Chess.com’s Manager of the Month for January is Charlie Rosado, better known online as JapaneseTutor! Charlie is well known chess banner, and one of the key characters in the Tournament Arc series.
What some people might not know is that JapaneseTutor is a great coach that accepts new students. A dedicated trainer with nothing but rave reviews from his students, Charlie is ready to help you reach your chess goals faster!
Readers looking for private instruction can contact Charlie Rosado through his Chess.com profile and find other qualified coaches at Ches.s.com/coaches.
At what age were you introduced to chess and who introduced you?
When I was about 16 in high school, people played chess over lunch in the cafeteria. I wasn’t very interested at first, but over time the game caught my attention. I learned by watching and later by playing. One of the chess club coaches asked me if I wanted to join and at that moment it seemed like a no-brainer. Interestingly enough, his name was Mr. Rosado, and although we share the same last name (and birthday), we are not related.
What is your earliest memory of chess?
Our coach would not let us participate in any tournament until we had completed a certain number of challenges (tactics and puzzles). After two or three months at the club, I was finally able to take part in my first competition. I lost my first three games out of four. I remember being destroyed by a child no older than six or seven. He beat me while munching on his animal biscuits and sipping on Capri-sun.
Despite that, I won my fourth game and that episode is not only a living memory, but I think it was also a turning point since that’s when I first remember having thought I could actually do it. I could, in fact, play and maybe even be very good at it.
Which coaches have been useful to you in your chess career and what was the most useful knowledge they imparted to you?
My first coach, although not the strongest, was important to me because he introduced me to many different tactics. He was also a driving force, encouraging us to always do better. I also started using CT Art (an old chess tactics software) thanks to him and I’m pretty sure my chess journey would have been different without him.
Four years ago, I learned that GM Leonid Yudasin (former world champion candidate) was available to coach on the Marshall Chess Club site. I worked with him for about six months. Playing with such a strong player changed my tactics and my approach to the game in general, and he really helped me develop a better strategic understanding of the game. He definitely made me a better and more competitive player. One thing he mentioned that I remember clearly even to this day is that it doesn’t matter which pieces come off the board. What matters is which pieces remain and what they do.
Which game do you consider your “Magnus Opus?”
I really like this match I played against GM Roeland Pruijssers. Even though I made a few mistakes and felt like I was in a worse position, I kept fighting and found counterplay through tenacious play.
It was the first time I actually felt confident that I could come back from a worse position – and I did. Since that match, I always remind myself to keep playing and try to find the best moves, even when I’m in a worse position.
How would you describe your approach to chess training?
Each prospective student has different goals they wish to achieve. It is important that I understand them clearly. Then I watch a few hundred of their games, trying to focus on all their strengths and weaknesses and, more importantly, their way of thinking about chess and their approach to the game.
With this data, I can better meet my student’s needs and create a plan that ultimately improves their strengths while addressing their weaknesses. I think all of this is better and more easily achieved if the student is having fun during the process, so I also try to create a structured but relaxed environment; maybe not quite conventional, but effective and fun.
What do you see as your responsibility as a coach and what responsibilities do your student have?
As a coach, I need to know my students and their way of playing, even better than they know themselves. I create complete lesson plans and plan the steps in advance to maintain a good productive pace.
I expect my students to do their homework, be consistent with the puzzles, and make sure they don’t rush through the games, but learn from them and analyze them.
Our shared responsibility is communication. Communication is key to predicting or fixing anything that might affect their learning.
What advice do you give your students that you think more chess players could benefit from?
Mindset is the most important thing you have.
I often tell my students that it doesn’t matter their opponent’s ranking, his notoriety, his performance during the tournament. You are both seated at the same table; you both see the same table; you both have the same coins. If they make a mistake, it’s up to their opponent to punish them – they don’t need to punish themselves. Just play the game.
What’s your favorite educational game that users may not have seen?
Kasparov’s Immortal game is definitely my favorite teaching game. It really highlights how to think right and shows how to make your parts work together. It also shows the importance of finding what is really wrong with your opponent’s position and the importance of careful calculation.
What puzzle do you give students that tells you the most about their thinking?
I don’t really have a single puzzle that I use to assess a student’s abilities, but I ask him what his approach to chess is and ask him what his moves are in his most recent games. I can usually tell how a student is thinking by reviewing their games. I generally find this to be more fruitful.
However, I like to show a few students a particular position and ask them how they would do it.
The solution is actually very simple, but a lot of people are looking for moves with their pieces instead of looking for an attack with the “least obvious” piece. The idea is 1.g4 followed by g5, opening the kingside. Chess is a game of perfect information and we can see that white has an attack. But how do we get in? This “puzzle” really reveals how quickly they give up their positions or how tenacious they are trying to find a way in.
Do you prefer to teach online or offline? What do you think is different about online education?
I was an offline teacher until the pandemic hit. I then switched to online teaching. One thing I miss about teaching offline and in person is body language; the surprised expression when the student understands something for the first time, or their first “a-ha” moment.
Teaching online has the huge advantage of having all the information I need at my fingertips. For a very long time, I preferred to teach offline, but I think I’ve really started to thrive as an online teacher. There is a certain set of skills you need for teaching online. Understanding student needs while teaching online classes, where I couldn’t see them or communicate directly with them, was a huge stepping stone for me as an instructor. However, I feel like I can really understand my students’ needs now and really appreciate the benefits of online classes.
What do you think is the most valuable training tool provided by the Internet?
Honestly, I think Chess.com’s analysis board and game/opening/lesson databases are amazing. I use them for each of my classes. It’s good to have all this information at your fingertips.
What underrated chess book should every chess player read?
For anyone who struggles with openings, I recommend Christof Sielecki’s keep it simple series for 1.e4 Where 1.d4. I think anyone in the 1000-1900 range could really benefit from these books. It’s a super strong material that will get you out of the opening in a good position so you can just play chess.
For students who are already doing well with the opening, I recommend Daniel Gormally’s Mate Castrated King.
Former Coaches of the Month: