BUILD UP YOUR CHESS THE FUNDAMENTALS is one volume of a NINE volume comprehensive "training program" or "chess course" which aims to bring you from the level of the club player to the level of the master in three levels and to identify the knowledge needed for each level revealing any gaps you may have in the process. It is basically a guide for self-assessment that allows you to know where you are in your chess knowledge and is best used supplementing other more detailed instructional sources. This training program is based on the original online lessons from the CHESS TIGERS UNIVERSITY.
For me, this is an EXTREMELY valuable thing to know: what knowledge exactly should I have for the level I am aiming for and what is missing in my knowledge base that is essential for this level. I feel very lucky to have discovered this.
The other reviews seem to assume three volumes at most; it has expanded and is now nine volumes which are divided into three series.
The three series are BUILD UP YOUR CHESS (which was the first of the three series), BOOST YOUR CHESS and CHESS EVOLUTION and each of these has its own Volume 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS (the level of the club player - orange cover in all 3 series), Volume 2 BEYOND THE BASICS (a transitional level - blue cover in all 3 series) and Volume 3 MASTERY (the level of the master - green cover in all 3 series). That's right, the levels are color-coded.
When the BUILD UP YOUR CHESS series came out in 2008, it was greeted with very high regard: in 2009, Artur Jussupow (or Yusupov, as is easier for most of us to pronounce) was announced the winner of the "Boleslavsky Medal" for best chess book of 2008 by FIDE. The medal, named for Ukrainian Grandmaster Isaac Boleslavsky, is FIDE's way of recognizing this series as a chess-related "best book with remarkable, instructional values." It is possible that the resultant close scrutiny led to its expansion into a second and third series ... that is my guess but I have not yet come across the answer to the question "What did Yusupov know and when??".
Not all nine volumes have already been published as of December, 2010.
What this book is not?? This book is not primarily explanatory text and is not a primer; it does not present sufficient detail to be an introduction to, or the only source for, the information included and is not intended to be used in this way. If you are reading this review because you are a beginner looking for a comprehensive primer, try any of the following: there are large books like THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO CHESS by Patrick Wolff or ALPHA TEACH YOURSELF CHESS by Zsuzsa Polgar et al or COMPREHENSIVE CHESS COURSE VOLUMES 1 & 2 by Roman Pelts and Lev Alburt and smaller books like PORTABLE CHESS COACH by Judee Shipman or CONCISE CHESS by John Emms; each has some wonderful aspect and so it depends on what you are looking for; read their reviews and judge for yourself; also, do not overlook amazon's "Listmania" as a great source of information.
What this book is?? This book is an OUTLINE of what you should know as a club player. Its primary purpose seems to be to serve as an excellent guide for self-assessment. It has 24 chapters structured as follows: each chapter starts with a VERY BRIEFLY defined concept such as "Centralizing the pieces" followed by several (mostly short) game excerpts each with diagram which demonstrates the concept and is color coded so you can see at a glance the color of the player of the next move, exercises to test the reader with solutions at the end of each chapter and a suggested method of scoring. It is one of the three volumes each subtitled the same: Volume 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS. Together, these three volumes represent the first level and starting point, the knowledge base that every club player should begin with before going to the next level of this comprehensive chess course which is the three Volumes 2 BEYOND THE BASICS.
This was the part about which, initially, I was unclear: there are really only three levels; this first level consists of Volume 1 of EACH of the three series; all Volumes 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS represent this same first level. This can be confusing as Yusupov seems to have written them by series not by level but they are meant to be read by level so that the order in which they are intended to be read is to begin with all the Volumes 1, then all the Volumes 2 and end with all the Volumes 3. I have confirmed this order with the publisher.
I want to start with just one level, THE FUNDAMENTALS (all orange covers). I have purchased Volume 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS of both the BUILD UP YOUR CHESS series and the BOOST YOUR CHESS series but Volume 1 THE FUNDAMENTALS is not yet available for the CHESS EVOLUTION series and, as of Sept. 12, 2011, is not expected to come out until later in 2011; nine is expected to be the final total number for this course/program ... but who knows.
It took me a while to figure this all out as it is spelled out some places but not everywhere and I had to do some homework and did not immediately notice that the levels are color-coded. Perhaps, the total concept evolved as the author went along. In any case, being clear on this may help your purchase decisions if, like me, you did not immediately understand.
By the way, those interested in this book might, also, like CHESS EXAM AND TRAINING GUIDE by Igor Khmelnitsky which targets all levels from beginner to master; it is, also, highly regarded having won, for best book of 2005, the Cramer Award given by CJA (Chess Journalists of America).