I spent almost eight years writing the Attacking Manuals two books (AM1 and AM2) and felt absolutely drained at the end of the process. Obviously I did a lot of things in the meanwhile, but mainly I felt anxiety about my ability to reach the necessary level for making these books as good as I wanted them to be. Completing the GM title and becoming British Champion definitely helped. 2007 was a very tough year for Quality Chess and for me personally, but ended on a high by the birth of my first child.
We are now speaking more than four years later. Attacking Manual 2 came out in 2010 and I won the ECF book of the year award for the two volumes combined. In the end it was all worth it.
Enter the room in February 2011: Nikos (Nikolaos Ntirlis). Unknown outside Greece and to many Greeks as well, close to unrated (would have preferred to be) and full of ideas. I was so fascinated that I entered a mad project – the complete revival of the Tarrasch Defence. The result was Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence. We both worked so hard that Nikos went from criticising all books on the Chesspub forum to praising anyone who write an opening book and live to tell the tale!
But was it worth it? Well, initial sales have been good. People are interested (which is far more important to us than money – though we need to pay the rent of course). This is more important than the reviews, but the reviews are easier to pass on, so here we go:
The first one is from the Danish newspaper Politiken. Their chess journalist is a sometimes 2600 Danish GM who sent a private message to me on Facebook calling me insane – based on the work we had done with the book. He claimed we were making amateurs into GMs with it, which I would contest. But we have definitely given them a fighting chance against GMs!
The actual review looks like this in my translation:
“Most opening books are a collection of existing knowledge and a few extra ideas in critical positions. This is not the case with Jacob Aagaard’s and Nikolaos Ntirlis’ (called Nikos) new book on the Tarrasch Defence in the Queen’s Gambit. The book is the result of a large piece of research where the two authors have succeeded in turning completely new pages in opening theory.
Before The Tarrasch Defence was published the opening was considered dubious, but now that it is here, all super-GMs have been recalled to the laboratory. All main lines have been repaired, including those no one knew were broken. Have a look: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.dxc5! This line has always been considered completely harmless, but it is not and is handled over 37 pages! (Don’t fear – Black will be all right in the end.) The book is ground breaking and sets new standards for the future of opening books.”
GM Sune Berg Hansen
This is of course very flattering, but it is not necessarily the most positive review we have received. The German FM Christof Sielecki makes youtube lectures, freely available. He said:
“The authors invested an enormous amount of time. The amount of novelties and really astonishing ideas presented here can only mean that they invested hundreds of hours to make this an interesting and really fighting choice.”
But to get his excitement you really need to listen to the 30 minute lecture (which also explains some details from the book and some we shamefully omitted about move orders).
There was also a nice review in German (you are one like away if you go here) and a nice review on ChessCafe where the only criticism I could find (and you do look for them when you “only” get 5/6 in the review!) was that the book was irrelevant to players under 1400. As most opening books are, I don’t really care for this.
However, the best review of all was from Arne Moll, the notoriously harsh ChessVibes reviewer (which is why we love him. People like Elburg that loves all books are nice people, but don’t guide the customer in a meaningful way, we think). He said among other tings:
“The two authors… present so many fresh and fascinating ideas in this old opening that it’s impossible to put down. It’s also a very objective and sensible book, in which the old opening is both treated with respect and is challenged to defend itself against computer-age scrutiny and rigour.
I could go on and on about the many beautiful variations in this book, but the truth is that it is crammed with fantastic stuff – really too much to mention in one review. So let me just say that the authors treat the ever-important Timman Variation (9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bg5 d4 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5) with due adoration and skepticism (I’ve always felt the line to be both overestimated and underestimated at the same time!). Here, too, they improve existing theory as they go along in many crucial lines.”
The full review is very well written and gives an honest image of our book from someone who likes it. If you are wondering if you want to read the book (or even pay good money for it!) please read this first.