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Woodpecker Wednesday!

July 25th, 2018 45 comments

We have arrived at the official publication day of The Woodpecker Method! For anyone who doesn’t know, or needs a reminder, the Woodpecker Method involves taking a large number of tactical exercises (the ‘set’) and solving them repeatedly, in up to seven cycles, each of which takes less time than the last, due to the benefits of memory and recognition. The point of repeating the same exercises is to supercharge your unconscious ability to spot tactical motifs.

I invite any readers who intend to train using this book/method to share their training goals and timescale in the comments. Make yourself accountable for your training plan now, and (hopefully) you will be more likely to stick to it! In the weeks and months ahead, we can revisit this topic and share our results.

I’ll go first, as I have a clear goal of performing to the best of my ability at the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, which starts in just over eight weeks. My plan is… Read more…

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Congratulations Hans Tikkanen!

July 12th, 2018 60 comments

Quality Chess would like to congratulate, GM Hans Tikkanen, co-author of the soon-to-be published The Woodpecker Method

…on becoming Swedish Champion for the fifth time. 7/9 and a 2714 performance is mighty impressive! We’d love to tell you his victory was the result of pre-tournament Woodpecker training but, as far as we know, this was not part of his preparations. Still, the process of collecting and working through more than a thousand tactical puzzles for the book was evidently not bad for his chess. Take the following example from round 5, which would have made a perfect example in the book.

Jonny Hector – Hans Tikkanen
Ronneby 2018

Black has built up a dominating position with skilful middlegame play. His advantage should be enough to win by slow means, but there is one clear way to break through.

Read more…

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Congratulations Nikos and Georgia!

September 7th, 2017 8 comments

Jacob and I have just arrived back after five days in Thessaloniki, where we attended the wedding of our good friend (not to mention author) Nikos Ntirlis and his lovely bride Georgia. Below are a couple of photos from the wedding, where we also found time to audition for the roles of two agents in the next Matrix sequel.

Nikos prepares…

Read more…

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Fun chess in Glasgow on Sunday 6th August

August 4th, 2017 4 comments

There will be an informal, combined rapid/blitz match taking place this Sunday 6th August in Glasgow, starting just after 3pm and finishing at roughly 6pm.

Six leading Scottish players (GM Jacob Aagaard, IM Andrew Greet, FM Alan Tate, FM Neil Berry, IM Steve Mannion and our newest FM and Scottish Champion, Murad Abdulla) will be taking on six strong GMs/IMs who are all here for a training camp hosted by Jacob.

Spectators are welcome to drop in, enjoy watching some entertaining chess, and have a few laughs. The venue is All Bar One at 56-72 St Vincent Street in Glasgow’s city centre, where we have been granted the use of the entire upstairs area.

The foreign players are GM Sam Shankland (US), GM Mads Andersen (DK), GM Swapnil Dhopade (IND), IM Johan Salomon (NOR), IM Tania Sachdev (IND) and IM Sam Collins (IRE).

Categories: Authors in Action, Fun Games Tags:

Matthew Sadler reviews (part 2)

February 6th, 2017 24 comments

Last week I put up a post referring to a positive review of Victor Mikhalevski’s Beating Minor Openings from GM Matthew Sadler in New In Chess magazine. In this follow-up post, we can proudly reveal that King’s Indian Warfare, by Ilya Smirin, received even higher praise, with Sadler going so far as to call it his ‘Book of the Year’ for 2016!

As you can imagine, the entire review is something of which we as the publisher, and especially Ilya as the author, can feel proud, and I wish I could quote the whole thing! However, the following snippets of Sadler’s review should be enough to give the general picture:

“… a truly fantastic book.”

“Any player looking to take up the King’s Indian should have this book thrust into his hands before he learns a single line of theory!”

“Smirin’s comments are a perfect balance of analysis and general advice”

The review also included a couple of game fragments taken from the ‘Kamikaze Rooks’ chapter. I smiled when reading Sadler’s preamble to this section, where he asks:

“Which lunatic would come up with these manoeuvres?”

Obviously we are delighted that the book has received such high praise; and we hope readers will find it the perfect companion to Kotronias’s epic King’s Indian repertoire series (the last of which I’m currently editing), with one author providing the creative inspiration and the other the theoretical recommendations.

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Matthew Sadler reviews (part 1)

February 1st, 2017 23 comments

We were pleased to see a couple of positive reviews from the formidable English GM in New In Chess magazine.

First up was Beating Minor Openings by Victor Mikhalevski (awarded 4/5 stars by Sadler). A few quotes:

“The scope of the book is amazing.”

“Mikhalevski has clearly put a massive effort into this work and I can recommend it unreservedly to anyone looking for guidance against an oft neglected part of the repertory.”

“Just a couple of quibbles held me back from giving it the full five stars.”

The quibbles Sadler refers to are:
a) he considers some of the recommended lines to be less-than-ideal choices in terms of yielding winning chances against a weaker opponent; and
b) he would prefer if chess authors (not just Mikhalevski) would make it clearer which of their recommended lines are the product of engine analysis.

The second of these is an interesting observation on what is something of a grey area, as every line in a good opening book will have been computer-checked to some degree. Still, it’s something we will consider for future books. In any case, we were happy to see the generally positive review along with Sadler’s conclusion that “It’s an excellent book”!

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Nuking the Najdorf with Negi

October 20th, 2016 17 comments

Anton Visser – Anthony Waller
Correspondence, 2015-16

We always enjoy hearing success stories from our readers. One such message came in last week from Anton Visser, who tested Parimarjan Negi’s repertoire against the Najdorf in a correspondence game. Anton’s verdict on Negi’s analysis is that it was “better than the computer my opponent used.” Here is the game:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Ne4 h6 13.Bh4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.Be2 Bc5 17.Bg3 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Qa5+ 19.Rd2 0–0 20.Bd6 Rd8
We are deep into one of the crazy main lines of the Poisoned Pawn. Parimarjan (or “Pari”, as we call him) analyses it in Chapter 15 of 1.e4 vs the Sicilian I.

Read more…

Categories: Fun Games, GM Repertoire Tags:

World Cup Seeding System

September 14th, 2015 18 comments

When you have a number of entrants (128 in this case) competing in a knockout format, what kind of seeding/pairing system should be used?

The most common pairing system involves splitting the list in two, so that No.1 plays 65, 2 plays 66 and so on until 64 plays 128. This is seen as normal, although it’s slightly odd that the players ranked from places 60-68 (give or take) might only be separated by a few rating points, yet will have vastly differing chances of making it through the first round, depending on which side of the halfway line they happen to fall.

The actual system being employed at the World Cup involves the top seed playing the bottom seed in each round, i.e. No.1 vs. 128, 2 vs. 127, all the way up to 64 vs. 65. The main argument in favour of this system is that it gives the highest seeds the best chance of making it to the end – but does it stack the odds too heavily in their favour while making it too difficult for those players nearer the middle of the rankings?

This brings us to this week’s poll question: Is the World Cup pairing system fair?

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