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The Road to Chess Improvement [Paperback]

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Item description for The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky...

"How can I improve my game?" is a perennial question facing chess-players. While there are no easy answers, Alex Yermolinsky is better qualified than most to offer advice. Having found the famed "Soviet School of Chess" wanting, he trained himself, slowly but surely raising his game to top-class grandmaster standard. In this book, he passes on many of the insights he has gained over the years. He steers the reader away from "quick fix" approaches, and focuses on the critical areas of chess understanding and over-the-board decision-making. This entertainingly written book breaks new ground in many areas of chess understanding. Topics covered include: Trend-Breaking Tools; The Burden of Small Advantages; What Exchanges Are For; Classics Revisited; and Computer Chess. A large part of the book discusses a variety of important opening set-ups, including methods for opposing offbeat but dangerous lines, such as the Grand Prix Attack.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.6" Width: 6.7" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 22, 2000
Publisher   Gambit Publications
ISBN  1901983242  
ISBN13  9781901983241  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > Board Games > Chess
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Road to Chess Improvement?

Go to School with GM Yermo!  Jun 8, 2006
This excellent review was written by A J Goldsby of Pensacola, FL. I have reposted it here as it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Mr Goldsby is one of the best and most objective book reviewers and a credit to the this site review system.

Dozens - if not hundreds - of people have written me and asked me to review to review this book. I have had the book for close to a year now. I have played over perhaps a hundred of the examples, 10-20 in great detail. And I have just plain 'read' the book from cover-to cover at least twice. And I have also "polled" dozens of players - both in person at chess tournaments, and on the Internet - about this book.
At first I was a little critical of many of the examples in this book, (he only uses his own games to illustrate points that could have been accomplished by better known examples)- but the text is pretty clear and concise. I will give a very small extract from the book later, and you can judge for yourself.

I am a "Chess Pro" (A LIFE-Master), ... for over 5 years now I have made a living teaching chess ... both in person and lately - sometimes giving 3-7 lessons in a [good] day on the Internet. So my questions about this book were twofold: #1.) Is it a GOOD teaching vehicle? # 2.) Is it something the average chess player would benefit from?

Another hard consideration is there are dozens of chess books out there on the market today - all promising improvement. So why should I listen to this guy? (Especially when I could buy the series from Lev Alburt?) Well the answer is pretty simple, this guy is NOT a yutz: this is a [former] U.S. Champion who at one time had played in like 8 consecutive U.S. Championship events. He has won many large open tournaments in the USA and has even played very creditably on the International Chess scene. He is an extremely well known teacher and has written many respected articles for newspapers and magazines on chess. He is also a product of the highly vaunted "Soviet School" of chess - their teaching methods are well known and have produced all but one of the chess World Champions since Botvinnik.

I am not sure I agree with the layout of this book, I might have done it differently - but this is more of an ergonomic and stylistic remark than a valid criticism. There are sections on everything from the Benoni structure to advice on how to handle complex tactical positions. There is also some very frank and extremely instructive advice and commentary on some of the endgames.

In the introduction the author tells you that this book is, "essentially a collection of A. Yemolinsky's games and analysis." (In the Introduction.) So the only question remains did he come through on the two basic questions that I posed above?

Well, a good question to see would be to find one of my own weaknesses and see if the author could help me in this area? The answer was yes.

On page 51, we find an extremely detailed explanation - and the beginning of a whole section of analysis - on, "The Burden Of Small Advantages." (Steadily converting a small ad vantage is an area I have had a lot of problems with.) Here is an extract, I have started with near the end of one paragraph, and the start of another, simply to make a point.
<< they are described as 'plus over equal' in chess literature; and that's the most popular evaluation we find in Opening Books -"White is slightly better."
The positional theory of Steinitz - Tarrasch teaches us (as generations of chess players before) to attack when we are better, otherwise the advantage will disappear - some sort of 'use it or lose it' advice. And we should follow it ... >> VERY good words!
(The author has a dialogue that runs well over one whole page, see the sample pages if you would like more examples of the author's style of writing.)

The next few examples I found to be VERY illustrative - and both entertaining and instructive. I went over them many times, one time playing the main lines out on a big chess board, and looking at the side-lines on a small wooden peg board ... AND a magnetic set. The first example (in this section) is Adelman - Yermolinsky. He shows how White, (who is a very strong player); took a very seemingly equal and harmless position - with almost no visible weaknesses - and went on to lose. I think I learned a great deal from this section. But the real question is not whether he can teach a chess pro; but whether or not the average player would find this book of any real instructional value.

I took one of the examples- with a diagram - copied it, word-for-word; (with a few sparse comments from me); and sent it out to dozens of my friends and students. (Both on the Internet and in the U.S. Mail.) I also asked as many people about this book (esp. in person, at a chess tourney); as I could. The responses were overwhelmingly positive. A medical doctor - who is currently the Pensacola Chess Club's president; felt this was a great book. A player in Tallahassee, FL said, "This is a GREAT book, one anyone could learn from." A player from Kansas, whom I teach on the Internet, said, "This was - without a doubt - the best chess book I had ever read." (!!) A player from Mobile, AL (who attends college there), called this, "A VERY good instructional book!" Of the nearly 30 players who responded, only 1 "Class D" player said, "This is probably good stuff, but I felt it was a little over my head."

My honest take on this book is that it is a VERY good teaching book. I would give it an 8.5, on a scale of one to ten. I also think it is like one of Shrek's onions, it has MANY layers. I.e., I feel almost any player who applied themselves seriously to this book, (a 6-12 month study course); would show DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT! My only criticism is that a very inexperienced or lower-rated player would be a little lost with this book. Highly recommended for players in the 1700-2199 ratings bracket!!
A good buy (One-volume!) and excellent instruction from one of the United State's strongest and most successful players!!

Where is the road at first?  May 21, 2006
the writer is writing the book about himself hoping to have the reader to benefit out of his own history... it is not the case really.

to start with, the language is not good at al. when it comes to chess the writer is like pouring though chunks here and there.
A very helpful and inspiring book.  Mar 20, 2006
I've just re-read this book after reading the recently-released 'Chess for Zebras' by Jonathan Rowson (Gambit Publications) and I have been struck by their complementary nature. Rowson, like Yermolinsky, deals with how difficult it is to improve as an adult player, and explores the psychology of chess-playing. But while Rowson is an academic, with a somewhat detached and scientific attitude to the problem, Yermolinsky is much more down-to-earth. And yet, both are basically saying the same thing - to improve, you must play, you must learn to calculate, and you must subject your own games to rigorous analysis to find out what you do wrong. Both have applied this approach to their own chess, and have continued to make progress well beyond the age when most of us find our ratings have been
written in stone.

I may be doing Rowson a disservice here, but it seems to me that although he recognises the effect of emotion on his chess, he seeks to eliminate it. Yermolinsky, on the other hand, seeks to use it - to feed off his own passions and to exploit the weaknesses of the human across the board. Since I can't imagine how I could stop being emotional at the chess-board, Yermolinsky's approach has a certain appeal! In a highly illuminating portion of this book, he explains the idea of 'trends' in a game - from good position to bad, from attacking position to defending. The way you feel about a position may depend on how you reached it, and your psychological state at that point might work for or against you. If a demoralised opponent realises you're dithering in your attack and don't know what to do, he may take heart again and defend resourcefully. Yermolinsky shows you how trends can be identified, and gives advice on how to reverse a trend which is not going your way.

What you won't find (in either of these books) are shortcuts to success. These guys put in the work, and improved, and they believe the rest of us can do it too with a bit of a push. I'd almost put this book on the 'modern psychology' shelves in a bookshop - it's certainly not an instant-soup-type solution to daily woes, but it is an equivalent to sound cognitive-therapy-type books that aim to improve your confidence and happiness. This one improves your chess, which in my opinion means a lot more confidence and happiness!
Book review of The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky  Jan 31, 2006
This book has excellent annotation. Well, there's so much more, including Yermolinsky's personal experiences with Soviet training and his gradual advance into the world's 2600+ elite. In conclusion, 'The Road to Chess Improvement' is an honest and sincere book, as well as an top-notch read. I should mention that it is primarily aimed at advanced players, but it could not fail to help those above 1600. For anyone looking to improve and to understand the modern game in a fresh way, I believe that this is one of the most exciting and provocative works to appear in years.
Disappointing book  Oct 17, 2005
I am disappointed with this book. It contains just a bunch of articles about different chess topics, illustrated (mainly) with the author games. The articles are rather interesting and well written, games well annotated but ... it is hard to find the idea behind the book as a whole.

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