The mother of all abstract strategy games, chess continues to hold court as a perennial favorite pastime of amateur and professional players worldwide, in local and international tournaments, or just as a friendly match in the park enjoyed by two friends.
But did you know chess players still make up one of the biggest gaming communities in the world? Of course, you may think we’re talking about variants like Wizard’s Chess from Harry Potter, or Tri-Dimensional Chess played in Star Trek. One way or another, 605 million people all over the world still engage in the flat-boarded 64 squares version on a regular basis.
If you’ve ever felt compelled to learn it but haven’t found someone in the local vicinity to teach you, you just might consider finding a chess instructor online.
Shawn Gringo, from Queens, New York, is one such teacher—he has students all over the place who tune in for weekly classes with him over Skype, to learn the finer points of the “the King’s Game” (as it was dubbed in the Middle Ages). He tutors all ages, from those just learning the basics to more advanced players.
A friend got Shawn hooked on chess over 14 years ago. “Chess teaches patience and it’s a very social game that creates life-long friendships,” says Shawn.
It’s a hobby for him, but he’s such an avid player he’s reached Expert strength.
“Chess appeals to me for many reasons,” he says. “It’s a game that teaches discipline, strategy, requires concentration and focus, and players reap the benefits of mental stimulation. Chess is super social—win or lose, there is no language barrier in it and all walks of life can play and display their skills.”
While he doesn’t play professionally, six years ago Shawn realized he could reach out to chess aficionados by teaching them online.
“I picked Skype because it is a wonderful platform to teach anyone all over the world,” he says. “I share screens and display a regular board on my side. Then I go over chess fundamentals and principles. My sessions are typically between one and two hours long, depending on several factors. Some students can handle just an hour some can handle more. Age is big factor, as is one’s willingness. In a beginner’s session I start from scratch—the goal of chess, how the pieces move, the value and significance of each, checkmate versus stalemate, etc. It’s like anything in life, you need repetition: practice, practice, practice.”
Shawn has become such a favorite amongst his students that once one of them called him via Skype and became very emotional while thanking him for everything he had learned from studying chess. For that student, chess had helped him overcome all sorts of obstacles in life and he felt he’d become a better person as a result.
“I love Bobby Fischer‘s famous quote,” says Shawn. “I don’t believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.”
While Shawn adds a modern touch to this majestic ancient game by teaching it on Skype, it leaves us wondering what his next move will be…We wish him the very best!
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