Andrei Volokitin is one of a rare breed of players: he achieved a ranking in the world's top 20 while still a teenager, playing dynamic and often brilliant chess. Although we cannot all aspire to emulate his achievements, there is much that we can learn from his training methods, his games and his general approach to chess. These topics are the subject of this book, written in collaboration with his trainer.
The core material of the book is 369 positions where the reader is given a task or asked a question. These tasks resemble those that players regularly face over the board, and are especially useful from a training viewpoint. Sometimes we are told we need to find a combination, but often the task is simply to decide on a move. It is for us to determine whether to play quietly or stake everything on a sacrificial attack!
The examples are all from recent years, and so even the most zealous reader of chess literature will have seen few of them previously. Many of the positions are from Volokitin's own games, so we get the 'inside story' on some truly spectacular chess. We are also presented with fine examples from Grabinsky's training files, carefully collected and graded over the years for their instructive merit. The commentaries and detailed solutions explain the key issues in each position, and also convey the authors' philosophy of chess and their love for the game.
Grandmaster Andrei Volokitin was born in 1986 in Lvov. In 2004, he won the Ukrainian Championship and was a member of the team that won the Chess Olympiad in Calvia. In the January 2005 rating list he was, at age 18, placed in the world's top 20 for the first time. He has won many prizes in junior championships and major international events.
International Master Vladimir Grabinsky is the coach of the Ukrainian youth team. In addition to Volokitin, his pupils include several other players who have achieved international titles at an early age.
Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.
"Contains no less than 300 diagrams for the reader to guess the best continuation. Ranging from easy to complex, your task is to find the so-called critical move... written totally in the tradition of Gambit's splendid educational chess books" - Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad
"The book is above all an enormous collection of puzzles with well-explained and detailed solutions" - Thomas Machatzke, Lüdenscheider Nachrichten
"The volume is a workbook in the best sense. Ambitious players, who don't shrink from hard work, will find new and deeper insights, which will enrich their own play." - Richard Brömel, Rochade Europa
" I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for practice in calculation, as well as any player looking for deeper explanation about what factors to follow when making decisions or evaluations in calculating. This book does a good job in those areas. The cover graphic is quite delightful: a pawn equipped with ice axes climbing a mountain, an obvious characterization which is very charming." - Bill McGeary, www.chessville.com
"This is not your normal book of chess positions, where you simply respond to the tip that there is a mate in four or a winning combination. ... The author asks either no questions and you have to make a move, or asks difficult questions such as 'look for a way for black to retain equality.' I guarantee ... readers of all strengths will have hours of fun and frustration in trying to solve the problems. ... It is bound to improve your game as your understanding of tactics and combinations progresses." - Carl Portman, Defence Focus
"The material is split into:
1. Make a Move, where the instruction is simply to find the best move. This is designed to develop intuition and imagination in chess.
2. Find the Win, where the instruction is to find a forced variation leading to a win. This is intended to test combinative vision and the calculation of variations.
3. Answer a Question, where the instruction is to find the answer to a concrete problem. This is intended to develop positional understanding.
Make no mistake, these are non-trivial positions. After moving from the FM to the IM level positions, Keti [Arakhamia-Grant, IM] suggested it was like the change from a pleasant walk in the springtime to starting to climb a mountain in winter. I'm not going to ask when she reaches the GM level puzzles. Some examples are extraordinarily beautiful just for the enjoyment of playing through so this book is strongly recommended to all." - Jonathan Grant, Scottish Chess
"369 demanding puzzles, intelligently collected from current material. The solutions are deeply and entertainingly explained." - Dr. Erik Rausch, Rochade Europa
"The highlight of this genre" - Harald Keilhack, Schach
"A delightful selection of puzzles" - IM Gary Lane, Chess Moves
"A word about the authors. Andrei Volokitin is only 21 but he has already accomplished a lot, most significantly playing board three for the gold medal winning Ukrainian Olympic team at Calvia in 2004 - his score of 8.5 from 12 earning him a 2771 performance rating. His co-author, IM Vladimir Grabinsky, is probably only known in the Ukraine but I became acquainted with him this summer while playing in a round robin in Edmonton. One day I had the opportunity to ask the top-seed, 21-year-old GM Valery Aveskulov, how it was that the Ukraine produced so many great young talents. I had already factored in a tradition of excellence, government and private support, and an economically challenging environment in which being a chess professional did not look so bad, but Valery added one more key ingredient - good coaching. One of the best he said was IM Grabinsky of Lvov and then rattled off a list of teenage IMs and GMs over 2500 on a rapid course toward 2600. Perfect Your Chess is geared towards this level and many of the young talents Aveskulov mentioned have gone through this material which relies on the games of Volokitin and others. ... If you think you can solve ten exercises in half an hour forget it. Try one or two. Even if you fail, take heart, Volokitin and Grabinsky offer detailed explanations that add to the learning experience. ... Highly recommended." - IM John Donaldson, www.jeremysilman.com
"The authors obviously have an eye for beauty in chess, and have preserved many combinations that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Highly recommended for players rated 2000+ who want to improve their calculation." - James Vigus, British Chess Magazine
"I am determined to solve this excellent training book from cover to cover..." - GM Jonathan Rowson, New-in-Chess
"All the best opening preparation is useless if your brain can't spot combinations, key lines and the best moves in complex positions. The authors of a new book have addressed this issue by producing a unique guide to exercising the brain and enhancing chess vision. ... There have been similar books before, but this one has some unique characteristics. I especially like the last section, which asks a specific question for each position, and really challenges the reader to think critically. ... Few books can offer instructive material to both average club players and masters, but this is one of them. Some of the positions have stumped some of the top players in the world in tournament conditions. If you are serious about improving your chess and enhancing your critical thinking, get this book." - Cecil Rosnser, Winnipeg Free Press
"Another book, useful to serious tournament players, comes from Andrei Volokitin, for a brief time in 2005 the world's top-rated junior, and his coach, Vladimir Grabinsky. Their work Perfect Your Chess, issued by Gambit Publications, is a wonderful training book with nearly 370 positions from recent years, including 69 of Volokitin's gems. It provides a rare glimpse into a workshop of one of the world's most talented young grandmasters." - GM Lubomir Kavalek, Washington Post
"Perfect Your Chess is one of the best chessbooks that has come into my hands in recent years." - Martin Rieger, www.freechess.info
"I have not played through all 369 positions (the authors advise tackling only about 5-6 positions a day) but those that I have tackled randomly throughout the book have proved to be quite testing. This is as it should be, as there is no point in spending good money on a mass of easy positions from which little can be learnt. If you like books of this genre I recommend that you give this one a try, as it will provide not just hours or days, but several weeks of fun (or hard work, depending on your point of view!)" - Alan Sutton, En Passant