Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review: "Studying Chess Made Easy"

I finished "Studying Chess Made Easy" by Andrew Soltis covering the last 70 pages over the last four-five days. I really like the ideas communicated to the reader in this book. For the most part I had heard the advice on improving before in many different sources and many different forms. Here it was especially digestable.

  • Chapter 1: Chess Isn't School
  • Chapter 2: Cultivating Your Chess Sense
  • Chapter 3: The biggest Study myth
  • Chapter 4: The Right Way to Study Openings
  • Chapter 5: Two-an-a-half-move Chess
  • Chapter 6: Overcoming Endgame Phobia
  • Chapter 7: Learning to Live with TMI
  • Chapter 8: How to Learn More from a Master Game
The last chapter on "How to learn more from a master game" took advice I had heard--play over the game at least three times--and broke it down into the whys and wherefores. Play through the first time quickly (just the raw game score) to get a feel for the game (ebb and flow, crucial points, themes). Play through the second time looking at note commentary for ideas, look for points where you would have chosen a different move or didn't understand why a move was chosen. Play through the third time for detailed examination of the analysis notes and variations, do your own analysis sans computer to gain further understanding.

Soltis is also a believer of the every diagram is a lesson program. He talks about good authors of chess material choosing to use diagrams at critical/interesting/learning opportunity moments of the games they annotate. He expresses that improving players should have fun while studying. Although he knows that some areas of study will be hard and brutal work for the player that really wishes to achieve a high level he notes that choosing exciting games, practicing and analyzing with friends, and learning openings/endgames in  increments can be done without draining all the fun out of chess.

I really like several of the reviews on Amazon regarding this book and feel those reviewers are spot on with their key points. This is a strong candidate for "Book of the Year."

In addition, the working through the book, since my last  post I have finished the May and June issues of Chess Life leaving me July, August and September to work through. I have been playing on-line with some success and reviewing tactics diagrams daily. I just seem to lack the time for slow chess tournaments and weekend events. I will try to focus more on that over the next six months.