Monthly Archives: March 2017

Yusupov Challenge, week 2

I completed five chapters in week 2 of the Yusupov Challenge – one short of the target of six.  As mentioned previously, I am doing one chapter a day after work, except when I have an evening league match; as I have five games this week, the chance of me getting six done in week 3 is negligible.  The main thing is that I continue to make good progress and work on the book whenever I realistically can, and I am not going to get too hung up on whether or not I managed six in a week.

Book 1, Chapter 5

This chapter is on double check, and the rather specific topic makes looking for candidate solutions to the problems quite straightforward.  Even so, 5-7 tripped me up, as I revealed check in the wrong way (2. Nh5 ++ rather than 2. Ne8 ++).  This still wins, but I deserved to lose  point as I went astray further down the line, putting my queen en prise.

Time spent: 60 minutes (20 reading, 25 solving, 15 marking/reviewing)

Score: 15/16

Book 1, Chapter 6

An interesting chapter on the relative value of the pieces.  Yusupov comes up with his own value for the rook – 4.5 rather than the usual 5 – which better accounts for facts like rook and pawn generally being inferior to two minor pieces, but fails to account for the fact that two rooks are more often than not better than a queen.  At the end of the day, fixed numerical values for the pieces will only ever be an approximation, as their value shifts according to factors which Yusupov discusses.

Time spent: 1 hour 35 minutes (30 minutes reading, 50 solving, 15 marking/reviewing)

Score: 14/19

These exercises were tougher than in previous chapters, though I did feel a little hard done by as the marking scheme penalised me a couple of times even though my selections were also strong.

Book 1, Chapter 7

A chapter on discovered attacks – as with chapter 5, the topic leads you to the answer in most cases.

Time spent: 40 minutes (15 reading, 20 solving, 5 marking)

Score: 15/15

Book 1, Chapter 8

There has been much talk in the official challenge thread about players of various levels skipping books, and starting later in the series.  Chapters like this one convince me that the vast majority of players should start from the beginning.  The topic is ‘centralising the pieces’, and the exercises are based on the idea of moving your pieces to central squares or somehow taking advantage of your centralised pieces.  Not all of them are ‘find the tactical knockout blow’ type exercises; some simply require you to find the best move, which makes them more like a real game and rather more difficult.

Time spent: 2 hours 5 minutes (30 minutes reading, 1 hour 20 minutes solving, 15 minutes marking)

Score: 16/27

I bled points all over the place here.  The pass mark is 12, so I still passed reasonably comfortably, but I am planning to return and review this chapter at some point.

Book 1, Chapter 9

The topic is mate in two, and the idea is to train the skill of accurately calculating short variations without missing candidates.  The exercises are of the non-game-like problem type, and I found I either stumbled upon the solution quite quickly, or ended up staring at them for ages in increasing disbelief that a solution really existed.  I had to do it in several sessions, and even then I gave up on two.

Time spent: 2 hours 25 minutes (30 minutes reading, 1 hour 50 minutes solving, 5 minutes marking)

Score: 14/16

If anyone else is working on these books, let me know how you are getting on in the comments below.

Yusupov Challenge, week 1

I have completed week 1 of the Yusupov Challenge, doing four chapters rather than the usual six as it started partway through the week.  Finding time to do a chapter almost every day is going to be challenging at times, but that’s why it’s called a challenge!  I am doing a chapter every day after work, except when I have evening league matches, as I want to be fresh for the game.  In weeks where I have more than one evening match I will try to fit in the missed chapters at the weekend.

Book 1, Chapter 2

This is another chapter on mating patterns, and is a little tougher than the first chapter, but still not too difficult as all the patterns seen in the exercises are introduced beforehand.

Time spent: 65 minutes (30 reading, 25 solving, 10 marking and reviewing)

Score: 19/20

I dropped a point on 2-4, choosing 2. Rh4 rather than 2. Qh6 – the right idea, but unfortunately my move order allows a perpetual.

Book 1, Chapter 3

A chapter on basic opening principles.  The topics covered are rapid development and controlling the centre – concepts which every chess player is introduced to early on – so I was not expecting it to be too difficult, but in fact it was by far the most challenging chapter so far.  I was reading it on a train – not having a board to hand made following all the variations in the introduction difficult, and the screaming baby did not help particularly with the exercises.

Time spent:  2 hours 40 minutes (25 minutes reading, 1 hour 50 minutes solving, 25 minutes marking and reviewing)

Score: 22/31

I dropped points onn 3-2, 3-7, 3-10 and 3-12.

Book 1, Chapter 4

This chapter on basic pawn endings proved fairly straightforward to me, as I have studied pawn endings before (it’s the only chapter of Dvoretsky I’ve managed to (half-)complete).

Time spent: 50 minutes (15 reading, 30 solving, 5 marking)

Score: 22/22 🙂

Most of my solving time was spent on 4-5, which required a lot of calculation.

There’s still time to jump on board if anyone else wants to join the challenge (either at my rapid pace or at their own pace) – just post in the comments below and in the Quality Chess thread.

Yusupov Challenge

I’m back, and ready for a new challenge.  Quality Chess are running the ‘Yusupov Challenge’, with the aim being to work through six chapters of Yusupov’s award-winning instructional series per week.  I received the whole series for my last birthday and have been meaning to get stuck in to them, so this fits in nicely with my plans.  If any readers would like to join me in the challenge (either at six chapters per week or at a pace which suits them) I would be delighted!  You can sign up here.

I will be writing a short post on this blog to mark each chapter completed, sharing my score and the approximate time I spent, which has been the subject of much debate on the Quality Chess blog.  Notes on the first chapter below.

Book 1, Chapter 1

I rattled through this chapter in about 50 minutes – 20 minutes reading the thematic introduction, and 30 minutes solving the puzzles.  Most of the puzzle solving time was setting the positions up on a board rather than actually solving them, though I did spend a few minutes on 1-9 and 1-10.  I didn’t bother to set the pieces up for the positions in the introduction.

I scored 14 out of a possible 16 points on the exercises, losing two points on 1-10.  Although I chose the correct first move (1…Ng3), I carelessly completely overlooked Black’s main reply (2. Qxd4).  In 1-9 I chose to exchange rooks in a subvariation (1…Kg7 2. Nxf8+ Kxf8 and now instead of the immediate 3. Nxh7+ I chose 3. Rf8+ Kf7 4. Rxa8 Nxa8 5. Nxh7), but as the ending looks to be winning anyway I haven’t deducted points.

For anyone else doing the challenge, let me know how you got on with the first chapter below.

General update: Blog regulars will by now be used to months-long gaps in my posting.  Rest assured that I have been playing lots of chess in the interim, though my studying has not been going as well.  The blogging has suffered as my planned ‘Road to 2100 Lessons Learned’ series has fallen victim to scope creep and perfectionism, the result being that it has yet to materialise at all.  I will refrain from making promises about when it might finally appear; hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise for you when it does.

In other news, I have for the first time managed to qualify for the main section of the British Championship in July/August.  I am very excited about getting to play in the same section as the absolute elite in this country (Mickey Adams won it last year), and training for that will be my focus for the next few months.