Author Archive

Not a memorable game, but…

March 21st, 2018 8 comments

Andrew and I played the Glasgow League last night. Andrew played something that had the feeling of being a novelty on move 3, but Morozevich had been there first. He may want to play it again, so no spoilers.

I played board two and got nothing from the opening. I tried a pawn sacrifice that does not really work on closer inspection, but with an hour for 30 moves and 15 for the rest, it makes sense to play a bit loosely. I won the exchange and played the technical phase as it should be done. Slow improvement and full control. On move 40 I got the chance for a nice finish.

White to play and win in more ways than one!

Andrew sadly lost, the match ended 4-4 and with it our hopes went from dead to buried. The league score can be found on

Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags:

Playing 1.e4 update – our backs have broken

March 20th, 2018 258 comments

Hi Guys,

We have good and bad news. The good news is that we have a publication date for Playing 1.e4 – French and Sicilian Defences, the bad news is that we have been forced into making a decision we did not want to make. We really really really wanted this to be a single-volume companion to the first book. But physically it cannot be done. We currently have 1000+ Word pages to typeset. We know from experience that anything over 600 pages is way too big as a book. And with our recent decision to upgrade to 90 gram paper, this only becomes even more of a problem.

We have therefore made the decision to split the book and will end up with two books:

Playing 1.e4 – French Defence and Sicilian Sidelines

Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian Main Lines

Both books will be more than 400 printed pages. The splitting makes it possible for us to keep our standard 10.5 font size, to include variation indexes at the back of the book and in all other ways make no compromises on quality – no need to delete material that really should be in the book. We will be fined by some distributors for cancelling the original title and we know that some customers will be upset with us.

Nothing about this split pleases us, except that the book will be done. And we have a publication date: 23rd May 2018. For both volumes. It will incidentally also be the publication date for Jaan Ehlvest’s book Grandmaster Opening Preparation.

The final Playing 1.e4 books will be excellent, but the effort involved has been massive – far too much to be a rational business decision. John said at our editorial meeting: “Once we are done with this book, it no longer exists. We shall never ever talk about it again.

Looking at the European Championship, I noticed that the line we suggested against the Caro-Kann is alive and well.

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Four Questions, 3rd Video

March 16th, 2018 11 comments

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Four Types of Decisions – No. 2

March 9th, 2018 1 comment

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e3 Poison claims a victim

March 6th, 2018 8 comments

Even when an opening is “unambitious,” it can be dangerous for the opponent. Axel Smith’s look into the 21st Century way of playing e3-systems greatly was the inspiration for this game:

Alvaro Aranha Filho – Frederico Gazel


1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. e3 b6 4. Bd3 Bb7 5. O-O c5 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 cxd4 8. exd4 d5 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Ne5 O-O 11. Qg4 Nf6 12. Qh4 Nc6 13. Bg5 h6

14. Bxf6! gxf6

14…Bxf6 15.Qe4 g6 16. Nxc6 Qc7 17. d5 exd5 18. Nxd5 Qxc6 19. Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.Qxb7


15. Qxh6 f5 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. Nxc6 Bxc6 18. Qxc6 Qxd4 19. Rad1 Qc5 20. Qf3 Rad8 21. Nd5 1-0

You can also see the game here.

Categories: Authors in Action Tags:

The Internet discerns Jacob’s taste…

March 5th, 2018 9 comments

These algorithms online really know me. A guitar tool, a great chess book and how to play Black Sabbath…

Categories: Reviews Tags:

Four types of Decisions

February 27th, 2018 5 comments

Nikos was recently in Glasgow, so we recorded a few short videos where we are bullying each other and talking about the four different types of decisions we make while playing chess and how we can train them. Incidentally, I have a column in American Chess Magazine based on the same idea. Obviously I also talk about it and a lot of other things in Thinking Inside the Box, which has been out in paperback for a little while now.

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A few tips from other disciplines

February 13th, 2018 27 comments

I am no longer studying chess to learn the basics in the way I did once, but I am going through that process with improving my technique on the guitar. As with many chess players, I have picked up this and that over the years from others, but not really been through a systematic programme to learn the chops. Tiger Hillarp Persson is learning to play Go, among others because learning a new game from the beginning (he is no longer a beginner though), has made him a better teacher. I work hard on improving as a musician and as a tennis player, because doing something I really like well is a pleasurable experience for me and because I really like to improve my skills. Learning is simply fun.

There are a few tips I have picked up from the highly skilled teachers I have been working with, which I might as well share with your guys.

Train every day. Working a bit every day is better than working twice as much on the weekend. We need our subconscious to keep working in the background or something. I will not claim any type of scientific insight, but I am experiencing a great leap in my technique.

Take a small break to consider what you have just learned. We are all too keen to move on from a potential transformational insight to the next thing, the next exercise. Stopping up to look at what we have just worked on and give our brains a chance to catch up on the various sensations before we demand it to confront a new challenge is paramount. Also, our energy and our attention span increases. You can only sprint for a minute or two, no matter what type of athlete you are, but there are people running 100 km races. And yes, sometimes they walk…

Play with confidence. Actually, this is a chess insight, just happy to see it replicated elsewhere. You cannot second guess yourself all the time. You have to accept that you are limited in ability and should try to execute the stroke, chord, positional decision, whatever it is, in the correct way. When you fail (learning is failing and reflecting, mainly), you will be able to look at what you did wrong and how you can do it right. Second guessing yourself does not work. It may win the point, the song may not sound entirely stupid and you may not blunder something. But not attempting to do things right, means that you will do them wrong for longer. This is a main reason why practice is so glorious; it gives us a chance to fail on purpose, so we can reflect.

The best way to learn to do something right is by doing it right. This is known especially from music, but I find it useful in tennis too. And other things. In chess, when you are learning to apply a proper candidate search to each move, you should allow it to take minutes. By doing the technique (“of just looking for options and ideas” – very simple, but any technique you really want to use should be simple) slowly means that you stay in control and can fend off impulses to just guess or just do something and similar. I know of World Class players that have not implemented the techniques they need to compete at the level they could. And the main problem seems always to be impulse control. So, slow down.



Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags: