A fixed repertoire?

February 8th, 2016 27 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015?’ It was a three-way fight all week between the opening repertoire books of Houska, Sielecki and Bologan, and in the end IM Jovanka Houska’s Caro-Kann repertoire edged out Sielecki by 5 votes. As it happens, Jovanka is an occasional 4ncl teammate of Jacob, Andrew and me, but I can assure you that all the counting was automatic and impartial.


We saw from last week’s poll how popular repertoire books are, but I am curious how you use them. Or how you use the repertoire you put together yourself. So my question this week is: Do you follow a fixed repertoire or play game to game? That question needs some explanation, so I shall expand on it.

Is what is in the book your complete fixed repertoire, and you follow it religiously? I know one player who for 30 years has always answered 1.e4 with the Caro-Kann, and the rest of his repertoire is similarly unchanging.

Or maybe you are at the other extreme, and make it up fresh every game? But even among those who change opening every game, there are differences. Some are trying to avoid all theory and all prep, while others are targeting a perceived weakness in their opponent’s repertoire.

Then there are those who always, for example, play 1…e5 against 1.e4, but vary which line they play against the main line Spanish. Does that count as a fixed repertoire?

Or there are dozens of other approaches, so it’s tough to be comprehensive in the list of options to click, but there’s always the comments box to explain.

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Gibraltar 2016 – Authors in Action

February 5th, 2016 1 comment

GM Gawain Jones had a great result at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, which finished yesterday. Gawain scored 7.5/10, in a tie for 3rd, half a point behind Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave. Gawain’s final-round game was with Black against Yu Yangyi, a 2747-rated 1.e4 player. Fortunately, Gawain has a Dragon repertoire he can trust.

I will give that game below, but another QC author at Gib was IM Marc Esserman, who played his favourite 1.e4 against both Nigel Short and Vishy Anand. Short played the French and lost, while Anand’s 1…c5 was of course met by 2.d4, but after 2…cxd4 3.c3 Anand avoided any Mayhem in the Morra with 3…Nf6, and drew. Great results for Marc, but I was looking forward to a Nd5 piece sac (they’re everywhere in the Morra).

On the topic of QC repertoires, Victor’s Mikhalevski’s recommended line in The Open Spanish remains popular at the highest level, with the likes of Mamedyarov, Giri, So, and Wei Yi playing it with solid results. Ding Liren even used it to draw against Magnus Carlsen at the recent Wijk aan Zee event, though he did need to hold rook versus rook-and-bishop. It may lack the glamour of the Dragon or Morra, but the Open Spanish is a great choice if you want to keep out elite opposition.


White: Yu Yangyi (2747) Black: Gawain Jones (2625)
Gibraltar Masters (10.5) 04.02.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Showing his faith in the Dragon.

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Best non-QC chess book of the year?

February 1st, 2016 41 comments

Last week’s poll question was ‘What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015?’ The convincing winner was Chess Structures by Mauricio Flores Rios, ahead of Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making in Chess.  Between them, these two books scooped up the lion’s share of the votes.



As mentioned last week, the question this time is What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015? I made a list of options based on the comments section, leaving out books whose 2015 versions were only updates of older books. As ever, there is the ‘Other’ category if I have missed your favourite.

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Still Playing the Trompowsky

January 28th, 2016 4 comments

My attention was drawn to IM Andy Martin’s choice of BCM Game of the Month for February 2016. That’s a link to a YouTube video of Andy going through the game – I haven’t had time to watch the video yet. But what’s this got to do with Quality Chess? The game uses, with devastating effect, a novelty IM Richard Pert suggested in Playing the Trompowsky.

White: IM Nigel Povah Black: Pavel Asenov

4NCL Division 2, Birmingham, 23.01.2016

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.d5 Qb6 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4 e5 7.f4 d6 8.Rb1
Pert’s move order was 8.Nf3, transposing to this game after 8…Nbd7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Rb1.

8…Qc7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Nf3 Nbd7 11.Nb5 Qb8
Quite possibly Asenov was still in his “prep” as this line was recommended for Black by Dembo in “Fighting the Anti-King’s Indians”, as Richard mentioned. IM Nigel Povah has been playing the Trompowsky consistently for at least 20 years, so it is unlikely that the promising young English player playing Black was surprised by the choice of opening.

11…Qb6 is safer.

Read more…

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Best Quality Chess book of 2015?

January 25th, 2016 35 comments

Last week’s poll question was “Do you agree with Nigel Short that the evidence suggests men are hardwired to play better chess than women, for whatever reason?” The pro-hardwired option was a narrow winner ahead of the opposing view, but at 45% to 40% it is clearly a disputed issue.


This week I will move to safer territory: in your opinion, What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015? Since we love all our children equally, I shall list every book we published in 2015.

Spoiler: next week I plan to ask ‘What was the best non-Quality Chess chess book in 2015?’ So in the comments, please nominate some likely candidates.

Categories: Polls, Reviews Tags:

Beauty versus the Beast

January 18th, 2016 46 comments

Last week’s poll question was: “Who will win Wijk aan Zee?” It seems the readership’s faith in the World Champion has been restored, as Magnus Carlsen won the poll overwhelmingly, with almost two-thirds of the votes cast.

Earlier this month a simultaneous display titled “Beauty versus the Beast” was held between GM Nigel Short and 20 of New Zealand’s best female players. You will know or guess that this is related to Nigel’s remarks about the supposed differences between male and female brains, including that: “Men and women’s brains are hard-wired very differently, so why should they function in the same way?”

Do you agree with Nigel Short that the evidence suggests men are hardwired to play better chess than women, for whatever reason?

Jacob suggested the following possible answers:

A) I have a feeling that this is true, although we cannot know why this is the case before it has been investigated thoroughly.
B) I very seriously doubt that there is anything biological making women worse at chess than men.
C) I am a full-blown sexist and don’t care about the facts. Report me now!
D) Other

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Who will win Wijk aan Zee?

January 11th, 2016 20 comments

Last week’s poll question was: Do you think your rating will go up or down in 2016? As the results below show, the winner was the most optimistic answer, just ahead of the slightly optimistic option.


Overall, about two-thirds were optimistic about their rating. Is that surprising? I don’t think so. I suspect our blog readers (and poll-clickers) are not a representative sample of all chessplayers. If you bother to go to a chess book blog, you probably are more optimistic and interested in improving your chess than most.

Later this week an interesting range of tournaments starts in Wijk aan Zee. The top event, the Tata Steel Masters, is a 14-player all-play-all that features almost half of the world’s Top 20, including Carlsen, Giri, Caruana, So, Karjakin, Ding Liren and Eljanov. Who will win Wijk aan Zee 2016? “Others” could include the likes of Mamedyarov, Adams, Navara and Wei Yi. You can see a full list of players here.

Too easy a question? Well, the last time we had a “Who will win…” question was about the London Classic, and Carlsen just edged out Aronian on the vote. And you were most impressed by Giri in 2015…


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Free ‘Book of the Month’ – January/February

January 8th, 2016 19 comments

We are continuing our special offer – if you buy three books or more and live in the normal European Union zone (as defined by UPS – for example, they exclude some islands and remote areas) we will send you an extra book free. Recently the default option on the free book has been Positional Chess Sacrifices but we will change that now to CARLSEN’S ASSAULT ON THE THRONE by Kotronias and Logothetis.

But if you already have Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:


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