"Chess Exam and Training Guide" is a unique piece of chess literature. This is saying something, since more books have been written about chess than about all other games combined. The author, International Master Igor Khmelnitsky, is an experienced chess teacher and trainer who has put enormous thought into this book and the more recently published "Chess Exam and Training Guide - Tactics." The book is actually a sophisticated evaluation tool to help chess players identify their strengths and weaknesses in no less than ten different areas of knowledge and skill. IM Khmelnitsky recommends it to his students, who submit results to him (the book really is an exam). From their answers, Khmelnitsky is able to judge how best to mentor the student to improve his/her game. What Khmelnitsky has created is a collection of chess positions to challenge the reader's understanding of many different aspects of chess. The reader is invited to find solutions to questions posed by the author. Several possible answers are given for each position and the reader is to select the best answer. With two different questions for each of 100 positions, the book is a 200 problem quiz. Point values are assigned to various possible answers (sometimes points are deducted) so the reader can keep track of the total score and even estimate an Elo rating from the totals. There is a thoroughly described scoring system in the back of the book, so that a reader can gauge strengths and weaknesses. If a reader is interested in a more detailed report of his/her efforts, IM Khmelnitsky offers such services for a fee. Whether or not the reader avails him/herself of those services, the simple act of going through the 200 positions is training in and of itself. The author explains the correct answers and why other replies are not so good. Thus, "Chess Exam and Training Guide" may be used as a detailed evaluation of a player's chess understanding with a view to structured training, a self-evaluation tool to better understand one's chess knowledge, or a fun and challenging way to strengthen one's play by learning from each position. It is hard for me to imagine this book NOT being helpful for any chessplayer under a Master's rating. The author covers all aspects of the game of chess in the exam positions and questions, and his explanations are clear, succinct, and often entertaining. Well worth the price!
Too many complex and esoteric endgame problems. Also choice selections are too subjective (sometimes) with "white is winning" "white is better" "about even" and even Fritz sometimes disagrees with your first moves. Still...this is the best exam book I have ever seen.