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Lessons with a Grandmaster: Enhance Your Chess Strategy And Psychology With Boris Gulko Paperback – Jun 14 2011

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess; 1 edition (June 14 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857446682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857446685
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #396,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


This book is an outstanding contribution to instructional chess...This title is destined to be a classic... Lessons with a Grandmaster might just be the finest treatise ever written on the nuances and dynamics of positional play. This is learning at its best. John Warth, ChessCafe.com

About the Author

Boris Gulko is one of the most distinguished grandmasters in the chess world. He’s a former Soviet Champion and has also won the US Championship twice since his immigration in 1986, making him the only chess player ever to have held both the American and Soviet championship titles. Dr. Joel R. Sneed is a professor of psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, and an amateur chess enthusiast and a student of Boris Gulko's.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read through a few games in this book and enjoy the content. It's an excellent concept and gives one some insight on how GMs think. The questions asked and comments made are pretty much those that any amateur would pose. I feel like I'm sitting at GM Gulko's elbow asking dumb questions or making errant comments and I sort of am except I don't suffer the embarrassment of it -the other guy does ;-)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nothing is more interesting than a chess book with such great contents and dialogs! Gulko has a very universal style; he can play in every type of position. The same can be said for volume II. Great teaching has never been better!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa36d815c) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa37a6d2c) out of 5 stars A Grandmaster's words of wisdom July 30 2011
By J. Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am really enjoying this unique and instructive book. GM Gulko makes so many pithy and wise statements, that I am writing them down in a notebook as I go through the book. For example, "There are no equal exchanges; each exchange improves or worsens your position." That is the kind of instruction that can really help your thinking during a game. This particular statement will make me evaluate an exchange before making it to make sure it helps my position. I have seen very few chess books which are this heavily directed toward the narrative description of what is going on in the game. Sneed is about a class B player (you can look up his rating history at uschess.org) who has gone up sharply in rating points, which may be a result of his sessions with GM Gulko. It is a nice format to have someone asking about the type of plans that you would see and have a GM tell why that is right or wrong. In so many books the GM analysis doesn't even consider some of the dumb moves we class players think about. There are 25 games in the book which cover many pages each. The format includes a number of diagrams where you are supposed to stop and evaluate the position before moving on. If you put some time into this book, stop and think about your plans and calculate them out, I think you will learn something. I am a USCF rated 2000 player and am getting a lot out of this, so I would recommend it to anyone under 2000.
74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa37b539c) out of 5 stars How a Grandmaster Thinks, Not Just Calculates June 21 2011
By NotYetAGM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a 1800 USCF player with about fifty chess books in my collection. I decided to pick up a copy of this book after a friend recommended it to me.

As computer analysis has an increasingly large impact on the world of chess more and more books rely on chess engines like Rybka. While this leads to more accurate moves in specific variations, it doesn't help the reader to better understand the positional elements involved, or how middlegame plans could be constructed. But in "Lessons with a Grandmaster", the authors work through games in a conversational style. The advantage of this is that the less experienced player (Dr. Joel Sneed) asks questions and suggests moves that readers might have posed, keeping the material accessible and engaging.

I didn't know GM Boris Gulko's games very well before reading this book, but after looking at the book's analysis, it's clear why the author was both a US and USSR champion.

"Lessons with a Grandmaster" is a great book for those who want to improve their positional understanding and how to form a plan in complex middlegames. The analysis is well presented, and as usual the Everyman Chess does a great job of laying out the material.
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
By Pablo Iglesias Alvarez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading hundreds of books with much information and little instruction, I finally came to this treasure by GM Boris Gulko. Mr. Gulko is an honest writer and he reveals with clarity and depth his decision making process. This is a rarity among Grandmasters whom usually just annotate games related to long variation ending with a cold informator code. Thus they don't reveal anything and unfortunately an amateur cannot really learn. The beauty of this book is to see how a genius mind works applying the framework of a highly successfull school of Chess though (The Soviet School). It is classical Chess at its best. The addition of an amateur making the type of questions 99% of us would do, only enchances the importance of this book. Please Mr. Gulko, write more like this!. Fellow GM's, please also learn a bit from Mr. Gulko.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa37a6f60) out of 5 stars Gulko's way of thinking is enlightening Aug. 5 2012
By RTF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am 2300 rated player and found this book quite beneficial. I originally purchased this book as a recommendation for a student (class A player), but found myself learning much more than I expected. Although Dr. Sneed's questions and analyses are clearly intended to help the strong club player improve, I believe that master level players can also benefit from this book by focusing on Gulko's analyses. The games chosen for inclusion in this book are both complex and nonstandard (Gulko-Shabalov is one of many such examples). The combination of these attributes makes this games collection similar in quality to Dvoretsky's training series. The fact that Dvoretsky includes Gulko's games in his acclaimed 'Positional Play' adds credence to the insights gained by studying Gulko's play.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa37b53e4) out of 5 stars Great insight and lessons from an ultra-strong GM! April 22 2012
By Igelfeld - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For less than 20 dollars, you get some personal (not personalized) lessons from one of the US and former USSR's strongest players. The book consists of 25 games played by Gulko over the last 40 years with a conversational analysis for each one with co-author and clinical psychologist Joel Sneed. The main instructional mechanism is the identification of certain key positions where Joel provides his own analysis of the current position. Gulko in turn provides comments on not only Joel's selection of moves but also the correct considerations for the position.

So, what can a chess student get from this kind of dialogue? First, Joel is a decent player with at least average tactical vision, but suffers through most of the book with incomplete or faulty analysis. In simple terms, this is your every day tournament player wanting to improve. Often GM Gulko reminds him that his calculation must be complete with the right assessment to be competitive with a high level of competition. Also GM Gulko really has a knack for providing insight in when to calculate. This is the age old question dating all the way back to the book "Think Like a Grandmaster" which was a great book with lots of bad analysis advice. This book really bridges the gap because Gulko is looking at specific positions and explains the pitfalls and even at times the temptations that might lead to allowing your opponent to equalize, or perhaps losing the chance for the initiative, or perhaps in some cases dangerous points where prophalatics are required to keep the opponent without counterplay. These are all the standard chess lessons you might see in hundreds of books, but in the context of a lesson with an aspiring player, the points are insightful without sounding overly preachy.

Okay, so some minor points that didn't detract enough from the evaluation to reduce it from 5 stars ...
1. The binding separated from cover ... but I did read the book from cover to cover so maybe Everyman just doesn't build its books to last
2. GM Gulko sometimes ends his assessments without what I would call sufficient justification
3. Dr Sneed attempts to factor in psychological elements but in my book, it really doesn't come off as anything more than a college psychology project
4. GM Gulko's comments on psychology tend to be the lessons most chess players already know

But all in all, this is a very enjoyable book and definitely worth the time and money. Another excellent book that teaches positional evaluation and calculation is Chess Blueprints, a strong 5 star book. Lessons with a Grandmaster is targeted for all club players, this book however is probably better suited for the stronger club player.

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