Chess Lessons in Utah (low-cost)

Chess Coach Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah (author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess), offers private and group lessons in the Salt Lake Valley. He offers a free introductory chess instruction session for home-school families and others in many areas of Utah, especially the SLV.

Chess playing has been found, from research, to be beneficial mentally, and it has been seen to relate to improved scholastic performance in young persons. Competing in the royal game also helps people improve socially, as long as it’s two humans playing against each other rather than one person against a computer.

Jonathan and Gladys Whitcomb came from Southern California, where they had a large family daycare in Long Beach. There they offered free chess lessons to children who were in their childcare.

Jonathan Whitcomb and his wife Gladys on Ensign Peak near Salt Lake City

Jonathan and Gladys Whitcomb now live in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah


Chess-Playing Skills of Children in Utah

Although the chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb has observed the enthusiasm of some Utah kids for the game of chess, his research suggests they are not as highly ranked as are children in many other states. This has been shown by reference to the ratings of young players as calculated by the United States Chess Federation.

A recent rating page by the USCF shows the highest 100 American twelve-year-olds, and not one of them lives in Utah. The ratings ranged from 1740 to 2407, with seven of those children in the master range of 2200+.

Gatlin Black, who won the sixth-grade division of the Utah state elementary chess tournament early in 2016, had a rating of 1513 as of early June, 2016. He may be the best chess player of his age in Utah, but 1513 is far below what some twelve-year-olds are rated in states like the following:

  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
  • Oregon
  • Washington state
  • North Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • [etc.]

[By the way, by early September, 2016, Gatlin Black had obtained a higher rating with the United States Chess Federation: 1688.]

Whitcomb encourages free chess tournaments for children in the Salt Lake Valley and offers his help in organizing such events. He is available for volunteer service in schools and libraries in this part of Utah.

Chess Lessons in the Salt Lake Valley

Whitcomb can drive to your location in the Salt Lake Valley, with no travel charge for communities in the SLV (he lives in Murray, Utah). The standard charge for one-hour chess instruction sessions is only $25, and this includes many free materials. In fact, the first chess lesson includes one free copy of the beginner’s book Beat That Kid in Chess. Give him a call: 801-590-9692.

This chess coach will tailor your lessons to your own skill in the royal game, so you’ll be able to progress at your own pace and in your own way. You can also contact him by email and ask what you will about low-cost private individualized chess lessons.



Chess Tutor in Salt Lake Valley

When does a chess beginner most need a tutor for private lessons? Do at least  two of the following fit your situation? . . .

Salt Lake Chess Lessons

Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah, author of the new book Beat That Kid in Chess, is now offering private and group lessons.

Chess Book for Beginners

Beat That Kid in Chess on Amazon


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Live “Pterodactyls” in California?

Here’s a puzzle that may be interesting to home school children and their parents; in fact it could be fun for many kids, not just those in home school. Would you like to try your hand at solving a mystery? Try to think like Sherlock Holmes as you investigate mysterious reports of pterodactyls flying around California. What an adventure for an amateur sleuth!

Why have some persons in California reported seeing a pterosaur flying overhead? How strange can things get? Western scientists have long thought those flying creatures had all died long ago. And after all, some people do call them “flying dinosaurs.”

This is not a game of make-believe, for these persons (who report the flying creatures) are real, and some of them have given out their full names to the public. The first question is this, although we may refine it or add to it later:

Are these reports of living pterosaurs in California hoaxes?

from Lakewood, California

A lady in Lakewood, California chose this shape for the end of the tail


This game will take more than one blog post to explain, but you can start your detective investigation now. Use whatever resources are available, including the internet, as long as you have a parent or guardian who is in charge and who gives permission or supervises. (It’s not very safe for kids to roam around the internet without any supervision. Really!)

In the next one or two posts, I’ll explain who I am and why I invite children to play this game. If a parent would like to contact me, use this link: parent-comment-or-question

This is not like a chess game, with 64 squares and a clear winner or loser. It’s more like a giant chess set with countless squares, and most of the board is out of view at first, obscured by a fog. The game may also have pieces to move around, as you explore, but those pieces are not with clearly defined rules of moving, just general ways of moving.

I’ll give suggestions instead of rules. The clues I give will not always be obvious, and I’ll not always use the word clue when I give one out. Indeed, this is far different from a game of chess, much more like a Sherlock Holmes detective investigation.

First Suggestions

  1. If kids use the internet for searching, adult supervision is essential
  2. Beware of strong opinions expressed online regarding reports of modern pterosaurs
  3. Look for a future “Contents” page on this blog: It will organize the posts (online pages)
  4. Consider using one or more of the following words for a search-engine (like Google):
  • ropen
  • modern pterosaur
  • living pterodactyl

Regarding suggestion #2 about strong opinions, some skeptics have used unfair tactics in criticizing explorers who have searched in Papua New Guinea for living pterosaurs. It is unethical to accuse explorers of being liars and frauds just because they believe in the possibility that one or more species of pterosaur may still be alive. If you find one of these unfair criticisms, see if you can find a response from one of the persons who was accused of lies or deception. Please look at both sides before making a judgment.

You can now start your investigation, or you can wait for the next post on this blog for more information and suggestions.


Chess mistakes by two children in California

The two children competing in the following game (played in 1995 in California) had little experience with chess books. But the father of these two sisters had experience in tournament play.

Free Book on Modern Pterodactyls

You may be able to download a free book about reports of living pterosaurs, commonly called pterodactyls. The pdf book is titled Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea.

Attack on “Pterodactyl Expert”

It was just a few commentators on a forum thread who initiated the attack. But it was a rather vicious attack, with one of the assailants using the name “ape man.”

Nocturnal Ropen Appears in Daylight in Southern California

On June 19, 2012, over a storm drain in Lakewood, California, in clear daylight at about noon, a long-tailed featherless creature sat on a telephone line . . .


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Chess Books in Reviews

First let’s briefly examine two chess books for intermediate and advanced players. For beginners who know the rules of the game but little else about winning, look at the short book review at the bottom of this post (Beat That Kid in Chess).

8 chess books for intermediate to advanced players

Eight of the many chess books in the Harman Chess Club, West Valley City, Utah

The Art of Sacrifice in Chess, by Rudolf Spielmann, is highly rated by all readers who contributed their comments on Amazon, and five of those fifteen reviews are by verified purchasers. Interesting to tell, only two of those fifteen reader-reviews are of the newly published 2015 edition, meaning thirteen highly positive comments were of the older edition which used the old descriptive chess notation (both of those reviews were verified purchasers). That speaks highly of both editions of this chess book. Just be aware that this book is not for beginners.

The Bright Side of Chess, on the other hand, has only one customer review on Amazon, and that Verified Purchaser said only this: “Really fun book.” Yet that five-star review sums up the book nicely. Look at one paragraph quoted from the Anecdotes chapter:

Temporarily stranded in a little German town, Dr. Lasker, Chess Champion of the World, wandered into the local chess club. One of the members, who as it happened was the club champion, courteously invited him to a game—evidently not suspecting the identity of the meek-looking stranger.

They played two games, and both times Lasker steered the opening into queer, unconventional channels, from which emerged bewildering complex mid-games. As was usually the case against even the greatest masters, it was Lasker who saw further ahead and picked his way unerringly through the labyrinth of complications.

The club champion was surprised by his two defeats, and said to Lasker in perplexed admiration, “You must be pretty strong to beat me, for they call me the Lasker of this club, and you know what that means!”

The author, Irving Chernev, wrote chess books that became extremely popular, probably partially from including fun anecdotes like that. (The Bright Side of Chess is another recently republished work from an old edition that was probably in descriptive notation.)

Beat That Kid in Chess

Beginners who already know how to play the game—they’ll get the most benefit from this chess book. It teaches those most important tactics and good habits that quickly prepare the beginner to beat another beginner.

Yet Beat That Kid in Chess is not a collection of cheap tricks that work only against opponents who know almost nothing about winning. The principles taught can be used in the future, as the reader advances beyond the beginner stage.

This chess book, published September 2, 2015, uses a new system of instruction, the NIP method (nearly-identical positions). This naturally leads the reader to recognize the important differences in chess positions, essential differences.



Reviews of chess books

One of the three books reviewed is Beat That Kid in Chess:

This new book is best suited for the beginner who already knows how to move the pieces around but would like to win some chess games. It could be a great book for such a player.

Beginners chess book

This chess book is balanced in depth and breadth, with lessons on how to checkmate your opponent, gain a material advantage over another beginner, promote a pawn to a queen, pin one of your opponent’s pieces, make a knight fork, avoid becoming checkmated, and much more. It emphasizes what a beginner most needs to know and understand, as soon as possible.

American Chess Tournaments

[The Swiss system in a chess tournament] is the most common method of pairing opponents when many players are competing, especially in open tournaments. It usually allows the event to be completed in only a few days.


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