Not every chess coach is capable of teaching lessons to beginners. It takes chess knowledge, teaching skill, and a friendly demeanor. I’m very excited to share an interview with one of our fantastic coaches, National Master Nolan Hendrickson!
Nolan’s remarkably fast improvement when he was starting out makes his perspective especially interesting. Read all about him on our coaches page. But first, check out his answers to our questions about chess, teaching, and learning.
When did you start studying chess?
I started studying chess right when I turned 13 years old. For my 13th birthday I was gifted two of my first chess books: Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis and The Art of Sacrifice in Chess by Spielmann.
What was your first significant chess memory?
My first significant chess memory was taking 1st place in a tournament for the first time. It was a thrilling experience to walk across the stage and get awarded the 1st place trophy.
What advice would you give a new player?
My best advice to a new chess player is to join a local club and meet other chess players in your area. I was really nervous to make that jump myself, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only have I met many life-long friends through the local chess club, but the players there helped me improve my game dramatically.
Why do you love teaching chess?
I love teaching chess for three reasons: 1) I enjoy helping others reach their goals, 2) I enjoy promoting the game of chess, and 3) I enjoy giving back to the chess community. There are so many people who helped me get better at chess throughout the years, and so I enjoy giving back to those who helped me become the player I am today.
When do you think kids should start to play in tournaments?
Generally speaking, I don't think anyone is too young or old to play in chess tournaments. Chess tournaments can be a great way to meet friends, get better at chess, and learn many valuable life skills. However, parents should be aware that their kids can lose interest in chess if they are forced into an environment that is too competitive.