Wednesday, October 22, 2008

REVIEW: Rapid Chess Improvement (Michael de la Maza)

First thing I want to note is that I have not read this book. I have on the other hand read a pair of PDF files from called 400 points in 400 days that was written by Michael de la Maza and appears to be exactly what is in the book from what I saw scanning through the book at Barns and Noble. The only difference is the PDFs appeared to only be the meat of the subject without all the page filling fluff.

The first thing I would like to say is I agree with de la Maza's methodologies of training tactics and the fact that early on the better you are at tactics, the better you will be at Chess. What I disagree with is his philosophy that about learning openings, middle game, and endings. He believes they are not important until you begin training to obtain Master level. de la Maza states that if you setup a Chess game with two computer opponents and set one to master level on positional Chess and the other at master level in tactics that the master level opponent in tactics will win most games. I agree with de la Maza, but that doesn't make it the correct philosophy to train at Chess!

Look at it this way. Say we have two players who study Chess 10 hours a week. John only trains tactics for 10 hours a week. Bob trains tactics 9 hours a week, but also studies positional Chess like openings and middle game the last hour of each week. John maybe a bit stronger at tactics, but his tactics are going to be harder to implement when Bob has a much more soundly defended position. Bob on the other hand will have his strong tactical knowledge and what will amount to a less sound position to attack because of John's lack of knowledge when it comes to the positional Chess game.

One of the first things you are taught in Chess is that any advantage you have over your opponent puts you in a better position to win. Having at least a basic understanding of positioning in Chess is a great advantage to have over an opponent that doesn't. Even if it cost you an hour a week of tactical training.

You want to improve your Chess quickly? Train long and hard at tactics. That I agree with de la Maza and recommend his book. Just do not completely discard what positional Chess can do for you. If you're serious about Chess, you cannot discard it.

Until next time.


  1. Cool. I stongly support tactical chess. Now I will look at positioning in a new light.

    ~ SupaKnight

  2. The most grounded nonagenarian as ChessBase would like to think at the time was Arkadiy M. Gilman (evaluated FIDE 2237 out of 2003), who hails from Russia and lives in Canada. chess sets