Who wrote what?

November 21st, 2014 10 comments

When I write on this blog I try very hard to keep things professional, without making them dull. When I am on my Facebook account I will happily debate things freely, defend controversial points of view or defend dogmatic points of view for that sake, should I agree on them. (An interesting thing is that it is always with the second type of defence that you get into the really difficult discussions with people that are really passionate! It must be like that debating with me at times then!!)

Recently someone tried in private conversation to make a link between the two Worlds, somehow wanting to question the ethics of Quality Chess because of my general views of the moral stand on income tax and ethics in general (views that do not belong here!). The dig was that Quality Chess had somehow a low level of ethics because he felt that Lars Schandorff’s book on the Semi-Slav is being “ghost written”.

This leads to obvious inspiration regarding who writes what on a few projects.

Let us start with Playing the French. It is no secret and has never been a secret that this book is to a great extent written by Nikos, with me advising, helping in choosing lines, finding a few novelties (the best of which was unfortunately played in a Corr. Game before the book was finished) and looking over the finished book. It says as much in the foreword. Nikos did not feel confident enough for the book to have only his name on it. It is the main reason I allowed my name to appear on it. And then the fact that the book was great and I knew it would be great and that Nikos and I work together on openings all the time (that I work on openings). If the book had not been good, I would not have wanted myself associated with the book. As it was, I was centrally involved, just not as the main writer, and I did go over the rest of the book. And we were always very open on this structure of the work with everyone. In the foreword and on the blog.

The book was 2nd in the Chess Publishing Opening Book of the Year Vote.

The winner was another group project. John Shaw’s The King’s Gambit, the ultimate murder weapon (at least if you hit someone with the hardback version). John wrote at least 60% of the book. I wrote maybe 10% and Andrew maybe 25%+. John checked everything over and made sure he was happy with it. Had John been alone on this project the book would never have existed? Now it is a best seller.

Again, we were open about this.

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Obvious Moves

November 20th, 2014 7 comments

The following position is from a game of mine at the 4ncl last Saturday.

J. Shaw – J. Pitcher, England 2014

I have played a few decent moves to reach this position. I sacrificed a pawn (possibly temporarily) to free my wonder bishops. But my queen is under attack. So what should I play?

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Publishing Schedule

November 19th, 2014 38 comments

We are coming close to finishing a lot of books at the same time currently, leading to a more optimistic and more precise than usual publishing schedule.

Obviously, with January publications, the general problem is that the printer is busy most of December with Christmas catalogues and other seasonal items that really cannot wait as much as a chess book can.

The Soviet Chess Primer and The Modern Tiger are both with the printers. Excerpts are available here: SCP and MT.

Chess Structures – A Grandmaster Guide will be typeset next week. When the printer will be able to print it, we will see. But hopefully before the New Year or at least as the first thing back from the Christmas Holidays.

We are far with the editing of the second volume of Negi’s series, which will be about 400 pages, I think and 1.e4 vs. The Sicilian Volume 1 will be by far the most complex book in the series. We are also more than half way in the editing of the two volumes from Vassilios Kotronias on the Mar del Plata variation of the King’s Indian.  These three books will be ready at the end of January or the start of February. It will be close.

The Hardback edition of Learn from the Legends will be done when someone needs a break or has finished something. It is a priority, but we gave up on the 10 years to the date idea some time ago. It just felt less important than bringing new books out. Some will disagree, others will be happy. But at least it is coming out and with a new chapter on Carlsen as well as some minor corrections all over the place.

The only thing that really has moved (as far as we are concerned) is the Gelfand book. Boris is playing the Mind Games event in China and it is just too tight with 2-3 days to get it done before then. Most of the book is written and edited and I am happy with the result. It has been very challenging to write this book (separate considerations revealed in a separate blog post in a few days’ time), but I am happy with how it is turning out.

The Semi-Slav is far advanced. A few things still need to be analysed deeply and finished. More on that in that piece as well.

All in all, we are working very hard, but the books coming out are better than we usually are able to make them. I am very happy with this list of coming books.

Ilya Maizelis The Soviet Chess Primer 10 Dec
Tiger Hillarp Persson The Modern Tiger 10 Dec
Mauricio Flores Rios Chess Structures – A Grandmaster Guide January
Parimarjan Negi Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I Jan/Feb
Vassilios Kotronias Kotronias on the King’s Indian – Vol 2 – Mar del Plata I Jan/Feb
Vassilios Kotronias Kotronias on the King’s Indian – Vol 3 – Mar del Plata II Jan/Feb
Mihail Marin Learn from the Legends – Hardback Edition Jan/Feb
Tigran Petrosian Python Strategy February
Boris Gelfand Positional Decision Making in Chess February
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – A GM Guide – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines Winter
Emanuel Berg Grandmaster Repertoire 16 – The French Defence Vol 3 Winter
Boris Avrukh GM Repertoire – 1.d4 The Catalan Spring
Lars Schandorff Grandmaster Repertoire 20 – Semi-Slav Spring
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 2 – World Champion Spring

If there is a book you expected to see on this list that is not on it, it just means that it is outside the horizon. Writers unfortunately do not coordinate well and they have a tendency to finish the books at the same time at least as much as with a nice well-spaced interval between them. So, sometimes we have to run faster. This is one of those times.

The books exist. They will come. Don’t despair. We are doing all we can.

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The Inability to Do Nothing

November 17th, 2014 7 comments

I was helping a friend learn the five basic steps of a tennis forehand this morning. The first thing to get under control is the grip. It has always amazed me that our coaches in the club have not helped us punters hold the racket correctly. And as a result lots of people hold the racket more as an axe than a frying pan. It is simply too unnatural a grip (and resulting swing). Basically, we have to override the instinctive way of doing things and install a different way of doing things.

The same happens in chess over and over again. I could give a lot of examples of this phenomenon. Today’s example is one of inactivity.

Areshchenko – Inarkiev, Baku 2014

69…h3+!? 70.Kh2!

70.Kxh3? Ke2 71.Re7+ Kf3 72.Re3+ Kxf2 73.Rd3 Ke2

And Black wins.

70…Ke2 71.Re7+ Kxf2 72.Rd7 Ke1

72…Ke2 73.Re7+ Kd3 74.Rd7+ and nothing happens.

73.Re7+ Kd1 74.Rd7 Rf5 75.Re7 Rf3 76.Rd7 Rf4

White to play

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Carlsen – Anand, poll 2

November 14th, 2014 33 comments

It seems that some people are even getting optimistic on Anand’s behalf! 37.57% average estimate. Well, crowds are assumed to hold a collected intelligence, but still. That much?!




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A Nice Tactic

November 13th, 2014 3 comments

Working on Boris Gelfand’s book Positional Decision Making in Chess, I came across a rather fascinating combination in one of the notes to his beautiful win against Grischuk in Beijing last year. The game deals a lot with changes in pawn structure, but at this point, White has won the strategic battle, fixing the f5-pawn as a weakness. But Black has tried to mess things up with 33…Nb5!?.

White to win

This one will take a while to solve, even for a GM!

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Playing 1.d4 according to Schandorff

November 11th, 2014 7 comments

First, a test position. Find the strongest continuation for White.

The solution can be found at move 24 of the game below.

Andrew Greet – Basil Laidlaw
Glasgow 2014

On encountering the Nimzo-Indian in this recent game, I decided to try out Lars Schandorff’s recommendation of 4.e3 followed by Ne2, even though I couldn’t remember too many of the fine details.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Ne2 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Nxc3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5

I spent a few minutes here, as I couldn’t remember any exact moves from this position, but I knew there was a similar variation where Black exchanged on c3 and played …d5xc4, leading to an IQP position. Then I realized I was thinking of the following line: 4…c5 5.Ne2 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 Now I remembered: Black usually exchanges with 8…dxc4 here, allowing a convenient 9.Bxc4 in one move. “There must be a reason why Black normally exchanges on c4 in that position”, I thought. Instead 8…0–0 would transpose to the game position. This led me to deduce that the best move must be:


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Two Opposite-coloured Bishop Endgames from Denmark

November 10th, 2014 1 comment

I have taken the consequence of having retired from professional chess. In the Danish league I now represent Øbro Skakforening, a Copenhagen Club I frequented a lot in the 1990s and even played for a single season in the second division. It has felt as my spiritual home for decades and now I have returned – with absolutely no funding. Actually I am the biggest amateur of the club, having paid more for playing the first two rounds than the rest of the guys will pay for playing the whole season.

In the first round I had planned to be Black against the Evans Gambit in round one against Jonny Hector. Instead our game started 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Bf5!. I actually got a decent position, though he failed to play 4.g4, but instead went for 4.f3. In the end we had our first draw in a rated game with ups and downs.

In second round I drew a bizarre game against Mads Andersen where the engines see everything entirely differently than us. I might put it in a later newsletter as there is some theoretical importance to it.

But sadly the games are not yet available on www.skak.dk, as I wanted to give two examples from our match in the second round.  In both cases my team mates had great winning chances.

FM Søren Bech Hansen – GM Daniel Semescen

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