I must confess to a long-standing personal fascination with the topics at the centre of Chess Improvement, having done quite a bit of work and reflection in similar directions. The novel ingredient that this book brings to the task is Barry Hymer's academic credentials, as well as the book's division of topics into scholarly theory and chess practice.
Chess Improvement is a welcome addition to a very niche segment of chess training manuals; a book that makes the effort to combine mainstream work on psychology and education and apply it to the game. The authors make no effort to sugar-coat what is clearly a serious tome - the book demands time and effort, and doesn't tempt with quick fixes. What it does do, however, is scrutinise aspects of (chess) teaching, thinking and learning in a way that should fascinate and galvanise trainers and parents. It also provides valuable and scarce food for thought for players wondering about their personal obstacles to improvement. Working your way through this book will surely bring rewards - not just because that is the bonus of making a targeted effort towards improvement, but because Chess Improvement offers a very different type of material, including insights into the thoughts of elite English players.
Chess Improvement will take its spot on a sparsely populated shelf alongside volumes such as Chess for Zebras, books which navigate the fascinating waters of chess psychology and contemplation.