Lessons with a Grandmaster: Enhance Your Chess Strategy And Psychology With Boris Gulko Paperback – Jun 14 2011
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.