domingo, 1 de enero de 2017

GM Preparation - Attack & Defence by Aagaard

Title: Grandmaster Preparation - Attack & Defence.
Author: Jacob Aagaard.
Publisher: Quality Chess.
Year: 2014.
Pages: 304.
Price: 24.99€ (paperback) - 29.99€ (hardcover).

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 attack and defence.

In order not to shamelessly copy my post on 'positional play' I am going to assume you have read it. Almost all the things I state there are valid here too, so I may only point out what is different. Be aware of it!

This is a workbook too (which, as said in the other post, I'm in love with) and is divided into 13 chapters, 8 on attack, 4 on defence and the last one mixed. In theory this is the companion book of Attacking Manual I  so the content of the attacking chapters comprise the subjects studied there except for a new one called the Kill Zone (basically you have to keep the king trapped on the mating net, not let him fly away). The chapters on defence are not derived from Attacking Manual I but can be found elsewhere in Aagaard's word. They are Only Move, Comparison, Prophylaxis and Active Defence.

In total there are 309 exercises in this book more or less evenly distributed between chapters.

In this book the thematic division is a lot more clear than that in Positional Play, which may help you a lot when solving your exercises. For example in the first chapter, Include all the pieces in the attack, you know you have to find something to include a piece, in Kill Zone, you have to stop the king from fleeing, etc. Rarely does the exercises feel alien to a chapter.

As in the other GM Preparation books, the exercises are computer-checked. In Positional Play it may came down to opinion which was the best move, and you may not agree with the author. Here the solution is clearly the strongest move, even if in some random exercise it does not feel so reading the solution. If you let the engine run it will agree.

The only problem I had when working my way out with the book is that my solutions were not studied so I did not know why I was wrong. But of course it is impossible to have all the possible moves in the solutions, so no point complaining there (although if these books were on Forward Chess you would have the engine at a tip of your finger).

The edition of the book is great, as is to be expected from this publisher. I own the hardback, which can lay flat on a table while you are studying, and would not recommend to go paperback. You pay 5 more €, but it is so much easier to work with the book! And with a book that you should be revisiting often, why are you going to be cheap?

In Positional Play review i talked about the time / money metric I often use to value a book. This book is even better, as not only it has more exercises, you will usually spend more time on each of them. At 10 cents a problem (in hardback) and 60 cents an hour of entertainment, I do not think you can find much better deals...

In my last review I said I do not think Positional Play is for IMs and GM, but to an audience a notch lower than that. I based my opinion on the fact that I, at 2200, could be able to solve half the problems. Hence my opinion is that at 2200 you stand to get the best results from the book.

This continues to be true in this book to a certain extend. The attack chapters have me always around 50% while the defence chapters and the last one totally destroyed me (Chapter 9: 8/28, Chapter 10: 5.5/9, Chapter 11: 5.5/17, Chapter 12: 10.5/33, Chapter 13: 17/54). So half the book is okay at my level but the other half is harder (or maybe I'm just weak defending). I must admit though that I have always been a positional player, and this attacking thing is new to me.

In this book you can notice how the exercises are increasingly more difficult as you advance in the chapter as in Quality Chess Puzzle Book. In long chapters it is mentally very challenging as you know you have a lot of failing ahead of you when you start experiencing difficulties.

My advice there is that you have to be able to skip a chapter when you see you are in utter misery while solving exercises, but be aware that improving is suffering, hence you have to force yourself to a certain extend, not get demoralized and give up. I think I may have given up mentally at times, but not skipped an exercise.

In order to get a feeling what are you getting into, go download the excerpt and  see how do you fare. Of the 6 exercises there I made 2 correctly and one so-so (2.5/6). I recommend this book if you feel that you are strong enough to handle it (although expect a world of pain), otherwise, go the Yusupov way!

4 comentarios:

  1. Thank you for your reviews. They are the best available on the web I think.

  2. Hi Gollum, could you tell us which will be your next book review?

  3. It is going to be Dvoretsky's The art of piece play, which I have already finished but do not seem to find the time to review. The next one will probably be Marin's Learn from the Legends.

    I could review some openings books that I bought recently, but I am reticent as they age fast and then the review is not useful.