Sunday, April 12, 2009

Anyone want to go to school with me?

I payed for my first month over at International Chess School. They have a 13-month course which looks interesting. Each month you get new study material which includes theory, annotated games, and various tests with annotated solutions. Picture to the left is not me, but GM Andrei Istratescu who is on their staff.

If you are interested in doing this course with me, then come on over and join the International Chess School Forum, which I just started. I realize it will likely just be me posting there, so it will be more like a personal Wiki than a forum (unless some of you actually come over and post, which would be awesome). The course is not cheap (it's $24/month). That's the major limitation I can see. Also, before joining, please read caveats and especially the warning below.

The first nine months the focus is on developing basic positional understanding. The final four months are almost exclusively focused on calculation/analysis (see schedule below).

Here is their study plan:
1//Think Like a Strong Player
2//Watch the 2 Centers
3-4//Master the Piece Play
5-6//Master the Pawn Play
7-8//Pawn Structures Explained
9//Advanced Fighting Strategies
10-13//The Art of a Master: Analysis

Note the material isn't super polished, and the language is sort of stilted and strange (in that characteristically Eastern European way). You can get free sample material from the first month here. So far, I can understand what they are saying and I'm happy with most of the material.

For those thinking of becoming chess bloggers, ICS would be a great vehicle for starting a blog: track your progress through ICS on your blog (Chess? has already been doing this and pretty much inspired this new project). The chess improvement blogosphere has been languishing, with a couple of exceptions. This means it's about time for some new blood to step in and fill the void.

Edit based on comments:
Warning: they are not accepting students for the "Special" class (which is almost $200/month), but that their web site still will take the money. Do not give them money for the special class unless you get prior confirmation that they will accept you.


Blogger wang said...

Well I looked at this a few weeks ago, before I started on Alburt's course. I figured I'd give the Comprehensive Chess Course a shot before I'd give this school a go round.

4/13/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger wang said...

Sorry, didn't mean to submit so soon. I wanted to say maybe we can compare notes? I'm sure you will be playing at least somewhat regularly to track your progress. I look forward to your updates.

4/13/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Wang: I'd like to play tournaments once a month, and will be contacting Coach B soon to see if he is willing to help me out again. :)

I considered doing the Albert course, incidentally, especially because you are doing it. It's just more fun to do stuff with other people. I decided against it, but not for any particular reason.

4/13/2009 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger DeepGreene said...

Cool. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the course, as I was looking at it myself not long ago.

I ended up deciding that, if I enrolled, I'd just be diverting attention from books and learning tools I already have... but maybe the $24/month would inspire more discipline. :\

4/13/2009 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

I thought about it but currently i dont have the time to spend 4 or 6 hours regulary per week at chess because of work. So for now i decided against joining this school.

I hope you will have a positive experience and learn heaps.

4/14/2009 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger BRF Fågelsången said...

I have been tempted to join that course but the cost has turned me off. It will be interesting to hear what you think.

"Peer preassure" works very well on my. I have unsuccesfully tried to come up with some ideas to come up with some Chess Study co-op. The best I have come up with is some sort of Reading group. Still my reading group has only one member.


4/14/2009 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger BRF Fågelsången said...

Is there some sort of evaluation before you start the course or is it the same study plan for all students?

4/14/2009 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Fabror: it is the same for everyone. My guess is it would be best for those rated between 1200 and 1600 USCF. It definitely is too hard for beginners.

4/14/2009 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Personally, I like the ability to pick and choose lessons. My money is at and the lectures I get per month. Where I mirror my blog there i also get more readership which has given Top Blogger status when I post an update on my tournament study. So, I guess it makes me partial plus it costs less.

4/14/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Hey there,
I haven' played much of late but figured I'd check in.

Lev's course are I think a 7 part series. they go far beyond the CCS.

4/14/2009 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ronald Raygun said...

Good luck with the school; don't forget to let us know how it goes! Getting back to OTB tournaments will give a context to all the sophisticated ideas you have. :) I think you might surprise yourself so long as you don't get tripped up by the non-chess elements (endurance, concentration, objectivity, etc) I wouldnt want to play ya!

4/14/2009 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Takchess!! Great to see you, my fellow New Hampshirian.

Katar: thanks for the vote of confidence :) I definitely want to focus on playing more, and there is a great tournament in Raleigh once a month. It is quite grueling, as it is 5 G60 games in one day! By the fourth, my mind wants to stop. By the fifth, it feels like torture. But it's all fun. :)

4/14/2009 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

So the chess hiatus is over. :-)

The TACO is not usually 5 rounds, just this month it is 5 rounds because it's the 50th one. Next month it is 4 rounds G/60.

I haven't been to the Durham clubs of late just because I've been busy. But I hope to get back out there.

4/14/2009 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: Good. I thought that was a permanent change. Five is a killer! Game four, I already feel like I need a drink. Five? Egads.

4/14/2009 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chess? said...

I am with you on this journey. Maybe we can keep each other motivated. I found it difficult to finish the first month, with everyday life commitments. That is one of the reasons I started my blog, I thought it would help me retain the material if I spoke about it more.
Welcome aboard!

4/14/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

After reading carefull that website of ICS once again i decided to sign up for the Special Class.

If accepted i will have to leave television and devote that time to chess study. I am ready for it, darn you BDK for bringing that website to my attention. :-)

4/15/2009 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CT: Huzzzahhh!!! You are a badass. Hope to see you in the forum.

One warning: I'd check and be sure they will take you. I read that one guy signed up for it but they told him they were too busy and couldn't take on anybody for that special class.

Hopefully it will work out.

I just read their Month 1 article 'Making Decisions in Chess' and it is awesome.

4/15/2009 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger BRF Fågelsången said...

I got an email from them stating that they no longer offer the "Special Class".

4/16/2009 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Fabror...that sucks!

4/16/2009 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Chess? said...

Welcome abord Tiger!

4/16/2009 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

Hmmm, that sucks indeed. Then why is that link still on their website?

Didn't got an email from them so i will wait until after the weekend before i decide if i will or not take the next best thing module with opening.

4/16/2009 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chesstiger: I hope they take you. They aren't the fastest at responding to queries. I like the course, but I wouldn't do anything that required interacting with them.

I told them about the forum, after a couple of emails asking if they had one, then one suggesting one, and then finally I started one myself.

I'll put a warning on my main post.

4/16/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

BDK, I thought this might be of interest:
Polgar Chess University

4/16/2009 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm on their third month of material. For the most part the material is fairly good (the language grammar issues aside). The best part is that material always talks about plans and objectives in English (not variations). This is extremely helpful for an average player like myself. The material is also distilled to give you the information without the bloat. Is it worth the money? Well, one hour with a coach each month costs the same (more?), so I'd say it is.

4/16/2009 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jason: I have the same feeling.

I do think the language and lack of polish makes it a little extra work (and not just grammar, but the strange reduplication of effort, such as three separate articles in the first month that address the same topic (positional evaluation) from slightly different angles).

On the other hand, I also think this makes it sort of endearing. Some of the material is so good I already feel I've got my money's worth for the first month.

4/16/2009 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger BRF Fågelsången said...

I have been very tempted to joining the school but in the end I decided to give Build Your Chess by Artur Yusupov a try.

Anyone who has used that book?

4/17/2009 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

If only they would be quicker with their response on emails. Getting impatient here since i want to start, yesterday, already. But have not seen a sight of life by them.

Communication doesn't seem to be their strong fort.

4/17/2009 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chesstiger: That sucks. Have you emailed their contact person Raul:

They were slow getting back to me. Usually it took 24 hours or so.

4/17/2009 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

I will try that email aswell, BDK.

Hopefully i will know more by the end of the weekend. So that i can start with either what i am intrested in or the second best main + opening.

4/17/2009 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger likesforests said...

Hey BDK! Nice to see you on

I was about to warn you not to sign up for their special class before I noticed your user-id. Sir Nemo only gained 33 points during his year there, but he had many other things on his plate so I'm not sure he committed to the program as much as I suspect you would.

I considered them before but had concerns. How does the basic course improve on a set of books, which costs less? How does the special class improve upon four hours of one-on-one instruction, which costs the same? I will be eager to hear more about your experience. I will also point out the Chess Mentor courses here. Wink

4/18/2009 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Likes: those are good questions (though I'm not impressed by Nemo's work on that. He mentioned it once at his blog and then never again).

It's about the cost of a book a month. I'm doing it instead of using books book because
1)It is balanced, and includes things I would have to find in many different books but don't want to take the effort to do that.

2) It is structured in a logical way, taking me from point A to point B using a single framework that I find appealing so far. A quilt of books won't do that, and I don't necessarily trust myself to do that.

3) I like that it first builds a common vocabulary for strategy, and then in the final months blasts you with calculation training, Rowsonalysis!

4) Also, for some reason I find this much more motivating than a book. Not sure why, but there it is. Probably the cost.

5) Something about learning from a course put together by a bunch of crazy Romanians is cool.

We'll see what happens.

The key is to make a sane plan and stick with it. That is a guaranteed way to improve at chess.

I have to say, though, that I was horrified that in their first tactical worksheet they discuss memorizing the board and square colors. But I'm putting my trust in them for the next year (and hopefully Coach B if he has time).

So far the material is great, better than what I've gotten in books. I'm discussing it a lot at the forum (which is taking too much time already) but will probably pop in here from time to time to talk about stuff.

4/18/2009 12:42:00 AM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

Hey BDK!

I know from past discussion that "turn based chess" doesn't really appeal much to you, BUT I have been partaking in quite a bit of turn based chess at and it basically constitutes "Rowsonalysis" on every move. I am finding myself looking deeper into positions (not always with greatest of clarity mind you) on OTB and long games with Shredder. I think this is a direct effect from playing turn based chess. Just a thought. Oh and for what it is worth I have returned to chess blogging. I think I have a better handle on managing blog time versus study and play time and life time! :)

4/18/2009 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger BRF Fågelsången said...

You might find this to be interesting:

4/18/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

This is the email i got.

'Hello Johan,

Thank you for your email.
Our course is very good for positional understanding and thought process. Also you will find important lessons on tactics, but not tactical exercises (which are plenty for free on Internet).
Special Class is not available anymore, so you can consider the Main Module if you want.

Unfortunately we accept only payments through card or Western Union. Let me know if WU is okay for you, then I can send the payment details.'

So i will be paying by Western Union. Hope i can start the course quickly.

4/19/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CT: Yes, I am finding the lack of tactical work a big limitation, so I have to supplement it with daily tactical work. Frankly, I would consider doing the Circles again, but a custom-made circles program....more later if I go through with it.

On the other hand, they have lots of stuff on attacking the King, and he is right after all that tactics is pretty easy to find.

I consider this course for people who don't drop pieces to simple (1-2 move) tactics much anymore. I still drop pieces that way, but sort of want to balance out my chess education anyway.

4/19/2009 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

I finally got my login and password from ICS so from tomorow i can start with my chess study!

So watch out, here i come to beat you all at the chess board! :-)

4/22/2009 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Cool it's about time jesus.

4/22/2009 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chess? said...

it took sometime for them to send my pw. were do you play tiger? im on chessbase if u r up for a game. welcome aboard.

4/22/2009 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

I play mostly otb at my chess club. In the past i played at FICS (freechess) but stopped since it hampered my 3D board vision.

I think i have an acount on chessbase server, mostly used for watching relays, but i have to check the handle i am using there.

4/23/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

Either ICS made a mistake or it's because of the fact that i paid for the entire course already that ICS gave me already access to all material from month one to month twelve.

So i guess i can work on my own pace now but still i will be doing six hours a week at minimum and about a month over each month.

4/27/2009 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Chess? said...

i think the anticipation would be lost. i would end up skipping the mot so easy. i heard that month is not finished? can you confirm? also i know that they will change a month by way of omitt / add material. so tiger what was your rating before you started?

4/28/2009 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...


First of all i want to say that i am still a first month student. :-)

I am not gonna run faster then my legs can carry me so i will be doing the next month only after a month of working with the material of the month i supose to be in (started with the course 22 april 2009).

Secondly, when i started this course my rating was 1907 belgian rating (which probably will drop in august due to to many draws against lower rated players) and my first ever Fide rating of 1979.

4/29/2009 04:06:00 AM  
Anonymous jg said...

How are your study at ICS going? You must be half way through the study.
I started in September and are now in my second month. I really like it so far.
I started playing as an adult and until now I have studying openings and been solving exercises. This has improved my playing strength a lot but my thinking method and understanding of chess is no good at all. And this I think the 13 month course at ICS can help me to improve.
And actually I don't care about the ICS not being interactive. I will do the course on my own and are pleased with that.

10/11/2009 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Chanaka Aruna Munasinghe said...

I see about ICS and wanted to find more about it. I see you have done it in 2009. Please let me know how was it ?

5/02/2010 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chanaka, you should come visit the forum I started, linked in this post, for discussing the International Chess School.

5/02/2010 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Chanaka Aruna Munasinghe said...


Thank you for initiating that valuable forum. I joined it now.
will look at past thread.

5/02/2010 06:11:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home