Chess Lessons in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah

By the chess teacher Jonathan Whitcomb of Murray, Utah

The following chess game I played, late in 2016, against a beginner in the Salt Lake Valley. This brief online chess lesson may be helpful to other beginners, although the best way to improve your ability to win is to play many games and to take private chess lessons.

I played white against one of my beginner students, a gentleman in a retirement home.

1) e4    e5

2) Nf3  Nc6

3) d4  . . . . This is the Scotch opening. Black should now capture the pawn on d4.

3) . . . .  Nf6 (?) This is not the best move.

4) d5  . . . .

Black needs to move his knight in this unorthodox Scotch opening

Diagram-1: Black to move (the knight on c6 is threatened)

4) . . . . d6?  This mistake loses a knight.

5) dxc6  bxc6  Black gets a pawn, but this is poor compensation for losing a knight.

6) Nc3   c5

7) Bb5+  . . . .

Black should now get out of check by blocking with the light-squared bishop: Bd7

Black should get out of check by moving Bd7

Diagram-2: The best move for Black is Bd7

For many chess beginners, to get out of check, moving the king first comes to mind. If the beginner sees a legal move by the king, that move is made. Yet two other types of remedy are sometimes possible, to get out of check: capturing the checking piece and blocking the check. Look at all the legal possibilities.

In some of my chess lessons (most of them are in the Salt Lake Valley), I point out how a particular move may be important tactically or strategically. In Diagram-2, Black may get out of check by moving his knight: Nd7. But interposing with the bishop (Bd7) would be better both in terms of tactics and strategy.

The black knight is already on a good square, but the black light-squared bishop is not yet developed, so it would probably be better to block the check with the bishop. That is looking at the position through the lens of strategy.

On the tactical side, moving the bishop to d7 is also better, but that can be too deep for beginners, so let’s move on to how the game was actually played.

7) . . . .  Ke7? This puts the black king into danger.

8) Nd5+  Ke6?

chess tutor versus one of his students in Utah

Diagram-3: What is White’s best move?

If you’re a chess beginner, it may take more than a few seconds to find the best move for White in Diagram-3. Before I give you the answer, I’d like to mention a few details about private chess lessons, for I’m a chess tutor in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah.

Chess Lessons in Utah

I normally drive to the home of each of my chess students. Lessons are for one hour, at $25 each, with no charge for travel in the Salt Lake Valley. A slight extra charge applies when I need to drive further, as in a $10 fee for driving to Provo, Utah.

These private chess lessons are arranged precisely for the unique needs of each individual student, so it’s hard to generalize. Call me at 801-590-9692, if you live in or near the Salt Lake Valley of Utah.

Solution to Diagram-3

White wins immediately by checkmate: 9) Ng5#



The Gift of Chess Lessons

For some chess players, what better gift could they receive on Christmas (or on a birthday) than the gift of chess lessons? It’s not so fun to lose every game, and learning a lot, only from the experience of losing, can take years. How much better to speed up the learning process by taking private chess lessons!

Private Chess Lessons in Utah

Chess does not take a holiday in Holladay, Utah (by chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb) . . . At least when school is in session, the royal game does not take a holiday in this community up against the mountain foothills in the eastern Salt Lake Valley.

Salt Lake Valley Chess Lessons

I’m not the only chess instructor in the state of Utah, or even in the Salt Lake Valley, but I emphasize a new chess-teaching method: NIP (nearly-identical positions). I used that system in writing my book Beat That Kid in Chess, and I recommend it for those who promote quality chess instruction.

Private Chess Lessons

[in Saint Louis, Missouri] Private lessons are an excellent opportunity to get specialized, one-on-one instruction with our highly trained staff. Private lessons include an initial assessment where the instructor will determine the player’s strengths and weaknesses, and then custom tailor a lesson plan to suit the player’s needs.



Chess Instruction by Private Lessons

I’m Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess, and I’m now offering my services as a chess coach in the Salt Lake Valley. I can drive to your location, if you live in or near the communities of Taylorsville or West Valley City or one of the other cities in central Salt Lake Valley. (My travel to more distant cities and towns can also be arranged.) Your private chess lessons need not be at your own home, if you would prefer a public park or library not too far from your home.

Your chess instruction will be precisely arranged according to your individual needs, to most effectively help you improve in your chess-playing abilities. For that reason, details on what your first lesson will contain—that cannot be explained in a blog post like this one.

It will very likely include looking at specially constructed nearly-identical positions (NIP), a new system of chess instruction that I introduced in my book Beat That Kid in Chess. The simplicity or complexity of those chess positions, however, will depend on exactly what you need. Everything depends on precisely where you now are in your abilities.

The fee for each chess tutoring lesson is $25, and that includes instructional materials. In addition, you get a copy of my chess book (Beat That Kid in Chess) at no additional charge, with the first lesson, and you don’t need to commit to any more lessons. You decide what to do after getting that first one-hour session.

Feel free to have a friend or family member be present. You can even arrange for a group lesson, for the fee is still just $25. Be aware, however, that group lessons may be less effective in meeting your individual needs, unless the members of the group have similar abilities, similar strengths and weaknesses, in chess-playing abilities.

chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb

Chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah

I advise having a free introductory meeting with me. This brief introduction to chess instruction should be sufficient for you to know how to proceed regarding private tutoring. You can ask questions about lessons or about chess tournaments, chess clubs, tactics, strategy, or whatever you would like to ask.

Many club players and tournament competitors have attained a moderate to high level of success without ever having had a chess tutor, never having had private lessons. This has usually taken years of practice in competition, however, even to become just an average tournament player. But those who have quickly risen to competitive success have often been chess players who were given regular private chess instruction.

Call me at the phone number listed below, or contact me by email, and ask what you will. Thank you.

ph. number of JDW

Jonathan Whitcomb is a member of the chess club at the Harman Senior Recreation Center (4090-South, 3600-West; West Valley City, Utah). It’s also known as the “Harman Chess Club,” meeting on Wednesdays from about 12:30 p.m. until almost 3:00 p.m.



Chess Tutor in the Salt Lake Valley

Lessons are available in Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City, Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, West Jordan, and in many other nearby communities in Utah, from the chess coach Jonathan Whitcomb, who lives in Murray.

Beat Your Dad at Chess or “Beat That Kid”

The first [of the two chess books reviewed] is not really about defeating your father; the second is not really about defeating a kid. Both are exceptional at teaching you to win a chess game . . . [brief book reviews]

Salt Lake Valley, Utah, Chess Tutor

Whitcomb has taught chess to those of many ages: children, teenagers, and adults. He and his wife had a state license, for many years, for a large family day care in Southern California, before they moved to Utah in 2014 . . . yet the age of the student is of little importance.