Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Studying Chess Made Easy by GM Andrew Soltis

(This review was posted at and references some other reviews of this book. If you're interested you can read my reviews of some other, non-chess books here).

I am an experienced tournament chess player, and came to this book from that perspective. I have a number of Grandmaster Soltis's earlier books including "The Inner Game of Chess" and "Pawn Structure Chess." All are worthwhile for those striving to improve their game. However, Soltis does write his "improvement" books with a certain structure or formula and this book follows that formula: Wittily-titled chapters, each containing a few fairly long examples from grandmaster chess to illustrate the points he's making. The style is conversational, enjoyable and easy to read, but the amount of information per page is not enormous.

Still, for players with a little tournament experience up through USCF Expert (2000+) this book could be a very valuable resource about what NOT to spend your study time on, as well as the more conventional "How to study." His insight that chess study must be enjoyable to be effective may seem obvious, but it bears repetition. He does a good job in this book showing you how to make it so. In my opinion, the strongest chapters are on how to study the opening, "two and a half move chess" and how to benefit from master games.

I agree with some of the other reviewers that the book could be more specific in places, especially about the best ways to use computers, databases and Web resources. That's why it gets four stars instead of five. There are several books on this topic already in print, but I don't own any of them. That may be my next purchase!

Ultimately, playing and studying "real" chess is never going to be easy, but it can be a lot of fun if done right. This book's title may be a little misleading, but it's utility is well worth the price asked.


ChessAdmin said...

Nice overview. Could you share some points on the parts you highlighted, particularly on openings and the "two and a half move" chess? I'm interested in what you think is the most practical advice from the book for study in those areas.

Farbror the Guru said...

Nice review! I am probably a little more enthusiastic about the book but I think you have pinpointed the weakest areas.

>Dundalk Carpet Patching said...

This book will not teach you strategy, tactics, openings, endgames, etc. I'm confident that improving chess players will find it to be an essential companion to more productively studying chess.

I give this book my strongest recommendation.