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

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…

A few words about mistakes

September 1st, 2014 13 comments

This will hopefully be a short post, as I am rather exhausted, suffering from a cold and four hours of rook and knight vs. rook and knight endgame analysis with Boris Gelfand.

In the cause of events we talked about one of the recurring topics – what constitutes a mistake.

I wrote about this already in Excelling at Chess published back in 2001 and although I cannot remember the words I used, I do not think there was any noticeable difference between what Boris said and what I wrote back then; maybe with the exception that Boris phrased it a bit more accurately.

A mistake is a move that makes your task more difficult.

It is that simple.

The topic came up when I said at one point that I thought that one move he made was maybe not a mistake anyway, if White was able to hold the draw no matter what. I meant this in the objective sense, in which we often use ?!, ? and ??. I have to admit that in my annotations I have a strong tendency to go for ? only in the situations where the objective evaluation of the position is significantly changed. This means after analysis and engine assistance.

But this of course does not tell us anything about how many good moves we still have to find in order to win the game.

In Excelling at Chess I told the story of how a friend of mine was three pawns up and later on complained of how he missed the win when he was one pawn up. It is of course an extreme example, but this is essentially what we are talking about. It is not important if the engine can find a win, but if you can find it at the board; and how easy/difficult it is to do so.

The same with equal positions. There are equal positions that are comfortable, promising and depressing. I know which ones I prefer.

The morale of all of this is that when you analyse your games and think about your play after the game, do not complain that you are not as strong as the engines; instead understand where you needed the engines help to prove your point and where you did not. Obviously this is only relevant if you want to improve your results. Otherwise ignore and continue with your Internet blitz games!

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How to use opening books (and own analysis) for memorisation

August 25th, 2014 64 comments

I have been asked about writing this short article a number of times and have hesitated, because it is obvious that many will have other ideas and opinions, as well as be critical of what I will say. But to make it clear: I am just presenting my own system, which makes sense to me. I am not saying that this is how everyone should do it or that this necessarily fits most people. It is just how I have had positive experiences working.

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