I'm considering getting a chess coach with the general goal of reaching the WIM title (2200 rating, plus norms; or get lucky in an Oceania Zonal). I'm not sure how realistic this is. However, almost everyone with a title nowadays considers themselves a chess coach, so I should be a bit selective. I have a few questions, but my first is...

Question: In terms of rating points, how much stronger should a coach be than their student?

My current rating is 1792 and in a recent tournament in China (after two years without tournament play) my performance was 1889, including a draw with an FM and a win against a 2247-rated player.

So I have concerns that a coach around the 2300 level might not be able to help me achieve my goal. But I could be completely wrong about this.

  • 1
    By this logic, none of the super GMs could have a coach. And while it is true he once engaged Garry Kasparov as a coach, Kasparov is not the only person to have coached the wunderkind over the years.
    – corsiKa
    Jan 13, 2019 at 22:24
  • 1
    Just like any other sports, the purpose of a coach is not to teach you the play itself - you should've been able to figure out that on your own - but to help you on various aspects that make you play better. Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen's second, is well-known for coming up with good match strategies which can be seen in WCC 2018. A coach is not judged by how good they play, but how good they make you play better.
    – user17931
    Jan 14, 2019 at 4:53

7 Answers 7


So, you are about 1800 and you are worried that a coach with a rating 500 points higher than you will not be able to give you the help you require?

I think you are too fixated on rating. What do you think a player rated about 2400 looks for in a coach? Do they also "need" somebody rated 500 points higher? While he was alive IM Mark Dvoretsky coached grandmasters. How was that even possible?

A coach who can help you improve by several hundred rating points is not going to do it by magically transferring his extra rating points. He will do it by teaching you how to study and work better, by directing the work that you do and to some extent by motivating you to do the work.

When you sit down at the chess board the moves that come out will reflect the work that you have done, how much, what type, not the rating of your coach. The most important factor your coach has is how good a teacher, trainer and guide he is not how strong a player. Look for these qualities first.


This is a quote from Wikipedia:

Nielsen coached World Champion Vishy Anand from 2002 until 2012. Anand won the World Championship title in Mexico 2007, and defended it in Bonn 2008, Sofia 2010 and Moscow 2012. Nielsen has been coaching world number one, Magnus Carlsen, since 2013. Carlsen won the Candidates Tournament 2013, which gave him the right to challenge Anand for the world championship. He defeated Anand, and has since defended the title three times.

I am not sure in terms of rating points, how much stronger is Peter Heine Nielsen than Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen.


Unless you are looking for an idol rather than a coach, you should focus on their ability to coach rather than their ability to play competitively. Check the ratings of their pupils, not their own ratings.


I suspect you'll work need to quite hard for your goal. Rising from 1792 to 2200 is not so simple for your age (no offence).

Chess coaches in Australia like kids, only few people in the country seriously deal with people around your level and age. There is simply no profit margin for coaching an adult.

My recommendation is to get an IM+, someone who has time and dedication to look after you. www.chesschat.org is a better place for your question.


What you need to be looking for is two things:

  1. Someone, who is a professional coach, and who has many lessons that he has developed over the years. This is the most important thing.
  2. Someone, who has a very good understanding of your style as you see it. If you are a positional player, there is A LOT to still learn at your rating, so you would want to find a player, who is very strong positionally. It still would not hurt to take different lessons with an attacking player so you also develop that aspect of the game.

At your level, most any player above 2200 FIDE would probably do well, again, as long as they are not just dabbling in coaching. In most cases, you really are looking at FM and above.

With the advent of the Internet, there are coaches all over the world now competing for your money, and some live in places where your money goes a long way, so you can get more hours for less than ever.

One last thing, and that is that coaches can point you in the right direction, and explain things, but still, most learning is done on your own, so your progress will really depend on how much time you put in when you are home alone working on your game.


I've seen cases of coaches who are weaker than the players they train with and yet do an excellent work. Don't believe me? Well, who's Carlsen's coach then?

Players with 2300 rating can make great coaches for you if they are good coaches in the first place! The same for 2000-rated coaches! Below that level, I start to see the point...


The rating is not as important as their teaching ability and also their experience. Do they have a full curriculum that was developed and tested for teaching?

They should probably be only about 200 points above your rating which would make them more understandable to you than some super GM who talks way over your head and charges way too much. With computers to guide you both you do not need a highly rated coach as well as a person who can teach and coach you effectively.

If you are under 1800, even with some good results against higher players recently, getting to WIM would still be a hard thing to do. It could be done depending on your ability and willingness to work hard at achieving it. But you will have to beat those players consistently not just occasionally to gain the title.


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