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The Best Chess Book I have ever written

June 9th, 2017 89 comments

Two days ago was the official publication date for Thinking Inside the Box.

I am not a very sentimental person, so it was not a special day for me. Holding the book in the hand does not have the same emotional experience as it did holding The Panov/Botvinnik Attack in my hands in 1998. Incidentally, that is the only one of my books that is out of print as far as I know.

Despite the lack of excitement with the physical form, I am very pleased with the book. At some point, someone speculated on this blog that I had lost interest in the project, as a way to explain the long time it took to get around to write it. The reality is very different. Let’s not wrap it up in euphemisms.

I simply did not believe in my abilities. I knew what I wanted to say and I have been teaching it for years, but writing a book is much harder than it may seem from the outside. And I set myself a goal back in 2004, when I decided to do this as a profession: to always make the next book I wrote the best book I had ever written. I think I succeeded with this all the way up to 2016. The first Gelfand book was better than the second.

As far as I know, only Anish Giri disagrees. Don’t get me wrong; if I had written them in reverse order, I might still be on track.

Because, I honestly think that Thinking Inside the Box became as good as I wanted it to be. People will always disagree on some of my opinions and others would have preferred a book that went deep with the subject they found most interesting, but the book is as I wanted it to be.

Any feedback from people who have read the book till the end is very welcome. I am happy to discuss anything.

Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags:

What we are working on at the moment…

May 30th, 2017 104 comments

It was suggested that instead of doing a long-term publishing schedule, we should simply reveal what we are working on at the moment. Sure, why not. Not sure it will be more coherent though!

John is working on e3 Poison by Axel Smith. It is almost done. Then it will go to typesetting and printing. I should say that we also have another Axel Smith book coming down the line.

After he finished this week, John will return to the dungeon where he wrote the King’s Gambit. He will not be allowed to work on any other book, until he has finished Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian & French

Read more…

Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags:

Solving and guessing

April 25th, 2017 31 comments

The last four weeks I have been travelling through Asia, visiting 12 cities in eight countries. Sometimes for less than 24 hours, arriving at 6 in the morning in Manila, for example, and flying out at half past midnight the same day…

On my trip, I have talked a lot about Thinking Inside the Box and the core ideas in the book. It has been an amazing experience, seeing how the ideas have resonated with people of all ages and all levels, from young kids to top grandmasters. I wish I was going to write the book now, as the ideas are so much clearer in my head and the diverse ways I have found to explain them would have improved it.

One thing I realised along the way is to emphasise the difference between guessing and solving. When I was an improving player, I struggled a lot with solving exercises. I would find ideas and then my concentration would crumble. I would flick to the solutions page and see how close I was.

Because close was the best I did – for a long time. Discipline was always a problem for the younger me. I had a spine similar to cooked spaghetti, according to a friend.

What I needed to do was to get into a habit of solving positions. When we are talking about tactical exercises, you should calculate all the variations till the end, working out all the details. This is an important skill to develop in training. It will take you far.

But this does not mean that guessing is all wrong. In my model there are four types of decisions.

1. Automatic Decisions
2. Simple Decisions
3. Critical Moments
4. Strategic Decisions

I deal more with this model in both Grandmaster Preparation – Strategic Play and in Thinking Inside the Box. And in previous blog posts, most likely. (No, I do not routinely look through them!) For here it suffices to say that only automatic decisions and critical moments require a high level of accuracy. Simple decisions are often taken on an intuitive basis and are as such, a pure guess. Strategic decisions include more calculation and logical thinking, but will in most cases include guessing as well.

This is important, because we simply cannot work everything out till the end. If you try to solve every move, you lose on time. For some people this is their existence.

The average player is directed by impulses and his inability to stay concentrated. The great practical player finds a good balance between guessing and solving and is always aware of which tool he uses. Moving from the first category to the second is a big jump and one the Grandmaster Preparation series is all about (as well as a few other things).

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

Federation transfer to Scotland

April 3rd, 2017 No comments

Dear friends,

From the 31st of March, I will once again represent Scotland as a member of FIDE. This is not only to do my bit for keeping up the FIDE finances, but due to the continued interest in chess shown by both of my daughters. I am no longer an active player, so the shift is entirely optical. I will not become less Danish and I hope my connection to Danish chess will remain undiminished.

I have been highly critical of recent priorities by the Danish Federation and have felt that they were not only unfair, but also going to end up with an entirely different effect than desired. The main problem was the lack of debate and interaction with the highest-rated players. The goals were to a great degree shared by all, but the lack of understanding of what it takes to develop great players did not hold the Federation back. They clearly believe that removing obstacles for kids will make them stronger chess players. Even without the rude behaviour towards Danish grandmasters, this is a bad decision.

In that connection, I cancelled some unpaid work I was going to do with young players in Denmark; I simply felt sick of the whole thing and needed to get out of all commitments for a while.

My decision to change Federation however was taken a long time ago and has simply been delayed. It has nothing to do with anything else than my personal circumstances and desire to commit to the place I have called home for 13 years now. I am sure I will work together with the Danish Federation in the future and I have no intention of playing any chess tournaments, including Olympiads or other team events for Scotland, at the moment.

Jacob Aagaard
New Delhi

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Inside the deep planning at Quality Chess for Jacob’s Thinking Inside the Box book tour of Asia

March 22nd, 2017 18 comments

Categories: Publishing Schedule, Vlog Tags:

Talking to Yusupov about the Yusupov challenge

March 22nd, 2017 12 comments

Vlog 11 – Nikos meets GM Stelios Halkias

March 16th, 2017 3 comments

In this weeks vlog, the experienced Greek GM Stelios Halkias talks a bit about his favourite Quality Chess books and gives to our viewers practical advice on various aspects of chess. It is the kind of things that led Stelios to perform over 2700 elo in the latest Baku Olympiad. He then goes on to show us one of his favourite positions from this Olympiad and gives us a tactical puzzle to solve which the great Nigel Short failed to do when shown!

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Jacob Aagaard book tour of India

March 14th, 2017 19 comments

Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard is going to India to promote his Grandmaster Preparation series in March/April. His tour will give lectures and training seminars in Mumbai (26-27 March), Ahmadabad (28-29 March), New Delhi (30-31 March), Kolkata (2-3 April) and Chennai (4-5 April).

Categories: Authors in Action, Vlog Tags: