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.

  • 5
    +1. This is how you write titles, people. how much stronger should a coach be than their student? well, lemme tell you what... oh, in terms of "rating points", nevermind. Carry on. – Mazura Jan 12 at 21:19
  • 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 at 22:24
  • 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. – Voile Jan 14 at 4:53

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.


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...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.