How to train without a coach? – By GM Adhiban

The answer to the above questions is surely books and DVDs. However, with this huge wealth of material out there, it is easy to be completely confused. It is difficult to pinpoint on only one book, because different people at different levels have different requirements. However, I would like to tell you the story that happened with me yesterday:

My mother likes to play chess and improve at it. She is rated 1246 and was studying the book “Build up your chess – beyond the basics.” As my mother was working with the book, I too decided to have a look at it. I thought that the book wouldn’t be very difficult and decided to finish it in one go.

The way the book is structured is the following – you learn a theme (say the IQP structure) and then there are test questions. In the first test that I solved I got totally bullied! I could hardly get the passing marks! It was a complete eye-opener and shows that the book was of high quality.

I brought back my highest level of concentration and then scored full marks in every chapter! It was indeed great fun to solve the book.

This material written by Arthur Yusupov and published by Quality Chess are divided into 9 different books. I surely recommend them to you and I feel they are ideal means to improve for a chess player who doesn’t have a trainer at his disposal.

GM Adhiban Baskaran (This article was copied with permission of the author)

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25 thoughts on “How to train without a coach? – By GM Adhiban”

  1. I’ve done the first two of Build Up Your Chess, and indeed the level is pretty high (my rating is 2062, and I struggle with a lot of the tests). I aim to work my way through the series, if I can only find the time. A truly excellent series; the only problem is that my ‘to read’ pile, of both chess and non-chess books, is already way too high.

  2. I have done book 1 and 2 of the Orange series and am about half way thru book 3. I am 1850 USCF. They are a work-out. I spend 2-3 hrs on a typical chapter and it is an intense concentrating 2-3 hrs.
    During the time I have been going thru them my rating has gone down 90 points but then up 150. Take that for what you will.

  3. I charge £100 per hour on a friendly day. For two hours training, you can get the Yusupov collection and a bag of apples. Both will do you a world of good…

  4. I am glad this series is getting the attention it deserves. I am gradually getting better by diligently working on it. I am in book 8 of 10 and I can tell I am thinking more logically, clearly, and efficiently. This shows up in my games and I now play well rounded chess where I can play any type of position comfortably.

  5. I am around 2300 FIDE and currently working with the 9th Book of the Series.
    It is a great training program , i have done all 8so far and even the build up (First three) are very usefull for my level.

  6. @Boki

    I am tempted to start working on the Yusupov books having heard good things from a friend who coaches and recommends the books to his students.

    I am 2250 fide and curious if it is worthwhile to start the series from scratch.

  7. @amadan
    In my opinion definetly yes. I was first also sceptical if i should start from the first books, especially as i knew that the german Version was called tigersprung to 1500.
    But i recommand to start with the first books. You will find the first chapters rather easy, but you develop a working routine to solve every day some exercises and you can also do 2-3 chapters per day, but than you will see that you have more and more difficulties in solving and reaching full Marks .

  8. This is a bit surprising for me, I thought that yusupov books target audience were player under 1500, 1800 and 2100 elo.
    Am I wrong?

  9. I’ve been playing chess for 25 years+ but with the exception a spell of three months or so at the end of 2011, I’ve never studied the game systematically. For the most part, it’s probably true to say that I could cut the last word of that sentence.

    I currently have an elo rating in the 1800s and my ECF Grade works out around 1950 or so using the traditional formula. For various reasons I recently decided that it was time to pull my finger out and I began working my way through the first Yusupov book. After a fair amount of effort and over 60 hours of study time (I counted), I completed the Final Test. That was yesterday.

    I can think of a variety of ways in which the book wasn’t ideal. e.g. the fact that a GM – albeit a not entirely focused one – struggled with a test may show “the book was of high quality”, but I’m far from convinced it demonstrates an entirely appropriate choice of material given the supposed target audience.

    (a) if I got everything I wanted it would probably have to be a 20 book series
    (b) a book/series of book is never going to be able to give everybody everything.
    (c) a book/series of books is never going to be able to replace a coach and you’re going to have to tailor it to your needs.

    I found the material challenging at times. The shortest chapter (basic king and pawn) took me 20 minutes and most of that was writing down the answers. The longest chapter (Weak Points) took me 5 hours and 4 minutes. I came…

  10. I have based my whole training program on Yusupov series and on a guideline mentioned by GM Jonathan Hawkins:
    ” In terms of memorizing variations, especially [for players rated] below about 2000, I would tone [opening study] way down, maybe 10% of your study time or less.
    Tactical puzzles/analytical training is quite important. I would give 20% of time to this. The remaining 70% is the part players find difficult. You need to study a combination of master games, your own games, and be a student of the endgame”

  11. Not sure exactly what I said at the end of that post but it was something like,

    … close to failing the “Weak Points” chapter. Squeakedd through in the end fortunately.

    I feel I got a lot out of the chapter. It was challenging in some places, relatively straight forward in others. I’m glad I started from the beginning, if only to get used to a study plan and because it’s helped me find a way to make the books work for me.

    Onward to book 2 to and the revision book. My sense from a quick scan is that book 2 is a step up in difficulty from book 1 – which is necessary and “a good thing” and yet also somewhat intimidating.

  12. Jacob, I guess you once wrote somewhere else in that blog that your pupils tend to improve much faster when they start organizing their training as a group ? Might be because of competition or discussing things helps… who knows. I train by myself, probably the majority does… But I have not forgotten about that “extra team bonus”, just came to my mind when reading about the training sessions of Jonathan and others. Maybe, instead of burning the midnight oil again and again, a training buddy might be more efficient.

  13. @Bulkington
    I do think you can learn a lot from working with others and this alone is enough. My main point was a bit different, that we are herd animals and for many, having someone to work with, makes them try harder, both during and especially between training sessions. So, it has many benefits, but the main one I was looking at was motivation.

  14. @Jacob Aagaard

    I’m trying to prepare myself for the time when it’s not just one or two chapters out of 24 that take me hours and I still struggle to get anything right, but *every* chapter.

    How to keep the motivation up to keep going in those circumstances? I’m not sure, but I could well imagine that being in a Yusupov study group of some kind would help a great deal.

  15. In what order must one read these books? First all orange, then blue and then green OR first build up your chess orange-blue-green then Boost your chess orange-blue-green and then chess evolution orange-blue-gree?

  16. Orange books first then blue then green. All colors go Build/Boost/Evolution. It was set up oddly for some reason. It was especially confusing since they did not originally come out in order.
    Book 10 which is the 4th orange book comes either at the end of the orange set or, based on what Jacob said here once, after the 1st blue book.
    Despite all that, it is still a great series so far and I should spend more time on it as opposed to the 50 other things I want to spend time on.
    Thus my rating…

  17. George Kosinski

    A few decades ago I was perusing the literary offerings at the Dutch Open Championship in Dieren, when I came across a Yusupov book with the unassuming title, Chess Lessons. I had never even heard of the book, but a quick glance through the contents suggested it was well worth purchasing. Despite my collection of roughly 150 chess books (aside from opening and endgame manuals, largely the result of never having developed an effective study program), I find this book so useful that, if I had to abandon my library due to massive flooding or wildfires, this might very well be the one book I would toss into my backpack before fleeing the scene.

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