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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.

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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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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!

NigelShort

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 jacob@qualitychess.co.uk

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Quality Chess Newsletter – Summer 2015 Update

August 14th, 2015 21 comments

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

It has been a while since our previous newsletter – we have been busy producing new books. The following list of books shows what we have we been up to recently.

Last month we published two new books.

In The Semi-Slav GM Lars Schandorff offers a sharp and entertaining Black repertoire using the Semi-Slav Defence. A pdf excerpt is here.
Schandorff’s previous books on Playing 1.d4 and the Caro-Kann have received rave reviews.

In Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 2 – The World Champion IM Tibor Karolyi continues his trilogy about the life and games of one of the most popular World Champions. A pdf excerpt is here.
GM Lubomir Kavalek on Volume 1: “(Karolyi) also sought input from Tal’s opponents, friends and coaches, creating a vivid picture of Tal as a person. Among many books written about Tal, Karolyi’s work stands out.”

The chess files (in pgn and pdf) include various games and snippets we hope will be of interest.

Regards,
John Shaw
Chief Editor
Quality Chess

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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.

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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.

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