Let us ignore the fantasy that you abandon your job, leave your wife and go on the road with Artur Yusupov and Boris Avrukh perfecting your chess, and just assume that life will continue as you are planning it.
What do you think is the highest rating you can reach? Please be honest.
Last week’s poll showed a clear majority to the optimists:
Nikos Ntirlis writes: The Semi-Slav is one of the most fascinating openings in modern chess. It is the opening that helped Vladimir Kramnik to climb Mount Olympus as a youngster and make his appearance among the best players in the 90s and today it is Vishy Anand’s most trusted weapon. It helped him to get his first undisputed world title in 2007 and of course who can forget his amazing performance at the 2008 world championship match against Kramnik when the Indian scored two amazing wins with Black in the Meran variation! Of course Anand is still the man to watch for developments in the opening as he is still unleashing opening bombs like in his game against Aronian in Wijk aan Zee 2011!
We would expect such a popular opening complex to be well covered in modern literature, and this is the case. David Vigorito’s “Play the Semi-Slav” is still surprisingly relevant in many lines despite being now seven years old and other experts like Dreev and Sakaev have also presented well respected works on the opening. Still, the last couple of years have been outstandingly rich regarding developments of many key lines for both sides and what is worse, the Semi-Slav has become so deeply and widely analysed that the typical club player will feel lost trying to navigate himself in the complexities of this minefield of modern chess.
In my humble opinion, it is very difficult to find a better author on this subject than Lars Schandorff. His other works for Quality Chess like the two “Playing 1.d4″ books as well as the slightly older “Grandmaster Repertoire 7 – The Caro Kann” have proved that he has a special talent to present complex opening lines in a very reader-friendly way. Another thing is also at least as important, Lars is a true expert on the Semi-Slav who has vast experience of defending the opening successfully against strong opposition for many years (a look at the database will convince you!) and thus he has acquired deep understanding.
So, what the reader can expect from The Semi-Slav by Lars Schandorff is fascinating chess, deep analysis and research, and a very friendly presentation of the latest developments of this very important modern opening, many of which cannot be found in other works, simply because 2-3 years back many lines were not even known! This is one such example:
I am an optimistic guy, I believe that I will write a better chess book than I have done up till now. I believe that 2015 will be the best year for Quality Chess so far (and the publications we have out so far have been received in a way that makes this optimism persist). I believe I can make it to the first team at the tennis club next year and that I can one day make it to the finals in the club championship.
But I doubt that I will ever play chess as well as I did in 2007. Or in other words – although I understand the game much better now, I have lost something extra I had then. Maybe it was the excitement of knowing that I would become a GM in the near future, or something else.
What about you? Is your best chess behind you or ahead of you?
The results of last week’s poll:
We are trying to get a picture of our readership on this blog over the summer and in that connection we will ask a number of questions about you. Please answer only once in the week and forgive us for being in holiday mode and only doing a full analytical article at the end of the summer.
Last week’s poll about what type of tournaments you prefer to play in produced a balanced response:
The Politiken Cup in Denmark is my favourite tournament. And so it should be, not only is it held in beautiful locations, with all the participants staying in the same place (view over the ocean), it is also in Denmark, where I have strong ties obviously.
Yes, they pay me to play there. I even win a few hundred pounds once in a while…
But for others, participating is easily running into £1000 when you include entry fee, accommodation, eating and buying Quality Chess books at the stand. There is no way around it if you are not Danish, as the tournament is held quite a bit from, well anywhere…
What is your view. Do you prefer a cheap and cheerful tournament or a luxury event like this?
The results of last week’s poll offers some encouragement to chess publishers:
Being over 40 and an optimist, I think the recent poll got it wrong. A clear majority think that chess is best played by those less than 30 years old.
Obviously we appreciate the support for our star author Boris Gelfand, but we fear a few people have voted this way for entirely the wrong reasons…
I checked the current top 100 on 2700chess.com, not to claim that it is a scientific proof of anything, but just out of curiosity. And I found that the average age for the various top something were practically identical:
Top 10: 30.30
Top 25: 30.36
Top 50: 30.72
Top 100: 30.43
Add to this that it is likely that the average age of players aged 30 is 30 years and six months, it means that the current top 50 might be over 31 in average, but the other groups are just under 31. That the two players with the “right” age are going out of the top 10 soon by current trends, just shows that this is an average. The prime could well be between 21 and 45.
How many chess books did you buy this year?
How many chess books/DVDs did you buy this year? We are six months in and we were just wondering.
It does not matter who published them or anything like this. We know that there are plenty of smart people in our business and that we are not the only one to take our job seriously.
Sad news about the death of Walter Browne. I will leave detailed tributes to those who knew Walter well. Our connection is that Walter was one of the authors of Champions of the New Millennium. We never met in person, but Walter’s lively good humour came through even in emails or on the phone. In the office, we all remember his phone message shortly after his book was published:
“Hey guys, Walter Browne here. Listen – I need more of those books, and I need ’em damn soon!”
The debate on cheating in chess was quite interesting. I played devil’s advocate a few times, though I personally do not have strong feelings on this issue. I have had 2-3 experiences where people were cheating against me the last ten years, mainly where their friends helped them. Luckily their friends (respectable GMs) got busy with their own games and the cheaters were left to their own devices, completely void of self-respect and self-esteem. I scored fine in those games and was happy to not get involved in the thinking about cheating.
Your votes show how divisive this issue is. I fear it will only get worse over the years. This week’s question is a standard one. In recent times we had the two oldest players playing for the title in the last 100 years and the oldest World Champion since Botvinnik. In 2012 everyone told me that the match should be Aronian–Carlsen. Even Topalov! And today Topalov is no. 2 in the World rankings, Anand is close and Aronian is rated not much more than Gelfand… I am not even go into how Anand was not the rightful challenger last year and how Caruana deserved the match on the strength of one good tournament.
New players will always come through, and not evenly. When Anand, Shirov, Kramnik, Kamsky and Topalov broke through, the top 10 were young. Kamsky and Shirov have lost the hunger, but the three others are still possible contenders for the crown – unless you want to write Kramnik off after ONE bad year????
But everyone has his own opinion and it will be interesting to see what the general consensus will be.