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Chess Exam And Training Guide: Rate Yourself And Learn How To Improve (Chess Exams) Paperback – September 30, 2004
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"An ideal book for chess players of all levels." -- Lev Alburt, grandmaster, US Champion
From the Publisher
International Chess Master Igor Khmelnitsky is one of the top US Chess players, as well as a very experienced coach and writer. His first book offers a unique approach to self-evaluation and chess training. The target audience - everyone who likes playing chess and wants to improve - from beginners to masters. The book will save reader $1000s and many hours of research.
The book will be essential reading for everyone who plays chess because it will: a. help them to understand their current situation by identifying their strengths and weaknesses overall and in 12 distinct dimensions; b. give them clear explanations on how to improve, both in suggesting the appropriate training materials and in outlining the training methods; c. encourage players to establish and then follow a structured training plan; d. relieve player¡¦s anxiety by assuring that there is plenty of help available to those who are interested in understanding the game better and improve their skills; e. provide players with means of getting all their questions answered via timely advice from experienced coach.
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Top customer reviews
I've completed 80 of the 100 problems (technically there are 2 questions per page, so I suppose it's really 200 problems). The problems run the gamut from the opening to the king and pawn end games. There are strategical and tactical puzzles. Virtually every facet of the game is touched to some degree. Simple answers are not given. The explanations are pure gold. Khmelnitsky gives very instructive comments and analysis for each and every problem.
For most of the problems you are asked to first evaluate and then analyze. Points are awarded for each question. If I have comment on one aspect of the book is that the reader is asked to differentiate (usually) as to who is better and by how much. That is to say you might have four choices : White is winning, white is better, equal, black is better. Sometimes it's tough to distinguish between equal and better (slightly better). But even if don't get the evaluation correct, you can make up for it by selecting the best move.
If any of you know what the '20 minute' exercise is, this book is basically a TON of those. I'd spend about 20 minutes on each problem. You are forced to verbalize (evaluate) the position and then analyze the best candidate moves. This is so very helpful on a variety of levels. In many instances you pick the wrong move because it fails tactically. Thus, you need to be on constant alert. Pick moves that are safe but also meet the requirements of the position.
For the actual exam, it's the relative differences between the categories that count. My end game knowledge is weak. I've been practicing a lot of tactical puzzles lately and it was nice seeing a decent rating there (1800 or so). If you are honest with yourself, I do think this book will quickly ID where you need help. He also has a lot of text devoted toward getting better with book recommendations. The author also tabulates how people of various ratings solved the problems too, so you can see how your peers scored. Some of the puzzles are very tough and folks have similar rating (at the time 1630) may have struggled with the same problem.
I'd say this book is easily in my 'Top 5' off all time favorite chess books. I'm looking forward to finishing the Exam and then re-taking it in 6-12 months after I address my weaknesses.
The book has shown me my areas of weakness (opening, middle game, endgame, tactics, strategy) and my strength ( ). The book recommendations are terrific and mirror what many top players recommend. For those above my level, the testing should highlight the areas in which the player needs the most work. The research that has gone on behind the book is impressive. I now look forward to re-taking the tests after a few months (perhaps 6 months) to check my improvement.
A word of advice: don't write in the book. Use a separate notebook, or go to the website recommended, to print off a scoresheet, as the book is valuable and likely good for repeated "check ups" to learn the progress the student made. Since beginning this test, I have ordered the author's latest release.
Another great benefit: The author has wisely included an approximate rating after each 10 tests (there are 100 tests in all) which, psychologically, gives the student an element of satisfaction (of curiosity) instead of waiting until the end.
The reviewer who said this is not for a beginner is correct. But if you have gone past simply learning the moves and are at the lowest end of the ELO rating, it is still of value to you, as, even if like me, you score low, but can take the tests every 6 months.
***** star author, ***** star research ***** book!
Personally, I'm not sure that the book can give you a good measure of your rating. It can certainly rate your ability to solve puzzles. But, over the board in a tournament game, players are not told that the position holds a forced win. It's a lot easier when you know there is something to be solved. I found that I improved over the various sections and my rating moved from 1200 to 1850. I certainly got better at solving the puzzles, but I don't think that my rating improved that quickly. If you think the rating is accurate, beware of the "Barnum effect" (similar to horoscopes, clairvoyants' readings, Psych tests, etc) that suggests that people tend to believe general statements written about them, even though the meaning could apply to the majority of people.
Highly recommend downloading the Excel spreadsheet to help you score yourself (URL referenced in the book).