How to read Jacob’s books
I get a few emails/facebook messages every week, asking questions, coming with suggestions and so on. In general, I prefer to receive them on the blog, so my answers can be seen by anyone who is interested, so they can work out for themselves which direction is right for them.
A few days ago I got the following email, which is quite typical, as is my answer, even though I went into extra detail this time around. With permission I post it here for anyone who are interested…
My name is xxx xxx, aged 1x years and my elo is 21xx. I have bought a couple of books this month authored by you. I want to know which book should I start reading first. The books are:
Excelling at technical chess
Excelling at chess
Excelling at chess calculation
Attacking manuals 1 and 2
Inside the chess mind
Grandmaster versus amateur
Practical chess defense
Grandmaster preparation series-
First off, Inside the Chess Mind and Grandmaster vs. Amateur can be read for fun and totally out of sequence. The same goes to some extent for Excelling at Chess, which is mainly meant to inspire.
Excelling at Chess Calculation is the place I would start. Read it carefully. The exercises are not that great; I could skip them.
Then move on to Calculation. The chapters are created with more and more difficult exercises. Once you get stuck; go to the next chapter. The attitude in solving is important. Do it like it is important!
Once you are well into Calculation, you can start working on Positional Play as well. Work on them side by side. It does not matter which one you do most of, but do some of each. Calculation is later replaced by Practical Chess Defence and Positional Play by Strategic Play. Of all of these books, Calculation and Positional Play are the most important to really understand well.
You can read Attacking Manual 1 and 2 when your solving is getting steady. (If you do an hour a day, you will see rapid progress. Everyone who works with these books seriously have made big progress; including in India). Attacking Manual 1 works well together with Attack and Defence. Read AM1 and get A&D; but first go through the other books. You can always read Attacking Manual 1 more than once. Actually, I strongly recommend it.
Excelling at Technical Chess can be read later; it works well Endgame Play, which is also not on your list.
And please read Thinking Inside the Box when it comes out. It will tie all of the books together.
If you go through all of these books in the way I describe, you will have more effective training than most young chess players in the World. It is by no means easy and it requires a lot of effort. But I think the examples are aesthetically pleasing and the process SHOULD be fun and interesting. If it is not, please think about how you can make it more fun. To work with a friend is often a good way. Most progress for most people come when they are working in a group in one way or another.
I do plan on coming on a book tour of Asia in the spring, hopefully around mid-April. The main stop will obviously be India, where I have many friends and where a lot of people have expressed appreciation for my work. I hope to meet you at one of the lectures/training seminars I will be running giving then.
I also strongly recommend reading my two books written together with Boris Gelfand and published under his name. An Indian GM and friend of mine called the first one: “something truly special…” It is for others to decide if he is right. I definitely think it is worth reading… Also, if you go to our blog, you will find some videos I made together with Boris at the end of July this year. One of them shows how we created the books, the two others are Q&A.
I hope this was helpful.
I should add to this that the Quality Chess Puzzle Book easily fits into the Grandmaster Preparation series. The exercises were collected and analysed by me and the book finished by John, so that the tone is his, but the structure and ideas are mine and the direction something John and I have always worked together on. Those wondering where the difference is between John and me (none I presume), should know that there is no real difference. We work together and our stuff is always a collaboration.