Assessing My Strengths and Weaknesses: Chess Exam and Training Guide

Assessing My Strengths and Weaknesses: Chess Exam and Training Guide

Mar 5, 2015, 7:35 AM |

One of the many books in my collection that I've been meaning to get around to is Khmelnitsky's Chess Exam and Training Guide. For those of you that don't know, this is a book is designed to identify your weaknesses and get training advice. It does this by having you go through 100 two-question problems and then it breaks down the scoring into 13 different categories and assigns you a rating in each of those categories based on your results.

First, a little about me. I'm currently rated USCF 1350 for over the board play. I've always felt that I was really lacking in the strategy department. I can play the opening okay, the endgame okay. However, when I reach the middlegame, I often feel like I don't know what to do next. My current training plan is focused on tactics (800-1200 problems per week via Chessimo), correspondence games, and playing through annotated master games (per Dan Heisman's recommendations).

So, I finally decided to go through the effort to take the test and my results are below.

My overall rating correlates fairly well with my current rating, as do most of the other scores. The lowest scoring areas (Standard Positions, Attack, Counter Attack) are what I should look to focus on in my future training.

I was happy to see that my tactics training has been paying off and that I had a 1592 in the tactics department. Additionally, I was surprised to see that my strategy rating was as high as it was given that this was my perceived weak spot going into the exam.

At the end of the book, IM Khmelnitsky provides training recommendations for each of the categories to help you identify methods to improve in those specific areas. Not surprisingly, for a player of my level, the main suggestion for both the Attack and Counterattack categories is to improve my tactics. Since this is already something that I am practicing each day, there isn't much change needed to my current training plan.

For Standard Positions, the suggestions are to practice and memorize standard endgame positions, something I have not been including in my training so far.

Going forward, I plan to continue with my current training plan, but add in some endgame study each week.

Has anybody else gone through IM Khmelnitsky's Exam Book? If so, what were your results, thoughts, etc?