Archive for March, 2013

Quality Chess Newsletter – Three new books, special offers and a British Champion

March 28th, 2013 29 comments

Dear Quality Chess reader,

On Friday 15th March we published three new books.

Grandmaster Repertoire 12: The Modern Benoni by Marian Petrov provides a complete repertoire for Black after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6. The repertoire is sharp and ambitious but not overwhelming in the demands it places on Black’s memory.

Strategic Play is the third in Jacob’s Grandmaster Preparation series. The chess is challenging and instructive with plenty of exercises to stretch your understanding. On a shallower note, Strategic Play has my favourite cover of all the books we have published.

Soviet Middlegame Technique by Peter Romanovsky is the latest in our Classics series. It is a fresh translation of what were originally two books – one on planning and the other on combinations. I prefer others to write our sales text for us, so GM Kotov on Romanovsky: “One of the best books in the world’s chess literature.”

Sales news: on our site we have a new range of special offers. The webpage shows Read more…

Categories: Authors in Action, Newsletter, Prizes Tags:

A Winning Habit

March 25th, 2013 71 comments

One thing that confuses younger people asking me for advice is when I tell them to decide first which day of the week is your day off, then do solving 20 minutes a day for the other six days of the week. Get into a regular habit of doing this basic work. Then get back to me in a month or two.

Last night I talked to a friend who was considering getting some chess training. Being in his 40s he immediately understood the value of doing 20 minutes a day and said he would do it. I am not sure it was a great career move, but I think I convinced him he did not need the training first, but needed getting used to thinking first.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is that the worst thing you can do for your long term improvement prospects, is to start by taking on more than you can. Burnout is quite common. Actually it is the norm. Certainly there will be stories of those who just keep going and this is the way we all would like to see ourselves. I am not saying that you are not the exception, but if you are like me, you have probably tried this high-performer strategy before with something. I have tried it with fitness and guess what – I am not as fit as I want to be. So this time around, I have started my fitness program with 20 minutes of rowing each morning. It will not give overnight success, but it will work wonders long term. We all know this. My next challenge is to stop eating chocolate. This will definitely be more difficult – so I did not start with this .

If you decide to take on the challenge, then please say what you intend to do below. It can be endgames, tactics, positional play and so on. 20 minutes thinking a day.

What I recommend you focus your training on are a few things:

•    Concentrating
•    Being able to turn on your concentration by demand (we will talk about anchors later on)
•    Focus – know what you are trying to do before you do it and slowly getting better at doing just that
•    Candidate moves, the three questions or a principle of whichever subject you are studying
•    Decision making – please write down your solutions before you check them out. This is alike to making a move in a game. From research and just watching myself, I have come to realise that we need to distrust what we see. Do not write long essays, but write the move you want to play and the 1-2 key points, be they tactical or otherwise. If you are working with the three questions, write down what you think (reasonably quickly – remember it is just for directing your focus).

At this point there are always some people who will ask me to recommend “the best” material. My main point is always the same: that you can take that book from your shelves, collecting dust, and get a lot out of it. You do not need to buy a new book.

But I am also a writer and a publisher and I have opinions on what I think are really good sources of material. For players under 2300, the Yusupov series is brilliant training material. Even 2200s will sweat over some aspects in The Fundamentals triplet, though some of it will be easy sailing. But as you are building a new habit, this is not a bad thing.

For those over 2300, I recommend my Grandmaster Preparation series, as well as Practical Chess Defence and the Quality Chess Puzzle Book.

For endings the best books by far are Müller & Lambrecht’s Pawn Endings and the Dvoretsky Endgame Manual, though I also have a soft spot for some other books. At the moment I am putting Endgame Play together and for those wanting practical experience in the endings; this will be a good book too.

After writing the draft for this (I will try to stay 1-2 weeks ahead of the publication of these blog posts, so I write them when I am best situated to do so and not when I “have to”) I noticed one comment to last week’s blog post that explained by example quite well why you should not start with two hours a day:

We all know that we cannot start a physical training program with full on two training a day. Maybe we can go on for a few weeks, but we will eventually burn out. Even if we managed to go on and on, it is only for the professional that spending this much time would be desirable. It just sounds hard.

But as with physical exercise, those who try to do this in chess also run out of steam, which is what I think is the main problem with this post. I do not think that the problem is that he does not love chess enough; I think the problem is that he thinks he should love it unconditionally. (Barry, please comment on this if you feel like it. I would love to have a dialogue about this, especially here on the blog where it might be useful for others as well).

It is all about setting moderately challenging targets for long term change. I will return to this in about a month in a blog post about why we should try to train at 110% of our ability.
Until then, please set a moderately challenging target for your training, such as doing some, consistently. My suggestion is 20 minutes six times a week, but maybe you need to start with four times a week.
Next week we will talk about “the problem with failure”.

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

Chess Training – A new series of blog posts

March 18th, 2013 73 comments

Pushed by an eager chess fan, wanting to improve, I am starting a weekly blog post on chess improvement. The idea is that we discuss a subject each week; I will come with some inspirational text and maybe a game fragment or similar. Then we discuss it and hopefully all become wiser.

As this is something just decided and as I am going to London Wednesday to look at the candidates, I do not have a lot to say today. Also the meter on the car is running out in a four minutes and I have to pick Rebecca up from nursery…

Thus I will start with a simple question:

“Why do you want to improve in chess?”

Please give your honest reply, especially before seeing other people’s replies. Here we are talking about answers that can take any form.

I will give my answers to why I want to write a novel here: because I just cannot imagine a life where I have not done this and the mere fact that I have not yet achieved this feels unnatural and painful. Maybe this is stupid, but this is the way it is.

After you have written your comment, you could read the following very interesting article by Hollywood success coach Michael Neill: The loaded goal

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

Quality Chess Book of the Year 2012 – Chess Tactics from Scratch & Grandmaster Repertoire 11

March 6th, 2013 113 comments

Not surprisingly Boris Avrukh did very well in the voting for the book of the year from Quality Chess, but he was overtaken by Martin Weteschik. This book certainly has longevity and some very dedicated fans, which is marked by the jump from obscurity to first place overnight in the middle of the voting period. I do suspect that someone fiddled with the settings and voted repeatedly.

However, it is clear that both books have tremendious support. So, I have decided to divide the honour into best middlegame book and best opening book.

Categories: Polls Tags:

Suggestions for a poll on design wanted

March 6th, 2013 39 comments

We have debated a little bit which companies have the best designs. But I think it makes more sense to talk about books. Can you please give me some suggestions and second those suggestions you agree with. I will then put two polls together and we can see what people really think :-). Best and worst!

But suggest only ones you like here; not dislikes.


Categories: Polls Tags:

A cracker of a catalogue

March 1st, 2013 91 comments

Folks, I hereby invite you to click the following link and witness our dazzling new 2013 catalogue. We’ve made plenty of changes, including new photos of our friends Hou Yifan and Boris Gelfand. Quotes and tag lines are all well and good, but the real stars of the catalogue are of course the forthcoming titles for 2013. Before any conspiracy theorists ask about The King’s Gambit – let me reassure you this title WILL be published as promised. The only reason why the cover photo doesn’t appear in the catalogue is that we have so many other books to publicize, many of which our customers will not yet know about.

Apart from the books themselves, we are especially pleased with our new cover designs. Canadian artist Jason Mathis has done superb work on Jacob’s Grandmaster Preparation series (as well as last year’s Mayhem in the Morra). Meanwhile our long-time cover designer Barry Adamson has produced a bold, striking design to complement the title of Axel Smith’s book, and generally done a sterling job with everything from the Tromp to Tal to Tiger.

Yes you read that correctly – Tiger Hillarp Persson will be back in 2013 with an updated version of his bestselling Tiger’s Modern. We decided to call it The Modern Tiger – clever eh?

Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags: