The Lazy World Champion?

In the 60 minutes segment on Magnus Carlsen a few years ago Friedrich Friedel (the journalist behind www.chessbase.com) called Carlsen a bit lazy. Others have tried to put this label on the new World Champion, but I personally never bought it. And if you checked the recent Norwegian documentary on Carlsen, you will at one point see Henrik Carlsen rubbish the claim, stating that Carlsen has looked as much at chess as anyone else of the same age.

The new World Champion is an excellent example of a number of abilities.

First of all, more than anything, incredible determination. In Chennai Carlsen was wrapped in a bubble with no contact with anyone outside his team. Even when he was relaxing in the bowling hall, his thoughts were on the match. A journalist and photographer tried to get a photo of Carlsen somewhere else than the playing hall. Espen Agdestein, Carlsen’s manager (and brother of Simen) saw the journalists and gave them two and a half minute to take a discreet photo, but the Indian bodyguards got to them before they got even a single snap.

Secondly he has a fantastic psyche. He is not made of Teflon as some people believed before London. We should not forget that people react differently to success and to failure. Roger Federer was always the greatest gentleman in tennis – while he was winning. After he stopped winning his behaviour was more erratic and less pleasant. With Carlsen we saw him react differently to playing the Candidates than to playing in Wijk aan Zee. What is important is not that Carlsen has an emotional experience under pressure, but that he managed to keep his focus in game 13 of the Candidates.

Anand was on the other hand not in control over his reaction to the pressure of playing Carlsen. When he did not take on b2 in game three, because it would probably be a draw anyway, he did not put pressure on his opponent, and he was not able to resist the pressure when it was applied to him.

Carlsen has said that his most difficult future opponents would be Kramnik and Caruana. Personally I believe in Kramnik in the Candidates in the spring. I also believe that we will have an entirely different match next time with a challenger that fears nothing and no one. The winner of the Candidates will have these abilities; because otherwise he will not be able to win it. For this reason I believe in Kramnik more than anyone, but also think that Topalov could come through, though he is not as strong as he was at one point.

Finally, it is a pleasure for me to announce that we have been working on a little side-project called Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne. It goes to the printer in a few days and will, with luck permitting, be presented at the London Chess Classic. It will be available everywhere else on the 18th December together with From GM to Top Ten and Grandmaster Repertoire 15 – The French Defence Volume Two.

9781906552220

  1. Ray
    November 25th, 2013 at 17:01 | #1

    Great to hear about your little side project! Do I see Kotronias’ name on the cover or am I mistaken?

  2. middlewave
    November 25th, 2013 at 17:03 | #2

    You are not mistaken.

  3. Paul Brøndal
    November 25th, 2013 at 17:27 | #3

    I am also absolutely convinced that Carlsen is far more fit than almost all other grandmasters. At this high level, I’m sure that fitness is important too!

  4. Jacob Aagaard
    November 25th, 2013 at 19:49 | #4

    It is not proven to be as important as people think these days. But sure it helps.

  5. Paul
    November 25th, 2013 at 20:17 | #5

    Excellent news. Is the book hardback only from the pricing?
    Is there also a chance the Polgar book could be at the Classic, given she is playing?

  6. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 09:23 | #6

    The book will be paperback, but with colour photos.

    Judit’s book will be pre-released at the Classic, hopefully so will the Carlsen book.

  7. wok64
    November 26th, 2013 at 09:52 | #7

    Jacob Aagaard :It is not proven to be as important as people think these days. But sure it helps.

    I would assume the higher rated the players the more small nuances will gain in importance and fitness for sure helps to maintain the level of concentration. Of course there are plenty of other factors impacting concentration. It would be interesting to know how many strong chess players are practicing meditation or similar techniques aiming at taming the mind.

    Very nice to see such a book published. The price looks a bit steep but Kotronias is known to deliver quality. Any information how many games will be in it?

  8. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 11:11 | #8

    @wok64
    The book will deal with London (selected games only) and the match in full. There are a few other games in it. But mainly the price reflects the high printing costs of a full cover book.

  9. Ray
    November 26th, 2013 at 12:59 | #9

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Presumably you mean full colour?

  10. JB
    November 26th, 2013 at 13:16 | #10

    A nice little surprise. I was there for the last day of the candidates, quite the exciting finish!

  11. JB
    November 26th, 2013 at 13:20 | #11

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Glad to hear you say this. I was starting to get a bit annoyed by the constant talk about the strength of Carlsen’s physical fitness without any proof of a direct correlation. Without naming names I’m sure we can all think of very very strong players with fantastic concentration who don’t exactly go daily to the gym.

  12. Paul Brøndal
    November 26th, 2013 at 14:12 | #12

    @JB
    I remember when I was a young guy, a fanatical smoker always talked about there being no evidence of smoking being detrimental to your health. However, even if there is no proof that fitness is a performance booster in chess I wonder why the top players in general try to stay fit; is it out of vanity or because it increases their chances of being able to concentrate for longer? Happy amateurs will beyond any doubt gain more from increased chess training compared to a very high fitness level. However, if you are a professional chess player, using hours on chess training combined with a good fitness level must be the the way to go. Eating healthy food combined with a nice amount of exercise should boost children’s performance, so why shouldn’t this rule be applied to chess players?

  13. Paul
    November 26th, 2013 at 14:23 | #13

    @JB
    ” Without naming names I’m sure we can all think of very very strong players with fantastic concentration who don’t exactly go daily to the gym.”

    I must confess I am struggling at the elite level -or even slightly below – to think of anyone who does not espouse physical fitness.

  14. JB
    November 26th, 2013 at 14:24 | #14

    @Paul Brøndal
    My question would simply be whether, beyond a good basic level of health, there are further benefits to chess playing strength in getting more and more physically fit. I’m not aware that there is currently any evidence for this and just felt that the issue was being overstated in a lot of commentaries surrounding the match.

  15. Paul Brøndal
    November 26th, 2013 at 14:41 | #15

    @JB
    OK, I don’t think we really disagree 🙂

  16. Paul
    November 26th, 2013 at 15:36 | #16

    @Paul Brøndal
    I think at my level (~2100) I would agree that an hour spent going through Axel Smiths book is generally going to be more beneficial than an hour at the treadmill. However, when you are pushing the elite level I think any small advantage you can get becomes key.

  17. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:07 | #17

    @Ray
    No. We will publish with only half a cover. (Yes of course I did).

  18. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:09 | #18

    @JB
    I see it as a case of diminishing returns. Topalov-Kramnik is the biggest example. Topalov was a fit sportsman. Kramnik was recovering from an illness. Kramnik was stronger later in the game. Why? Because he had trained thinking when tired, rather than trying not to be tired…

  19. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:15 | #19

    @Paul
    Really???

    Grischuk is a chain smoker and does no fitness, I would guess.
    Nakamura is hardly super fit.
    Caruana does not look like he can actually castle without help from the arbiter.
    Ivanchuk is growing a bit.

    And there are others, some of which I will not mention. I would actually say that in top 10 the fit players are close to be in a minority.

    Obviously it helps. But does it help as much as studying rook endings or analysing the Queen’s Gambit? The jury is out.

    Regarding smoking: the first thing statistical analysis did in medicin was to surprise everyone showing that 95% of all lung cancer was related to smoking. This was around 1950 I think. When did your friend come with his crap?

    Everyone agrees that keeping fit is good for chess, but it is not as big a part of the story as it is in all other sports (though it is less the case with darts, if the tv-trailers are anything to go by)…

  20. Ray
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:48 | #20

    @Jacob Aagaard
    And if we go a little bit further back in time: Karpov and Korchnoi weren’t that fit either; neither was Timman…

  21. Ray
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:48 | #21

    @Jacob Aagaard
    🙂 I was already worrying 🙂

  22. Indra Polak
    November 26th, 2013 at 16:59 | #22

    I thought it would be obvious that being healthy and in good shape helps with every activity that takes longer than a minute. As for the exact amount how much it will help (say how many elo points), that is a much more difficult question and probably also not really relevant.

    There are so many arguments (beside chess related ones) in favour of keeping your body (your temple!) in good shape that it is rarely a question of “why” but almost always of “how” or “when”.

  23. Peterm
    November 26th, 2013 at 17:53 | #23

    Nice project!

    Which games will be in the book, the match or more?

  24. Patrick
    November 26th, 2013 at 18:27 | #24

    Peterm :Nice project!
    Which games will be in the book, the match or more?

    See post #8 – It’s every game from the match, and each game that Aagaard lost in his chess career, with a synopsis at the end of why Carlsen is world champion and not Aagaard! 🙂

  25. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 18:29 | #25

    @Peterm
    The Match startes at page 175

  26. Jacob Aagaard
    November 26th, 2013 at 18:30 | #26

    @Indra Polak
    Sure. But if you try to improve your chess in the gym mainly, you will be sorely disappointed…

  27. Paul
    November 26th, 2013 at 19:01 | #27

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Grischuk I grant you.
    Didn’t Nakamura climb Denali last year (I know he was planning to)? Which is not a million miles from Everest in terms of test of both physical and mental endurance. He always seems to be playing tennis from twitter, and I would not confuse being overweight with having physical stamina;
    Caruana – interview with whychess confirms he goes to gym every day, or at least tries;
    Ivanchuk – exception in more ways than one;
    I think Adams credited a large part of increase in rating once he got to a certain level to his purchase of a rowing machine.

    But I would repeat, at elite levels of anything it is all about looking for that extra 5% – my own chess strength benefits a million times more from reading (for example) Axel Smith’s book than an hour on the treadmill.

  28. Ray
    November 27th, 2013 at 08:58 | #28

    @Paul
    And then there’s always the placebo-effect of course to take into account…

  29. pabstars
    November 27th, 2013 at 09:17 | #29

    @Ray
    Just to totally confuse matters, I’ll answer this one as we are two Pauls in the thread. Sure, it could very well be a placebo effect but who really cares if it works for them. Maybe Anand was thinking about how horrible it was to confront a guy who was so fit and just thought ‘He will just keep on and on torturing me in rook endgames because he knows I haven’t done my workouts and therefore I am so tired and exhausted; Oh no, now I blundered again. I should have used the treadmill more frequently’ 🙂

    Jacob, the guy I wrote about concerning smoking was definitely not my friend. Btw, I recollect that even Karpov, who was considered physically extremely weak played quite a bit of table tennis to avoid being totally unfit for his matches against Korchnoi. You could argue that he was probably lying as it was unlikely that he could carry a table tennis bat…

  30. Marvel
    November 27th, 2013 at 09:45 | #30

    I wonder what you guys think about the food of a chess player.
    Carlsen recently said he avoids quick carbs close to the game.
    I think Kramnik said during the World Cup 2013 that suger was absolutely necessary to keep your concentration up.
    I personally is a big fan of a low carbohydrate diet, on a daily basis and during normal days I gladly keep my amount of carbs down to about 20 grams/day. I eat lots of protein and fats.
    What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting as a chess player?
    I’ve also experienced trouble concentrating while playing chess tournaments on a low-carb diet.

  31. Indra Polak
    November 27th, 2013 at 10:57 | #31

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I agree. Whenever I face the question of how to spend some spare hour to improve my chess, I confess I am never thinking about fysical exercise, and always in the lines of studying or solving chess exercises.

  32. middlewave
    November 27th, 2013 at 12:25 | #32

    @Paul
    This is good news for Jacob; I believe he also owns a rowing machine 🙂

  33. Peterm
    November 27th, 2013 at 12:58 | #33

    Jacob,
    Does Magnus also use your books with lots of exercises?

  34. Ray
    November 27th, 2013 at 12:59 | #34

    @Marvel
    I’m recommending a paleo-diet :-).

  35. Indra Polak
    November 27th, 2013 at 13:09 | #35

    @Peterm
    Magnus does not need to improve; he already is the best 🙂

  36. pabstars
    November 27th, 2013 at 13:31 | #36

    @middlewave
    I thought it was a treadmill. Maybe he owns a gym for chess players; at least the books contain a lot of exercise(s)…

  37. Jacob Aagaard
    November 27th, 2013 at 14:02 | #37

    @pabstars
    But maybe the ball? He would have played with his hands only…

  38. GM Rob
    November 27th, 2013 at 14:06 | #38

    Indra Polak :
    @Peterm
    Magnus does not need to improve; he already is the best

    The first day you think you do not need to improve is the first day on the road to ruin

  39. Jacob Aagaard
    November 27th, 2013 at 14:07 | #39

    @Marvel
    Sugar in the blood creates a fuzzy head as far as I am concerned. I know Kramnik had his bounty-tripple bar for every game. He clearly believed it. Who am I to disagree with big Vlad? (though I am sceptical…)

    @Peterm
    He is trained by Hammer, who have a lot of our books and Peter Heine Nielsen, who previously gave 100s or maybe even 1000s of my exercises to Anand. I have no knowledge of him trying to solve anything else than positions from Nunn’s ENDGAME CHALLENGE, though I am sure he has been through all good books at some point. In the foreword for our book Agdestein explains that Carlsen worked incredibly hard.

  40. Peterm
    November 27th, 2013 at 16:25 | #40

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks!
    I can understand why Carlsen studied the engame book from Nunn. Because your book on endgame is still not available………!!

  41. November 27th, 2013 at 16:55 | #41

    So how much ‘insider information’ do you have in the book if you’ve got Agdestein feeding you information?! 🙂

  42. Marvel
    November 27th, 2013 at 17:20 | #42

    @Ray

    Have you tried a paleo-diet on and off the chessboard? If so, I’m very interested in hearing about your experiences and thoughts.

    Jacob, have you tried “lavkarbokost?” 🙂

  43. Paul Brondal
    November 27th, 2013 at 18:38 | #43

    @Marvel
    If you don’t dislike this type of food, you could also go for a vegetarian diet. I find the food delicious. The best ultra runner ever, I assume, Scott Jurek, won a hell of alot of races on avegan diet, so it will give you some endurance power!

  44. Ray
    November 27th, 2013 at 18:53 | #44

    @Marvel
    No sorry, I was just joking. I just had a discussion with some colleagues of mine yesterday during lunch. It seemed like a religion to me, not scientificly proven… The idea is that you’re not allowed to eat “recent” food (such as e.g. bread) sinceour metabolism hasn’t had time to adapt yet (so we’re stopping evolution), but I was confused since heating your food is allowed (fire apparently has been invented long enough ago) and peanuts are not allowed for to me unclear reasons. Anyway, a placebo effect is also an effect I guess :-).

  45. Marvel
    November 27th, 2013 at 19:06 | #45

    @Paul Brondal
    Sorry, but I love my juicy steak too much 😀 Axel Smith is a vegetarian but I actually haven’t asked him if he thinks it affects his chess in any way.

    @Ray

    Oh okay 🙂 I haven’t read much about the paleo-diet, but I know it’s supposed to be quite similar to LCHF (which I’ve been trying for a while). I know that the wife of Axel Smith has tried the paleo diet for quite a while and she seemed pretty happy with it (and she does look very healthy). When I discussed carbs with her, she also realized all of her norms were collected when not eating a paleo-diet.

    As for me, I tried LCHF for the first time in February 2011 – May 2011 and went from 92 kg to 78 kg, so I think it works fine for me (not saying it works for everyone). Ever since then, I’ve tried to lose the last 10 kg with LCHF but since I always travel somewhere and play chess I’ve had to cancel my diet plans.
    My intention right now is to begin a “health month” from 6th of January to 16th February (when I have to play a tournament in Denmark). I intend to try some kind of LCHF+intermittent fasting combined with going to the gym regularly.

  46. November 28th, 2013 at 02:07 | #46

    Dear Jacob

    I have read your comments about “chess diet, health and training” approach. I would like you to ask which statements are true (in your view):
    1) You should not train your body as it does not give you anything
    2) You should not train your body as it does give you just a bit of chess strenght (2-3% of overall real chess strenght/power)
    3) You should not expect improvement that comes from training your body – or at least no more than 2-3% of overall chess strenght
    4) other views (please specify)

    Thank you in advance for your explanations. I would be glad to read what you think about it – as I am going to check out this topic and compare your views with my experience (as much as knowledge and observations).

  47. Jonas
    November 28th, 2013 at 08:39 | #47

    Train your body is good for your general health… while it doesn’t help directly to your chess strength, it definitely helps you to feel better generally. Can’t be bad in my opinion.
    Especially useful is condition training (e.g. body attack, look for it on youtube…), as imho it helps you to stay concentrated in a game which lasts many hours.

  48. Jacob Aagaard
    November 28th, 2013 at 10:35 | #48

    @John Hartmann
    Simen was not feeding us anything. He wrote the foreword.

  49. Jacob Aagaard
    November 28th, 2013 at 10:42 | #49

    @Marvel
    If we had to take a big discussion about diet, then we would get into a wasteland of very contradictionary evidence. I think the caveman diet makes some sense, but remember it is still based on an ideal of how to eat in a situation of scarcity. To think that this is necessarily the best way to eat is not obvious to me. What would the ideal diet be in a situation of abundance? Personally I am skeptical about the level of meat in the Paleo diet. I think there is plenty of evidence suggesting that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet (though I by no means practice this).

    Recent evidence suggests that the “cholesterol-based diseases” are in fact sugar/refined carb diseases. Cholesterol is only absorbed into the tissue if it is compromised and it is irritated and compromised by refined carbs/sugars in the blood stream.

    I believe in the based idea of the paleo diet; that we should not eat something that has been something else before. Sadly I do not practice it. If I drink nothing but fresh juices (mainly vegetables) for a few days, I feel 10 years younger. This does suggest to me that there is something about the idea that the body is being compromised even by the suggested standard diet.

    I do think refined carbs of any kind are bad for chess, but I am careful about putting it anywhere, as I have no credentials and because my reading has been unsystematic, though extensive.

  50. Jacob Aagaard
    November 28th, 2013 at 10:45 | #50

    @Ray
    There is extensive science. Only, because we live in a world where science is for sale, there is also extensive science suggesting that you can eat anything. If you read something like “The China Study” you might not be entirely convinced by the evidence and the science (I believe it to some extent, but do not find it conclusive or convincing), but you will definitely be shocked by the stories from medical science: Heart surgeons sending their spouses for “alternative treatment”, national food advisers for sale and so on. It is not what the book is about and it is hidden towards the end of it as an afterthought, but it is the most convincing part of the book.

  51. Jacob Aagaard
    November 28th, 2013 at 10:48 | #51

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    I would say that you should definitely train your body. There are a lot of reasons why. Maybe the improvement is 15-20%.

    But this will require a lot of work. If you have done this work on your endgame technique, the QGD or your calculation, you will probably also improve 15-20%.

    I think I want to write a post for in two weeks about this. Next week is of course the monthly exercise sheet!

  52. John Shaw
    November 28th, 2013 at 12:27 | #52

    A brief excerpt of “Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne” is now available.
    http://www.qualitychess.co.uk/products/1/217/carlsen

    Please note that the book is now a hardcover with many colour photographs. Originally it was planned as a paperback in black and white, but, as we edited, we decided we liked it too much not to print it in the format we prefer.

  53. Ray
    November 28th, 2013 at 12:46 | #53

    @John Shaw
    Looks great! There seems to be an error though in one of the diagrams: I see two black-squared bishops for white, one on d4 and one on e5…

  54. wok64
    November 28th, 2013 at 12:49 | #54

    Please note that the book is now a hardcover with many colour photographs. Originally it was planned as a paperback in black and white, but, as we edited, we decided we liked it too much not to print it in the format we prefer.

    Great news! I very much prefer the hardcover. Up to now I was undecided, now it’s a clear buy for me.

  55. John Johnson
    November 28th, 2013 at 14:04 | #55

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the American QC blog members and lurkers, and to the rest of you fellows as well.

  56. John Shaw
    November 28th, 2013 at 14:38 | #56

    Ray :
    @John Shaw
    Looks great! There seems to be an error though in one of the diagrams: I see two black-squared bishops for white, one on d4 and one on e5…

    Thanks Ray. One of the authors just mentioned the same thing. I am talking to the printer right now to make a rapid change before they start printing.

    Typical: if there is a huge mistake in a book, we will select it for the excerpt.

  57. Ray
    November 28th, 2013 at 16:02 | #57

    @John Shaw
    You can’t beat Murphy’s law 🙂

  58. November 28th, 2013 at 16:20 | #58

    Can you say a little about the ‘Match Preparations’ section? Is it purely speculative?

  59. ChessBookLover
    November 28th, 2013 at 17:23 | #59

    If there is still room for corrections here comes some nitpicking (nothing that would annoy your average reader):
    * In the Contents there seem to be inconsistent capitalization of the chapter headings in part 4.
    * Should it really be “Who is in the photographs?” – and not “Who are”?
    * It should be Magnus’ – not Magnus’s (3 instances in Foreword)
    * On page 104, second column there should be a full stop after 30.Qxf8+ Kh7.

  60. John Shaw
    November 29th, 2013 at 11:33 | #60

    @ChessBookLover

    I love a good nitpick, but all 4 cases you mention are as we intended them to be.

    ‘In the Contents there seem to be inconsistent capitalization of the chapter headings in part 4.’

    Yes, there is, but we like it that way. It looks better as it is, we hope – actually, the capitalization changed back and forth throughout the final day. Colin arguing for consistency, but outvoted by those who went by appearance – “need” or “Need” could be a heated debate.

    ‘Should it really be “Who is in the photographs?” – and not “Who are”?’

    I prefer “is” in this case, as we chose.

    ‘It should be Magnus’ – not Magnus’s (3 instances in Foreword)’

    No, it shouldn’t, at least not according to the rule I like. I would pronounce that word “Magnuses” so that’s how we punctuate it.

    ‘On page 104, second column there should be a full stop after 30.Qxf8+ Kh7.’

    No, not according to the way we lay out our books. If after a colon there are chess moves but no words, we treat it as “not a sentence” so no full stop needed. Sure, you could do it differently, but that style helps our books have a cleaner look, with fewer little dots everywhere (and think of the money we save on ink).

  61. wok64
    November 29th, 2013 at 13:18 | #61

    … (and think of the money we save on ink).

    Finally I understand how you determine the price of your books 🙂

  62. ChessBookLover
    November 29th, 2013 at 14:25 | #62

    @John Shaw

    Thanks for your interesting reply.

    My first two issues were more questions than corrections. As you are better informed than me, I have nothing to add.

    When it comes to Magnus’ or Magnus’s I see that this is more complicated than I thought. Moreover, I must admit that my preference seems to be losing ground. When looking up in Wikipedia (that ultimate source of wisdom), I noticed the following curious conclusion on “Singular nouns ending with an “s” or “z” sound:”
    “The Supreme Court of the United States is split on whether a possessive singular noun that ends with s should always have an additional s after the apostrophe, sometimes have an additional s after the apostrophe (for instance, based on whether the final sound of the original word is pronounced /s/ or /z/), or never have an additional s after the apostrophe. The informal majority view (5–4, based on past writings of the justices) has favored the additional s, but a strong minority disagrees.”

    I am happy to have learned something new and must concede that my ‘correction’ would not have improved the text but possibly made it look more old-fashioned.

    Only regarding my final issue I insist to disagree. As an editor you are of course in your full right to set your own lay-out rules as long as you are consistent. This is in particular so when it comes to chess moves (your undisputed field of competence). Nevertheless I find that this rule decreases readability. If you want to reduce the number of little dots, my candidates would be those after the move numbers. They may have a historical or logical justification but add very little information.

  63. Paul Brøndal
    November 29th, 2013 at 14:55 | #63

    @John Shaw
    Sorry, but why are you using Who is in the photographs? I see the logic in this if you refer to one person but surely not if there are several people in the photos. Who is the nice person who gave me such a nice present? Who are the nice persons who gave me such a nice present?

  64. John Shaw
    November 29th, 2013 at 15:14 | #64

    @Paul Brøndal

    I see “Who” as a singular noun (so “is” not “are”) that refers to the group of people who are in the photographs. Others may see it differently.

  65. Ray
    November 29th, 2013 at 15:18 | #65

    @ChessBookLover
    Interesting to hear that the Supreme Court of the United States is passing judgments on such pressing matters :-). By the way, one shouldn’t forget John is Scottish… Aren’t there many differences between British English and American English? I have the feeling somehow that the British would argue that the Supreme Court of the United States does not have jurisdiction on their language.

  66. ChessBookLover
    November 29th, 2013 at 15:42 | #66

    @Ray

    There may indeed be more authorative guides to the proper use of plural forms than the informal majority of the US Supreme Court. Anyway it’s good to know that someone took the trouble to count.

  67. Ray
    November 29th, 2013 at 18:31 | #67

    @ChessBookLover
    Probably on a no-cure-no-pay basis 🙂

  68. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    December 1st, 2013 at 13:24 | #68

    ### off topic question for Nikos or Jacob ###

    Hi guys, I see that in January we’ll have GM Repertoire Classical Slav for Black by Avrukh. Since I’m playing The Tarrasch according to your repertoire, can you please tell me if it’s advisable to combine Slav with Tarrasch? And how about theory heaviness etc.

    Thanks for sincere answer 🙂

  69. Jacob Aagaard
    December 1st, 2013 at 15:56 | #69

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    Yes, this is an excellent idea.

  70. Gilchrist is a Legend
    December 1st, 2013 at 21:03 | #70

    @Ray
    No discussion necessary if it were like Dutch: no “this is/these are” or “that is/those are”, but simply, “Dit zijn” and “Dat zijn”….

  71. tony
    December 1st, 2013 at 22:53 | #71

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    @Ray
    No discussion necessary if it were like Dutch: no “this is/these are” or “that is/those are”, but simply, “Dit zijn” and “Dat zijn”….

    you are wrong

  72. KIA Fan
    December 2nd, 2013 at 11:57 | #72

    John Shaw :
    @Paul Brøndal
    I see “Who” as a singular noun (so “is” not “are”) that refers to the group of people who are in the photographs. Others may see it differently.

    I don’t mean to argue with anyone or get into a debate but you just said the following
    “refers to the group of people who ARE in the photographs”
    I thought you thought ‘IS’ was more appropriate? 🙂

    My English is obviously not the best but it is just something I noticed.

  73. ray
    December 2nd, 2013 at 12:53 | #73

    @tony
    Indeed – ‘this is’ translates as ‘dit is’, whereas ‘these are’ translates as ‘dit zijn’. So it’s basically the same in Dutch and English.

  74. ray
    December 2nd, 2013 at 12:59 | #74

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I think the Tarrasch Defence is a fascinating opening, and I’ve also considered taking it up, but to be honest I have been off by 6.dxc5, which to my taste is highly annoying and becoming more and more popular (it is e.g. recommended by Kornev in his reportoire book). I rather face the French Exchange than 6.dxc5 in the Tarrasch :-).

  75. Indra Polak
    December 2nd, 2013 at 13:24 | #75

    Only by facing our greatest fears we will overcome them. So if you can beat the 6.dxc5 line, you can beat any line! And: fear is healthy. Before you will play it you will put extra effort to make sure you will not end up in a losing position “out of the opening”.

  76. John Shaw
    December 2nd, 2013 at 14:04 | #76

    @KIA Fan

    ‘I don’t mean to argue with anyone or get into a debate but you just said the following “refers to the group of people who ARE in the photographs” I thought you thought ‘IS’ was more appropriate?’

    Different sentence, different situation. “The group of people who are” is “are” because “people” is plural, nothing to do with “who” or “group”. For example: “the person who is” would be a correct phrase.

    I think the confusion is that a word that is singular can refer to many people. “This group is the best ever.”

  77. Jacob Aagaard
    December 2nd, 2013 at 15:12 | #77

    @ray
    We gave our view. I am not sure it has changed greatly. We will see what we put together for the Forward Chess edition.

  78. Paul
    December 2nd, 2013 at 17:24 | #78

    @Jacob Aagaard
    The Forward Chess editionis of your books are updates, rather than 100% reprints of the physical versions?

  79. Jacob Aagaard
    December 2nd, 2013 at 18:19 | #79

    @Paul
    Generally not, but in this case the author has a lot of updates ready.

  80. Patrick
    December 2nd, 2013 at 20:13 | #80

    Wow – A chess publishing site arguing about English and the use of is vs are. It’s not that difficult guys:

    Is: “is” is used when referring to a single person in the third person, like “He is going to the store” or “She is going to school”, or identifying specifically a single object, like “There is my car” or “There is an apple in the picture” or “Who is going to be the next President of the United States?”

    Are: “are” is used when referring to a single person in the second person, like “You are wearing green today”, referring to multiple people in the first person, “We are all over age 30”, second person, “All of you are annoying me”, or third person, “They are all playing a horrible defense called the Najdorf Sicilian”, or it can be used in identifying multiple objects or people in a statement OR question! That can be anything like “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” or “There are 5 apples on that plate”.

    Therefore, with the argument about using “Who is” vs “Who are” to refer to a picture, it depends on the number of people. If it is “specifically” referring to a single person, then you use “is”, like “This is the person who IS in charge of the organization”. If the picture shows more than one person that the statement applies to, or if the number of people is unknown, then you use are, like “These are the people who ARE in charge of the organization”. A case of unknown quantity might be “Those who are taking this medication should not drink alcohol.” It doesn’t matter if only one person on the planet is currently taking such a medication, the fact that more than one can be taking it makes “are” the proper pronoun, not “is”, in that case.

  81. Patrick
    December 2nd, 2013 at 20:17 | #81

    In addition:

    It also depends on how you refer to the people in a picture. If there are 5 people in the picture, and all of those people are part of one group, it depends on how you refer to them. For example, if you have 6 people in a highschool chess club, it depends on whether you refer to the multiple people, or the single group.

    These “are” the members of the Glasgow Highschool Chess Club (The are refers to the 6 people, plural, in one club)
    This “is” the Glasgow Highschool Chess Club and it contains 6 members (The is refers to the 1 club, singluar, that has 6 people)

  82. Gilchrist is a Legend
    December 2nd, 2013 at 20:44 | #82

    @ray
    I guess I meant the oppositie–“dit is” and “dit zijn” both use “dit” for “this” and “these”–i.e. in English one cannot say, “This are”, but maybe that is a different topic.

  83. Remco G
    December 2nd, 2013 at 23:01 | #83

    @Gilchrist is a Legend: no no, I think it would make perfect sense to have QC base their grammar decisions on literal translations from Dutch.

  84. The Lurker
    December 2nd, 2013 at 23:36 | #84

    To confuse things more… some might say “Quality Chess are producing some fine books”, where “Quality Chess” is considered a plural because it consists of more than one person. Others would say “Quality Chess is producing some fine books”, where “Quality Chess” would be considered a collective singular. Americans normally use the latter.

  85. Gilchrist is a Legend
    December 3rd, 2013 at 01:12 | #85

    @Remco G
    Who knows, but Anglophones must first learn proper pronunciation with Dutch if they wanted to do so anyway. Too many times I hear “Amsterdam” without the proper stress on the last syllable, or “Schiphol” pronounced like “Skiphol” without the true “ch” pronunciation. Granted, I have a Haagsche (Den Haag) accent, but still.

    I believe that in Afrikaans, they simplified the conjugation so drastically that one can even say “Wij is” instead of standard Dutch “Wij zijn”, which is English for “We are”. Then they also have “Jullie is” and “Sy is” instead of Dutch “Jullie zijn” and “Zij zijn”. Or, in English, “You (pl.) is”, “They is”.

    However, literally translating “Het zijn” into English? Now that would truly be nice.

  86. tony
    December 3rd, 2013 at 01:38 | #86

    Gilchrist is a Legend :
    I believe that in Afrikaans, they simplified the conjugation so drastically that one can even say “Wij is” instead of standard Dutch “Wij zijn”, which is English for “We are”. Then they also have “Jullie is” and “Sy is” instead of Dutch “Jullie zijn” and “Zij zijn”. Or, in English, “You (pl.) is”, “They is”.

    it’s way more fun: it’s “ons is”, “julle is” and “hulle is”

  87. Ray
    December 3rd, 2013 at 07:56 | #87

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I was wondering whether these updates will also be available for non-Forward Chess users? I don’t own a tablet nor a smartphone, so it would be a pity if that would mean foreclosure from the new material :-(.

  88. Jacob Aagaard
    December 3rd, 2013 at 09:37 | #88

    @Ray
    Yes, they are not secret. Most are in the newsletter catch-up file already.

  89. Jacob Aagaard
    December 3rd, 2013 at 09:45 | #89

    @Patrick
    Sadly, you are wrong. Being a linguist by education, I can say for sure that things are far more complicated than that. There are abstract singular and abstract plural which will confuse things. Also, in certain situations, in English, the standard patterns do not apply.

    My intuitive pull is also towards “are”, when thinking about it, but wrote the headline and wrote “is”. John, Andrew and Colin all agreed it was correct. We debated it before printing.

    Grammar is complicated, especially when you go into deeper grammar such as Talmy, Langacker, Eco, Brandt and Fouconnier. It is also profoundly fascinating, but it is one distraction I will avoid today…

  90. Ralph
    December 17th, 2013 at 13:11 | #90

    But I agree, for an amateur chessplayer, studdying good books is much more efficient than physical workouts.
    From Michael Schumacher I know, he was an amateur cyclist on a very high level. I think for formula 1 drivers physical fitness is essenital to hold their concentration at the peak for a whole race.
    Of course in a chess tournament physical fitness not only helps avoiding inaccuracies from tiredness, it also helps to recover from long games. Additionally, after a work out in the late afternoon you will sleep very well.

  91. Chris
    December 18th, 2013 at 11:56 | #91

    It is mentioned by Jaacob in the comments the Carlsen book is paperback, but if you order it, it only displays hardcover. Which one is true?

  92. John Shaw
    December 18th, 2013 at 14:20 | #92

    Chris :
    It is mentioned by Jaacob in the comments the Carlsen book is paperback, but if you order it, it only displays hardcover. Which one is true?

    “Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne” is hardback only, with over a hundred colour photos inside. When Jacob made the comment you mentioned, the plan was to print in black-and-white and paperback. We changed our mind because we liked the content and wanted to print in our favourite format. Paperbacks are fine, but I prefer hardbacks.

  93. Mark Moorman
    February 13th, 2014 at 16:17 | #93

    I think there would be a certain clarifying justice to Kramnik next. It would allow Carlsen a chance to tackle the “Old Guard” first and then maybe move on to younger opponents like Aronian, Caruana, or Vachier- Lagrave ( I throw in a future prediction). There is a lot of talk of Carlsen as the “greatest of all time.” I’m curious where you stand on this issue, and allied ones. Such as, how do we meaningfully compare greats from the past with today, eg, Capablanca or Fischer with MC?? Has there been rating inflation?? Do computers render such comparisons impossible??

  94. Jacob Aagaard
    February 13th, 2014 at 18:27 | #94

    @Mark Moorman
    What about rating difference to the no. 2, 3, 5 and 10? Anyone out there wanting to do the donkey work?

    I am deeply impressed by Carlsen and the greatest ever accolade has a lot to do with the fact that he does not win his games in the opening; which impresses a lot of people. Essentially, he is not relying on seconds and computers to do the work for him. He outplays people at the board – just like Karpov used to do.

    Any definition of “greatest ever” will probably be flawed, as it cannot be objective. It will always be influenced by your sensibilities. My greatest ever is Kasparov. Longest modern reign, greatest chess to watch. Not very scientific.

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