44th Annual Eastern Open - Instruction

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Tom Beckman

Private Chess Instruction in the Comfort of

Your Home in the Washington DC Area


Teaching Results:

         One of my students tied for 1st in the U1800 section at the 2011 Boardwalk Open ending with 10 straight wins; won 1st in the U1500 at the 2010 Atlantic Open, and 2nd in the U2000 at the 2013 National Chess Congress.

         Another of my students finished in 5th place in the U1200 section at the 2010 World Open.

         Six months of lessons resulted in a 200-point rating increase and a 99-point increase in one tournament.


Teaching Methods and Experience:

         I have five years of experience in providing customized personal instruction to adults and to younger students.

         My proven teaching methods and exercises quickly improve the student's understanding and enjoyment of the game.

         Each lesson, we play a 15-minute game with openings selected to test the student's abilities. I analyze the game for opening, tactics, dynamics, ideas, strengths, and weaknesses, and review the game with student during the next lesson.

         I handout exercises and puzzles for students to solve and to apply principles and checklists between lessons.

         Developed over 20 handouts on principles, checklists, guidelines, themes, and topics to be applied in practical play.

         Teach how to apply chess principles and thinking methods to actual game positions, and how to analyze games.

         Actual positions are used to illustrate the lesson themes, and we often play a position from both sides.

         Create a comprehensive, customized opening repertoire for each student that gives an edge from the start.

         Teach thinking methods that include:

  Selecting Your Next Move handout covers position assessment and candidate move selection using 5 checklists: Tactical, Attacking, Dynamics, Positional, and Strategy

  Respecting your opponent by first identifying his/her threats, attacks, and plans before focusing on your own plan

  Where is my play? When, where, and how to attack, defend, and maneuver

  Dynamics: features center control, development and mobility, ideal placement of pieces, and restraint/prophylaxis

  Creating and exploiting weaknesses from weak/strong files, diagonals, and squares

  How to generate, evaluate, prioritize, and select candidate moves

         Currently developing a special instructional plan for more novice students.

         Significant experience teaching graduate students at The George Washington University in management and IT subjects, teaching Strategic Investing at OLLI, and teaching professionals in government. Taught chess course at the USDA Graduate School.


My Experience and Performance:

         Over 50 years experience playing in chess tournaments

         Currently rated as USCF Expert

         Best Results:

  Draws with GM Friso Nijboer (2585) and GM Jesse Kraai (2531)

  Wins against Fabio La Rota (2420) and IM Dimitri Shneider (2410)

  Win against Angelina Belakovskaya (2410) US Womens Champion the following year

         Highest rating: 2285 FIDE and 2225 USCF

         Highest Performance Rating: Over 2400 at the 1995, 1999, and 2002 World Opens

         Tournament Results: 2nd place: 2012 Eastern Open Warmup Tourney, and 2004 and 2006 NIH Championship;

  1st U2200 prizes: 2004 and 2007 UMBC Mintzes Open, and 1999 World Open


My Publications, Research, and Analysis:

         Author of Our System: A Complete Opening Repertoire for the Rest of Us, a five-volume opening repertoire.

         Author of the Caveman Opening Repertoire for students that covers both White and Black possibilities.

         Currently authoring a book on chess instruction and improvement from USCF 1,000 to 2,000 rating.

         I am a fiend about opening preparation and analysis. I use Stockfish (3350 rating) to analyze all opening recommendations, and all moves from my games and my student's games. Stockfish is always analyzing 24x7.


Contact Info: tombeckman@rcn.com or 202-248-9608 (See reverse side for lesson excerpt)

A Typical Lesson


$50/hr. Minimum lesson = 2 hrs. If lesson is at students house, add $50/hr travel fee. => $150.


30 min. Review student games and exercises

20 min. Lesson topic

30 min. Timed exercises

30 min. 15-minute game: I will play whatever opening the student wants. Usually, we develop the student's opening repertoire.

10 min. Assignments Exercises on tactics, attacking, dynamics, positional play, puzzles, and game analysis

Between lessons, I spend at least two hours analyzing each students games, annotating our 15-minute game, and preparing customized instruction and exercises for the next lesson.


Sample Lesson Fragment: Selecting Your Next Move


1.       First ask, what is my opponent threatening? What was the point of his move? Apply the five checklists in the order given.

1.1.     What moves directly threaten mate, win of material, or winning attack? (Tactics Checklist)

1.2.     What moves promote an attack against your opponent's King, or attack in another direction? (Attacking Checklist)

1.3.     What moves improve your pieces or worsen your opponent's pieces in some way? (Dynamics Checklist)

1.4.     What moves weaken or threaten to weaken your Pawn structure? What is the material balance? (Statics Checklist)

1.5.     Where is your play? What moves further your plan or impede your opponent's plan? (Strategy Checklist)

2.       When to apply the five checklists:

2.1.     After your opponent has moved, what was the point of your opponent's move?

2.2.     As you determine your candidate moves and select your next move

2.3.     Before you move, examine your opponent's likely responses resulting from your selected move using the checklists

3.       Find and evaluate candidate moves:

3.1.     Select at least one candidate move from each checklist

3.2.     Analyze your candidate moves and select the best move from these while considering your opponent's reply


Sample Abbreviated Annotated 15-Minute Game and Related Opening Analysis


C06/7 n33, Tom Beckman - Leiv Blad, 15-15 min. game 9-13-14: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 (I'm suggesting this popular move in lieu of the very complex 3...Be7.) 4.Ngf3 (Also played is 4.exd5 exd5 {4...Qxd5 is the main line, but I don't like it} 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bxd7+ Nxd7 =.) 4...Nf6 (This is slightly better than the alternatives of 4...cxd4 or 4...Nc6.) 5.e5 (Here White must choose between this move and 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 =.) 5...Nfd7 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Be7 (Now we have transposed into 3...Be7 territory. Black can also try 7...Qb6 or 7...g6 here.) 8.O-O (Where is White's play? Where is Black's play? How can you tell?) 8...g5 (Other good alternatives are 8...a5 and 8...b6.) 9.dxc5! (Other alternatives {9.Qe2, 9.Bb5, 9.Bb1, 9.b3, and 9.h3} are weaker.) 9...Nxc5! (Black's weaker, but more popular alternative here is 9...g4?! 10.Nd4 Ncxe5 11.Bc2 Nxc5 12.N2b3 Ncd7 13.f4 gxf3 14.Nxf3 Ng6 15.Bh6 Rg8 16.Kh1 Nf6 17.Nfd4 e5 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.Bxf5 Qd6 20.Qe2 Nh4 21.Bh3 Ne4 22.Be3 f5 23.Nd2 +.1.01/26.) 10.Bc2 g4 (In retrospect, slightly better is 10...h5! 11.Nd4! Nxe5 12.N2b3 Nxb3 13.axb3 Nc6 14.Be3! e5 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Qe2 Qc7 17.b4 a6 18.Ra5! h4 19.h3 f6 20.Rfa1 Kf7 21.Bd3 e4 22.Bxa6 Bd7 +.31/25 11.Nd4 Nxe5 12.f4 (This is the normal move, but slightly better is 12.N2b3! and then:

1)       12...a6 13.f4 gxf3 14.Nxf3 Nxb3 15.axb3 Qb6 16.Nd4 h5 17.Qe2 Ng4 18.Bf4 Bf6 19.h3 Bxd4 20.cxd4 Qxd4 21.Kh1 Qxb2 +.44/27

2)       12...Nxb3 13.axb3 Bd6 14.f4 gxf3 15.Nxf3 h5 16.Be3 Bd7 17.Bd4 Qc7 +.46/25

3)       12...h5 13.Bf4 Nc4 14.Qe2 +.47/23

4)       12...Ncd7 13.f4 gxf3 14.Nxf3 Ng6 15.Bh6

a)       15...Rg8 16.Nbd4 Qb6 17.Kh1 Nf6 18.Qe2 Ng4 19.Bg5 f6 20.Bd2 Bd7 21.h3 N4e5 22.Nxe5 fxe5 23.Bxg6+ Rxg6 24.Qh5 0-0-0 25.Qxh7 Rgg8 26.Qxe7 Rde8 27.Qf6 exd4 +.88/27

b)       15...Nf6 16.Nfd4 e5 17.Nf5 Bxf5 18.Bxf5 a5 19.a4 Qd6 20.Kh1 Rg8 21.Be3 Nf8 22.Qe2 Ne6 23.Rae1 h6 24.Bf2 +1.09/22.)

12...gxf3 13.N2xf3 Ng6 14.Qe1?! (Better is the normal 14.Qe2 0-0 15.Bh6 Re8 +.37/26.) etc. You played the opening almost perfectly, and got an edge after I went astray with 14.Qe1?! and 15.Qg3?. We both had some tactical missteps with you making the last one.

Tarr-Roman.1213 8...g5: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.0-0 8...g5

Tarr-Roman.12131 9.dxc5: 9.dxc5 g4 10.Nd4 Ncxe5

         11.Bc2 Nxc5

  12.N2b3 Ncd7 13.f4 gxf3 14.Nxf3 Ng6 15.Bh6 Rg8

o    16.Kh1 Nf6 17.Nfd4 e5 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.Bxf5 Qd6 20.Qe2 Nh4 21.Bh3 Ne4 22.Be3 f5 23.Nd2 +.1.01/26

o    16.Nbd4 Nf6 17.Qe2 Ng4 18.Bd2 Bd7 19.h3 Nf6 20.Ng5 Qc7 21.Rae1 Rg7 22.Rf2 0-0-0 23.Bxg6 Rxg6 24.Bf4 +.55/24

  12.f4 gxf3 13.N2xf3 Ng6 14.Qe2 f5 15.g4! Ne4! 16.gxf5 exf5 17.Qb5+ Qd7 18.Bb3 Bc5 19.Kh1 a6 20.Qxd7+ Bxd7 21.Bxd5 0-0-0 22.Ne6 Bxe6 23.Bxe6+ Kb8 24.Nd4 Bxd4 25.cxd4 Rxd4 26.Bxf5 Nd2 27.Rf2 Ne4 28.Bf4 +.33/23