Archive for August, 2013

Good or bad news?

August 31st, 2013 140 comments

A few details that might interest regular readers.

First off, I really hate this when it happens: The headers for two pages in the ATTACK & DEFENCE book say “Calculation”, which is a bit of a pain. Luckily Colin has changed it for the excerpt; but the printed version is dead and gone.

John is working hard on Playing 1.e4. If you are a 1.d4 player and hate getting killed by well-prepared opponents; this is probably bad news. If you play 1.e4, this should be good news. I have personally played a lot of this repertoire in 2012 with great success.

I am getting towards the end of ENDGAME PLAY quite quickly. In general I think this will be the least popular book in the series as endgame books traditionally don’t sell (unless your name is Mark Dvoretsky of course). For this reason I am just going to finish it and put it out there. Another two weeks of uninterrupted writing should do it, as I spent a concentrated month on it at the beginning of the year (and a few hours 2-3 times a week since then). I quite like the book as it is, but I am considering adding a few additional small sections. Karsten Muller has gracefully provided me with some positions and as a fan of the series in general, he has insisted that he should also write the foreword. As I was planning to ask him anyway, this is of course very welcome!

ATTACK & DEFENCE and PUMP UP YOUR RATING should be out in 2-3 weeks. To be honest, I have been away from the office, training a 2600 intensively for a week and sort of lost track of where we are in the printing cycle. I shall try to do an updated publishing schedule soon.

Colin is 75% into the editing on PLAYING THE FRENCH. My contribution to this book is not as great as it was for GRANDMASTER 10: THE TARRASCH DEFENCE, but I might have saved the most important main line against the Tarrasch (3.Nd2) line! Nikos has done a great job and I managed to find only cosmetic changes to his analysis. I think we will publish his next solo project under his name alone. It is always nice to see when you invest your confidence in a person that they reward it with a great performance. Nikos can no longer be said to be a well-kept Greek secret…

Finally; Emanuel Berg might have done too much material on the French Winaver. The current mood is to split it into two big volumes. We have done three books over 600 pages in our time, two of them recently. But it is impractical in quite a lot of ways. We understand that sales numbers will be less for a two-volume Winaver compendium, but they will work better as books and respect the author’s work. To me this is quite important. And for the hardcore French/theory fans, this will hopefully be very popular.

Your feedback is welcome.

Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags:

Grandmaster Artur Yusupov Q&A

August 27th, 2013 58 comments


This week German grandmaster Artur Yusupov will answer your questions. Artur is the author of probably the best training series for club players ever produced, as well as being a former World No. 3, a serial Olympiad winner, a trainer for Anand and many others, and he is also an all-round fantastic guy.


The format is simple: Please ask anything you want about his books or general training advice. Artur will answer twice over the next 7-10 days, whenever he has time, after which Artur will no longer be available.

The element of surprise – Part 2

August 19th, 2013 37 comments


Following on from last week’s post, I have a few observations.
Obviously not many of us will be privileged enough to play for the World Championship; in a match or in the Candidates tournament. But we will play games against players who know us well and who will prepare against our standard defences.
Basically there are two strategies for designing an opening repertoire.
Principled: Take for example Alexei Dreev or Sergei Tiviakov. They play the same lines again and again and improve their repertoires incrementally. They are very difficult to throw off balance and quite often have nice small surprises ready. What is characteristic for the openings they play is that they are generally not too sharp. If they are surprised and react poorly, it does not mean an immediate loss. The advantage of this method is that you will get a game every time and you will be familiar with the structures. The disadvantage is that you very rarely win in the opening.
Opportunistic: Other people like Peter Heine Nielsen or myself, move around. We try to outsmart the opponent and be one or two hours ahead of him in opening preparation by analysing a new idea; either against his favourite defence, or maybe just in a side line. The advantage is that you might be better out of the opening and get ahead on the clock; the disadvantage is that you can quite easily be outsmarted and end up in a territory you are quite unfamiliar with, which means the decisions are harder to make; an expensive scenario on the clock.
The combined strategy: It has always been my opinion that a combination of the two is the best strategy. You will see a lot of grandmasters do this; half the time they will play their standard repertoire and the other half they will try something new, just for the sake of it. In this way, you are a moving target. The opponent never knows if you are going to go for familiar ground or try something new.
If you are able to do this, develop a main repertoire, but be ready to deviate often enough to keep the element of surprise.
Some players learn an opening for a tournament and then move on to a new one for the next one. I have quite a lot of personal affection for this strategy, as it can be very difficult to make real progress against something you are not even sure your opponent will play, without the help of a second. But the downside can be that you do not keep up with your core repertoire and become an entirely opportunistic player.
If I were to give any advice (which obviously will not fit everybody) it would be to start by building a core repertoire and after some time – say six months – spend half your time looking at openings in your core repertoire and half the time on whatever takes your fancy. In this way you will get the best of both worlds.

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

The element of surprise – Part 1

August 12th, 2013 39 comments


I was in Moscow last year to follow the World Championship match – and to be honest, to see Boris Gelfand become World Champion. I was quite sure that his chances were about 50/50 and I think the match showed that fully. In the end the only reason he did not take the title was because Anand was already World Champion. What I mean by this is that when it came to the decisive moments, Anand had less to lose; no matter what happened, he would forever be a part of chess history. Gelfand did not have this luxury and I think it affected him slightly. He said he was extremely calm during the games, but this feels a bit like a counter-reaction. Who knows – it is all guesswork – but anyway, those were my thoughts.

Anand made mistakes preparing for the match. His team was the same as the previous two title defences and consisted entirely of dynamic 1.d4 players, just like himself. Not really a moving target.

Gelfand’s team, on the other hand, was largely a secret and continues to be so to this day. Some were official seconds, while others had helped prior to the match, like for example Aronian.

Gelfand’s choice of the Grünfeld Defence was a big surprise for Anand’s team. I am sure they had expected the match to be fought on the Semi-Slav battlefield, as this was both players’ main defence against 1.d4 prior to the match. But they were experienced and ready for surprises.

Still, it took them a long time to recover from the surprises of the Grünfeld and the Sveshnikov – which Gelfand had not really played for a decade. Quickly they decided to leave the main lines behind and tried 3.f3 against the Grünfeld and the Rossolimo Sicilian.

At the same time, Anand had initial success with the 5…a6 Semi-Slav. Some good novelties led to effortless draws, but after the free day Gelfand finally managed to come up with an idea that gave him chances to play for an advantage. White had a better pawn structure and even if the computer indicates 15…Bf4 as an equalizing moment, the variation seemed a bit suspicious for Black. Anand had to give up the defence he had intended to last the entire match and revert to obscure lines of the Nimzo-Indian, where he was surviving more than thriving.

Read more…

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

Magnus Carlsen on Twitter

August 7th, 2013 12 comments


If you look very closely at the following image at Magnus Carlsen’s Twitter account, what do you see? Note the book on the top right. It’s blurry, but that’s the back cover of Learn from the Legends by Mihail Marin. The World Number 1 using Mihail’s work in his World Championship preparation. Of course.


You may have noted there was no training post from Jacob this week. Jacob is on holiday, so consider this week’s lesson to be that an occasional rest is healthy. But if you wish to solve the study in the picture at the link, it is White to play and win in the following position.

[fen size=”small”]4R3/3p4/8/p1k5/8/p3p3/2P1K3/8 w – – 0 1[/fen]

Categories: Authors in Action Tags:

“Playing the Trompowsky” – IM Richard Pert responds to a critical review

August 5th, 2013 105 comments


In comments to this blog, a review critical of “Playing the Trompowsky” was linked. IM Richard Pert asked for the right to respond. If “everyone is entitled to an opinion” then that must include the author, so I will let Richard take it from here:


Firstly I want to say “thank you” to the many readers who have shown support for my first book, which I have written on the Trompowsky. I put a lot of time into my analysis, and my efforts combined with the hard work of the Quality Chess team has, in my opinion, produced a book to be proud of.


Unfortunately there will always be people who like to criticize, and this time it’s the turn of Mr Martin Rieger. I don’t know who Mr Rieger is; I’ve never heard of him before, but since he has criticized my work I am keen to respond.


My book aims to provide a practical repertoire. Deep analysis is mostly saved for the critical lines, while new positions with a small advantage for White are talked about in more general terms. There will come a point in every game where you have to think for yourself, and my book focuses on what you need to know to get an advantage/promising position, rather than producing a 1000-page manual which is impossible to memorize.


I will, in passing, point out that Mr Rieger makes no mention whatsoever of the numerous improvements I provided for White in several of the critical main lines. Instead he has picked out a handful of mostly non-critical lines, then added some of his own non-critical analysis and proceeded to rubbish my book. I don’t want to get into a slanging match with Mr Rieger and I can’t speak German, so I don’t know exactly what he is saying, although I can get the gist of it with an online translator.


I will respond to the two examples that Mr Rieger emphasizes the most in his analysis. His opening point concerns the following line:
Read more…

Categories: Reviews Tags: