Paul Macdonald - Head Coach and Coach Trainer
Paul is the founder and CEO of Chess Power. Paul's main role is to oversee the strategical direction of the company and to ensure coaches have the tools, resources and support they need.
Why do you love Chess?
I find Chess absolutely fascinating. Chess is like a painting. Yet there are two painters. Each move is the stroke of the brush. There are little finesses, touches that only the discerning critic will notice. The canvas is unforgiving. One mistake and the artwork is changed forever. The layers are built up into a final crescendo. And a masterpiece unlike any other is born that takes it's place in history.
Mostly I love the psychology of Chess. It is the idea that f you are smart you can successfully play your opponent rather than what is on the board. Yes you still have to make good moves, but moves that will frustrate your opponent are often more effective than moves that are objectively better. My hero in this regard is the great World Champion, Emmanuel Lasker.
When/how did you first learn to play?
I can't recall exactly but I think I learned to play Chess through my brother. I thought I was pretty good so at the age of 11 I entered my first chess tournament at the Auckland Chess Centre. I lost every game! So as far as I was concerned that was the end for me. I played casually with my brother but that was the limit of my chess activity for about 8 years. I remember only beating my brother once over those 8 years. One day I suddenly decided I had had enough of losing and joined the Auckland Chess Centre at the age of 19. And I just kept on turning up, losing and turning up and losing and so on. The more I lost the more I learned and the more I became fascinated with the game. After about a year I had worked out how to improve enough and I started winning. And then I kept on winning. Eventually my rating got to over 2000!
Why do you enjoy working with kids?
My passion and joy is definitely working with kids and helping them open their minds. Kids inspire me and fill me with energy! But what I love the most is seeing kids learn, see them start to see possibilities, see them engage in their creativity and witness them creating their own wonderful chess masterpieces.
What are your main Chess achievements?
I have played Chess for over 20 years and beaten many New Zealand Champions. I have an international FIDE rating over 2000 which makes me in the top 100 players in New Zealand. But my proudest achievement is winning the New Zealand Championship Major Open in 2014.
How do you think Chess helps kids?
Chess is a wonderful tool for helping children develop focus, concentration and cognitive thinking skills amongst many other benefits. Chess also has the effect of improving Mathematics and Science results! And Chess delivers a surprising number of life skills.
I have to say I have found the best job in the world. I would love to help your child or school learn Chess and discover the benefits I have seen come through time and again.
Here are some recent testimonials:
9 May 2016
Krystal has improved a lot when compared to last year and we feel that you have had a major contribution to her success and achievements. You are an amazing coach!
19 April 2016
Thank you Paul for creating so much interest in chess. Our son learns from you at Summerland Primary School. We can speak as parents and wanted to pass on our wish that you continue this course throughout the year at school. We find it amazing! Please do continue.
Parent, Summerland Primary School
23 October 2012
Paul Macdonald is a chess instructor who takes a “down to earth practical” approach, and he delivers informative, practical and highly engaging chess lessons.
He has collaborated with the school to build a superb chess program. I have seen him inspire in children a love for chess and encourage critical thinking through rigorous instruction. Paul has a genuine interest in chess, this shows when he instructs children on tactical strategies. He has the ability and desire to teach chess in a way that supports literacy and math. He is able to give feedback to the children in their lesson time, so that each week the children improve and always look forward to Chess Power.
Paul has an advanced understanding of the game of chess as well as strong classroom management skills. I have seen him working with Year 1 students through to Year 6 and he is able to relate to children at their own level. This has been a wonderful programme here at St Joseph School. It has been great for the children and has improved their passion and knowledge of chess. I certainly recommend Chess Power.
Class Teacher/ Chess Club Co-ordinator
10 May 2012
"My son had so much fun with the class! He's super excited. I have to say that you are an incredibly good teacher, and very good with children."
A De Roux, Auckland