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Review of Positional Play on ChessCafe

We have a policy of not publically disagreeing with reviews of our books. There are several reasons:

1) It almost always looks like sour grapes
2) We certainly don’t want to complain when the reviewers are too generous, so we feel it unsporting to do so when they are unfair in the other direction
3) We have great respect for reviewers and what they do; their contribution to our field is often voluntary and when done well, includes giving up a lot of their time to advise others.

Once or twice we have violated this rule. The most memorable was when MY SYSTEM came out. The review was not fair, in our opinion, about the translation. At first I personally was quite worried we had gotten it wrong, so we sought independent advice to confirm we had not. But once studying the review again, we realised that the reviewer had gotten it wrong and for that reason wrote a polite comment to the website.

Hemingway said that you should not read reviews, because they either were wrong or told you something you already knew. Now the thing about Hemingway’s advice is that this probably only applies for people with the same level of assurance in their own ability as Hemingway. I personally want to know how people who read my books interact with them. I never act as if anything is perfect, even if I feel that it is. It is just too limiting.

The review in Question

The review in question this time is by Vijay Raghavan on ChessCafe.com and is a very serious review. He clearly spent a lot of time on it and on the book as well. I have great respect for this and I hope you will remember that, as I go into the factual issues and the criticisms of my book in what follows.

I want to comment on Vijay’s two overarching points of criticism:

1) The chess
2) Writing style

But before I get to these, I will give most readers a chance to bail out immediately. The review gives 4/6 and says that “All in all, GMP2 has an excellent compilation of practical positional exercises”, which is probably what most people care most about!

The Meat on the Bone – The actual misreadings

Although I wrote the second section first; I think most people will not really care too much about it, so I put it in the bottom.

Let us start with his factual criticism.

There are two significant drawbacks to Aagaard’s three-question method, in my humble opinion. First, the method gives primacy to more or less static positional features such as “weaknesses” and “bad pieces,” while ignoring the role of dynamic possibilities due to incidental piece configurations;…

There are many problems included in this section.

1) “The method” is not a method, but a training method. I tried to make that very clear in the book. I always tell my students that it can be used if you are in a tight spot and don’t know what to do, but that it would drive you crazy it you tried to use it all the time. It is a way to develop your intuition and to access your already existing chess intuition.

I think some of his further misreadings and criticisms initiate here.

2) “Bad pieces” is not a static feature. It is entirely dynamic. Actually it is often the most important dynamic feature in most positions. He does not mention the third question “the opponent’s idea” in this section, but certainly this is more often a dynamic than a static approach.

The following:

since these possibilities are often the only way to pursue a positional advantage, their neglect in GMP2 leads to questionable didactics and reductionist thinking.

thus fall away as incorrect in my humble opinion.

The second drawback to the three-question method lies in what IM Hendriks dubs the ‘dogma of the respectable order’ in his book Move First, Think Later (MFTL). In GMP2, Aagaard gives us his own version of the dogma. He disparages the habit many players have of calculating as soon as they see a position; instead, he suggests that “[you should first] take the time to ask yourself the three questions … before you start applying the knowledge by looking for the best move. If you do this, you will soon see how focusing your mind on the three important parts of chess that these questions relate to, makes a big difference.” To me, this approach seems practically impossible to apply. Part of the difficulty is that marrying “weaknesses” to the three-question method creates a vicious circularity. According to Aagaard, a weakness is a “square of importance, which is poorly defended (if at all), and which can be exploited.” In the three-question method, therefore, one must first see if a “square of importance” is “poorly defended and can be exploited” but this would need at least some calculation, which we are told not to do until we have located the weaknesses!

There are a few things I disagree with here. The first thing obviously being that I am offering a method. It is a training method with the goal of improving your intuition. But let us forget this for a moment and say that you actually could do this on every move.

Would I be saying that you cannot quickly check a few moves? No!

What I am saying is that before you start to CALCULATE – which is an entirely different thing than seeing (which is what you do when you check 2-3 moves ahead in a few directions). This is when you start to use CANDIDATE MOVES, and maybe even various thinking techniques as ELIMINATION, COMPARISON and so on.

The second criticism, that the weaknesses only show up after lines are calculated is just foreign to me. Let us have an example:

This game, Adams – Giorgadze is used by Vijay in his review. In the book I have intentionally highlighted the g6-pawn to say that this is a weakness (I am describing “the hook”). Does this mean that it is the only weakness in the position? No, the f7-square, the h7-square and h6-square are all serious weaknesses too. The fact that nothing actually happens on f7 in the game does not mean that the square is not important.

So, what weaknesses are not important? Well, c6 is highly unlikely to be important and b3 is not.

Will listing those weaknesses give you the best move automatically? No, obviously you need to see a few lines as well. You always do.

The correct move is 29.h4! with the intention to soften the black kingside. Vijay wants to make this into a question of calculation by saying that this only works because of 29…Bxh4 30.Qh6 Be7 31.Bxg6. This is of course true. And yes, as he points out, the h4-move does not make a lot of sense if you do not have this. Say, if the black king was on g7.
On the other hand; I would not point out the h6-square as undefended if the king was on g7. The fact that I did not do this in the book is because I was explaining something else.
Chess always has positional and tactical elements. All the time. The reading of my book and “method” that it is all about positional chess and that variations don’t matter does not, as I see it, fairly represent what my book is about.
But actually, I feel the review was a misreading all the way:

Off on the wrong foot? Writing style and cultural differences

The way the review starts, it feels as if Vijay and I got off on the wrong foot. He starts by giving my latest results and when I got my titles and so on. (I would not personally end my resume with the 3.5/8 at the Olympiad, but with the Scottish Championship, which I won a month before. I play better when I am not ill!).

Now why would I say that we get off on the wrong foot? Is it just because he mentions my bad performance at the end of a summer with three big successes? Not really, it is more things like this:

The back cover of GMP2 informs us with careless hyperbole that “[Aagaard’s] training material is used by amateurs, grandmasters, and World Champions alike.” (Really alike? Were the World Champions too numerous to list?)

It is back to the good old days when we were criticised for 6.Bg5 Nbd7 not being a main line and GM6 therefore having false advertising. This is a sales text and not name-dropping. There is no hyperbole, careless or otherwise – the text is simply true. ‘World Champions’ is correct (and I am not talking about youth, junior, women, or chess solving to get to that, even though that would increase the count), but sometimes we have to show some discretion, which is why names are not given. You may guess that this sales text was a slight twist on comments said in private.

But anyway, the sentence is grammatically and factually correct. As I said, we are off on the wrong foot.

This is a recurring theme in the review; let us take another example:

Every now and then Aagaard shows a penchant for making absolute judgments without offering concrete analysis. “White is just winning” is a favorite pronouncement, and there are other caustic versions such as “The rest is humiliation.” (I wonder why so many chess writers feel it necessary to insult the losing player in their comments. In Chapter 2, Aagaard holds up the Ukrainian GM Kazakov as an “inconsequent opponent” for GM Topalovic and takes off on a tangential excursion into pop psychology that “hopefully better explain[s] [Kazakov’s move] than his understanding of chess.”)…

There are two points to this.

First off, you can always put in more variations and explanations. With a book of 222 exercises on over 300 pages, I think I added quite a bit. But I certainly made a lot of choices and deleted as much as I included. I do understand that not everything will be obvious to everyone. But I just cannot anticipate every idea and question that every reader will have! And even if I did, the book would be unreadable.

Sometimes I find it difficult to understand a few remarks from some reviewers; and they are usually American I have to say, so it might be a cultural thing. But it is really a question of why they think that the moves and the man are one? Or why they think it would be better to write a book in the way you would write a phone book. The moment you say that a player made a mistake, you are apparently antagonising the reviewer and insulting the player. ‘The rest was humiliation’ – well it looked that way to me. But I cannot say that this is an insult to the guy. Really, where is the insult? If I went nuts and turned up to work naked, I am sure that the others would be insulted (although maybe not surprised), but where would I have humiliated them?

No, what is humiliating is apparently that he ended up in the situation; ergo that he made mistakes. It is the only way to take offence. So, we are back at the real problem for a writer in such a world view: how can you explain chess coherently without discussing mistakes? I personally cannot.

And even when you are careful to explain that mistakes happen for an otherwise strong player, you are “on a tangential excursion into pop psychology”.

Clearly we got off on the wrong foot. I still have a feeling it is a cultural thing, but the bottom line is that Vijay does not like my chatty style and others do. I have seen it before; it is a question of liking my humour or not. Or sometimes maybe even of getting it?

[…] “White could have saved himself a bit of agony and resigned here. Instead he fought on till move 47 without ever getting back in the game.” I imagine GM Edouard did not have any great illusions about his position, but is it really so bad that he should have resigned? What do you think?

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  1. Howard Goldowsky
    January 3rd, 2013 at 18:44 | #1

    I think this is the same reviewer at ChessCafe who destroyed IM Hawkins’ groundbreaking effort, “Amateur to IM,” published by Mongoose Press. Raghaven put thought into that review as well, but he came across as having some personal vendetta against Hawkins, the same way he seems to have something personal against you (Aagaard). Hendricks uncovers a lot of important and interesting things in MFTL. But it’s not gospel. I’ve read MFTL very closely. The book certainly swings back a pendulum that has been hovering for a long time over writers who prefer narrative — often cherry-picked post-facto narrative — and this pendulum swing is a good thing for the art and science of chess improvement. But to say that there should be zero narrative in a move-selection process, especially a positional training process, is just nonsense. Narrative doesn’t find a move, but it guides the general process. Raghaven seems more intent to make his mark by stirring controversy than by digging into details. If there was a golden formula for how to get better at chess, the sport would lose its appeal.
    Howard

  2. wok64
    January 3rd, 2013 at 22:05 | #2

    The reviewer is a 2000+ FIDE rated player, I happen to be in about the same rating league. When I read his review my impression about his criticism of your deficit of providing variations was that this is a typical problem of players of my strength. We simply don´t have enough patterns stored to get by without calculating. Look at Anands night sacrifice for a pawn roller in the center. It´s fairly obvious to me (and I assume for Vijay too) that White has strong compensation for the piece. But it´s not obvious to us that it´s enough to provide an advantage for White. The fact that Vijay and I need further variations to proof this is a shortcoming of our pattern recognition and not of your book. For me the value of your book is to provide a lot of material to reduce this deficit and your verbal explanation is quite often an eye opener. To me it´s no surprise that a 2000+ player has to work a bit harder on his own to get something out of a “GM preparation” book and my only criticism about Vijay´s review is that he should have recognized this fact too.

  3. Patrick
    January 3rd, 2013 at 22:23 | #3

    I wonder, are there any other reviews published yet on that book? A second opinion not by the author himself or his publishing collegues might be helpful, and if it gets say, 5 out of 5, then the 4 of 6 is not that strong a resemblence. If it ends up lower, then maybe it is.

    I can say that I don’t own the 2nd book yet. I only own Calculation at the moment, and only in Chapter 3 as I study 6 or 7 books at a time. As a non-biased person who bases on the book and not the publishing company, I can say the following about what I’m currently reading (based on Chess Cafe’s 6 star system). And I will say, sometimes the opinion of an amateur is more valuable than the opinion of a 2500 to 2700 reviewer, as the audience of a lot of these published books are those 1800 to 2400, not 2600+:

    1) GP: Calculation – 6 Stars. Solutions have full analysis, not just a couple of moves listed. Some examples given at the start of each chapter. Very challenging. Does take a while just to do a couple of problems, so mostly study it when I have ample time. If the second book is anything like the first, I can’t see how only 4 out of 6 is even possible!

    2) Winning Chess Middlegames (New In Chess) – 6 Stars. I know he writes for a competitor, but I just can’t get over how well Ivan Sokolov writes. He’s the most honest author I’ve ever seen. He will tell you when he prefers one side over the other (i.e. White in the 4.e3 Nimzo), but he will still be totally objective. The Ruy Lopez Revisited is an excellent book. I haven’t read the new Nimzo book yet but I’ve browsed it and will be a definite buy for me. In this book, he goes into the perfect level of detail, not derailing the brain of a poor 2080 player that doesn’t have the thinking capacity of a 2800, but at the same time not cutting the analysis short. He even says and explains what he doesn’t like, not just what he does like (unlike most Repertoire books). For example, in the chapter on doubled pawns, in the Nimzo-Indian Hubner Variation, he talks about the criticality of White keeping the pawns mobile, and proceeds to explain everything in both scenarios, the mobile pawns and the prematurely advanced pawns.

    3) Chess Lessons – 5 Stars. Currently in Chapter 16. The start of the book just seems like random topics, and around Chapter 11 is where one chapter seems to flow well into the next. One huge plus is that I like the fact that in the latter chapters, he mixes other themes learned earlier into the problems, not just the theme at hand. Often an issue with problem books is every chapter is themed and it narrows what you are looking for. The downside however is that the author tends to get into a rut of patterns. For example, in the chapters I’ve done the problems in thus far (i.e. thru Chapter 15), pretty much every time you can bank on the first problem fitting the current theme. Another example of getting in a rut is the “Either/Or” problems of Chapter 12. Those that have read this section will know what I mean, and if you don’t recall, check the solutions, and read each problem, and you’ll see what I mean. Think about school teachers that give multiple choice tests where the answer is always C. Otherwise, the content is really good. What getting into the rut of similar patterns to every set of problems leads to is often a change in first candidates. Many times he talks about which move should come to mind first, which sometimes is right, and sometimes the player needs to find something else, or else tweak it with the same idea, but first preventing a move by the opponent, or eliminating a defender.

    4) Chess On The Edge – Volume 1 (Chess ‘n Math) – 5 stars. This book is different than many of the Quality Chess books in that the annotations are extremely interesting, but a lot less in depth. This book gets 5 stars for other reasons than most of Quality Chess’s books. If you only have say, a half hour, this is a great book to read as the games don’t take as long to go thru. Those that enjoy playing very abstract positions rather than simple chess would get a real kick out of this book. I look forward to the other two as well.

    5) My Great Predecessors I (Everyman) – 4 Stars. An excellent collection of games, but some of the analysis probably could use updating. Most reviews I’ve seen say the latter ones are better. I’ve gone thru the first 3, still have Alekhine to read.

    6) Dismantling White with the Dangerfield Attack (Thinker’s Press) – 3 Stars. The line is interesting. I’ll probably play it a few times against a Dutch fanatic at the club, but it could have been organized a little better. Certain parts are hard to follow.

    7) The Modern Defense Move by Move (Everyman) – No Rating Yet, just started the book. Mainly reading it to get a second perspective of Tiger’s book, which was excellent. A few new lines I notice. Always good to get multiple perspectives on an opening that you tend to play quite frequently.

  4. Patrick
    January 3rd, 2013 at 22:27 | #4

    Typo in above message: #6 is “Dismantling the Dutch with the Dangerfield Attack”

  5. Mockingjay
    January 3rd, 2013 at 22:36 | #5

    Jacob, you didn’t need to reply to the review. You’re far too smart to need to waste your time on arguably the worst chess book reviewer of all time. That said I found your ‘grilling’ of VJ highly enjoyable. Thanks for the entertainment.

    • Jacob Aagaard
      January 4th, 2013 at 01:34 | #6

      I did not intent to grill him, but try to give a different sense of perspective on the facts. If the reviewer, who in many ways have done a big effort here, can misread things in good faith; so can others. This both when it comes to the ideas in the book and my sense of humour.

  6. Jacob Aagaard
    January 4th, 2013 at 00:08 | #7

    @Howard Goldowsky
    There is a golden formula, unfortunately it is lots of work, just as with everything else. Yes, we try to work out methods of how to improve the learning process, but the main thing (and I say this quite often) when solving exercises, is to train concentration.

  7. Jacob Aagaard
    January 4th, 2013 at 00:11 | #8

    @wok64
    John deleted a small paragraph where I referred to Vijay’s elo, because I had asked him to please make sure my comments were not antagonistic, but were dealing with the facts. Because these are things I care a lot about, chess, chess training, chess thinking and how to communicate them. I care what a lot of people think and this is what I wanted to influence writing this. Which is also why the second half is burried so far down the text that only the obsessives like I would read it till the end :-).

  8. Jacob Aagaard
    January 4th, 2013 at 00:49 | #9

    @Patrick
    Without debating details, I would say that your way of thinking is not far from mine. A common problem is definitely what to include and what to cut. To me this is one of the great problems with the Grandmaster Preparation series. It is just not aimed at 1800-2000s, but for 2100-2400s. I do know that players of this level can get quite a lot from these books, but they have to understand that they are not written for them and that a lot of the things are obvious to stronger players, which for them is a mystery. After all, a player rated rated about 135 points more than another (say 2200 vs. 2065) is twice as good according to the main way we have of measuring this, the rating system. This means mainly that those players find things harder to solve and at times need more detail than can be provided. But just as I can understand a lot of high level macro-economics, when explained by very intelligent people, there is just no way I can do it or will ever understand everything. I understand that this is because I am quite a bit away from PHD level of economics. In the same way, a player rated 2060 will have to double his strength three times before he becomes a grandmaster. This does not mean that there are not many valuable lessons for him to learn in a book about how to become a GM, but honestly (and I know this will hurt my royalties), the Yusupov series is the first thing I would recommend him if he was my student. Please don’t force me to say this publically again :-).

  9. Klaus Kristensen
    January 4th, 2013 at 03:06 | #10

    Vijay Raghavan should not be taken too serious. The way he bashed Jonathan Hawkins “Amateur to IM” reveals that his own chess understanding is very limited.
    In the review he argues heavily against studying the endgame thoroughly and indirectly calls Capablanca a patzer.
    He also quotes GM Rowson for having said that improvement may not even be possible for adults.
    A reviewer like that should not be taken serious. And he should not review books that are far to advanced for him.

  10. Shurlock Ventriloquist
    January 4th, 2013 at 03:24 | #11

    from Ratatoillue:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JPOoFkrh94

    “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.”

    ~ anton ego
    *****************************************************************

    Keep up the great work Quality Chess and Happy New year

  11. Dr Dolittle
    January 4th, 2013 at 08:40 | #12

    The discussion about Adams – Giorgadze is embarassing. Wedberg in his annotations in MegaBase 2013 of course comments on 29…Bh4:, improving on Ftacnik’s suggestion of 30.Qh6 by 30.Bg6:! fg6: 31.Qh6 [with the idea of 31…Be7 32. Ng5]. This line is nice and non-trivial enough that it must be mentioned.
    So maybe both Jacob and Vijay should have done a little (more) research.

    • Jacob Aagaard
      January 4th, 2013 at 11:27 | #13

      What you include and do not include is always an interesting question. However, I think to say that the positional aspects of the example are negated because there are tactics, is my main problem with the review. I am quite open to the fact that this was a line I should maybe have included. I tried to reduce tactics as much as possible, because I wanted to focus on the positional aspects. Especially when it was not an exercise, but an illustration of a theme. But I am entirely open to the fact that I got the balance wrong continuously.

  12. garryk
    January 4th, 2013 at 10:09 | #14

    You are violating too may times the rule of not commenting the reviews. Accept other opinions and move on.

    • Jacob Aagaard
      January 4th, 2013 at 11:24 | #15

      “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” – Isaac Asimov

  13. Ray
    January 4th, 2013 at 11:32 | #16

    @Jacob Aagaard
    🙂 So true!

  14. Nikos Ntirlis
    January 4th, 2013 at 13:33 | #17

    Initially i wrong a quite big post here but i decided to cut a lot of things stick to the essentials.

    I think that Watson (and now Hendriks) have caused too much harm on the amateur’s chess minds. They certainly have a point, but they are promoting it wrongly. The “Big Russian School” of chess that produced all the world champions after Euwe untill Topalov (and i don’t consider Fischer as an exception) and had its foundations to the way of thinking of Botvinnik clearly and definately didn’t base its system of chess teaching to the “informant thinking” method.

    Who said that the GMs are thinking in terms of “informant variations”? For example see the videos from Amber 2010 or the latest edition of London Chess Classic where the players just after their games explain their moves. Even from calculators like Anand or Nakamura you’ll hear all the time phrases like “it feelt like…” and so on. You can also see this in Polgar’s recent book.

  15. Nikos Ntirlis
    January 4th, 2013 at 13:34 | #18

    Typo: “Initially i wrote…” 🙂

  16. garryk
    January 4th, 2013 at 14:47 | #19

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Democracy simply means each opinion is respectable. Knowledge has nothing to do with respect. And anyway Asimov was a mediocre chess player! 😉

  17. Jacob Aagaard
    January 4th, 2013 at 14:51 | #20

    @garryk
    Great comeback 🙂

  18. garryk
    January 4th, 2013 at 15:07 | #21

    @Jacob Aagaard

    🙂 I’d like to add one more thing. I really think quality chess books are the best on the market but I have to admit that in my opinion not all of them are 6 out of 6 stars. I myself happen to change idea sometimes. I was sceptic about Morra gambit book but after reading it I have to say it’s really well done…Morra is living…at least until somebody doesn’t play it against me! 😉 Other books are less “perfect” but it doesn’t mean they are not very good. I understand that quality chess books are first of all a labour of love, so every criticism is difficult to accept for the author. But don’t take it personally. Consider each critic as a chance to improve or at least make more clear your point of view. Anyway I consider “The rest is humiliation” an unpleasant sentence…who hasn’t resigned a game too late in his life?

    Best regards

  19. Jacob Aagaard
    January 4th, 2013 at 15:59 | #22

    @garryk
    I completely agree. I like to believe a few of them are. I personally would give 5/6 for my GM Prep books. This is my personal opinion. I wrote only one 6/6 book, Attacking Manual 1. What 6/6 books did we publish in 2012? Less than indicated by ChessCafe for sure.

    But on the other hand, if GM11 is only 5/6, how can Chess Informant 115 and NIC Yearbook both be so? From Carsten Hansen’s review this is not clear. I think that Judit’s book is our best in 2012 and Avrukh’s 99% as good.

    We certainly had a 3/6 title out last year. The draft was 1/6 (if you are generous) and we spent a reasonable time rescuing it. I think we had quite a few 4/6’s in there. Maybe a few extra 5/6.

    But if so many other books are given 6/6, then I am not sure.

    Btw. I did not read the review of Hawkins book, but after seeing 3/6, I decided not to spend time looking at it. This is probably a big part of why I reacted to this review. I felt that I personally listen to the evaluations.

    The rest is humiliation – taken out of context, sure it can sound brusk. But are you sure you are not overthinking? What if the tone is light and you are talking about chess and not about man who lost? I still don’t see it, but obviously I now have associations with this sentence and definitely will not use it again (less I forget!).

  20. The Lurker
    January 4th, 2013 at 17:06 | #23

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

  21. January 4th, 2013 at 21:45 | #24

    I have enjoyed Raghaven’s reviews, even if I do not agree with them categorically. He is a stern reviewer, who does more work than most others out there. He is a bit of a polemicist and certainly no sycophant. His reviews have sparked discussions that further investigations into the content of the titles. It is much better than the vapid, over-laudatory crap that poses as reviews elsewhere.

  22. katar
    January 5th, 2013 at 07:35 | #25

    I have not seen Jacob’s latest book series, but i trust him and I would not need to see a review before buying something by him. An adult who at age 30+ overcame a plateau to gain 100+ ELO and achieve the GM title is best qualified to advise/train adult chess players who want to improve. Accordingly, in my opinion, GM Jacob Aagaard and GM Jesse Kraai are two of the greatest teachers of chess and their age vs. ELO graphs are similar. Also, please note they both haave a lot of extraaneous doubled vowels in their naames. 😀 Both have a practical approach to teaching, though Kraai has a drier “endgame style” and Jacob prefers to attack. Kraai and Aagaard are my 2 favorite modern chess author-teachers. 🙂

    This reviewer is an Indian academic, natively, and the so-called American “cultural difference” is just a coincidence based on America’s huge presence among the English speaking market. (In other words, American chess players buy a lot of books and thus read a lot of reviews– one might say it is not helping our collective ELO, however.)

  23. Jacob Aagaard
    January 5th, 2013 at 17:21 | #26

    @The Lurker
    This quote is stupid. Common people work out whom they trust. Less than half of the Americans truly understood what the fiscal cliff was and why it mattered. It is not even clear the politicians all did :-).

  24. Brian Smith
    January 6th, 2013 at 08:42 | #27

    20 or more years ago, Vijay lived here in Nashville. I think he was going to Vanderbilt or teaching or something. I played him a time or two – the one I have the score to was first (and last…it was embarrasing!) time I tried to play a Pirc. He was rated about the same as me…and I see his rating hasn’t increased much (neither has mine!).

    I honestly do not remember much about him. I would have to say that I think he should not call what he is doing ‘reviews’. As I’ve only read his takes on Aagaards book and Hawkins (which I own), he seems more like a pundit…or a critic, if you will, than a reviewer. A critics ‘job’ is much like that of all the political ‘pundits’ you see on FOX News – to find things to criticize…even in you are reaching for things to criticize. This always about Democrats and the President. It is their reason for being.

    Actually, on FOX news, their claim to be “Fair and Balanced”, could be better described as ‘Fairly Unbalanced’.

  25. Igor
    January 7th, 2013 at 10:56 | #28

    @webmaster
    the image before “This game, Adams – Giorgadze is used…” doesn’t appear (the browser tries to display the the string data:image/png;base64 in the url field) with the message

    “Request-URI Too Large
    The requested URL’s length exceeds the capacity limit for this server.”

    Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_8_2) AppleWebKit/536.26.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0.2 Safari/536.26.17

  26. Jacob Aagaard
    January 7th, 2013 at 14:06 | #29

    @Mark Donlan
    I think I said more or less the same in the beginning of my piece. However, he is also very harsh at times, where he is just dead wrong as well. I have not said that directly up to this point, it just shows in the quotes I have selected.

  27. Marcel
    January 7th, 2013 at 16:10 | #30

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Instead endless discussion on this review, I would be happy to read which books are planned for german version in 2013.

    Btw, I purchased today Aagaards Positional Play book because it is a great work 🙂 Awruchs Sidelines book I ordered too.

  28. The Lurker
    January 7th, 2013 at 16:52 | #31

    @Jacob Aagaard
    The media don’t understand what “fiscal cliff” means, either. It used to mean the eventual point when nobody will loan money to the US anymore, and the whole Ponzi scheme collapses. Then it was hijacked by the media to refer to the tax cut expiration and sequestration deadline.

    Most people don’t understand all the details, but the main point is not so hard to understand. You can’t live on credit forever. But this is what the majority in America now seem to want, just like in Greece. They want Big Brother to give them stuff, so that’s what they’re going to get. Big Brother is going to stuff them… good and hard.

    Granted, Romney inspired trust like a used car salesman. But, common people work out whom they trust… to give them what they want. Hence, four more years of Obama.

    Somewhat on topic… I couldn’t figure out why Hansen gave 5/6 stars to GM12. He said absolutely nothing bad about the book in the text of his review, so the 1 star off is a complete mystery. If a reviewer takes points off, shouldn’t he explain why?

  29. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 7th, 2013 at 22:20 | #32

    @The Lurker
    All welfare states are not like Greece, and most people recognise this difference. Most of Western Europe are welfare states, of which QC is based and in which I live. The UK give much more to the people than the USA do, and Americans still call that socialism, which is why they will never improve in mentality or lack of ignorance. The UK are a moderate welfare state in the true sense, similar to Canada. If you want real welfare state systems, look to Scandinavia. Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden all provide at least ten times more benefits to their people than Greece have done, are, or ever will, and they all generally rank in the top 10 best countries in which to live. None of them are in the financial mess in which Greece find themselves. The American media fail to cover the important point of Greece and their tax evasion problem which caused a massive problem more than their benefits system. As far as I know, Denmark and Norway are not collapsing economies with greater tan 50% unemployment.

    I visited Norway for holiday and the mentality there is much different than the USA. People do work, and people do expect benefits for their working. Who wants to work for a minimum wage of US$2.13 per hour?

    Jacob hails from one of those great countries, Denmark. It regularly hovers around the best or second best country in the world in terms of happiness. Denmark provides happiness, but I think GM13 would provide Jacob and all of us some happiness as well. GM13 and the King’s Gambit book, and maybe we will feel as if we are living in Denmark..

  30. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 7th, 2013 at 22:25 | #33

    Also to add, I have lived in the USA before. It is not very pleasant if you are poor or lower-middle class. When I was in the UK, I was unfortunate to somehow (unluckily?) have to visit the doctor eight times within three months due to various health problems, and one time to the A&E in South Manchester due to an injury. I paid £0 for each of those incidents. Government and taxes made this possible in the UK. I definitely would cry if this happened whilst I was in the USA.

  31. The Lurker
    January 7th, 2013 at 22:54 | #34

    Gilchrist,

    I define socialism as Marx did: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. If you think one’s need gives one a right to another’s property (which you apparently do), then in my book you are a socialist. So are most of the people in the UK socialist. But then, so is most of the US. The main difference is that we don’t call it socialism here, but a rose by any other name… That is the way in which most Americans are ignorant, not in their (nominal) opposition to socialism. People here are afraid we are going to turn into Europe. The fact of the matter is that we already have.

    BTW, you’re dating yourself. The minimum wage hasn’t been around $2.13 since the ’70s.

    I wonder which will happen first, the US economy collapsing ala Greece, or the King’s Gambit book being published?

  32. John Johnson
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:15 | #35

    Ahem can we maybe not go quite so heavy on “American ignorance” if you please. I have far more experience livng in the US, I am not sure how you are attempting to quantify mentality either. The Lurker is correct it has been donkey’s years since $2.13 was the minimum wage for anyone in the U.S. Socialism has an entirely different connotation in the US. We have some social welfare programs that are probably “socialist” but it is political suicide to call them socialist in the US.

  33. Shurlock Ventriloquist
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:18 | #36

    US economy is not going to collapse … don’t believe the hype …

    I still believe the real hold up on Nessie is that not a single line can be found for white that equalizes let alone gains some advantage.

  34. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:20 | #37

    @The Lurker
    Most of the Western European nations are called, or at least classified according to themselves, as social democracies. They are parliamentary democracies that do not follow Marxist doctrine as American media portray, but mix socialism with parliamentary democracy. Some are more atune to the notion of welfare states such as Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, almost all of which offer free education, including up to PhD level. Americans will scoff at such ideas, especially at the notion of someone achieving a PhD degree for free.

    Most people in the UK do not call themselves socialists, but rather most are more left-wing than Americans. Most people in the UK enjoy the 1948 NHS act which allows free hospital treatment, including A&E and surgical operations, for free. Americans would call that complete hardline Leninist-style communism. The rest of Europe, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. consider such a system as normal. People in the UK believe that the tax money should be used to support a health system free for all, since it is not only in the benefit of the country, but also themselves since they use it.

    I have relatives in Canada who are in their 80s who were sceptical about taxation for the Canadian Medicare (tax-based national health system) system. They said they only truly appreciated its importance when they became older and required more medical assistance, so that they did not have to pay directly to a private hospital like in the USA, but could pay a set amount of tax percent to supply Canadian Medicare for one year that they now use very frequently.

    The USA economy will not be like Greece. The USA have probably less than 5% of the benefits that Greece, or any EU country offer their citizens. They also have the lowest tax rates compared to most of the developed world. France, under Hollande, mandated the 75% tax for all millionaires. Most French welcome this idea, and most in Western Europe support it as well.

    And I have seen the minimum wage for food workers to be $2.13 last week on news discussing USA restaurant workers. I heard that $2.13 per hour with the notion that they should be compensated with tips to somehow survive is commonplace in some states, even in 2013. That will never happen in Europe, and to disallow it is not socialism.

    The situation in Greece is not 100% excess spending, like Americans try to believe it is. Helping the poor like a social democracy in Western Europe does not bankrupt the country. Fortunately there are two authors who have a much better understanding than I and can explain better than I here. Ametanoitos (Νικοσ), from Greece who will assure you that early retirement and excess spending in Greece is not 100% of their problem, and Jacob, who will assure you that Denmark, which offers probably the most comprehensive welfare system in all of Europe (You are paid to attend university if I understand correctly), why Denmark ranks in the top 5 for quality of life.

  35. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:24 | #38

    About rich people and the EU, look at this article.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8321967.stm

    The USA are not even close to European mentalities. Otherwise government tax-based healthcare systems would be applied already, and tuition fees would be capped by the federal government, and taxation should be at least 60% for those who make over $500000. I think the King’s Gambit book will be published before the USA approach European governmental systems. Again ask Jacob or Νικοσ, they live through different systems that the USA would both condemn, but they seem quite happy to me.

  36. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:28 | #39

    @John Johnson
    There definitely is American ignorance I would have to say, especially I bet that most Americans would call me a socialist for having the chance to attend eight doctor appointments and an A&E appointment without paying. I bet at least 9/10 Americans would call me a socialist for that, even though a Canadian directly north of the American border has the opportunity to do the same thing in their country.

    I suppose it does not help that the city in which I live, Manchester (NOT Manchester, New Hampshire, which is definitely more posh than the one in England), is the birthplace of the trade union. My city is where the modern concept and ideal of unions to demand better wages, working conditions, spread not only all over the UK, but into the USA. All unions in the USA only exist due to their beginnings 150 years ago across the Atlantic in industrial Manchester. Americans who call everything European or for the poor/lower middle class socialist would probably call Manchester the British Leningrad…

  37. Shurlock Ventriloquist
    January 8th, 2013 at 00:55 | #40

    Socialist countries are able to exist and flourish because they sell their natural resources and commodities to capitalist countries in order to get their money.

    Socialism is a great fantasy but does not work without the support of capitalism underwriting it.

  38. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 01:34 | #41

    @Shurlock Ventriloquist
    Which socialist countries? As I said before, the majority of welfare state parliamentary democracies in Western Europe are social democracies. State-run health care, free education, a tax policy with a direct relationship between annual income and tax brackets, paid maternity/paternity leave of more than one year, unionised labour, etc. all exist in full extent in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and to an extent even the economic superpowers France, Germany, and the UK. Americans are wont to call all EU members, with the additon of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as socialist countries, but the fact is the majority of the developed world function in this manner. The Socialist Parties, i.e. Parti Socialiste in France, are one of the main parties in a two-party system in France, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, etc. It is considered normal. You have to ask the people in Western and Northern Europe to see if they enjoy their lifestyles, governmental and welfare systems, or their economies. I think the vast majority would.

  39. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 01:39 | #42

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Also, two of the most left-wing countries in the world, Norway, and Switzerland, are not even part of the EU, although they are part of the EEZ (European Economic Zone). With high amounts of government regulations and benefits, Norway have quite a large fishing and oil industry that supports their economy immensely. Switzerland have always been a rich country despite their welfare system.

  40. Master McGrath
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:16 | #43

    The last ten posts have veered off into pointless discussions of politics. Can we please knock it off? It’s very much off topic.

    As for the review, the tone might be standard fare in other subjects, but it seemed a bit over-critical by the standards of chess book reviews. To take just one aspect, he doesn’t seem to take account of page or word budgets. The full thought process for 29 h4! would take forever to write out (remember to check you’re not falling into a mate in 1, etc. etc. etc.). And in these days of engines everywhere, I’d have thought that we’ll see less and less explicit analysis, rather than more. And also he seems to mix up “not the way I would write it”with “badly written”. So several criticisms were overdone.

  41. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:24 | #44

    Shurlock Ventriloquist :
    I still believe the real hold up on Nessie is that not a single line can be found for white that equalizes let alone gains some advantage.

    If that is the case, then so be it. They should give the objectively best possible lines for white, and be done with it. After all, the title of the thing is not “Winning with the King’s Gambit”. (Thank God, there are enough of that ilk already.)

  42. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:48 | #45

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    I bet at least 9/10 Americans would call me a socialist for that, even though a Canadian directly north of the American border has the opportunity to do the same thing in their country.

    I seriously doubt the 9/10 part. Americans aren’t as liberal (in the classical European sense of the term) as you would think, or I would like. And I wouldn’t call you a socialist for using NHS. After all, you’ve paid for it. I would call you a socialist if you support NHS with your votes. I would also call Canada socialist. And I would also call the States socialist. (In all cases, to some degree, not completely.)

    The problem here is not American ignorance. The problem is that you and I (apparently) have different conceptions of what constitutes “socialism”. We’re separated by a common language, so to speak. I was under the impression that Europeans are more honest about socialism, since in most countries on the Continent at least they call themselves “social” democrats (“social” being a not-so-subtle code word for “socialist”). Perhaps I was wrong. Or perhaps it is just an English thing, since you call your socialist party the Labour party (like we call ours the Democratic party)?

    You seem to be working under the old traditional Marxist notion that socialism, properly considered, means nationalization of the means of production. That is not what I mean by socialism. Or not all that I mean by socialism. (I don’t think that this definition of socialism is even taken seriously nowadays by most people who do consider themselves socialists.) I’ve already explained what I mean by socialism. To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy (an American “redneck” comedian): If you think your need somehow magically gives you a right to other peoples’ stuff, you might be a socialist.

    NB: Believe it or not, I am not a “typical” American, politically speaking. I am *extremely* liberal (in the classical European sense of the word). Here, I would be called a libertarian. It saddens me to say that we’re not as common as Europeans might think.

  43. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 02:59 | #46

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    You have to ask the people in Western and Northern Europe to see if they enjoy their lifestyles, governmental and welfare systems, or their economies. I think the vast majority would.

    Enjoyment is not the point. I’m sure the ancient Romans enjoyed the free bread, and watching the Christians being eaten in the Colosseum. (And no, I am not an American Christian fundamentalist. I am an atheist, actually.) The point is that there are three ways of getting things from your fellow human beings; gift, trade, and theft. Only two of those three ways are moral.

  44. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 03:25 | #47

    @The Lurker
    You are saying that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, UK, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, etc. are all immoral because the government, with the support of the people, wish to provide sufficient social services, such as healthcare and education, and the USA are the only moral nation in the world because they refuse a public healthcare system, free education, a minimum wage of £9, a retirement age of 60 like France, etc.? So basically the entire world is immoral, even though your supposedly most immoral countries rank amongst the top 10 in which to live?

  45. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 03:32 | #48

    @The Lurker
    The Labour Party is absolutely not the Socialist Party. They are only centre-left in European scales, and the Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg (usually shortened in speech and writing as Lib Dems) are probably more similar to the Danish, Norwegian, Swiss, French, and German Socialist Parties. The Lib Dems are part of the current UK coalition government, so does that mean that the UK voted, at least, partially, for socialism?

    The NHS was created in 1948 because of the poor. When more than half of the country did not have access to healthcare because of the class system and WWII, does it not seem at least logical to have a free system so that the British population could actually survive? The NHS was created one year after the withdrawal from British India, all of the money poured into ruling British India could have been used towards a free system for the poor.

    I am absolutely sure that if you polled random people in UK streets, especially in the North, like where I live, Manchester, as well as other cities that have been neglected over centuries, such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds, and QC’s hometown, Glasgow, the majority of people there would say they support the NHS and use it.

  46. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 03:59 | #49

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    No. I thought I had made that clear by now. I don’t think that the USA is any more moral than the rest. It is socialist, too.

  47. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:13 | #50

    @The Lurker
    I highly doubt most Americans have similar mentalities to Europeans. Perhaps there are some, but they would definitely be something like 0.005% of the population. Having lived in both countries, the Democrats in the USA are more conservative than the Conservative Party. I would not be surprised if the Democrats were more conservative than the UMP in France, Partido Popular in Spain, etc. I forgot who wrote it, but they wrote that in the USA, there are two conservative parties.

    Canadian NDP leader Jack Layton also once said if I remember correctly, that not even the most right-wing politician in Canada would want to oppose tax-based government healthcare there. By European standards, the UK and Canada are quite moderate. Truly liberal countries are Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway. I honestly do not understand how it is immoral for people to support their governments to provide healthcare or education to all. All would pay taxes, supporting not only themselves, but the entire country to advance as a whole.

    In the UK, the university tuition has a cap that is controlled by the government. Universities cannot charge domestic students more than £9000, although it used to be £6000 under Labour. I do not see such policies even contemplatable to implement in the USA since the USA are much more conservative than the rest of the developed world.

    Based on your views, if you mean liberal as in financially liberal, such as the free-market Australian Liberal Party, then you would be considered very conservative by European standards. If even very conservative people in Europe and Canada believe in government-run, tax-based healthcare, then most Americans cannot generally be considered left-wing by European standards.

  48. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:18 | #51

    @The Lurker
    I do not quite understand the immorality of healthcare for all. To me it seems immoral to deprive others of a free system just so some billionaires can save some money for an extra yacht. Someone with cancer who cannot afford would most likely wish they lived in Norway or Sweden or the UK. Does it also mean the rich German people who want higher taxes are immoral by wanting to have their country improve as a whole by the betterment of society?

  49. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:19 | #52

    @Gilchrist is a Legend

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    The Labour Party is absolutely not the Socialist Party.

    And the US Democratic Party is not the US Socialist Party. And yet, they are socialists. They are simply the smarter, Fabian, socialists.

    @Gilchrist is a Legend

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    The NHS was created in 1948 because of the poor. When more than half of the country did not have access to healthcare because of the class system and WWII, does it not seem at least logical to have a free system so that the British population could actually survive?

    So, you’re saying that need gives one the right to have the government steal on one’s behalf?

    @Gilchrist is a Legend

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    I am absolutely sure that if you polled random people in UK streets, especially in the North, like where I live, Manchester, as well as other cities that have been neglected over centuries, such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds, and QC’s hometown, Glasgow, the majority of people there would say they support the NHS and use it.

    So? I’m sure the majority of people on the streets of Detroit, near where I live, would support Obamacare. That doesn’t make it right.

  50. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:33 | #53

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    @The Lurker
    I do not quite understand the immorality of healthcare for all.

    A healthcare system for all is not, in and of itself, immoral. It depends on how it is paid for. If the system is paid for by theft, which is immoral, then the system is immoral. I would have thought this was self-evident.

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    @The Lurker
    Does it also mean the rich German people who want higher taxes are immoral by wanting to have their country improve as a whole by the betterment of society?

    If rich Germans want to give to those less fortunate, can they not give their own money away in the form of “charity” (old-fashioned concept, I know), without also insisting that the government take other peoples’ money away as well? If I were a selfish rich German, I might support higher taxes, too. After all, as a rich person, I could afford it. Those less fortunate than me might be rendered less capable of competing with me economically.

  51. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:45 | #54

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    @The Lurker
    Having lived in both countries, the Democrats in the USA are more conservative than the Conservative Party.

    When did you live in the US? In the ’70s, judging by your minimum wage figures? Things have changed a bit since then. We have even elected a black president, if you haven’t heard. Have you British elected a black PM? (Callaghan could be considered an Irish one. Does that count?) How about France? Has Germany elected a Jewish Chancellor? Hmmmm???

  52. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 04:59 | #55

    *sigh* Gilchrist, sorry if I’m being snarky. Drinking and Internet surfing… it’s not illegal, but perhaps it should be.

    So, how about a less controversial subject? How about… draughts? I think draughts is a more elegant game, mathematically speaking. Opinions? *grin*

  53. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 05:13 | #56

    @The Lurker
    I had a feeling that one could not possibly believe that universal healthcare was “immoral” if sober 😀

    To be honest, I am extremely anxious about GM13. It is the book to which I am looking forward most right now. I think Jacob said something about the end of January for the shipping. Actually I forgot now. I hope Jacob does not get annoyed again, but when is the day of shipping of websales for GM13? The publication date is a Thursday, so I am not sure how to calculate it.

  54. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 05:38 | #57

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Oh, I believe the same when sober. I’m just not so snarky about it. It’s as if you, Jacob and I were at the local pub, racking up tabs for hours whilst chatting about chess, and then two out of the three of us voted to have me pay for all the beer. Then the bouncer agrees to enforce the “general will” in exchange for yet another beer. Same concept, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not the idea of the poor getting health care that I find immoral. It’s how it gets paid for. If it gets paid for by extorted funds, it’s immoral, just like anything else. But that’s just me…

    And I do think draughts is more elegant, mathematically speaking. *grin*

    The 31st of the month is a Thursday. I like the idea of another Open Spanish book, too. The only one I have is by Krasenkov, and it’s from ’95. But I’m still withholding my purchase until after Nessie. *grin*

  55. January 8th, 2013 at 06:07 | #58

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    “Also to add, I have lived in the USA before. It is not very pleasant if you are poor or lower-middle class”

    Now you’ve lost me…and I know you don’t know what you are talking about. I’m probably lower middle class or close to it. I have a home (don’t rent), a car that is paid for, money saved, good healthcare, all sorts of ‘media devices’, I travel, I have really all I want. Yes, I work hard for it. Even the poor by and large have many of these things…the poor here are different than the “poor” elsewhere…they don’t strike and riot because they DO HAVE a reasonable good standard of living compared to elsewhere.

    Now…back to chess please.

  56. Patrick
    January 8th, 2013 at 06:30 | #59

    I am going to chime in now and say that anybody stereotyping the entire country of the United States, and all of its citizens as “American Ignorance”, can shut up right now and keep their own European beliefs to their own freaking selves! It’s the top 2% of this country that’s destroying it. Speak for them, not the whole country!

    There are Americans that want free health care similar to Europe (i.e. my wife), and there are Americans that feel that Socialism is unconstitiutional, and that anybody that makes less then them can go F themselves, and there is every level of belief in between the two. There is no one description to describe all Americans, and therefore, to stereotype Americans is the one of the most ignorant things you can do!

    In a Nutshell, here’s the United States in 300 words or less:

    The United States is a democracy that consists of 2 main parties. Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans basically believe the state government should run each state, have capitalist-like beliefs, the rich shouldn’t pay extra taxes, find loopholes that allow them to shelter their income and not pay taxes, and basically feel that the middle class and poor can go F themselves. Democrats basically believe that the federal government should run the country, have socialist-like beliefs, the rich should pay more taxes, try to close financial loopholes, and try to avoid tax hikes to the bottom 98% of the country.

    The problem is, neither side can agree about anything, and nothing gets thru because the Republican block every law that the Democrats try to put in, and vice versa, so only when one party completely dominates does anything change.

    We had a Republican Dominant goverment in the first 8 years of the 21st century, and that shot this country in the foot. Now with the Democrats in office, they don’t have enough of a domination to outpower the Republican vetos, and we can’t get anything passed these days, and until the less intelligent Americans realize that the bottom 98% of the country should all be voting Democrat and the Democrats dominate the Government, we’ll be in the same stupid recession we’ve been in since the Republican morons took office last decade.

  57. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 08:45 | #60

    I am not sure to whom you are referring, but no one stereotyped the entire population as such. I clearly said there are surely some Americans who think truly like those in the Western European social democracies, Canada, and Australia, etc., but their numbers are probably extremely low, such as 0.005% of the American population since the general consensus of the American mentality seems to be more right-wing than the rest of the developed world. 0.005(310 million) is 1.55 million people if the mental calculation is correct. I mean think truly as the Western European social democracies wholly, in terms of the universal healthcare, subsidised/free education, utilisation of the metric system, high taxes for high earners and low taxes for low earners, regulation of industry to prevent uncontrolled profits at the expense of others, such as the prevention of nonexistent minimum wages, etc. I have a feeling some Americans who are more left-wing than others might agree with one but think the others are socialistic, evil principles.

    It is hypocritical to tell those that have experienced only Americans and no other nationality tell them they are socialists, or Leninists, or communists or whatever ridiculous label solely for believing and supporting universal healthcare to get their “European ideas” back to their own countries. That means you categorise all Europeans as having the same agreements, whilst generally agreeable in terms of healthcare and education, still differ. Also not only “Europeans” believe in the same principles, you will your neighbours to the north, Canada, generally believe in “European” ideas. Australians and New Zealanders also have somewhat similar systems to Western Europe. They are all quite far from Europe.

  58. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 08:52 | #61

    @The Lurker
    That is a flawed analogy since drinking a pint at the pub and having a friend pay for no reason is completely different to someone who is homeless or earning £20000 per year who lives in a one-room flat who unfortunately has a health problem and needs hospital treatment. Pints at the pub are for socialising/enjoyment, whilst medical treatment is a necessity to simply survive life.

    In the NHS, as well as Canada’s Medicare, Australia’s Medicare system, the Danish, Swedish, Swiss, Spanish, Finnish, German, etc. health systems works by the usage of taxes which are paid through income taxes. A certain percentage of each person’s taxes are used to fund collectively each country’s respective health system. Think of it as paying your percentage of tax towards the health service once per year, then this supports the health system that not only the rest of the country’s population can use, but you yourself can use. Pay once a year, for yourself and others; this idea is used in almost all developed nations. Paying for the health system is like paying for the fire brigade, state school system, or police system in taxes. Would you decline to pay taxes towards the state school system if your child never attended a state school and only the public school? It would be the same concept, except the extra factor in the rest of the developed world is the factor of the health system in addition to the fire brigade, rubbish collection, police, street cleaners, state school system, etc.

  59. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 08:56 | #62

    @The Lurker
    Regarding GM13, I was referring to the publication date of a Thursday. QC usually post the publication date as a Friday, and send websales on Monday of the following week. I live something like 250 km away from Glasgow, so I unsurprisingly receive the book(s) usually the next day immediately after QC post it from Glasgow.

    So if it is a Thursday, I am not sure if they send websales on the Friday or not. In that manner that was what I meant when I cannot calculate when the websales would be received. I suppose Jacob would know.

  60. Jacob Aagaard
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:27 | #63

    @Marcel
    The two attacking manuals will be out at the end of January. We have no other books planned for German at this moment.

  61. Jacob Aagaard
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:37 | #64

    @The Lurker
    I am not great economist, but clearly you are confusing the Greek and the US situation. In a normal country, what has happened to Greece would lead to a great devaluation of the currency, automatically reduced imports (because it is too expensive) and increased competitiveness. Because Greece has the German currency (sorry, the European one), this is not happening and they are getting killed. The same is happening to Spain, who were not greatly out of line with their financial policy.

    At the same time the UK are surviving despite horrible policies and a worse recovery than in the 1930s. Because we have the sterling and there are no good places to invest, we can lend freely.

    Is debt bad? Well, in the US, Fix the Depth is supposed to happen through tax relief for the only people who have any money now, the super-rich. Clearly this is not going to reduce the debt. And it is also not the intention.

    But the US does not actually have a great structural deficit. If you take away things that will turn around, you see a trillion become zero rather quickly. And meanwhile the society is staying afloat through loans. It is sound economics, actually. What works in a private economy does not work in a national economy, and vice versa.

    What always confuses me is how people can believe that a society would grow richer if it had greater unemployment. Look at Spain; it is not working. Look at Germany, with their higher debt and higher employment, they are in growth. When you have high unemployment, it is bad for the economy. Here government intervention is sound. When you have full employment, you need to pay off your loans and be in black. This is where the US failed. After Clinton put them in plus, Bush squandered trillions away on adventures and the trickle down lie. Now there is a bill to pay…

  62. Jacob Aagaard
    January 8th, 2013 at 09:37 | #65

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    No, we still send them on the Monday. This is when we get the books.

  63. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 10:06 | #66

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I see. 4th February shall be marked on my calendar then. Cannot wait for GM13 hardcover.

  64. John Shaw
    January 8th, 2013 at 11:58 | #67

    The Lurker :

    Shurlock Ventriloquist :
    I still believe the real hold up on Nessie is that not a single line can be found for white that equalizes let alone gains some advantage.

    If that is the case, then so be it. They should give the objectively best possible lines for white, and be done with it. After all, the title of the thing is not “Winning with the King’s Gambit”. (Thank God, there are enough of that ilk already.)

    Shurlock and Lurker,

    Theoretical problems are not a cause for the KG delay. In fact, in just a few weeks I predict the delay will be over.

    My analysis suggests that in some of the critical lines White is merely equal. Okay, the King’s Gambit does not refute 1…e5; we can live with that.

    It did surprise one of the other chess players in the office that Black does not seem to have a way to force an advantage after 2.f4. The analysis is as objective as we can make it, and it seems White should, at the very least, get either equality or an unclear position.

  65. Patrick
    January 8th, 2013 at 15:17 | #68

    Gilchrist is a Legend :@John Johnson There definitely is American ignorance I would have to say, especially I bet that most Americans would call me a socialist for having the chance to attend eight doctor appointments and an A&E appointment without paying. I bet at least 9/10 Americans would call me a socialist for that, even though a Canadian directly north of the American border has the opportunity to do the same thing in their country.
    I suppose it does not help that the city in which I live, Manchester (NOT Manchester, New Hampshire, which is definitely more posh than the one in England), is the birthplace of the trade union. My city is where the modern concept and ideal of unions to demand better wages, working conditions, spread not only all over the UK, but into the USA. All unions in the USA only exist due to their beginnings 150 years ago across the Atlantic in industrial Manchester. Americans who call everything European or for the poor/lower middle class socialist would probably call Manchester the British Leningrad…

    Does this answer your question Gilchrist about stereotyping? Let’s talk about ignorance in Europe, because you’re a pissin’ (or how about “You’re-a-peein'”) off a lot of people with comments like the above along with your generalities about how we never improve in mentality (Message 32, also yours) along with other BS that just isn’t true, and like John Johnson says a few messages later, shut up! You haven’t lived in the United States long enough or recent enough to speak!

    Us chess players in the United States would like to hear from more intelligent Europeans like Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw, who talk about more interesting topics on this message board, like chess books (Say! What a novel concept!), and enough of your stupid moron comments about American Politics! Take your ignorance somewhere else bozo!

  66. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 17:25 | #69

    Gilchrist is a Legend :That is a flawed analogy since drinking a pint at the pub and having a friend pay for no reason is completely different to someone who is homeless or earning £20000 per year who lives in a one-room flat who unfortunately has a health problem and needs hospital treatment. Pints at the pub are for socialising/enjoyment, whilst medical treatment is a necessity to simply survive life.

    They are not completey different. In both case, some people vote themselves OPM (other people’s money). The person who would rather not pay is forced to do so. Morally, I can see no difference. The point about need is irrelevant to the morality of it, in my opinion.

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    Would you decline to pay taxes towards the state school system if your child never attended a state school and only the public school?

    I would if could, yes. But I cannot, because I would go to jail. Hence, to me, this sort of “redistribution of wealth” is the moral equivalent of extortion.

    (By the way, “state” schools are called “public” schools in the States. The “public” schools are called “private” schools. Another case of being separated by a common language.)

  67. Ray
    January 8th, 2013 at 18:28 | #70

    @The Lurker
    Regarding the idea of viewing taxes as ‘theft’: can anyone explain to me why it’s ok to steal from the poor to build highways (which the poor can’t use because they can’t afford a car) and wage wars (where the poor can fight to pay for their education), while it’s not ok to steal from the rich to give everybody decent healtcare? I guess Teaparty lunatics would reply that both are not ok, and everything should be privatised, including education, the police and the army (you can see in the movie Starship Troopers where that may lead to) – and democracy equals having your way by making the biggest donations to the campaign funds. By the way, I don’t take offence of being called a ‘socialist’ :-).

  68. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 19:27 | #71

    Jacob Aagaard :
    I am not great economist, but clearly you are confusing the Greek and the US situation.

    Well, yes, and no. Yes, Greece’s situation is different. But, the problem is that we have a debt larger than our GDP, and it’s still growing, since we no longer seem to be capable of living within our means with respect to “entitlement” programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc). In this way, we are getting more and more like Greece. This is not sustainable. But I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. The Democrats want tax and spend. The Republicans want lower taxes and less spending. We end up getting the worst of both worlds, lower taxes and more spending, i.e. more debt.

    Is a recession the best time to be worrying about the debt? Perhaps not. But it needs to be taken care of sooner or later, or we’ll be paying more and more tax money just to service the debt.

    Jacob Aagaard :
    Is debt bad? Well, in the US, Fix the Depth is supposed to happen through tax relief for the only people who have any money now, the super-rich. Clearly this is not going to reduce the debt. And it is also not the intention.

    Fix the Depth? I have no idea what this means.

    Government in the US now sucks up about 24% of the GDP. Studies have shown that the “sweet spot” on the Laffer curve for maximizing tax revenue is about 18-20%. So reducing taxes probably would help stimulate the economy and thus tax revenue, actually. Whether that extra revenue is used to pay off the debt is up for grabs, though.

    And what with Earned Income Tax Credits (effectively, negative income tax) and so on for the less well off, the rich pay the lion’s share of the tax burden in the US, contrary to popular opinion. So any substantial cuts in total taxation will probably have to go to the rich, because they’re the main ones paying taxes.

    Jacob Aagaard :
    What always confuses me is how people can believe that a society would grow richer if it had greater unemployment.

    Employing people in and of itself does not pick up the economy. This is stale old Keynesianism. The employment has to be economically efficient employment. That’s what recessions are all about. They are an economy’s way of telling people that they are no longer efficiently employed, and that the capital structure of the economy must change before they can be again. Propping up the poor by giving them economically inefficient makework helps the poor in the short term, but it doesn’t stimulate the economy as a whole in the long term.

    Jacob Aagaard :
    When you have full employment, you need to pay off your loans and be in black. This is where the US failed.

    This is true.

    Jacob Aagaard :
    After Clinton put them in plus, Bush squandered trillions away on adventures and the trickle down lie. Now there is a bill to pay…

    This is loaded. Clinton was coerced into doing what he did by a Republican Congress, and he had the “peace dividend” (the end of the Cold War) to help. Bush’s tax cuts were cuts for the middle class as well as the “%1”; they weren’t “trickle down”. And I agree that we’ve wasted money on wars, but even if we had not done so, we’d still be in the red due to our spendthrift ways. You can look up the numbers in the font of all knowledge (Wikipedia).

  69. FREDPHIL
    January 8th, 2013 at 19:59 | #72

    Nikos Ntirlis :

    I think that Watson (and now Hendriks) have caused too much harm on the amateur’s chess minds..

    Well , as I have always found that Watson’s books are very clear (Mastering the chess openings, Chess Strategy in Action, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy…), perhaps I am on the wrong way .
    Can you explain me what is your points ?
    Thank you

  70. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 20:02 | #73

    Ray :
    Regarding the idea of viewing taxes as ‘theft’: can anyone explain to me why it’s ok to steal from the poor to build highways (which the poor can’t use because they can’t afford a car)

    A lot of the “poor” do have cars here in the US (and cell phones, and laptops with Internet access, and flatscreen TVs, and they’re fat). And most of the roads here are paid for by state gasoline taxes, which one tends not to pay if one does not own a car (except, perhaps, for a few pennies on gas for the lawnmower).

    Ray :
    and wage wars (where the poor can fight to pay for their education), while it’s not ok to steal from the rich to give everybody decent healtcare?

    I don’t consider all taxes as “theft”. I consider “redistribution of wealth” as theft. At least, if said “redistribution” is forced. I make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate functions of government. The legitimate functions are those that cannot be done without government, and also make everyone better off (except criminals, would-be warlords, etc, whose well-being I don’t particularly care about). National defense, police, courts of law, etc., count as legitimate in my book. Redistribution of wealth doesn’t count as legitimate in my book, since the wealth “donors” are not made better off in the process.

    Ray :
    I guess Teaparty lunatics would reply that both are not ok, and everything should be privatised, including education, the police and the army

    No. To be perfectly honest, most Tea Partiers are new to political activism, or for that matter, political thought. Their views are somewhat inchoate and confused, just like those of the Occupiers. Libertarians are trying to get in front of the parade, but with limited success.

    The people you are thinking of are the hardcore anarcho-capitalists. They are relatively rare birds, even in more libertarian circles, much less the Tea Party set.

    Ray :
    By the way, I don’t take offence of being called a ‘socialist’

    I’m glad that you are honest about it. Admitting that you have a problem is half of the solution. *grin*

    And I don’t mean “socialist” as an insult. I simply believe in “calling a spade a bloody shovel”.

  71. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 20:50 | #74

    @Patrick
    Calling me names such as bozo speaks more of your own intelligence, and you know that it is fact that many Americans will consider as socialism and evil what Western Europe consider as normal. You seem to berate only my posts since 2011 and no one else’s, and telling me to ‘shut up’ is not going to make me listen to your drivel.

    You have a post below yours by TheLurker who thinks that paying taxes for the school system, and a state healthcare system is immoral. Is that not evidence already that such a mentality is a reason that the USA are the only developed nation without a universal healthcare system or completely subsidised/free university system? I have lived in the USA enough to experience enough attitudes like TheLurker’s and yours, and the attitudes are simply incomparable with those in other countries. Your sceptism about “European” ideas is pervasive in almost every post, but you fail to forget that the developed world contain mostly Western Europe, and those supposedly socialist countries Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  72. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2013 at 20:58 | #75

    @The Lurker
    Your opinions on taxes are getting even further from any European or Canadian’s views. I highly doubt even a very conservative Canadian, German, Belgian, Dane, Swede, or Swiss would say that basically paying taxes is immoral because they do not use the health system or the school system. I do not know how you can say that you are close to European in thinking, because your opinion seems to be that you should pay 0% taxes if possible. If I were earning six figures, 60% taxes does not seem like much to me, the country much advance as a whole instead of having a select few prospering whilst 90% live in poverty. That society is seen in places like São Paulo in Brazil, where the few thousand rich executives and CEOs ride helicopters to work, whilst 50% of the city live without running water or electricity, healthcare, schooling, rubbish collection service, or food. But of course the taxes will not be “taken” so that the people in the majority of the city can actually have a chance to prosper in life.

    A class disparity seems fine to you, which basically is what 1800s Victorian Britain was like. The extreme rich living in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire could have 20 mansions, whilst the poor factory workers in Manchseter, Liverpool, Leeds, and Newcastle had to work five times as hard as those rich people, for less than one thousand millionth of the pay, no healthcare, no food, and living in slums, and their bosses earning more than all of the workers combined. But of course no taxes that would be used on those poor people in the North. Is that your ideal?

  73. Greg Bungo
    January 8th, 2013 at 23:25 | #76

    I’m a little confused by some of the comments appearing here. One gets the impression that the reviewer Vijay Raghavan dislikes the book. In fact, he gave it a positive review, albeit with some reservations. Here are a couple of quotes from his review:

    “All in all, GMP2 has an excellent compilation of practical positional exercises.” [Mr. Aagaard mentions this quote near the beginning of his reply.]

    “I have now plowed through a hundred positions; I am sure to be sorry when I reach the end of the book and have to break up this pleasant daily routine.”

    I think it is very likely that Vijay’s review will encourage people to buy the book, although some will probably wait for the paperback edition.

  74. The Lurker
    January 8th, 2013 at 23:48 | #77

    Hmm.. odd. Your comments are going through unmolested. My comments are still awaiting moderation. It’s almost as if my comments are being censored due to “political incorrectness”…

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    Your opinions on taxes are getting even further from any European or Canadian’s views. I highly doubt even a very conservative Canadian, German, Belgian, Dane, Swede, or Swiss would say that basically paying taxes is immoral because they do not use the health system or the school system.

    That’s not exactly what I’m saying. I hope that when one of my previous posts is finally allowed to see the light of day, you’ll read it. I don’t want to go through that again. Suffice it to say, I’m not categorically against taxes.

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    I do not know how you can say that you are close to European in thinking,

    I do not claim that my thinking is close to a typical European’s, nor even a typical American’s. I have already said that my political thinking is quite atypical for an American, much less a European. All I have said is that most Americans (not myself) are closer in their thinking to Europeans than they realize. They say that socialized medicine is bad… but don’t touch their Medicare! Socialism is bad… but we should have a “safety net” and “unemployment insurance” through the government. Socialism is bad… but we should have “free” education for all. Etc. In short, the typical American is OK with socialism, as long as you don’t call it socialism.

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    That society is seen in places like São Paulo in Brazil, where the few thousand rich executives and CEOs ride helicopters to work, whilst 50% of the city live without running water or electricity, healthcare, schooling, rubbish collection service, or food.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. They live without food??? That’s a good trick! How do they manage this???

    Seriously, though, I think that there might be some cultural differences between Brazil and the Anglo world that account for some of the economic disparity.

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    A class disparity seems fine to you, which basically is what 1800s Victorian Britain was like. … blah blah blah… Is that your ideal?

    Now you are betraying your Englishness. Americans tend not to think in terms of “class” so much, since we’ve never had an honest-to-God hereditary aristocracy. I’m not thinking in terms of class myself, but in terms of rights. Property rights. My ideal is a minimal “night watchman” state, where basically only national defense, a diplomatic corps, and a federal legal system are provided by the federal government, and more local governments (states, counties, municipalities) provide criminal courts, prisons, roads and so forth. And none of them are in the business of determining that other people deserve my money more than I do. You may think that a system of strict property rights only favors the rich, but I think that’s nonsense. How can the poor become not-poor if they’re not allowed to accumulate wealth? How can they become independent if they are kept dependent from cradle to grave? In short, your ideal is “security” (except you’ll never be secure from the government if you’re so dependent on it). My ideal is “freedom” (including the freedom to screw up my life, become dirt poor, and die, if I make the wrong choices).

  75. John Johnson
    January 9th, 2013 at 00:09 | #78

    So if someone disagrees with you insulting an entire country and presuming to have some sort of telepathy that puts you in the minds of most of the people in the developed world that is an ad hominem attack? You will never get a “fair hearing” when you begin your posts with demeaning the intellect of 250 million people (give or take) and then try to persuade your readers about how objective your perspective is. Now the Brazilians can weigh in.

  76. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 9th, 2013 at 02:22 | #79

    If you think someone has a right to insulting the other because they tell them the facts that they not only personally experienced enough ignorance regarding the differences in social welfare of the USA and countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, and Switzerland, as well as the fact that the USA do not implement any policies of universal healthcare as so many do not want such systems, speaks of your own character. Note that I did not say all, but the very few who believe in such systems do not have a majority. I do not have to count the number of times I have heard the NHS or Canada’s Medicare deemed as communistic institutions because the number is too large.

    If you honestly think that stating that São Paulo and other Brazilian cities do not suffer from high levels of poverty with a very small amount of rich, prosperous people and a majority of impoverished people due to a massive disparity in income levels, and that this phenomenom is possible in any country if social welfare is removed or decreased substantially, is somehow “demeaning insults” then what would that imply? Would that mean you want me to state that there would be no poverty or severe disparity if the social democracies of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand removed their healthcare systems, subsidised education, etc., so that it can avoid your supposed characterisation of “insults”? Then ask the Brazilians, whether there is a massive disparity in income level, how many are impoverished compared to rich, how many mansions compared to slums, and if their society would be better if their government actually followed a model like those of Norway or Denmark. Maybe then you will get the same facts.

  77. Ray
    January 9th, 2013 at 08:08 | #80

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Hi Gilchrist,

    I agree with you – of course not all Americans are Teaparty capitalists, but you didn’t imply that. Nor are all Europeans communists, for that matter. But it is simply a fact that there is very strong opposition in the USA against what we in Europe would call a proper, fair healthcare system. And I’m not even mentioning social security or job protection :-). I can’t proof one system is better than the other, but I do know that I myself prefer to live in a country with less difference between rich and poor.

  78. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 9th, 2013 at 08:32 | #81

    @Ray
    I think you almost summarised what I had been explaining. I am 100% sure that not all Americans are opposing to universal healthcare, free university education, a graduated tax system where tax increases for high earners and lowers for low earners, etc. but that there are generally more who oppose most of those compared to those who do not. If one were physically able to poll 1 million Americans from every state at random locations, one would have to ask, generally is there a large majority in the results that favour universal healthcare, free education, high tax for high earners, etc.? I do not have to provide the answer to that.

    Of course it is impossible to prove one better if you mean prove scientificially or mathematically, but if you ask those who live in Europe, Canada, or Australia which system they prefer better and add up results, then you will have a general answer for yourself, not from me.

  79. Nikos Ntirlis
    January 9th, 2013 at 08:36 | #82

    @FREDPHIL: I was talking about the “rule-independence” thing.

  80. John Shaw
    January 9th, 2013 at 11:49 | #83

    The Lurker :

    Hmm.. odd. Your comments are going through unmolested. My comments are still awaiting moderation. It’s almost as if my comments are being censored due to “political incorrectness”…

    No, it is nothing to do with censorship or “political incorrectness”. Whether a comment appears automatically or is held for moderation is an automated system. For example, quite often the computer puts comments by Jacob and me in “wait for moderation”. Then I arrive, check what latest wisdom is in the comments waiting for approval, and approve them if they are not spam or excessively abusive.

    Approving a comment does not mean I agree with its content. To be honest, I have barely skimmed the politics/economics content above. Write something interesting about chess and I can promise my full attention.

  81. Neil Sullivan
    January 9th, 2013 at 15:50 | #84

    John Shaw :

    The Lurker :
    Hmm.. odd. Your comments are going through unmolested. My comments are still awaiting moderation. It’s almost as if my comments are being censored due to “political incorrectness”…

    No, it is nothing to do with censorship or “political incorrectness”. Whether a comment appears automatically or is held for moderation is an automated system. For example, quite often the computer puts comments by Jacob and me in “wait for moderation”. Then I arrive, check what latest wisdom is in the comments waiting for approval, and approve them if they are not spam or excessively abusive.
    Approving a comment does not mean I agree with its content. To be honest, I have barely skimmed the politics/economics content above. Write something interesting about chess and I can promise my full attention.

    I can appreciate that the political / politicized comments could make your eyes glaze over. Would you consider just removing them altogether? This would have nothing to do with their politics, but simply a reflection that they have nothing to do with the purpose of this blog.

    If you want, there are plenty of places for this on the net. I don’t like wading through them in search of chess content.

  82. John Shaw
    January 9th, 2013 at 17:02 | #85

    @Neil Sullivan

    I did ponder a mass deletion but I will leave the comments there for the moment – err on the side of free expression.

    But in future I plan to be heavier handed when comments go way off-topic. Especially when the comments are off-topic and so long. For those interested in American economic policy, I would recommend Paul Krugman at the New York Times.

  83. The Lurker
    January 9th, 2013 at 17:15 | #86

    @Neil Sullivan
    I don’t have a problem with not talking about politics here. After all, it is QC’s blog, and they can restrict discussions to only chess, if that’s what they want to do. But when Jacob chimed in on the politics, it seemed as though politics was an open topic.

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    My final political comment (for now *grin*) I think that all you need to do to get a good grasp of where the average American’s head is at is to consider that Barack Obama was elected to a second term. The man is obviously someone who has absolutely no problems with the European way of doing things (whether you call that socialism or not). Maybe Americans are slightly “behind the curve” compared to Europeans when it comes to socialism, but not by much. You are greatly overstating your case.

  84. Ray
    January 9th, 2013 at 18:58 | #87

    @The Lurker
    That’s a nice quote for ‘famous last words’ – it’s indeed incredible that Romney isn’t in the White House at the moment :-). I agree to start talking about chess again and won’t try to come up with something even smarter than your last statement :-).

    Speaking about chess, although slightly off-topic: @Jacob / John: I was wondering what has happened to the series ‘ The cutting edge’? Do you still have plans to come with new titles, or rdid you decide to discontinue this concept? Thanks in advance for your reply!

  85. Jacob Aagaard
    January 9th, 2013 at 21:58 | #88

    @Ray
    http://xkcd.com/386/

    Don’t tell anyone, but it basically did not sell. But not to worry, Everyman has copied it and called it something else, just as they did with the SOS. However, I think this time it will be less successful.

  86. Ray
    January 11th, 2013 at 10:07 | #89

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks for your reply – a pity it didn’t sell well, because I liked them! I guess you’re right the Everyman copy is’n doing too well either – I don’t see any new plans, while they seem to be pushing the ‘move by move’ concept quite strongly.

    By the way, funny link :-).

  87. gewgaw
    January 12th, 2013 at 01:49 | #90

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @Patrick
    Without debating details, I would say that your way of thinking is not far from mine. A common problem is definitely what to include and what to cut. To me this is one of the great problems with the Grandmaster Preparation series. It is just not aimed at 1800-2000s, but for 2100-2400s. I do know that players of this level can get quite a lot from these books, but they have to understand that they are not written for them and that a lot of the things are obvious to stronger players, which for them is a mystery. After all, a player rated rated about 135 points more than another (say 2200 vs. 2065) is twice as good according to the main way we have of measuring this, the rating system. This means mainly that those players find things harder to solve and at times need more detail than can be provided. But just as I can understand a lot of high level macro-economics, when explained by very intelligent people, there is just no way I can do it or will ever understand everything. I understand that this is because I am quite a bit away from PHD level of economics. In the same way, a player rated 2060 will have to double his strength three times before he becomes a grandmaster. This does not mean that there are not many valuable lessons for him to learn in a book about how to become a GM, but honestly (and I know this will hurt my royalties), the Yusupov series is the first thing I would recommend him if he was my student. Please don’t force me to say this publically again .

    Never heard of this formula.
    If the formula works linear, Magnus has twice the knowledge of a 2700 elo player??!

  88. Jacob Aagaard
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:17 | #91

    @gewgaw
    Sure you have. It is a part of a system developed by Dr Elo.

    If your expected score is 67% against an opponent, you are by common game theory definition, twice as good as your opponent. Remember, your expected score against other opponents will be twice that of your opponent.

    This is 135 points.

  89. Patrick
    January 16th, 2013 at 16:51 | #92

    @gewgaw
    I can confirm what Jacob has just said with statistics alone. Let’s take myself. I have 161 games against players 2100 to 2199 with a career record of 26 wins, 40 draws, and 94 losses for a 28.7% score. Now early on, a lot of this was when I was 1800 to 1900, so I’d expect a lot of losses. However, I had a brief spike to 2090 in mid-2008 (I simply had a spectacular 2008 US Open in Dallas), but then fell back down to where I really was at the time, low 2000s. I spent 2009 thru early 2012 in the low 2000s with peaks around 2050 and valleys around 2005 to 2010. In late 2012, after studying more middlegame books and fewer opening books, I’m sitting steady in the upper 2000s (i.e. 2060 to 2090 range), likely to offically break 2100 shortly. Here is a sequence of results by me from the 41 games I played from 2009 to 2012 specifically against players rated 2100 to 2199:

    2009 – LLLDLLLDDDDW (3.5/12)
    2010 – LLLWL (1/5)
    2011 – LDDWLWLDLD (4/10)
    2012 – LLDDWWWWLWWWWL (9/14)

    A grand total of 17.5/41 (42.6%), but notice the significant difference between being 2020 and 2080 by seeing that 8 of those 17.5 points come in June thru December 2012. Imagine twice that difference!

  90. January 20th, 2013 at 04:16 | #93

    Hi Jacob…This book has been awesome for my game..Those”positional excersises ” were my favorite feature in Chess magazine and it was a fantastic Idea make a whole book from them!
    hs In the last 2 months ,I won several events in New York land New England (one of them with a 5-0 score against average rating over 2100);and it saves one so much clock time when you get in the habit of answering those 3 questions! Hey Vijay! when you complain because Mssr. Aagard didnt mention …Bxh4,…Qh6 etc….remember the books title..its not “Master preperation” 🙂

  91. January 20th, 2013 at 04:18 | #94

    please excuse my spelling errors:-)

  92. January 21st, 2013 at 05:17 | #95

    Please …no politics…only chess

  93. Jacob Aagaard
    January 23rd, 2013 at 21:29 | #96

    I hate it when the best book wins…

  94. BozoneSx
    February 18th, 2013 at 04:21 | #97

    I think the review was influenced a bit too much by the (very nice and provocative) book its author himself quotes more than once, i.e. “Move First Think Later”.
    The strange thing is that this book seems to be written in order to alert Chess literature’s readers about following too pedanticly what is written in their favourite readings, and it worked for all other books but the MFTL itself… How’s that one, as a vicious circularity?

    On the other hand, just some easy questions for The Lurker:
    You seem to think socilaism or social politics are “bad things” (booooo! scaaary!), and that your vision should be a step forward to some more advanced idea of the human society, but don’t you see how your line of thinking leads ultimately to anarchy? What’s the point of any commonly respected law if each individual is the king of his own solipsist reign? What can each individual call his own if nobody can even claim rights as basic as health and knowledge?
    Do I have to let you buy a pint with my money for you to understand that any organized society which is not even able to protect its components’ life is simply pointless?

    Maybe we need an engine of sort even in order to look with objectivity at our condition on this planet, and stop being so much influenced by mass the media propaganda (which yes is paid with “our money”, energy drained from our life as if humans were “workers”, “consumers”, “belivers”, “supporters”…): we’re letting ourself be convinced that White is winning in every line while the whole game is a theoretical draw.

    p.s.
    There is the same difference between liberism and liberalism as there is between relativity and relativism: one is the oppostie of the other. And this is not because of some difference in the use of the same words in different continents.

  95. April 30th, 2013 at 12:46 | #98

    Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  96. Jacob Aagaard
    April 30th, 2013 at 14:42 | #99

    @yuvarlakyuva.com.lv.iv.gd
    No idea. We did not know we were listed there.

  97. April 30th, 2013 at 16:41 | #100

    I assume that yuvarlakyuva.com.lv.iv.gd’s comment is robot spam, designed to generate more links to “his” site.

  98. Jacob Aagaard
    April 30th, 2013 at 16:44 | #101

    @dfan
    Gotcha!

  99. Victor
    March 30th, 2018 at 04:21 | #102

    Good night Maestro.
    Recently i buy , and read your book ” Positional play” , and i really can´t understand something, that really is very important to me because i lost many days trying to understand and come to nothing.
    in the introduction , in the game Ganguly – Aagaard , You call the move ”b3” of aesthethic move” because the move had no idea att all, ok this is easy to comprehend , but you continue in this way:
    ” Obviously White is
    intending to put his bishop on b2; which is
    sort of what White usually does in chis kind of
    position, right? The problem is, once you have
    put your bishop on b2 and your knight on d2,
    then what?
    These sort of “good-looking” moves without
    a plan are what aspiring players’ games are
    full of until they learn to analyse a position
    through other prisms than “I go there and he
    goes there” .

    This i don´t understand., why Bb2 and Cd2 can´t be considered a plan? improving the position of the pieces don´t are a kind of a plan? of course i perfectly understand that we don´t need to make pointless developing moves sometimes , but in this situation your comment seemed very abstract to me.. can you please explain this point? maybe i understand the word ” plan” wrongly?

    • Jacob Aagaard
      March 30th, 2018 at 08:20 | #103

      The question is obviously: then what? You can put the pieces on other squares, but you say it is an improvement of the pieces. Why is that so? This is the whole point. The pieces go to squares that through pattern recognition look good, but where they have no function. They have not been seriously improved, the pieces are not working together.

      I recognise that not everyone is at a level where this is immediately apparent, but this is a high level book, so I have the right to infer some things as being obvious. In other books, with other goals, we explain more basic things. The grandmaster preparation series is aimed at titled players or those who are hunting titles. Our number one recommendation to most of our readers is to look at the Yusupov books first. For most sub-2200 players, this is the place to go.

  100. Victor
    March 30th, 2018 at 10:20 | #104

    Perfect, very instructive asnwer , but in middlegame positions ,just moving one piece badly placed , to another square that the piece is more or less working , sometimes can be called a Plan ( Principle of worst placed piece )

    But in this situation you are saying that this is not about move a piece to a decent but pointless square, this had to be connection with the other pieces, So this is an specific concept that appears more from situations arising in the end of the Opening?

  101. Jacob Aagaard
    March 30th, 2018 at 14:38 | #105

    @Victor
    It is not a plan to improve a piece, although it is often very sensible.

    But are these squares better? The pieces have no function there and no great path to travel.

  102. Victor
    April 1st, 2018 at 04:42 | #106

    maestro, thank you Very much for your Nice explanation, i really understand your point, this standart normal moves dont have an Logical Sense in this particular position If not only for put the pieces in general aceptable squares, but in this situation not Very useful or linked with an idea., The problem here is that you suggest an solution for this particular case that is extremelly concrete, And you dont suggest a way to generally do It better., ” Then What ” is extremelly abstract in a big number of times, because then What can mean anything., Maybe in this case have to be with the necessity to look for pawn breaks in closed positions? You understand my point? I am try to fully understand this part of the book but i Fell that your explanation in this case can bem more clear, of course.. If you have patience for that thing.

  1. January 5th, 2013 at 18:04 | #1

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