Chess Training

Susan Polgar, former Women’s World Champion, recommended this book in her class on the last Geek Cruise. She oughta know. She and her two sisters are all chess Grandmasters thanks to her father’s teaching methods. He was a fairly weak player at the time, but he was able to turn them into great chess players by drilling them with thousands of chess positions like those in this book.

He believed, and an article in last month’s Scientific American confirms, that the key to expertise in any field is “effortful study,” pushing yourself to go slightly beyond your comfort zone. It’s not, as I always thought, a question of playing a lot of games. Studying the positions in a book like this is much more efficient. Experts guess that it takes 10 years  of such study, and a grasp of 50,000-100,000 chess positions to make a Grandmaster. This book is a good starting point. 300 key positions. Polgar recommended going through it at least twice. I’m about a third of the way through and loving it – each position is a minature work of art.

As an added bonus, it has perhaps the most stunningly bad cover in the history of chess books.

Here’s a neat position from the book. The game is Antoshin-Rabar 1964 and white has a killer move. Can you find it? It’s quite beautiful.