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Negi and Kotronias on the way

July 24th, 2014 158 comments

I have confirmation from the printer that Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The French, Caro-Kann and Philidor by GM Parimarjan Negi and Grandmaster Repertoire 18 – The Sicilian Sveshnikov by GM Vassilios Kotronias have been printed on schedule and will be in our hands next week.

So what are the books like? ‘Stunningly brilliant’ says this biased publisher (but I’m right anyway). Excerpts of both books are at the following links: Negi and Kotronias.

Let’s start with Negi on 1.e4 – it’s the immensely strong repertoire of a young Super-GM who is noted for his opening prowess. For a huge opening book (600 pages) it is highly readable, as Negi seems an “ideas man” rather than merely moves-moves-moves.

Kotronias on the Sveshnikov is also a dream ticket – one of the world’s leading theory experts on one of Black’s most feared Sicilian systems. It seems no one has anything with White against the Sveshnikov (that will be a challenge for Negi later). So add this line to your repertoire and frighten White into the sidelines.

Forward Chess are preparing both books and will likely have their versions ready before us. I believe the Negi book is already there. So if you haven’t checked out the Forward Chess app before, then now would be a great time to start.

The Secret Life of Bad Bishops by Esben Lund is also on the way (from a different printer) but I will introduce that one separately later.

Categories: GM Repertoire, Publishing Schedule Tags:

Avrukh’s Slav in action

April 24th, 2014 16 comments

Here is a game from the local league, played last month. I certainly don’t deserve any medals for beating a sub-2000-rated opponent. However, one-sided games can contain some instructive value, as the viewer gets to see one side’s strategy play out perfectly. The present game also gave me a chance to test Avrukh’s Slav repertoire. Even though my opponent deviated from theory quite early, I was able to apply a few of the ideas that were recommended by Avrukh in other variations.

The concept of “learning ideas instead of memorizing moves” has become rather a hackneyed phrase, usually associated with products such as chess DVDs, and books that place less emphasis on detailed analysis than the GM Repertoire series. However, I have often found my general understanding has been elevated by studying high-level opening books. (Not just from Quality Chess; the “Opening According to Kramnik/Anand” books from Chess Stars also spring to mind.)

Alan Jelfs (1922) – Andrew Greet (2485) D15
Glasgow, 04.03.2014

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 a6 6.b3
My opponent was obviously not familiar with this particular set-up with the pawn on a6 and bishop on f5, and he chooses an innocuous reply.

6…e6 7.Bd3 Bd6!?
I decided to leave the bishop to be taken, as the change in the pawn structure would make the game more interesting.

A decent alternative is: 7…Bb4 8.Qc2 (8.Bb2 Qa5) 8…Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Black has won a tempo and is doing fine.

8.Bxf5
Interestingly, about a month later I reached the same position against the same opponent. On that occasion he avoided exchanging on f5 but made the strategic error of blocking the centre with c4-c5. It was a strange attempt to improve, and I won quickly.

8…exf5
During the game, I remembered that one of Avrukh’s lines featured a similar position, but with the white knight still on g1, which gave him the option of putting the queen on f3 and knight on e2 to challenge Black’s central pawns. (I have since checked and found the line on page 57 of GM 17.) Here there is no such plan, and I already assessed my position as slightly preferable.

[fen size=”small”]rn1qk2r/1p3ppp/p1pb1n2/3p1p2/2PP4/1PN1PN2/P4PPP/R1BQK2R w KQkq – 0 9[/fen]

Read more…

Categories: Authors in Action, GM Repertoire Tags:

How can I remember all that theory? by Nikos Ntirlis

April 14th, 2014 30 comments

After the publication of the second opening book I co-authored with Jacob, there is one question that I hear more often again and again: “How can I remember all that theory?” I always thought that this is a serious question, albeit one that has a very simple answer: read and practise!

“Remembering” chess opening theory at a good level is something that means different things for different players. For example, my ambitious 11-year-old student who is preparing to get one of the top 3 places in the Greek youth championships in June has never had a chance until now to reach this position that is part of his preparation with White:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.h3!

[fen size=”small”]r1bq1rk1/2ppbppp/p1n2n2/1p2p3/4P3/1B3N1P/PPPP1PP1/RNBQR1K1 b – – 0 8[/fen]

So, for him it makes no sense to memorize and try to understand more than 1-2 variations 3-4 moves deep starting from this position. To be honest I am not sure how many players bellow 2200-2300 need to memorize more than that. On the other hand, if you are Anand and have to face Aronian in the first round of the Candidates tournament, then it is essential to remember variations far beyond the known tournament praxis. I suppose that most of the readers of this blog belong to the first category, so the methods and ideas I am going to describe are useful only for them. I am sorry Vishy, maybe I’ll do another blog post later for guys like you!

So, after this first observation,

Read more…

Categories: Authors in Action, GM Repertoire Tags:

The Classical Slav – covering the missing line

March 24th, 2014 5 comments

As I mentioned in a previous post, we failed to cover a line of the Exchange Variation in The Classical Slav. If you click on the following pdf link, you will find analysis by GM Boris Avrukh which fills the gap.

We shall also include this update in pgn form in our next newsletter. This is our standard policy when we spot errors and omissions, perhaps especially in repertoire books – mention the problem and make the solution freely and widely available.

Categories: GM Repertoire Tags:

Failure to read

March 10th, 2014 45 comments

 

When editing a chess book, it is important to consider all significant sources. When working on The Classical Slav I forgot to consider an important book: Playing the Semi-Slav by David Vigorito. So even though the new Slav book is still great (in my biased view) it could have been even better. So my apologies to Dave, Boris and the readers.
 
But how was I supposed to know a book called Playing the Semi-Slav contained analysis relevant to the Classical Slav? It is not as though Playing the Semi-Slav was published by Quality Chess and edited by me. Oh wait…
 
We will put up a blog post and newsletter updating what was missed, including one line in the Exchange Variation, which is commonly played even though not a critical test of the Slav.

Categories: GM Repertoire Tags:

A vision for 2012

March 26th, 2012 306 comments

I feel bullied and pushed into publishing an updated publishing schedule. As you will see it is rather full and we are very busy. So for now I will leave it at that.

Lars Schandorff Playing 1.d4 – GM Guide – The Queen’s Gambit May
Lars Schandorff Playing 1.d4 – GM Guide – The Indian Defences May
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 2 May/June
John Shaw The King’s Gambit May/June
Boris Avrukh GM Repertoire X – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines June/July
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 1 – German June/July
Ftacnik GM6a – Dealing with Anti–Sicilians July
Ftacnik GM6b – The Najdorf July
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – GM Guide – Caro–Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines July
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – GM Guide II – The Sicilian & The French July
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Calculation (Hardcover) May/June
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Positional Play (Hardcover) June/July
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Strategic Play (Hardcover) July/August
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Endgame Play (Hardcover) September
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box (Hardcover) October
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Calculation October
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Positional Play October
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Strategic Play October
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Endgame Play October
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box October
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 2 – German September
Judit Polgar Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1 – How I Beat Fischer’s Record September
Romanovsky Soviet Middlegame Technique October
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 3 November
Victor Mikhalevski GM Repertoire – The Open Spanish LATER
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 1 LATER
Jacob Aagaard GM Repertoire x1 – 1.e4 – Sicilian LATER
Marc Esserman Mayhem in the Morra LATER
Nikos (w/Jacob Aagaard) Playing the French LATER
Nick Pert GM Repertoire X – Classical Slav LATER
Categories: GM Repertoire, Publishing Schedule Tags:

Thank you ChessPub for your support

March 16th, 2012 59 comments

For the third year in a row a Quality Chess book was awarded the Opening Book of the Year honour by the good people roaming the ChessPub forum. In 2009 Marin won it for Grandmaster Repertoire 3 – The English Opening Volume 1. In 2010 Boris Avrukh won it for Grandmaster Repertoire 2 – 1.d4 volume 2. This year it is Avrukh again, taking in most votes for Grandmaster Repertoire 8 and Grandmaster Repertoire 9 – his two volumes on the Grunfeld Defence.

The votes fell line this.

Obviously I am disappointed that people did not give it to the Tarrasch, but this is the price for writing on a fringe opening. Also, note that another great opening book from 2011 – The Safest Grunfeld from Chess Stars is not on the list. Exactly why that is, I do not know. I am sure Boris would have won anyway, but it would have been nice if it had been included.

You can find the forum post here.

Categories: GM Repertoire, Prizes Tags:

The difficulties of writing a chess book part 2

March 5th, 2012 45 comments

I spent almost eight years writing the Attacking Manuals two books (AM1 and AM2) and felt absolutely drained at the end of the process. Obviously I did a lot of things in the meanwhile, but mainly I felt anxiety about my ability to reach the necessary level for making these books as good as I wanted them to be. Completing the GM title and becoming British Champion definitely helped. 2007 was a very tough year for Quality Chess and for me personally, but ended on a high by the birth of my first child.

We are now speaking more than four years later. Attacking Manual 2 came out in 2010 and I won the ECF book of the year award for the two volumes combined. In the end it was all worth it.

Enter the room in February 2011: Nikos (Nikolaos Ntirlis). Unknown outside Greece and to many Greeks as well, close to unrated (would have preferred to be) and full of ideas. I was so fascinated that I entered a mad project – the complete revival of the Tarrasch Defence. The result was Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence. We both worked so hard that Nikos went from criticising all books on the Chesspub forum to praising anyone who write an opening book and live to tell the tale!

But was it worth it? Well, initial sales have been good. People are interested (which is far more important to us than money – though we need to pay the rent of course). This is more important than the reviews, but the reviews are easier to pass on, so here we go:

The first one is from the Danish newspaper Politiken. Their chess journalist is a sometimes 2600 Danish GM who sent a private message to me on Facebook calling me insane – based on the work we had done with the book. He claimed we were making amateurs into GMs with it, which I would contest. But we have definitely given them a fighting chance against GMs!

The actual review looks like this in my translation:

“Most opening books are a collection of existing knowledge and a few extra ideas in critical positions. This is not the case with Jacob Aagaard’s and Nikolaos Ntirlis’ (called Nikos) new book on the Tarrasch Defence in the Queen’s Gambit. The book is the result of a large piece of research where the two authors have succeeded in turning completely new pages in opening theory.

Before The Tarrasch Defence was published the opening was considered dubious, but now that it is here, all super-GMs have been recalled to the laboratory. All main lines have been repaired, including those no one knew were broken. Have a look: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.dxc5! This line has always been considered completely harmless, but it is not and is handled over 37 pages! (Don’t fear – Black will be all right in the end.) The book is ground breaking and sets new standards for the future of opening books.”

GM Sune Berg Hansen

This is of course very flattering, but it is not necessarily the most positive review we have received. The German FM Christof Sielecki makes youtube lectures, freely available. He said:

The authors invested an enormous amount of time. The amount of novelties and really astonishing ideas presented here can only mean that they invested hundreds of hours to make this an interesting and really fighting choice.

But to get his excitement you really need to listen to the 30 minute lecture (which also explains some details from the book and some we shamefully omitted about move orders).

There was also a nice review in German (you are one like away if you go here) and a nice review on ChessCafe where the only criticism I could find (and you do look for them when you “only” get 5/6 in the review!) was that the book was irrelevant to players under 1400. As most opening books are, I don’t really care for this.

However, the best review of all was from Arne Moll, the notoriously harsh ChessVibes reviewer (which is why we love him. People like Elburg that loves all books are nice people, but don’t guide the customer in a meaningful way, we think). He said among other tings:

The two authors… present so many fresh and fascinating ideas in this old opening that it’s impossible to put down. It’s also a very objective and sensible book, in which the old opening is both treated with respect and is challenged to defend itself against computer-age scrutiny and rigour.

I could go on and on about the many beautiful variations in this book, but the truth is that it is crammed with fantastic stuff – really too much to mention in one review. So let me just say that the authors treat the ever-important Timman Variation (9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bg5 d4 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5) with due adoration and skepticism (I’ve always felt the line to be both overestimated and underestimated at the same time!). Here, too, they improve existing theory as they go along in many crucial lines.

The full review is very well written and gives an honest image of our book from someone who likes it. If you are wondering if you want to read the book (or even pay good money for it!) please read this first.

Categories: GM Repertoire, Reviews Tags: