The break between Hikaru Nakamura and his coach, Garry Kasparov, is getting a lot of publicity right now, with various speculations about how it happened. I don’t know anything about this apart from what little I’ve read in the news and I can’t say that I’m particularly interested. But what I can say is that in entering into a coaching relationship both student and teacher should be looking for something long term.
The reason for this is that with an art form like chess the best lessons and deepest skills are very much part of someone’s psyche; to access them you need to get to know your coach at a level at which you get to know how they think. So with Kasparov, for example, I see someone with a unique understanding of dynamic possibilities, something that Victor Korchnoi appreciated in the following amazing game:
Did Nakamura succeed in acquiring Kasparov’s unique perception during their month long coaching relationship? Apparently not, as in this interview with Daniel King he ascribed Kasparov’s success to ‘opening preparation’. And I can’t say that I’m surprised, he’d need a lot longer and a genuine relationship with his coach. Plus, of course, a coach who was willing to go beyond the opening with their studies.
Anyway, here’s my view of what a proper coaching relationship should be like, that of Beatrix and Pei Mai in Kill Bill 2. So click the lessons tab at your peril, though probably I won’t take you as a student anyway…