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Sam Shankland in the news

Hi guys. I am in Delhi at the last day of a training camp with seven wonderful Indian ladies. It is a wonderful experience and I have to say that despite knowing most of them in advance, I have been blown away by the dedication, enthusiasm and skill these ladies possess. I should also add that each and every one of them are an excellent human being. David Llada correctly called me extremely lucky to be allowed to work with them. And yes, I am also getting paid…

I have commented on it only briefly on Facebook, but I have been very ill lately. I contracted a virus in Guwahati in December that totally floored me. A little boy was coughing on me for three hours from the front row of a lecture and I had a respiratory infection. I had blood tests, two treatments of antibiotics, X-rays and so on. For two months I was throwing up blood daily and felt unable to swallow or breathe. I had been down to 80.2 kg just before, but general frustration and depression with a never ending illness ruined both by fitness and my kitchen training.  I weigh around 87 kg at the moment and have been more vegetarian than vegan the last two months. Just because being vegan is difficult and my only focus was on managing to do the things I had to and delay the things I wanted to do.

My bet with Sam Shankland is famous by now. And so it he.

The current leader of the US Championship is at +5 going into the last round of the tournament.

His performance so far is nothing short of fantastic, even if not all moments have been great. For example, he missed a one move win yesterday:

But still managed to win the game slowly. Steady performance has indeed been the cornerstone of his performance.

Sam has also been a good poster boy for Quality Chess, remembering to mention his book constantly, as well as our website. If you live in the US you can get a signed copy from his website, if you live elsewhere, you can get an unsigned copy from our website, or your local chess specialist store.

The bet with Sam happened when I was visiting him in the Bay Area in 2016. We had lunch, watching the Euro Semi-finals. I suggested we bet the cost of lunch and took France. “But Germany is the best team in the World. They are the World Champions,” Sam said, apparently not understanding the curse of Sports Illustrated: Your best result is not your future results… Free lunch is tasty.

For the final I picked Portugal, but Sam refused. “F…ing tired of losing bets to you,” he said. When Ronaldo was taken to the hospital after 18 minutes I said: “You got to take it now…” He did and subsequently refused to ever do a bet with me.

So we have challenges instead. I have to get under 79.5 kg, which was my weight briefly in 1997 and the lowest I have weighed since the 1980s. He has to get past 2700. He has to write a book for us and I have to take him to a Wimbledon final.

I thought it was only £1500 per ticket. Boy was I wrong!

What about a Delhi cricket match instead Sam?

This is the view from the treadmill this morning. With Sam having overtaken some amazing players in the top 50, I have to work on my fitness.

So here I am, post work-out. At the moment I am just happy I can breathe again. I go on the treadmill for 20 minutes, put it on 5% incline (yeah, getting back into shape is an uphill struggle) and walk for 5 minutes (6km/h), then 4 minutes at 9km/h, walk for 2 minutes, then 3 minutes at 10 km/h, walk for 2, and 2 minutes at 11 km/h, before walking for 2 minutes and feeling desperately thirsty.

I intend to make it under 79.5 kg this year and claim that Giant Steps to Small Improvement was written solely for personal gain and that he needs to write another book for us. Partly because of my great achievement, and partly because I need help financing the Wimbledon tickets!!

Back to the chess!

Some rounds into the tournament Wesley So said that the winning score would be +3, maybe +4. Well, I guess World number 2, Fabiano Caruana would like that.

But it seems likely the winning score will be +5 or (hopefully) +6! Either way, outperforming the World no. 2 in 10 rounds of the strongest national championship of the World is a great feat and although I have a strong preference for how tonight’s game will go, I am proud and happy already.

In Caruana’s game in round 10 his opponent should have taken on e6 at move 12. It leads to interesting complications. What Caruana had planned to play (but not what he would have played, which is anyone’s guess) did not work out. He analysed it with Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan at the post game interview (I really like this relaxed format) and they missed a few funny continuations.

Maurice Ashley screamed for a bishop in best bughouse style, while cooler heads will notice that 19.Qf3! is a nice effective double threat. But can you find the forced mate?

A more relevant position for the understanding of the position arises here:

White clearly has a shot. Caruana wanted to go 18.Qh5 (xh6), which is strong, but leads to complications after 18…Qd7!-f5. White has something clearer, can you find it?

See the full game here.

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  1. HJG
    April 29th, 2018 at 09:02 | #1

    Not sure how well you’re plugging the book by naming it as ‘Giant Steps to Small Improvement’ in this post…

  2. Jacob Aagaard
    April 29th, 2018 at 12:20 | #2

    It is for people who have no humour… Call it a test

  3. SimonB
    April 29th, 2018 at 14:32 | #3

    First glance, Qh5+ looks like an obvious try.
    And seems to work. Yes?

  4. Jacob Aagaard
    April 29th, 2018 at 14:48 | #4

    It seems like a big investment without certainty?

  5. Krudos
    April 29th, 2018 at 17:21 | #5

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Ng5 with the idea hxg5 Qh5 looks more to the point to me?

  6. Jacob Aagaard
    April 29th, 2018 at 21:16 | #6

    @Krudos
    Int he second position, yes.

  7. tourist
    April 29th, 2018 at 21:43 | #7

    Congratulations to Sam Shankland on winning the 2018 #USChessChamps and have reached the 2700 club! Awesome job Aagaard!

  8. Frank
    April 29th, 2018 at 21:54 | #8

    1.Qh5+ looks correct to me after 10 min. e.g. 1.Qh5+ Kxh5 2.Bf7+ is a nice magnet ending with h3# or Bf5# or Rh4#. By the way, recover well and congratulations with Sam’s victory.

  9. Frank
    April 29th, 2018 at 22:00 | #9

    as an attempted world record of stupidly reacting to your own posts, I missed that Black could escape via f3 after Rf5+ and the calm Bxg6?? Kxh3 Rh5+ Kg4. @Frank

  10. Ray
    April 30th, 2018 at 06:00 | #10

    Sorry to hear about your health problems – it seems quite serious. I hope you have fully recovered!

  11. Seth
    April 30th, 2018 at 06:38 | #11

    Glad to hear you aren’t dead, Jacob. Continue to mend! Nice article.

  12. Jacob Aagaard
    April 30th, 2018 at 07:53 | #12

    I have recovered in the sense that I am healthy. Now it is time to regain the fitness. I think it will take up to six months.

  13. Pinpon
    April 30th, 2018 at 08:22 | #13

    Conclusion is that Indian ( King’s Indian ? ) attacks can be dangerous for White !

  14. Matias
    April 30th, 2018 at 11:47 | #14

    Hi there Jacob,

    My name is Matias (32)
    I started working with your books (GM Prep) last year and I feel that my game improved a lot!. I am really surprised about how your method (the 3 questions) of thinking led my chess understanding and intuition grow. Many thanks for that! Im now just waiting to be on Wewelsburg for your seminar!
    I recently finished the Positional play and Strategy books. Of course I didnt get the answer correctly on all of the excersises, but did quite well (And im waiting some time before trying again to solve the ones that I couldnt solve).
    Now im working on Calculation, and finding myself with less time during the week/weekend to sit, set the board and try to solve some excersises. Im thinking now about buying the book for the Forward Chess app and try to solve some excercises on my phone when I find the time (during lunch at work for example). As I was thinking about that, came with some questions to ask you:

    1- Is it useful/better/same to do the excercises on a 2d platform instead of on a real board?
    2- Im thinking that maybe when I do the exercises on 2d, would be difficult afterwards to transfer this knowledge/pattern recognition/visualization/Calculation skills on a real board, is this thought right?
    3- As I already bought the Calculation book (printed), do I have to pay again for the same product on the Forward Chess app?
    4- As I am waiting some time before trying to solve the wrong answered excercises on the Positional play and…

  15. Matias
    April 30th, 2018 at 12:03 | #15

    4- As I am waiting some time before trying to solve the wrong answered excercises on the Positional play and strategy books, could you recommend other books with excersises to continue working on Positional/strategy aspects?

    Im not sure if its correct to post this here, but didnt know where to do it.

    Many thanks in advance!

  16. An Ordinary Chessplayer
    May 1st, 2018 at 15:08 | #16

    “I have to get under 79.5 kg, which was my weight briefly in 1997”

    I am sure you know this already, but to go from 87 kg to 80 kg, then back to 87 kg, is far worse than to remain steady at 87 kg. Better to focus on nutrition and exercise and only change the weight in a sustainable way, or maybe not at all. Simply to replace some fat with muscle and remain at the same weight is a great goal. I mention this for the benefit of your readers.

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