
Comprehensive Chess Course Series
This series, written by Russian authors who are current or former
Russian players and coaches, claims to present the once secret
Russian training method which is partly responsible for the decades
long Russian dominance of the chess world. The authors promise to
take you from the beginner to the master level with this series.
For those who are serious about chess and want to become strong
tournament players, this series will give you a good training plan
that lays out what you need to know, and the order in which you
should learn it. Experienced and successful players and
coaches have told me that the key to improving your chess is
studying the right things at the right times. If you're not ready
for a particular lesson, you will waste time, maybe even regress
trying to employ knowledge you're not yet capable of understanding.
There's an excellent article on this subject by Dan
Heisman
here, and he has his own set of recommended books by skill level
here.
People have told me that Volume II has taken players to the
16001800 range, and the authors claim that Volume II will take you
to Class A (1800) level if you completely master its contents. For
a very strict interpretation of mastery, I can accept that claim,
but I think 1400 is a more realistic expectation. Also, I think
there is a very large jump in difficulty from Volume 3 (tactics) to
Volume 4 (Attack and Defense), so I recommend doing several months
of tactics training before moving on to Volume 4. Based on my
experience with my own chess and coaching my kids, I have arrived
at my owm recommended book reading
list.


Comprehensive Chess Course: Learn Chess in 12 Lessons
(Comprehensive Chess Course) by Roman Pelts, Lev Alburt
This book contains much of the same content as the Nottingham book,
but is more rigorous, more thorough, and is in a workbook format with
space in the book to write answers to problems presented in each of
the lessons. The lessons in the book are very pedagogical, with
reviews of previous material, narrative sections, games for analysis,
and carefully constructed problems which reinforce the material,
including homework problems. This volume and volume II serve as a
solid foundation for anyone who aspires to the higher levels of
tournament chess.



Comprehensive Chess Course: From Beginner to Tournament Player in
12 Lessons (Comprehensive Chess Course) by Roman Pelts, Lev Alburt
If you already know chess, you may be able to use this book as your
starting point in the Comprehensive Chess Course (CCC) series. This
book has 12 lessons arranged in a workbook format like the first
volume. The goal of Volumes 1 and 2 of the CCC series is to give the
chess student a solid base with no holes in their chess foundation.
The lessons start with the very basics, such as a review of the rules,
a study of the chess board, how to record moves on an official game
scoresheet, basic opening principles, and planning principles,
including how to plan for victory from start to finish (e.g., gain a
material advantage, simplify, win the endgame). Then the lessons
follow a pattern in which each lesson presents basic tactical and
planning themes and basic endgames. Each chapter ends with dozens of
wellcrafted exercises and games for analysis which reinforce the
material in the lesson. This pattern is repeated through the
rest of the book, after which you will know all the basic tactics, how
to create combinations, (lots of) mating patterns, heavy piece
endgames, and even basic kingpawn endgames and subtler tactics like
Zugzwang.
What makes this book so ideal for personal study (and as a guide for
coaching your kids) is the pedagogic features such as the hundreds of
exercises, and the focus on teachig you how to play. For
example, in Chess for Juniors, Robert Snyder frequently comments on a
move by saying something like "with this move his knight is defended
twice and attacked once," but doesn't explain what that means,
i.e. how to use that fact in your analysis of a position. CCC Vol 2
thoroughly explains how to evaluate the defense of a piece relative to
its attackers, reinforces this throughout the subsequent lessons, and
provides dozens of problems in which to practice this kind of
evaluation. A few caveats: (1) this book seem like "work" at times,
so purely casual players may prefer a "lighter" book; (2) I think the
lessons are too dense for younger children, with very conscise
writing. I distill each lesson into its essential elements when I
teach my chiildren.



Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player (Comprehensive Chess
Course, Third Level) by Sam Palatnik, Lev Alburt, Roman Pelts
(Editor)
Brilliant! Nine chapters, eight of which have 12 exercises each at
the end. I've done about 70% as of March 2005. More than your
typical "here's what tactic X looks like" tactics book, this book
teaches the role of tactics in combinations and the importance of
making threats in your games. The book teaches combinational play,
which is what tactics are all about. The writing is extremely
concise and clear. Working through this book will improve your
strength dramatically, especially your calculation ability. A few
of the exercises are only modestly difficult, but most of them are
quite challenging. My approach with the exercises in this book is
spend to up to 30 minutes trying to calculate the correct variation.
I spend 10 minutes trying to solve the exercise directly from the
diagram. If I can't get it, I set the position up on the board.
After 10 minutes trying to calculate the answer from the board, I
look at the first move of the answer and give myself 5 more minutes
to find the right answer. If I still don't get it after 25 minutes
of trying, I look up the answer and make sure I fully understand it.
This approach is really improving my calculation ability.



The King in Jeopardy: The Best Techniques for Attack and
Defense by Lev Alburt, Sam Palatnik
Review to come.



Chess Strategy for the Tournament Player (Comprehensive Chess
Course Series) by Lev Alburt, Sam Gm Palatnik, Lev Gm Alburt, Sam
Palatnik
Review to come.



Chess Training Pocket Book: 300 Most Important Positions and
Ideas, Second Edition by Lev Alburt
This is a "pocket guide" (with a full size price, unfortunately)
which succinctly presents 300 carefully chosen positions with
concise analysis. Some of these positions are endgames, some are
piecewinning or mating combinations employing various tactical
themes. Alburt claims that these are the 300 most important
positions, i.e. they contain patterns which occur frequently in real
games and often make a critical difference in the outcome of the
game. My favorite part of the book, however, is the introductory
chapter which contains a wonderful discussion of chess training,
including the Dvoretsky method of puzzle training, how to analyze a
position during a game, how to develop chess intuition and balance
it with concrete analysis over the board, how to analyze your own
games and build a library of positions and ideas important to you,
and how to develop a personal theory of chess. I keep a copy of
this book in my car and study a position or two any time I'm stuck
in the car  like in the car wash, while waiting for my wife at the
store, or in a traffic jam. I cannot recommend this book highly
enough.



Winning Chess Endgames: Just the Facts!, Second Edition
by Lev Albert, Nikolay Krogius
Review to come.

