Tag Archives: grandmaster

The Smirnov Study Plan

I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a Smirnov fanboy, a disciple if you will. If he makes something, I buy it. I have good reason: before his courses, I had been stuck at 1800 rating for years and years. I studied Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding, his flagship course, in 2015, and in March 2016 my rating currently sits at 2088. I’ve improved nearly 300 points, and I might not be done yet. That’s awesome.

I’ll be honest, I’m amazed at my progress.

I own all of Smirnov’s courses, and as I’ve begun watching and rewatching all the lessons, I’ve begun to see the overall pattern or structure of his teaching. I now understand why his courses are the way they are, and I want to share that with you here. Continue reading

Review of ‘Your Top Chess Questions Answered’ by GM Smirnov

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Your_top_chess_questions_AnsweredYour Top Chess Questions Answered

Topic: Misc.; how to play and train better in general

My View: Some excellent, concise information, though other parts are less relevant

Purchase it here: Top Chess Questions, Answered Continue reading

Review of Grandmaster’s Opening Lab 2

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Grandmaster’s Opening Lab 2

Topic: How to play the Opening

My View: Absolutely fantastic; universal opening instruction

Size: 270mb, over 5 hours (!) of lectures, and a very decent opening repertoire

Get it here: The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory 2

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RCA Webinars

In 2014 the Remote Chess Academy, led by GM Igor Smirnov, began producing webinars every few weeks. Webinars have gained traction in the online world over the last few years or so, and not for all the right reasons. Anyway, a webinar is a web-based seminar, where a leader presents on a given topic and everyone else can observe, comment and corroborate.

The Remote Chess Academy, my favourite chess-learning resource.

Smirnov’s first webinar was absolutely fantastic and shows the strengths of such a format. I’ve linked it at the bottom of this post. Smirnov lectures on a theme, but he encourages audience participation. He frequently stops and asks what we think the next move should be. He then looks at the most popular suggestions and explains why they are or are not the best. This is a very powerful way of learning, something just watching a video cannot mimic. I was at this live webinar and can say it was phenomenal. Unfortunately, no other webinar has come close. Continue reading

My Chess Bio X: The Present

One of the best excuses we can make is not having enough time to do X. It sounds like a perfect excuse: we only have 24 hours in a day, so we can only do a finite number of things. Oh well, too bad. However, if you really look at it, this excuse is saying something different: what I am currently doing with my 24 hours every day is more important than X.

Now this excuse sounds a bit weaker. I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair chunk of my day in a rather idle way: checking and rechecking email, watching TV and youtube, even just gazing off into space waiting to fully wake up each morning. Do I want to say these things are more important than just about anything else? Er, not really. Continue reading

Review of Unlocking the GM’s Mind

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unlocking_gms_mind_Disc_cover_1aUnlocking the GM’s Mind

Topic: Thinking?

My View: Worst RCA course by far, avoid

Size: 300mb, about 3hrs of ‘lectures’, about 60 practical problems

Purchase it here.

(edit: a new, updated version has been released; check the bottom for my original review)

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Review of Self-Taught Grandmaster

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Self-Taught Grandmaster

Topic: Training

My View: Solid, but often appears as an advertisement for his other courses; should not be your first RCA course

Size: 150mb download, about 2 hours of lectures, around 200 training tasks, a full training plan

Purchase it here: Self-taught Grandmaster


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Review of Grandmaster’s Secrets

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The Grandmaster’s Secrets

Topic: How to Think and Calculate during each stage of game

My View: Great insight into a chess game,but somewhat general in scope; most beneficial for beginners, sub-1600 Elo.  The higher your rating, the more useful GMPU will be.

Size: 50mb, about 2hours of lectures, about 100 practical puzzles, plus about 50 games to analyze

Purchase it here.

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Review of Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding

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Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding

Topic: Strategy and Thinking

My View: Best Chess Investment Ever

Size: 200mb, nearly 5 hours of video, just over 200 practical training positions

Purchase it here: The Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding

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Chess Bio IV: My First Tournament

I lived in Northern Ontario for much of my childhood, and while it is a beautiful place with incredible natural beauty and some of the nicest people you can find anywhere, it wasn’t great for learning chess.  Few people learn to play, as in play beyond rank beginner.  The closest thing to a chess club was an after-school program held at the local library, meeting once a week.  The first day I walked in, I beat the leader of the chess ladder effortlessly and beat one adult instructor/volunteer while losing a close battle to another.  By the end of my first year I was acknowledged by far as the best player, winning the chess ladder.  At the end of the second year, I rarely lost even to the instructors, and I was promoted to instructor status.  This had two purposes: it let me waive the yearly registration fee, and it let someone else a chance to vie for the top of the ladder.

Get it? Chess ladder?

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