Chessable – Small Steps to Giant Improvement

Small Steps to Giant Improvement by US Champion Sam Shankland is now available in the Chessable format. You can find it here

This is the second of our books we have tried on Chessable after an experiment with The Woodpecker Method as mentioned in a previous blog post. The feedback was favourable, so let’s try another book.

34 thoughts on “Chessable – Small Steps to Giant Improvement”

  1. Hmmm… strange choice. Thought that the whole idea of Chessable was about the trainability which was why Woodpecker was such a natural fit. The most popular formats on Chessable seem to be opening books, tactics or concrete endgames eg mate with B and N so these would foot the bill as you’d solidify all the opening/endgame lines in your head with repetition but not so much strategic works such as Sam’s book??
    It explains lots of pawn play but does repetition help so much here? Once you understand the strategic principle does it need that much repetition?
    Maybe i’m wrong but Sharp Endgames or Mating the Castled King (or any of the zillion QC opening books ) sound better if you’re planning a third foray into Chessable.

  2. PS
    If you do another Chessable book, my vote goes to opening books that are more random and tactical where knowing the theory can mean the difference between losing and winning is very much on a knife edge if you forget/remember your theory eg Nikos’ Semi Slav or John’ s Sicilian Main Line. I don’t play the King’s Indian but guess that would also be suitable.
    In contrast, though you might forget the theory in say Avrukh you can work out and play a good enough move (but not necessarily the best move) more confidently and safely without the worry of blundering the equivalent of a piece.

  3. @JB
    Chessable is still a pretty new format for us, and if they think Small Steps is an attractive proposition and the author is on board with the idea, why not give it a try? At worst, it gives readers another electronic format as an alternative to Forward Chess.
    Besides, the book does contain exercises in every chapter, and the illustrative games all show examples of good or bad pawn play. Thus, I could see it being of some benefit to the readers to revisit the various positions, deciding ‘should I push this pawn or not’ and reinforcing the concepts and guidelines Sam is advocating.

  4. Andrew,
    thanks for your point of view but it is a lot more expensive so if it doesn’t sell so well don’t let it put you off releasing more titles on chessable. The reason Forward chess beats say a kindle version is the engine that let’s you explore other lines not mentioned and chessable’s big selling point is its ability to consolidate patterns and lines through repetition. I’d buy John’s e4 sicilian main line in a flash (just like woodpecker) as I think the chessable version gives that added value of consolidating the lines or tactical motifs for the price but will stick to the (cheaper) paperback or forward chess version of Giant Steps but very happy more wealthy customers choose otherwise. In other words poor sales may not reflect on the quality of the actual text but the choice of book.

  5. @JB

    It’s an interesting debate which titles are best suited for which format. In this case we are being significantly guided by which of our titles Chessable users have expressed an interest in.

  6. JB :
    thanks for your point of view but it is a lot more expensive…

    The book is currently available for $23.99 on FC and $24.99 on Chessable, so your concept of “a lot more expensive” is different from mine. True, the latter is an introductory deal and the price will rise by $9 after the sale period; but it’s likely that the majority of sales will occur at the lower price. Time will tell of course.

  7. Maybe you’re not aware as you haven’t had to buy it Andrew that they add Vat to chessable. I got Woodpecker on offer and it still came out at £24 with the special offer on chessable unlike its current price of £16 on fc (soon to drop to £14 as well). That’s quite a lot more even if I get the current offer on giant steps

  8. @JB
    Ah, I didn’t realize the advertised price on Chessable does not include VAT. Oh well, I guess their justification is that the training features justify the higher price tag, and it will be up to the readers to decide what they prefer.

  9. @Andrew Greet
    Yes, actual cost a bit hidden on Chessable. Price in dollars too so the Brexit shenanigans probably hasn’t helped with the pound to dollar conversion either. I’ve bought Woodpecker and Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual on Chessable recently as I think its worth the extra cash but definitely need to pick and choose due to price difference

  10. @RYV
    A few things.
    1) This is not a place for political debate. Anyone arguing for or against anything political will find their posts deleted.
    2) Brexit is not certain to happen. There is a big movement for a second vote and a majority of the population want it. If The UK-EU deal does not pass through parliament, a second vote becomes quite likely in my interpretation of the Prime Minister’s recent statements. And it is plausible that it does not. You are welcome to investigate yourself here: (
    3) If the deal does go through, the UK will stay in the customs union, meaning the impact on Quality Chess should be minimal.
    4) But most importantly. Quality Chess store our books from Poland. As does New in Chess actually. Our main problem would be sending books to the UK, which is a serious part of our business. In the case of Brexit and a plausible decline of the pound, it would hurt us, but less than many others.
    In short, we are not in need of sympathy. But thank you.

  11. @Jacob Aagaard
    thx for your reply
    it was not a political comment. It was about more about Economy and the unwritten question was. “Will your prices rise in case of brexit?” from what you says, should we read that you will keep your pricing unchanged in any case ?

  12. with increasing number of chess books being published (and increasing number of chess books publisher) it would be usefull to have more book’s review and reviewer.
    apart from Gollum’s chess review blog, where/who are the other “active”site ?

  13. There are plenty of good reviewers around already: Sadler (NIC Magazine), Flear (NIC Yearbooks), Carsten Hansen, John Watson, Jeremy Silman, John Donaldson…

  14. @RYV
    Aren’t Hansen, Watson, Silman and Donaldson online reviewers?

    As for Sadler and Flear: they do indeed write their reviews in NIC publications, but I don’t have the impression that there reviews of NIC books are more favourable. Personally I really like their reviews. But they are not for free, and people nowadays are not used anymore to paying for someone else’s work.

  15. Ray :
    Aren’t Hansen, Watson, Silman and Donaldson online reviewers?

    you are right.
    But i Wonder if the site is still active :
    Silman & D. –> last update april2017
    Watson –>july 2016
    Hansen –> 2011 !
    or they have move to another place ?

  16. Often you get what you pay for, the same is the case with online reviews. I agree that Flear and Sadler are entirely impartial.

  17. cheap is crap, Junk in Junk out…all this is often true. But paying high price doesnt insure quality ( QC looks like an exception !) so what should we look for ?

    It would be very useful to put Sadler’s & Flear’s review on line. Even with a 2 or 3 months delay so that it would not impact on their magazine’s sales.

  18. @RYV
    That doesn’t sound like good business sense to me. Why would NIC do that? Sadler’s review column is always the first thing I read when a new issue of NIC Magazine arrives at my doormat, and the same goes for Flear reviews. Why give that away for free?

  19. @RYV

    I still don’t see why a commercial enterprise such as NIC should give you something for free which obviously has value to you. They’re not charity. I wonder why you don’t just want to pay for it if it has value to you?

  20. it is like asking someone in the street ” what time is it?”
    why give me the answer for free ? obviously i am interrested to know. But in fact , it does mean that it has necessary commercial value for me so i can live without the answer.
    It is the same for live chess game. Remember Agon, they wanted you to pay for watching chess game live. nobody payed for .

  21. @RYV
    Thanks for explaining – now I understand that it is useful for you, but it has no value to you since you can live without it. I have the same with Rolex watches.

  22. @marc
    I guess it was cheaper when Chessable did their introductory sale – but anyway, they are responsible for their own pricing, and if anyone finds it to be on the expensive side, the paper and Forward Chess options are always available.

  23. You could always take the view that to some degree reviews are advertising. Paying for advertising is something we all do, to some degree, but it is a thumb in the eye.

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