In this new series of online class reviews, we’ll first take a look at Udemy’s Chess For Everyone ($9.99) video course. This is one of the shorter courses offered by Udemy, with a total length of 2.5 hours spread out over 21 lectures. Udemy’s course description states that the goal is to introduce the game to new players, as well as teach new skills to people that already know how to play the game in order to make them a better player. Let’s take a look at how well the course performs these tasks.
First, a bit about my background: I am a lifelong chess enthusiast who first learned how to play the game as a child and actively took part in my high school’s chess club. I’m certainly not a chess master, but I do consider myself to be quite skilled, which places me in a strong position to evaluate the effectiveness of this lesson on an experienced player.
The first lesson of this course is focused on teaching you the bare basics of the game, including how the individual pieces move. This lecture does a decent job of this, and it will show you how most of the pieces move. It has some rather notable problems though. First, you probably noticed I said that it will show you how most of the pieces move. The instructor, Robert Gumerlock, fails to go over how pawns move in this first lecture even though they are the most numerous piece on the board. This is later covered towards the end of the second lecture, as part of the instructions of the En Passant move.
Throughout the lectures, Mr. Gumerlock also spends excessive amounts of time talking over unnecessary information that has no bearing on a casual game of chess. The most notable examples of this are the entire lesson dedicated to chess notation and the several minutes that the lecturer spent explaining how many squares are on the board. Chess notation, which is a method of recording chess moves and is almost exclusively used in competitions and books on chess tactics, has no bearing on a casual game and is likely to just confuse beginners. These bits of information along with other smaller points sprinkled around the lessons serve to at best feel the student’s head with information they don’t need, and it may overwhelm some students and cause them added difficulties while trying to learn the game.
On the plus side, Mr. Gumerlock does present the information in a clear and concise manner, and it should be said that if you didn’t know how to play the game before that these lectures will teach you how to do so. Mr. Gumerlock also teaches students how to perform important moves such as castling and En Passant. He teaches these slightly more advanced moves before ever teaching you how to capture a piece or play the game regularly though. It’s not until the third lecture that you will finally learn how to really play the game from the beginning.
As you move through the second and third sections of these lectures you will gain a firmer understanding about how to play the game including a basic understanding of common chess tactics, and the lecture series finishes things off by examining a few ways to win the game.
These lectures have next to nothing to offer to players with even a passing understanding of Chess. Beginners may find value in these lectures, as the information contained in them will accurately teach you how to play the classic game of chess, but I feel that there are far better ways to learn.
The most notable problem here is the significant amount of unnecessary information that the lecturer throws in, such as the chess notation lecture mentioned above. Someone that just wants to play a casual game of chess with a friend would have absolutely no need to ever learn chess notation, and knowledge of this topic should have been reserved for a separate set of lectures devoted to tournament style chess.
In short, these lectures will teach you how to play, but there are easier and less confusing ways to learn chess. Most of these other ways to learn also take less time are available free of charge, which significantly diminishes the value of these $10 lessons.
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