Each year Chessable showcases the very best chess courses in a variety of categories, but one award stands out among them: The Author of the Year Award. It is awarded by a team of Chessable experts as a sort of Lifetime Achievement Award, based on their repeated and outstanding contributions to the Chessable community.
The winner of the 2022 Chessable Author of the Year Award is International Master Christof Sielecki.
An Introduction to IM Christof Sielecki
Sielecki is a full-time creator for Chessable and has made over 10 courses for the platform, with a focus on helping players learn how to develop an opening repertoire (the first few moves of a game).
Many of his courses, such as his Keep It Simple series, focus on teaching players how to play fundamentally sound opening moves in lines they are likely to face in real life. This sets players up not only for the first few moves of the game, but to have an idea about middlegame plans and beyond.
In these courses, Sielecki makes a point of not going too deep into theory, making sure players only need to know essential lines, but the concepts he teaches will last players deep into their chess career, making them suitable even for higher-rated players.
The Success of His Courses
What makes his courses so well-liked by users? His easy-to-understand presentation is one factor. Sielecki believes that telling a story is crucial to effectively teaching chess.
“You should have a storyline, you should tell a story with your opening variation”, says Sielecki. “It makes it much easier to learn if you have a storyline in your head.”
Sielecki has been collaborating with Chessable since 2016, not long after its inception.
However, his story begins long before that. Sielecki picked up chess at the relatively late age of 13. Most seriously competitive players start around 8. It took him another eight years to get his FIDE Master Title.
It wasn’t until 2012 at 38 years old that he finally attained his International Master title (the second-highest title awarded after Grandmaster).
The story is inspiring for anyone feeling they are coming into chess late in life. Perhaps that is why he is such an effective instructor.
The Genesis of Keep It Simple
Before joining Chessable, Sielecki was a chess teacher and curated his own YouTube channel, Chessexplained, where he presents videos on a wide array of topics related to the game.
Part of his teaching resumé includes a stint as a coach for the German Youth Championships in 2017. In fact, it was during this time he came up with the idea for his Keep It Simple series of courses.
He noticed that most kids were playing 1.e4 (the king’s pawn opening, i.e. moving the pawn two squares in front of your king as White on the first move).
“I had to give them some opening preparation and advice, what to play, and I recognized that I didn’t have one opening book that I could use to help them with. I didn’t need super detailed instruction, but some good ideas against common openings they could use”, said Sielecki.
“I felt such a book was missing, like one single book that could help you solve an opening problem and give you some good advice that you could use in a practical game.”
From there the idea was born for his first Chessable course, Keep It Simple – 1.e4, which was launched in 2018 as the first video course on the platform.
“Before this course was released, I was devoting most of my time to chess teaching. After the course was so hugely successful and well-received, I wanted to create more courses.”
And create more courses he did. Just one year after the launch of Keep It Simple – 1.e4, Sielecki released the natural follow-up, Keep It Simple – 1.d4. This course kept all the things users loved about Keep it Simple – 1.e4: an approachable teaching style, intuitive lines users are likely to face, etc., but this time was for the Queen’s Pawn Opening.
From there he has continued to release hit courses, including the 2019 “Fight Like Magnus”, for which reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen was the “ambassador”. A course on how to play like Carlsen in the Sicilian Defense.
Sielecki received his first accolade from Chessable with the 2021 release, “Keep It Simple for Black”, another iteration of his first course, but this time from the perspective of the Black pieces. It took home both Best Opening Course and Course of the Year for 2021.
At a rate of 2-3 course releases per year, Sielecki is one of the more prolific authors on Chessable.
Winning the 2022 Chessable Author of the Year and Future Plans
His dedication to creating high-quality content for users has continued since then, culminating in him receiving the 2022 Chessable Author of the Year award.
How does Sielecki feel about receiving it?
“It’s an honor to be the person to receive the award because the platform has grown so tremendously over the last 6-7 years” said Sielecki. “I think the quality is increasing all the time, and it’s really great to be selected.”
Sielecki acknowledges users’ role in being bestowed this award.
“This is of course only possible because the courses are so well-received by students.” “I’m really thankful for all the great feedback I get.”
So what can users expect next from Sielecki? Perhaps retirement after receiving such high praise? Not quite.
“I already have some plans for the future.” “There’s a whole list actually. I will likely release two smaller courses in 2023.” “I will also at some point make a 2.0 version of Keep It Simple – 1.d4”.
It looks like we can continue to expect Sielecki to be active in the near future, which is good news for users, as his dedication to the platform and responsiveness to users make him one of the most beloved authors on Chessable.