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The touch-move debate

March 22nd, 2016 16 comments

The Nakamura touch-move incident at the Candidates is our poll topic this week. The facts are not in dispute, as the video is clear. Nakamura touched the king, so he had to move it, and he did. It’s the interpretation of his after-the-touch “j’adoube” that’s in question. A heat-of-the-moment slip or something dodgier? You can listen to Nakamura’s side of the story in this video. I believe Aronian is waiting until after the event to give his view.

I will just leave it with 2 options, though no doubt there could be dozens of different levels of alleged dodginess.

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Candidates or World Championship matches…

March 1st, 2016 3 comments

Last week’s poll question was: What is your favourite phase of a chess game? Of The Big Three the narrow winner was ‘middlegame’, ahead of my favourite ‘endgame’, with ‘opening’ well beaten. Not so surprising. I suspect the time spent studying each phase would get a very different answer, but I will save that question for another day.

Poll-phase

Our thoughts now are on the Candidates tournament which starts in Moscow on March 10th. We did a quiz for last year’s World Cup, and we plan something similar for the Candidates. But for now I will just ask: Which event do you generally find more exciting: Candidates tournaments or World Championship matches? Of course the match is when the big prize is decided, but on Magnus Carlsen’s rise to the title, the Candidates in London was surely the most dramatic moment.

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Favourite Phase?

February 22nd, 2016 5 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘What do you love most about chess?’ It was a close-run race, but ‘Studying’ edged out ‘Winning’ and ‘Beauty’. As I have said a few times, I think the voters on a Quality Chess poll may not be representative of all chess players, so an emphasis on studying and winning makes sense from the voters. But based on the number of suggestions in the post below, maybe your favourite chess activity is naming books.

Poll-love

This week I shall continue my investigation into your chess soul by asking: What is your favourite phase of a chess game?

I guess many will spend a decent chunk of time looking at openings, but does that make it your favourite phase? The almost unlimited variety and complexity of middlegames will appeal to the fighters. But there will be those of us who prefer the clarity of endgames, especially rook endings with no nasty knights to fork and trick me.

You might think that the answers Opening, Middlegame and Endgame would cover everything, but I shall include an Other, for a few reasons. First, there is the so-called Fourth Phase when both sides queen, and you might have queen, rook(s) and pawns each. Or maybe you are the profound type who most enjoys the challenge of figuring out the transitions between the phases.

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Love

February 15th, 2016 12 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘Do you follow a fixed repertoire or play game to game?’ The majority of the readership is very definitely in the former camp, with ‘One fixed repertoire’ a clear winner followed by ‘Vary sub-system within main defence’  followed by ‘Two complete repertoires’ in the top three places, scooping up 68% of the vote between them. Not many I-make-it-up-as-I-go people on the QC blog, which makes sense.

Poll-repertoire

Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, we will go sentimental with this week’s poll: What do you love most about chess?

For some it will be winning, and only winning. For the more sensitive souls, there will be beauty, or creativity or the excitement of competition, regardless of the result.

There are even those who see chess as a kind of academic hobby – they might enjoy studying the intricacies of the Botvinnik Semi-Slav, but with no intention of ever playing it.

And as ever, ‘Other’ is there as an option for the outliers.

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A fixed repertoire?

February 8th, 2016 34 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015?’ It was a three-way fight all week between the opening repertoire books of Houska, Sielecki and Bologan, and in the end IM Jovanka Houska’s Caro-Kann repertoire edged out Sielecki by 5 votes. As it happens, Jovanka is an occasional 4ncl teammate of Jacob, Andrew and me, but I can assure you that all the counting was automatic and impartial.

Poll-otherbooks

We saw from last week’s poll how popular repertoire books are, but I am curious how you use them. Or how you use the repertoire you put together yourself. So my question this week is: Do you follow a fixed repertoire or play game to game? That question needs some explanation, so I shall expand on it.

Is what is in the book your complete fixed repertoire, and you follow it religiously? I know one player who for 30 years has always answered 1.e4 with the Caro-Kann, and the rest of his repertoire is similarly unchanging.

Or maybe you are at the other extreme, and make it up fresh every game? But even among those who change opening every game, there are differences. Some are trying to avoid all theory and all prep, while others are targeting a perceived weakness in their opponent’s repertoire.

Then there are those who always, for example, play 1…e5 against 1.e4, but vary which line they play against the main line Spanish. Does that count as a fixed repertoire?

Or there are dozens of other approaches, so it’s tough to be comprehensive in the list of options to click, but there’s always the comments box to explain.

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Best non-QC chess book of the year?

February 1st, 2016 42 comments

Last week’s poll question was ‘What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015?’ The convincing winner was Chess Structures by Mauricio Flores Rios, ahead of Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making in Chess.  Between them, these two books scooped up the lion’s share of the votes.

 

Poll-QC2015

As mentioned last week, the question this time is What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015? I made a list of options based on the comments section, leaving out books whose 2015 versions were only updates of older books. As ever, there is the ‘Other’ category if I have missed your favourite.

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Best Quality Chess book of 2015?

January 25th, 2016 35 comments

Last week’s poll question was “Do you agree with Nigel Short that the evidence suggests men are hardwired to play better chess than women, for whatever reason?” The pro-hardwired option was a narrow winner ahead of the opposing view, but at 45% to 40% it is clearly a disputed issue.

Poll-women

This week I will move to safer territory: in your opinion, What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015? Since we love all our children equally, I shall list every book we published in 2015.

Spoiler: next week I plan to ask ‘What was the best non-Quality Chess chess book in 2015?’ So in the comments, please nominate some likely candidates.

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Beauty versus the Beast

January 18th, 2016 46 comments

Last week’s poll question was: “Who will win Wijk aan Zee?” It seems the readership’s faith in the World Champion has been restored, as Magnus Carlsen won the poll overwhelmingly, with almost two-thirds of the votes cast.

Poll-WijkaanZee
Earlier this month a simultaneous display titled “Beauty versus the Beast” was held between GM Nigel Short and 20 of New Zealand’s best female players. You will know or guess that this is related to Nigel’s remarks about the supposed differences between male and female brains, including that: “Men and women’s brains are hard-wired very differently, so why should they function in the same way?”

Do you agree with Nigel Short that the evidence suggests men are hardwired to play better chess than women, for whatever reason?

Jacob suggested the following possible answers:

A) I have a feeling that this is true, although we cannot know why this is the case before it has been investigated thoroughly.
B) I very seriously doubt that there is anything biological making women worse at chess than men.
C) I am a full-blown sexist and don’t care about the facts. Report me now!
D) Other

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