Sherlock’s Method: The Working Tool for the Club Player

Authors: GM Elshan Moradiabadi, WGM Sabina Foisor

445 pages. Thinker’s Publishing, 2020

List price: $39.00, $31.69 on


Read This First!

This book is comprised of three parts, each broken down into two subsections. The parts are as follows: simple positions, endgames, and complex decisions. There are one hundred fifty (150) positions in the first part, one hundred twenty (120) in the second part, and forty two (42) in the third part. The targeted readers for this book are players rated between 1700 and 2300. This range may seem rather wide, but the variety of concepts addressed makes it possible for players in the aforementioned range to enjoy and learn from the book’s content.Sherlock's Method, page 12
Sherlock's Method
Photo: Sabina Foisor’s Twitter: @Foisor_Sabina

First, I believe 1700-2300 is an appropriate range for Sherlock’s Method. Second, the authors are being too modest about what they have created. Having gotten to know them a bit personally, I’m not surprised as they are both very down-to-earth.

Also, full disclosure, they sent me a copy of the book to review. [Other authors or publishers can do the same; just contact me: infoATchess-essentialsDOTcom.]

Now onto the review!


Sherlock’s Method is Exactly What Most Players Claim They Want!

After spending a few hours with the book, my conclusion is this: Sherlock’s Method has removed most of the typical excuses a wide swath of the chess population gives for being unable to improve:

  • A thick workbook aimed at “normal” players, not just masters or budding stars.
  • Puzzles with only broadly defined themes that don’t “prompt” the correct answer.
  • Exercises from mostly recent games: tactical, strategic, and endgame.
  • Plenty of good explanations that help a player with their thinking process.
  • Enough variations in the solutions to satisfy the computer jockeys.
  • A rich selection of challenging material that would take months to work through, at least.

Sadly, I think these are reasons Sherlock’s Method will not become as popular as it should! Bad for the authors, but good for readers …

Use this book to reach 2000+. It will train your brain to come up with good ideas when you reach parts of the game that cannot be prepped.

I imagine your chess will become more natural and enjoyable, too.


Contents and Sample Pages




A Thinking Game?

In 2015, I gave this prescription for players trying to reach 2000 USCF:

Know your openings thoroughly. Know the most important middlegame plans that arise from your openings. Know your technical (book) endings cold. Play through lots and lots of multi-piece endings until some typical playing methods “stick.” Try not to blunder too much. Pick the right tournaments for your playing style/temperament.Another Method to Reach 2000 USCF, Part 1

I still believe this method is effective, but it is brutal and in some ways a crime against chess:

I didn’t say the method was exciting! I will warn you that this method requires something of an obsession about chess, or maybe a chip on your shoulder. But the point is, even a person with no talent, like me, can overcome their talented peers. You might become a robot, but at least you’ll have a 2000 rating.Another Method to Reach 2000 USCF, Part 1

Often I talk about grinding, memorizing, solving tactical puzzles till your eyes bleed, and most of all: studying openings.

Effective, yes … but I would not encourage someone to start playing chess to become a flesh-and-bones machine. If I could start over, I wouldn’t have become a serious chess player if I knew this is what it took.


A New Hope

I resorted to the methods above because I wasn’t talented, and recommended them to other players with a lack of talent but a burning desire to improve raise their rating. Players who didn’t start playing chess right out of the womb and didn’t have extensive (and expensive) coaching to make playing chess natural for them.

Is this attitude too negative or defeatist? Probably. And it may be outdated as well, with the release of the Moradiabadi and Foisor book.

Sherlock’s Method: The Working Tool for the Club Player will develop your ability to use your brain to solve chess problems, and not be merely a programmed computer that can keep a 2000 rating by exploiting gaps in the preparation of others.

I encourage you to take the authors up on their offer. Maybe, after reaching the 25 year mark in my chess tournament career last week, I will as well.