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NM Nikolas Theiss

NM Nikolas Theiss

Peak Rating: 2245 USCF

Teaching Rating Range: 1200 USCF to 1900 USCF

Accepting Students? Yes!

Rates: $75 / one-hour lesson,

$600 / 10 one-hour lessons

Lessons Offered: Online only

About Me

I learned the rules of chess as a child but didn't begin playing tournaments until I was in 7th grade. My first official rating was only 834 and in my mid-twenties I was rated in the 1800s. I knew I hadn't fulfilled my potential and replaced simply playing with a structured approach to improvement.

The first serious tournament I played after implementing my new approach was the U1900 section of the Chicago Open. I won the section, $3300, and gained over 100 rating points, crossing 1900 for the first time. Invigorated by my success, I continued training and a little over two years later I hit 2200 and earned the National Master title.


I've taught chess for over a decade and worked with hundreds of students. I can confidently assert 90% of chess players have the potential to reach National Master and become a titled player. In my experience, two factors hold them back:

1. Not knowing how to allocate their time in a way that drives efficient progress.

2. Lacking the discipline to put in consistent effort over an extended period of time.

My controversial opinion is that for amateur players, chess improvement is a straightforward process. That doesn't mean improvement happens easily or overnight. But if you put in consistent effort and spend your time well, you will improve. Over hundreds of students I've found the strongest predictor of success isn't their talent or age. It's how consistently they did their homework and followed their training plan.

Good Student Match

My students tend to be disciplined adult improvers or motivated scholastic students, but I’ve worked with all ages and skill levels, including casual players who played purely for fun! If you tell me what your relationship with chess is, I will find the way to best support you.

Playing Experience

As a teenager, I won a few class sections at large tournaments and also the K-12 section of the 2006 National Youth Action Blitz Tournament with a perfect 12/12 score.

Teaching Method

I apply a structured, professional approach to my coaching clients. During your first lesson we'll discuss your goals and analyze your games to create a training plan.

I'm a strong believer in setting process goals instead of performance goals and that will be reflected in your training plan. I'll ensure you're spending your time outside of lessons as effectively as possible by assigning specific homework after each lesson. I use your lesson time conscientiously to maximize the value you receive. During lessons, we won't waste time on "training games", rote opening memorization, or other activities you can complete asynchronously.