Informative feedback on the new course by an RCA student


Comments: 31
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So you want to get better at chess and need proper training that can move you to the next level. Will my paid courses help you? As the well-known proverb states: “Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut“. Hence, you may be sceptical about anything I say about my own courses.

 

To find a more objective opinion, you may try to locate feedback about my courses on the Internet. I tried that myself, as I also want to know what people think about my courses.

mixed reviewsSurprisingly, there’s a full range of opinions about the same course, starting from “Smirnov is the best ever” to “He’s a cheater who sells overpriced nonsense”.
Despite these opposite views, there’s something in common with these kinds of comments: they are too EMOTIONAL. They are not serious and don’t provide any deep analysis or arguments.

 

 

At the same time, I stumbled upon one review that was both objective and informative. I got in touch with this person, Jonathan Pettit, and asked him to write a review of the new course – “Grandmaster’s Secrets – second edition”.

 

About Jonathan:
Jonathan Pettit“I learned chess at the age of 6 and advanced relatively quickly, getting to 1800-rating … and then got stuck there no matter how hard I studied. I eventually gave up chess for many years, but then I found GM Smirnov’s courses and had my passion rekindled. When not playing chess, I’m an avid martial artist and fitness enthusiast”.

 

Jonathan’s review

I won’t lie: when I first read that GM Smirnov’s course “The Grandmaster’s Secrets” covered basic chess knowledge, I thought it didn’t apply to me, an 1800-rated player at the time. This was especially true when, about five minutes into the first lesson, Smirnov explains why Nc3 is the best move to defend the e4-pawn. I remember sighing, thinking I had wasted my money on something completely at beginner level.

 

An hour later, though, Smirnov presents an incredibly complex position, and his ideas (or principles as he called them) explain everything perfectly. At that point, I realized these ‘beginner-level’ ideas went far deeper than I had first thought.
Grandmaster's Secrets - second editionThe “GM’s Secrets” has roughly two parts, one dealing with the chess game itself and the other dealing with preparing for tournaments and specific opponents. As someone with no real interest in attending tournaments, I found that section relatively unimportant. The chess section, though, was absolute gold.

 

Here, Smirnov tells us what to do in general during every stage of the game, and he also shows us his chess principles, the way to find any given move in any position. His ideas seem very easy, almost too easy, but they have incredible depth. Using these chess principles has completely transformed my game.

 

Before, I’d stare at the board and essentially pick out moves randomly, calculating as far as I could; and I would do that for as many moves as I could until I found something that looked good. Now I have a structured, logical thinking process for finding moves, and my results have skyrocketed.
Grandmaster's Secrets - second editionPerhaps the best part, though, was the practical part, the series of exercises and tasks that train this new skill. Here, Smirnov has commented on some games, and he explains virtually every move with one of his principles. This shows how powerful these ideas are, and soon I was accurately predicting the moves of a grandmaster. Smirnov’s thinking system presented here, as basic as it first looks, is really that good.

 

All that said, the original course wasn’t perfect. It had three main problems.

 

  • First, the audio quality was quite low. This was Smirnov’s first course, and he did not sound very comfortable in front of the mic. He had a constant monotone, as well as awkward periods of silence.
  • Second, the visuals were very basic. The PowerPoint information was often sparse, with maybe eight different slides for a 15-min lecture. For a video-based course, that was a significant weakness.
  • Finally, the practical part had many spelling and grammar errors. In short, the GM’s Secrets had none of the polish of his later courses.

 

The updated version has kept all the chess information the same, but it has improved on all three areas, often significantly so.

 

The biggest change is that an English speaker is doing all the narration instead of GM Smirnov. The content is identical, virtually word for word, but an enthusiastic and unaccented English speaker is now delivering it. It was a bit strange not hearing Igor’s Slavic accent explaining all the chess rules, but the audio quality is superb and easy to follow.

 

Second, the PowerPoints have been completely redesigned. There is more information, more colour, more images, more everything. This may be the most important change, as the lectures are more engaging and easier to follow. This is a huge improvement over the original.

Grandmaster's Secrets - second editionFinally, the practical section has been completely cleaned up. There is proper spelling and grammar for every move, with maybe an odd typo here and there. Extra explanations have been added, as well as arrows and diagrams on certain moves. This is relatively minor, but it shows the attention to detail put into the entire course and makes your ‘homework’ that much easier to follow.

 

There are a few minor glitches, such as the odd typo or the screen fading white to black quickly in-between PP slides, but these are few and far between. On the whole, it’s a polished project, in line with RCA’s more recent work.

 

Bottom line, this course is ideal for the improving beginner and intermediate player. The higher your rating, the less you will get out of it. I imagine anyone below 1800 or so will get something out of it, but those under 1600 will get the most value. Once you learn these chess principles deeply, you will never look at the chess board the same way again.

 

<<THE END>>

 

Thank you very much for your detailed review Jonathan! 🙂 I’m so glad that you liked the course and have improved your chess results.

 

If you would like to make progress like Jonathan, don’t forget to grab the new course “Grandmaster’s Secrets – second edition” with a 25% discount. You can find more details here.

Comments
Comments: 31

Comments 31

  1. I just started this course a couple of days ago. It’s too soon to know what the results will be, but it is certainly easy to understand and a fun course. Mr. Smirnov is so easy to listen to, he just makes sense. I at least feel like I am learning a lot. We will see what the results are soon! 🙂

    1. Hello,
      Thank you for your positive feedback.
      We are glad that you are finding the course useful.

      Prasaadh | Student Support Officer

    1. Hi Bret,
      Thank you for your opinion.
      Some students felt they needed a native English speaker to understand the course clearly.
      We will make a note of your feedback.

      Prasaadh | Student Support Officer

  2. I just started this course a couple of days ago. It’s too soon to know what the results will be, but it is certainly easy to understand and a fun course. Mr. Smirnov is so easy to listen to, he just makes sense. I at least feel like I am learning a lot. We will see what the results are soon! 🙂

    1. Hi, it’s good to know you enjoy the course. Just after watching it, you’ll understand chess better than lots of amateurs who have being playing for decades (without proper coaching)!

      The more efforts you put into the diligent study of the course, the better progress you’ll achieve. Good luck!

      1. Thanks again. Exactly as you say, I feel like I am learning the things most people only ever hear from coach. All those little points that after you hear it you say “of course! I should have known that!” They seem obvious now, but I probably would never have known without this course.

        I find both the study and the game to be more enjoyable now as well. Quality over quantity, as you say.

        1. So far I have gained 150 rating points in rapid, 100 in blitz, 100 in bullet, in 200 in the daily time controls. So gains across the board. It takes some study, but clear improvement 🙂

  3. yes it is right igor is just fantastic coach and his voice is clear the material is also awesome .cleacut explanations.and more advanced ideas .

  4. So, in the reviewer’s opinion this course is aimed at A-player and below. Got any advanced training for those of us 2000+ trying to make Master?

  5. yes it is right igor is just fantastic coach and his voice is clear the material is also awesome .cleacut explanations.and more advanced ideas .

  6. So, in the reviewer’s opinion this course is aimed at A-player and below. Got any advanced training for those of us 2000+ trying to make Master?

  7. Hi, it’s good to know you enjoy the course. Just after watching it, you’ll understand chess better than lots of amateurs who have being playing for decades (without proper coaching)!

    The more efforts you put into the diligent study of the course, the better progress you’ll achieve. Good luck!

  8. I would advise any lover of chess with this course,, it is very important for every player’s ambition to move forward, and anyone who wants to enjoy the chess in order to increase his enjoyment, and anyone who wants to understand how to move the chess pieces in order to innovate … Many thanks to our teacher GM Igor Smirnov….

  9. I would advise any lover of chess with this course,, it is very important for every player’s ambition to move forward, and anyone who wants to enjoy the chess in order to increase his enjoyment, and anyone who wants to understand how to move the chess pieces in order to innovate … Many thanks to our teacher GM Igor Smirnov….

  10. Thanks again. Exactly as you say, I feel like I am learning the things most people only ever hear from coach. All those little points that after you hear it you say “of course! I should have known that!” They seem obvious now, but I probably would never have known without this course.

    I find both the study and the game to be more enjoyable now as well. Quality over quantity, as you say.

  11. Hello. Im an ametaur chess player rated 1500-1600.And I can’t improve. I can afford to buy all Mr.Smirnov ‘s courses. Which courses should I study for improvement? Thank you.

    1. Hi,

      Almost every chess player I know, including myself, stuck in their chess development at some point. You can overcome this, that’s for sure.

      I recommend to start from “The Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding” course, which is essential for your level: http://chess-teacher.com/shop/comprehensive/the-grandmasters-positional-understanding-2/

      If you can afford to buy all courses at once, this will let you obtain really huge 256usd discount for the full Package: http://chess-teacher.com/shop/offers-and-packages/package/

      Good luck!

  12. Hello. Im an ametaur chess player rated 1500-1600.And I can’t improve. I can afford to buy all Mr.Smirnov ‘s courses. Which courses should I study for improvement? Thank you.

  13. The problem, of course, if you don’t have unlimited financial resources, is trying to determine which of Igor’s many excellent courses would benefit you the most, if you can only afford to buy one or two. On the other hand, the guest lectures occasionally offered for five or ten dollars can also be quite useful in improving your understanding. One other point has to do with courses on openings. As I’m already committed to playing certain openings, there is no way to determine in advance of making a purchase whether any of the openings courses would be relevant for me. Thus it would be quite risky for me to purchase any of those courses. If the blurb on each course mentioned the specific openings that are covered, perhaps that would help to increase sales.
    I should add that, regardless of the quality of the courses, you can’t expect to benefit from them a great deal if you don’t take the time to study them seriously. I have a number of excellent RCA courses, but have had very little time to study them – curiously enough because I’m writing my own chess book (just finished the rought draft). But now I finally have more time available and will be plowing into them forthwith!

    1. Hello,
      Thank you for your perspective it seems very clear and accurate.

      Hopefully you will have more time to finish the RCA courses that you own and put them into practice.

      You may first study one course and try applying the concepts in your real game and see how they work.

      All the best for your own chess book.

      Regards,
      Prasaadh
      Student Support Officer

  14. Although not related to this article, perhaps I’ll mention this here as I never got a response to my email request. I would like to purchase CALCULATE TILL MATE, which is quite expensive. I realize that I will receive the appropriate refund/credit if it’s offered at a lower price within 48 hours, but my concern is that the same deal may be offered at a 20% or 30% in the next two or three months – which would make it well worth waiting that long prior to making the purchase.

    1. Hello,
      1) First of all, thanks for your association with RCA for this long. You will get a discount after the release of the new shop which will happen shortly. I would suggest to wait to get that discount..

      2) Yes, Tactics is very important in Chess. It is also important to know the order of calculation,selecting candidate moves and also how to calculate in depending on the nature of the position.
      So calculate till mate helps you in the above aspects and more.
      Of course, you will have to make sure that you can spend enough time to study and incorporate the methods in your games with practice.

      Regards
      Prasaadh

  15. The problem, of course, if you don’t have unlimited financial resources, is trying to determine which of Igor’s many excellent courses would benefit you the most, if you can only afford to buy one or two. On the other hand, the guest lectures occasionally offered for five or ten dollars can also be quite useful in improving your understanding. One other point has to do with courses on openings. As I’m already committed to playing certain openings, there is no way to determine in advance of making a purchase whether any of the openings courses would be relevant for me. Thus it would be quite risky for me to purchase any of those courses. If the blurb on each course mentioned the specific openings that are covered, perhaps that would help to increase sales.
    I should add that, regardless of the quality of the courses, you can’t expect to benefit from them a great deal if you don’t take the time to study them seriously. I have a number of excellent RCA courses, but have had very little time to study them – curiously enough because I’m writing my own chess book (just finished the rough draft). But now I finally have more time available and will be plowing into them forthwith!

  16. Although not related to this article, perhaps I’ll mention this here as I never got a response to my email request. I would like to purchase CALCULATE TILL MATE, which is quite expensive. I realize that I will receive the appropriate refund/credit if it’s offered at a lower price within 48 hours, but my concern is that the same deal may be offered at a 20% or 30% discount in the next two or three months – which would make it well worth waiting that long prior to making the purchase.
    In view of my previous comment (below), you might wonder why I’m planning to buy another course when I haven’t studied the ones I already have nearly enough. I just went through several hundred tactical exercises at chess.com and found myself making the same mistakes over and over. I made a list of the many different reasons I failed to either find the correct first move, a correct intermediate move in the middle of the combination, or the correct kill shot at the end of the variation (a mate instead of winning the queen, or winning the queen instead of a lesser piece). Making that list didn’t seem to help very much, so now I see that something more than familiarity with the various tactical themes is required to become really strong at tactics. By that I mean that, while my tactical ability is only at about the 2050 level, I’m certain that I have the capacity to increase it to at least 2200 with the proper training. Why spend a lot of money on a training program for tactics instead of just doing hundreds of exercises for free in a book on tactics, or the small cost of a membership on a website offering tactical exercises? Do what I did and you’ll have the answer to that question.
    Combined with how well (how poorly) I did on the example exercise for CALCULATE TILL MATE (I had completely the wrong idea from the getgo), I have become convinced that the course is worth the money.

  17. So far I have gained 150 rating points in rapid, 100 in blitz, 100 in bullet, in 200 in the daily time controls. So gains across the board. It takes some study, but clear improvement 🙂

    1. Firstly, let me congratulate you with such great results! It’s always extremelly pleasant to feel your progress, especially if you stuck at some point but then was able to breakthrough.

      Your results prove your solid attitude towards training, and therefore I’m sure you’ll keep raising rating points.

      Le me provide a minor hint: review the course from time to time, and check if you keep following the principles in your games. This will help you stay on the right track.

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