The Yusupov Challenge

I have personally taken up a challenge after reading an interesting article. It is my goal to read 100 books this year. 50 novels and 50 non-fiction books. I used to be an avid reader, but lately I have been caught up in too many things and maybe watched a few too many TV-shows on Netflix. Every second novel must be what we call a “serious” novel. At least!

In that connection, I propose a reading challenge for those who wants to improve their chess, but have never really gotten around to it. The Yusupov challenge.

Artur Yusupov has written 10 volumes in his series of training material for those starting at 1200-1800, wanting to get to 2200+. They cover more or less everything and received the first ever Boleslavsky medal from FIDE, when they started handing them out. And not without competition. Kasparov was in second place and Dvoretsky in third.

Your goal should be to read one book per month. There are 25 chapters in each book, making it a total of 250 chapters. They take maybe 10-20 minutes to read, after which there are 12 exercises, which should take you 20-40 minutes to go through. Some of you might want to spend more time per chapter, but the point stands. You can do six of them a week and make it easily. In a year, you will have learned an immense amount about chess.

Which order you should read the books in

When we acquired the books, we originally only planned to publish one from each series. We all make mistakes. For this reason, the order which the books are intended to be read is not entirely obvious. The order is:

Build up Your Chess 1, Boost Your Chess 1, Chess Evolution 1 – the orange books (Fundamentals series)

Build up Your Chess 2, Boost Your Chess 2, Chess Evolution 2 – the blue books (Beyond the Basics series)

Build up Your Chess 3, Boost Your Chess 3, Chess Evolution 3 – the green books (Mastery series)

The newest book, Revision & Exam 1 should probably be read last.

So, the order to which I suggest you read the books is:

Spring – The Fundamentals series

March: Build up Your Chess 1

Boost Your Chess 1

Chess Evolution 1

Summer – Beyond the Basics series

Build up Your Chess 2

Boost Your Chess 2

Chess Evolution 2

Autumn – Mastery series

Build up Your Chess 3

Boost Your Chess 3

Chess Evolution 3

Winter – Revision time

Revision & Exam 1

If you are up for it, sign up below.

  1. FredPhil
    February 27th, 2017 at 09:22 | #1

    Way longer than that to do all correctly for me. I ‘ve tried to begin Twice or Thrice . I don’t think I can do one per day

  2. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 09:28 | #2

    I believe anyone can. But yes, it will take a bit more time for some than others.

  3. James2
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:10 | #3

    Hi Jacob,

    I have a quick question for you. If I was a 155 BCF player, would it worth starting off on the orange books or would it be possible to go straight into the blue books? I wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, but then again it will take a lot of time (and money) to go through the first level? I think I know what the answer will be, but I wanted to ask anyway.

    Thank you.


    • Jacob Aagaard
      February 27th, 2017 at 10:46 | #4

      My recommendation is to go through the orange books first. It will be easier, so it makes it easier to build up a habit of doing six chapters a week. It will also get you on a roll with solving.

  4. Karl
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:31 | #5

    What’s good for John’s book should also work for me es well: I will finish the orange books in Spring 2018, the blue ones in Summer 2019, … 😉

    • Jacob Aagaard
      February 27th, 2017 at 10:47 | #6


  5. JB
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:32 | #7

    Aha, well I’m finally onto the last of the 9 main series books… and i’d say the time scale of about 1hr/chapter sounds about right (perhaps a bit less for the 1st three and quite a bit more on the last 3 in my case) + definitely has my recommendation if anyone is planning to give it a go. In my case i have been slowly averaging about 1-2 books/year though so it’s taking quite a while ;-).

  6. Dachs
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:48 | #8

    @James2: This translates to someting like 1800-1900, right? I am rated 1920 or so, so my experience with the orange books might be helpful. I found that while some chapters are just a nice refreshing exercise (simple tactics, endgames in my case), others were really challenging and hard (for me: positional chapters; I was surprised about that). My guess would be that it’s similar for everyone of that playing strength. (I think it was also mentioned somewhere in this forum that the German original titles – indicating that the orange series is for <1500 players – are hugely misleading.) I definitely didn't regret working through them! With the (sujectively) easier chapters, one per day was no problem, although sometimes it took me more than "20-40 minutes" to solve the exercises;)

  7. Dachs
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:51 | #9

    ps: Just started the blue ones. Good challenge now in every chapter:)

  8. James2
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:54 | #10

    This is great advice, thank you for taking the time. I have resolved to start on the orange series as you (and Jacob) mention.

    Thank you Dachs.


  9. James2
    February 27th, 2017 at 10:58 | #11

    If you have the time, could you let me know which openings are recommended or white and which ones for black in the second series of books please?

    Thank you.


  10. Upmate
    February 27th, 2017 at 11:08 | #12


    Where will you recommend to start with a FIDE rating 2100.
    From scratch or?

  11. Bernhard
    February 27th, 2017 at 11:41 | #13

    I will go for it! My ELO is now 1704 and I hope it will rise after this.

  12. Ulrik Larsen
    February 27th, 2017 at 11:51 | #14

    I am in!

  13. FredPhil
    February 27th, 2017 at 11:51 | #15

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Jacob Aagaard :
    I believe anyone can. But yes, it will take a bit more time for some than others.

    OK, I ‘ll give it another try, but I think I’ll cut sometimes chapters in two, or take days off. Time is a problem for me. Little is better than nothing.

    Another question: Why is there specific opening preparation in this sort of books? I don’t undertand the point.

  14. Ray
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:00 | #16

    I already finished the whole series except Revision & Exam 1, but I was thinking about doing it a second time. Do you think this would be useful or can I better spend my time on other things?

  15. PaulH
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:24 | #17

    Jacob-what is your view on Yusupov’s assertion “You absolutely must play through all the examples and all the variations on a chessboard” (bolded in the introduction of the books for emphasis)?

  16. Steve
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:35 | #18

    There is no way I can spend an hour on chess study, 6 days a week, unless I give up playing. Two days per week, maybe building up to three later. So I will take three years, but I will accept the challenge on that basis. My question to Jacob is, am I losing out by going more slowly, apart from the obvious fact that it will take longer to get there?

  17. Paul
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:37 | #19

    I am two books in but, I will still take up the challenge!

  18. pabstars
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:48 | #20

    Ray, have you done the Grandmaster Preparation series?

  19. MarkyMark
    February 27th, 2017 at 12:54 | #21

    Challenge Accepted

  20. Ray
    February 27th, 2017 at 13:06 | #22

    No, not yet (except for one chapter of Positional Play). But I made quite a lot of mistakes especially in the chapters on strategy and positional play, so I was doubting if I have really digested the material of Yusopov and am ready to move on to the next level…

  21. James2
    February 27th, 2017 at 13:16 | #23

    I agree with that. You remember things much better when you physically move the pieces. E.g. going through the Vancura rook ending would be much better seeing it happen on the board than just reading and seeing pictures in a book.


  22. Kassy
    February 27th, 2017 at 13:45 | #24

    10-20 minutes to read the chapter, while playing the moves on the board(as rec’d in the books) and doing what-if analysis and actually spending 5 minutes looking at the position(or until you solve it) is just simply impossible unless you are already a 2300 player.
    The time frames are much longer than Jacob suggests for a 1700s-1800s player, even in the orange series.
    My quickest, easiest chapter was maybe 40 minutes for the whole thing(basic pawn endings). ADmittedly if I hadn’t played over the positions that I already knew and didn’t write down my answers(once again, ignoring the rec of the book), I could have gone through it in maybe 15 minutes total.
    But to average 45 minutes a chapter at the B/A level is just not realistic. Expect far closer to 1.5-2 hrs at the A/B level for the orange books. They get harder from there.
    However, that said, they are excellent books and if you put in 1.5hrs-2/night for a year into them, you will almost surely be much better.

  23. Dachs
    February 27th, 2017 at 13:59 | #25

    Hi James,

    in my view, openings are not at all the focus of the series. Yusupov writes that these chapters are just examples of how to work with openings, stressing that you should chose openings that suit your style, study model games / players etc.

    In book Blue 1 it’s the (Spanish) Four Knights with White and the Petroff with Black (and I don’t have the other two books yet), but not extremely deeply analyzed (one chapter each). In my opinion, if you really want to play this, you will look into other books anyway, and if not, you will still learn a thing or two;)


  24. Jonathan Bryant
    February 27th, 2017 at 14:24 | #26

    Well for once I find myself ahead of the curve – I started this on January 24th.

    FWIW (elo 1800s, ECF equivalent 1900s) for book 1 I read 6 of the 24 lesson chapters inside 30 minutes (mostly tactics and endgame themes) and did 7 chapter tests inside 45 minutes (nearly all tactics).

    The whole book took me 61 hours and 15 minutes to complete – so at the suggested rate per chapter that’s two months.

    Of course, I could skim the chapters quicker. 10 took me over an hour and 1 nearly 2.5 hours (Positional Play most likely to occur here) and focus on the tests which would save some time. Im not sure that’s the best way to use the books for me though.

  25. Jonathan Bryant
    February 27th, 2017 at 14:29 | #27

    Incidentally, I’ve just completed a weekend tournament in Bristol. My general level of play – if not results definitely much improved by the Yusupov work.

    All I need is a chapter entitled: Not Tossing Away Games For No Good Reason Then Going On Tilt And Blowing The Next One As Well

    and that will be results sorted too.

    Anyway, work on book two starts as soon as I get home tomorrow.

  26. Ray
    February 27th, 2017 at 15:08 | #28

    I.m.o. there is only one objective measure of level of play, and that’s results (reflected in ELO rating) :-). I also have the feeling that my general understanding of chess has increased by training, but somehow it doesn’t reflect in my results. So rationally speaking that’s a waste of time and maybe I could better spend my time on chess psychology, fitness, mindfulness, etc…

  27. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 15:24 | #29

    I disagree entirely. I also disagree with his rating bands, which are obviously wrong. But the material is fantastic.

  28. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 15:25 | #30

    I do think going through it again can be very useful. It depends if it has all gotten a bit easy for you or not, I would think. It is what is called the woodpecker method; see Pump up your Rating.

  29. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 15:27 | #31

    Everyone is different. I personally think very slowly as well. Others think faster, and worse 😉

  30. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 15:29 | #32

    If you have a big weakness that is sabotaging your game, working on understanding will not bring results. But once you come past this problem, your understanding will pay off.

  31. chess25652
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:12 | #33

    I’m an 1800-1900 player. I originally started with the first blue book, then bought the orange revision/exam and expected it to be easy. It’s quite difficult (on average I get about 60-65% of the points), and given how many strong players recommend starting with the orange books, I have to consider following this program seriously.

  32. Csaba
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:16 | #34

    What do I do if I finished the first two orange books a while back but still want to do the challenge? Pretty sure if I don’t sign up I won’t do anything, lol. Maybe orange 3+blue 1 spring, blue 2+3 summer, god help me winter?

  33. February 27th, 2017 at 16:19 | #35

    I am in Jacob!

    Nowadays I do not play OTB chess, but I play FICS Tournament League (I have played about 240 games so far in a 6-year period). My rating is in the range of 2040-2080 (FICS standard) and I feel I have a lot of holes in my game. Anyway I want to give it a shot and sign up for “The Yusupov Challenge”. I bought the last Yusupov’s book 2 months ago and I have got all of them!

    If I can reach 2200 at FICS (playing standard games) it will be a very clear sign that Yusupov’s great books changed (improved) my chess skills. And it is not really important if I could work all of these in one year time or it will take me much longer. The most important is to have fun and enjoy the process… and in the meantime improve my knowledge.

    It would be great if every chess reader (player) could share how much time was needed for him (her) to finish each of the book. This way we could compare our results and see what are the changes.

    Thank you very much for the Yusupov Challenge! :). Short time make is a way harder to finish!

  34. Jacob Aagaard
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:22 | #36

    This is an important question. Start on the third book. Keep the timeline. End at the end of October.

  35. James2
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:25 | #37

    I have ordered the first orange book this afternoon. It will hopefully be here by the end of this week and I will let you know how I found it. Therefore, I am signing up for the process.


  36. Boki
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:38 | #38

    I am in !

  37. cfh64
    February 27th, 2017 at 16:45 | #39

    I’m halfway through the second orange book, but I’m definitely in for this challenge, although I think that the suggested time-per-chapter would be a bit tight for me too.
    Jacob, you are saying that the 12 positions on each test should take us 20-40 minutes, but that’s also in disagreement with Yusupov’s recommendations (1-2 hours for each test or even more if you get stuck). Do you recommend a time-limit for each kind of position (1-star, 2-stars, 3-stars)? I mean, tactics tests are of course a bit more straightforward (either you solve them to the end or you don’t), but for positional chapters, I can get lost very easily and think a lot of time because there’s no clear target to reach. I guess that in order to adjust to your 20-40 minutes, we shouldn’t use more than 1-2 minutes for 1-star problems, 3-4 for 2-star problems and 5-8 for 3-star positions… is that right?

  38. Kassy
    February 27th, 2017 at 18:31 | #40

    Argument about time it takes to do a chapter for an A/B player aside(it’s longer than Jacob thinks), I am in.
    I’m near the halfway point in book 3 of the orange series so I’ll just finish early. By my rough calculation(and counting revision as 3 chapters=1 chapter of others which seems to be what Jacob is talking about above) I’ll be done in Oct.
    That is quite the pace. Be tough to get much of anything else done chess-wise but if this is the broad education suggested, than we’ll give it a go.

  39. February 27th, 2017 at 19:27 | #41

    Challenge Accepted!

  40. Jonathan Bryant
    February 27th, 2017 at 20:20 | #42


    If we’re doing this – albeit at difference paces – can we have a regular series of blog posts so that we can check in and discuss how we’re doing and whatnot.

    Could the last Monday of every month be Yusupov Monday? A Yusupov study group of sorts. I think that would help keep motivation up when the going gets tough.

  41. Amit
    February 27th, 2017 at 21:21 | #43

    Ok. I am in. I am not going to buy any more QC books unless I finish the Yusupov series. I have all 9. My Tsundoku levels are already very high and Jacob’s challenge is going to please my wife much more than me 🙂

  42. Csaba
    February 27th, 2017 at 22:03 | #44

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I was kinda worried you would say that, OK! Sign me up.

  43. Kinghartattack
    February 27th, 2017 at 22:22 | #45

    Thank you for the challenge. Count me in!

  44. Matt Phelps
    February 28th, 2017 at 00:54 | #46

    OK. I’m in! I am a USCF rated 1700 player that’s never really taken any time to improve. Lots and lots of books, most never opened more than a few times. I even already had the second orange book from way back. A chapter a day I can do.

    Onward to 1800! 🙂

  45. Wayne Hatcher
    February 28th, 2017 at 04:39 | #47

    Ok, I’m in……….sounds like a good disciplined study…..all 10 books!

  46. McBear
    February 28th, 2017 at 07:38 | #48

    Coincidentially I’ve recently started revising the first of the blue books. So I will complete this book first and then go back to the Orange books. I hope I will be able to do the first orange book in March nevertheless to keep up with the proposed schedule. The proposed challenge motivates me to do all of them this time. In the past I always stopped studying one book. Good idea!

  47. McBear
    February 28th, 2017 at 07:39 | #49

    stopped studying “after” one book

  48. Tubbygold
    February 28th, 2017 at 07:56 | #50

    Hi Jacob – Excellent idea, I´m in.

  49. Frank
    February 28th, 2017 at 10:17 | #51

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Hi Jacob,

    is there any difference between doing it with the German version and the QC version?

  50. David
    February 28th, 2017 at 10:26 | #52

    Currently I have 2210 in Elo. Do you have a similar challenge for the GM-prep series? (Have already done Positionaly Play and own Calculation and Strategic play and will buy Endgame play any day now.)

  51. Csaba
    February 28th, 2017 at 11:11 | #53

    Hi David, actually Adhiban recently wrote on facebook that he had some trouble even with one of the blue books (the “easiest” blue book), so maybe you could do this challenge too? (I am 1700, I don’t have any idea what it’s like to be your rating, so feel free to ignore this advice)

  52. Csaba
    February 28th, 2017 at 11:12 | #54

    The exact quote by GM Adhiban is

    “In the first test that I solved I got totally bullied! I could hardly get the passing marks! It was a complete eye-opener and shows that the book was of high quality.

    I brought back my highest level of concentration and then scored full marks in every chapter! It was indeed great fun to solve the book.”

  53. MaxiS92
    February 28th, 2017 at 11:15 | #55

    Count me in. Aside from doing “Build up 2” completely when it first came out in Germany, I never really finished the others after getting the QC prints for lack of motivation (started similar projects a few times though).

  54. February 28th, 2017 at 11:39 | #56

    Time for me to start studying seriously again. I’m in.

  55. David
    February 28th, 2017 at 13:09 | #57

    It is true that I probably would miss 10 or 20 % in the higher Yusupov books (Beyond Basics and Mastery), but as Aagaard writes himself: “the best level of difficulty is 110-120 %”. Therefore the GM-prep books.

    When, for instance, I solve Positional Play, I usually score 4-5 /6 correct exercises. This book has been estimated to be good for at least 1800, but it feels just slightly too easy for me. I do feel more sure of myself after having worked through most of it, though.

  56. Hamish
    February 28th, 2017 at 15:16 | #58

    Is there an equivalent suggestion for ~2100 FIDE (ambitious, at least once my degree is over!)

  57. Niall Doran
    February 28th, 2017 at 15:36 | #59

    I quite like the idea of doing a book a month, especially as I’ve done 2.5 books in probably as many years! However I think that powering through a chapter a day is only really possible for the tactical chapters, as you already know what to look for in the exercises.

    For the endgame chapters, there are often very concrete positions that must be learnt by heart, notably positions with fortresses. For me, these positions require a lot of repetition to learn, much like learning vocabulary/grammar in a foreign language. Very rarely do we learn a new word by seeing it once, or even loads of times in quick succession, if we never see it again. If I tell you that ‘Kamelåså’ is the Swedish word for ‘chair’, will you remember it next week? Probably not. If you work in a Swedish furniture shop and see the word every day, you will probably remember it though!

    Regular revision would seem to be the only way to go, and to this end I’ve actually created Chessbase files with the different positions, classed by endgame chapter, so that I can go over stuff I have doubts about.

    For strategy based exercises, very often I have to think long and hard about the position, trying to figure out what is relevant, whether to break in the centre, play a defensive move, play a quiet king move etc. as there are no hard and fast rules. This is a lot harder than the tactical chapters where you know you have to sac something on f7 or whatever. From what I’ve seen on different forums, most…

  58. Niall Doran
    February 28th, 2017 at 15:37 | #60

    From what I’ve seen on different forums, most people find the strategy chapters to be a lot harder than the rest of the books. Also reading through the full answer, which is sometimes a sizeable chunk of a full game with lots of annotations, takes more than 5 minutes!

    So for me, the times given by Jacob are excessively optimistic, whereas the times given by Yusupov (2 hours for the lesson plus two hours for the exercises) seem a good average.
    So I’m going to accept the challenge anyway, but halving the number of chapters to three a week on average, considering that when I’m on holiday or playing chess, I won’t be able to study!

  59. McBear
    February 28th, 2017 at 16:23 | #61

    Niall, I agree with you that you need more time for the strategic and Endgame chapters. On the other hand, every other chapter deals with tactics. And according to my experience, you can do these fairly quickly. For instance, after work I manage to solve a tactical chapter and read the introduction to a positional chapter. On the next day I can then do the exercises and so on. There are days on which I can’t study at all but there are also weekends and days off. All in all, it won’t be easy but I guess therefore it is a “challenge”.

  60. Boz
    March 1st, 2017 at 01:41 | #62

    Six chapters of Yusupov a week is pretty aggressive. I actually did the very first book on that pace several years ago when I had some time on my hands (due to a furlough at work). I found the book worked best when I worked on Yusupov’s chapters side by side with some of the explanations found in other books. It’s an ideal way to integrate your chess library and force yourself to go through some of the untouched but worthwhile books you may own. So, 1-1.5 hours can easily turn into 2.5 hours. I’d love to try the others that way but I’m not sure when I’ll have that kind of time.

  61. Mike Hehir
    March 1st, 2017 at 02:28 | #63

    Starting the Challenge tomorrow!

  62. Jacob Aagaard
    March 1st, 2017 at 11:55 | #64

    Obviously people should be allowed to make their own challenge. Just make it concrete so you know if you are keeping it or not!

  63. Milan Hruby
    March 1st, 2017 at 18:26 | #65

    Challenge accepted. Starting right now!

  64. March 1st, 2017 at 20:25 | #66

    Count me in!

  65. Frank
    March 1st, 2017 at 21:00 | #67

    Challenge accepted, start now.

    I guess a very big problem will be how to handle playing open tournaments without loosing track of the schedule. I will play three open for sure, probably four or five.

  66. Boki
    March 1st, 2017 at 22:31 | #68

    First day over. First chapter is rather easy, still missed one defence so 14/16 points

  67. Remco G
    March 1st, 2017 at 22:32 | #69

    My own challenge will be to finish a chapter per week. So far I’ve done up to chapter 7 in the second book; so half that book done in five weeks (start of april), all of that in eighteen weeks (about the second week of july). Then the third orange book in the second half of the year.

  68. Csaba
    March 1st, 2017 at 22:55 | #70

    OK just about passed chapter 1 today (13 points, 12 passing); I hope I will do better once I get warmed up. But does the challenge still work if I fail several of these chapters? I mean, sometimes I give an honest try to a position and I simply don’t see the move. If I sit and think about every position without any time restraints, that is: a) going to take a lot more time per chapter than 1 hour and b) not quite game conditions (you don’t have someone sitting on your shoulder telling you “you have a win here! take as much time as you want”). Maybe too specific a question but I think others also potentially have this problem.

  69. Peter
    March 2nd, 2017 at 00:29 | #71

    What a nice idea, i’m in with the german books. I just turned 56, my ELO mostly between 2200 and 2250. So i am curious, will there be a positive effect even for the older, a little worn out brains? I will let you know.
    And thanks for your wonderful books

  70. pabstars
    March 2nd, 2017 at 06:47 | #72

    Csaba, I’m sure that doing the exercises will improve your play significantly, also when you don’t pass tests. I find some of his chapters on endgames very difficult and just trying to solve the exercises and afterwards seeing the solutions will be an eye-opener!

  71. Csaba
    March 2nd, 2017 at 09:04 | #73

    I mean it’s hard to believe that doing 1 chapter a month, say, but getting perfect scores for it, would be better for me than 1 chapter a day but failing the tests half the time (after giving them a fair crack). 🙂 Is there anyone else who started with the third orange book like me?

  72. David
    March 2nd, 2017 at 09:41 | #74

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Jacob, would it be suitable to do a woddpecker with some of the GM-prep books?

  73. Jacob Aagaard
    March 2nd, 2017 at 10:09 | #75

    I am never sure if it makes more sense to do new exercises or to do Woodpecker. It is an interesting concept. No science exists on it, of course. I don’t know.

  74. Geoff
    March 2nd, 2017 at 10:38 | #76

    I am in. Starting from orange books.

  75. Alan
    March 2nd, 2017 at 13:55 | #77

    I’m going to commit to all ten books beginning with orange. I’m 59 from Houston and a perennial 1800 FIDE. Even getting to 2000 at my age would mean a lot. I am an active player so I will keep posting my progress.

  76. Pinpon
    March 2nd, 2017 at 18:39 | #78

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Maybe discipline is the key word to improve ?

  77. Stefan
    March 2nd, 2017 at 20:19 | #79

    Hi Jacob,
    I will take the challenebge and order all nine books (ths special offer), but please without any shipping rate as I live in germany which is still part of the EU , and there are no plans for an germanexit.

    All the best to you, I really love quality chess books


  78. Jacob Aagaard
    March 2nd, 2017 at 21:53 | #80

    No. Habits. If you survive on discipline, you can only do so for 4-6 weeks.

  79. Jacob Aagaard
    March 2nd, 2017 at 21:53 | #81

    Thank you. I look forward to hearing about it.

  80. Jesse Pinkman
    March 3rd, 2017 at 07:10 | #82

    One “procedural question”. What is better: using a physical chessboard or reproduce the lines in your favourite software?
    I think Yusupov would answer “physical”, but is there a great difference between the two methods?

  81. Hesse_Bub
    March 3rd, 2017 at 08:16 | #83

    I believe in the Woodpecker. In other sports, or even in chess opening training, you repeat, repeat and repeat to get the learnt knowledge into your subconcusioness. You have to give your brain some time to digest the information.
    Last year I did the woodpecker with Tacticmania. 5 Chapters in a row. Writing down which tactics I solved correctly, then again. If I had a tactic right both times it was finished, otherwise after the next five chapters the same tactics was solved a third time. Well, some I even had to solve a fourth time… Sometimes wondering “I already worked upon this tactic?”.
    Anyway I miss in Jacobs suggestion and the whole discussion time for repetion.

    A point that is related but may be worth a blog entry by Jacob is the topic planning of training. I train for marathon as well. I use, of course, a training plan, always based upon the notion “marathon day minus week 1, 2, ….12”. In some weeks I have to run more in other less, sometimes more long jogs or more sprints. I think you get it. You may buy a plan for some money or you may download decent plans for free. However, I never saw this kind of plan in any chess literature.

    So going back to the main topic how could we use the Yussupov series under consideration of a smart training plan?

  82. Reyk
    March 3rd, 2017 at 10:04 | #84

    Hesse_Bub :
    I believe in the Woodpecker. In other sports, or even in chess opening training, you repeat, repeat and repeat to get the learnt knowledge into your subconcusioness. You have to give your brain some time to digest the information.
    Last year I did the woodpecker with Tacticmania. 5 Chapters in a row.

    How much time did you spend on one session? Which intervals did you have between two sessions?

  83. pabstars
    March 3rd, 2017 at 11:50 | #85

    @Hesse_Bub: Off-topic, what is your marathon goal and where are you going to run it?

  84. Hesse_Bub
    March 3rd, 2017 at 12:53 | #86

    Pabstars: I already run some marathons in the past. Next one will be Salzburg May 7, running hopefully below 4 hours.
    This means as well I will have some test competitions before to get the feeling.

    In chess speak: My spring highlight is Karlsruhe Grenke Open over Easter. Before I play team competition “fully out of training” and even a minor open “out of training”. But how do we as chess player prepare for a major competition?

    Reyk: around two months time between each intervall.

    Having a

  85. pabstars
    March 3rd, 2017 at 13:50 | #87

    Hesse_Bub, good luck with the Salzburg marathon. If you want to enhance your chances of going sub-4, I can recommend Berlin and Hamburg marathons which have some very fast routes and some very enthusiastic spectators.

    I think that the preparation for chess tournaments may depend on your strength and how much you train on an everyday basis. If you are strong and play razor-sharp openings, you probably need to take a deep look at your repertoire. Otherwise solving a lot of tactical exercises will keep you on the alert I suppose.

  86. Mario
    March 3rd, 2017 at 14:02 | #88

    is the woodpecker method a kind of overlearning ¿? its better complemented with a nap
    This is an interesting article on the subject

  87. Csaba
    March 3rd, 2017 at 14:18 | #89

    @Jesse Pinkman
    I think I will mostly do through the positions and solutions with a tablet as it’s easier to go through variations. For solving the tests, I go through the diagrams quickly (some are obvious just from the page) and set the rest up on a physical board. Jacob just replied that he doesn’t believe in the physical vs computer distinction and it really saves some time to use some computer assistance (for moving the pieces I mean!!).

  88. Bulkington
    March 3rd, 2017 at 15:00 | #90

    Hey Quality-Chess-Team, what are you doing right now on that nice Friday afternoon ? I hope you are drinking a bottle of champaign and celebrate that ingenious booster for the Yusupov books. Next we all do the Kotronias-KID-competition… :-).

  89. worldchampion93
    March 3rd, 2017 at 15:39 | #91

    challenge accepted!

  90. Jacob Aagaard
    March 3rd, 2017 at 16:47 | #92

    John is working. Andrew and Colin travelling to the 4NCL. I am T-total and on the way to the gym for the second Hiit Circuit training of the day (was awoken at 5.30 am by Sagar Shah, so squeezed in an early session) and then off to a concert, me and six ladies. No idea how that happened, but I am sure I will enjoy it!

  91. Andrew Catanese
    March 3rd, 2017 at 17:02 | #93

    Challenge accepted!

  92. The Doctor
    March 3rd, 2017 at 18:09 | #94

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Working on Playing 1.e4 I hope!!!

  93. Csaba
    March 5th, 2017 at 20:20 | #95

    I hope I’m not spamming but I just failed my first test, that was quick (lesson 5). I just needed 1 point more! I hope I’ll manage to avoid these close calls in the future.

    Should we open a “Yusupov challenge thread” somewhere, or is this an OK place? I feel like if we keep posting about our progress that might be helpful/motivating.

  94. Jacob Aagaard
    March 5th, 2017 at 21:08 | #96

    I will routinely come with new Yusupov Challenge posts. Please write on them. Please support each other guys!

  95. d.
    March 6th, 2017 at 19:59 | #97

    I’ve asked this in the past, but again to plea — it would be *amazing* to have these books on the ForwardChess app. Since this is an expensive task for QC, I’d happily contribute to a kickstarter or similar crowdfunding effort to help make this happen, and I’m sure many others would as well.

  96. Jacob Aagaard
    March 6th, 2017 at 22:00 | #98

    The problem is that we do not have the rights to do this and Artur does not like the idea. So it is a complete no-go.

  97. Boki
    March 6th, 2017 at 22:07 | #99

    Did ch 5 today. Was difficult to Start doing as i was tired after work, but still forced myself. Will be much harder in the following weeks

  98. March 8th, 2017 at 22:38 | #100

    I will give it some consideration. Alas, I currently have only Chess Evolution 1. Either I must read them in the wrong order, or I must wait. I’ve ordered Build Up Your Chess 1.

  99. Gerry
    March 9th, 2017 at 04:53 | #101

    Lesson 5 of which book?

  100. Csaba
    March 9th, 2017 at 07:00 | #102

    Gerry :
    Lesson 5 of which book?

    Book 3 (Chess Evolution 1). I managed to fail Lesson 6 as well by one point!

  101. Gerry
    March 9th, 2017 at 07:26 | #103

    I started at Book 1 a long time ago and am only on Ch. 7 of Book 2 now. I am not doing the challenge as 1) I do not have that capacity for work and 2) I don’t think doing them fast would be any good to me. I do what I can when I can.

    I don’t know your rating but have you thought about going slower? My scores for book 2 are way down from Book 1 but I am passing. Worried when I get to Book 3….

    Still some beautiful stuff in those books.

  102. Csaba
    March 9th, 2017 at 08:41 | #104

    My rating is about 1700 (I am exercising great restraint and will spare you the lecture of “my rating is XXX but…”) and yes, going slower would, in principle, help. But the thing is, unless I stick to a schedule, going slower would mean not doing anything at all (I bought the books in 2012!!). One book a month is certainly faster than I’d like, but I think it will be a good thing to keep up with others and compare etc.

    I don’t want to get too much into my motivation or lack thereof but I will say that right when I went through the first book, my chess improved a lot and I had a great season that year and the year after that. Post hoc non ergo procter hoc, scio, scio, but I do think it was one of the main reasons. My goal is to get to 2000, kind of lofty given how poorly I’ve been playing lately, but it’s a rounder number than 1900, so there.

  103. Jacob Aagaard
    March 9th, 2017 at 10:38 | #105

    Define your own challenge please. What I am asking for is that you get a consistent regiment of training and follow it. Your own pace, your own goals, your own style. It is creating the habit of a little all the time that I am really pushing for.

  104. Matt Phelps
    March 9th, 2017 at 14:01 | #106

    Update: I got book 1 (and 3; I already had 2) on March 3rd and am already trough Chapter 5. Spending about 30-40 minutes on each chapter. To save time, I’m not using a physical board, and I’m not keeping track of points scored in the test positions at the end of the chapters. I’m just trying to solve the puzzles, and if I don’t get it within a minute or two, I look up the answer.

    This is my own personal theory of solving puzzles: If you don’t recognize the pattern right away (within a minute or two), go ahead and look up the answer and try to “burn in” the theme. The point of tactics puzzles (to me anyway) is to expose yourself to the pattern so it becomes “automatic”. Calculating is a different skill, I try to work on that by playing, and analyzing games without a computer. Anyway, I’m only a 1700 player so take this with a massive grain of salt :).

    Jacob, what do you think of my approach?

    Good luck everyone!


  105. March 9th, 2017 at 15:15 | #107

    @Matt Phelps
    A _lot_ of the value I got from the Yusupov books was in doing the necessary calculation after I already identified the tactical pattern. A lot of the problems took me well over a minute or two.

  106. Gerry
    March 9th, 2017 at 15:40 | #108

    I think you might be treating this like a tactics book. Forgive me as you did not ask for my opinion but I think the value will come from doing them on the board and writing down the variations (and I am not great at this.) So much of the book is not tactics. Good luck.

    P.S. how do you add the “@username” and does that individual then get a message saying to commented to them?

  107. McBear
    March 9th, 2017 at 16:04 | #109

    @Matt Phelps

    Matt, in my opinion you would gain more from the books if you really did the “hard work”. Because that’s like in a real game, you see a tactical motif or have a vague idea what the outcome should be like but you have to figure out the details to see if you can make it work. I notice this sometimes when I go through the books that I find the first move but then there is a hole in my lines or I calculate two lines of the solution correctly to the end but I fail to calculate a third line because I did not consider this resource for my opponent. In a real game such things can be fatal, of course.

  108. Matt Phelps
    March 9th, 2017 at 17:34 | #110

    This is a good point. So far, the material has been almost all tactics. I do expect to spend more time on the strategical topics.

    However, my main point is still that I feel time is wasted trying to work out all the “if he goes here, I go there” calculations when you are trying to learn a particular tactic or strategical concept. I think that masters and above “calculate better” than us amateurs because they have more patterns in their head where they don’t *have* to calculate; they just “know it.” I’m trying to get more of those into my aged, addled brain and I find it more rewarding to do it this way. As I said, I do calculation as a separate exercise.

    I appreciate all the alternate opinions though!


  109. Oreo.Y
    March 10th, 2017 at 03:01 | #111

    I had a quick question for Jacob. I have the Yusupov series and i go through 2 chapters a day , I just wanted to know if this pace makes sense or will i benefit from doing 1 chapter a day ( cause many people do 1 per day ) . Thanks.

  110. Gerry
    March 10th, 2017 at 05:18 | #112

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks for the books Jacob. I am trying to do a little study as often as possible but for me it is slow. For some strange reason I cannot study other chess books any more. But these are different as they force me to solve problems. I keep score so it becomes a challenge so I keep coming back to it.

  111. Csaba
    March 10th, 2017 at 06:55 | #113

    I think not scoring yourself is a bad idea. In fact I score myself instantly (or 3-4 exercises at a time) and it always gets very exciting towards the end! Maybe not how it’s supposed to be used but it definitely makes it a lot more fun. Or frustrating, depending on how well I did.

  112. Csaba
    March 11th, 2017 at 10:06 | #114

    Passed the last 3 in a row! I’m behind schedule (I’ll have business trips in the end of the month so I’m aiming for 1 chapter/day until the 24th) by 2 chapters but the plan was to recover everything in the weekend. I can’t believe I’ll be done with half a book just like that.

  113. Trefor
    March 12th, 2017 at 14:10 | #115

    Just started Build up Your Chess, Book 1 – I think my current grade equates to around 1950 but I intend to do all 10 books in order. Due to ill health I have had retirement thrust at me a few years too soon, but that does mean I have more time on my hands to do something that I hope will be enjoyable instructive and beneficial. It would be nice to push my rating above 2000 even at my age

  114. Jean-Marc
    March 20th, 2017 at 16:06 | #116

    I’m a bit late, but I’m OK for the challenge !
    I already began to read the first volume.

  115. pabstars
    March 21st, 2017 at 09:50 | #117

    My status in the Aagaard Challenge:

    Calculation: I have finished most of the exercises in the chapters Candidate Moves and Combinational Vision.
    Positional Chess: I have finished the exercises in the first 3 chapters (72) and done the first 6 in the 4th and final chapter.

  116. Gerrie
    March 24th, 2017 at 10:27 | #118

    I’m up for the challenge! Finished first book end of february, now half way through boost your chess 1.

  117. Call Perez
    March 25th, 2017 at 22:47 | #119

    OK, I’m in too! I haven’t played any OTB chess for a few years and don’t have a rating, but I’m planning a return to the board this year so it’ll be interesting to see how far I can get with the help of the Yusupov books.

    I’ve finished the first in the series and have just started on the second, so I’m still on schedule for now. Let’s see how long I can keep it up…

  118. Jarkko
    March 28th, 2017 at 07:23 | #120

    Very interesting challenge although I think I need more time for the material to sink in and also for the exercises. I’m currenty working on with the first book. Also I have failed 3 / 17 chapters and I wonder should I do these chapters again after I have finished the book – I probably will. My national OTB rating is 1685 and I think that the difficulty of the first book is definitely right for me.

  119. KevHun
    March 28th, 2017 at 10:50 | #121

    I am accepting challenge from the first book onwards. Its pretty clear that each chapter will take more than an hour for me, but its clear that the exercises are well worth doing and I seeing the impact on my game already.

  120. Csaba Daday
    March 29th, 2017 at 05:25 | #122

    OK I have only two chapters left out of my first one (Orange 3). I am fully expecting a 0 for the Mate in 3 one but looking forward to tackling QvR! With my current “knowledge” I’d always draw with the queen and lose with the rook.

  121. pabstars
    March 29th, 2017 at 09:54 | #123

    @Csaba: I don’t know if this is any comfort but in my chess club we have had a grandmaster train us several times this season. He is very strong in the endgame but he told us that his results were like this: With Queen vs rook he has drawn 2 games being the strong side and lost 1 being the weak side 🙂

  122. Csaba Daday
    March 29th, 2017 at 17:06 | #124

    As long as you don’t lose your queen to a skewer in my book that’s a win lol.

  123. Jacob Aagaard
    March 29th, 2017 at 19:52 | #125

    @Matt Phelps
    I dislike it intensely. I think you should train concentration.

  124. Jacob Aagaard
    March 29th, 2017 at 19:53 | #126

    One of my personal students did it faster than that and gained 600 points. But he would have gone up anyway. He started with them rated 1500, he now has a few GM scalps under his belt.

  125. Dewi
    April 1st, 2017 at 20:03 | #127

    I am in, sort of. I’m starting late and would require about 3 hours per chapter, but I have a head start having already worked through book 1 and half way through book 2 (in 6 months). I can’t keep the one chapter a day pace, but I will try and stay ahead of the pack, and maybe speed up to a chapter a day as you close in. I have also roped in a couple of my chess club friends into a structured training programme. We are going to start at the third book of level 1, doing one chapter a week. Add that to my headstart and a chapter a week as i continue through book two and I might just make level 2 at the same time as you guys. For info I am about 1600 national grade and about 1500 FIDE. I’ll post updates here occasionally and keep an eye for your motivating posts :). Anybody who wants to share a motivating email or join our chess club plan more closely, email me delynlocks(at)

  126. Jacob Aagaard
    April 4th, 2017 at 03:15 | #128

    The main point as far as I am concerned is consistency. Make a plan that is achievable and challenging as well. A good balance. Something you can see through to the end. And then use your discipline to get going for those first difficult weeks, until you got the momentum. If the speed picks up, great, if not, don’t worry. I am a slow thinker, but slow and steady and get you far.

  127. Oreo.Y
    April 9th, 2017 at 07:51 | #129

    Thanks Jacob

  128. Dewi
    April 9th, 2017 at 10:42 | #130

    Ha, well i have managed two chapters since my post, so you lot doing the challenge are going to be closing rapidly :))

  129. Gerry
    April 9th, 2017 at 19:40 | #131

    I am not taking the challenge per say as I am working at a snail’s pace for over a year now. I am at chapter 9 in book 2.
    I would say if you could keep doing 2 chapters per week consistently that is very good.

  130. Csaba
    April 10th, 2017 at 06:41 | #132

    I’m still here although I skipped the final exam of the first (or third) book. Working on the first blue book, some of the chapters are impossible, some almost trivial. Anyway, I decided to go through the tests in order (1-2-3-..12) and to spend max 5 minutes/exercise to make it more like an IRL game. Of course I do spend up to 30 minutes sometimes in real life but I wouldn’t have 6 hours/test.

  131. Gerry
    April 10th, 2017 at 14:51 | #133

    What kind of chapters are you finding very difficult in the blue book?

  132. Dewi
    April 10th, 2017 at 22:47 | #134

    @gerry. I am up to chapter 14 book 2. And i have a day off wprl tomorrow so aiming to get a couple done then.

    It’s taken me about 7 months to get this far, and book 2 feels harder than book 1.

  133. Gerry
    April 11th, 2017 at 04:31 | #135

    Just starting Ch. 10 of Book 2 and my scores have dropped more than expected compared to Book 1. Obviously worried about what the future books will be like score-wise but I like (most) of the material a lot.
    I don’t seem to get a lot of the themes in my OTB games yet but sometimes I do in online blitz and it can be a beautiful thing.

  134. steve
    April 12th, 2017 at 16:30 | #136

    will be starting this challenge from now. im 136 ecf at moment

  135. Csaba
    April 13th, 2017 at 11:26 | #137

    Sorry, I missed that that was a reply to me! There was a chapter on “Candidate moves” where I got maybe 10% of the possible points (I guess a bit more but not by a lot!) , one on the endgame (just called “General endgame principles”) and I think one on the centre? Of course this can be a bit of an issue about me rather than the book, but it can also be that the chapters that have relatively unassuming titles (less of a hint) are harder to solve. Still, reading through the solutions is very instructive, I don’t mind much if I don’t get good grades. Although ceteris paribus I like passing!

  136. jeremy
    April 14th, 2017 at 19:46 | #138

    I’m almost finished the second book and couldn’t think of better motivation to get through them all. Thank you Artur and Jacob for putting together such great materials!

  137. Gerry
    April 15th, 2017 at 01:19 | #139

    Thanks. Those kind of chapters are quite.

    My scores were about an average of 82% for book 1 and are dropping into the high 60s for book 2. Any numbers from others?

  138. April 15th, 2017 at 11:13 | #140

    For the five books I’ve done: 85.3%, 78.5%, 81.0%, 64.7%, 60.1%.

  139. Csaba
    April 15th, 2017 at 15:06 | #141

    My numbers are hovering around 90-110% .. of the passing grade. lol. On a very good day, I am within 1-2 points (or rarely, above) the “good mark”. I think I could get to “good” if I followed Yusupov’s timeline rather than Jacob’s (much like “I think I could be 2000+ if I blunder checked every move” lol – probably true, but immaterial). Not a knock on the Challenge at all, mind you, as I know that I take years and years per book if I look for the ideal time (2-3 hours, weekend afternoon, well-rested but not yet tired) for each chapter. Thanks a lot for creating the challenge, and I’m sure I’ll get better at solving these both from the book and over the board.

  140. Karl
    April 17th, 2017 at 06:27 | #142

    When you have the skills for 2000 or 2100 and more, i hope you rush through all that easy material in the orange books.

    For me with a very established rating around 1750 FIDE and really bad calculation skills some chapters are very hard. I had divided the chapter 9 “The use of traps” test into two smaller tests with each 6 positions and tried more than one hour each, one on thursday evening, one on friday. The result was 10/24 – not passed.

    Then after a short break i looked at the first diagram in the text of Ch. 10 “stalemate combinations”, worked through the whole chapter and solved the test with 15/20 – good. That all took me about another one and a half hour including build up some positions on the wooden board.

    My individual pace will never-ever be fast as Jacobs original challenge (1 book per Month). Jussupow planned the material as one-year course. You had around two weeks for each chapter. I want to do at least one chapter each week now. With the easier tactical chapters i think two chapters each week must also be possible. So the task was to set something personal challenging.

    So my personal task is to solve two chapters every week!

  141. Thomas Peterson
    April 17th, 2017 at 15:03 | #143

    I am in too! I have been doing about 50 tactics problems on CT-Art for the past few years, but I still have not studied any other aspects of chess except for basic opening play. I will attempt one chapter per day, and then post my results after I complete each of the three series. Thank you for the inspiration, Jacob.

  142. Thomas Peterson
    April 17th, 2017 at 15:06 | #144

    Obviously, I meant “50 tactics problems per day on CT-Art…”

  143. Dewi
    April 17th, 2017 at 21:36 | #145

    Well i have managed three fresh chapters and to resit three that i failed earlier during the easter bank holiday weekend. Which puts me properly and ready to go at chapter 17, boost your chess, fundamentals. The second book. I’m going to try and get to the end of the book by may 1st. Then sometime in May I will sit the end of book exam. My chess24 rating has risen from 1500 to 1812 since picking up where i left off in book 2. Though admittedly I am putting in more effort in my chess24 games, no rum whilst playing, setting them up on a board, etc etc.

  144. Jacob Aagaard
    April 19th, 2017 at 09:47 | #146

    @Thomas Peterson
    You are welcome.

  145. lindokuhle
    April 19th, 2017 at 17:49 | #147

    hi , im lindokuhle from south africa. i jus started this challenge too. i just want to know if its okay to skip all the tactical chapters in the first book if im also working on another puzzle book? they seem easy compared maybe to john shaw’s puzzle book.. and also want to know if its advisable to do maybe 5chapters a day…since i have all time.

  146. Jacob Aagaard
    April 21st, 2017 at 11:33 | #148

    This challenge is about you defining it and sticking to it. As you want it, as it works for you. It is about community, about motivating each other. Not about criticism and standardisation of people’s approaches. There is a main challenge, and then people can define their own. I think most people do.

  147. croflash
    April 21st, 2017 at 13:31 | #149

    After slugging for the past three months and switching between books here and there, I decided to give the challenge a go and finished the first book of the orange series today (85.5 percent overall). I did 18 chapters the past two weeks (rated around 2000 at age 29), which is definitely possible if you insist on doing it. I guess if you have a lot of time and motivation (obviously your playing strength matters as well) you can even do two chapters a day. Most exercises in the first book weren‘t too difficult, but the most important thing is that they force you think while continually getting concrete and immediate feedback. This is true regardless of your playing strength and shows me once more that you need to get involved in order to reap some benefits. Watching passively may give you some new ideas, but unless you can put those patterns into pratice, it doesn‘t matter much. Nobody would come to the conclusion that passively watching a football game will improve your fitness or make you a better football player. I want my brain to overwrite some old, not so stellar patterns and replace them with better ones. This takes practice and repetition. If you have been doing it wrong before, the brain needs some time to let the new patterns sink in and adjust.

    So, yeah, after lurking on this blog for a long time, I believe Jacob is right about his general approach to chess. Constantly forcing yourself to think and deliberate pratice is the best way to improve. The only caveat…

  148. croflash
    April 21st, 2017 at 13:31 | #150

    … is that I have got the books in German. To make you guys feel better though, I‘m also working through John‘s first book of Playing 1. e4 😉

  149. James2
    April 21st, 2017 at 14:20 | #151

    Hi John,

    To supplement Croflash’s second post (#150) I wanted to ask you if we might hope for (expect?) volume 2 of Playing 1 e4 before the beginning of September this year? The new season starts around the end of September and I was really hoping to have your book for then (probably like lots of others).

    Thank you for your help.


  150. Csaba
    April 23rd, 2017 at 11:38 | #152

    OK, I just finished chapter 20 from my second book (first blue book). I was struggling with a cold for the last week or so and got pretty dismal results on most tests. I hope I’ll find some time to redo them (at least looking through the solutions) at some point. I will try doing them first thing in the morning in the future, as my working hours are flexible and I have no family to take care of. 1 1/2 hours should be OK both for the chapters and for my schedule. I can combine working on chess and.. some of the morning activities, let’s leave it at that.

  151. weng nian
    April 23rd, 2017 at 14:17 | #153

    World No 1 woman player recommends the Yusupov books for beginners
    at around 4:40 ……

  152. Jacob Aagaard
    April 24th, 2017 at 16:26 | #154

    We do not recommend reading our books in the shower.

  153. Csaba
    April 24th, 2017 at 17:42 | #155

    lol! I guess I’ll have to read some QC books on Forward Chess on my waterproof phone in the meantime. :p

  154. Karl
    April 26th, 2017 at 06:50 | #156

    Now i’m in my 7th chapter in the 3rd week, that’s fine for me and my plan. Maybe i will set my mark to three chapters each week.

    I have one “not passed”, one “passed” and four “good”.

    In the past i got too much frustrated by getting 1 of 3 points because of missing some sidelines and by too advanced chapters that time. So i stopped in the middle of the second book. But i improved overall and the orange series seems to be the right stuff for me by now. I will also do the three blue ones from my bookshelf.

    Working with that good material also leads me back to other good and well selected tactic books with human solutions instead of doing some random computer generated stuff.

    @Jacob Aagard: Thank you very much! Your challenge pushed me to start working on chess again after a long time on wasting time on improvement killers!

  155. Subtle
    April 26th, 2017 at 20:15 | #157

    By accident I started this exact thing, at just about the same time.
    I have just finished book 1.

    Then I started the wrong book 2, I started the “next” Build up your chess series; the blue one. Man, it’s quite a jump in difficulty!

    Reading this blog made me realize I need to pick up Boost your chess 1 now.

    I wish it was possible to do this on ForwardChess. I know Artur is against it. However, in the blue books (which await me) there are so many long, long lines. And long, long analysis variations. All that needs to be played through, and that’ll take ages to move manually. Even downloading a pgn isn’t too helpful cause you gotta click all the analysis, too…

  156. mike
    April 27th, 2017 at 08:05 | #158

    My fide rating is about 1650, and I have read the first 6 books (3 orange + 3 blue) and the orange Revision & Exam in the last 1,5 year. In paraller I also read Botvinnik’s “100 games”, and de la Villa’s endgame book.
    Since I have realized that my positional/strategic play is inferior to tactical, I decided to review again all the positional/strategic chapters from the 6 books.I have already finished the 3 orange for a second time, and I am reading the first blue again.

    My comments:
    1.The books are objectively the best tool for a chess player who doesn’t have a trainer.
    2.I think that the solutions in positional/strategic chapters need more comments. In many exercises there are moves that seems to be “equal” (by Stockfish) with the ones pointed out by Arthur. However, they are not mentioned in the analysis in the solution section. At least for me (~1650 rating) it’s not clear why they do not reserve at least 1 point.
    3. Revision & Exam 1 is much more difficult from the 3 orange books

    Would it be helpful for me (~1650 rating) to start the first green book or it would be too difficult?


  157. Csaba
    April 27th, 2017 at 16:10 | #159

    I beat my own record in Chapter 23 in the first blue book (“Improve your pieces”): 0 for the first 9 problems in a row! Yes I was not picking very good plans overal and anyway I was in a bad shape, but still 0 points was a bit harsh. I think the point is to try to understand his reasons for his solutions when it comes to the positional chapters but try not to take the zeroes too seriously.

  158. Gerry
    April 30th, 2017 at 17:28 | #160

    I know the scores on chapters don’t relate to a rating but I try hard to get questions right and get a good score. I found the exercises and answers in 9. The Use of Traps poorly laid out. Sometimes you had to guess a bonehead move the opponent would make first. Did not find that helpful.

    Would be much better if the exercise said something like Black played 1…Re4 and then ask you to continue.

    Working on Ch. 12 in Book 2 in my Multi-Year Project ™.

    Karl :
    When you have the skills for 2000 or 2100 and more, i hope you rush through all that easy material in the orange books.
    For me with a very established rating around 1750 FIDE and really bad calculation skills some chapters are very hard. I had divided the chapter 9 “The use of traps” test into two smaller tests with each 6 positions and tried more than one hour each, one on thursday evening, one on friday. The result was 10/24 – not passed.
    Then after a short break i looked at the first diagram in the text of Ch. 10 “stalemate combinations”, worked through the whole chapter and solved the test with 15/20 – good. That all took me about another one and a half hour including build up some positions on the wooden board.
    My individual pace will never-ever be fast as Jacobs original challenge (1 book per Month). Jussupow planned the material as one-year course. You had around two weeks for each…

  159. steve
    May 11th, 2017 at 13:17 | #161

    Hi ive been going through the first book trying to supplement it with analysing master games but what is best way of doing this gtm or playing through alot of games quickly

  160. Csaba
    May 12th, 2017 at 07:45 | #162

    Yikes, I’m only on lesson 6, gotta try to speed up. It’s painful, messing up so many “blue” exams, but the last two were pretty easy. Especially the chapter on the “bridge building” in rook endings (inter alia). I wonder it it’s purposeful, the insertion of a few “gimme” chapters for encouragement, or if this is my natural variance in (lack of) skill?

  161. Dennis K
    May 12th, 2017 at 15:05 | #163

    steve :
    Hi ive been going through the first book trying to supplement it with analysing master games but what is best way of doing this gtm or playing through alot of games quickly

    I’m not quite qualified to answer this, but I will just note that both answers have been given by strong players/teachers. Purdy swears by gtm (guess the move), Silman recommends playing through a lot of games quickly (to get the patterns into your head). I prefer Purdy’s method, but who am I? Maybe Jacob will break the tie. 🙂

  162. Jerry Snitselaar
    May 13th, 2017 at 03:27 | #164

    Silman recommends both methods.

  163. Jacob Aagaard
    May 14th, 2017 at 20:58 | #165

    I personally prefer working slowly. There is some science behind creating the right habits by being in control of what you are doing. I do not think you learn anything from simply guessing and you learn rather little from playing things through quickly. This is what I do with all my students, strong or weak. The stronger ones can keep the concentration going for longer, but I still hope for some effort from the less strong.

  164. steve
    May 14th, 2017 at 21:40 | #166

    tnx for the reply

  165. May 15th, 2017 at 04:28 | #167

    Jacob you are an excellent writer.

    I am rated around 1200 FIDE, and my soul wants [cries] to get past 2000 FIDE rating.

    Now I know the shortcut to cross 2000+ FIDE rating very easily [Mr. Yusupov’s 9 Masterpieces]

    I have one query.

    What would happen if an amateur by chess rating and mature person by age [34 yrs old] tries to go through 3 excellent GM series book of yours i.e. Positional Play, Calculation, Endgame Play.

    Where would my rating go from 1200 if I read them religiously.

    I will give the reason why I want read only these by giving my own logic.

    I have seen other positional good books saying ask these questions like king safety, pawn structure, threats, etc etc to take a positional decision.

    But you are saying it requires only 3 questions and that is easy to ask and answer in every position, compared to remembering many questions for an amateur player.

    Of course for an good chess player with lot of patterns in mind, it might come automatically, but for an amateur players mind, it would make it more difficult to keep many things in mind. We more often are always in look out for mating the opponents kings for some reason.

    We amateurs always look like fearless warriors moving pieces all over the board [with no real threat to experienced players]

    At the end of the day, I feel it’s all about candidate moves.

    For choosing a good candidate move I read talking to yourself about the plan would help.


  166. Gollum
    May 15th, 2017 at 11:40 | #168


    I can reply: You will get incredibly frustrated and will abandon them or either you will just try to solve them more or less randomly and get the same result.

    I am at 2200 and I am suffering endless pain with endgame manual (damn rook endings! and I’m only in the challenging chapter). Calculation may be a tad easier, but there is no way a 1200 can get more than an exercise or two right. Lastly, positional play is the easies one IMO, but will give tons of trouble to a 1800…

    Go to Yusupov. He covers basically everything that will be useful at your level.

  167. Jacob Aagaard
    May 15th, 2017 at 14:17 | #169

    Gollum is right. It will not help you.

  168. May 15th, 2017 at 18:39 | #170

    Oh ok I got it.
    Thanks a lot.

    Will start with Yusupov books.

  169. Pinpon
    May 15th, 2017 at 21:02 | #171

    ?! – Don’t forget to play games against opponents of your ( hopefully improving ) level . Never seen anyone gaining elo points without playing .

  170. Jacob Aagaard
    May 16th, 2017 at 07:41 | #172

    Study the career of the president of the ECU and you may learn something.

  171. Boki
    May 16th, 2017 at 08:24 | #173

    Gone is the Prize for ECU-Book of the year…

  172. Pinpon
    May 16th, 2017 at 08:45 | #174

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Right . There are a few exceptions ( btw not mentioned by Yussupov in his books)
    Reminds me of ( good ? ) old time .

  173. Jacob Aagaard
    May 16th, 2017 at 12:41 | #175

    Ah well. I have plenty of handshakes with crocks to show :-).

  174. Pinpon
    May 16th, 2017 at 16:50 | #176

    @Jacob Aagaard
    No dubious draws for sure

  175. Thomas
    May 18th, 2017 at 17:13 | #177

    Hello Jacob, yesterday I received _Boost Your Chess 2_ in the mail, and in the back of the book I see information about the “Grand Master Preparation” series. My question is who will fill the gap between Yusupov’s series and yours? Who will provide the workbooks, manuals, and instruction for the daunting transition from Master to IM? Perhaps, yourself and GM Jussupow??

  176. May 22nd, 2017 at 12:16 | #178

    I am patiently going through Revision and Exam for the 2nd time. I combine with with reading King’s Indian Warfare which is my new favorite inspirational book. There are 49 main games but rather hidden is the generous number of introductory games and fragments at the start of each chapter. Looking forward to a possible series of Other ‘Warfare’ books.

  177. Jacob Aagaard
    May 22nd, 2017 at 20:35 | #179

    It is a one step journey.

    @Michael Yip
    Yes, that would be nice.

  178. Thomas Peterson
    June 3rd, 2017 at 02:48 | #180

    As it is a one step journey, we shall all participate in the Aagaard Challenge in one year!

  179. Thomas Peterson
    June 3rd, 2017 at 13:43 | #181

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I see that you had previously published an “Excelling at” series, as well as _Attacking Manual_ 1 & 2. Should we read these works prior to the GM Prep. series? If so, which ones? Also, what is the order of the GM series?

    Thank you in advance.

    I still have a very long road ahead of me with the Yusupov series, but I do love to plan ahead, and to pick up copies when I am able.

  180. jasper
    June 3rd, 2017 at 15:01 | #182

    @Thomas Peterson
    I think there have been some comments on this before on the blog.

    If you search on the site you should be able to find these or try this link Excelling at

  181. Thomas Peterson
    June 3rd, 2017 at 15:34 | #183


    Okay, thanks!

  182. Thomas Peterson
    June 3rd, 2017 at 15:51 | #184

    I found the thread. My exact question has indeed been answered before by GM Aagaard: December 2nd, 2015 at 21:52 | #14 Reply | Quote
    Excelling at Chess Calculation covers a lot of the ground in Calculation. It can be read, but is not essential.
    Attacking Manual 1 lays the ground for Attack & Defence, but is again not essential.
    Positional Play comes before Strategic Play, but is again not essential.
    Excelling at Technical Chess from the Everyman books is also worth working with. Otherwise I would stick with the Quality Chess stuff.

  183. Thomas Peterson
    June 3rd, 2017 at 16:11 | #185

    @Thomas Peterson
    …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.

  184. Gerry
    June 4th, 2017 at 06:35 | #186

    I scored an average of 82% in Book 1 and after 15 chapters in Book 2 my average is 71%. Wondering if others have similar experiences. I really like the chess in the books but am wondering what I will understand or get out of them when I get to Book 3 etc.?

    I am using Yusupov’s recommended approach for the exercises. Thanks for any thoughts.

  185. June 4th, 2017 at 13:15 | #187

    My scores for the first five books (all I’ve done) are 85%, 78%, 81%, 65%, and 60%. I think I’m still getting something out of them; I might feel differently if and when my scores fall below 50%.

  186. Gerry
    June 4th, 2017 at 23:06 | #188

    Thanks. IIRC you crossed the threshold that I would like to cross so these numbers are pertinent to me. My numbers are a bit lower so I may struggle still to get there but I will keep trying and will also try a few more of these books. Maybe after the Orange Books I should take a break and study other things before trying the blue series?!

    Anyone else keep scores for each book? Again I realize there is a lot that goes into competitive chess and working through books may not translate into OTB improvement.

  187. Tim S
    June 5th, 2017 at 09:01 | #189

    I scored 90% on book 1 then skipped ahead to the first blue book. I’m 9 chapters in and averaging 77% so far. I may go back to the other orange books but thought it would be a more optimal use of my time to make it tougher. My FIDE is c.2100 if useful to know.

  188. Csaba
    June 5th, 2017 at 10:07 | #190

    I’m going to repeat book 5 (my 3rd in the challenge) in June. While I did go through it in May, a lot of the chapters I did very quickly/superficially and my chess seems to be getting worse as a result of sloppy calculation that I got into the habit of. I’m not complaining about the challenge though, it’s mostly a question of time management and motivation.

  189. June 13th, 2017 at 17:51 | #191


    Agreed. I think this is one of the unrecognized “secrets” of Artur’s methodology.

  190. Thomas Peterson
    June 18th, 2017 at 03:29 | #192

    @Jacob: What happened in the final of the last game Fenil-Aagaard? I couldn’t find the video from your phone.

  191. Jacob Aagaard
    June 18th, 2017 at 13:11 | #193

    @Thomas Peterson
    I won. Will see if I have it somewhere when I return from Greece.

  192. Thomas Peterson
    June 22nd, 2017 at 17:05 | #194

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Great, I look forward to seeing it. Everyone was having a great time there, and you had a fan in the crowd 🙂 It reminded me of when I played a few games against good Indian friend of mine, Pariyat, at his home -such a cozy atmosphere. Thank you for sharing the video it was entertaining and nice to see.

  193. Tony
    July 4th, 2017 at 14:13 | #195


    Ray, just for reference sake, what is your elo in FIDE. I wanna know the ratings of ppl whose completed the books

  194. David
    July 14th, 2017 at 11:01 | #196

    Jacob: how would you estimate the rating band of the green Yusupov books? Would you say 1900-2200 or would you estimate higher?

    Would you say that the GM-prep books “start where Yusupovs end”?

    What Queens gambit system will Nikos book d4d5 be based on?

  195. Jacob Aagaard
    July 14th, 2017 at 13:27 | #197

    Maybe 1800-2300. An important point is that you can actually learn over a great rating span.

    Yes, that’s what they are meant to be. The Yusupov books are really quite advanced in the far end.

    A lot of Kramnik, I think. Not my desk. Will be out September I think. Andrew could not finish it before Dundee, because of a back injury.

  196. Gerry
    July 15th, 2017 at 17:42 | #198

    How is it going everyone? I am on holidays atm so that is helping. When this started I was on Chapter 7 of Book 2. Now about to start Chapter 22. Averaging 71%.

    BTW there is one chapter in all books I am skipping – the Mate in x” ones. I hate them so much that if I have to study them to get better I will accept my rating where it is!

  197. Gerry
    July 30th, 2017 at 07:12 | #199

    Looks like this is dying off or is getting hidden by all the comments about books. Is there anyway to make the Topic visible on the main blog page? Might get more responses then?

  198. Ray
    July 30th, 2017 at 09:19 | #200

    My FIDE rating is 2189 at the moment – down from 2220 two years ago 🙁 . But I keep telling myself my rating would have dropped more if I hadn’t studied the Yusupov series 🙂 .

  199. Gerry
    July 31st, 2017 at 16:53 | #201

    Ray, thanks for your post. I wish more would reply.

    One of your problems of course is you are at the high end of the scale. I remember 2 Masters talking one time and one called points at this level dog points. I wish you luck.

    Maybe it is something of a competitive nature that is stopping you moving forward. I feel this has hurt me over the years, not getting as much out of my knowledge at the board as I should. So I am thinking about the competitive aspects more as I move forward. Age is also not helping!

  200. Ray
    July 31st, 2017 at 17:18 | #202

    I totally agree. That’s why I’m very interested in the psychological aspects as well. I really like the chapter on psychology in Jacob’s new book, and I also love Chess for Zebras. I’ve now started with the GM Training series, with book on Calculation. I’m trying to start a new habit, not setting my training goals too high (3 hours per week). Hope this helps, but for now I’ve decided to enjoy the process and not worry about my rating 🙂 .

  201. Pinpon
    July 31st, 2017 at 19:24 | #203

    Maybe chess improvement ( and rating ) is sort of ” punctuated equilibrium ” , the most difficult thing being to get out of one ´s comfort/ talent zone ( i.e. the level we get accustomed to for so many years – whatever it is )

  202. Pinpon
    July 31st, 2017 at 19:32 | #204

    Not finished TITB . Hopefully Jacob writes about rating glass ceiling .

  203. Jacob Aagaard
    July 31st, 2017 at 23:37 | #205

    I will write a new post. Has been on the to-do list for a while.

  204. Jacob Aagaard
    July 31st, 2017 at 23:40 | #206

    I think enjoyment is a crucial part of enjoyment. Thank you for reminding me. I also think it is a crucial part of playing well.

  205. Gollum
    August 1st, 2017 at 06:57 | #207

    Ray :
    My FIDE rating is 2189 at the moment – down from 2220 two years ago . But I keep telling myself my rating would have dropped more if I hadn’t studied the Yusupov series .

    Curiously my peak was at 2228 three years ago when I had not studied any chess in some years and playing only in team events on the weekend. I then played a tournament and dropped 50 points so I decided to study chess seriously so that would not happen again.

    Now my rating is 2167 after having studied around 20 books. At this point I am sure it has something to do with psychology or lack of playing (I have been playing one tournament a year plus the team event) but I am confident that somewhere in the future my playing level will burst (for example last year I had a performance of 2300 over 12 games, so I know I am capable).

    According to Dvoretsky you cannot reasonably expect any improvement in your level before at least a year. I have spent three years now, so it has to be soon.

  206. Björn
    August 1st, 2017 at 14:19 | #208

    Or is it that the type of people that play in tournaments and team competitions is different (not necessarily stronger in one vs. the other)? I know a lot of people like myself that due to family commitments only/mostly play team events for their club, but no week-long (or 2 week) tournaments. I have the impression that that leads to chess that is a bit weak on precise calculation (and tries to compensate with experience, known/playing the same opening for a long time etc.). Perhaps you do best against such opposition?

  207. Ray
    August 1st, 2017 at 16:09 | #209

    Interesting indeed, and encouraging to see I’m not the only one with this issue 🙂 . I have a club rating of 2300 (over 26 games, with wins against several IMs and FMs), which is indeed far higher than my Fide rating. Anyway, like I said, I’ve decided not to worry about this anymore!

  208. Gollum
    August 1st, 2017 at 16:19 | #210


    I think that team events are a different beast, so maybe the players are not different, you are! I manage to prepare quite well for those, so it is rare for me to get surprise in the opening. Not being lost after 20 moves is good. It happened to me when I was young si maybe I can say I peaked in rating when I polished that part of my chess.

    On the other hand, I have a fine position out of the opening outside tournament competitions too (at least since I’ve decided to study chess more seriously) but in my last tournament I managed only a 2050 performance.

    The main cause I think is that I’m rusty. Studying a lot at home makes you slow because you ponder your moves slowly when at home. I had numerous good positions that I misplayed. That has happened a lot to me recently. I manage to outplay my opponents more or less consistently, but fail to finish them off. When I’ve been able to do it because I’m on form I had performances above 2300, but when I was not able to do so I would crumble. And each game after I failed to convert would be worse as I would put more pressure on myself.

    I would love to forget about it (and up to a certain point I’m able to do so). I try to look at my play and think if I’m satisfied with it or not as a measurement of my playing strength. On the other hand, the ultimate measurement is elo rating, and seeing how much time I sink into this, it sometimes is really frustrating to not rip the…

  209. Gollum
    August 1st, 2017 at 16:19 | #211


    It is a shame only the last word got cut.

  210. Hard Truther
    August 1st, 2017 at 17:24 | #212

    I have been working the Yusupov series or almost three years now. I have done the first four books twice. Sometimes I did worse the 2nd time.

    My FIDE rating is about the same as it was 10 years ago.

    We are what we are.

  211. RYV
    August 1st, 2017 at 20:27 | #213

    The only ones who makes progress are people who play regulary. One or two tournaments each month (15 games). If you add one or two weeks of training work with books it will be better and faster….but first you need to play. I still believe That anyone can reach master level…but you have to give it full time.

  212. Ray
    August 2nd, 2017 at 11:14 | #214

    @ RYV:

    I think that’s a good point. Last season I played 16 games for my FIDE-rating, which isn’t a lot. With such a relatively small number of games statistics are not trustworthy.

  213. Ray
    August 2nd, 2017 at 11:15 | #215

    @ Hard Truther:

    That doesn’t sound like a suitable testimonial for the advertising blurb 🙂

  214. Gollum
    August 2nd, 2017 at 12:18 | #216


    I totally agree that a fundamental part of improving is to play, but I’m sure 15 games a month is just too much. For starters, it is just impossible at least where I live, there are not that many tournaments. And we can see that playing one of every two days is clearly a lot.

    But it has been said (I think it was Botvinnik) that you should play like 80 games a year (but my guess is that that figure was for a professional player). For non professionals I’m sure playing like 4 tournaments a years should suffice.

  215. The Doctor
    August 2nd, 2017 at 19:00 | #217

    30 per year is max I can do, would be interesting to hear how many games other players play per year.

  216. Hard Truther
    August 2nd, 2017 at 22:58 | #218

    @RYV: I play 100+ FIDE rated games per year (next you’ll claim I am playing too much– HA!)

    Everyone has a skill set ceiling. Period.

    The idea that people can continually get better and everyone could be Master is as silly as the concept idea of the ever expanding capitalist market place solving the world’s problems

    : pure fantasy//propaganda for selling

    The Yusupov books are great. Get them to someone rated 1600+ and younger than 16 years old and who also has burning desire to get good and they can really make hay.

  217. Ray
    August 3rd, 2017 at 05:57 | #219

    @ Hard Truther:

    Looks like you’re not in the Growth Mindset yet 🙂

  218. Thomas
    August 3rd, 2017 at 06:11 | #220

    Hard Truther :
    Everyone has a skill set ceiling. Period.

    I think that’s more a sign of stubbornness. Many chess player, especially with growing age, tend to believe that they KNOW how to play good chess, and there are simply some minor adjustments to be made to their play. They are also training that way.
    That won’t get them far. Not farer than the ceiling you mentioned.

    What I did in the last years was to reshape my way of thinking at the board. For me personally it worked out very well, gaining more than 150 ELO points at the age of 50+. At the moment I would think *the sky is the limit*. I’m playing about 60 to 70 games a year.

  219. Ray
    August 3rd, 2017 at 09:58 | #221

    @ Thomas:

    That’s interesting to hear. I am curious to hear in what way you reshaped your thinking at the board? What did you specifically do / change?

  220. Thomas
    August 3rd, 2017 at 12:03 | #222


    I stopped seeing myself as an attacking player.
    For years I tried to play as active as possible. I often allowed weaknesses thinking I will fix them if I only get to play this and this and that. Most of it never happened and I was left with the weakness. I often hurried because of bad nerves. I seldom played prophylactic moves, seeing only my own attack. Searching for my Mona Lisa, Gufeld style.

    Today I learned to be patient, to improve little by little, improve my pieces. Look for the weaknesses, use Jacob’s three questions. I still have to improve my calculation, there are so many things I do not see. But overall it feels like a new level of chess. I still lose against most grandmasters, they are simply stronger than me. But today they have to work to get the point against me. And sometimes they don’t get it.
    Working hard at the board is probably the main thing for me. And trying to keep it simple, one move after another.

  221. Ray
    August 3rd, 2017 at 14:47 | #223

    @ Thomas:

    Thanks for your interesting story! I also see myself as an attacking player, but in my case I really think it’s true 🙂 . I have read the book by Lars Bo Hansen (as recommended by Jacob) to diagnose my style, and I’m fairly sure I’m intuitive and dynamic (just as Jacob). So now I’m working on my calculation skills, because I tended to be too shallow / sloppy in my calculations. And I’ll start with Positional Play (three questions) a few months from now. Just like you in the past I tend to neglect my opponent’s chances, and I guess the three questions in combination with really calculating (= seeing things you would otherwise not see) should help in fixing this. But I guess I can still be an attacking player with these weaknesses fixed 🙂

  222. Thomas
    August 3rd, 2017 at 14:59 | #224

    Depends on what you call an “attacking player”. I also try to play actively and try to mate my opponent. But just pushing all pawns on the kingside and waiting for the other side to get an heart attack doesn’t work, as I had to learn. Looking at the whole board and trying not to get over-optimistic helps a lot. And if an attack doesn’t succeed keep trying to win the bishop’s ending or something like that.

  223. RYV
    August 3rd, 2017 at 18:11 | #225

    Play safe, fix target & weaknesses, grab a pawn, exchange and sometimes win the endgame.

  224. KevHun
    August 27th, 2017 at 09:47 | #226

    Hi Jacob,

    I am near the end of the first orange book, and it is rapidly becoming clear that my calculating ability is less than perfect. Is there any mileage in working with your Calculation book rather than say the Yusupov book in other words boosting my calculating abilities first and then returning to the Yusupov series or would I be better off trying to combine both. Rgds.

  225. Jacob Aagaard
    August 27th, 2017 at 21:48 | #227

    More and more I am thinking about writing another book on calculation soon…

  226. jose
    August 28th, 2017 at 05:15 | #228

    @Jacob Aagaard
    For a lower level too…

  227. KevHun
    August 28th, 2017 at 16:21 | #229

    Hi Jacob, comment re writing a new book duly noted, but in the interim, (and with respect to my bank balance 😉 ) would you suggest that I do go over to the GM Calculation book rather than continue with the Orange book, or just mix the two? I am rated around 1500, hence my interest in your reply.

  228. Pinpon
    August 28th, 2017 at 20:48 | #230

    There are authors who write it’s more important to calculate 3 or 4 moves accurately than to calculate deep variations . 80% true / 20% false ?

  229. Jacob Aagaard
    August 28th, 2017 at 22:40 | #231

    Maybe 90% true. The thing is, some that some variations will be longer, but you will only have 1-2 points of obstruction. The rest will be clean sailing and the moves will be obvious. How do we categorise such lines?

  230. Jacob Aagaard
    August 28th, 2017 at 22:41 | #232

    No, please stay with Yusupov for the moment. Calculation is a very challenging book and I doubt you would enjoy it.

    You could read Excelling at Chess Calculation. It is not a bad book by any means. Dvoretsky liked it. But I think the stuff I wrote in Thinking Inside the Box is potentially more helpful.

  231. Stigma
    August 29th, 2017 at 01:37 | #233

    Perhaps there is still a need for an easier book on calculation for regular club players. I enjoy reading Kotov, Tisdall, Dvoretsky and Aagaard with their different views on the thinking process, but this is all quite advanced stuff.

    There are books by Beim, Soltis and Heisman on calculation that are less demanding, but I’m not sure I trust the latter two authors on this. Soltis sometimes gives inaccurate analysis and has even admitted that he doesn’t work with engines (though maybe he has finally converted?), and Heisman often seems to assume all chess thinking should be verbal and explicit.

  232. KevHun
    September 1st, 2017 at 18:01 | #234

    Hi Jacob,
    Thanks for the reply. I’ve got the old Excelling book and it is pretty good still. The Yusupov book is amazing. The refresher on endgames was handy to say the least and I’ve noticed an increase in my ability to defend. Rgds.

  233. Thomas Peterson
    December 1st, 2017 at 05:15 | #235

    Hello Jacob,

    I haven’t updated my progress as I said I would. I got sidetracked for a few months – I was coaching judo 4 nights a week, for several months and lost my focus. I am back! I only have 90 minutes a day for studying the books, but that 90 minutes a day will add up! I just want to mention a couple of things that I’ve learned regarding Yusupov’s chess course. First, I see people complain that the program is not in some kind of pgn format. I just want to point out that setting up the positions on a board really helps in memorizing and recognizing them. Second, I finally appreciate the openings taught in the blue books. I ran away from them previously studying a Quality Chess Semi-Slav repertoire. I now understand that by playing unambitious openings one really has to dig deep and play carefully. If one can learn to create advantages from equal positions, then one is truly learning. Furthermore, I appreciate that these openings are relatively easy, so more time is left for middle and engame study.

  234. Jacob Aagaard
    December 1st, 2017 at 10:50 | #236

    Welcome back!

  235. Kieran
    December 1st, 2017 at 11:01 | #237

    Thomas Peterson :
    Hello Jacob,
    […]I now understand that by playing unambitious openings one really has to dig deep and play carefully. If one can learn to create advantages from equal positions, then one is truly learning. Furthermore, I appreciate that these openings are relatively easy, so more time is left for middle and engame study.

    I could not agree more on this. To me this is the point of Nikos’ repertoire against 1.d4. A sound and solid queen’s gambit declined from where one can play on.

  236. Thomas Peterson
    December 1st, 2017 at 16:18 | #238

    I was somewhat unclear. Personally, I find the Semi-Slav repertoire excellent and ambitious, as well as sound and solid as Kieran says. I studied it for a couple of months instead of the suggestion(s) made by GM Yusupov in the blue books. I have now come to play what Yusupov suggests as well having realized the pedagogical and practical value of his opening suggestions.

  237. FM To Be
    December 1st, 2017 at 17:40 | #239

    I have not studied a single book of the Yusupov course, I still have to catch up with other material.

    Could somebody comment on the “pedagogical and practical value of his opening suggestions”?

  238. Thomas Peterson
    December 2nd, 2017 at 00:16 | #240

    @FM To Be

    His suggestions are extremely solid, and form an opening system not difficult to understand which affords time to study the middle and endgame material from his books. It is the study of this material that will allow you do the equivalent of squeeze pitchers of fresh juice from dry oranges. You will learn to find winning methods and ideas where you did not know they existed, namely, from equal positions. Obviously, this will help your game tremendously.

  239. James2
    December 2nd, 2017 at 14:55 | #241

    @FM To Be
    If you are looking for a complete repertoire for white and black you won’t find it in Yusupov. The books I don’t suppose are for that express purpose anyway.


  240. Gerry
    December 2nd, 2017 at 17:53 | #242

    A question. I have stopped playing and studying due to massive frustration with my play but am trying again. I am in book 3, chapter 5 (Realizing a Material Advantage). It is a positional chapter and at the half-way point I am doing far worse than I have ever done in any other chapter (25%). I think it basically means, that although I have been in the 1850-1950 range for many years that I am a hopeless player positionally speaking!!??

    I would also like to say I think it is a poor chapter for Yusupov. Only three examples and one of them he wins with tactics as “Technique failed to do the job”. Please note I am not blaming him for my poor performance but with only 3 examples surely he could have found three that would show technique.

  241. Frank van Tellingen
    December 2nd, 2017 at 19:22 | #243

    I think your frustration will be less, if you try to determine the cause for failing to solve an exercise. I assume you write your solution down, before you compare it to the book solution. What did you miss? Was it some concrete tactic or a property of the position you did not take into account, was it some resource by the opponent? (Profylaxis). If you start to recognize what you are not yet good at, you can make ammends and improve. For example, I myself tend to go astray in not looking at a position before starting to calculate, thereby missing promising candidate moves for the opponent. If you train yourself to first look at a position and then select candidates and then study variations, that might help. But of course it depends on the diagnosis. Good luck and keep trying! (Don‘t forget that professionals need to train several hours a day just to keep in shape and keep up, so what can you expect, being an amateur) @Gerry

  242. December 2nd, 2017 at 21:16 | #244

    Realizing a Material Advantage was my worst chapter in that book too (I got 7 points out of 16). The positional and strategy exercises are the hardest ones in the books. You could interpret this as that Yusupov has too high positional standards for 1900 players, or that 1900 players should concentrate a lot more on strategy and maybe a little less on tactics. Maybe both are true.

    I found that supplementing Yusupov with Hellsten’s “Mastering Chess Strategy” made me a much more confident player strategically speaking.

    Finally, the rated-quiz nature of the Yusupov books leads naturally to a lot of angst of whether certain quizzes are unfair, or too hard, or that the main chapter text didn’t adequately prepare one for the exercises. In general, the exercises are the book. Doing the exercises is how you use the book. You get better by doing the exercises; it’s not that you get better by reading the chapter and then prove it by doing the exercises. If the exercises are hard, good, you were using your muscles! The scoring is fun but don’t get obsessed with it.

  243. Gerry
    December 3rd, 2017 at 05:55 | #245

    Thank you both! I am doing the exercises in the “proper” Yusupov way and enjoying the books when I work on chess. I was a bit taken aback with the terrible score. And thanks for telling me your score so I can take some heart from that.

    I may not go back to OTB as it is really exhausting and hard work. I like learning so I hope to continue with the Yusupov series. And playing online Blitz is currently satisfying the playing side for me.

  244. Jacob Aagaard
    December 3rd, 2017 at 10:35 | #246

    Sometimes Artur puts in exercises because he wants te students to know the exanples, ad much as that he believes they can solve them. Or more. Don’t be discouraged. Tealise that tou have seen some chess tou had not seen before and therefore you are learning.

  245. David
    February 1st, 2018 at 15:34 | #247

    It has been 11 months. How did everyone do? Did anyone complete the challenge?

  246. Gerry
    February 7th, 2018 at 13:34 | #248


  247. Gerry
    February 7th, 2018 at 13:34 | #249

    Hi: Anyone get as far as Book 6 for example?

  248. fortune
    February 7th, 2018 at 14:35 | #250

    still on book 4. it’s really not as easy as I thought.

  249. fortune
    February 7th, 2018 at 14:36 | #251

    how about we have a whtsapp group.

  250. Gerry
    February 9th, 2018 at 05:41 | #252

    My study is at an all-time low and I really have to work at my own pace. But good starting a group. And well done for getting to Book 4.
    I was in Book 2 at the start of the challenge and I am only in Book 3.

  251. Gerry
    February 9th, 2018 at 05:42 | #253

    “good luck” I meant.

  252. Tim S
    February 13th, 2018 at 09:18 | #254

    I fully completed two books last year (Orange #1 and Blue #1) but have read a scattering of chapters from other books as well. Not as much Yusupov as I’d have liked but I’ve been using other sources for exercise material too, and did a good amount of chess work in 2017.

  253. Ray
    February 13th, 2018 at 13:38 | #255

    Looks like nine volumes is too much for today’s attention span 🙂

  254. Dennis K
    February 13th, 2018 at 19:11 | #256

    I believe each of the 9 books was distilled from a course that was designed to last one year, and include playing games, analyzing those games, reading other chess books, etc. (all of this is mentioned in the intro to the book(s)). Yusupov himself would probably find it insane to try to finish all 9 books within a single year. It’s not so much attention span as just way too much work and too fast a pace for the average person’s resources. If you have a full-time job and other responsibilities, there just isn’t enough free time in your life to finish 9 books in a year, unless you are going through them so quickly and superficially that you learn nothing. I mean, what good is it going to do to spend a minute or two looking at a difficult exercise, still have no clue what’s going on, take a wild guess at the answer, and then look up the real answer? That’s the only way I would get through all 9 books in a year, and I submit that you would learn very little doing it this way. Doing it correctly (i.e., following Yusupov’s instructions), I would be doing well to get through one book in a year — but I would actually learn something.

    Having said that, I definitely also have attention span problems.

  255. Ray
    February 14th, 2018 at 07:23 | #257

    @ Dennis K

    I.m.o. Jacobs explains in his post above that 9 books a year is a realistic target, if you spend 6 hours per week in it. I think almost everyone has 6 hours per week of spare time, it’s more a matter of priorities. For example,spending less time on social media. It’s the same with learning to play an instrument – it takes consistent practice. I.m.o. many people nowadays expect to become good at something without really putting the required effort into it. Just my opinion of course 🙂

  256. Ray
    February 14th, 2018 at 07:28 | #258

    By the way, I did finish all 9 books, but already before this challenge started. I spent approximately half an hour to 45 minutes on average per chapter. But to be honest, I could do the first few books very quickly because of my level.

  257. Jacob Aagaard
    February 14th, 2018 at 08:07 | #259

    @Dennis K
    I think you can go through each chapter in 1-1.5 hours. If you set aside 25 sessions like this in a month, you will go through the nine books in nine months.

    It does require some single-mindedness of course. And some discipline and determination. I absolutely think it is possible. I manage to do the same with both tennis and guitar playing. Although I probably spend more time on tennis. And I have both kids a company and have to travel all over the World frequently. I do not watch general TV ever. I don’t have one. But I do watch some shows on Netflix, mainly with the family.

  258. Jacob Aagaard
    February 14th, 2018 at 08:09 | #260

    This is not to say that it is easy or that everyone would want to do it. It is a challenge. If you want to go from an ordinary club player to club champion material in a year, this is a path to follow. As I wrote in my last blog post, doing something every day has an accumulative effect that I do not understand the science behind.

  259. johnnyboyross
    February 14th, 2018 at 15:21 | #261

    Hi Jacob

    Not quite bought the full set of 9 to be able to do the challenge but have all 3 orange but yet to get revision and exam. From the title/colour scheme I’m presuming this is only a revision and exam of the fundamentals. Are there planned revison and exam for the blue and green set to come?

    On an unrelated note, I bought some of Dvoretsky’s or Dvorestsy/Yusupov books from Batsford a long time ago but they were too tough for me. Perhaps some of their other works have been better distilled in the 9 set series but maybe there is less overlap- are there any of their non QC books you recommend for the less talented players out there? And do you know which olms books correspond to which batsford books- I think a number of olms editions are reprints but confusingly under a different title to the Batsford original


  260. Jacob Aagaard
    February 14th, 2018 at 17:08 | #262

    There is some overlap in the games, but not in the context or annotations.

    We would like two more books, but Artur is busy currently.

    All the original books by Mark were redone by Olms. You will forgive me not to spend time doing promotion for those books. All of them have too many mistakes and some have drifted out of print. I am not impressed by our competitor…

  261. David
    February 14th, 2018 at 18:01 | #263


    Link below should answer your questions on the Dvoretsky books.

  262. Björn
    February 20th, 2018 at 11:27 | #264

    I (FIDE Elo a little bit over 2200) have started on the first build up your chess book and found the questions in the first 7 chapters quite easy. Then I suddenly hit a really hard obstacle in the chapter 8 quiz (failed on the first try, a while later after I had at least more or less forgotten the answers passed with 14 points). I am wondering whether that’s because this chapter is simply harder than the other chapters, or whether this indicates a particular point in my chess where I am weaker than in other areas. So I’d love to hear from other people in the 2100 to 2300 range, how they have found this chapter in relation to other chapters. I am also curious, if this were a particular weakness of mind how one might best go about working on it.

  263. Tim S
    February 20th, 2018 at 12:58 | #265

    Hi Bjorn – I think chapter 8 is pretty infamous and most people find it tough. I’m a 2100 player and also found it the toughest in the book, scoring the minimum required to pass if I remember correctly.

  264. kutlu hasan
    February 20th, 2018 at 13:07 | #266

    I wonder if nikos is working on a new book greetings hasan

    • Jacob Aagaard
      March 22nd, 2018 at 07:58 | #267

      He is working on Playing 1.e4 together with the rest of us.

  265. dfan
    February 20th, 2018 at 13:37 | #268

    My records say I got 14/27 on chapter 8; I was approximately 1900 USCF at the time. In general the strategy and positional play chapters are the hardest ones in the books (starting with the third book, I have failed about half of the positional play quizzes). I think there are a few reasons for this; in no particular order,
    1) Amateurs tend to be better at tactics than strategy.
    2) You can find refutations to potential tactics solutions and move on to other candidates, whereas positional moves usually don’t have a concrete refutation so it’s easier to stick with a wrong answer.
    3) Positional problems often don’t have one solution and lots of failed alternatives; rather, the qualities of candidate moves are more smoothly distributed. Sometimes I get a problem “wrong” and a chess engine likes my move better than Yusupov’s. (I don’t really consider this to be a failure of the problem; I am trying to train myself to think like a GM, not think like a computer.)
    4) Yusupov may be overestimating the strategic abilities of amateurs at various levels.
    I have learned to think of it as a feature that the difficulties of the chapters vary rather widely even within a book.

  266. Ray
    February 20th, 2018 at 13:47 | #269

    I have the same experience – my scores for the chapters on strategy and positional play are rather dismal, whereas for tactics, calculation and endgame play I score very good. I would really like to know whether the reason is that those are my own weak spots (and so I have to train more on those areas) or whether Yusupov is indeed overestimating the strategic abilities of amateurs (in which case a low score is less of a problem). How to find out which is the case? Does anyone out there have experience with the book “Chess Exam”? Doing the problems in this book is supposed to give you a reliable assessment of your strengths and weaknesses (each test results in an ELO score). Is this useful?

  267. dfan
    February 20th, 2018 at 14:15 | #270

    The lesson I take from it is that strategy and positional play are everyone’s weak spots. 🙂 At the amateur level we all have room for a lot of improvement in those areas, and if we do improve there, we will have an advantage over our peers. It is not so important to me whether that improvement consists of catching up to my peers in strategical thinking or of moving ahead of them.

  268. Ray
    February 20th, 2018 at 15:35 | #271

    Your reasoning sounds perfectly logical at first sight, but I’m not completely sure if I’m convinced. Shouldn’t you also take into account what is costing you the most points in games against your peers and what effort it takes you to improve in certain areas? I can have a grandmasterly strategic insight but if I have a lot of tactical oversights I still lose a lot of games. In my experience even at a fairly high amateur level (FIDE rating of 2200) still many games are decided on tactics or through lack of endgame knowledge. So maybe I can spend my time better on improving those aspects. I just don’t know, it’s hard to tell… There are also schools of thought that think ‘strategy’ in chess is overrated (e.g. Willy Hendrix in “Move first, think later”, I hope I’m not misinterpreting him).

  269. dfan
    February 20th, 2018 at 15:57 | #272

    Yeah, it’s a good q

  270. dfan
    February 20th, 2018 at 15:59 | #273

    Yeah, it’s a good question. I think that as long as your profile isn’t too imbalanced everything is worth studying. What I think Yusupov is telling us is that our profile is probably imbalanced towards being weak strategically.

  271. Frank van Tellingen
    February 20th, 2018 at 18:42 | #274

    @Ray. Certainly, working on one’s weaknesses is very important. Actually John van der Wiel and I had a fairly interesting conversation about the subject of strengths and weaknesses. He was convinced that one could achieve most if one concentrate foremost on working on and properly understanding their strengths, including the knowledge of the type of position you like, how to strive for that, select a repertoire based on this knowledge etc. I thought it was a very interesting advice coming from someone who might know a thing or two about this.

  272. Jacob Aagaard
    February 21st, 2018 at 00:22 | #275

    I do think strategy is harder to learn, which is quite natural, as it is deeper and for other reasons explained above. I also think Artur at times are more interested in making sure the reader knows particular games, than giving them a fair chance in the tests! I have argued a bit with him on this, but overall think his books are not worse for this choice, even if I would have made a different one.

    My main point would probably be that if you do the work, you will get the benefits…

  273. Tim S
    February 21st, 2018 at 11:57 | #276

    I’ve gone through ‘Chess Exam’ and can strongly recommend it, especially if you don’t have a good coach to evaluate your game. It does a good job of quantifying your personal strengths/weaknesses. Personally, I scored lowest on tactics and calculation (c.1900) while strategy was one of my highest (c.2300). I think that’s a fair reflection of my abilities, but despite that I find that the positional and strategy chapters from Yusupov tougher than the tactical ones! That’s probably explained by the reasons given by dfan and Jacob.

  274. Ray
    February 21st, 2018 at 14:27 | #277

    @ Tim S
    Thanks for your reaction, I’ll check it out!

  275. Ram
    February 22nd, 2018 at 12:17 | #278

    Hi Jacob,

    I find that most of my calculation errors are based on “Retained Image”, Could you please advise how to fix this? Is there any specific way/specific book that is more helpful on this issue or is it just more practice of calculation training/tactics training.


  276. Jacob Aagaard
    February 23rd, 2018 at 19:20 | #279

    I assume you mean that a piece has moved, but you think it is still there? Playing through games with a lot of variations on a board, but the variations in your head, is what I did to improve my visualisation.

  277. dfan
    February 23rd, 2018 at 19:55 | #280

    Here’s one exercise I have done for my visualization. It’s hard to prove that it’s helped, but I definitely feel like it exercises my visualization muscles.

    Take a book of annotated games with variations whose length are a mild challenge to you. Set up a chess board and play through the game. When you get to a variation, stop, and try to play through it to the end in your head, visualizing the final position. Now play through it again, moving the pieces this time. Look carefully at the board and see if anything looks surprising compared to what you had in your head (you might have forgotten where a piece was, or you might have known where everything was but missed things in your evaluation). Return the pieces to their positions at the head of the variation. Play through the variation in your head once more, not looking at the book; you should remember the line by now, and going back and forth to the book is both a distraction from concentrating on the board and something that doesn’t happen in a real game. Repeat at each variation.

  278. PaulM
    February 23rd, 2018 at 20:04 | #281

    For those of you who have Chessbase, you can use it to work on visualization. Play through a game and try to remember it. Then change to the piece set that doesn’t actually show any pieces and play through it again, moving the invisible pieces on the board. CB will tell you if you get the move different than the one actually in the game.
    This allows you to practice and actually test how you’re doing.

  279. Björn
    February 24th, 2018 at 18:23 | #282

    Thanks for all the comments. I’ve also asked the federal champion, who is in my club, how he does in these exercises. He simply knew the ones that apparently in “60 memorable games” and “My System”. So there’s definitely something to the knowing “particular games” thing. I guess it says something about my lack of general chess education… He did think the other ones were tough and speculated whether they were to make sure the student does not get too comfortable…

  280. Ram
    February 26th, 2018 at 10:29 | #283

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks Jacob, yes the issue was about visualisation. What I meant initially was, that while calculating, I fail to notice that, after 4-5 moves, the possibilities have changed and moves/threats which were not working can work now and defences that were available will no longer be available and things like that.
    I will try what you have suggested, thanks for everyone who took their time to offer their opinion.

  281. vassilis
    March 22nd, 2018 at 10:54 | #284

    Is there any plan for a new book for players under 2000 elo ?
    Personally, I am almost finished with Yusupov books and I would like more material. Grandmaster series seems to difficult.

  282. Vassilis
    March 22nd, 2018 at 15:25 | #285

    Any new book for players under 2000 elo?
    I am almost done with the yusupov challenge and I am looking for new material.Grandmaster series seems too difficult…

  283. Vassilis
    March 22nd, 2018 at 15:39 | #286

    Vassilis :
    Any new book for players under 2000 elo?
    I am almost done with the yusupov challenge and I am looking for new material.Grandmaster series seems too difficult…

    Sorry for the double post. I thought that the first one will not be published

  284. fortune
    April 8th, 2018 at 23:52 | #287

    hi jacob ,i signed up for the yusupov challenge last year and finished the first two books . the third was a motivational killer… it was a bit hard for me , are there any books that can help me ,which are a bit weaker than the yusupov books? thanks

  285. Karl
    April 9th, 2018 at 06:27 | #288

    @fortune : My first thought is that you maybe have used a wrong order with these books?!

    I finished the first two books of the orange series (“build up your chess 1” and “boost your chess 1”) and have begun the third one (“chess evolution 1”). After that the blue ones (“build up your chess 2”, “boost your chess 2”, “chess evolution 2”) would be the next level and only then the green ones. Yusupov organized that stuff for players in three categories: Up to 1500, 1800 and 2100 german rating.

    In my experience through the orange series the task becomes a bit harder and i get a little bit worse test results, less excellents and goods, more just passed and a bit more failed to pass. But no great jumps. E. g. in the tactical chapters in the first book i often got excellent or good, now i see many good and some only passed, where i missed good by one or two points. But i never failed in a tactical chapter. If i would try to solve the tactical excercises in a green book, which has a 600 points higher rated target audience, i would fail.

  286. fortune
    April 9th, 2018 at 16:43 | #289

    @karl : i used them like the post suggests ( orange books first ,build up ,boost and evolution ) . the 3rd one was a bit hard . maybe starting over and putting more effort may help!!??. and tactics chapters are all fun .

  287. Ram
    April 19th, 2018 at 11:57 | #290

    Hi everyone,

    I am curious to know how others are progressing, how difficult are the time scales and how these books changed their chess approach, possibly their rating.


  288. Brad
    May 3rd, 2018 at 19:50 | #291

    I have two questions:

    (1) I don’t know the board and notation very well, but I’m around 1350 Rapid on I know that the books are for a higher rated person than me, but I’d still like to give it a go. When working through the book, should I be trying to have all variations stored in memory before I write them down, write them down only after finishing one whole variation, or just write them down move by move? I would like to do whatever is best for my calculating ability, a huge weakness of mine, but I can’t seem to remember the previous variation every time I finish a variation.

    (2) How should one score a problem where they got the main line correct but missed a single variation or missed a variation and even got another variation wrong. The first Diagram in the first lesson of the first book, for example. I got the main line correct, but I failed to see one variation and missed that the King could go back in another variation. How would I score that were it a test exercise?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  289. dfan
    May 3rd, 2018 at 20:24 | #292

    @Brad My personal opinions:

    1) In real life of course you don’t get to write down variations as you think. But if you need to do it for now, I think it is better to do it than to stop yourself from doing it. At the very least it makes you think logically and is a good stepping stone towards “writing down variations in your head”. But ideally you should have the whole thing figured out before you write anything (as in a tournament game).

    2) The solutions are pretty good about saying “give yourself 2 points if you saw this far” or “give yourself 1 point if you considered this variation”. If I saw and wrote down as far as the move where the book gives me points, I don’t worry about whether I saw everything past that point.

  290. Frank
    May 3rd, 2018 at 21:10 | #293

    It will never hurt to take up a good chess book, and Yusupov’s book are very good for all levels, but in your case I would start with Steps (I don‘t have shares) 1 – 5 and then perhaps 6. My guess would be not that you are weak in calculation, but that your tactical vision is not well developed and that is an important precondition for calculating well@Brad

  291. Jacob Aagaard
    May 4th, 2018 at 08:23 | #294

    I agree with both dfan and Frank.

    First of all, in the beginning do things in a way that makes it manageable for you. The idea that you have to be brutal on yourself is pure nonsense. It will just make you hate it and give up. Life is supposed to be fun, right?

    And Steps 4-5 would be very useful for you. I am preparing something that will do much of the same things, but in a way I like better, but for now, this Dutch competitor of ours are leading this market for sure.

  292. JB
    May 4th, 2018 at 12:47 | #295

    Do the Steps and your new competitive version Jacob consider some themes such as colour complexes and piece activity. Always find I am often none the wiser when a GM says things like ‘my piece is on the wrong square for this pawn structure’, ‘the weak black colour complex gives enough compensation’

  293. Johnnyboy
    May 4th, 2018 at 18:45 | #296

    Jacob would be very interested in the details of this Steps alternative too

  294. Jacob Aagaard
    May 5th, 2018 at 15:26 | #297

    My stuff will eventually. Pieces are either helped or restricted by the pawns. As rooks and kings are the only that do not have a colour preference, most games are decided on one colour squares. This is a bit abstract, but before you realise most of the pieces are colour blind, you cannot play the game well :-).

  295. May 15th, 2018 at 09:14 | #298

    I’m up for the challenge starting today.

  296. Jacob Aagaard
    May 16th, 2018 at 08:29 | #299

    @Andy Couchman
    Great. It was a pleasure meeting you in Wewelsburg. Hope everyone is all right now.

  297. Sam
    August 23rd, 2018 at 17:53 | #300

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Hi Jacob,
    I have finished these 9 books in little over 4 months. I was wondering if it is useful to repeat these again or to immediately start with Grandmaster preparation.


  298. fredphil
    August 24th, 2018 at 07:41 | #301

    Well done
    Do you see the results (in which part? quality or speed calculation?/…) on your game?

  299. Johan
    March 12th, 2019 at 06:07 | #302

    Started the challenge yesterday.

    I wonder how much ratingpoints were won by those already finished the challenge? Are they all solid 2000+ players now?

    And who did the challenge as intended? Or did everybody take more time then one book a month?

    Heck, wonder why there isn’t a follow up with results and such posted?

  300. Gerry
    March 13th, 2019 at 07:05 | #303

    I would imagine most people did not finish the challenge in any amount of time. I think chess players are like a lot of students. They like the idea of studying the material but it is another matter for adults to be able to devote sufficient time to this.
    I think no one has posted rating improvements as not so many will have been successful here. Except for those that started with a low rating. Always easier to improve from a lower rating. Rating increases are so hard because the other guy wants to win too!

  301. Tim S
    March 13th, 2019 at 08:52 | #304

    I started following the challenge back in Feb-17 and I’m glad I did. Although I haven’t read all the books (I’ve read 3 entirely and selected chapters from others) it acted as a springboard for my overall chess study and I’ve read many other books, including a number of other QC titles.

    My rating was 2070 in Feb-17 but when I started doing a lot of work it didn’t automatically improve, in fact in May-18 it hit a low of 2030. Since then however I feel some things have come together and I’ve performed 2200+, my rating now up to 2130 with hopefully more to come. I think any improvement is down to daily chess work rather than any particular book, but it’s hard to know for certain what impact each book/experience has.

  302. Frank
    March 13th, 2019 at 14:46 | #305

    Practice will pay off in the long run, don’t focus too much on rating though, but on the quality of the games you played. Analyze them (first independently, just write down your thoughts and calculated variations within the game, then check your assumptions with an engine). It is in overcoming your biases and having your judgments and calculations verified or falsified that improvement lies. It surprised me to know that in my club hardly anyone analyses with an engine, or just switches it on to look at its evaluations (which is not very helpful).

    After analysis you can start drawing conclusions about the areas in which you need to improve the most. (E.g. If you spend a lot of time in the opening, learn basis opening ideas. If you calculate poorly or fail to see candidate moves, train there, if you get outplayed or feel uncertain in the endgame, play over some Capa-endings or basics (like 100 Endgames you must know etc.)… Good luck!

  303. Andrew Swales
    March 15th, 2019 at 07:09 | #306

    Hello Jacob,

    I know I am late to this post but I am going to take up the challenge! I have ordered the first 3 books and I will start tomorrow!

    On a side note, I am finding your “Calculation” book very enjoyable and challenging.


  304. Schrodingersking
    March 15th, 2019 at 10:25 | #307

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Can we do the challenge in the chessable format? Do you think that all the books would be available there soon?

  305. Jacob Aagaard
    March 21st, 2019 at 09:55 | #308

    I think it will take more than a year for all the books to be there. I am personally rechecking them before they are put up there, as 10 years have passed since they were first published. I am not finding much wrong, a few details here and there, but it seems the right way to do it. They will be there for decades of course, so doing it right the first time around is sensible. In this way we are the opposite of a tech company that releases and do endless patches. We try to get it right the first time around…

  306. Peter
    March 21st, 2019 at 14:33 | #309

    I completely agree about endless patches and it is very cool you’re going through all the books again personally!

    However, I would like to point out that one thing to keep in mind is that it is pretty easy to update books that are already on chessable. For instance, they’ve made a big update to 100 endgames you must know just today. In this case I do not think they are correcting anything from the actual book but doing so would be very easy for the chessable team.

    Publishers have to reprint a book and I assume it’s less cumbersome but still cumbersome on a platform like Forward Chess. But there should never be a situation with a Chessable book where the author has a list of changes and they just sit there never being released to the public.

    Also, it may be interesting to keep this sort of idea in mind since a living chess product could be produced/created this way. E.g. adding a game a month in the opening variation of that book. Not sure if such a thing would be monetized properly but perhaps such a book would continue to be bought at a higher rate than other stagnant books on into the future.

  307. Jacob Aagaard
    March 24th, 2019 at 13:29 | #310

    I see no future in a subscription obligation to the author in reply to one-off payments 🙂

  308. Geordie1974
    March 24th, 2019 at 22:14 | #311

    @Jonathan Bryant
    I seem to recall Andy Soltis saying he’d written such a book when he was interviewed on the Perpetual Chess podcast. There’s also a book called ‘The Seven Deadly Chess Sins’ which has been recommended on PC a few times and which I think deals with those psychological issues.

  309. Tim S
    March 25th, 2019 at 08:57 | #312

    Interesting comments. I would have thought it could be an interesting idea for the author too, if each update is well publicised. Thinking more about opening books but I would expect the number of sales to remain at a higher rate than for regular books that can quickly become out-of-date. If the update is say once a year or every two years it may be worth it, as the amount of effort involved would be less than for the initial book (unless many of the lines recommended have been busted!).

    Another option would be to charge a subscription model for books that will be updated, rather than charging only a one-off payment. This would be a bit similar to ChessPublishing, although I assume whether such pricing options are available would be in Chessable’s control not QC.

  310. The other Peter
    March 25th, 2019 at 16:23 | #313

    You can also just put individual chapters on chessable (or forward chess) and then charge for every updated chapter separatly. IMHO something like this will be the future of (chess-) publishing. Or sell the full book upfront and publish the chapters one by one. Several publishers in the IT are doing exactly this for some years now.

  311. Jacob Aagaard
    March 26th, 2019 at 12:47 | #314

    I think for the Yusupov series, we also have to think about what makes sense for us. In reality, we make our living from publishing one book at a time. The updates are more principled than an economic endeavor.

  312. Tobias
    March 27th, 2019 at 21:41 | #315

    Yussupov books are clearly a great candidate for a one-off publication on chessable.

    However, I agree that opening books with (a promise to get) updates are not only great for readers, but can be good for business for publishers (and authors) as well.
    You’re re-publishing Avrukh’s 1.d4 books. It’s a huge remake: new(replacing) lines, much analysis extended, updated lines. That compells buyers of volume 1 to buy the new books. Ok, good.
    However, I guess in many cases, people don’t need all that extension and new lines, just in case where something is “busted” an update would be enough.
    So, what could work for publishers: You publish a solid opening book in 2019, with a promise to update when something serious happens in a line. Then that book (or online course) may be interesting even in 2024 for many, having confidence that whatever is in there “still holds”. And the effort to keep it updated is non-zero but relatively manageable. And many people who read your books don’t have time to monitor new games in lines proposed in books, new literature, CB magazine, etc…
    You could make such updates with/without a subscription – either relying on people buying the books (courses) even after years, or financing by the subscription.

    Worth a field test, maybe?

  313. March 28th, 2019 at 13:36 | #316


    Yeah, this is the sort of thing I have in mind and that (at least) some authors are doing to varying degrees on the platform already. Note that with every new update a promotion could be run or something else to entice new buyers.

    At the same time, experimentation needs to be done – I agree that it very well may not work pricing-wise even if the book has longer sustained sales vs. a new book with new sales. But perhaps doing this with (making a random guess) 5 opening books is about as much work as creating a new version of 1 of them. Well, perhaps the additional long-term sales of the 5 will outweigh the new sales of a new version.

  314. Andre
    March 28th, 2019 at 17:44 | #317

    Another point is that a certain business model, let’s say the one we’re talking about right now, can be perfectly fine for a one-author-business like Sielecki, while at the same time completely unattractive for a big player like QC. Simply because the 200 more lifetime units for the product on Chessable are(n’t) worth the time spent on a the updates, even if the process is fine tuned.

  315. March 29th, 2019 at 01:34 | #318


    Yes. It has to make sense for the publisher/person. I think we (well, I should speak for myself!) want to make sure to encourage Jacob’s growth mindset just in case this is something that could be an option for a QC project of some kind.

  316. Jacob Aagaard
    March 29th, 2019 at 06:10 | #319

    Our experience is clearly that updates are not great business, but new projects are. Subscriptions would require stability from authors. We cannot get 1/3 of them to deliver the first draft on time, so where does this put us on a promise of continuous updates?

    This is a non-starter.

  317. Jacob Aagaard
    March 29th, 2019 at 06:11 | #320

    I do updates because of professional pride. I also recently checked some things in Advanced Chess Tactics by Psakhis, which we will be publishing an updated version of. I have no belief that this is good business, but it is a good book and it was worth spending a day checking some things (while far from all).

  318. Peter
    March 29th, 2019 at 13:47 | #321

    Jacob Aagaard :
    I do updates because of professional pride. I also recently checked some things in Advanced Chess Tactics by Psakhis, which we will be publishing an updated version of. I have no belief that this is good business, but it is a good book and it was worth spending a day checking some things (while far from all).

    I feel like this does contribute to bottom line since QC has such a sterling reputation for doing things like this. And yes, I realize that even if you could calculate how much this contributes to reputation and, hence, future monetary value, it still probably isn’t profitable. But I do think everyone in chess who pays attention is pretty impressed by the little things like this.

  319. Leaf
    March 31st, 2019 at 13:49 | #322

    Sign up.

    Today start Build up Your Chess 1.

  320. Jacob Aagaard
    March 31st, 2019 at 17:56 | #323

    I try not to think in those terms. I just want to feel honest when I sell a book. I can accept that something written in 2008 had mistakes that were hard to avoid in 2008 and people buying it will know this. But with a flagship product like the Yusupov books, which we a relaunching on ChessAble and continue to reprint as a sort of syllabus, I really cannot see an argument besides laziness for not checking them now.

  321. Tobias
    March 31st, 2019 at 23:19 | #324

    I honestly wonder what you find being wrong with the original books.

    The most challenging/time consuming part seems to adapt to the format:
    – There are all the “alternative moves” that would be valid as well. Great work from you and/or the chessable team to put them into the system. It’s not perfect, but I don’t see how it ever could be!
    – And maybe the fact that “Exercise 9-1” has a double-solution as White can mate with both h8Q# and h8R# in some variations, where Yusupov clearly states “There is only one single way to achieve mate in two moves.” 😀
    – Of course, the “mate in 2” shouldn’t accept “alternative solutions” that lead to mate in 3. Again, that’s adapting to the format, not the content itself.

  322. Jacob Aagaard
    April 1st, 2019 at 14:52 | #325

    It is a fair question Tobias.

    First of all, if anyone has the old books and are wondering if it is worth it to upgrade to the updated ones – It’s not.

    There are some minor details in the tactical explanations here and there that are wrong. Not because of laziness or even human error, but because the engines did not find a deep option ten years ago. Now they do. It is a handful per book. In 1-2 situations it means that an exercise does not meet my VERY HIGH criteria and will be replaced.

    The teaching is UNCHANGED. No one will find a different learning experience from working through these books.

  323. John NS
    April 2nd, 2019 at 00:00 | #326

    @Jacob Aagaard

    I appreciate your honesty about the book upgrades. Since I don’t have the original books and you have said that they won’t be available on FC I will get them on Chessable.

  324. James2
    April 2nd, 2019 at 09:01 | #327

    Hi all at QC,

    The ‘Coming Soon’ section looks a little undernourished now. Will there be any new book front covers added soon?

    Thank you.


  325. Jacob Aagaard
    April 3rd, 2019 at 13:31 | #328

    We had illness last year, so the production of the covers is lacking 🙂

  326. Kevin
    April 3rd, 2019 at 16:29 | #329

    John NS :
    @Jacob Aagaard
    I appreciate your honesty about the book upgrades. Since I don’t have the original books and you have said that they won’t be available on FC I will get them on Chessable.

    I can’t find Jacob’s original comment on this, but has it been stated that these books will not be available on Forward Chess? That would be really unfortunate if true.

    I’m just going to throw my opinion in here–I would buy all of these book if made available on forward chess. I now buy exclusively from FC and probably will never purchase a physical chess book again. For someone on the go, the format is just massively more convenient and allows me to actually finish books rather than get 30 pages in and park it on a bookshelf.

    Not only do I encourage you to make these books available on FC, but also please, please, the Quality Chess back catalog as well. I have gotten to the point where I’ll even re-purchase books I already own physical copies of just to have them in the FC easy-to-consume format.

  327. Leaf
    April 15th, 2019 at 13:41 | #330

    Done Build up Your Chess 1.

    Start Boost Your Chess 1.

  328. Jacob Aagaard
    April 17th, 2019 at 20:25 | #331

    Well done. Stay strong!

  329. Leaf
    April 30th, 2019 at 02:14 | #332

    Thank you for your valuable encouragement …

    Done Boost Your Chess 1 today, start Chess Evolution 1 …

  330. Leaf
    May 3rd, 2019 at 11:06 | #333

    Done Chess Evolution 1 during holiday, start Build up Your Chess 2 …

  331. Jacob Aagaard
    May 4th, 2019 at 14:36 | #334


  332. Indra Polak
    May 6th, 2019 at 11:47 | #335

    I have a question about the repeat method. When I redo problems from Calculation, I often “see” the best candidate move without thinking since I already solved (and apparently remembered) the problem earlier in my life.

    Then I start calculating, and, lo an behold, it looks to be the best move. I then check the solution and I have 95% of the solution correct. So how is this improving my chess skills? Sure, I will spot a similar tactic sooner probably.

    I then revisited some endgame studies from Wotawa in this book from Dvoretsky (Studies for Practical Players: …) which I looked at a longer time ago. Here I did not remember/see the solution immediately (these are very well hidden in some cases). So either I have done the calculation exercises too often now, or the Wotawa ones are more difficult to remember correctly?

    Anyway, my question is if you see the solution immediately how will this improve your chess skill?

  333. Ostria
    May 6th, 2019 at 14:44 | #336

    Your progress is very inspiring, keep going!
    Can you please share your rating, whether you find the exercises easy or difficult and maybe your rate of success in solving them?
    Thank you!

  334. Frank
    May 6th, 2019 at 19:58 | #337

    Indra: an excellent book with fresh exercises which will defintely boost your defensive skills (in which calculation and spotting candidate moves is everything) is Practical Chess Defense (guess who’s the author). Highly recommended.@Indra Polak

  335. Indra Polak
    May 7th, 2019 at 07:39 | #338

    @Frank thx for the suggestion. Maybe I can also start in Calculation and work backwards from the end instead of from the start 🙂 Have not seen those as often I guess.

  336. pabstars
    May 7th, 2019 at 11:13 | #339

    Indra Polak, just out of curiosity, what is your rating? I’m asking because it sounds as if your pattern recognition is really good! I also like Practical Chess Defense but probably struggle more than a lot of the readers here with my rating being about 2100.

  337. Indra Polak
    May 7th, 2019 at 12:26 | #340

    My current FIDE is 2214. My local rating is 2269 which took more games into account of the past year :). And I think my pattern recognition is not extraordinary, but my question was about the woodpecker method. If you repeat the same exercises while you already now the answer, what are you exactly memorizing: that specific position and the solution, or do you really learn to spot similar tactics/patterns the next time. I think it would be better if you could train a lot of different positions but with the same theme (like pin, smothered mate, back-rank mate, fork, field-clearance, eliminate defender etc) so you train your mind to spot the theme and are not just memorizing a position and the best line for that position (which most probably you are already pretty good at since you have memorized a lot of openings).

  338. Leaf
    May 7th, 2019 at 13:09 | #341


    Did not play chess for a long time, rating maybe around 2100 …

    Usually, Tactics, Calculation, and Endgame are easy, can finish a chapter in 20 or 30 minutes, and score maybe 80% or 90% …

    Other parts, Positional Play, Strategy Play, and Opening, are quite difficult, usually needs 1 or 2 hours for a chapter, and score maybe between 50% to 70% …

  339. Ray
    May 9th, 2019 at 06:07 | #342

    @Indra Polak
    I tend to agree. I have done all the Woodpecker cycles, but haven’t noticed any improvement in my tactical abilities / pattern recognition.

  340. An Ordinary Chessplayer
    May 9th, 2019 at 21:21 | #343

    Indra Polak wrote: “I have a question about the repeat method.” and later “… my question was about the woodpecker method.”

    I have the same experience as you, where I remember the previous solution rather than actually see the solution on the diagram in front of me. I tend to remember them better when I got them wrong the first time. It would be interesting to test with a position that is //almost// identical, but where the previous solution is not applicable. I would bet that if I did not notice the small difference in position, I would just incorrectly give the previous solution.

    It’s safe to say that tactical exercises are valuable for all, but the woodpecker method is valuable for less than all. What is just my own opinion is that the //less than all// could end up being //much// less. This needs to be studied, part of that study would be a lot of players trying the woodpecker method.

    Is it allowed to post external links? The Woodpecker Method was discussed at chesspub:
    Naturally, no conclusion was reached.

  341. Tim S
    May 10th, 2019 at 08:57 | #344

    I noticed some improvement in sharpness after using the Woodpecker method and will likely do it again in the future. The authors do stress that it’s important to calculate properly each cycle, even if you remember the solution (or think you do). It’s only on the final cycle or two where you focus more on pattern recognition. It sounds like immediately trying to recognise the position rather than calculate is what’s gone wrong for some people.

  342. Indra Polak
    May 10th, 2019 at 13:52 | #345

    @Tim S : I am not trying to recognize the position, its more like the position instantly triggers the solution move to me, kinda like you instantly see Qg8+ for a smothered mate position. Its more like the position has been added to your bag of tricks. And I would expect this effect to increase after each repetition. Its easy to calculate if you only have to calculate one move for each side because you know it is the relevant line. Maybe calculation exercises should have irregular positions with, say, 3 queens on each side or something, so your mind can’t use its stored pattern recognition knowledge so easy.

  343. Indra Polak
    May 10th, 2019 at 14:19 | #346

    I looked at the url about the discussion of the Woodpecker method and it appears I have been “woodpeckering” in my Calculation book…the general pattern is like “I have some time what shall I do -> Lets do Calculation -> Open the book -> can’t remember where i ended last time -> start from page one (or 10, or 5) -> recognize some, easy -> don’t recognize some, not easy” until time is up. Even with positions I recognize I still calculate the moves in my head just to practice that. But good calculation means to be as efficient as possible which means your candidate move selection algorithm should be very good, and that’s the tricky part since by experience you learn to also look at some unexpected moves which might turn around the evaluation. This works best when you need to find mate in 2 (especially if you know there is a mate in 2), but far less good when opponent can play an unexpected move that wrecks your plans.

  344. Ashutosh
    May 11th, 2019 at 09:36 | #347

    I’ve done with most of the part of Yusupov’s series over a span of 3-4 years though it didn’t benefit me much as I was irregular. Looking forward to start it from the scratch this time and a bit seriously and regularly and hoping to complete it within a year.

  345. May 13th, 2019 at 00:14 | #348

    I have the first book, made my way through several chapters. I love how it makes you calculate the lines.

    Do you all follow the instructions and use a real chess board?

    I currently have a chess coach, curious if I should do these books and also have a coach. Worried about doing too much work and being burnt out.

  346. Leaf
    May 18th, 2019 at 01:28 | #349

    Start Boost Your Chess 2 today …

  347. Leaf
    June 5th, 2019 at 09:08 | #350

    Done Boost Your Chess 2 …

    Start Chess Evolution 2 …

  348. Ramya
    June 9th, 2019 at 21:42 | #351

    I love GM Jacob Aagaard Books! I am up for the challenge!

  349. Mechanize
    June 10th, 2019 at 20:54 | #352

    Hi, any news about Negi Repertoire 1.e4 e5?
    Thx a lot

  350. Leaf
    July 3rd, 2019 at 12:56 | #353

    Done Chess Evolution 2.

    Start Build up Your Chess 3.

  351. Leaf
    July 27th, 2019 at 02:21 | #354

    Done Build up Your Chess 3.

    Start Boost Your Chess 3.

  352. August 2nd, 2019 at 17:20 | #355

    Hello All,

    I hope this forum is still alive and active. I have decided to begin working through GM Yusupov’s series. I have been reading the forum for some time and am ready to take the plunge. Looking forward to receiving the first orange book.


  353. August 5th, 2019 at 17:02 | #356

    I’m guessing, then, that this thread is not all that active anymore. I received Build Up Your Chess #1 today and plan to begin work on it this evening after I return home from work. I’m looking forward to the journey.


  354. Leaf
    August 14th, 2019 at 08:11 | #357

    Done Boost Your Chess 3.

    Start Chess Evolution 3.

    August 14th, 2019 at 12:55 | #358

    Do you see a difference in your chess during games and tournament?

  356. KevHun
    August 14th, 2019 at 14:04 | #359

    You are working very hard Leaf!

  357. Leaf
    September 4th, 2019 at 02:13 | #360

    I have not played tournaments for a long time, since chess is not popular in my area and there are not many tournaments around. Even if there are some, usually they are for GMs or kids, not for middle-players (my Elo is around 2100).

    I find it fun to try one or two Yusupov chapters every day. They are difficult, especially green ones, but they are fun, even if I fail the test. Whether they improve my ratings or not, I don’t know yet. I would know it later if I have a chance to play a tournament.

  358. Leaf
    September 4th, 2019 at 02:18 | #361

    Done Chess Evolution 3.

    Now woodpecker time. Start it again from Build up Your Chess 1.

  359. September 4th, 2019 at 06:10 | #362

    Now that the books started to appear on Chessable, it will be much easier to take the challenge 🙂

  360. Jim
    January 13th, 2020 at 17:39 | #363

    My goal this year is to knock off some rust (been away from OTB chess for a while), to fill in some glaring gaps, and to finally make a push at real improvement (Current USCF: 1840). With that in mind, I have created a serious course of study throughout the year that includes the Yusupov books 1-6 (It would seem to be a little too ambitious to include the final 3 books, perhaps 2021 for those)
    I began with Build up your chess a few days before the new year and am up to chapter 8. As expected, most of the tactical chapters net me about full marks. The real surprise was with the first endgame chapter. I did not take the exam seriously enough and just assumed I knew the right ideas, of course, this lead to many avoidable mistakes being made. It was certainly an eye-opening experience to come face to face with the truth that I have a strong tendency to hand wave in situations the require concrete calculation. I decided then and there that the only way forward was to be determined to put in a maximum effort on every problem.
    I am currently on the exam in Chapter 8, I am still not sure about what I am missing in the first position (Spassky-Fischer, Mar del Plata 1960). First I got really focused on making Nf4 – e6 work (initially missing Bc5!, certainly a tactical motif I should be practicing more), but then I still went wrong with believing that 1. Rxf8 Bxf8 2. Nf4 was the idea. In truth, I need to think a lot more about this position and attempt to figure out why I never…

  361. Jim
    January 13th, 2020 at 18:22 | #364

    Hit the character limit here is the rest:
    even considered Re5. After seeing it, it seems obvious, but for some reason I just never even looked at it. My initial thought was that the reason I didn’t think of such a tactical solution as overloading the Queen, was that I was assuming (again with the hand waving) that since it was a chapter on strategy that there wouldn’t be a straight forward win. Problem 8-3 looks like a similar issue, at first glance, it seems like there should be a clear cut answer that either wins or gains an overwhelming advantage. I am determined to take the time necessary to break down the problem and figure it out. Whether or not I get the answer correct, the struggle to find the right answer and the explanation of what the right answer will be reward enough.
    If there is anyone else out there who is also looking to improve this year, drop me a line and perhaps we can share updates on progress throughout the year.

  362. Tom
    March 30th, 2021 at 15:23 | #365

    I just completed the Yusupov challenge (although I omitted Revision and Exam 1). I worked through the nine volumes from August 2020 – March 2021. It was a lot of hard work and I’m proud that I managed to pass all nine final tests! My current rating is USCF 2008, so I look forward to seeing how I progressed once OTB chess resumes.

  363. Karan
    April 7th, 2021 at 01:57 | #366

    Completed the first three orange books. Took about 5 months.

    ChessTempo standard tactics rating went from 1770~ to 1900~. rating went from 1200~ to 1500~.

    Started chess about 9 months ago so I’m sure a lot of the rating increase is just a result of playing more but obviously the bulk of my chess has been these books.

    Will start working on the blue books now. Will report back when done… however long that takes 😉

  364. aditi
    March 4th, 2022 at 18:14 | #367

    Has anyone finished the challenge? does that really help to improve your fide rating?
    Pls share your experience

  365. Miguel Ángel Romo Lozano
    April 3rd, 2022 at 02:14 | #368

    Actually I’ve made the first 11 chapters of Book 1, and 20 chapters of book 2. Do not ask why I skipped those chapters. But I can see an outstanding improvement. In online chess I increased my ratings blitz/rapid/classical in almost 250 points. I’ve take 4 months to do this chapters. And in some weeks (April 12) I will participate in my first OTB tournament, i havent do so since 2015. So I expect to do a good performance. I will participate in <1600 rating category so I expect good results.

  366. John Burr
    July 19th, 2022 at 02:17 | #369

    Anybody doing this challenge? I am starting one. (Actually started yesterday.) Will keep you all posted.

    P.S. I am the professional patzer everybody beats down mercilessly. Just so you know.

  367. Alexander
    July 23rd, 2022 at 21:37 | #370

    I am also going to do the challenge, started today after reading this blog, I am doing Build up your Chess series 2, book 4, I did two Orange books in the past, but will do them again if I do not do well on Revision & Exam 1 (the book 10, people say it is harder then orange series, so will do it after I am finished with 3 blue books), the pace is slightly slower 1 chapter in 2 days (reading intro and solving examples on day 1 and then doing 12 test on day 2), hope this is more doable without rushing through all variations. My main attraction with the course is to immerse myself to the chess culture of Yusupov’s school, his choice of examples and problems is remarkable and detailed solutions are very helpful. You get a feeling of being a student of Yusupov 🙂
    I wonder if there is another thread on Yusupov Challenge …

  368. Karan Singh
    September 5th, 2022 at 23:38 | #371


    Completed the three blue books. Took 1 year and 4 months.

    ChessTempo standard tactics rating went from 1900~ to 2200~ (peak). rapid rating went from 1500~ to 1850~ (disclaimer: don’t really play on
    Lichess Classical Rating went from 1750~ to 2050~ (peak)

    Will start working on the green books now. Will report back when done… however long that takes 😉

  369. Cloudless
    October 6th, 2022 at 02:36 | #372

    I just started the first book (build up your chess 1). I do have a couple of questions about how people are approaching some of it. I haven’t done the test yet, I was figuring out the chapter examples on my own the best I could first (setting up, trying to solve with no moving, then onto moving, and writing all variations down). Are people doing this or just readin/following the examples and then doing the tests?

    It seems that some of the mates in ch1 examples aren’t forced, so there is room for the opponent to play something that will put the plan off track (one specifically mentions you’ll be up a piece, diagram 1-9). In that same example though, I was wondering why wouldn’t white just play g3 at some point as the queen-bishop ram is fairly obvious. In 1-8 also, why not g3? Is it normal to be able to find some alternative paths like this? I’ll fully admit I could just be missing something! The alternatives seem to come at a cost to the opponent at least. I got the book to see if I can follow it and so far I can, although it’ll probably take me a lot longer than many (I’d be considered an “adult learner” really, learned to play in middle school but didn’t really take it up until a few months ago, I’m in my late 30s).

  370. GG
    October 30th, 2022 at 20:28 | #373

    Completed the first book a week ago. Not strict about learning and following a plan.
    My previous OTB tournament I scored 2/7.
    My last tournament after completing book 1 and a few chapters of 2 I scored 4/6. Very please with the results. Though on could argue that the two tournaments were of different quality, but the quality of my game certainly felt better.
    For book 1 I just kinda did it casually, including stopping and starting here and there so it took a few months.
    Book 2 however I have been sticking to a lesson per day schedule and recording my times/results on a spreadsheet. I will be repeating all chapters I had failed before doing the final test.

    Overall enjoying this series.
    Chesscom and lichess have not improved, though that may just be to a lack of playing

  371. Dhamal-Goda
    January 4th, 2023 at 13:38 | #374

    Challenge accepted.
    I have picked chess back up after a 10 month break – and am looking forward to jump starting my chess study with newer and better habits. I have picked up the Yusupov books to help do that along with resuming with my coaches. I am fortunate to be able to devote 4 hours a day to it. The question is whether I can sit still long enough or will need to break that time into 4 or 5 productive sessions through the day.
    Anyone have any suggestions or thoughts on this? Thanks!

  372. Steve mercuri
    March 25th, 2023 at 02:46 | #375

    Jacob is this form with the Yusupov challenge dead or is there a active form for this challenge?

  373. Karan
    April 27th, 2023 at 02:44 | #376

    Completed the three green books. Took about 8 months. rapid rating went from 1850~ to 1950~ (disclaimer: don’t really play on
    Lichess Classical Rating went from 2050~ to 2060~ (peak)

    In total, completing the 9 books took 2 years and 5 months.

    ChessTempo standard tactics rating went from 1400~ to 2200~ (Stopped doing these after the blue books) rating went from 1200~ to 1950~.
    Lichess classical went from 1700~ to 2160~

    Grade wise, I scored around 70-80% on the orange books, 50% for the blue books, and 40% for the green books (35% on the first, 40% on the second, and 45% on the third).

    Overall, I enjoyed working through these books as some the positions were very interesting and it has given me a good foundation in broad range of chess topics. I’ll move on to some other books now but I think it would be interesting to return to the Yusupov series after 5ish years to see if my grades on the different books improve (as well as my solving speed).

    Good luck to everyone else working through the series!

  374. Jacob Aagaard
    May 12th, 2023 at 15:50 | #377

    Thank you for the update

  375. Jacob Aagaard
    May 12th, 2023 at 15:51 | #378

    @Steve mercuri
    This tread is all that remains 🙂

  376. Alphapatzer
    May 19th, 2023 at 15:45 | #379

    I stumbled across this thread just now.

    I accidentally started the challenge in April 2023. So far, I’m thru Chapter 20 of book 2.

    I’ll keep y’all posted.

  377. Pineapple
    June 16th, 2023 at 04:33 | #380

    I read the first book a while ago, so I’ll be starting the second book today

    Current rating: 1900 rapid on

  1. June 4th, 2017 at 13:20 | #1
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