior Trainer (FST), FIDE Trainer (FT), FIDE Instructor (FI), National Instructor (NI) and Development Instructor (DI). As of today, TRG’s family of chess trainers has risen to 792 in all: 76 FST, 270 FT, 289 FI, 94 NI and 63 DI.

At the start of our quest for chess training excellence, many famous trainers asked: Why do we need titles? What is the idea behind certifying chess trainers?

It took 7-8 years, with most of the world's top trainers agreeing to join the system. We can proudly say that, except for a few names, we now have in our trainers' system all of the world's top trainers! Certification of trainers with various proficiency levels is necessary for younger trainers, who can then see their professional careers in perspective and the direction for self-improvement.

To reward the greatest Trainer achievements, TRG introduced Awards for the best Trainers in Dresden 2008. Everyone needs to know who the best trainers are, and their results in various categories: Men, Women, Juniors and Best Book. Our role is to help Trainers conduct their duties effectively and with dignity. In March 2010, TRG went further and introduced sculptures named “The Tree of Chess”, to be awarded to all recipients of the Botvinnik, Furman, Euwe, Boleslavsky and Petrosian Awards. We believe that we need to further publicize the results and experiences of the top trainers, as their role in the development of chess is essential.

TRG Chairman Adrian Mikhalchishin with the Ukrainian sculptor Volodymyr
Odrehivskyj and the “Chess Oscars”

More than 36 specialized Chess Seminars for Trainers were successfully organized and lectured by TRG, hosted in Germany, Singapore, USA, Malaysia, India, Botswana, Vietnam, Indonesia, UAE, Iraq, Switzerland, Turkey, Cyprus, Libya and others. In Iraq, the seminar was extremely successful, as it was first post-war international sports activity, and enjoyed the participation of 47 local trainers, which showed the huge interest in chess there.

On its website, TRG maintains a precise list of accredited trainers and seminars held, with FIDE also having an online version.

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturer/Seminar Leader FST Efstratios Grivas
(Cyprus 16-19 January 2010)

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturer/Seminar Leader FST Jovan Petronic
(Chennai, India 30 April – 7 May 2008)

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturer/Seminar Leader FST Adrian Mikhalchichin
(Antalya, Turkey 13-20 November 2009)

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturer/Seminar Leaders
FST Efstratios Grivas and FST Adrian Mikhalchichin, with
Seminar participant former Women’s World Chess Champion
GM Antoaneta Stefanova (Antalya, Turkey 13-20 November 2009)

Canarias Islands Trainers Course with Lecturer/Seminar
Leader FST Adrian Mikhalchichin (December 2009)

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturer/Seminar Leader FST Jovan Petronic
(Singapore 16-20 March 2010)

Chess Seminar for Trainers 7-12.8.2009, Magglingen (Switzerland) with Lecturer and
Seminar Leaders FST Adrian Mikhalchichin and FST Uwe Boensch

Chess Seminar for Trainers with Lecturers/Seminar Leaders FST Michael Khodarkovsky
and FST Alexander Chernin, and with Women’s World Chess Champion GM Alexandra
Kosteniuk (Atlanta, Georgia, USA 7-9 May 2010)

TRG regularly holds its Commission Council live and teleconference meetings, with all data available for viewing at the TRG website.

In January 2010, TRG started publishing its Trainer’s Surveys online. The high-quality materials are prepared monthly, in English, and are targeted at improving chess middlegame and endgame understanding. All materials are prepared in viewable/downloadable .pdf, .doc and zipped cbv/pgn formats. As of today, twelve articles have been published by FSTs Efstratios Grivas, Adrian Mikhalchishin, Georg Mohr, Jeroen Bosch and Alexander Beliavsky.

Famous Trainers of the present and the past are congratulated for their anniversaries and jubilees in the news section, with links to interviews conducted with TRG members.

A historical overview of TRG’s predecessor – the Trainers’ Committee is also available online.

The Trainers’ Commission has finalized its recommendations/endorsements of chess literature – covering books in English, German, Russian and Spanish. The list of all recommended titles is available for viewing/downloading at the TRG website.

Among Trainers Commission members are top experienced trainers, who have had huge careers as top players, serving also as chess organizers and officials in Federations worldwide. We believe that their opinion on many important issues, including the present rules pertaining chess tournaments, have to be heard. For this purpose we are seeking fruitful coordination with other Commissions within the World Chess Federation. At the moment we have excellent enjoyed cooperation with the Women's Commission, with which we conducted the first Chess Trainers’ Seminar for Women. Our next Seminar for Women is planned in Turkey, and we hope our plans will be developing and materializing much faster in the near future.

By June 2010, the TRG had successfully completed its preparations and finalized all high-quality materials for our Chess Syllabus for Trainers of different levels, in order to to be able to conduct high-level chess training.

Our future plans include:

  • Conducting Educational Trainers’ Courses during the World Chess Olympiads, World Youth Age-Group Championships, and Continental Individual Championships. Our main target is to minimize the costs of chess education as much as possible. We are aware that chess trainers are not millionaires and we must try to help cut the costs whenever possible. For this purpose, we have engaged sponsors for the World Youth Championships, and now have a four-year agreement for support with the IOC Fund.
  • Special programmes for the development of chess in Africa. For this purpose we reviewed the best training programmes and found the most appropriate one.
  • Establishing online Trainers’ Courses to reduce the cost of their education.
  • The creation of a powerful trainers group to conduct online training Worldwide.
  • Conducting actively different summer camps Worldwide to supply young players with top training and active holidays.

With the many ongoing and future activities of TRG, we hope that this brief survey will offer many enjoyable and instructive moments to all our readers and website visitors. We hope that our family of Trainers worldwide will grow and excel, guided by our professional efforts invested in the development of chess training. We support the politics of a few leading federations, which offers former National team members the opportunity to launch trainer careers.

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