chessbase india logo

Just Starting out in Chess? Pick Chess Pathshala as your Pathfinder!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 04/10/2020

The four online courses - Tactical, Positional, Endgame, and Opening - launched by Chess Pathshala six months ago has since then been very well received by students and improvers from all around the world. Encouraged by the success and cheerful response, the head coach of the Academy, Grandmaster Swapnil Dhopade, has now decided to take a step further and introduce a course aimed exclusively at beginners. In this article we bring you the details of the course and tell you why we think it can prove a gamechanger for young minds who are just starting to make their moves on the sixty-four squares. Swapnil has already been an inspiring instructor to the who's who of Indian chess, but his latest endeavour to work with absolute newcomers is unlike anything he has done before and can potentially help bring plenty of fresh faces into the fold.

The Chess Pathshala now Opens its Doors for Beginners!!

Back in 2015 Swapnil Dhopade became the first Grandmaster from the Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra and the 40th Grandmaster of the country. Two years hence, in 2017, he pulled off a stunning performance of 2768 Elo at the Isle of Man International, securing a joint third place with some of the biggest names of the chess world. These achievements hardly leave any doubt about the tremendous talent that this 30-year-old Indian is. Yet somewhere down the line, around 2019, Swapnil took a conscious decision to step back from competitive play and dedicate himself to chess coaching. The Chess Pathshala academy was born out of this thought, a platform offering courses specially curated by GM Swapnil and trainers working under his able guidance.  

Swapnil loves teaching chess and as a coach his reputation precedes him. Only last year, he led the Indian Women's team in the Asian Nations Cup, and prior to that he was also associated in the capacity of a mentor to the Indian National team that competed in the Olympiad 2018 held in Batumi. Apart from these, it is well-known how youngsters like Raunak Sadhwani and Sankalp Gupta too have flourished and reached their potentials under his tutelage.

Swapnil with the Indian Women's team at the Asian Nations Cup 2019.

No wonder therefore that Chess Pathshala soon bloomed into one of the country's finest chess academies. They recently even launched their first online course broadly covering the four main aspects of the game - Tactics, Positional Understanding, Endgame, and Opening. It received fantastic response from players and enthusiasts not just from India but also around the world. Students from seven different countries opted for it, and most of the them who enrolled in any one or two of the courses also went ahead and took the remaining.


Swapnil and his team ensure two things to make learning fun and effective for their students. Firstly, there's always one on one interaction between pupil and the coaches. This makes sure that the coaches really understand the strengths and weaknesses of the players individually and are able to plan the training sessions accordingly. The second very important thing is application - the academy assigns homeworks regularly between the classes and makes sure they are actually worked through. Google spreadsheets are maintained for this purpose for each student and their progress is duly recorded there. "It teaches you how to improve step by step and helps you deal with a variety of situations," says Yahavi Gupta, a 1386 rated player from Jaipur, describing her experience of working with Chess Pathshala. "The coach teaches everything slowly and steadily, no doubt is left inside your mind and every move and manoeuvre is taken care of," she concludes assuringly. Well, such meticulous work is bound to be appreciated and it is hardly a surprise that feedback from the students' end so far has been quite overwhelming.


But now the company is ready to take the next step and welcome the absolute beginners in."One of the things we noticed is that we used to get a lot of enquiries from beginner level students for whom our intermediate courses were not suitable," explains Swapnil. Helping youngsters who are just starting out, to move to the next level is quite challenging, but the rewards of such an endeavour too can be quite unparalleled. Imagine guiding a child from learning basic checkmate patterns to understanding expert level strategy—such a journey is its own prize, as an accomplished Grandmaster himself, Swapnil knows this full well and is naturally all up for it!

Why do you need a beginner's course?

A bright future is always built upon a firm foundation—this age-old belief is certainly not new to any of us, yet the so-called task of "getting the basics right" has remained an elusive pedagogical mystery when it comes to mastering virtually any skill. Chess is of course not an exception. While the rules of the ancient game is fairly simple to pick up but beyond that, even acquiring a technique as fundamental as checkmating a lone king with a bishop and a knight, can demand considerable practice. And merely practice too isn't enough, a well guided practice is really the key; for the difficulty is essentially the same that one encounters when learning, let's say, a new language or musical instrument. You pick up the casual words, the everyday phrases, the rudimentary notes quite easily but once asked to actually construct a coherent sentence or play out a melody, the struggle becomes exponentially more uphill. 

The mind is meant to eventually connect the dots, but in the beginning it always experiences a sort of resistance. 

"Start early" is therefore the frequently repeated word of advice. When you begin to learn a skill from a young age the mind naturally adapts to its intricacies faster and forms more lasting neural connections, at least that is what is usually claimed. But perhaps what is not emphasized as much is the need for expert supervision during these initial stages of development.Teaching a child practically anything, without hampering their interest in it, is a job that requires a great deal of delicacy; even more so when the subject being taught is as complex as chess. The value and experience that a qualified trainer brings to the table in this regard can therefore in no way be underestimated. It is no secret that all great chess players have had great teachers at different phases of their careers. Carlsen was coached by Kasparov during his formative years, while Botvinnik mentored Kramnik and Kasparov when they were growing up. By and large, the world of sports is no stranger to such instances of former champions guiding and tutoring the up-and-coming ones. And, as a matter of fact, this is also one of the critical factors that has contributed to the burgeoning growth of chess in India. Our country always had potential but now that we also have accomplished trainers who can effectively tap into it has really made all the difference.

Perhaps it is the foundations that go on to have the most significant bearing on a child's later career. As such, assuming that it doesn't warrant the employment of a qualified professional, is nothing but facile.

The Chess Pathshala is one of the newest and most promising chess coaching enterprises that has come up in India. It is ably headed by Grandmaster Swapnil Dhopade, a man whose credentials as a chess coach is without a doubt second to none. So if you are looking to enrol your kid, who has just learnt the rules of the royal-game, in an academy that can assure to make his or her baby steps towards mastery firmer, then Chess Pathshala can certainly be a worthy choice. Here's the blueprint of the beginner's course (in three levels) that Swapnil and his team are offering:


Level 1

This level is ideal for students who have just learnt the rules of the game. Assuming that they know how to play chess, this is the best course to start with. In this course, one learns:

Basic Mates



Tactics (6 Basic tactical themes)

4 test sessions which help to evaluate the learning of the student.


Level 2 

In the level 2 course, one is taught:

Principles of opening

Introduction to various chess openings

Basic Endgames

A complete opening repertoire from the white side

A complete opening repertoire from the black side

4 Test Sessions


And finally,

Level 3 constitutes:

5 Common tactical themes

Basic Knight endgames, Bishop endgames and practical Pawn


Common mating patterns

Playing and analyzing sessions with the coach

4 test sessions


Sounds good? Well, it only gets better. The Chess Pathshala also believes in the efficacy of one on one teacher-student interaction. This means your child would get the due attention and care that he or she needs without having to worry about falling behind others. The courses are all designed personally by GM Dhopade and the assigned trainers too stay directly in touch with him, which essentially takes care of quality control and promises a solid high-class training sessions. The courses have a duration of 25 days each including intensive homework sessions to ensure that your ward truly internalizes the material that is covered.

Reviews from Students and Parents

"The Level 1 course and Advait really liked the course and the way it was delivered. Every alternate day was very helpful giving Advait time to do all his homework and learning about concepts.

The coach is super. He knows the right way to motivate and push the student. My son is super happy and always eager to start the next class - that to me is the hallmark of a great teacher. To excite and inspire the kid to learn." ~ Ramesh Nair, Advait's father (Dubai, UAE)


"The classes are very nice. The coach in Chess Pathshala is understanding and friendly." ~ Ryan Malik (Dubai, UAE)


"Tactics course and the classes with Chess Pathshala are great. The teacher is good and explains the concepts well in friendly manner." ~ Bhushan Pende, Father of Vihan (Texas, USA)

"We liked the classes of the tactics course from Chess Pathshala. It is very good and my son is enjoying the classes. The coach is very patient and explains the concepts in detail." ~ Suraiyya Nathan (Detroit, USA)


"Nikita started taking classes with Chess Pathshala only a couple of weeks ago and I see a tremendous improvement in her skills. Nikita is also excited about the classes as she sees a visual difference in her ability after every class. The coach is very patient and helps Nikita understand the concepts very well. Also, the homework set given by Swapnil sir is above par. It is very detailed and has helped my daughter understand various tactics very well. Though we have witnessed only 8-10 classes, we are very confident to have found the right class for our kid." ~ Sachin Ranjit, Father of Nikita


"Medhansh underwent positional course online at Chess Pathshala with GM Swapnil. The course content including all the games was very informative and the coaching by both the coaches was good. It included homework which helped Medhansh apply what he learnt in the class. Looking forward to more courses from him. Thanks." ~ Sachin Rathi, Father of Medhansh Rathi (Fide rating - 1313) from Bangalore.


"The Positional course of Chess Pathshala is awesome and I learned a lot in class as compare to before. The coach is super I can understand his teachings very well." ~ Siddharthan Anandan (FIDE 1272), Tamil Nadu

Payment details and Contact

The fees for each individual session is Rs.600 and for that of the entire course spanning 25 days is Rs.15,000. For students outside India, the fees per session is accordingly USD 15 and fees for the entire course is USD 375. The students will have the option to pay the fees for the 12 classes first and then pay the fees for the remaining 13 classes, instead of paying the fees for the entire 25 sessions at once. To register, you have to just fill up the Google form below. If you have further queries or if you would like to get in touch with GM Dhopade then you may write to

Some more useful links

To get a feel of Swapnil's training methods you can checkout his Chess Pathshala YouTube channel here which he keeps regularly updated with interesting content. Recently his team has compiled a playlist of all the basic mating patterns that every beginner should know by heart. Here are some examples:

The proverbial "David and Goliath checkmate" where a humble pawn takes down the enemy king is beautifully explained in this video. The basic scheme is laid down first and then the application is demonstrated from real games.
The picturesque Epaulette mate is again something every beginner should make a point to be aware of. Swapnil's explanation is to the point, crisp, and yet not lacking in the finer details.  
And now something slightly more involved - Swapnil demonstrates the dazzling checkmate combination by Joseph Henry Blackburne in this video. This will surely catch the fancy of any chess player just starting out!  

...And the list goes on, you can checkout the full playlist here.

Pattern recognition is an oft-discussed concept in chess. It is akin to picking up notes in music or expressions in a particular language and connecting them, like we spoke of earlier. Chess Pathshala's debut on YouTube happened with this interesting video where you learn more about the value and method of looking for common patterns and themes to get better at the game. 

You can get to know Swapnil better with the following articles:

GM Swapnil Dhopade launches four online courses

Interview with India's latest GM: Swapnil Dhopade (1/2)

Interview with India's latest GM: Swapnil Dhopade (2/2)

How did Swapnil Dhopade achieve a performance of 2768 at the Isle of Man?


And finally some more articles that will give you better insight into his teaching methods:

Master Class with GM Swapnil Dhopade

Spend 15 minutes with GM Swapnil Dhopade!

The art of looking for Candidate moves

Three tips to improve your pattern recognition during a chess game