Author Archive

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.

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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…

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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.



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Motivated by your ambitions or someone else’s? Not so obvious…

February 10th, 2018 7 comments

One of my observations in my thirty plus years in chess is that you can divide people into groups of those who get motivated by their own successes and ambitions and those that get excited by the prospects of others. This is one of the reasons why many grandmasters write bad books or are lousy trainers, while some less strong players are excellent coaches and write fantastic books.

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Jacob Aagaard seminar in Wewelsburg, Germany 10-13 May 2018

January 31st, 2018 23 comments

Lots of messages lately are about requests for training with Jacob. So, you will be happy to know that there will be a seminar in Germany 10-13/5/2018 in the Wewelsburg.

The entry fee for adults is 259€ and for youngsters (U-18) is 229€.  If there are more than 3 from one chess club, each of those participants get a 30 € discount. The fee includes application -participation in the Seminar, 2 coupons over 15 euros for Lunch, plus water and coffee during the lectures. The only condition of participation is ELO 1800+. This seminar is for advanced players and masters, but if you are under ELO 1800 and highly motivated, you can still apply. There is room for only 30 participants.

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Chances will come – they always do

January 25th, 2018 9 comments

I was playing tennis Monday with three friends. Two good players and a great talent, the 12-year-old son of one of them. He is a small kid, but easily has the best forehand of us all. His downside is that when he makes a mistake, he is not letting go of them easily. We played together and were up 5-4 and 15-0 in the second set. The kid’s serve. After a bit back and forth, he hit his forehand straight in the net. These things happen. He did what many kids with ambition do, shout at themselves and with their body show frustration. Basically, they have watched too much tennis on TV and have not fully realised there is no camera, and no one cares…

I kept saying to him, something I have learned from chess and which applies to almost all of sports. Chances will come. The question is if you will be ready for them. He generally wasn’t and we lost. He is young and will quickly learn, I hope. I will partner with him in the league and keep saying this to him every time he misbehaves.

In chess we have a much smaller margin for error. When Federer makes his biggest mistake ever, he is down 15-0. When I blunder a piece, I usually resign. I am not Magnus Carlsen after all. But still, when you look at grandmaster games, you will see that things almost always go wrong. Chances arise out of nothing. Those that instinctively knows this and are ready for the moment do better than those who do not.

I will show a few examples, but literally, this is 80-90% of all grandmaster games.

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The element of surprise

January 21st, 2018 45 comments

We have had a nice debate between the blog readers about various lines and how to approach playing for a win for Black deep in the comments section of the looking into 2018 post. I doubt everyone makes it to comment #297, so I will make my own little point here as an independent post.

Our main strategy is to be honest with our readers, and one of these aspects include debating things freely and without thinking if it is in line with people’s perception of our company. We propose main lines in our repertoire books, because you do not want to continuously play something that is bad and because you do not need to read a full book to play something dodgy once with the element of surprise.

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