Home > Reviews > The 5% and how to read the Grandmaster Preparation books

The 5% and how to read the Grandmaster Preparation books

Inspired by reviews from Rieger, Hickl and a few others, I think it is worth me trying to explain what the GRANDMASTER PREPARATION series is all about and who I think it is written for. I also have some additional points that will meet some of the criticism put forward in those reviews. At the end of the day, I do not think the sales or reception of the books are moved at all by a few bad reviews. I am not hurt, offended or anything like that. But I have noticed the big interest here on the blog and think it is worth relating to some of the questions.

The conception

The books are compilations of the training material I have collected for a number of international masters and grandmasters over the years. It was the continuous requests for more material that sparked the somewhat systematic harvest of material that I perform whenever I have the time. I was trying to meet a demand from strong players.

Who is the series written for?

There has been criticism that because 95% of all chess players are rated under 2100, it is wrong to write a book that clearly aim for 2300+ – or at least players with 2150+ who are willing to work hard. I have to say that I cannot be anything but amazed by this argument. I cannot think of a counter-argument, nor do I think I need one.

The main point is that the series is called Grandmaster Preparation and therefore clearly indicates who the target audience are. The ones preparing for being grandmasters; either by being so already, or because they are ambitious. It is not a get the FM title program. We have one of these; it is written by Yusupov and as any regular reader of this blog will tell you: we recommended it more often than we recommend my books.

Having given this disclaimer, I think it would be misleading to say that I did not take into account that some 1800s will buy the books as well. And I think I have tried to reflect this in the selection of exercises. Take a look at this one for example:

[fen size=”small”]6R1/8/3K4/8/6p1/6k1/8/8 w – – 0 1[/fen]

White to play and win (solution at the end)

With only four pieces, I am not sure how much easier I can make it, while still keeping it in a book with GM in the title.

Rieger writes:

Das Buch ist empfehlenswert, wenn sie ein Titelträger und ambitioniert sind, gewisse Endspielschwächen natürlich vorausgesetzt. Für alle anderen gibt es auf dem Schachbuchmarkt genügend andere, sehr gute und empfehlenswerte Endspielbücher (u.a. Understanding Chess Endgames von John Nunn, Die Endspiel Universität von Mark Dworetzki oder auch Fundamental Chess Endings von Karsten Müller und Frank Lamprecht).

I agree entirely. I wrote more or less the same thing in the foreword. Rieger’s 1/5 evaluation of the book is thus based on agreement with the author or that he did not read the foreword!?

Rieger gives the following position (and another from the same page, page 271) as an example of how greatly difficult the book is.

[fen size=”small”]8/6pk/P3R3/6p1/4K1P1/7r/8/8 w – – 0 47[/fen]

White to win

In order to make it to these two positions, you need to have gone through (I kid you not) 118 rook endgames, as well as six chapters of other stuff. When are the exercises allowed to reach GM-level in a book with training material for GMs and GMs to be?

But do people solve these exercises? In my experience they do. The score is maybe 30% for IMs and 60% for GMs, when we talk the more difficult exercises. And there is no doubt in my mind that Endgame Play is the most difficult of the books, which is only one reason why I chose to publish it last.

Computer analysis

It has been criticised that the books have computer analysis in them. I am wondering what type of criticism they would face if they were not computer checked. Look at Gaprindashvili’s book Critical Moments – or most old puzzle books and see what waste of time it is to work with a book where the conclusions are wrong.

There is somehow implied in the criticism that computers cannot teach us to play chess. I agree and disagree. It depends on how you use them. Although they are an invaluable tool for the chess writer, I am very much aware that we cannot take them with us to the games.

But please do not forget this: The computer simply points us to good moves. Should we somehow ignore these because the computer mentions them?

Or about use of tablebases and tablebase generation for Endgame Play. Would anyone rather have that I did not check if the exercises are correct? I know this is not the criticism, but the criticism is built on the fact that the material is computer vetted. Thus the alternative should be taken into account.

Are the exercises just exercises for computers? I have no problem presenting much harder exercises than those in the books. I have plenty of them. But this is not the purpose. I try to hit a specific level, which I think those wanting to play on a high international level should aspire to. More about this later.

How to approach the exercises

Hickl wrote that he had Attack & Defence lying next to his bed for a few weeks, but scored only 10%. I am not surprised. The exercises are meant to be challenging and to train the student in concentration, as described in the foreword to Calculation. A grandmaster that looks at diagrams before going to sleep does not play like a grandmaster in a tournament situation. It is hobby chess and not serious training.

Limited instructional text

Lacking in “rules of thumb” I think was one of the criticisms from Rieger. Yes, but of course. Calculation is the workbook for Excelling at Chess Calculation. Attack & Defence is the workbook accompanying Attacking Manual 1 and Endgame Play is a workbook for Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual and Excelling at Technical Chess. I always hate it when the author is repeating the same ideas and material as they did in the previous book, and the one before. I hate that all popular text books are talking to the reader as if it is the first book they have ever read on the subject. The worst case I came across recently was a business book where the author gave a 2 page summary of A Christmas Carol, as if every reader just learned to read yesterday! (Ok, so you have not read it, but I am sure you saw the Muppets’ take on it…)

The Grandmaster Preparation series presupposes that the reader is familiar with these other books – or buys them. Yes, I wrote three of them, but I only really make money from selling one of them.

I know that not everyone will do this; or that many have already read the books years ago and will need to have their knowledge refreshed, so I give small introductions to point to this.

And then I do the thing that I think I am really being criticised for: I assume that the combination of theme and solution will be enough for the reader to understand what I am trying to say. The alternative would be half the exercises and twice as long solutions. It would have been a much easier book to write, as the challenge is to find the exercises in the first place. As this series of books are aimed at bright guys and girls, I decided what created the most value for the reader was more exercises, not more waffle.

This clearly makes the books high level and this is not to everyone’s taste. But it is a conscious choice.

The level of the exercises

With Attack & Defence as well as Endgame Play I had the pleasure of going through the exercises with a lot of Danish players in my job as Coach for the Danish Federation. I saw what people struggled with and I think the level of the majority of the material in these books are exactly where I wanted them to be. Some guys solved the rook v pawn endgame above quite quickly; one guy who now has 3 IM-norms could not solve it. But the idea of shouldering as explained in the text introducing that chapter in EP really became apparent to him afterwards.

Currently I am going through Attack & Defence with a student rated 2500 with NO feeling for dynamics. Of the 29 exercises in Chapter 1 he solved about 23 correctly. He obviously struggled most in the end, where he failed 4 of the last 6 exercises.

He spent from 10-15 minutes on the first 20-22 exercises and then more time on the last few exercises. If he had been going through the book on his own and was rated 2300 (as an example) he might find the last 5-7 exercises too difficult, scoring 50-70% up to then (based on my experience with the Danish elite). Then it is maybe time to skip the last few exercises and go to the next chapter where we start at an easier level again. I have said it before: this is the way the books have been structured. Everyone are not meant to attempt all exercises.

Rieger starts with exercise 350 or so and criticises that it is too difficult. Somehow I do not feel guilty.

Hickl

I want to say that Hickl has never seemed to be an attacking player to me. His strengths seem to be based in the more technical areas. Thus Attack & Defence would offer him more initial resistance, but maybe also eventually more rewards. It is sad that it did not work out this way.

By this I do not mean that Hickl has never checkmated anyone:

Hickl – Aagaard, Breda 1998

1. g3 d5 2. Nf3 c6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. b3 Nf6 5. Bb2 e6 6. d3 Qa5+ 7. c3 Nbd7 8. O-O Be7 9. a3 O-O 10. Nbd2 Rfe8 11. h3 Bh5 12. Qc2 Bf8 13. c4 b5 14. b4 Qb6 15. c5 Qc7 16. e4 dxe4 17. dxe4 e5 18. Nh4 a5 19. Nb3 a4 20. Nc1 g5 21. Nf5 h6 22. Na2 Rad8 23. Nc3 Bg7 24. Nd1 Bxd1 25. Raxd1 Nf8 26. Rd6 Ng6 27. Rfd1 Kh7

[fen size=”small”]3rr3/2q2pbk/2pR1nnp/1pP1pNp1/pP2P3/P5PP/1BQ2PB1/3R2K1 w – – 0 28[/fen]

28. Bf3 Ra8 29. Qd2 Rab8 30. Bc1 Nf8 31. Bb2 Ng6 32. Qe3 Red8 33. Qd3 Re8 34. Kg2 Ra8 35. Kh2 Rg8 36. Be2 Bh8 37. Qe3 Rae8 38. h4 Ne7

[fen size=”small”]4r1rb/2q1np1k/2pR1n1p/1pP1pNp1/pP2P2P/P3Q1P1/1B2BP1K/3R4 w – – 0 39[/fen]

39. Nxh6 Kxh6 40. hxg5+ Rxg5 41. Kg2 Kg6 42. Bc1 Rh5 43. Bxh5+ Kxh5 44. Qh6+ Kg4 45. f3#

1–0

If Hickl usually solves exercises before going to sleep; then he trains the same way as me walking to the train station is exercising. Sure, it is healthy; but do not be surprised that I cannot run a marathon. It does not mean that all races should be 5k.

Conclusion

Is this a case of “I do not like sci-fi, therefore I do not like this book” as someone suggested on the blog. This is not an unfair assessment. The criticism is that the books are difficult and only for the elite. Read the label!

But jest aside, I am pleased with this. Because it gives me another chance to reinforce this point: With the exception of Positional Play (to some extent only) this series is really really difficult. If you are rated 2200 or below, start with the Yusupov books. My 2600+ students did not score 100% when I gave them some exercise sheets from the Mastery series. Artur’s idea of “up to 2100” is wildly inaccurate. It is up to IM-level and beyond.

Solutions

1) To call this a study is sort of ridiculous, but I like this simple training positions to explain elementary topics. Especially when it is possible to get it wrong. In this case we are talking about shouldering. White cannot allow the black king to come to the f- or e-file, so the only way to win is: 1. Rf8! Kh2 2. Ke5 g3 3. Kf4 g2 4. Rh8+ Kg1 5. Kg3 Kf1 6. Rf8+ Kg1 Here more or less any move wins, as long as it is not 7.Rf2? Kh1. 7. Rf7 Kh1 8. Rh7+ Kg1 9. Rh2!

2) Forgive me for not giving the solution in its entirety here. The main point is that 47.Kd5?? as Ivanchuk played fails to 47…Rc3!. If White plays 47.Kd4! with the plan to go to the queenside or 47.Kf5! – or even 47.Rc6 Rg3 48.Kf5! he will win. There are details of course, but they can be found by strong players, as I have seen several times.

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  1. David Adamson
    June 4th, 2014 at 18:22 | #1

    ‘The main point is that the series is called Grandmaster Preparation and therefore clearly indicates who the target audience are. The ones preparing for being grandmasters; either by being so already, or because they are ambitious.’

    Does the same apply to the Grandmaster Repertoire series – should one really be 2300+ to be able to use these books usefully?

    • Jacob Aagaard
      June 5th, 2014 at 10:45 | #2

      I think the same counts for both series: They are written for a specific audience. However, I read complex books on Economics written for professionals as a contribution to the debate and complex medical stuff about nutrition. Surely, I zone out in the maths and the biochemistry, but I still take a lot of useful and interesting things from it.

      In the same way with (especially) the Grandmaster Repertoire books. They are technical; the explanations are aimed at titled players and they are excluding the sort of explanations you can find in other books. But the material is still readable for players of other levels. Just do not get lost in the details. I have long recommended that you focus on the main lines (the moves in bold) and read the annotations as footnotes. If you know and understand the main stuff in these books, you have an amazing repertoire.

      Grandmaster Preparation have exercises of escalating difficulty in each chapter. When you feel you are hitting your head against a brick wall, move on to the next chapter – or simple go through the remaining positions without trying to solve them, just pay attention to how the theme of the chapter influences the best moves in the analysis/game.

  2. Titos
    June 4th, 2014 at 19:59 | #3

    I just don’t get all the criticism, are people complaining that the books are too difficult for them? I’m guessing that people thought the ‘grandmaster’ part of the title was just a way of getting the attention of potential buyers, a marketing trick.

    I’m currently reading Herman Grooten’s Chess Strategy for Club Players where the exact opposite happens. The title suggests a book for the average player, whilst the book is also excellent for the stronger player (up to 2300 I’m guessing).

    I’m rated 2100 FIDE and plan to follow up Grooten’s book with Aagaard’s GM Prep on Positional Play. I hope to be strong enough to follow up with the rest of the series afterwards.

    • Jacob Aagaard
      June 5th, 2014 at 10:40 | #4

      Positional Play should be accessible for 2100s. One friend (2650) found it harder than Strategic Play, but this was sort of weird. Also, he is a fantastic strategist and truly amazing player.

  3. June 4th, 2014 at 20:11 | #5

    In my opinion it is ridiculous the criticize a book just because it’s difficult. Easy books and easy exercises don’t produce GMs. The books are even titled “Grandmaster Preparation” so if they were easy, people would criticize their title. That being said, the only thing that I don’t like about these and pretty much any other exercise books is that dividing chapters based on themes makes exercises easier. While this is not a bad thing since “easier” is a relative term, the problem is that it takes away the “being in a situation similar to tournament conditions”. For example when I was solving exercises from the “Elimination” section of the Calculation book, I knew exactly what to expect and what to look for(regardless of the difficulty of the exercise) but this is not the case in real tournament situation. While I understand that tournament situations and training situations can not and should not be exactly the same, I would prefer a book to have mixed exercises of all kinds. This may be more of a personal preference though.

  4. Mathijs
    June 4th, 2014 at 21:13 | #6

    Would it be possible to link the actual reviews? I understand your reluctance to showcase a negative opinion about your books, but since this entry is written as a direct rebuttal to those reviews (which I have not read), it would make sense to put it in context.

    I think I agree with your side of the argument, but to be fair, your side of the argument is the only I read directly. I did buy two of the the GM prep series myself (Positional play and calcualtion), even though I’m only 2000 and not all that ambitious. I was quite prepared for the books being too hard for me and not disappointed when they were. I like the idea of one day working through them and I did do the first couple dozen exercises of PP on holiday once (with the recommended time restrictions and all that). People like me are probably a substantial share of your customers (just because there’s only so many ambitious 2300’s around), but I don’t think they should be disappointed. To me the books are like a small peek into the strong GM’s mind; like a Svidler press conference.

  5. Mathijs
    June 4th, 2014 at 21:15 | #7

    Oh, and I failed the first exercise and didn’t even bother with the second…
    (I was thinking 1…Ke5 2.Kf3 Rf8+ would win, but now I guess that fails to 3.Ke3, which I missed.)

  6. Waldorf
    June 4th, 2014 at 21:34 | #8

    I have read GM Hickl`s article on his url and I try to explain his point of criticism in easy words:
    – He was looking at Attack & Defence in the evening, but I guess that doesn`t seem he was already completely tired and on half way to bed
    – He is a GM and solves 10% of the exercises.
    – In the solutions there is no “human” approach to chess, but just Houdini power

    Who can profit from such a book and for which target audience can such a book be written for?

    I myself (DWZ 2000) don`t have the GM Prep books, as I know the Yussupow books are much more better suited for me, like Mr. Aagaard has told here many times.

  7. June 4th, 2014 at 21:43 | #9

    Jacob – I hope you will forgive me, but I would like to ask if you agree that all the 9 volumes may be classified for players (with minimum strenght and understanding chess – shown after brackets):

    1st three volumes (fundamentals) 1700-1900
    2nd three volumes (evolution) 1900-2100
    3rd three volumes (mastery) 2100-2300

    In my opinion is it much more realistic level of these books – even if it is not necessary to have rating at all. I just think of specific rating as a LEVEL of playing and understanding chess. I think your confirmation could have helped others to see the Artur’s series realistically. Please notice that most people expect solve practically every puzzle they would be solving. Try to imagine players’ shock and embarrasement if they are rated 1600 and score just about 60-65% of all possible points (earlier it was said and/or suggested that “fundamentals” were to players rated 1500) instead of 85% (or more) expected.

    Now come back to your post (GP series):
    If I could rate your explanations/corrections of wrong reviewers’ expectations – I would have given you at least 9 out of 10! In other words – you are “killing others false vision” (of your books) with powerful arguments and without being aggresive (mean). Now I know why you are seen as one of the few best and respected trainers in the world.

    Thank you very much for your writings (in any form) we can enjoy. Believe me – your blog is the most important to read and enjoy chess (not to mention chess not-related topics).

  8. SugarLips
    June 4th, 2014 at 22:35 | #10

    I have read those reviews and basically I never understood how a workbook (that’s what those books are in my opinion) can be reviewed after such a short period of time. In order to judge a workbook I work through the book and after I worked through the book and played probably a year (tournament chess) I’m able to judge what impact the book had on me. The reviewer is just saying I tried a few examples, but I was too lazy to really work, so I was unable to solve it.
    That said I don’t know how good those books are- I just know I can’t judge them before I worked through them.

  9. Ray
    June 5th, 2014 at 08:18 | #11

    Well put! From my own experience (after having worked through the complete Yusupow series and now working on Positional Play), I can confirm that the Yusupow series has plenty of challenges also for strong players, whereas much can be learned from Positional Play also by weaker players, even if it is aimed at ‘aspiring GM’s-to-be’. I have a FIDE rating of 2227 and can solve a little over 50% of the exercises correctly (taking 1 hour for 6 exercises). I did understand that Positional Play is the easiest of the GM Training series, so I expect the next book to be tougher, but still I’m convinced I’ll be learning a lot if I put serious time into it. I think it’s absolutely great to have books on the market which are aimed at stong players. To make an analogy with other books: if you think Kant is too difficult to you, there’s plenty of easier philosophy books on the market, e.g. Philosophy for Dummies. No reviewer would criticise Kant for being too difficult to read by those not versed in philosophy. To add rules of thumb such a shouldering, distant opposition, or bridge building would simply be ridiculous for the intended target audience.

  10. Vander
    June 5th, 2014 at 09:58 | #12

    Well, I have worked through “Positional Play” and it’s really good. It depends how you work with it. You can do it in even a more casual style, since it’s not only about solving. There are many examples of the complete middlegame of a game with explanations. You can play through the moves just to have a feeling for modern GM play…

  11. Jacob Aagaard
    June 5th, 2014 at 10:24 | #13

    Rieger’s review is here: http://www.Schach-Welt.de – Search “Aagaard” and you will find a number of them. I am not sure where Hickl’s can be found. I was sent it by email.

  12. Jacob Aagaard
    June 5th, 2014 at 10:33 | #14

    @Waldorf
    Various points to this:

    – I read “bedside table” in the translation. It might be wrong, but I am not sure my understanding of his approach was wrong.

    – Hickl scoring 10%. Reason: he is guessing. He is not concentrated and not really trying. No, the exercises are not at a level where a 2560 GM will score 10% if he is really trying. I do not take responsibility for his lack of effort and I do not accept his criticism.

    – Hickl alures to vague concepts not fully explained, as I read his review. I said it before: they are explained in Attacking Manual 1; the book presupposes that you have read that book.

    – Lack of human guidance. I really thought a lot about whether I should spell it out “for dummies” that in the chapter on “including all the pieces in the attack” I should say “you must include the knight on a4 in the attack” or similar in every solution. It would have limited the space for exercises and talked down to the reader. If he is not able to make the connection between the moves in the solution and the theme of the chapter; sorry, he should not be reading the book. And I think Hickl was quite able to make this connection, but his general frustration that he could not guess the solutions, but had to use real effort, made him want to criticise the book and therefore also this lack of hand-holding.

    It is maybe an over-interpretation, but a likely alternative is that Hickl bribed his way to the 2600 he had once upon a time, and it did not feel like it when we played :-).

    The Danish IMs around 2400 were scoring 60% in these exercises as a comparison; with the exception of the last 4-6 in each chapter.

  13. Jacob Aagaard
    June 5th, 2014 at 10:34 | #15

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    I would say 1500-1800, 1800-2100 and 2100-2300.

    But I personally would start with volume 1 if I was 2000 rated and plough through it quickly.

  14. Jacob Aagaard
    June 5th, 2014 at 10:35 | #16

    To make the joke clear; I do not think Hickl bribed his way to 2600. I suggest that he tried to solve the positions from the page without truly concentrating.

  15. Ray
    June 5th, 2014 at 19:42 | #17

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I think that’s very good advice! The first volumes can be done very quickly by stonger players, but there are enough challenges, and it gave me the chance to brush up my general chess knowledge.

  16. MHG
    June 6th, 2014 at 07:57 | #18

    The review can be found here:
    http://www.schach-welt.de/BLOG/Blog/Attack&defence-überFlugzeugabstürzeundBuchrezensionen

    His mistake is to ignore the words “Grandmaster Preparation”. He assumes that 90% of the target audience has a rating below 2100. He works as chess coach too and obviously his customers are not aiming at GM titles. Nevertheless he works together with respected persons like Hübner, Jussupov and Karsten Müller.

    You can find the books he recommends on this page: http://www.schachreisen.eu/schachtraining/tipps-schachtraining/buchempfehlungen

    Obviously he prefers books that teach the underlying chess concepts and not workbooks that requires that the reader has already learned these concepts.

  17. Jacob Aagaard
    June 6th, 2014 at 10:37 | #19

    Maybe we are dealing with a simply failure, known to be common among men, glorified with the acronym RTFM. In this case the Attacking Manual :-).

    His inability to check what he is dealing with is beautifully metaphorically pointed out by his inability to spell my name correctly. Btw. I like the books in his “not recommended” selection just as well as the books in his recommended section!

  18. Stigma
    June 8th, 2014 at 19:55 | #20

    A side issue: Are you saying Gaprindashvili’s Critical Moments is entirely worthless as training material? I had it lined up on my shelf to train calculation and using the initiative. Would be nice to be forewarned!

  19. Sameer
    June 9th, 2014 at 20:33 | #21

    @Stigma
    Coincidentally I too had picked it for similar purpose, for use in conjunction with ChessOCR software on my smartphone. (I even have a faint feeling that I made this choice based on what I remembered as Jacob’s recommendation somewhere on the web. ) So I too am interested in his answer to your question 🙂

  20. weng
    June 10th, 2014 at 07:36 | #22

    Not sure whether this is of any assistance but I think Jacob recommends Gaprindashvili’s first book (“Imagination in Chess”) in various places including one of the Excelling At books but not the second book (“Critical Moments”).

  21. Jacob Aagaard
    June 10th, 2014 at 09:59 | #23

    @weng
    Indeed so.

  22. June 11th, 2014 at 22:14 | #24

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that the exercises Attack & Defence are much harder than the volumes that preceded it and contain more examples where the player during the game didn’t find the answer.

    Personally I found the level of the first three volumes absolutely fine and a really instructive set of positions that can only lead to improvement. I would totally recommend them to any very keen player. This from someone who will likely never get a title of any sort!

    Attack & Defence certainly lives up to GM Preparation tag and they were really far too hard for me.

    I haven’t quite got to the Endgame book. Have instead been looking at the Playing the French book concentrating on the sample positions at the start of each chapter which are again a really excellent set of problems and worth the price of the book alone.

    The volume I am currently looking forward to by far the most is the Mauricio Flores Rios book Chess Structures – A Grandmaster Guide. Now hoping this won’t be too hard for me!

  23. Michael Bartlett
    June 12th, 2014 at 03:51 | #25

    @Mark Crowther Me too!!! Super excited. Wish Jacob would leak some details and maybe even a cover!

  24. Jacob Aagaard
    June 12th, 2014 at 08:26 | #26

    @Mark Crowther
    Looking in the book I can see that some of the exercises would be challenging for many; but not that the book is harder than Strategic Play. I think it depends a lot on your core strengths…

  25. Jacob Aagaard
    June 12th, 2014 at 08:26 | #27

    @Michael Bartlett
    Look through the blog and you will find loads. The cover is in the catalogue.

  26. Michael Bartlett
    June 12th, 2014 at 14:30 | #28

    I tried the blog before and went back as far as to the point when the publishing schedule did not mention the book without much luck. But I did download the catalog and the book looks exactly like what I was hoping for, so I am very excited.

  27. Jacob Aagaard
    June 12th, 2014 at 14:44 | #29

    @Michael Bartlett
    Google is your friend. Search for the authors name…

  28. June 12th, 2014 at 15:37 | #30

    @Jacob Aagaard I did a lot better with the Strategic Problems book than I expected to do. The whole series exposes the reader to a wide range of well chosen positions. Really love the series. As advocated in Axel Smith’s book I may go back over the volumes again.

  29. Sidney
    June 13th, 2014 at 01:07 | #31

    Can you comment on with what frequency you suggest your students play tournaments while actively trying to train? Do they ever take hiatus from tournaments and just do training exercises and then return to tournament play?

    • Jacob Aagaard
      June 16th, 2014 at 12:11 | #32

      In general I am trying to get my students to play as many games as possible. The main issue is that most of them do not live where there are tournaments all the time, sadly. I think training without playing does not make a lot of sense. Seeing how things work in practice is really important.

      So play all tournaments that feel inspiring to you, please.

  30. Michael Bartlett
    June 13th, 2014 at 06:18 | #33

    I tried that over a week ago. I’m not finding all this info that exists. It’s OK – I’ll just wait for more details to emerge – the mystery adds to the excitement. 🙂

  31. Ray
    June 13th, 2014 at 07:06 | #34

    @Michael Bartlett
    Under the post ‘2014 Catalogue’ (you can find this under the category ‘ publishing schedule’ at the top of the blog home page) you can find several entries on this, among others by the author himself.

  32. Michael Bartlett
    June 13th, 2014 at 16:01 | #35

    I found it and had a good read. Thank you! I was only looking in the text of each blog before.

  33. Michael Bartlett
  34. Seth
    September 13th, 2014 at 23:55 | #37

    In the article above, you wrote:

    “But do people solve these exercises? In my experience they do. The score is maybe 30% for IMs and 60% for GMs, when we talk the more difficult exercises. And there is no doubt in my mind that Endgame Play is the most difficult of the books, which is only one reason why I chose to publish it last.”

    Now that I have completed a few chapters in some of the books, I have started getting curious about the solving percentages by IMs and GMs. I am wondering where my own strengths and failings are.

    Maybe this would be a good topic for a future QC Blog post? Or maybe you have covered it already and I didn’t see it.

  35. Jacob Aagaard
    September 14th, 2014 at 10:11 | #38

    Ok, shall be considered

  36. Bulkington
    December 12th, 2014 at 21:24 | #39

    I am quite late in adding a comment to this thread, however, its a nice fit with the discussed topic and might be helpful for others too:

    GM Aagaard claimed here that the targeted audience for the Mastery Books from Jussupow were 2100 – 2300. And this is what you can read elsewhere basically in every review about the series.

    Well, I think that’s simply not correct for several reasons and I like to share with you some statistics I did on my own results.

    I have a rating of 2000 points, and basically I own this rating since I stopped doing exercises at the age of 19. Well that is 25 years ago, nevertheless I kept playing each year several tournament games.

    OK, here I am, a plane vanilla steady-state 2k rated player wanting to improve at the age of 45. So what to do? Yes, I started with the first book of the Mastery series and here are my results so far:

    I did 14 of the 24 sessions:
    two sessions with “very good”
    eight sessions with “good”
    four sessions with “passed”
    no “failed” so far

    In detail it was:
    48 Puzzles with 1 star (easiest): 88% of the maximum number of points
    92 Puzzles with 2 stars: 78%
    29 Puzzles with 3 stars: 59 %
    5 Puzzles with 4 stars: 55%

    I totally understand that even very strong players run into problems when trying to fully solve a four-star-puzzle within a 15 minutes time frame. However, there are not many of those difficult ones, only four of the 24 sessions comprise them. Further, Jussupow grants you points also for finding weaker alternatives. I was able to solve only one of the five four-star-puzzles in total, still got a 55% yield.

    Now, Jussupow says in his book that 1-2 hours for the theory part is sufficient. Confirmed. However, then he proposes another 1-2 hours for the 12 puzzles, but that is hardly accomplishable. Usually I process 6 puzzles in about 2 hours, excluding going through the solutions. To process a four-star-puzzle I grant myself about 40 minutes, then I stop, no matter what. Checking the 12 solutions in total can easily add up another hour. So it will be about 150 hours for the whole book, which is kind of reasonable I guess.

    Based on that I really think a player rated 2000 belongs to the targeted audience, as addressed in the title of the book.

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