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The Afek Masterpiece is finally out

Wow, we worked a lot on this book. I spent a decade pressuring Afek to write this book. We even had a contract that he asked to get out of. But finally it is here, the book I dreamt of. This is an obvious candidate from Quality Chess for book of the year.

I know that studies is not to everyone’s taste. What I like about Afek’s creation is that they both have the beauty of studies and the game-like feel I enjoy. Actually, Afek included a study we made together, based on my analysis of a game by a young Carlsen.

If you want to test yourself, I have a small problem for you here.

White to play and win (move 3 of a study)

You can find the solution to this problem in the last example of the PDF excerpt.

  1. Matthew
    November 28th, 2018 at 22:48 | #1

    One question – who decides on which illustrator to use for the cover design (for the non-GM Repertoire books)?

    Not so taken with this one, but could get used to it.

    Would be interested to hear other views as to favourite QC cover design. Mine is Learn from Legends followed by Positional Decision Making. Worst – Grandmaster Battle Manual (sorry but I am not sure what you were thinking with that one).

  2. lindokuhle
    November 28th, 2018 at 23:00 | #2

    amazing study. took me 20min to get the solution wrong.

  3. Andrew Greet
    November 29th, 2018 at 10:27 | #3

    @Matthew

    John and Jacob decide between them which illustrator to use, although we often discuss possible cover ideas as a group.

    I wasn’t sure about the Afek cover design to begin with, but it has grown on me – although I still think it looks a bit like a Christmas card! Does that make it even more suitable as a Christmas gift?!

    It’s hard to pick a single favourite cover of ours, but Mayhem in the Morra, Woodpecker, and the GM Preparation series (which I group together, as they all feature variations of a concept by the same artist) would all have to be somewhere near the top of my list.

  4. Jacob Aagaard
    November 29th, 2018 at 10:33 | #4

    @Matthew
    Very often I come up with ideas, although I prefer it when other people have ideas. We work with 2-4 designers. This one was an idea by Kallia and John and they ran with it. I wanted to go in a different direction, but the author and everyone else in the office wanted this, so that’s that.

    Woodpecker was all me. Kramnik was all John. Small Steps was 90% me. Sharp Endgames all external. My books all external. Chess Behind Bars, external. Chess Structures, John and Andrew. KID Warfare, Andrew and I. Python Strategy, team effort, but mostly Andrew and John. Bad bishops, my title and external effort. Mating the Castled King and Pump up Your Rating, all me.

    I would like to say that when I look at the front covers of novels, I find that they are often incredibly dull. I am happy to compare our little indie publishing house to Little and Brown or any big publisher that has a big budget for their covers. This does not mean we get it right every time. But most of all, we try not to be boring.

  5. Stephen
    November 29th, 2018 at 15:21 | #5

    From the excerpt, the solutions are immediately below the diagrams. Are there any sections of the book where solutions are kept apart like the Yusupov series, quality chess puzzle book etc?
    Maybe it’s just my poor discipline, but if I want to train with a book like this I can imagine I’d end up peeking at a lot of the solutions (semi)unintentionally 🙂

  6. Markus
    November 30th, 2018 at 01:40 | #6

    Hi!

    This looks very interesting. I’m looking for a study book and this just showed up at the right time. I don’t like the fact that the puzzle and the solution are on the same page. The probability to accidentally peak on the solution when putting the position on the board is therefore quite high.

    Why did you decide against the format from e.g. Mating the Castled King? Or is it just not visible in the excerpt?

    Cheers & Keep up the good work. I have never been disappointed by a book by Quality Chess before 🙂

  7. Jacob Aagaard
    November 30th, 2018 at 09:11 | #7

    Some studies are examples, some are exercises. When they are exercises, the moves are not at the same page.

  8. Andrew Greet
    November 30th, 2018 at 10:55 | #8

    @Markus
    In addition to Jacob’s comment, I would add that this book is first and foremost aimed at sharing the pleasure and beauty of Afek’s studies. Each chapter flows much better with the studies and solutions alongside each other (with the exception of the exercise section of course). Afek often explains how a certain concept from one study inspired him to create something new using a similar theme, and readers will appreciate this sort of thing much more when the solutions are in the main chapter.
    In short, this book is more about reader enjoyment than hardcore solving – but should you wish to challenge yourself in this way, you still have the option of covering each page and revealing it line by line.

  9. JB
    November 30th, 2018 at 13:54 | #9

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @Matthew
    Very often I come up with ideas, although I prefer it when other people have ideas. We work with 2-4 designers. This one was an idea by Kallia and John and they ran with it. I wanted to go in a different direction, but the author and everyone else in the office wanted this, so that’s that.
    Woodpecker was all me. Kramnik was all John. Small Steps was 90% me. Sharp Endgames all external. My books all external. Chess Behind Bars, external. Chess Structures, John and Andrew. KID Warfare, Andrew and I. Python Strategy, team effort, but mostly Andrew and John. Bad bishops, my title and external effort. Mating the Castled King and Pump up Your Rating, all me.
    I would like to say that when I look at the front covers of novels, I find that they are often incredibly dull. I am happy to compare our little indie publishing house to Little and Brown or any big publisher that has a big budget for their covers. This does not mean we get it right every time. But most of all, we try not to be boring.

    There has been an obvious improvement in the quality of the QC covers recently eg Woodpecker/Afek/e3 poison/KI Warfare but the GM reps have possibly the dullest covers ever- a slight change in the colour scheme is the only difference in design apart from the board position and title for…

  10. Pinpon
    November 30th, 2018 at 17:56 | #10

    First impression is that Afek really shares his love for chess in this book

  11. Andrew Greet
    December 3rd, 2018 at 10:11 | #11

    @JB
    Why on Earth would we want to change the GM rep cover style? Ever since GM 1 was published in 2008, this has been our flagship opening repertoire series, with a reputation for quality throughout the chess world. In other words, “GM Repertoire” is a strong brand identity. The cover design makes it easy for readers to recognise the brand, so I think we would be mad to change it.

  12. Thomas
    December 3rd, 2018 at 10:34 | #12

    The true expert on book covers is Lev Alburt.
    A short skirted blonde leaning over the masters shoulder in admiration – who wouldn’t want to buy his Chess training pocket book.

  13. JB
    December 3rd, 2018 at 15:49 | #13

    @Andrew Greet
    Course you can choose what you do with your brand but the chat was about whether the covers are dull or boring. 40 near identical covers fits that definition for me. Furthermore I very much doubt it is the cover style that pulls in the punters- the ‘reputation for quality throughout the chess world’ may well be despite the cover and due to the well known quality text inside and the strong Gm author name on the front. That’s what sells the books to me and I presume the majority of your customers. Though similarly Ferraris always stick to red I don’t think it’s the paintjob that is the selling point and if Negi 5 comes out with a picture of a fluffy pink unicorn dancing on a rainbow on the front I’m still buying it the day it is released.

  14. Andrew Greet
    December 3rd, 2018 at 16:07 | #14

    @JB
    Sure, a lot of readers will continue to buy Avrukh, Negi or whoever based on the merits of the authors and publishing house, without regard for the cover design. However, it seems to me that it can only be a good thing if people are browsing a book stall, chess shop etc. and are able to recognize the GM Repertoire brand immediately. Even if it made no difference so book sales either way, we still don’t have much to gain by coming up with new and fancy designs for each new GM Rep volume.

    When it comes to new books by new/unknown authors, it’s a different matter. Guys like Esserman, Axel, Flores Rios and Markos all wrote superb books but many readers had never heard of the authors, so I believe the distinctive cover designs were of real value in attracting people’s attention to these works.

  15. JB
    December 3rd, 2018 at 16:14 | #15

    @Andrew Greet
    PS As you are talking about brands, what is the difference between the GM Rep and ‘Playing.. ‘ books and ‘others’ (eg King’s Gambit/Modern Tiger). Obviously Nikos acn’t be in the GM rep series as he hasn’t the GM title but John/Tiger/Nick Pert etc are all GMs. I see some style differences eg Playing… has illustrative games and so different looking indexes due to that but what determines whether a text is considered a GM Rep or Playing.. book as it’s as clear as mud to me? I tend to lump them together and don’t differentiate between them in any meaningful way and looking at book reviews I’m not sure the reviewers do either.
    I get the feeling that the GM Rep are the premium series and the Playing… just a little below that (Formula 1 vs Indycar to continue the car analogy)but please put me right about that. Certainly if i look at the amount of time and effort spent on John’s King’s Gambit I can’t think how another GM could have done a better job but it wasn’t ‘good enough’ to be a GM Rep? If it’s all about the brand identity I’m not sure I can tell the difference.

  16. James2
    December 3rd, 2018 at 17:37 | #16

    Richard Pert wrote a book for Quality Chess. He is an IM. Where does Nick Pert come into it?

  17. Andrew Greet
    December 3rd, 2018 at 17:49 | #17

    @JB
    Your car analogy is pretty close to the mark. The GM Rep series is intended to give the deepest, most ambitious level of repertoire on that opening. (Of course there is some variability between authors; for instance, Petrov on the Modern Benoni doesn’t go into as much detail as Kotronias, Berg and others.)
    The ‘Playing…’ series takes the intensity down slightly: the repertoire suggestions are still of excellent quality, but the analysis is slightly less heavy.
    Nick Pert is indeed a GM but the Tromp and Ragozin books were authored by his twin brother Richard who is an IM, so we had to make both of them ‘Playing’.
    The King’s Gambit book is indeed great, but it’s not strictly a repertoire book as it analysed several options for White as well as giving suggestions for Black (e.g. meeting 3…Bc4 with 3…Nc6) so it didn’t belong in either series – although we did borrow the ‘Playing…’ cover style.
    Tiger’s work offers lots of repertoire suggestions for Black, but he also analyses some interesting but suboptimal options. The book contains a lot of his personality and enthusiasm for the subject, so we used his name in the title to reflect this.
    I hope that sheds some light on the differences.

  18. Thomas
    December 3rd, 2018 at 19:57 | #18

    JB :
    Though similarly Ferraris always stick to red I don’t think it’s the paintjob that is the selling point

    On the other hand I fear Ferrari won’t increase their sales numbers if they started painting there cars in green with pink stripes.

  19. Cowe
    December 3rd, 2018 at 21:10 | #19

    Thomas :
    The true expert on book covers is Lev Alburt.
    A short skirted blonde leaning over the masters shoulder in admiration – who wouldn’t want to buy his Chess training pocket book.

    Yes, bought it because of the cover – priceless!

  20. emmanuel neiman
    December 9th, 2018 at 20:02 | #20

    Great book, not only the cover !
    The material given is accessible to the club player, because you can skip part of the studies and just try to solve the main theme, or idea

  21. emmanuel neiman
    December 9th, 2018 at 20:10 | #21

    Great achievement by Afek and QC !
    The book is superb and accessible to all readers, included those not interested by solving complicated studies (as myself), just as a book about combinations.
    You can look at the first diagram, read the introductary moves and then try to solve the second (or third) one, that contains the main, beautiful idea .
    By the way, Dvorestky himself used to “cut” the studies, in order to concentrate on the most beautiful part of them.

  22. Ray
    December 10th, 2018 at 10:46 | #22

    I agree this is a great book! I’m really enjoying it. I also bought the books on Kramnik and the QID last week. First impressions of these are positive as well :-).

  23. An Ordinary Chessplayer
    December 10th, 2018 at 17:09 | #23

    The second edition cover of Alburt’s book had the exact same image of Alburt, minus the woman. Which raises two questions. (1) Did she not do so much for sales? (2) Was she photoshopped into the first edition, or photoshopped out of the second edition?

  24. RYV
    December 10th, 2018 at 20:19 | #24

    @An Ordinary Chessplayer
    to get a complete view of the problem, we need a third edition without Alburt but with the girl on the cover !

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