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Rapid Chess Improvement

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A book for all enthusiastic adult players. Michael de la Maza reveals the secrets of a unique study plan which he used to transform his level of play in just a twelve month period.

128 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2002

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Michael de la Maza

10 books4 followers

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5 stars
19 (18%)
4 stars
25 (24%)
3 stars
32 (31%)
2 stars
18 (17%)
1 star
8 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Eric.
235 reviews15 followers
April 15, 2012
Checked this out from the library, and I'm sort of glad I didn't buy it. There's really only about 25-30 pages of actual content in here, the rest is attestations, background, and his personal story. At times, the book reads like an infomercial.

That said, those 25-30 pages are extremely valuable. If you follow de la Maza's recommendations to the letter, you'll be spending many hours per day over the span of five months training yourself to play better. While I expect very few will go whole hog on this, I do see where his techniques should improve my play quite a bit.

Recommended for chapters 2 and 3. Snag it from your local library if you can, get a cheap used copy otherwise. I don't think it's worth full retail.
Profile Image for Serge Pierro.
Author 1 book35 followers
September 28, 2012
This book is hardcore. I did the program and saw a huge improvement in my tactical ability. However, it is quite grueling in the later stages, and it was not uncommon to have headaches afterwords. The program works - if you are capable of completing it! (The concept is 5 stars, but the book itself is padded with "fluff"... thus 3 stars)
Profile Image for Michael.
22 reviews4 followers
June 11, 2013
A ton of bullshit. If you're willing to spend 6 hours a day studying chess, no matter what you do, you're going to get a lot better fast. What he did is nothing special. I'd argue that given his training regimen, his improvement was paltry.
157 reviews
December 25, 2022
I found this book more motivational than practical. Hence the 3 stars. His message for learning chess tactics is the same for anyone learning anything.

1. Figure out what you want to learn
2. Make a learning plan.
3. periodically test your progress, which includes spaced repetition.
4. Put in the hours.

His general advice is sound--most games between lower ranked players are decided on tactical successes or losses. So, studying tactics should be a sound part of a lower ranked player study plan.

I also learned about a computer program called CT Art which is described in the book. I installed the app onto my phone several months ago and have gotten much better at chess tactics--but of course I have a long way to go.
Profile Image for Ricky Pruitt.
43 reviews2 followers
December 11, 2021
The guy loves to talk about how great his ideas are, how others think how great his ideas are, and why you should think his ideas are great. It's about 90% self promotion and supporting information, and 10% how to get what needs to get done.. done. It should be 2 stars, which I will correct after my training if so, but plenty of people say it really works,. Thus, it gets at least 3 stars... for now. Why is this a book?
Profile Image for Kyle Boon.
4 reviews3 followers
December 23, 2021
Chapters 2 and 3 are worth reading for all
Adult chess improvers at the class level. It mostly boils down to a) create and stick to a plan and b) concentrate on tactics. Lot of similarity to the woodpecker method but lacking the puzzles.
Profile Image for Scott Gregory.
42 reviews
May 15, 2022
Unreservedly concrete in its recommendations. If followed closely, de la Maza's plan is very rigid and demanding. I appreciate his emphasis on "chess vision" and tactics, but it's too anecdotal to know how well his system works vs. others.
Profile Image for Killer of Dreams.
179 reviews13 followers
February 23, 2020
If you're going to read this book, there's essentially only 30 pages of good material while the rest is just salesman talk. De la Maza provides what seems like revolutionary theories and thoughts that any adult inexperienced player can relate to. My criticism, along with most of the chess world is that you have to adopt a style of play and begin to learn openings and techniques to advance fully. Full focus on tactics can only get you so far but it is none the less instrumental. I provided this book with a low rating for the unnecessary pages of tactics, half-baked theories, and reviews on the Seven Circles and vision drills.

Rating Update 31 May 2019
Two stars to one star. It took me 21 days to read 128 pages. I definitely found a lot of it boring.

Update 7 July 2019
With the adoption of my new rating system, a two star rating is befitting. The original rating and original review conform to the new rating system. While only twenty pages of the one hundred and thirty pages are useful and reach a three star rating, the rest of the book falls into one star rated content. I round the rating of the book to two stars when it should fall to one star because when I think of this book, I think only of useful pages. I consider this book to be "OK".

October 6, 2019
To elaborate on the 1.5 star rating mentioned in the update from July 7, 2019, the 1.5 star rating is accurate. The average rating of the three star-rated thirty pages and the one star-rated ninety pages is 1.5 stars. I have rounded the rating to two stars because of the impression that the three star-rated segment gave me, and for my liking of it.

February 16, 2020
In the update from July 7, 2019, I wrote that twenty pages receive a three star-rating, I believe this to be true because this is the cumulative rating for those twenty pages, since there is four star-rated content within that gets bumped down by three and two star-rated content.

February 20, 2020
Supposing that the twenty pages could receive up to a four star-rating and the remainder would receive a two star-rating, the book would receive a cumulative 2.31 star-rating, not close enough to a three star-rating by rounding up from 2.5 stars. This book is a definite two star-rated book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
37 reviews
April 13, 2008
Outside of Maurice Ashley's outdated chess tutorial software, i have yet to find anything wonderfully exceptional in teaching chess or learning chess. Maybe using a word such as revolutionary would suffice. Few people have the patience to prepare fo ranything (marriage, war, career, etc) but those who do hold the advantages before engaging. This book and the concepts withing are the strongest yet to develop the new mind for the adventure of chess. Although it is marketed to the younger crowd, there is nothing whatsoever that cannot be applied directly to the more chronologically advanced segments of Chess Society. Two Thumbs up and a High Five!
Profile Image for Adrian Alvarez.
489 reviews37 followers
May 21, 2016
I realize the importance of drills when it comes to fluid tactical play, particularly in early ratings, which is where I stand, and while the ideas presented here are somewhat useful I couldn't get past the infomercial style presentation, nor the reduction of chess elements into some kind of extended 80s training montage. Chess is an art, which means, for me at least, this book's attitude was an absolute turn off.
Profile Image for Richard.
3 reviews
May 5, 2012
This has almost no actual chess knowledge in it. It is a 100 pg piece of advice to do tactics. The claim is that if you finish a certain program (CTART 3.0) in a certain period of time, you will achieve the level of expert.

Borrow this book if you can. It will give you an insight into the dedication chess tactics mastery requires.
Profile Image for Randal Figgins.
11 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2014
For the intended audience, I would give this book a five-star star rating. However, as mentioned by many other reviewers, there is a lot of fluff in this book. For that, I dropped a star because I found the fluff annoying .
12 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2010
Good plan on how to get better, although doesn't need to be followed to the letter!
Profile Image for James Stripes.
Author 5 books4 followers
April 15, 2017
Michael de la Maza cultivates unrealistic expectations that are grounded in deception concerning his chess skill at the outset of the enterprise that demonstrated that he could improve, albeit not as much as he makes it seem, but that also left him without interest in continuing the game. This book attacks those who have spent their lives playing and teaching others, who have developed generations of masters. It is a horrid book. Following the advice in Rapid Chess Improvement will ruin your personal relationships and cause you to burn out on chess. Are a few hundred rating points worth the cost.

Most adults are better off with a balanced life, healthy relationships, and slow steady improvemennt over many years.

How can an adult with an established rating improve by 400 points over nine years while strengthening his or her personal relationships? That's the question potential readers should ask.
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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