I have recently gotten back into playing Chess. Got my first chess set at age 7, but havent played in many years. Now, at 40-something years old, I find myself completely enthralled with Chess.
In the past few weeks, I recently downloaded HIARCS and Sigma chess for Mac (I only own macs) and have purchased and began study of:
Amateurs Mind - Silman
Complete Endgame Course - Silman
How To Reassess Your Chess - Silman
Complete Book of Chess Strategy - Silman
My System - Nimzowitsch
Chess, 5334 puzzles problems, etc. - Polgar
Fundamental Chess Openings - Van Der Sterren
According to the HIARCS program, I went from 700 to 1200 rating just in the past month, but I feel there is so much more to learn. I am seeking advice on additional books to study, methods or prefered order of study of the books listed above, and recommendations of chess sets to "play through" while studying the above books.
I will also be upgrading my account here to make use of the tactics trainer and other tools to help my game.
Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
I started out pretty much the same as you. You don't need a huge library, even though there are a lot of books out there to tempt you! But the books you do have, you should work through the examples and variations with a board beside you. At each turn, guess what should be next then try to figure out why you guessed wrong :-) If you just skim through 100 books you won't get nearly as much as just digging in one book thoroughly. For me, I think studying hard, doing tactics trainer, and lots of slow games (online a.k.a. correspondence) helped me most so far.
I'm a hopeless materialist (and the worst kind, impoverished) and find having a really nice chess set enhances my study experience. House of Staunton sets are ridiculously expensive if you pay anywhere near retail for them, but are available on Ebay for a much more reasonable price. Yes, you have to win the auction and the good sets still go for $200 to $300, but that's a far cry from $1000 or more. The key to winning an auction is to do an advanced search on completed listings for what you want. If the previous range of winning bids is from $235 to $275, then you have a pretty good idea what to bid. There must be dozens of previous threads on book recommendations, so you might want to do a forum search of the archives, but what you have should keep you busy for awhile. Good idea to upgrade your membership. Diamond is well worth a $100 for all the content that becomes available. Nail the basic tactics courses on ChessMentor by repeating them enough times to score 100% even if it means a review every few weeks. Once you understand the various tactics (and IM Danny Rensch has a killer series on video covering the same ground) then move over to the tactics trainer and test yourself. You'll get better quickly. Have fun.
Read those books a few times and play through the games; understanding the ideas and moves. Combined with an hour a day on the tactics trainer that should bring you to 1600-1800 in a few months.
Awesome. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll upgrade my membership right away.
Thanks for the recommendation of HOS on ebay. I bid on a BEAUTIFUL Morphy 4" King set a few days ago but lost it at the last second by $10.00. I'll keep checking there for when a Morphy set comes up for bidding again. Reall want that.
The "sharks" tend not to bid until the very last few seconds on Ebay. If you find a set you are interested in place a minimum bid early so you can get that "one click bid" thing going. If bidding isn't over your predetermined figure with 5 or 10 seconds to go then hit it with your best shot. Imperative that you have a predetermined maximum so you don't get into an emotional bidding war. The Morphy is a beautiful set so good luck with the next auction. Life is too short to not treat yourself now and then.
The only thing I have against the Morphy is the smallish knights. Still a lovely set. I like the Harrwitz too despite the small knights, and for the knight execution.
For proportions, the Broadbent occupies a sweet spot:
You should read "Amateur's Mind" before "Reassess your chess", since it's easier to understand. Also part two of "My System" is significantly more advanced than part one, so you might want to leave part two until you're stronger.
One book I really like is "Winning Chess Exercises for Kids" by Jeff Coakley. Don't be fooled by the title - not all of these exercises are winning - some you need to find a way to draw. (Also, these are not just for kids)
This bulk of this book is 100 exercises, with 9 positions in each exercise. 3 of these you find a mating combo, 3 you have a combo to win material, 2 are either about defending a tricky position or you're looking for a strong strategic move, and one is an endgame.
The answers given in the book are very good. Not just the correct moves, but also the nearly correct attempts are covered
just do tactics. keep doing them until your fingers are tired. when you start to be able to whip through 10-20 in less than five minutes with no errors, then start doing Silman's strategy courses on chess mentor. I just read them like a book, not really caring too much about the rating.
in between tactics sessions watch Rensch videos.
Here is my recomendation posted:
Under the Learn Tab, there is the Study Plans section, and the Chess Mentor Endgame series is pretty. And agree with omertatao, IM Daniel Rensch videos are good.
Missed out again on a couple of nice HOS sets this weekend. I really prefer the "prestige" series that has Blood Rosewood and Ebony peices. There are a couple of more coming up for bid this weekend. If I miss out on these sets, I'll go ahead an get my Diamond membership here. If I get one of the sets that I like, I'll get the Crown membership. Until then, Its about 2hrs per day study.
Also, with me being on macbook pro, I am unable to play against the computer here. I'll just have to stick with Sigma chess and HIARCS.
Thank you to all who have provided advice so far.
What's the problem with being on a Macbook? I also use Macs and it works fine for me. Or is it that it's not very convenient to play using the trackpad? If so, I would definitely recommend getting a mouse, it's really a must for Live chess, especially blitz.
For some reason, I cant get the vs. computer game to run on my mac.
Also, think I may just have to get a cheapo quality set to study/practice on. Keep getting outbid on the HOS sets on Ebay. Even though I really really really want one of those prestige (blood rosewood/ebony) sets.
Are you using OS X 10.7 Lion on your Macbook? It seems as if Lion doesn't come with Java pre-installed anymore which is what the "Play vs. computer" uses. I think you can activate it in the application "Java preferences" which you can find in the Utilities folder of your applications (you can open this folder by pressing Shift-Command-U in the Finder).
IM Igor Khmelnitsky rating exam books helped me some
chess.com staff Patzer24 writes
Well, the nice sparkly diamond looks nice next to my name. I'll spent a bit of time on tactics last night and really really need to study. Think what I'll do is, instead of splurging for a nice HOS Prestige set (and make my own board since I am into woodworking), I'll purchase one of the tournament vinyl sets here and use that to study while going through my books. I'll promise myself that if I get to 1800, I'll treat myself to a NICE chess set.
The diamond membership will certainly improve your chess more than a nice set would have. Plenty of time to upgrade later. If you have the time to scan a "Staunton" search on Ebay once a day there are some occasional bargains to be found used as well as the HOS auctions. I got an ebonized 3.5" older HOS tournament set for around $40 delivered a year ago. I also got a used "Official Staunton" (one of HOS's competitors) 4.5" ebony with a leather bound case that sells on the web site for $600 for $170 delivered. There are bargains to be had, but of course looking for them takes away from study time.
You are missing two type of books there for general improvement namely a rook endgame book and strategic endgame book.
For strategic endgame book I suggest How To Play Chess endgame by Muller. For rook endgame book I suggest Survival Guide to Rook Endgame by Emms.
I suggest read first How To Reassess Your Chess by Silman and skip My System and Amateur Minds (read them later once you have enough practice using the principles you learned from Reasses) as the elements teached in both books are the same. But maybe if there is an example in Reasses Your Chess that is not clear to you or you want more pattern on a particular position, you can look that at My System