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Rapid Chess Improvement (Everyman Chess) Paperback – June 1, 2002

3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This is the ideal book for serious adult players who want to improve. It describes a study plan that came about thanks to a re-evaluation of standard chess teaching and includes several unique components aimed at improving deficiencies in the play of adult players.This book is the only one of its kind for the simple reason that it has been written by an author who hugely improved his own rating over a twelve month period by following his own advice. He therefore fully understands the challenges faced by enthusiastic players who are relatively new to the game. This is in sharp contrast to most books aimed at this level which are usually written by very strong players who have long forgotten what it feels like to be starting out in the game. (6 1/4 x 9 1/4, 128 pages, diagrams)

About the Author

Michael de la Maza is a chess writer whose articles have appeared in Chess Horizons, the top local magazine in the United States and Chess Caf¿ (www.chesscafe.com), the leading on-line site for chess book reviews. By following his own advice he gained 400 USCF rating points (50 BCF points) in 12 months. He lives in the US.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Series: Everyman Chess
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857442695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857442694
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book in a single night. If it was fiction, that would make it really good. As chess instruction material, it is certainly an interesting (and entertaining) read. However, I say this mostly because it reads very much like an infomercial for a piece of excercise equipment; especially the Success Stories ("I've been using my Whiz-Bang Chess Plan for only 3 days, and I just beat Kasparov in a blindfold game!! IT WORKS!!!").
Seriously, though, I will say this. I think he's probably got it 90% right. I suspect that if I did what he suggests, I would move from a mid-to-weak B-player (my last official USCF rating was 1640-something, several years ago) to at least solid A.
Clearly, tactics are king for anyone whose rating begins with a '1'. Furthermore, it must be true that for most of us mortals, lots of hard work is required to improve at chess (or anything else, for that matter). Neither of these ideas, however, is new -- despite the author's claim -- nor exactly Rocket Surgery (sic).
As another reviewer suggests, the author is a bit harsh on some well-respected authors with significantly higher credentials (even though he gives lip-service to the contrary), and I think he downplays some basic positional and endgame theory that all good players need to have (back to the infomercial: read the fine print in all excercise ads and it will say something about having a "healthy diet" in addition to using whatever goofy apparatus they are selling...read: don't eat so much and you will lose weight! Duh!).
However, his basic thesis is pretty much right on: positional knowledge doesn't help if you can't make tactics -- eventually, you have to win material to win the game. And don't even think about studying openings: yes, it is irresistable (I know!
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Format: Paperback
I have numerous chess books devoted to openings, middlegames, and endgames. After reading these books, my game hasn't progressed to the point where I want it to be.
I've begun to implement De La Maza's training methods, and I think he is onto something, especially with the simplistic chess vision drills. I'm a talented, but very inconsistent 1400 player, and have been outplaying and defeating 1900 rated opponents on the US Chess Live site since doing these drills.
Tactics and pattern recognition are crucial to chess mastery. Following his program will drill standard combinations into your brain, so you won't be sitting at the board wondering "What do I do now?" Even better, you won't hang the queen on move 10, or drop a piece on move 12 like you normally would do.
While his program is good, I think he is a bit unfair to authors such as Silman--who also writes very good books. There is no conflict between studying tactics AND learning the rules of good play that other authors teach.
I'd advise someone who can't follow through with the complete program to emphasize tactics, but reward yourself by studying other books as well. Silman's books are great. Bronstein's 1953 chess tournament book is fun to study as well. Best of all--Jeno Ban's Tactics of Endgames. That will help your tactical ability and engame technique at the same time.
Overall, a helpful text.
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Format: Paperback
I think that maybe a feud is starting between Jeremy Silman (JS) and Michael de la Maza (MM). MM is critical of traditional study methods (including JS's) and JS has written a scathing review of this book.
It is hard to argue with success. If MM can move from D to A in a year and then onto Expert in another year, then he clearly is onto something. On the other hand, JS is so much higher on the rating scale that he says that most masters don't have a clue.
I very much like MM's observations about the failures of traditional study methods. In recent years I have taken a very knowledge intensive approach to studying chess, but I have made no improvement to my rating. He argues that I have been studying the wrong things, and I think that he might be right. His book seems eye opening, or it is at least "food for thought."
MM notices that class ranked players make gross tactical oversights, not just in blitz games but in tournament games as well. My observation at tournaments pretty much agrees with this. He believes that studying tactics will allow players to eliminate these errors and rise to at least the class A level. This is borne out by my own chess experience where I made it to class A mostly on tactics.
I very much like the 42 tactical problems, although for a book of this price I would expect maybe 300 problems and less verbiage. Parts of the book are repetitious.
MM's study plan is a bit rigid and not practical for most people:
1. According to his own numbers he spent about 3.5 hours per day on chess. Most of us don't have that kind of time, so I think that a more practical study would 10 to 60 minutes of daily tactical study depending upon how much time we can devote to the game.
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2 Comments 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I always find it interesting to read the reviews of books on Amaazon.com. Since different people have different opinions, it is sometimes hard to figure out if a book is worth buying. I think the point of this book (and the drills in it)was missed by a couple of reviewers.
The book asserts that the study of tactics, not memorizing openings, not learning middlegame theory, not endgame study, is the way to improve for adult class players. This is the main claim the author makes. Traditional methods of chess study did not work for him. He figured out what would work for him, and he is simply sharing his method with the reader. A rather time-comsuming, seemingly mind-numbing method, to be sure, but the author never says it will be easy. Let's face it: if you want to be good at something, you have to put some time and effort into it. This is how this particular person did it. He is a non-master writing for other non-masters, telling us how he improved at chess.
Basically, the guy spent five months of his life studying tactics. It did wonders for his game and for others he shared it with, so why not write a book? I give it four stars because it is written well, and it does exactally what the author wants it to: tell us how he improved at chess. I do not agree with everything he says, but I won't let that bias my review.
Should you buy it? Well, this is certainly a good, methodical way to study tactics. And there is no doubt your game will improve if you follow it. Spend this kind of time and effort doing anything, and you will get better at it.
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