Pontus Carlsson ponders GM secrets

by Macauley Peterson
1/5/2018 – Since October, GM Pontus Carlsson has been experimenting with a relatively unexploited form of online coaching: group webinars. If you're looking for a low-cost way to access professional insights from someone with more than 20 years on the international chess scene as player and coach, the next one is starting on Saturday, January 6th, and is half price!

Chessbase 14 - Starter Package - english Version Chessbase 14 - Starter Package - english Version

Follow the World Champion and your chess friend next door. Start your success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more! In addition to the Chessbase 14 Program the Starter Package contains:
• Access to the Live-Database (8 million games)*
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• CBMagazine subscription for half a year (3 issues)
• Database-Update-Service through end of 2018
• Six months Premium membership for playchess and for the ChessBase Accounts


Why not webinars?

Short for "web seminars", this format differs from a video lesson you'll find, say, on YouTube or in the ChessBase video portal, because they are "peer-level web meetings", meaning they afford far greater interaction between the presenter and participants. In fact, any one of the participants can be brought into the live session, as I discovered when I took one myself recently with Swedish Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson. To use an offline analogy: it's rather like being suddenly called up to the front of the classroom!

Most of each individual webinar can be watched like a lecture, with Pontus sharing his screen and guiding the session. But participants can also ask questions via text chat at any time.

A few chess professionals have tried this format for engaging with multiple students, but it remains relatively underused. One of the chief advantages for the student is the affordability — even with a relatively small group you can receive high-quality training at a fraction of the cost of a one-on-one lesson, while still receiving individual attention.

The 60-minute webinars are broken down into about 45-50 minutes focusing on a specific theme followed by a dedicated question and answer session.

Afterwards the session participants receive all the lecture slides and recording of the lesson for further review.

Drill feature of ChessBase

Carlsson demonstrating ChessBase 14's "the drill" feature during a webinar

Some examples of themes that will be covered include:

  • How to make your chess training more effective
  • Constructing a suitable opening repertoire
  • Queen and knight advantages over queen and bishop
  • Practical tips for maximizing your results in blitz and rapid

Each member that signs up and pays the membership fee receives a personal invitation to the webinars. The sessions are held on Saturday's at 17:00 CET (11:00 AM EST), but if the timing doesn't work out on any given week, the webinar is still possible to review later (although you lose the interactive element, which is part of the fun).

The fee is normally USD $120 / month (or $30 per session), but in the lead up to the next batch, Carlsson is offering a 50% discount, through his web site, which is valid through January 13th.

The schedule and theme plan for the upcoming series is:

  • Saturday, January 6th: Positional play against  the Reti!
  • Saturday, January 13th:  How to win won positions!
  • Saturday, January 20th:  What and when to Exchange!
  • Saturday, January 27th:  Members Choice (the theme of the training will be chosen by the members)


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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