domingo, 4 de octubre de 2015
Review: GM Preparation - Positional Play by Jacob Aagaard
Title: Grandmaster Preparation - Positional Play.
Author: Jacob Aagaard.
Publisher: Quality Chess.
This book is a part of a 6 title collection. Each one deals with a specific topic through some introductory prose and tons of exercises. The objective is to give people aspiring to be Grand Masters (or already GMs wanting to stay sharp) training material. The one being reviewed is centered in positional play.
I must confess that I'm in love with workbooks. I am a very lazy person and if given a book where I only need to read and nod, I will just do that. On the other hand, with this book there is not much more to do but to solve exercises so at least you will put some work on it.
The book is divided into three chapters: Weaknesses, Pieces and Prophylaxis. Each chapter has a short introduction and afterwards some exercises on the theme described. There is also a very big chapter at the end with 150 exercises.
For me the thematic division helps to a certain extend. In the 'Pieces' chapter you will try to improve one of your pieces and in the 'Prophylaxis' chapter you will try to ruin your opponents plan. However it is quite difficult to have a clearcut division, so in some exercises you will not really get a help for knowing the chapter it is in.
Anyway it is not such a problem, and the last chapter is the heaviest of them all, and there the author does not try to classify the position into themes, but let you alone with your positional understanding.
While reading the book I didn't get the feeling that the solutions where wrong, hence I don't think I let my engine do its magic. I guess that some of the positions don't have a clear answer and maybe the engine propose a better solution, but all in all the impression is that Aagaard checked them himself so no egregious mistake happened.
At more than two hundred exercises the book is packed. Assuming you spend 5 minutes per position, you will have more than 15 hours of quality chess for only 25€. I think that is a pretty good deal, even if the book itself is not on the cheap side.
The only negative thing I can point out is that its audience is not as the book suggest IMs wanting to make to the next level. While working on the book I let myself 25 minutes on the clock for each page of 6 diagrams. That is less time than the author suggests, but nevertheless usually I got 3 or 4 diagrams right out of the 6. So in my view I have the perfect strength to enjoy the book: being able to barely solve the problems if working hard on them. As I'm 2200 elo myself, I don't think many strong IMs will have much difficulty with it.
On the other hand, this is good news for the mere mortals: we can enjoy this great work even at our pity strength!
My suggestion would be: Go download the excerpt. There are 6 problems with its solution, let yourself half an hour of thinking time to solve them. Check the solutions. If you got between 2 and 4 right, you definitively have to get this book. With less than 2 problems solved you may want to go elsewhere, It can get really frustrating not to solve anything, and you are not really improving if the level of the exercises is so far beyond yours. Fortunately, if this is your case, in this very same publishing house there is something for you too: Yusupov great work!
If you were to solve more than 4 exercises out of 6, maybe you are already too strong for the book, but I let you decide by yourself. If you reached that level of chess you know what you are doing.