This contribution will help you to get a good idea of what kind of training is better suited for you. I will list the benefits or motivation for both forms of training. At the bottom of this page I will present a brief conclusion.
- 3D experience
If you are used to deal with chess in its traditional form you might find it difficult to work with the 2D board used in Online Training. While it may indeed take some time to adjust to the new sensation, this isn’t supposed to be a problem in the long run, however. In all likelihood, the adaption will happen quickly, as chess is essentially a two-dimensional game. Hence, a 2D perspective provides you with a clearer view. The angle is superior and the pieces don’t interfere with your vision.
One might argue that it is advantageous to use a 3D board in order to simulate a game situation. While this contains a grain of truth, it is not a very strong argument, as the time you spent with paid training is only a fraction of your overall training time. If you deem it important to simulate tournament conditions, there is plenty of opportunity doing so outside of hands-on training.
Brick-and-mortar training makes it slightly easier for the student to place his moves. While this is true, the slight delay which is caused by the necessity to announce the moves online before they can be executed by the trainer is no big deal. This is even more valid in formats, where the biggest part of the training consists of presentations.
- Personal contact
While there is a lot of room for differences between people when it comes to the need for socializing, I would argue that in the framework of paid training the emphasis should be put on cool efficiency and results. For that purpose, the audio communication via internet is perfectly satisfactory. If so desired, you can also include a web cam.
- Technical barriers
If a student doesn’t avail of a database program like ChessBase, there are limitations to online training. He simply cannot profit from electronic files being sent to him and he would have to send his games per mail (which yet would be feasible).
Having an engine running in the background (which can be switched off in certain situations) is of enormous help. Even for me as a grandmaster it takes considerably more time to penetrate to the core of a position without engine.
- Online Database
When dealing with opening questions it is absolutely mandatory to consult ChessBase’s Online Database. Not only do you have access to more than 9 million games, you are also provided with a statistical overview regarding highly important data such as frequency, score, recent popularity and GM usage.
The combination of engine and databases enables me to produce a small opening survey in real time while performing a live analysis of my student’s games.
- Automated recording
Every line you produce during online training is automatically recorded. No need to take notes, no need to transfer your notes to a database as after a face-to-face session.
You can even record the whole online session and thus produce your individual training videos!
Working your way through variations within books or printouts as a trainer is very time-consuming, as you often have to go back to the starting position in order to switch back to the game or main line. No comparison to the speed of electronic media.
As my online sessions take place in my personal ChessBase environment (transmitted through screen sharing) the entirety of my chess knowledge is directly available. This enables me to improvise and resort to a huge pool of reference data, when demanded by a specific request or situation.
- No Friction
Depending on the local situation, it might take some time to reach an offline training venue and then go back home again. On average that might amount to something like one hour of additional time lost. The time for dressing up and standing in front of your mirror comes on top.
Moreover, depending on the specific circumstances, that time is often spent inconveniently. Just think of cold and rainy weather or a full bus with coughing people, a traffic jam and the many negative health effects you are exposed to when driving your car.
Most of my clients appreciate the private environment online training has to offer. As there is no webcam by default, it doesn’t matter what clothes they wear, whether they are freshly shaved or not. Some of them might have had a stressful day at work before the session. Hence, they prefer not to be obliged to put a smile on their face. They can relax, put their feet on their desk and drink a glass of beer, if they feel like it.
In my opinion Face-to-face Training is suitable for children or beginning players. There also may be individual reasons for resorting to it. Under general conditions, however, Online Training outperforms its offline alternative by a wide, wide margin. Even if a client of mine would live in the same building as I, Online Training would be the preferable option.