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