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Viktor Korchnoi 1931-2016

June 8th, 2016 12 comments

I never had the honour of meeting Viktor Korchnoi, so I shall turn over to Andrew Greet, who posted this on Facebook earlier.

“Just learned the sad news that Viktor Korchnoi died today at the age of 85. A fantastic chess player, arguably the strongest of all time never to become World Champion. Back in 2009, when I first joined Quality Chess, I was lucky enough to spend a few days with him at his home in Switzerland, as he was intending to write a book for us at the time. Each day, after we finished working, we spent a couple of hours playing blitz – a great privilege which I will remember forever.

Playing blitz with Viktor was an amazing experience. Even in that informal setting, he was highly competitive. Initially I was a bit starstruck, and he completely destroyed me in the first couple of games. Then I found my groove and won one, which he was visibly annoyed about! I even wondered if I might be subjected to one of his infamous put-downs, but he was a perfect gent. We didn’t keep score of the blitz games, but he definitely won more than me in total. It was pretty competitive though. On a few occasions, when I played an especially good game, he would begrudgingly say, while stopping the clock to resign: ‘You outplayed me.’ That was a nice thing to hear.”

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Agon versus the World

March 15th, 2016 32 comments

Generally my interest in the Candidates, and chess tournaments in general, is in the moves played, not the business or legal issues. But it seems an important business and legal issue is developing in chess, and it affects seeing the moves, so let’s see what readers think about ‘the Agon debate’.

For those who have not followed the story, the quick version is that Agon is the company that’s running the Candidates (and the World Championship) and they are claiming that only they (and their approved partners) have the right to broadcast the moves live. Other chess sites (such as chessdom and chess24) disagree, and are showing the moves despite Agon’s attempted ban. The dispute may end up debated in various courts around the world.

You can read Agon’s view here. And, for an opposing view from one of the chess sites, here is the view of chessdom.

There seem to be too many different aspects in this debate to make it sensible to reduce it to one poll question. There is the legal side: can Agon sue and win? A moral side? And a practical question: will Agon’s approach be successful commercially? And no doubt there are many other ways of looking at it.

And what’s my view and the official Quality Chess view? No comment. I would rather hear what you think. Also, there’s probably some book I should be working on…

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Luther’s Chess Reformation

March 2nd, 2016 48 comments

We had a great response to our request for help in naming Thomas Luther’s new book in English. There were the serious suggestions that may be worth using another day: Climbing the Chess Ladder (Matt Fletcher), From Pawn to Chess King (Jacob), The Grandmaster Code (Quine Duhem) and many more.

Then the jokers were on form: Thomas the Rank Engine (Tommy Barrett), Waste your Life Achieving a Devalued Title (I hope Depressed Cynic was joking), and one of my personal favourites How Thomaster Chess (Schtroumfechecs).

Others made links between our author Thomas Luther and Martin Luther, one of the major figures in the Protestant Reformation. As I understand it, Thomas is a descendant of Martin, so this makes sense. At first I just took the Martin Luther links as part of the joke category. But one title kept growing on us – Luther’s Chess Reformation. Even ignoring the historical connection, we like it. It’s unusual and it fits the book’s content. So our winner is… Bill. Congratulations Bill and thanks for your help.

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Apologies

February 29th, 2016 2 comments

Just a brief word of apology to those who have purchased books from Friday afternoon onwards (26th). Claire is back from three week’s holiday in Australia today. The last thing she said before walking out the door two minutes ago was: “****, I forgot to do the websales.”

We usually try to get the ordered books out within 24 hours of receiving the order (Monday-Friday, we don’t have to work weekends, so we don’t), but in this case we simply have to rely on your patience. The websales will be the number one priority in the morning.

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Our new book is called…

February 18th, 2016 153 comments

 
We are going to publish a new book, in both German and English, by GM Thomas Luther. In German we already have a title – Vom Schüler zum Großmeister. The direct translation into English would be ‘From Pupil to Grandmaster’ or ‘From Student to Grandmaster’, but we are not happy with either of those options. Maybe they are too similar to Jonathan Hawkins’ ‘From Amateur to IM’ or maybe it’s something else, but they don’t feel right.
 
So we are looking for suggestions. The book is about chess improvement and training, including the story of Thomas’s journey to the GM title. So maybe the title could involve the word ‘grandmaster’, but in fact we are open to all non-obscene suggestions. If we use your suggestion, you will be mentioned on page 2 of the book and, if I’m feeling really generous, maybe we’ll even give you a free copy of the book.

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What does the World Champion actually earn?

December 4th, 2015 7 comments

Generally, it is known what a chess player earns for playing in a tournament. The first prize is listed and the appearance fee is usually enough to cover travel and a bit more, with accommodation and food often supplied by the organisers. For lower-ladder GMs such as myself, this is frequently all that is offered, although I get £300 for one tournament I frequently play and £500 for the Danish Championship.

I have always felt blessed that people pay me to play chess. I have never been a devoted professional and the organisers are usually working for free in Northern Europe, because they like chess and the sponsors are entirely philanthropic.

But there are serious players out there as well. People who make their living from playing chess. They go from open tournament to open tournament, struggling to make ends meet.

The best players go from this nomadic existence to a super-league of highly-paid tournaments. In his interview about Norwegian Chess, Topalov explained his relaxed attitude to chess these days as “last prize is $15,000”, which is certainly a better prize than I have ever received…

I talked to a top 20 player once, who said he got £5000 in appearance fee for his latest tournament, but rushed to tell me that this was of course very, very good. Life outside the top tournaments is doable, but it is not gilded.

But what about Magnus Carlsen, World Champion, fashion icon and national hero? Surely this must be good business? Obviously, we would never be able to find out what Anand, Kramnik and Topalov earn, as they live in countries where such information is not easily accessible. But Carlsen lives in Norway, where everything is out in the open.

Read more…

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The Marketing of Chess Books?

October 5th, 2015 75 comments

Recently one of our employees fell out online with a chess writer for a competing chess publisher. The said writer fell for a hoax and our employee teased him a bit, while telling him. Said writer took offence. Things go wrong in written language all the time. No story.

The writer clearly had a bigger think and posted this comment on his thread:

One by one I have had to remove ‘Quality Chess’ people from my ‘friends’ list. I guess in a way it has been inevitable, every atom of my being is opposed to their approach to publishing and the marketing of highly sophisticated openings books. The ‘market’ is way too weak for these books but it’s easy to convince people that they need them.

I am all for good old-time mud-wrestling, but somehow it is less interesting to watch when it is performed by slightly bulky middle-aged men. So therefore I would prefer to turn it into a debate with our readers, you guys. Do you think that there is some truth in what this guy says? I will give my own view first.

Read more…

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Forward Chess – Restoring purchases

September 29th, 2015 13 comments

Most of our new books will be on Forward Chess and will be available a week before they are available in shops. This is obviously a move to support this format and get it off the ground. Not because we want it to take over from paper books, but because we want to make sure that this format flourishes as a viable alternative.

One minor advantage with this format is that on the rare occasions where we make small corrections to books, they happen to the Forward Chess books. Recently a few corrections were included in Positional Decision Making in Chess ahead of the reprint of hardback copies that will take place in a few weeks’ time. To make sure that you have the corrected book, use the restore purchases option in the App. For everyone else, you will have to wait for my blog post on the subject, also coming in a few weeks’ time…

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