Archive for the ‘Jacob Aagaard’s training tips’ Category

A Question of Technique?

October 27th, 2014 16 comments

In the second round of the Tashkent Grand Prix there were two really important games as far as I am concerned. In two games did very young players (20 and 22) get a big advantage and in both of them they blew it.

In the first game Anish Giri got a big advantage with White after quite a cunning novelty. The interesting moment of the game was probably this one:

White has a serious advantage from the opening, but he needs to find a deep plan in order to make something of it. Here Giri’s main strengths were not rightly suited for the task. Giri has great opening preparation and plays quite fast, putting his opponent’s under a lot of psychological and practical pressure. It seems to me that he is especially venomous with faster time controls.

But here he had to think deeply and find a plan. It is actually quite an interesting task and I put it forward to you guys to formulate a plan here that will create an additional weakness. It is by no means easy. I have an idea, but I am not sure it is right at all.

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No Fear

October 20th, 2014 3 comments

I spent the last 10 days on holiday in Denmark and have been thinking very little on chess (with the exception of looking up how Gelfand was doing in Baku), but going on the roller coasters with my oldest daughter (6 years old) made me think a bit about how flexible our emotions are.
Many times have I had the conversation with a young promising player, where I present my understanding about how to react to setbacks and disappointments.

The basic idea is this: negative emotions do not in themselves create anything positive.

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A Fortress Revisited

October 13th, 2014 8 comments

I am not a very technical person and I do not check how many people actually read the blog posts I write. I know that it is hundreds when I put up a new publishing schedule. We got about 300 votes for the Gelfand covers – and I would assume that most people voted, as it is so easy.

Obviously I like that my books have a greater readership than the free stuff, which probably has a lot to do with the effort I put into them (while the blog posts are meant to be contemplations and opening up for debates that will help me write BOX next year more than anything).

So I always get surprised when a really strong player says that he has read it. This is another case of this (based on this post).

Apparently I was not right when I believed that Black could maybe hold the fortress in this position:

 Giri – Kraemer, Germany 2014

111…Kg8? 112.Nd6 Rf6 113.Rc8+ Kh7 114.Rd8!

Black is in zugzwang.


Apparently White was winning all the same. The following interesting analysis was sent by email from GM Karsten Mueller, maybe the world’s leading authority on the endgame.


I foolishly speculated that Black was holding, but look at this:

112.Rc8+ Kg7 113.Rg8+!

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Looking for what you do not see

October 7th, 2014 11 comments

White to play and win in all three positions:

I have promised to write a bit about how it can be that a player can be close to 2650 and still “not be able to calculate”.

To most this sounds almost obscene, of course. I understand this, but if we agree on what this means, brick by brick, I will be able to illustrate it quite easily. In the process I will also take the chance to refer to my article in New in Chess Magazine, volume 6, out a few weeks ago. This article explains a central idea from the forthcoming Thinking inside the Box (which I am starting to feel brave enough to write).

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Jacob Aagaard Interview

September 30th, 2014 43 comments

Jacob was recently interviewed for the Spanish blog Un Andaluz y el Adjedrez. Here is the English version of the interview:

GM Jacob Aagaard

GM Jacob Aagaard

1) Can any person, and I mean ANY, get better at chess studying and competing, in your opinion? Do you think there is a limit, and not everybody is born to be a FM, for instance?

I am sure that there is a limit for some people. There is such a thing as talent for sure, but how important it is, is not really clear. Some minor tests have been done, but the research looking at people over a decade or more has not been done in a way that it can be statistically significant for chess. Not to my knowledge at least.

It has been done in music and the suggestion there was that the early talents did not do that well. The main reason probably being that it was too easy for them in the beginning and they never got into the habit of working hard…

I believe that there is no reason to set barriers to yourself. In principle everyone can learn everything. The question is how long it will take! Is it worth it. And so on.

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Half knowledge is dangerous! by IM Sagar Shah

September 29th, 2014 11 comments

This is a long holiday weekend in Glasgow, the Quality Chess office is closed, and Jacob has gone to the seaside (?), so we have a guest blogger, IM Sagar Shah, with an article taken from his excellent blog:

I have this habit of buying one chess book in every tournament that I play. In this way, my final aim is one day to open a huge library of chess books! And there are some tournaments when I really play well. Then I can use my prize money to buy more chess books.
In my Euro trip which ended just a month ago, I had two huge achievements.
1. I became an International Master (IM) in Spain
2. I won the Dresden Open 2014 and made my maiden GM norm in Germany.

In one of my past articles: People behind my IM title , I had mentioned that there are two chess authors whom I hold in very high regard.

One of them is GM Jacob Aagaard

One of them is GM Jacob Aagaard

And the other is IM Mark Dvoretsky.

And the other is IM Mark Dvoretsky.

When I became an IM in Spain, my wife, Amruta, decided to gift me the latest book written by Aagaard.

The fifth book from the Grandmaster Preparation series: Endgame play.

The fifth book from the Grandmaster Preparation series: Endgame play.

The book was pretty expensive. 30 Euros. That comes to nearly Rs.2400. So I had kind of exhausted my resources on book buying for the trip.

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Top players and their limitations – open for debate

September 22nd, 2014 45 comments

On Friday we received an email from a book reviewer congratulating us on the outcome of the referendum, where the Scottish people declined the proposed secession from the United Kingdom. I answered him, stating that we were actually divided in the office on the best way forward, with one declared supported, two clear no-votes, one “evil referendum” opinion and two undeclared.

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On Book Titles

September 15th, 2014 56 comments

We start with a preview from the Gelfand book, taken from a variation from Navara – Gelfand, Prague (1) 2006.

Black to Play and Win


In our weekly editorial meeting we have been debating the book with the working title Chess from Scratch at length almost every week. To cut to the pawn ending, basically we have wanted to squeeze a Soviet treasure into a title where it did not fully fit.

The title is not a description of the content of the book, but something we use to make people look at the book and find it interesting. Once you have people reading, hopefully they will forgive you anything. Obviously we care a lot about what is inside the book and not about the title, though we have to find good titles nonetheless…

On Friday I came to the meeting with a bombshell. I had finally realised that the box did not fit. We want to develop the ‘From Scratch’ series with a few more books, based among others on how much we love Chess Tactics from Scratch. But the Maizelis book does not fit. No matter how much we wanted it to fit.

So, we will publish it as The Soviet Chess Primer. It will be out in 5-6 weeks. We will have another book called Chess from Scratch quite soon as well. The author is someone a lot closer to home. Me.

The position at the start of the article Read more…