I've seen some streamers do what they call "hand and brain", meaning that one person plays while the other chooses the kind of piece that they must move. All cases I've seen were intended for having fun. But it got me thinking about how effective would this be as a teaching tool.

My question, at heart, is: "Is playing hand and brain with a student an effective teaching tool?" Since this is probably too opinion-based, I only ask if there are cases of GM's/notable coaches that employ it as a teaching tool consistently. If there are references attesting to it being an effective teaching tool, those are of course appreciated.

  • 1
    I myself haven't heard of it happening as a teaching tool (it might be used by some coaches), but it sounds like a neat idea. May 25, 2020 at 21:23
  • In what circunstances have you hear that. Could it mean something different of what you said?
    – djnavas
    Jun 2, 2020 at 8:18
  • No consistent use, but I'd say the principle regularly occurs in coached chess training, for single moves. If the student makes a mistake and the coach wants to give a little hint instead of the full solution, he might say something like "Could you see a better move with that knight?", "Can you think of a better piece to move?", and so on.
    – Annatar
    Jun 23, 2020 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


As an IM and experienced chess coach I can say I only use it in play and for fun. Serious training should be learning concepts and solving a lot of puzzles.

The only time I do use it is when one person is clearly stronger than the other and the weaker side needs some help. Especially absolute beginners who completely mess up all my plans are my favorite partners!

In theory of course you could use it once in a while as a training exercise, the players can learn from the plans of the others, but other than that I do not see any big use. Sorry, I do think it's fun, but fun and use are different.


With the coach as "brain", it probably doesn't hurt, but I don't see it as an effective tool, since it'd be making most of the decision for the student (the exact opposite of what training should be like).

With the student as "brain", then it's the equivalent of playing a game of chess


Not at all effective.

In fact it would be counterproductive as a teaching tool intended to help a player improve.

  • 5
    Why? How would it be counterproductive? You might be right but so far it isn't much of an answer. Please edit your answer and expand.
    – Brian Towers
    Jun 22, 2020 at 21:50
  • my experience learning chess and also teaching systems and math at the uni. also my training in how people learn.
    – chessie
    Jun 22, 2020 at 23:02
  • 1
    @chessie I think you still need to elaborate a bit more for this to be a good answer. You write of the 'teaching systems' you have seen and experienced; why don't you edit your answer so that you explain what these 'teaching systems' have taught you?
    – Joe
    Jun 23, 2020 at 11:09

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