The Importance of My Chess Coaches

    My Chess Trainers In The World Championship Titles


    To this day I am the only Brazilian to win world titles in age categories. This is no coincidence, as the task is extraordinarily difficult in a country with no tradition in chess.


    It is important to say that at the time of Mequinho there was only one category tournament – the Junior World Championship (U-20). Gilberto Milos had good participations in his age categories, having, unless I am mistaken, won a bronze medal. Giovanni Vescovi and Alexandr Fier were runners-up in the U-10 category.


    In fact, in my first World Championship, played in Puerto Rico in 1989, I also won the runner-up. The detail is that I did 10.5 in 11 rounds (10 wins and a draw). The champion, the Indonesian Irwin Irnandi (who curiously stopped playing later) won the title on a tiebreak system (the one of his opponents finished with 0,5 point more than mine).


    But in my two world titles the tie-breaks were in my favor. For this reason, I will forever love the accumulated score, by far my favorite tiebreake system (I believe the reader will forgive me for this preference).


    In addition to the two titles and this runner-up, I was bronze in 1993 in Bratislava and second in 1995 in Guarapuava  – Brazil.


    But my world titles were not won alone. I had a huge help from my coaches in both tournaments. In this article I would like to briefly detail the importance of all those who helped me in these two achievements.


    Warsaw 1991 – Under-12 World Title


    In 1991, in Warsaw (Poland), in the Under-12 world, I was helped by my father and by Jefferson Pelikian. Our preparation consisted mainly of studying my opponents’ games using the European Championship bulletin. The tournament had been played shortly before.


    First game against future GM Giovanni Vescovi. São Paulo, 1987. I was 7 years old.


    The times were really different. I remember our happiness when we found the bulletins for sale. My main opponents were: Peter Leko (who shortly after appeared on the rating list with over 2400 – after that he broke the younges GM record in history at the time). And Hrvoje Stevic, also a very strong player at that age.


    Especially against Stevic the preparation yielded good fruits. I ended up dominating my opponent from the opening and winning an important game. But the truth is that he would take revenge a few years later, when he finished first in the U-16 World Championship in Brazil, leaving me with second place.


    Menorca 1996 – U18 World Title


    In 1996, at the U-18 World Championship in Menorca (Spain), my coach was GM Gilberto Milos. We were in the computer age. Using databases and the experience of Milos, we were able to accurately predict the openings of the most important games.


    In one of the games, against the greek Hristos Banikas (who finished in third place), the preparation went all the way to the final position! Literally we had the position set up on our board in the hotel room. I was black and the opening was a King’s Indian, Four Pawns Variation. The draw with black was a good result at that point of the tournament.


    My decisive victory in the penultimate round, against the american Tal Shaked (who later became World Junior Champion) was achieved with a theoretical novelty suggested by Milos. Interestingly this was another King’s Indian 4 Pawns Attack, but this time I was white.



    The history of these two titles confirms the importance of receiving the instruction needed to guide your chess study.


    Nowadays, fortunately, the task is much easier, since the student can have access to the training method of a grandmaster watching videos online, asking questions via skype, analyzing variants with powerful machines.


    But the importance of having a coach (even if you do not know him personally, in the case of online videos) will never diminish. Studying the advice of a strong chess player is the best way to progress in chess.


    And you, do you have a chess coach? Do you follow the advice of higher rated player? Leave your message in the comments.


    Written by GM Rafael Leitão on 13.07.17


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