OPENING, MIDDLEGAME or ENDGAME?
There are three widely accepted phases in a chess game - opening, middlegame and endgame. Which of these should be taught to our students first, especially those beginners? Well, my first coach, Mr. Ismail Ahmad, taught me middlegame tactics first. What I basically did in our training sessions were finding solutions to those never ending supplies of chess problems he gave me. My second coach, on the other hand, taught me the openings. Mr. Rizal Ahmad Kamal showed me some openings I was interested in and revealed the sense behind the moves.
However, I personally coach my students the ending first. This is because they are mostly beginners, thus I believe that they should be able to handle each piece individually before handling all the 16 men. Yes, they will learn not only how to move each piece, but how to move them meaningfully across the board. As the checkmate is the common purpose of this game, moving the King meaningfully to escort the Queen/Rook in checkmating a lone opponent King should be very useful. They will also learn how to use the Queen/Rook to usher the opponent's King to the corner.
For the training on how to handle the Knights, I ask them to use their Knights to banish all the opponents pawns in the most efficient way possible. They can also do this against their fellow friends by being the first to execute all their friend's immovable pawns before theirs.
The pawn war should be the best way for them to learn how to best move their pawns. For the sole target of being the first to land one of their pawns at the promotional squares, they will, in the process, learn how to move, to exchange, and how to make a passed pawn.
And I'm still searching for the best way to coach my students how to handle the Bishops. Any ideas?