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Russian books

August 26th, 2016 28 comments

Recently a book, written by Timoshenko on the Sveshnikov Sicilian, was published in Russia. From all we know, it is a decent book by a real expert on the opening. We do not want to publish it in English, as we have our own book by Kotronias, which is really excellent.

But Russian Chess House decided that this Timoshenko book would fit in well with their version of the Grandmaster Repertoire series, where they have previously published some of our QC books. To do this, they took a version of the cover we had given them for a different book, and then their cover artist lifted the chessboard photo off our book on the Sveshnikov Sicilian and used it on their own cover.

Their thinking was: this will cause no damage to Quality Chess and be good for Russian Chess House.

Our thinking is that:

a) They did not ask us, which is a big transgression. And we would have said no.

b) It does reflect on Quality Chess, as people will naturally tie this book to our brand. This is called ‘trading off’.

If we wanted to do it, we could license our brand in Russia and elsewhere, but it also means that some people will hold us responsible for the quality of the Timoshenko book and if it is not good, they will think worse of our books. This might not be a case with this book, we don’t know for sure to be honest, but clearly this is a choice we want to make!

Similarly, we believe in Russian Chess House’s series there is a book by Scherbakov on ‘The Triangle System’  that looks like a Quality Chess book, but is nothing to do with us.

We have talked to Russian Chess House and they are apologetic. Things have been sorted out.

We share this with you for a few reasons:

a) We want you to know that this book has nothing to do with us and will not be published by us.

b) Please think about the idea of a victimless crime. There is not really any such thing. Respect copyright, especially ours!

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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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Quality Chess Newsletter – Ntirlis week – Playing 1.e4 e5 and a Tarrasch update

February 23rd, 2016 158 comments

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

3rd February was the official publication date of Playing 1.e4 e5 – A Classical Repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis. This book offers a complete repertoire for Black against 1.e4 based on 1…e5, with the Breyer Variation against the Spanish the backbone of the repertoire. Ntirlis’s previous books have been well received, and we think this is his best work yet. An excerpt can be read here.

Since my last newsletter, we have also published Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The Sicilian II by GM Parimarjan Negi and Grandmaster Repertoire 6A – Beating the Anti-Sicilians by GM Vassilios Kotronias.

Those of you who enjoyed Ntirlis’s earlier work Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence (co-written with GM Jacob Aagaard in 2011) will be particularly interested in the chess files below. In the pdf Ntirlis updates The Tarrasch Defence to show how the repertoire has stood the test of time. The pgn file gives the games referred to in the pdf.

Regards,
John Shaw
Chief Editor

Quality Chess

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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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