Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nigel Short lectures in Edinburgh

August 20th, 2015 14 comments

It is with great pleasure that I can announce our next guest at Edinburgh Chess Club, Grandmaster Nigel Short. Nigel has played for England for 30 years and played a World Championship match against Garry Kasparov in London 1993. Although he is not as ambitious as he used to be, Nigel’s understanding of chess has not faded and I am sure he will be able to explain a thing or two.

I have asked Nigel to talk about setting up and executing an attack. I am very curious as to what he will be able to tell us!


The dates are:

Saturday 26th September  15.00-19.00
Sunday 27th September    13.00-17.00
Monday 28th September   18.30-22.00
Tuesday 29th September   18.30-22.00

The location is Edinburgh Chess Club, 1 Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 4PH

The cost for participating is £150 per person FOR ALL FOUR DAYS. There is a 50% discount for u18s and those travelling from outside Scotland to participate.

There will be some refreshments at the seminar. We will go out for a meal as a group on the Saturday evening.

Registration is through GM Jacob Aagaard at

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Walter Browne 1949–2015

June 25th, 2015 3 comments

Sad news about the death of Walter Browne. I will leave detailed tributes to those who knew Walter well. Our connection is that Walter was one of the authors of Champions of the New Millennium.  We never met in person, but Walter’s lively good humour came through even in emails or on the phone. In the office, we all remember his phone message shortly after his book was published:

“Hey guys, Walter Browne here. Listen – I need more of those books, and I need ’em damn soon!”

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A quick note on book prices and value

May 22nd, 2015 96 comments

At the moment I am helping John a little bit with his two 1.e4 books (they are happening, I promise you!). We are quite a far way with Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines, and I have begun working on a few lines that I have some experience with. Obviously this is just a sneaky way to slip one or two of my own games into the book, though I think John will be efficient and delete them when he gets his hand on the files!

Anyway, I was looking at the competition in this process. We always do – with the hope that you will use our discoveries to win a game against one of their suggestions!

In the process I saw a distinct difference between two types of books. For example: I really liked two books on the Caro-Kann, Houska’s new book from Everyman and Dreev’s “Attacking the Caro-Kann” from Chess Stars. Jovanka and I play in the same team at the 4NCL and I know how much work has gone into that book. Dreev has probably been less diligent, but he has such a range of knowledge that although he missed a big, big line (John’s main suggestion) it was in a footnote on something he did not recommend and not what you would buy the book for anyway.

But there are other books – and here I shall not mention any names – where you are wondering where your €25 went. One book is word for word reprinting of articles the author has published elsewhere – without updating them in regard to other works out on the subject, even when rather important things have happened. And in a training video I saw, the author had clearly spent less time researching the line than he spent recording the thing. I really felt less informed afterwards, though I did learn 1-2 small tricks I did not know before, though arguably, I will never find any use for them, I fear.

Read more…

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Midlife Crisis?

February 16th, 2015 33 comments

“What has been interesting is seeing how much easier it is to work on a project once how it’s going is divorced from how I’m doing. It frees me up to experience all the ups and downs and swings and roundabouts of my emotional life while continuing to move forward step by step and day by day on my goals and projects.

And because attempting to control my own state of mind is no longer at the forefront of my thinking, the innate well-being of my essential nature rises to the surface more and more of the time. I’m doing better than ever, regardless of how things are going; things are going better than ever, regardless of how I am doing.”
– Michael Neill

I am in Athens licking my wounds and talking about chess. Friday-Sunday we had a three day training seminar, where we focused on Candidates (seeing what you do not see automatically) and The Three Questions (Where are the weaknesses? What is the opponent’s idea? Which is the worst placed piece?). Tonight I will talk for a few hours about the work with Boris Gelfand and the coming book.

Recent events in my private life have made me think a lot about who I am. At 41 years of age, this is a classic thing to do of course. 2014 was a very hard year for me in many ways. Not the least of it being that I was struggling a lot – and I really mean a lot – to get serious work done. I am truly blessed to have good friends like John and Boris and Nikos morally supporting me and understanding that this is a transitional phase that we all go through. I also think it is coming to an end, even though the beginning of 2015 has been as challenging as 2014 was.

I have learned a lot of things from this process, not all of which I have fully digested, but I wanted to share a few of them here.

1. I am a good person that means well. I have my insecurities and problems with communicating things clearly, but I really am happy with who I am.
2. I do not express enough how grateful I am for people’s company and friendship. I will try to rectify this in the future.
3. If there is a big problem in your life, you really need to address it. It will only grow and grow. Churchill said that if you refused to fight a battle when you could win easily, you would have to fight it later when you were fighting for your survival. I believe this is true. I just have not followed this advice as often as I should…
4. I really care about the work I do and this is a good thing.
5. I need to be kinder and more forgiving of my mistakes. Laugh at them, rather than judge myself. I was doing this already, but I am better at it now.
6. I needed to take better care of myself. I have started doing this and it has been a part of the solution to the midlife crisis.
7. Start following your own advice more!
8. When you are tired, go to sleep. Do not talk to people about important things.
9. My social skills are heavily impaired by my gender.
10. You are an adult once you have figured out that you need to give it your best shot and see where it lands. Everything else is just a waste of time…

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Who wrote what?

November 21st, 2014 21 comments

When I write on this blog I try very hard to keep things professional, without making them dull. When I am on my Facebook account I will happily debate things freely, defend controversial points of view or defend dogmatic points of view for that sake, should I agree on them. (An interesting thing is that it is always with the second type of defence that you get into the really difficult discussions with people that are really passionate! It must be like that debating with me at times then!!)

Recently someone tried in private conversation to make a link between the two Worlds, somehow wanting to question the ethics of Quality Chess because of my general views of the moral stand on income tax and ethics in general (views that do not belong here!). The dig was that Quality Chess had somehow a low level of ethics because he felt that Lars Schandorff’s book on the Semi-Slav is being “ghost written”.

This leads to obvious inspiration regarding who writes what on a few projects.

Let us start with Playing the French. It is no secret and has never been a secret that this book is to a great extent written by Nikos, with me advising, helping in choosing lines, finding a few novelties (the best of which was unfortunately played in a Corr. Game before the book was finished) and looking over the finished book. It says as much in the foreword. Nikos did not feel confident enough for the book to have only his name on it. It is the main reason I allowed my name to appear on it. And then the fact that the book was great and I knew it would be great and that Nikos and I work together on openings all the time (that I work on openings). If the book had not been good, I would not have wanted myself associated with the book. As it was, I was centrally involved, just not as the main writer, and I did go over the rest of the book. And we were always very open on this structure of the work with everyone. In the foreword and on the blog.

The book was 2nd in the Chess Publishing Opening Book of the Year Vote.

The winner was another group project. John Shaw’s The King’s Gambit, the ultimate murder weapon (at least if you hit someone with the hardback version). John wrote at least 60% of the book. I wrote maybe 10% and Andrew maybe 25%+. John checked everything over and made sure he was happy with it. Had John been alone on this project the book would never have existed? Now it is a best seller.

Again, we were open about this.

Read more…

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Why the candidates have the right 8 people and why this is the best system so far – An entirely personal opinion

March 11th, 2014 72 comments

I promised to put this up and thought it would be more fun here than at position 37 on the discussion.

The candidates system is the best possible system at the moment as it does what it is determined to do: get the right winner. We saw that in London, Mexico City and San Luis. A lengthy match-cycle as the distant past might look better to some, but it takes too long and gives us less World Championship matches as well as no promotion.

The players in the candidates are found in a fair way:

* The World Cup gives everyone a chance to qualify. Which this time meant Andreikin made it through. I cannot see that this will lead to Aronian or Kramnik not having a fair shot at the top spot, but it makes the system democratic, as in the past. Remember that Short beat Gurevich with Black in the exchange French 1990 in order to qualify to play Kasparov 1993!

* The Grand Prix gives 20+ of the best players a chance to qualify based on 44 games each (4×11 – please correct me if incorrect number). No one are more deserving than those qualifying there.

* Rating guarantees that the two best players (other than World Ch.) in the World participates, even though one of them failed in his attempt to qualify (Aronian).

* The loser of the World Championship match cannot qualify by other means as he is busy preparing for the match.

* The show needs funding; thus a free space is a good idea. In 2013 it was the World’s no. 4. In 2014 it is a 7 times Russian Champion and no. 3 in 2013 candidates.

Somehow, the idea that it is an unfair system when some top 10 players are not playing is the same as saying that the whole qualification should be based on rating. I do not believe that Nakamura’s ability to beat lower rated players more often than some other top players is relevant to who is the World Champion.

And the criticism of Karjakin, at the time of qualification no. 5 in the world is qualified on rating is weird too. If there was no World Cup, he would have qualified directly on rating anyway. Things have moved, but everyone knew when the date was to qualify on rating.

Despite my immense respect for Nakamura, I think he just got it wrong on this one. The biggest threat to Carlsen is someone who qualifies under a fair and open system, not the one picked by journalists. In the same interview Nakamura also tried to portray his defeat of Kramnik in London as a great achievement, rather than to admit that he was outplayed and then got lucky. I guess it characterises an optimist and is a great assett for the US no. 1, but winning lost endings in rapid does not make you a challenger for the crown…

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Chess-Related Job Opportunity in Glasgow

January 28th, 2014 7 comments

Quality Chess is in need of an assistant editor to work full time with our team in the centre of Glasgow.
The job will mainly be editing of chess books, but other publishing-related tasks will be part of the job. It is important to note that the main part of the job is to edit writing by non-native speakers into high-quality English.
You would be working with a highly qualified team: GMs Shaw, McNab and Aagaard, IM Greet and our (untitled) part-time bookkeeper.
Some on-the-job training will be available, but a decent understanding of chess is necessary (a rating over 2000, preferably more), good English and decent typing skills are essential. A basic ability to operate Word and ChessBase are expected as well.
Working hours are: 9.30-18.00 Monday-Thursday and 9.30-15.00 Friday.
Holidays and holiday pay according to the statutory minimums, but with the chance to take extra time off if needed. We are especially understanding of the need to play chess tournaments!
If you are interested, please contact our MD John Shaw on to get financial details and possibly set up an interview, in Glasgow or by Skype.
Closing date: 21st February

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Boris Avrukh Seminar 5-8 May in Glasgow

April 14th, 2011 7 comments

Quality Chess is pleased to host a fourteen-hour training seminar over four days with probably the most renowned theoretician in the world. GM Boris Avrukh has worked with Gelfand, Kramnik and Caruana and is currently the trainer of the Israeli national team.

The sessions will be divided into two themes: the opening and the middlegame.
Thursday the 5th 19-22: Preparation at Grandmaster level
Friday the 6th 19-22: Developments in Avrukh’s 1.d4 repertoire
Saturday the 7th 14-18: Prophylactic Play
Sunday the 8th 12-16: Aggressive Play

Venue: Quality Chess office, Central Chambers, 93 Hope Street, Suite 45 (Mezzanine floor). Entrance next to Caffe Nero, opposite Glasgow Central Station.

Price: £120 for all four days. 50% discount for juniors and those living outside Scotland who travel here to attend. £60 for a single day attendance. If we have more than 20 full paying customers (or equivalent income) every participant will get a free copy of a Quality Chess book. Every participant will receive a 25% discount on QC books bought during the lectures.

Payment method: To reserve your place, please send a cheque made out to Jacob Aagaard to 20 Balvie Road, Glasgow, G62 7TA, UK. Please also confirm via e-mail to

Born in 1978 in Kazakhstan, Boris started playing chess at the age of 6. His first big win was the Soviet u-12 Championship (beating among others Sergey Movsesian). Later the same year he won the u-12 World Championship. In 1991 he won silver in the u-14 European Championship. In 1995 his family moved to the famous chess city of Beer-Sheva in Israel, where Boris received a lot of support from the director of the Beer-Sheva Chess Club, Ilyau Levant. From 1995-2000 Boris worked with Grandmasters Mark Tseitlin and Alexander Huzman (Gelfand’s coach for many years). The work bore fruit and in 1998 he became a grandmaster.

Boris’s debut as a chess writer was Grandmaster Repertoire 1 – 1.d4 Volume One in 2008 and he was immediately hailed as one of the world’s top chess theorists. The book’s impact on top level and amateur chess has been exceptional and also brought great success to Quality Chess. In 2010 Boris repeated this success with the second part of his repertoire: Grandmaster Repertoire 2 – 1.d4 Volume Two. In June his new book, Grandmaster Repertoire 8 – The Grunfeld Defence will be published. All of these books are published by Quality Chess.
From 1998 to 2009 Boris played for the Israeli national team. His success as an author, and subsequent training and lecturing jobs, meant that he was not selected for the 2010 Olympiad due to the principle that only full-time players should be in the team, although he was clearly strong enough. The national coach decided Boris’s abilities were better used as a second and he now works for the Israeli national team in that capacity.

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