Archive for February, 2012

The difficulties of writing a chess book

February 29th, 2012 47 comments

Recently a reader wrote to me and mentioned that the same position was considered two different places in The Tarrasch Defence, with slightly different annotations. The suggestion was in both cases not to play like this, but it was still an interesting point. No matter how obsessively you work, you cannot avoid mistakes.

Similarly at some point in Delchev’s new book on the Reti he writes the following: “It is true that Mihail Marin has spent tons of ink on it in his The English Opening, Volume 2, but in fact his work has hardly advanced theory any further.” Harsh words, but apparently he did not like this lines in this specific variation. We have heard different feedback from 2700+ (sometimes ++) players about the Marin books, but maybe not all chapters were equally strong?

Or is this what happens when your editor is only 13 years old? (By the way, Happy Birthday Semko!)

No. Writing chess books is just damn hard. What you think might be interesting is routinely trashed by the readers. No matter how much work you put into your work and how obsessively you look for mistakes, they will always be there. Sometimes it is a harmless transposition to a note that is missed as above, but you are not always this lucky.

We all remember this blog post (?!).

Well, Vitiugov is back with a new edition of his book on the French, probably a combination of end of the line for the first print and a lot of serious work. I have been browsing in the book for the two days I have had it (thank you for the freebie Semko!) and find it a really interesting book worth the money several times over.

This does not mean that I am not going to get my “revenge” for the remark on the Marin book.

In the line starting with:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4+ 12. Bd2 Bxd2+ 13. Nxd2 O-O 14. Bd3 b5 15. Nb2 Nb6 16. O-O Nc4 17. Nbxc4


Vitiugov claims that the theoretical debates have recently centred around this move. I am not sure what went wrong for him. Maybe he wrote the moves down in Word and did not check the moves with a chess board or program. It only took me two seconds to see that this is completely wrong when looking at the diagram in the book and the variation he gave. But being not too overconfident, I checked with a computer (and database!) and confirmed that this is not playable.

More and more games are played (as well as becoming available) after:

17… bxc4 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20.Nf3 g6 21. Qh6 Qc7 22. f5 f6

(22… exf5 23. Rae1 is totally toast, I think. 5-0 in the database. Most recently: 23…f6 24. exf6 Qh7 25. Qf4 Qf7 26. Re7 Qxf6 27. Rfe1 Rf7 28. Rxf7 Kxf7 29. Ng5+ Kg7 30. Qc7+ Kh6 31. Qh7+ Kxg5 32. g3 1-0 Zherebukh – Jaiswal, New Delhi 2011.)

23. fxg6 Qg7 24. Qh4, when I do not believe in the Black position at all. 24…Qh8 25. Qxd4 Ba6 26. Nh4

(26. Qc3 Rae8 27. Nd4 f5 28. Rae1 White has a big advantage. 28…f4 29. Rf3 Qh4 30. Qa5 c3 31. Qxc3 Bc4 32. Kh1 Re7 33. Qb4 1-0 Colin – Haraldsson, ICCF 2010)

26… f5

(26… fxe5 27. Qg4 Rfe8 28. Rf7 with a winning attack.)

27.Nxf5 led to a winning attack in Avotins – Hladecek, e-mail 2009.

18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8

Here Vitiugov only gives 20.Nf3, failing to spot the reason why White is eager to take on c4 on move 17.

20. Ne4! Rd8

20… f6 21. Nxf6+! 1-0 Secer – Gurcan, Konya 2010. White wins after: 21…Rxf6

(21…gxf6 22. Qg6+ Kh8 23. Rf3 is mate.)

22. exf6 Bb7 23. f7+ Kf8 24. Rae1 Bd5

(24… Qxa2 25. Rf2 Qa6 26. f5)

25. f5 Qxa2 26. Re2

21. Ng5 An obvious novelty.

21. Rf3 d3 22. Rh3 Kf8 23. Qg5 Qb6+ 24. Kh1 Ke8 25. Qxg7 Qd4 was not completely clear in Bulatov – Yuzhakov, Kurgan 2010, and Black escaped with a draw.

21… Qc7 22. f5 exf5 23. Qh7+ Kf8 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Qxg7 White is evidently winning.


25… Re8 26. Qxf7+ Kd8 27. Qd5+ Qd7 28. Qxa8 with an extra rook and limited counterplay.

26. e6 Qc5 27. Rae1 d3+ 28. Kh1 d2 29. Re5

If this was a game, 1-0 would be the next text.

If you are at all interested in these two books, please get them from your nearest chess supplier. But don’t forget that Quality Chess gets the last word and the last laugh!

The next few months

February 23rd, 2012 102 comments

This publishing schedule is focusing on the immediate future. Things like my training books and the Judit Polgar books are still coming out this year, but right now this is what we are focusing on.

Positional Chess Sacrifices by Mihai Suba is in its final phase of editing. At the same time we are near the conclusion of the Alterman Gambit Guide series. The final volume, Black Gambits 2 is typeset and at the moment going through the final checks. According to the editor, it is the best in the series. The German edition is coming more or less at the same time. The translator has been working day and night to ensure that we will have the final files on next Friday.

Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices April
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits 2 April
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit-Handbuch: Gambits mit Schwarz 2 April
John Shaw The King’s Gambit May
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 2 May
Boris Avrukh Grandmaster Repertoire X – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines Summer
Lars Schandorff Playing 1.d4 – The Queen’s Gambit Summer
Lars Schandorff Playing 1.d4 – The Indian Defences Summer
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 1 – in German Summer
Ftacnik GM6a Summer
Ftacnik GM6b Summer
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian & French Summer
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 and Minor Lines Summer
Marc Esserman Mayhem in the Morra Summer
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Quality Chess newsletter – plenty of games and two new books

February 2nd, 2012 111 comments

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

In the Quality Chess office we have had our heads down working to finish books and hiding from the winter storms. On February 17th we will publish Chess Tactics from Scratch by Martin Weteschnik. This is a fully revised and expanded second edition of Understanding Chess Tactics. The main changes are two completely new chapters and 300 new exercises/puzzles at the end of the book. An excerpt is available.

We also have a new format for an old classic – My System will be available as a hardcover, also from February 17th. Our hardcover editions and the 300 new exercises in Chess Tactics from Scratch have one thing in common – our readers asked for them. We do more than invite feedback and suggestions – we act on them.

Our games collection this month stretches to 25 games with most of the analysis by GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant. I recommend the ChessBase version which uses clever links and fancy features, but the material is also available in rough form in pgn or as a pdf.

Regards, John Shaw

Quality Chess

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