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Sharing ideas in chess publishing

January 12th, 2022 24 comments

On Facebook I shared a story from over 20 years ago. My friend Lars Møller Larsen, a Danish club player, suggested to me that there should be a book where every move in a game was explained. At the time we did not know about the Irving Chernev book and also, Yasser had a book on the way or already out with the same principle.
I had at the time written two books for Gambit and considered them my publisher (the books on the Panov and on the Sveshnikov, were published under license by Everyman). So, I suggested it as an idea to my publisher, Graham Burgess. The book eventually became Chess Move by Move by John Nunn, an ECF book of the year that Nunn thanked Burgess for inspiring.
Around the same time, I was fired by Gambit. Without knowing it. Because Byron Jacobs, also a commission editor for Everyman, had offered me a two book contract. Amusingly, I had to do the Stonewall Dutch, to be allowed to write Excelling at Chess (a title I disliked, but which Byron said was great and he was right). Excelling at Chess was my big breakthrough, even if not financially, but if you read it, you can still see that I believed only a few friends would read it, as long as you know it.
A year later, Everyman turned down a suggestion of a book on the Berlin, as they had a chapter on it by Glenn Flear. I asked Burgess if they were interested (now no longer commissioning books for others, but publishing under their own name). He said that I was fired because my English required to much editing and was this still a problem?
To me these two episodes put side by side are simply amusing. I did not deserve any credit for Lars’ idea, even if I did not tell Graham where it came from (who was Lars to him anyway). I am also grateful to Murray Chandler and by extension Graham and John for giving me a start in this business, even if they were not fully satisfied with my early books. Telling someone you had fired them a year after you didn’t, but at the same time opening the door to the idea of working with them again just sounds bad. It really isn’t.

Another story I shared was how I sent 20 or so exercises I had located by analysing games (my first ever exercise collection; later an obsession!) to Mark Dvoretsky, as he was always looking for new material.
He then published half of them in an article on e3e5 without mentioning my name and said that the training material had helped Inarkiev to win the 2005 Russian Higher League.
I asked him if Inarkiev really had used my training material in preparation? A hope of a bone of pride from the greatest trainer in the World. “No, he used the positions from my article”, was the answer.
Mark later praised my book Practical Chess Defence, as the “most difficult chess book yet – until my next one!”, which was Dvoretsky’s Analytical Manual, which Judit Polgar once said to me was so difficult it made no sense to her.
Mark allowed me to use his idea for a book on puzzles according to calculation skill and advised me on which chapters I should have in it. Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation is my best selling book.
I adored Mark and cried desperately when he died. I tried to go to Moscow for his Memorial Tournament, but failed to secure a visa. Life is complicated and people too.

Knowing who to share ideas with and who not to, and which ideas, is a difficult art. The best idea I ever had I shared with someone who have treated me exceptionally poorly subsequently. Others have shared ideas with me without expecting anything in return and received my gratitude and more. Ideas are a strange currency. After 23 years in chess publishing I do not know if we should share them with others, or keep them to ourselves. At least not from a commercial standpoint. From a moral standpoint I think it is an easy choice. Chess culture has benefited immensely from the exchange of ideas and the fact that the people with the best ideas are not always the best to carry them out.

At Quality Chess we do our best to be fair to our authors and to give people chances. We want to treat out customers with respect by producing good books. At the same time we acknowledge that many other people have good ideas and do good work and have many time recommended books from other publishers. When we founded Quality Chess, Byron Jacobs wished me best of luck and sent flowers to my wedding a month later. Mathias Wullenweber, founder of ChessBase, was “delighted” that we decided to create something new in chess, as the better experience chess players had of the game, the more they would buy products from all of us. I have always tried to be inspired by the behaviour I appreciated of all the people mentioned in this article to be a better person and publisher. Obviously, we have failed many times. What can you do but try to learn from it and do better in the future. Finding the balance between owning your victories and failures, to learn lessons and not hold on to grudges, guilt or other bad emotions is a tough one.

This year my biggest book A Matter of Endgame Technique, at 896 pages, will be published. My first book for Gambit/Everyman was 128 pages. Every page in the new book is better than every page in every book I wrote for Everyman. But were impossible without the support and guidance I received from people like Graham, Byron and Mark. I don’t know if it is my best book. I guess it is for other people to decide. But it is the book I wanted to write and I hope you will guys will like it.

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International Supply Issues

November 15th, 2021 28 comments

You will have heard a lot about supply issues over the last two months. Containers stuck in China, shortness of cereal or chicken (OK – some of it is a purely UK/Brexit related issue) in the supermarkets and so on.

Now Quality Chess has been hit by supply issues, on two counts.

Firstly, there is a staff issue with our printer, which means packing and sending out books out has slowed down a bit. As a result, our two World Championship related books, Magnus Carlsen’s Middlegame Evolution by Ivan Sokolov and The Road to Reykjavik by Tibor Karolyi about Fischer’s Candidate matches and a lot of what came before, are delayed a week more again. One guy is packing several pallets on his own… The books will be out the 8th December.
(New in Chess cheekily put something similar to our long-announced title on the cover to the book by Jan Timman, published a few months ago. Just to make it clear that they stole the title from us, not the other way around. We don’t mind, being plagiarised in such a minor way by a competitor is flattery!).

Now a second issue has hit us. Our printer has run out of paper! With reprints and new books coming, we are needing 5 million pages of paper, and the printer is out… They were used to being able to order with short notice and simply missed the dangers of shortages and now our books will not be printed till January. It is hard to get a print slot till late December anyway, with supermarket catalogues being a big seasonal market in November/December that the printer cannot afford to pass on.

As a result, our next books will be out late February/early March. This should include Think Like a Super GM, A Matter of Endgame Technique, Analyzing the Chess Mind, and The Chess Alchemist.

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Gawain Jones on Thinking Aloud for Killer Chess Training

May 12th, 2021 5 comments

Gawain visited www.killerchesstraining.com last week to talk about his forthcoming book, Coffee House Repertoire 1.e4 – Volume 1, which we expect will be out at the very end of June.

You can watch the entire episode here:

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Cutting through Red Tape

February 23rd, 2021 36 comments

Hi guys,

So, we have managed to cut through the red tape. The books are going out and we have used the time to make some improvements to our distribution system, especially to the US. Hopefully more will come soon!

We luckily were already registered for VAT in Poland, so this was not a problem. But we needed an EORI number. We quickly registered for one, but the original paper, from which the scan had been taken from, had to go to Poland. It was stuck forever in customs, due to Covid protocols. It arrived Tuesday and by Friday we were approved.

All orders has thus been sent out and are on the way!

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EU & Covid

January 11th, 2021 33 comments

Dear Quality Chess Customer,

The arrival of 2021 has brought about some reluctant optimism to our fellow consciousness, but also its own set of challenges.

We are based in Glasgow, UK, which has brought two particular challenges. First off, we are seemingly the global epicentre of the pandemic at the moment. We have more deaths per capita than the US or any other major country. As a result, our country has entered into a longer strict lockdown. We are still working, but everything is a bit tricky.

Secondly, the United Kingdom has finally left the EU. John and I were not in favour of this, but it is what it is. We are currently facing some bureaucratic challenges that the UK government or our business organisations did not properly prepare us for. We are working on solving them and hopefully will soon. It is red tape and today computers make it easy for those who know what to do. We just need to find that person!

The effect of this on some of our customers is the following:

Some web sales are delayed. Our website will be updated by tomorrow, showing exactly what has gone out. A lot will go out tomorrow. They will probably take longer to go out than usual, but hopefully not too much.

Orders from chess specialists. At the moment we have to solve the EORI issue. Once we have done so, we are ready to ship books out again. Hopefully it will take just a few days.

Best wishes,

Jacob Aagaard

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Big publication date – 15 July

May 31st, 2020 28 comments

Hi guys, I wanted to give two solid dates for you and one shaky. Anyway, just an update on various things.

But first off, if you are a member of The Chess Book Collectors group on Facebook, please vote on your favourite chess cover of 2019. It is a little thing to do to recognise the people who put in a lot of time trying to please your aesthetic sensibilities. We do not care if you vote for one of our books or a book from another publisher. But we do ask you to vote.

On the 15th July we will have multiple publications. First of all, we will have four books released in paperback, The Anand Files, Soviet Outcast, Small Steps 2 Success and The Nemesis.

Secondly, we have three new books coming: Playing the Stonewall Dutch, Playing the Petroff and Think Like a Machine.

As usual, we will be publishing the opening books in both paperback and hardcover, while the middlegame book will be published in hardcover and in paperback in half a year or more. This system is part of keeping your local chess specialist in business. The books do eventually become available on Amazon, we need those sales too stay in business, but remember that without the 50-100 chess specialists, the whole business of chess literature would seize to exist.

Further down the line, we have two volumes of The Italian Renaissance coming on August 12th, written by the strong Ukrainian GM Martyn Kravtsiv.

On the 16th September, we will release volume 3 and 4 in the Boris Gelfand Decision Making series. These will be the announced Technical Decision Making in Chess and a companion volume called Decision Making in Heavy Piece Endings, which will focus on positions with rooks and queens only.

We are also working on other books, such as the two Dutch Leningrad books by Marin, volume 5 of the Negi-series on 1.e4, the From Scratch series and of course my bloated project, A Matter of Technique, which is not an endgame book…

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Webshop update

May 11th, 2020 4 comments

Saturday I made a bad mistake. While packing up web orders, I sent out the final copy of my first book for Quality Chess Practical Chess Defence, which is now not available through the website. Shops will still have it, but we are out. At the moment we are not reprinting. If I in 1-2 years look at it again, I would make an entirely new version, but at the moment I am busy with a lot of other things. The mistake is that I did not write a note to the buyer. I am sorry!

Also, there is a mistake that I know of in the book. Exercise 170 is to win, not to draw!

This position is also in Quality Chess Puzzle Book, the book John Shaw wrote based on the first of my collections of training material for Boris Gelfand.

About the webshop

We are open for business. But things are going slowly for another week still. I am doing the packing and posting personally. I go to the post office 2-3 times per week to send out the parcels. I am going in a moment, actually. There were too many to pack Saturday! I first had to go to the office to pick up the books…

Be patient. The books will come, just a bit slower than usual.

Also remember that the postal workers are also adjusting and that bringing out the latest book on the Grunfeld is not worth dying for, even if people are dying to read it.

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The Nimzo-Indian in action

December 18th, 2019 15 comments

Our friend Renier Castellanos has written another blog post for us. To download it as a PGN file go here.

Jamie Santos Latasa – Sophie Milliet, Sunway Sitges Open 2019

Opening Preparation As expressed in my previous blog post (see the Taimanov in Action) being well prepared in the opening is one of the key factors to obtain a good result when playing against a more experienced, higher rated and overall stronger opponent. I wouldn’t say opening preparation is a vital element to play good chess but it is surely a useful tool disposable to every chess player. The benefits of learning openings are many but these three are my main motivation: – Save time on the clock that will be used later at critical moments – Guarantee yourself a reliable position – Surprise an unaware opponent with a line In the game we are about to see, Sophie Milliet, a strong IM from France plays against the Spanish GM Jaime Santos Latasa. We can’t tell for certain how IM Milliet prepared for this specific game but she played an interesting opening line that features in Michael Roiz’s fantastic book The Nimzo Indian Defence.

Read more…
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