Chess.com’s January Coach of the Month is Charlie Rosado, better known online as Japanese Tutor! Charlie is a well-known chess streamer and one of the main characters of the Tournament Arc series.
What some people may not know is that JapaneseTutor is a formidable coach who accepts new students. Charlie is a dedicated trainer with nothing but rave reviews from his students and is ready to help you reach your chess goals faster!
Readers seeking private lessons can contact Charlie Rosado through his Chess.com profile and can find other experienced coaches at Chess.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 at lunch in the cafeteria. At first I wasn’t very interested, but as time went on, the game caught my attention. I learned by watching and playing later. One of the chess club coaches asked me if I wanted to join and it seemed like a no-brainer. Interestingly enough, his name was Mr. Rosado, and although we have the same last name (and the same birthday), we are not related.
What is your first vivid memory of playing chess?
Our coach wouldn’t let us participate in tournaments until we completed a certain number of challenges (tactics and puzzles). After two or three months at the club, I was finally able to participate in my first competition. I lost my first three games of four. I remember being destroyed by a kid who couldn’t be older than six or seven. He hit me as he munched on his animal crackers and sipped Capri-sun.
Nevertheless, I won my fourth match and that episode is not only a vivid memory, but I think it was also a turning point, because that’s when I first remembered that I could really do it. I could even play and maybe even be really good at it.
Which coaches have helped 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. It’s also thanks to him that I started using CT Art (an old chess tactics software) and I’m pretty sure my chess journey would have been different without him.
Four years ago I heard that GM Leonid Yudasin (ex-world champion candidate) was available for coaching on the Marshall Chess Club website. 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 has definitely made me a better and more competitive player. One thing he said that I still remember well to this day is that it doesn’t matter which pieces come off the board. It’s about which pieces stay and what they do.
Which game do you consider your “Magnus Opus?”
I really like this game 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 some counterplay through tenacious play.
This was the first time I was really sure I could come back from a worse position – and I did. Since that game I always remind myself to keep playing and try to find the best moves, even if I’m in a worse position.
How would you describe your approach to chess coaching?
Every potential student has different goals that they want to achieve. It is important that I understand them well. Then I look at a few hundred of their games, trying to zoom in on all of their strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, how they think about chess and their approach to the game.
With that data, I can better respond to my student and create a plan that ultimately improves their strengths and fixes their weaknesses. I feel this is all better and easier to achieve if the student has fun in the process, so I also try to create an environment that is structured but relaxed; maybe not quite conventional, but effective and fun.
What do you see as your responsibility as a coach and which responsibilities lie with your student?
I, as a coach, need to know my students and the way they play better than they know themselves. I create comprehensive lesson plans and plan steps in advance to maintain a good, productive rhythm.
I expect my students to do their homework, be consistent with puzzles and make sure they don’t run through games, but instead learn from them and analyze them.
Our shared responsibility is communication. Communication is essential for predicting or resolving anything that could affect their learning.
What is one piece of advice 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 what their opponent’s rating is, how famous they are, how well they did in the tournament. You both sit at the same table; you both see the same sign; you both have the same pieces. If they make a mistake, it’s up to their opponent to punish them – they don’t have to punish themselves. Just play the game.
What is your favorite learning game that users may not have seen?
Kasparov’s Immortal game is definitely my favorite learning game. It really shows how to think well and how to make your pieces work together. It also demonstrates the importance of finding what is actually wrong with your opponent’s position and the importance of deep calculations.
What is the puzzle you give the students that tells you the most about how they think?
I don’t really have a single puzzle that I use to measure a student’s skills, but I ask them about their approach to chess and ask about their moves in their most recent games. I can usually tell how a student is thinking by going through their games. I usually find that more fruitful.
I would like to show a few students one particular statement and ask them how they proceed.
The solution is actually very simple, but many people look 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 shows how quickly they give up positions or how tenacious they are in trying to find their way in.
Do you prefer to teach online or offline? What do you think is different about online teaching?
I was an offline teacher until the pandemic hit. I then switched to online teaching. One thing I miss about offline, in-person teaching is the body language; the surprised expression when the student understands something for the first time, or their first “a-ha” moment.
Online teaching has the great advantage that I have all the information I need at my fingertips. For a long time I preferred offline teaching, but I believe I really started to flourish as an online teacher. There are certain skills you need for online teaching. Understanding the needs of the students while teaching online classes where I couldn’t see them or interact with them directly was a huge stepping stone for me as an instructor. However, I feel like I can really understand my students’ needs now and really enjoy the benefits of online classes.
What do you consider to be the most valuable training resource the Internet provides?
Frankly, I love Chess.com’s analysis board and game/opening/lesson databases. I use them for all my classes. It’s nice to have all that information at your fingertips.
What underrated chess book every chess player should read?
For anyone who struggles with gaps, do I recommend Christof Sielecki’s? keep it simple series for 1.e4 or 1.d4. I think anyone in the 1000-1900 range could really benefit from these books. It’s a super solid material that puts you in a good position out of the opening, so you can just play chess.
For students already doing well with the opening, I recommend Daniel Gormally’s Pairing the castellated king.
Past Coaches of the Month: