The Quality Chess Book Challenge


A couple of days ago I was chatting with Quality Chess Co-founder Jacob Aagaard and I made the remark that I felt that it would be possible to go from an Elo of 1800 to 2200 using only books put out by Quality Chess.

Although the remark was made somewhat off the cuff at the time, the truth is that I believe that this is genuinely possible.

So what I am going to do starting now, is dedicate the rest of this year to using only Quality Chess books to see how much improvement is possible.

I think it’s important to point out that this idea is mine alone and is based on nothing more than my belief that QC puts out extremely high quality material.

The controls for this experiment will be as follows:

I will primarily use only books by Quality Chess as outside study materials.  The exceptions will be that I will continue to use Susan Polgar’s Chess Tactics for Champions to work on simple tactics, and that I will not be so dogmatic that if there is no QC book I won’t go without.

So for example, I play the 5.Bf4 QGD as White.  Quality Chess does not have a book that covers that line as far as I am aware, so I will continue to use other resources for those lines.

When there is a QC book that exists, but that I don’t own, I will order it.  So for example if I decide to learn the Nimzo then I will buy the recently published book by QC on the Nimzo.  However, as I’m not working with unlimited funds here I won’t be able to do everything I like.

My starting point right now is A Spanish Repertoire for Black by Mihail Marin.  I have been working on 1…e5, so this fits in naturally.  However, my main drive will be to begin work on the nine volume (now ten volume) Yusupov set.  I have ordered the first book, and you can bet that once it arrives that’s what I’ll be working on.

I will keep everyone informed and up to date in regards to what I am working on, along with any progress that occurs.  I would also like to state right now at the beginning that any stumbling blocks or failure are mine alone.  I will not blame any publisher for any lack of improvement that would necessarily be due to my own lack of effort.

My goal is to be over 1900 Elo by the end of the year.  That would represent a gain of nearly 100 points.

My hope is that this effort will give me just a little bit more ability to focus since I’ll have something that I’m mentally tying my training program to.

I envision each month of effort being split out with about 50% analyzing my own games, 40% reading Quality Chess books and solving the exercises within, and about 10% playing.

I do plan on trying to play more this year than I have been.  I know that it’s vital that I go from 45 or so games a year to 80 or so this year.

So with that in mind, let’s get going!

(Please note that I will continue to do product review for other publishers so some crossover effort is unavoidable.)

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott



6 thoughts on “The Quality Chess Book Challenge”

  1. Good luck, I am always looking for a good study plan myself. Keep us up to date. What other books you plan to read?

    1. My main focus will be the Yusupov books, but I will also of course read the Gelfand since the team of Jacob and Boris is delivering amazing content!

  2. 40 games for a year is fine if they are all against Class “A” players and USCF “Experts”.

    For the most part, playing people rated under 1600 are just wasted games, and you don’t get much out of playing Class “B” players either.

    You could consider playing Training Matches with some local “Expert”, even if you have to pay him money to do so.

    You don’t want to play games against people who just hang pieces, don’t know openings and don’t even know basic endgames.

  3. I know this is not a challenge as in fight or battle. But I cannot help myself to think that I have to take up the glove and make this a bigger “challenge” then you intend it to be. 🙂

    If I read correctly, we are about the same age (begin forty something). Your current rating (national I think) is 1800ish, my national rating at current time is 1841. You want to raise 100 points so thats 1900 for you and 1950ish for me.

    This said I propose the following, you use mainly chess books published by Quality chess and I will only use chess books published by New In Chess. But I want to make two exceptions.
    1. Chess puzzle books. Since I am a chess teacher at my chess club I want to use as many sources as I can to find examples to give during lessons.
    2. The latest book of Jay Bonin: “Active Pieces”. I just got it in the mail and started reading it, I would hate to stop reading this wonderfull book.

    Offcourse, if you want some extra rules, like a set budget one may spend, … I am all ears and will discuse/accept new rules you or others want to bring up.

    What do you say? Up to the challenge that will get us both to 1900+ (national) rating next year?

  4. For those who are not members of the Chess Book Collectors group on Facebook, you may have missed the excitement today.

    Johan and I are now going to be in a competition to see who can improve the most over the next year. Jacob Aagaard and Nikos Ntrilis from Quality Chess are getting involved as well. Stay tuned for details which should appear on this blog along with the Quality Chess blog in the days ahead.

    I look forward to doing “battle” with Johan in this endeavor.

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