Friday, December 28, 2012

The Ubiquitous Smirnov Chess Courses

     It seems I keep running into Smirnov's spam-like advertisements for his chess courses.  To me, the ads themselves look over-hyped and sleazy, but I admit to being a skeptic when it comes to a lot of things.  It appears he runs an affiliate program paying commissions to those who refer customers his way. Add that to the fact that my Webroot Anti-virus warns against visiting the site makes the whole thing look suspicious.  In regards to this warning, one forum poster wrote that the course he bought caused his anti-virus program to quarantine the main menu program but he was still able to run the individual components. 
      I have searched a lot of forums just to get a diverse opinion of people who have actually tried the program and have made an effort to avoid “testimonials” that looked to me like they were presented by shills. i.e. satisfied customers used to dupe folks into participating in a swindle.  In regards to this last point, one poster commented, “…the less savvy consumer (will believe) all recommendations to be an affiliate 'shill' for the seller...when in fact, the possibility does exist that he could just provide good products.”
     So, I decided to go on a search of the chess forums to see is anyone has actually bought any of Smirnov’s course and more importantly, to see if they have actually helped anybody improve.  What follows is a compilation of answers to the question of how good are the courses and I will let the reader be the judge of the merits of the programs.

... his marketing strategy looks very sleazy, and yet he delivers just what he advertises.
Since he offers a money back guarantee there doesn't seem to be any risk involved.
I have seen positive reviews from strong players.
      What I can say is that Smirnov's materials helped my thinking process and improved the clarity of my understanding and planning/move selection, and also helped me to explain things better in classes and in lessons. I wish I had his courses in 1997 or 1998.
     And for levels between beginner to 1800 I stand by my observation that there is little difference between Smirnov and Heisman…

Smirnov is very clear…
     One other mistake that is easy to pick up from almost any instructional writer is the "balanced" training schedule: You need to work on endgames, openings, attack and defense, strategy, calculation etc. to get good…But then none of it is likely to stick…I've never seen anyone else being as explicit about avoiding this trap as Smirnov is.
     The program has changed my idea of what a good training process should be though: Focus on one isolated skill at a time, and train it (to a higher level) until it becomes more or less automatic. In the past I've spent too much time trying to do a bit of everything, with little progress.
…I have Smirnov's course: "The Grandmaster's Secrets" and I found it simple to understand and very practical.
     I have bought FOUR of GM Smirnov's courses, and have not regretted them at all. I have just (got) a performance which will probably boost my rating by almost 200 points, getting me to the clear expert level.
     His base course the GM secrets explain how to study chess properly and get fast results
…I recently purchased Smirnov's course, the Grandmaster's Positional Understanding and I am not disappointed with the material.
… Smirnov presents the material in an instructive, methodical, and easy to understand manner.
…As a novice, I sought a deeper understanding of why moves are made and was discontented with rote learning. This course has definitely assisted in understanding the thought processes involved in making moves.
…if the cost is something that will not lead to a default on your car payment, then I do recommend it….
     There is one friend of mine…who…used this course as his only teaching aid and he got to a rating of 1800 in a bit more than one year.
     If you ask me, I'll say it's definitely good stuff!
     I liked his endgame course…pretty simple ideas but they helped me playing endgames like a 2200.
     I bought some of his courses and I do think they're helpful.

I'm not too impressed, BUT I have to admit I have not done the exercises!
Passive listening and looking will not make you a better chess player.
      Nothing Smirnov says is new or secret or presented in some mind blowing innovative way…
     Has it changed (my) chess in a positive way? The honest answer has to be "no". I believe the only fair way to judge is by results, and I've had a few good tournaments but also one really bad one that canceled out my previous rating gains.
     I've done his opening course and I have to say I thought it was a complete waste of money… after this I didn't think it would be worth buying anything else from him.
     I have bought the Grandmaster Secrets course.I'm not impressed.It consist of 5 short video lesson (about 20-30 minutes each), and 11 game tasks. Every task consists of about 5 games to study. For each of the games are there annotated games with solutions by Smirnov.
…I have not found anything new, which I haven't read before.
     (Smirnov) explains that chess players who heard his videos and did not improve simply refused to do some exercises because they think that they do not need it and that it is one of the reasons that adults fail to improve in chess.

One final comment that seems to apply to all instruction whether from books, videos or a chess coach: This video/lesson did not help me, but I did not do the hard work he requested.

1 comment:

  1. "This video/lesson did not help me, but I did not do the hard work he requested."

    Well if you're too lazy to do what the coach tells you to do, then don't complain, no coach can help you if you're not willing to work.