Archive for the ‘GM Repertoire’ Category

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:

The difficulties of writing a chess book

February 29th, 2012 47 comments

Recently a reader wrote to me and mentioned that the same position was considered two different places in The Tarrasch Defence, with slightly different annotations. The suggestion was in both cases not to play like this, but it was still an interesting point. No matter how obsessively you work, you cannot avoid mistakes.

Similarly at some point in Delchev’s new book on the Reti he writes the following: “It is true that Mihail Marin has spent tons of ink on it in his The English Opening, Volume 2, but in fact his work has hardly advanced theory any further.” Harsh words, but apparently he did not like this lines in this specific variation. We have heard different feedback from 2700+ (sometimes ++) players about the Marin books, but maybe not all chapters were equally strong?

Or is this what happens when your editor is only 13 years old? (By the way, Happy Birthday Semko!)

No. Writing chess books is just damn hard. What you think might be interesting is routinely trashed by the readers. No matter how much work you put into your work and how obsessively you look for mistakes, they will always be there. Sometimes it is a harmless transposition to a note that is missed as above, but you are not always this lucky.

We all remember this blog post (?!).

Well, Vitiugov is back with a new edition of his book on the French, probably a combination of end of the line for the first print and a lot of serious work. I have been browsing in the book for the two days I have had it (thank you for the freebie Semko!) and find it a really interesting book worth the money several times over.

This does not mean that I am not going to get my “revenge” for the remark on the Marin book.

In the line starting with:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4+ 12. Bd2 Bxd2+ 13. Nxd2 O-O 14. Bd3 b5 15. Nb2 Nb6 16. O-O Nc4 17. Nbxc4


Vitiugov claims that the theoretical debates have recently centred around this move. I am not sure what went wrong for him. Maybe he wrote the moves down in Word and did not check the moves with a chess board or program. It only took me two seconds to see that this is completely wrong when looking at the diagram in the book and the variation he gave. But being not too overconfident, I checked with a computer (and database!) and confirmed that this is not playable.

More and more games are played (as well as becoming available) after:

17… bxc4 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20.Nf3 g6 21. Qh6 Qc7 22. f5 f6

(22… exf5 23. Rae1 is totally toast, I think. 5-0 in the database. Most recently: 23…f6 24. exf6 Qh7 25. Qf4 Qf7 26. Re7 Qxf6 27. Rfe1 Rf7 28. Rxf7 Kxf7 29. Ng5+ Kg7 30. Qc7+ Kh6 31. Qh7+ Kxg5 32. g3 1-0 Zherebukh – Jaiswal, New Delhi 2011.)

23. fxg6 Qg7 24. Qh4, when I do not believe in the Black position at all. 24…Qh8 25. Qxd4 Ba6 26. Nh4

(26. Qc3 Rae8 27. Nd4 f5 28. Rae1 White has a big advantage. 28…f4 29. Rf3 Qh4 30. Qa5 c3 31. Qxc3 Bc4 32. Kh1 Re7 33. Qb4 1-0 Colin – Haraldsson, ICCF 2010)

26… f5

(26… fxe5 27. Qg4 Rfe8 28. Rf7 with a winning attack.)

27.Nxf5 led to a winning attack in Avotins – Hladecek, e-mail 2009.

18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8

Here Vitiugov only gives 20.Nf3, failing to spot the reason why White is eager to take on c4 on move 17.

20. Ne4! Rd8

20… f6 21. Nxf6+! 1-0 Secer – Gurcan, Konya 2010. White wins after: 21…Rxf6

(21…gxf6 22. Qg6+ Kh8 23. Rf3 is mate.)

22. exf6 Bb7 23. f7+ Kf8 24. Rae1 Bd5

(24… Qxa2 25. Rf2 Qa6 26. f5)

25. f5 Qxa2 26. Re2

21. Ng5 An obvious novelty.

21. Rf3 d3 22. Rh3 Kf8 23. Qg5 Qb6+ 24. Kh1 Ke8 25. Qxg7 Qd4 was not completely clear in Bulatov – Yuzhakov, Kurgan 2010, and Black escaped with a draw.

21… Qc7 22. f5 exf5 23. Qh7+ Kf8 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Qxg7 White is evidently winning.


25… Re8 26. Qxf7+ Kd8 27. Qd5+ Qd7 28. Qxa8 with an extra rook and limited counterplay.

26. e6 Qc5 27. Rae1 d3+ 28. Kh1 d2 29. Re5

If this was a game, 1-0 would be the next text.

If you are at all interested in these two books, please get them from your nearest chess supplier. But don’t forget that Quality Chess gets the last word and the last laugh!

Fun little Tarrasch Game

December 12th, 2011 11 comments

I have rarely seen a piece trapped so nicely as in this little game I just played on PlayChess with Black.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nc3 O-O 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Na4 Be7 11. Be3 Bg4 12. Rc1 Re8 13. Re1 Rc8 14. Bc5 Bxc5 15. Nxc5 Qb6 16. Qb3 Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Nd4 18. Qxb6 axb6 19. Nxb7 Rb8 20. Nd6 Red8

Categories: Authors in Action, GM Repertoire Tags:

GM10 – The Tarrasch Defence (and what else we are up to)

November 28th, 2011 119 comments

A few weeks ago we finally sent Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence to the printer. They will finish printing it on Friday and we will have it on the way to everybody about a week thereafter, with the 12th being the day they are posted from Glasgow. You can find the excerpt here.

At the moment we are finishing Chess Evolution 5/2011 – the November issue. Printing will start on Thursday and will take about 10 working days. With close to 50 topical games, 24 puzzles and a nice article by Etienne Bacrot, this will be a terrific issue.

After this we will spread from all five working on the same project to doing a bit each. Colin will continue the work on Mihai Suba’s Positional Chess Sacrifices. Andrew will work on The Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits 2, as well as help Jacob and Lubomir Ftacnik with Grandmaster Repertoire 6 – The Sicilian Defence 2nd edition. But before Jacob will be ready for this, he needs to finish Martin Weteschnik’s book Chess Tactics from Scratch, which is a totally reworked 2nd edition of the modern classic Understanding Chess Tactics, which is now hard to get hold of. But don’t worry, the second edition will be worth the wait. John will help Jacob, and in turn Jacob will help with John’s nemesis, The King’s Gambit, which would have been out a long time ago, had we not been so busy publishing other people’s books.

In the horizon we also have the last two volumes of Artur Yusupov’s monumental series (forever placing him among the great chess instructors of all time, we think), Jacob’s suicide mission with five volumes of Grandmaster Repertoire with 1.e4 for White, Grandmaster Repertoire – Beating the 1.d4 deviations (basically where White does not play c2-c4) by Boris Avrukh, Soviet Middlegame Technique by Romanovsky and at least a few complete surprises…

Here is the updated (but as always COMPLETELY UNRELIABLE) publishing schedule:

Boris Alterman Das Alterman Gambit-Handbuch: Gambits mit Weiss Early December
Boris Alterman Das Alterman Gambit-Handbuch: Gambits mit Schwarz 1 Early December
Nikos/Aagaard Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence 9th December
Arkadij Naiditsch Chess Evolution November Early December
Martin Weteschnik Chess Tactics from Scratch – UCT 2nd edition January
Lubomir Ftacnik GM 6 – 2nd edition January
Boris Avrukh Grandmaster Reperotire X – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines January
Mihai Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices January
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits 2 February
Boris Alterman Das Alterman Gambit-Handbuch: Gambits mit Schwarz 2 February
John Shaw The King’s Gambit February
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 2 March
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Repertoire x1 – 1.e4 French, Caro-Kann & Philidor March
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 1 – German April
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 2 – German April
Lubomir Ftacnik GM6 2nd – German May
Romanovsky Soviet Middlegame Technique Later
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Repertoire x2 – 1.e4 – Minor Openings Later
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 3 Later
Categories: GM Repertoire, Publishing Schedule Tags:


November 7th, 2011 32 comments

The long road leading to Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence seems to be coming to an end. The boys will upload the book tomorrow or maybe even today. Meanwhile I have been testing the lines in the European Team Championship in Greece. So far two draws, against strong opposition. As I have managed to win both of my white games, this has been a great success. Today awaits Armenia and either Akopian or Sargissian. Chances are the Tarrasch – and especially my memory – will be seriously tested.

Update from Scotland: We reckon Jacob has White against Akopian. Live games can be watched here.

Top 3s

October 13th, 2011 118 comments

Today I saw NIC Yearbook 100 for the first time. It had some very interesting stuff and is far beyond what you normally can expect from this aging publication. Even if you have been wondering in the past why you bought one of them, please do get this one.

Interesting for us is the article by Glenn Flear on 23 interesting opening books from the last decade or so. I was a bit surprised that there was no space for Rogozenko’s THE SVESHNIKOV SICILIAN RELOADED or John Cox’ THE BERLIN WALL, especially as there was space for some books I don’t rate highly (no, I will not comment on that part). However, most enjoyable Glenn did credit Boris Avrukh with the most influencial opening book in what I figure must be this millennium for GRANDMASTER REPERTOIRE1-  1.d4 VOLUME ONE.

So, I was wondering: what are your top 3s? Please speak freely; we shall not judge you – unless John Shaw: THE KING’S GAMBIT is on your list, in which case we shall put our considerable resources into tracking you down and donating you a 400 page draft for internal use…

Anyway, back to the studio. My top 3 opening books in the 21st century is:

1. Avrukh: GM1 – 1.d4 Vol 1

2. Marin: GM3 – 1.c4 vol 1

3. Hillarp-Persson: Tiger’s Modern

I honestly stood in front of our considerable selection of opening books, and did not find a book from another company I liked as much as our 10 best books. The main reason is probably that I have considerable influence on how our books look, so they are made the way I like it, but I also genuinely think that at their time, these three books were something special. I look forward to hear other people’s opinions. I know that John would probably go Marin, Avrukh, Hillarp-Persson, but keep the same list :-).

Categories: GM Repertoire Tags:

Quality Chess Newsletter – six new books and much analysis

July 25th, 2011 70 comments

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

In the long gap since our previous newsletter we have kept busy editing and publishing books. We also managed to move office; our fancy computers survived the trip, so we’ll call the move a success and forget the logistical chaos.

Our recent books include:

Boris Avrukh’s two volumes on the Grünfeld: Grandmaster Repertoire 8 and Grandmaster Repertoire 9. Avrukh’s previous books on 1.d4 were universally praised, so his latest efforts were highly anticipated. We believe Boris has at least matched and perhaps exceeded his earlier standard. See what you think.

Tibor Karolyi also has a new two-volume series. Karpov’s Strategic Wins 1 – The Making of a Champion and Karpov’s Strategic Wins 2 – The Prime Years. The reviews have been ecstatic.

The Grandmaster Battle Manual by Vassilios Kotronias is a profound exploration and explanation of the lessons the Greek GM has learned in his years as a professional player.

Tactimania by GM Glenn Flear is a fun and original puzzle book. The manga-style art on the cover and throughout seems to have misled some into thinking it’s a book for children. Not so. It’s for all those who want to test their tactical mettle. If you enjoy Japanese-style art, then that’s just a bonus.

Since it has been a while since our last missive, we have a bumper collection of games and analysis in pdf or pgn format. The pdf stretches to 50 pages, so it’s really a small book. There is so much analysis that it is tough to pick a highlight, but perhaps many will be interested in GM Boris Avrukh’s analysis of Giri-Swinkels, a recent game that is relevant to Boris’s Grünfeld repertoire.

John Shaw
Chief Editor
Quality Chess

Categories: GM Repertoire, Newsletter Tags:

Pazzwordz, Moving Offize, Going Crasy – and wildly guessing at editing times!

June 24th, 2011 178 comments

As some of you will have noticed – our website has been somewhat broken – making it impossible to buy stuff. Not a great business model. Blame the webmaster and play ignorant is my tactic :-).

On the 30th we will move office from the current location just opposite Glasgow Central to five blocks up the road. The area is nicer, the place is bigger, the building nicer, the price lower and the company owning it gone into administration; causing all sorts of logistical problems!

Obviously we are going nuts – but everything should be on track now. Hope so – I just spent 1000 pounds in IKEA for new office furniture, including a big corner desk for yours truly.

John is working away on the King’s Gambit book. We are now optimistically putting a date on publication, although our confidence in it is low. Too low to put it in the webshop. We don’t think the King’s Gambit is the best way to play after 1.e4 e5, but these days anyone is struggling to find a good way to play. At least we have some interesting stuff to say; new concepts and a good deal of new ideas for both sides. We don’t promise an advantage – but we do promise publication!

The same is the case with the Tarrasch book. We are far – we have completed all analysis. I perform a final check in the writing phase, but that is about it. There are so many new ideas and concepts in this book, that we think it will move the theory forward by years. Chess is far from exhausted.

Finally, here is the wild guess about publication dates for the next few books:


Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 1 26 August/2 September
Nikos/Aagaard GM 10 – The Tarrasch Defence 26 August/2 September
Aagaard, Shaw (editors) Grandmaster versus Amateur 23 September
John Shaw The King’s Gambit 23 September
Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices October
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits October
GERMAN Alterman 1 October
GERMAN Alterman 2 October
Martin Weteschnik Chess Tactics from Scratch – UCT 2nd edition October
Lev Psakhis Advanced Chess Tactics October
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM 6 – 2nd edition December
David Vigorito Play the Semi-Slav 2 December
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 1 26 August
Nikos/Aagaard GM 10 – The Tarrasch Defence 26 August
Aagaard, Shaw (editors) Grandmaster versus Amateur 23 September
John Shaw The King’s Gambit 23 September
Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices October
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits October
GERMAN Alterman 1 October
GERMAN Alterman 2 October
Martin Weteschnik Chess Tactics from Scratch – UCT 2nd edition October
Lev Psakhis Advanced Chess Tactics October
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 1 26 August/2 September
Nikos/Aagaard GM 10 – The Tarrasch Defence 26 August/2 September
Aagaard, Shaw (editors) Grandmaster versus Amateur 23 September
John Shaw The King’s Gambit 23 September
Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices October
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits October
GERMAN Alterman 1 October
GERMAN Alterman 2 October
Martin Weteschnik Chess Tactics from Scratch – UCT 2nd edition October
Lev Psakhis Advanced Chess Tactics October
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM 6 – 2nd edition December
David Vigorito Play the Semi-Slav 2 December
Categories: GM Repertoire, Publishing Schedule Tags: