What Are The Best Beginner Online Chess Courses?
- Scholastic Chess Training – GM Susan Polgar
- Comprehensive Beginner Chess Course – GM Damian Lemos
- Quick Jump: Beginner’s Chess Course – GM Igor Smirnov
- The King Hunt – Mato Jelic
- Chess Strategy (The Rudolf Method) – IM Anna Rudolf
5 Best Online Chess Courses for Beginners
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to access high-quality training material for almost any subject, and chess is no exception.
But with so many different chess courses and trainers to choose from, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of options in front of you.
After all, not every course is equal and you want the best training you get. And it’s counter-productive to have to spend all your time working out which of the beginner chess courses are the best fit for you.
To save you time and get you started on your chess improvement journey right away, we’ve put together our recommendations for the very best online chess courses, series, lectures and classes for beginners.
We offer the widest selection of premium chess training programs on the internet, which puts us in a unique position to give you unbiased advice.
How do we determine which online chess courses are the best? Each of our recommended chess courses for beginners meets the following criteria. First, the lessons are structured so that the foundations are laid first then built upon with more advanced ideas. This helps you learn concepts much quicker. Second, the presenter should teach you why something works, not just expect you to memorize and repeat without understanding. Finally, we look for overwhelmingly positive feedback from people who have taken the course and benefited from it.
GM Susan Polgar has created the definitive training for players looking to master the fundamentals and go from absolute beginner all the way to 1500 strength (club player standard).
Susan Polgar is a former chess prodigy and Women’s World Champion who now coaches some of the top grandmasters in the US. Her ability to explain concepts clearly and illustrate them with memorable examples has made her one of the most respected chess trainers around.
The Susan Polgar Method for Scholastic Chess Training teaches you everything from how each piece moves, to tactical ideas like winning with the fork, skewer and pin. Later lessons include opening traps, the principles of attacking play and how to win the most common endgames.
By learning these essential skills, you’ll progress quicker and avoid the problems many players experience later on because of bad habits.
This series includes 15 hours of video lessons with Susan, plus the 64-page Susan Polgar Foundation Chess Training Guide, a 35-page eBook summarizing the content of the course, challenging tests and the complete database of games covered.
Watch a preview of the course here:
As a self-taught player, Grandmaster Damian Lemos not only understands how amateur chess players learn, he also has the experience to know what works and what things to prioritize. Damian’s aim is to help you strengthen the skills you will need most often, things like calculation and positional evaluation.
Each of the 10 volumes focuses on one theme, with Damian analyzing grandmaster games to reveal their secrets. You will learn how Garry Kasparov piles the pressure on his opponents until they crack, how Karpov – another World Champion – keeps control of a position, not allowing his opponent any counterplay. Game-winning ideas that will stick with you and become part of your natural style.
GM Lemos spent nearly six months planning, researching and recording this comprehensive course to make sure it covered everything a beginner needs to move up to the next category.
At 27 hours long, this is one of the best online chess courses for ambitious beginners who want to win more games.
Watch a lesson from the course here:
Grandmaster Igor Smirnov (pictured here receiving a prize from Garry Kasparov) specializes in courses that work with the way we learn.
Another self-taught grandmaster, Igor uses what he learned studying for his degree in psychology to create fully immersive chess training programs that combine theory and practice, audio and video, lessons and tests.
His Quick Jump program is designed to give beginners a boost in their ability (and rating) by teaching 3 critical skills: opening play, positional chess strategy, and thought process.
By the time you have completed this course, you will have your own personalized opening repertoire so that you get positions you love whether you’re playing as White or Black. GM Smirnov will also show you how the pawn formations, piece placements and positional secrets that will give you wins for years to come.
Plus, you will learn how to think like a grandmaster. After all, when it’s your move, you only have a few minutes to decide what to do. What is your opponent planning? Are there any tactical opportunities? Which move should you choose out of two that look good? GM Smirnov explains how to find the critical problem in the position and solve it!
The 3 parts of the course – Grandmaster’s Opening Laboratory, Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding, and The Grandmaster’s Secrets – include purpose-built software for viewing PGN game files, videos and text lessons to really help you get the most out of the program – a format that hundreds of students have praised for its immersive quality.
Watch an excerpt here!
Australian Mato Jelic is famous in the chess world for his entertaining commentary on the most exciting and spectacular games ever played. If you want to improve your attacking play and learn a ton of chess patterns you can use to terrify your opponents and amaze your friends, Mato’s The King Hunt is the course for you.
This huge 28-hour course is organized into sections based on attacking themes and typical sacrifices like bishop sacrifices on h7 and knight sacrifices on d5. By giving only brief commentary on the opening phase and concentrating on the instructive attacking parts, Mato is able to cover an incredible 600 games!
By watching the attacks and sacrifices, you will learn when and why they work and learn where the defending side went wrong too. Some positions look very similar but just one piece being one square to the side can make the difference between a successful attack or the king escaping. And if you have sacrificed a piece and the enemy king gets away, the rest of the game will be an uphill battle!
IM Anna Rudolf is one of the most popular presenters in chess today, famous for striking the perfect balance between entertainment and quality instruction. By keeping things fun and engaging, Anna makes sure you don’t get bored and lose concentration.
Anna’s 15-hour Smash the Barriers to your Chess Success is all about overcoming the obstacles that stop 80% of players from moving beyond the club player level.
Ever since it launched, it has had enormously positive feedback and tons of reports of training breakthroughs from those who took the course. It has changed players’ careers for good.
Anna Rudolf explains how to:
- Eliminate painful blunders from your game.
- Spot critical moments and use logic to find the winning plan.
- Think strategically. This is the hallmark of a true chess player. Anna explains how to weigh up strengths and weaknesses and plot a path to victory.
- Always be one step ahead. Learn how to get inside your opponent’s mind and stop their plans before they even get started.
- Develop a winning mindset. You might be a good player, but can you win when it counts? IM Rudolf reveals how to become the ultimate competitor.
Watch a free excerpt of her Master Method here!
Best Online Chess Courses [Intermediate]
What Are The Best Intermediate Online Chess Courses?
- The Naroditsky Method – GM Daniel Naroditsky
- The London System (80/20 Tactics) – IM Eric Rosen
- Chess Improvement Secrets (GingerGM Method) – GM Simon Williams
- Anna’s Essential Endgames Course – IM Anna Rudolf
- The Bulletproof French Defense – GM Fabien Libiszewski
- 5 Best Online Chess Courses for Intermediate Players
Intermediate players already know a lot about chess. At this level, you will crush beginners or casual players every time. Blunders are few, you know what a good position looks like, and know how to attack.
But you want more. To add depth to your opening knowledge, to be able to calculate faster and more accurately, to sharpen your endgame, to win more games.
We have chosen 5 courses with strong reputations for helping club players move up to that next level.
Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky is a former prodigy and current SuperGM. He is also one of the most articulate presenters out there.
His 15-hour Naroditsky Method aims to change the way you think about different chess situations, helping you focus on the important aspects of a position and find the best move quicker.
You will learn how to:
- Master opening structures. No need to memorize a ton of moves, just understand how the pawn structure affects piece placement. This will help you play well no matter what position you find yourself in.
- Break the rules. Ever notice how elite players like Magnus Carlsen play “unpositional” moves like wrecking their pawn structure… and still win? Daniel explains the advanced positional secrets that let you find brilliant moves most players would reject.
- Play any endgame. You probably already know the basic endgames like King and Pawn against King, but what do you do in more complicated situations? GM Naroditsky reveals his “PPCK” formula for making progress in any endgame.
- Achieve tactical mastery. In his mind-blowing chapter on tactical training, Daniel explains why just solving puzzles won’t get you very far. Instead, you learn Daniel’s own training method which enhances your visualization skills and calculation simultaneously.
Watch a preview of the Naroditsky Method here:
You are going to need an opening you can rely on; one you know inside-out and can use to get a great attacking position.
We recommend the London System (1.d4, 2.Bf4) as you can play it against anything Black replies with. You don’t have to worry about whether Black plays 1…d5, 1…Nf6, 1…b6 or anything else. You just keep executing your plan.
Instead of learning the first five moves in six different openings, you become an expert in one – and know that you will see it on the board every time you have White!
IM Eric Rosen’s 80/20 Tactics course on the London System has received enormous praise for its thorough explanation of the many ways to play for a win as White, including all the common tactical patterns you can use to shock your opponents.
Whether you like to attack your opponent’s king right away, or prefer to claim space via positional means, you will find an approach that suits you in this diverse system.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to get an opening advantage in their games as White, without having to spend every waking hour learning every opening under the Sun.
Watch a preview here.
GM Simon Williams (aka “the GingerGM”) has quickly established himself as one of the most popular chess coaches in the world. His lessons connect with students in a way few other presenters can. He’s an experienced coach who has seen what holds so many players back – and he knows how to communicate the necessary fixes.
The title of his first 15-hour Master Method course describes the content perfectly: Chess Improvement Secrets for the Busy Player. Most of us have a lot of demands on our time, so it’s important that our training yields immediate and significant results.
Simon understands this, having, by his own admission, achieved the grandmaster title with a fraction of the study time and work of many of his peers.
In Chess Improvement Secrets for the Busy Player, Simon takes you through every stage and element of the game, including:
- Learning how to build a repertoire that suits your style,
- Understanding how to attack with power,
- Maneuvering effectively in closed positions,
- Calculating complicated positions with speed and accuracy,
- How to choose between passive defense and counter-attacking, and
- Converting endgames using Simon’s strategic tips.
Simon’s engaging presentation style and often hilarious observations will keep you glued to the screen, and his meticulously prepared lessons will do the rest.
Watch a preview here:
Unsurprisingly, IM Anna Rudolf earns another place in these recommendations, this time for her Essential Endgames course. This is one of the highest-rated courses on our site with a 4.8/5 average – and rightly so.
Endgames are often neglected by improving players, who think you should study the game in chronological order: opening, middlegame, then endgame last. After all, if you win in the opening or middlegame, you won’t need to play an endgame.
Great players like the third World Champion Jose Raul Capablanca, however, insist that you will get the best returns from studying the endgame first. Endgames combine strategy and calculation, and the difference between two tempting moves can be victory or defeat.
Anna’s Essential Endgames teaches you the hidden power of the pieces in 6 hours of fascinating lessons.
You will learn:
- The bishop and knight checkmate (by far the most difficult mate).
- How to defend against a passed pawn.
- The secret of ‘critical squares’ in winning king and pawn endings.
- Zugzwang and opposition.
- Technical rook endgames like the Lucena and Philidor.
- How to play bishop endings.
Endgames never change – the rules always apply. Learn them once and you will be able to use them to win games for the rest of your career.
And there’s no better coach to have than Anna Rudolf. Check out a preview of her Essential Endgames here:
Having recommended the London System for you to play as White, you now need an opening for Black.
The French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5) has been played by legends like Botvinnik, Korchnoi and Short, as well as modern-day elite players Wesley So, Ding Liren and Morozevich. It’s solid and gives you many ways to fight for the win. And while you will need an opening to play against 1.d4 too, you can still transpose to the French after 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5.
The idea behind the French is to attack White’s d4 pawn with moves like …c5, …Nc6, and …Qb6. Once that pawn falls, White’s center collapses. And, in trying to defend it, White often finds themselves falling into other problems.
Fabien Libiszewski’s Bulletproof French is a 17-hour masterclass teaching you how to counter each and every one of White’s setups, from the Classical (3.Nc3 Nc6), Advance (3.e5) and Tarrasch (3.Nd2) variations, to sidelines like the King’s Indian Attack (1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2).
While Black’s position may seem cramped initially, it soon bursts into life – and those passive pieces take over the entire board.
This is a complete course that takes you all the way from first steps to tournament-ready. GM Libiszewski (also known as ‘Libi’) teaches you everything from the major strategic ideas to typical attacks, tricks, and traps.
One of the best things about the French Defense is that knowing the plans is far more important than remembering move sequences. It doesn’t matter if you have a memory like a bucket with a hole, just keep making moves that fit in with your plan.
Libi’s Bulletproof French Defense strikes the perfect balance between strategies, tactics, theory, and analysis of instructive games, and has fast become one of the most popular opening courses around.
Watch a preview here.
Best Online Chess Courses [Advanced]
What Are The Best Advanced Online Chess Courses?
- The Karpov Method – GM Anatoly Karpov
- 80/20 Tactics Multiplier: King’s Indian Defense – GM Bryan Smith
- Tactics & Calculation for the Ambitious Player – GM Sam Shankland
- Super GM Skill Set – GM Sam Shankland
- 21st Century Chess Endgame Technique – GM Marian Petrov
5 Best Online Chess Courses for Advanced Players
So, you’re a strong player already, maybe 1800-2100 level, and want some chess courses designed to help advanced players make further progress. At this level, chess improvement is all about sharpening your skills and deepening your knowledge.
Between advanced chess players, the winner is often the person who calculates one move further, or sees a possibility that the other misses, so it’s important to have excellent visualization and analytic skills. And this isn’t just reserved for tactical situations, it can be choosing between various move orders for a maneuver to control a key square.
Opening knowledge must be deeper too. As well as being familiar with more variations, the advanced chess player will need to know how to deal with specific strategic issues in their chosen opening too.
The same with endgame knowledge and positional understanding. Everything gets deeper and more refined.
Our recommended chess courses for advanced players include elite training programs from a former US Champion and former World Champion. You’re also getting high-level opening and endgame training, everything you need to get closer to master-level.
These advanced lessons complement each other. You will be learning how to evaluate positions and compose winning strategies from Anatoly Karpov, one of the finest positional players of all time; and master-tactician Sam Shankland will teach you how to greatly improve your calculation.
Working through these advanced chess courses will completely transform any serious student.
The first and only online chess course of its kind by the 12th World Champion, Anatoly Karpov, is a masterpiece of chess instruction. Having held the chess crown for 10 years and finished in 1st place in over 100 tournaments, Karpov’s career is one of incredible success. But it’s his contributions to the game that really reinforce Anatoly’s legendary status. He came up with ideas and played in ways that hadn’t been seen before.
In this 15 hour advanced chess course, Anatoly outlines his entire approach to chess: how he preys on positional weaknesses, places pieces on their perfect squares, attacks the king, and sees “truth” in quiet positions.
This is a World Champion teaching you the secrets of chess learned through a lifetime of success at the highest level.
The games are organized by positional theme: bishops of opposite-color in the middlegame; minority attack; converting space advantages; defense; exchange sacrifices, and so on.
Karpov really opens up, explaining what he noticed in the position; what he was afraid of; how he balanced finding a strong move with the need to play quickly. You get to hear a World Champion’s thoughts as he replays his most instructive games – and actually learn how to think like a grandmaster.
When it comes to improving your positional and strategic chess to master-level, The Karpov Method has no equals.
Watch a preview here:
GM Bryan Smith’s 80/20 Tactics Multiplier on the King’s Indian Defense is our top recommendation for an advanced chess openings course.
It’s no accident that the two most dominant players of all-time, Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, turned to the King’s Indian Defense as their choice against 1.d4. It’s full of killer attacks, jaw-dropping sacrifices, and ingenious strategies. But you need to learn it properly.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to end up with a cramped position and slowly get squeezed off the board. Thankfully, GM Bryan Smith has created a stunning advanced chess openings course explaining the secrets of this fascinating system.
In this 8-hour course, Bryan teaches you all the important strategic and tactical themes, plus the major attacking ideas, drawing on 36 instructive games and studies to reveal how Black plays for a win in each variation.
On top of the theory and his personal recommendations, Bryan trains you in the three types of thinking you will need to find the best moves in your games: intuition; calculation, and schematic thinking.
Study this course and you will have an advanced chess opening you can use to win games as Black at the very highest level.
Check out the preview here.
Superior calculation decides games at every level. Sam Shankland puts his meteoric rise from “good GM” to 2018 US Champion down to prioritizing his tactics and calculation training.
In his words: “When I went to my current coach, I “knew” I was really good at calculation. But then I found out just how much there was to learn, and how much better I could get. I realized not only how poor I was but how poor just about everybody else was, and that if I could learn how to do this I was going to start killing people. I just decided I’m going to train calculation like no other.”
Bear in mind he was already a strong grandmaster!
Tactics and Calculation for the Ambitious Player is one of the very best advanced chess courses – it’s an actual training program, requiring your active participation to find the best moves.
The 49 elite games analyzed in this 15-hour course are grouped into six distinct sections, ranging from attacking the king to endgame tactics. Absolutely essential training for any advanced chess player.
GM Sam Shankland gets another of our top recommendations for advanced chess courses, this time with his 15-hour SuperGM Skill Set. Sam argues that, while most improving players spend their time trying to cram more information into their brains, you will get the best results by focusing on developing your skills.
What you get is Sam taking you through 30+ top games – nearly all from 2017 onwards – prompting and testing your ability to find not just the best moves, but all ideas worthy of consideration.
Split into sections covering thought process, evaluation, forcing moves, sacrifices, and intuition, this material challenges and stretches your ability to play precise chess.
You will improve your ability to weigh up imbalances, consider whether you’re getting enough compensation for your pawn sacrifice, whether your opponent has drawing chances in an endgame – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As with all of Sam’s courses, you will be required to pause the video and think for anywhere between 2 and 30 minutes. This is intensive chess training for advanced players and not intended for the lazy. Put the effort in, however, and you will be rewarded a thousandfold.
Watch a preview of SuperGM Skill Set here.
The endgame course we recommend for advanced chess players is the 6-hour 21st Century Endgame Technique from two-time Bulgarian Champion GM Marian Petrov.
When you reach the higher levels, more and more games are decided in the endgame. Technique is everything. You need to be able to convert your advantage while reducing counterplay. If your opponent has better endgame skill, then your winning position can soon turn into a level game and then a loss.
This is a great opportunity, however. Become really proficient at playing the endgame and you will be the one who turns material deficits into wins time and again.
21st Century Endgame Technique is for you if you already know your Lucena from your Philidor, and want to deepen your understanding of endgame strategy. Instead of giving you the solutions to specific, technical positions, GM Petrov teaches you the skills and ways of thinking that will help you convert your endgames into wins.
This course will help you combine prophylaxis, piece activity, passed pawns, and other factors into a dynamic strategy driving your every move.
Click here to watch a preview of 21st Century Endgame Technique.
When it comes to deciding what the best chess course for you is, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thousands of – often very similar – titles out there. Our aim with this article is to give you good recommendations, backed up with clear reasons for each choice.
Each of the courses we mention have received stellar reviews and positive feedback, and have been checked to make sure they’re suitable for each level, from beginner chess courses to advanced chess lessons.
You can watch a preview of each of the recommended chess courses to make sure you like the style of presentation and, of course, there are links to each training program if you decide one is right for you.
And if you ever have any questions about any of the featured chess courses, you can ask our customer service team here.