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Praise for Gelfand’s book

December 29th, 2015 27 comments

SutovskyGelfand

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Mating the Castled King – A review

March 23rd, 2015 3 comments

On his entertaining blog, IM Sagar Shah gives an in-depth review of Mating the Castled King by Danny Gormally, and discusses how he used the book to help prepare for the recent Indian National Team championships in Goa.

IMG_0571

“So is going through this book going to help you to become a better player? Of course! My personal experience is that your mind will start seeing patterns much faster.

When I went to Goa, I setup my chess board on a table in my room. I kept the book of Mating the castled King next to it. Whenever I had some time, I would open a random page and setup a position from the book and solve it. After solving the position, I would just make a note with a tick mark that I had solved the position. Add a star or two next to the problem if I really liked it. In this way, I was solving almost 5-10 positions everyday. This helped me to stay in excellent tactical shape and I was able to remain unbeaten in the tournament. I continued working with the book even after the tournament and I am happy to say that I have completed the 160 positions.

Final words: A unique book which not only helps you to get acquainted with mating patterns against a castled king but also helps you to improve your art of calculation thanks to the excellent quality of analysis.”

The full review is available here.

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Review of Forward Chess app by IM John Watson

December 12th, 2014 65 comments

The website The Week in Chess is an invaluable resource for chess players looking for recent games and reviews. Mark Crowther (‘Sir Mark’ if the Queen does her duty) has spent over 20 years running TWIC.

Recently on TWIC, IM John Watson reviewed various ebook formats. Since Quality Chess books are on Forward Chess I was particularly interested in his view of FC. The verdict was highly favourable. Some of the highlights were:

“Several things distinguish this App and make it essential to know about. First, it has an imbedded analytical engine (Stockfish) which analyses the current position… More importantly, the Forward Chess App lets you make your own independent moves/analysis by tapping on squares of origin and destination, and then you can turn on the imbedded Stockfish engine to analyse those moves…

The other outstanding thing about ForwardChess is its selection of books. They put out ebook versions for a large number of chess publishers…

This is clearly an App that a chess book lover should download and browse through.”

The full review can be read here.

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Nigel Short in New in Chess (being opiniated)

November 6th, 2014 57 comments

Nigel Short is one of the greatest characters in the Chess World as well as one of the truly great players of the last 20 years. On top of this his writing has at times been some of the best seen in chess. First for various newspapers and more recently with always interesting and thought-provoking columns in New in Chess Magazine.

I am actually such a great fan of Nigel that I asked him to be the patron for the chess club I run at Fettes College in Edinburgh, the Nigel Short Chess Society. In the near future I hope that he will come to give simuls and lectures in Scotland, partly sponsored by QC.

One great thing about Nigel is that he does not seek agreement or appeasement. I am continuously frustrated by the way people take personal offence, just because you inform them that their opinions are rubbish! Nigel does not belong to this camp, as you can see through the way he writes about friends and foes alike, criticising what he finds worthy of criticism wherever he finds it.

However, I have taken objection with a few of his “Short stories” columns in New in Chess. One had nothing to do with me, but was distasteful in my opinion, while the most recent one actually mentions me by name, although I have to add, as a positive! Still I feel it allows me to comment on it.

The article is a mix of oldie goldies from Nigel, about British Chess and so on, with an added bit about the referendum. It is also full of plain nonsense.

First of all, there is something particularly funny about a citizen of Athens, Greece, commenting on the actions of a Londoner’s (Jonathan Rowson) actions during the Scottish referendum. I would have preferred that both of them stayed the f… away, since they have chosen not to suffer the consequences of an independent Scotland. Probably Nigel and I are on the same side there.

We are also on the same side when it comes to the odd situation of British Chess having five (5!) Olympiad Teams and federations. It is the way things turned out, is the only real argumentation for it. But it is certainly not the fact that Scotland sends GMs to the Olympiad that drags the level down there. Nigel’s old view is that he would have liked Rowson in his team and to have played for Scotland. But in identity, Nigel is British and Jonathan Scottish. Funny that, the English who took over the Scots feel we are one land, while the Scots see it in a more dualistic light.

My real objection comes when Nigel displays his inability to do research. He misspells the name of our First Minister Alex Salmond (pronounced, not spelled Alec), he claims Scotland is not a Nation, displaying a lack of understanding between the difference of a nation and a nation state. Add to this low-blow insinuations that the Scottish players are jealous of the English prizes at the British Championship, without actually talking to us about the history behind the departure from the tournament after 2007 of all top Scottish players (by no agreement between us). Finally, a completely underfunded Commenwealth Championship in Glasgow is criticised for not inviting enough English players, when in reality hardly anyone of any nation were invited. If you go back to previous Scottish Championships, you can see a plethora of English players. I feel a need to defend Alex McFarlane here (yes, pronounced Alec), who works for no money organising and arbiting at both the Scottish and British Championships to the benefit of myself, Nigel and many strong players from all of Britain.

I am tempted to say that it goes on and on, but luckily the article is only two pages. But this does not free it from its main crime. It is slightly boring and not up to usual standards, as anyone can see if they go to previous issues. And in reality, this is the only crime that matters – and I am sure – the only criticism Nigel could ever feel worthy of taken personal. Maybe he will review one of my books in a future issue, immolating me with his withering wit?

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The 5% and how to read the Grandmaster Preparation books

June 4th, 2014 39 comments

Inspired by reviews from Rieger, Hickl and a few others, I think it is worth me trying to explain what the GRANDMASTER PREPARATION series is all about and who I think it is written for. I also have some additional points that will meet some of the criticism put forward in those reviews. At the end of the day, I do not think the sales or reception of the books are moved at all by a few bad reviews. I am not hurt, offended or anything like that. But I have noticed the big interest here on the blog and think it is worth relating to some of the questions.

The conception

The books are compilations of the training material I have collected for a number of international masters and grandmasters over the years. It was the continuous requests for more material that sparked the somewhat systematic harvest of material that I perform whenever I have the time. I was trying to meet a demand from strong players.

Who is the series written for?

There has been criticism that because 95% of all chess players are rated under 2100, it is wrong to write a book that clearly aim for 2300+ – or at least players with 2150+ who are willing to work hard. I have to say that I cannot be anything but amazed by this argument. I cannot think of a counter-argument, nor do I think I need one.

The main point is that the series is called Grandmaster Preparation and therefore clearly indicates who the target audience are. The ones preparing for being grandmasters; either by being so already, or because they are ambitious. It is not a get the FM title program. We have one of these; it is written by Yusupov and as any regular reader of this blog will tell you: we recommended it more often than we recommend my books.

Having given this disclaimer, I think it would be misleading to say that I did not take into account that some 1800s will buy the books as well. And I think I have tried to reflect this in the selection of exercises. Take a look at this one for example:

[fen size=”small”]6R1/8/3K4/8/6p1/6k1/8/8 w – – 0 1[/fen]

White to play and win (solution at the end)

With only four pieces, I am not sure how much easier I can make it, while still keeping it in a book with GM in the title.

Read more…

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2014 European Champion Alexander Motylev in New in Chess – Question 5

May 8th, 2014 14 comments

(Taken from New in Chess Magazine 3/2014)

5. In our previous issue, Levon Aronian said that he didn’t understand what people mean when they speak of good form. Did you feel you were in good form?

I didn’t have that feeling at the tournament – where I was really shining was at the training sessions with Sergey Karjakin that ended a week before Yerevan. I cracked studies like nuts. Usually I take one of Jacob Aagaard’s books to tournaments and solve positions from them to find out what form I’m in. I remember that at the last Super Final of the Russian Championship in Novgorod I was really concerned about the results of my attempts, but it was already too late to do anything about it. But I don’t think I even opened Aagaard’s Calculation in Yerevan, apparently subconsciously feeling that everything was fine.

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Judit Polgar 2nd Volume Name Change!?

May 5th, 2014 3 comments

I am wondering if we should call FROM GM TO TOP TEN for From GM to Queen of the Castle! Congratulations to Judit and Mihail; I hear they are opening the champagne bottle tonight!

Anyway, Quality Chess continues its reign, holding on to all of the top awards: ACP, ECF, ChessCafe and Chess Publishing. The only major award we do not currently hold is FIDE’s Boleslavsky award, which can only be won by registered chess trainers and where the competition is lower. We also have a lot of respect for the Guardian Award, but alas, we do not currently hold it as far as I know :-).

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Sales text and the literal unbending truth

April 10th, 2014 53 comments

A repertoire to last a lifetime

Karpov’s Strategic Wins

Tired of Bad Positions – Try the Main Lines

A review of GM Repertoire 17: The Classical Slav got me thinking. The review had a highly favourable conclusion but mentioned that GM 17 improved against the repertoire Avrukh recommended years ago in GM Repertoire 1. “So much for the ‘repertoire to last a lifetime’” as we had written on the cover of GM 1. The reviewer’s comment is half-joking (at least that is my interpretation), but it caused me to look again at some of the sales text listed above.

(I have not linked to the review as I am perfectly happy with it, and I do not wish to start another “Quality Chess disagrees with reviewer” extravaganza. The review is excellent – no complaints here.)

So is ‘A repertoire to last a lifetime’ misleading? Well, the GM1 repertoire could last a lifetime. You could play the variations it recommends forever, and with success (4.e3 against the Slav, Fianchetto against KID, Catalan against QGD, etc.). But that does not mean the details will never need updating. Did anyone seriously believe that Boris Avrukh had ‘solved chess’ and found the strongest possible move in every position? People rightly have a lot of faith in Boris, but that would be too much.

Karpov’s Strategic Wins? Are all the wins in those books ‘strategic’? Whatever that means. Still, great books, in my opinion.

Tired of Bad Positions – Try the Main Lines. A tagline on our GM Repertoire books. What is a main line? And not every sideline automatically leads to a bad position.

As an example, 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 against the Slav was not, I think, a hugely popular line at GM level before Avrukh recommended it in GM1. Was it really a main line? It certainly is now.

So here are my questions: how do you feel about such sales text? Do you ignore them as pointless sales waffle? Take them literally and absolutely, then search for loopholes to prove us wrong? Any other examples of our sales text you wish to debate?

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