Sharing ideas in chess publishing

January 12th, 2022 13 comments

On Facebook I shared a story from over 20 years ago. My friend Lars Møller Larsen, a Danish club player, suggested to me that there should be a book where every move in a game was explained. At the time we did not know about the Irving Chernev book and also, Yasser had a book on the way or already out with the same principle.
I had at the time written two books for Gambit and considered them my publisher (the books on the Panov and on the Sveshnikov, were published under license by Everyman). So, I suggested it as an idea to my publisher, Graham Burgess. The book eventually became Chess Move by Move by John Nunn, an ECF book of the year that Nunn thanked Burgess for inspiring.
Around the same time, I was fired by Gambit. Without knowing it. Because Byron Jacobs, also a commission editor for Everyman, had offered me a two book contract. Amusingly, I had to do the Stonewall Dutch, to be allowed to write Excelling at Chess (a title I disliked, but which Byron said was great and he was right). Excelling at Chess was my big breakthrough, even if not financially, but if you read it, you can still see that I believed only a few friends would read it, as long as you know it.
A year later, Everyman turned down a suggestion of a book on the Berlin, as they had a chapter on it by Glenn Flear. I asked Burgess if they were interested (now no longer commissioning books for others, but publishing under their own name). He said that I was fired because my English required to much editing and was this still a problem?
To me these two episodes put side by side are simply amusing. I did not deserve any credit for Lars’ idea, even if I did not tell Graham where it came from (who was Lars to him anyway). I am also grateful to Murray Chandler and by extension Graham and John for giving me a start in this business, even if they were not fully satisfied with my early books. Telling someone you had fired them a year after you didn’t, but at the same time opening the door to the idea of working with them again just sounds bad. It really isn’t.

Another story I shared was how I sent 20 or so exercises I had located by analysing games (my first ever exercise collection; later an obsession!) to Mark Dvoretsky, as he was always looking for new material.
He then published half of them in an article on e3e5 without mentioning my name and said that the training material had helped Inarkiev to win the 2005 Russian Higher League.
I asked him if Inarkiev really had used my training material in preparation? A hope of a bone of pride from the greatest trainer in the World. “No, he used the positions from my article”, was the answer.
Mark later praised my book Practical Chess Defence, as the “most difficult chess book yet – until my next one!”, which was Dvoretsky’s Analytical Manual, which Judit Polgar once said to me was so difficult it made no sense to her.
Mark allowed me to use his idea for a book on puzzles according to calculation skill and advised me on which chapters I should have in it. Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation is my best selling book.
I adored Mark and cried desperately when he died. I tried to go to Moscow for his Memorial Tournament, but failed to secure a visa. Life is complicated and people too.

Knowing who to share ideas with and who not to, and which ideas, is a difficult art. The best idea I ever had I shared with someone who have treated me exceptionally poorly subsequently. Others have shared ideas with me without expecting anything in return and received my gratitude and more. Ideas are a strange currency. After 23 years in chess publishing I do not know if we should share them with others, or keep them to ourselves. At least not from a commercial standpoint. From a moral standpoint I think it is an easy choice. Chess culture has benefited immensely from the exchange of ideas and the fact that the people with the best ideas are not always the best to carry them out.

At Quality Chess we do our best to be fair to our authors and to give people chances. We want to treat out customers with respect by producing good books. At the same time we acknowledge that many other people have good ideas and do good work and have many time recommended books from other publishers. When we founded Quality Chess, Byron Jacobs wished me best of luck and sent flowers to my wedding a month later. Mathias Wullenweber, founder of ChessBase, was “delighted” that we decided to create something new in chess, as the better experience chess players had of the game, the more they would buy products from all of us. I have always tried to be inspired by the behaviour I appreciated of all the people mentioned in this article to be a better person and publisher. Obviously, we have failed many times. What can you do but try to learn from it and do better in the future. Finding the balance between owning your victories and failures, to learn lessons and not hold on to grudges, guilt or other bad emotions is a tough one.

This year my biggest book A Matter of Endgame Technique, at 896 pages, will be published. My first book for Gambit/Everyman was 128 pages. Every page in the new book is better than every page in every book I wrote for Everyman. But were impossible without the support and guidance I received from people like Graham, Byron and Mark. I don’t know if it is my best book. I guess it is for other people to decide. But it is the book I wanted to write and I hope you will guys will like it.

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WINNING by GM Nigel Short wins Book of the Year by Chess.com

January 10th, 2022 1 comment

One more distinction for Winning by GM Nigel Short! Chess.com users voted it as their favourite book of the year, followed by How to Study Chess on Your Own by GM Davorin Kuljasevic and Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships: Volume II by Sergey Voronkov. Thank you very much and congratulations to the other publishers for producing quality books.

Ivan Sokolov is presenting Magnus Carlsen’s Middlegame Evolution

January 10th, 2022 No comments

GM Ivan Sokolov will be presenting his new book Magnus Carlsen’s Middlegame Evolution to the students of Killer Chess Training this Wednesday at 17:00 UK time (18:00 CET, 22:30 IST, 09:00 PST).

If you are interested in attending the lecture for free, please click here and you will receive an email on the day of the lecture with the zoom link to join the lecture. Click here to create a free zoom account.

Free ‘Book of the Month’ – January and February

January 5th, 2022 No comments

Happy New Year!

We are continuing our free-fourth-book 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.

The previous default option on the free book was Champions of the New Millennium. For January and February we will switch the default option to CARLSEN’S ASSAULT ON THE THRONE. But if you already have that book, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email to salesgroup@qualitychess.co.uk with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:

ATTACKING THE SPANISH
CHAMPIONS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM
CHESS BEHIND BARS
CUTTING EDGE 1: THE OPEN SICILIAN
CUTTING EDGE 2: SICILIAN NAJDORF 6.Be3
GRANDMASTER BATTLE MANUAL
GRANDMASTER VERSUS AMATEUR
LUTHER’S CHESS REFORMATION
REGGIO EMILIA 2007/2008
THE ALTERMAN GAMBIT GUIDE – BLACK GAMBITS VOLUME 1
THE ALTERMAN GAMBIT GUIDE – BLACK GAMBITS VOLUME 2
THE SECRET LIFE OF BAD BISHOPS
SAN LUIS 2005

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Black And White Friday Sale

November 19th, 2021 37 comments

In Chess, we don’t wait for Black Friday. 
We make our own Black and White Friday!

Quality Chess is celebrating the Black and White Friday Sale by offering free shipping to all EU countries and the UK for all orders placed between 9:30 am Friday the 19th and 9:30 am Monday the 22nd and invites you to visit BlackAndWhiteFridaySale.com to explore more offers from independent chess professionals. 

Killer Chess Training, London Chess Centre, Chess4Less, Forward Chess, Chess Tempo, and Sunrise Chess and Games are also participating and we hope you will enjoy this initiative.

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International Supply Issues

November 15th, 2021 28 comments

You will have heard a lot about supply issues over the last two months. Containers stuck in China, shortness of cereal or chicken (OK – some of it is a purely UK/Brexit related issue) in the supermarkets and so on.

Now Quality Chess has been hit by supply issues, on two counts.

Firstly, there is a staff issue with our printer, which means packing and sending out books out has slowed down a bit. As a result, our two World Championship related books, Magnus Carlsen’s Middlegame Evolution by Ivan Sokolov and The Road to Reykjavik by Tibor Karolyi about Fischer’s Candidate matches and a lot of what came before, are delayed a week more again. One guy is packing several pallets on his own… The books will be out the 8th December.
(New in Chess cheekily put something similar to our long-announced title on the cover to the book by Jan Timman, published a few months ago. Just to make it clear that they stole the title from us, not the other way around. We don’t mind, being plagiarised in such a minor way by a competitor is flattery!).

Now a second issue has hit us. Our printer has run out of paper! With reprints and new books coming, we are needing 5 million pages of paper, and the printer is out… They were used to being able to order with short notice and simply missed the dangers of shortages and now our books will not be printed till January. It is hard to get a print slot till late December anyway, with supermarket catalogues being a big seasonal market in November/December that the printer cannot afford to pass on.

As a result, our next books will be out late February/early March. This should include Think Like a Super GM, A Matter of Endgame Technique, Analyzing the Chess Mind, and The Chess Alchemist.

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Free ‘Book of the Month’ – November and December

November 3rd, 2021 No comments

We are continuing our free-fourth-book 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.

The previous default option on the free book was Grandmaster Battle Manual. For November and December we will switch the default option to CHAMPIONS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM. But if you already have that book, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email to salesgroup@qualitychess.co.uk with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:

ATTACKING THE SPANISH
CARLSEN’S ASSAULT ON THE THRONE
CHESS BEHIND BARS
CUTTING EDGE 1: THE OPEN SICILIAN
CUTTING EDGE 2: SICILIAN NAJDORF 6.Be3
GRANDMASTER BATTLE MANUAL
GRANDMASTER VERSUS AMATEUR
LUTHER’S CHESS REFORMATION
REGGIO EMILIA 2007/2008
THE ALTERMAN GAMBIT GUIDE – BLACK GAMBITS VOLUME 1
THE ALTERMAN GAMBIT GUIDE – BLACK GAMBITS VOLUME 2
THE SECRET LIFE OF BAD BISHOPS
SAN LUIS 2005

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World Champion books

October 12th, 2021 16 comments

We have two new books at the printer, with their publication date expected as the end of November. I would give an exact date, but the printer isn’t exactly sure on the timing.

The Road to Reykjavik is the first of two books by IM Tibor Karolyi about Bobby Fischer’s life and games. This volume takes us from Bobby’s early years up until his qualification for the world title match. So among many other things, it includes the legendary matches against Taimanov, Larsen and Petrosian. An excerpt is available here. The second volume, on the 1972 match and more, will follow next year.

Magnus Carlsen’s Middlegame Evolution by GM Ivan Sokolov takes us inside the mind of a chess genius and shows what we can learn from Carlsen’s middlegame play and how it has evolved over the years. An excerpt is available here.

I hope you enjoy reading both excerpts.

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