Friday, March 13, 2015

Yusupov Fundamentals - Book 1, Week 6

Normally I've been doing these updates on Sunday, but I wanted to do an update for finishing the 24 modules.  I'll do an update for the final exam on Sunday.

Chapter 23 - Smothered Mate is the 11th and final module on tactics.  The timing couldn't have been better as I saw someone pull off Philidor's Legacy at one of my chess club two days before.  About 1/3 of the exercises are studies.  This chapter wasn't super difficult, but there were a few challenging ones.  I think that's been par for the course for the tactics modules though.  There were only two that I couldn't solve from the book in five minutes and I had to setup on the board.  I've noticed several times throughout this training that there will be problems that I can't get for the life of me, then as soon as I set them up on the board I see the winning idea right away.   I scored 18/19 for a gold rating.

Chapter 24 - Gambits is the second module on the opening.   Chapter 3 was the first module on the opening, and despite having eight! 3-star problems, I just missed getting bronze by one point.  So not my weakest area, but still something to work on.  The opening modules are about initiative, activity and calculation more than anything else.  I could tell this was a little more difficult for me as I had to go to the board for about half of them.  And one by one I started finding what I thought were good ideas for the position.  Final result was 15/21 for a silver rating!

And lastly, some stats:
Fail: 5/24 = 20.8%
Bronze: 4/24 = 16.6%
Silver: 8/24 = 33.3%
Gold: 7/24 = 29.1%

I got a silver rating or better for 62.5% of the modules.

Fail: 1/11 = 9%
Bronze: 0/11 = 0%
Silver: 4/11 = 36.3%
Gold: 6/11 = 54.5%

Total score: 168/200 = 84%

This should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog.  6/7 of my gold ratings were in tactics.

Fail: 0/4 = 0%
Bronze: 1/4 = 25%
Silver: 3/4 = 75%
Gold: 0/4 = 0%

Total score: 77/102 = 75%

Not quite as good as tactics, but clearly not a weakness.  Probably the most surprising part is that I haven't studied endgames all that much.  I did six repetitions of Pandolfini's book, and completed through class C of Silman's book but that was at the very beginning of my training.  I haven't done much of any endgame study since I first began.

Calculating Variations:
Fail: 0/2 = 0%
Bronze: 1/2 = 50%
Silver: 0/2 = 0%
Gold: 1/2= 50%

Total score: 27/35 = 77.1%

There's my other gold.  Not too surprising that it was here since calculating forcing variations isn't much different than calculating a tactic.

Positional Play:
Fail: 2/3 = 66.6%
Bronze: 1/3 = 23.3%
Silver: 0/3 = 75%
Gold: 0/3 = 0%

Total score:  25/64 = 39%.

Here's where the major weaknesses start to appear.  Hey, at least I didn't fail them all.  Yusupov recommends Tarrasch for this, so Tarrasch it will be.

Fail: 1/2 = 50%
Bronze: 1/2 = 50%
Silver: 0/2 = 0%
Gold: 0/2 = 0%

Total score: 14/47 = 29.7%

Weakness #2.

Fail: 1/2 = 50%
Bronze: 0/2 = 0%
Silver: 1/2 = 50%
Gold: 0/2 = 0%

Total score:  29/52 = 55.7%

Mixed result.  I wonder how I would've done had these two modules been last in the book.  Would I have done better on the module I failed?  If I had done chapter 24 1st, would I have failed that one?

One final note... despite my stated disdain for studies, I feel like I might want to do some more mate in 2 studies like chapter 9.


  1. Thank you for your tests and reviews. I read them with fascination!

    Opening: Total score: 29/52 = 55.7% (average)

    Positional Play: Total score: 25/64 = 39% (weak)

    Strategy: Total score: 14/47 = 29.7% (very weak)

    Let me comment on these results. If I were you and had 30 hours to work on these three topics - it would be my time division:

    Strategy: 15h, Positional Play: 10h, Opening: 5h

    Of course it is ONLY up to you what you are going to do with these results. Anyway I am sure if you meet stronger players the weakest part of your will be exploited. And it is a good news too: you are already a 1600+ (1700+) player as you have scored about 75% at ALL the remaining parts of tests. It is a sign to start working toward strategy and positional play as you "have already broken" the level that most players lose material (in 1-2 moves variations).

    Good luck next journey (tests). I keep fingers crossed on you! :)

  2. Hello,

    What did you think about how well suited the books are for someone rated in the 1500-1800? Your blog was the first time I found anyone remarking that the first set of three books in Yusupov's series is geared for someone going from 1500 to 1800. (Other sources said it was for players U1500.

    One friend, a FIDE 2100+, told me that he thought some of the content was challenging for him. I am almost through the first book, and I can definitely see that there are some examples and problems that are difficult, but others were extremely simple, so I am having a difficult time saying who is best served by the book.

    Thanks for the content and the notes on your experience.

    1. The book itself says it's for players U1500 to get to 1800, which I mentioned in my initial blog post on Yusupov here:

      If I said it differently elsewhere, it was probably just a typo on my part. I've heard several people who were 2000+ say they find these books challenging. I think it generally is the strategy/positional chapters. The real killer for most people seems to be chapter 8.

      I think the books are well suited for the 1500-1800 range because it's going to show you what your deficiencies are. The books themselves are not enough to train those deficiencies, but it lets you know what to work on. I think anyone who was able to work through the first book and get good/excellent on every chapter would already be much stronger than 1800.

      I think anyone U1800 is well served by these books, but someone U1500 who is marginal in tactics will struggle greatly.

      Right now I am on hiatus from the Yusupov books as I try to get my strategy/positional play strength up to snuff. I'm working on a spaced repetition program using Hellsten's "Mastering Chess Strategy" as my problem set. Think of it as a Yusupov book with a lot more examples and problems on just positional play. Lots of annotated examples and lots of problems per theme.

      Blogger dfan did a similar training with Hellsten/Yusupov and saw an improvement from 1800-2000.

  3. I found this page when a comment on my blog linked back to it. Nice work making it through the whole book! I think a lot of people who buy it don't have the perseverance to use it the way it's intended to be used.

    My scores, as someone around 2000 USCF, for comparison:

    Tactics: 96%
    Endgame: 78%
    Calculation: 97%
    Positional play: 84%
    Strategy: 68%
    Opening: 65%

    So I agree that you are correct in thinking that you have the most headroom for improvement in the strategy and positional areas. I think that going through Hellsten will help a lot with that. I don't think that you have to take a break from Yusupov entirely, though; the strategic problems are harder for everyone, and doing them is how you improve.