Archive for November, 2013

The Lazy World Champion?

November 25th, 2013 94 comments

In the 60 minutes segment on Magnus Carlsen a few years ago Friedrich Friedel (the journalist behind called Carlsen a bit lazy. Others have tried to put this label on the new World Champion, but I personally never bought it. And if you checked the recent Norwegian documentary on Carlsen, you will at one point see Henrik Carlsen rubbish the claim, stating that Carlsen has looked as much at chess as anyone else of the same age.

The new World Champion is an excellent example of a number of abilities.

First of all, more than anything, incredible determination. In Chennai Carlsen was wrapped in a bubble with no contact with anyone outside his team. Even when he was relaxing in the bowling hall, his thoughts were on the match. A journalist and photographer tried to get a photo of Carlsen somewhere else than the playing hall. Espen Agdestein, Carlsen’s manager (and brother of Simen) saw the journalists and gave them two and a half minute to take a discreet photo, but the Indian bodyguards got to them before they got even a single snap.

Secondly he has a fantastic psyche. He is not made of Teflon as some people believed before London. We should not forget that people react differently to success and to failure. Roger Federer was always the greatest gentleman in tennis – while he was winning. After he stopped winning his behaviour was more erratic and less pleasant. With Carlsen we saw him react differently to playing the Candidates than to playing in Wijk aan Zee. What is important is not that Carlsen has an emotional experience under pressure, but that he managed to keep his focus in game 13 of the Candidates.

Anand was on the other hand not in control over his reaction to the pressure of playing Carlsen. When he did not take on b2 in game three, because it would probably be a draw anyway, he did not put pressure on his opponent, and he was not able to resist the pressure when it was applied to him.

Carlsen has said that his most difficult future opponents would be Kramnik and Caruana. Personally I believe in Kramnik in the Candidates in the spring. I also believe that we will have an entirely different match next time with a challenger that fears nothing and no one. The winner of the Candidates will have these abilities; because otherwise he will not be able to win it. For this reason I believe in Kramnik more than anyone, but also think that Topalov could come through, though he is not as strong as he was at one point.

Finally, it is a pleasure for me to announce that we have been working on a little side-project called Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne. It goes to the printer in a few days and will, with luck permitting, be presented at the London Chess Classic. It will be available everywhere else on the 18th December together with From GM to Top Ten and Grandmaster Repertoire 15 – The French Defence Volume Two.


A few lessons from the 4NCL

November 18th, 2013 8 comments

A few months ago I wrote a post on an issue brought up by Sam Collins. I think this was an excellent chance to discuss something real. I would be very happy to answer more questions on specific areas of chess training, strategy and so on. Don’t be shy to send me games by email. Please put Jacob’s training tips in the subject matter, so I know what to expect.

This weekend we all played in the 4NCL. I am retired from serious chess, but obviously this does not prohibit me from playing chess at all. I just don’t have to care a lot about the results.

But let us dive straight into the chess. There are some basic lessons to learn from a few of the games.

The first game is annotated by John and shows a perfect example of Forcing Thinking, where you think the game will have to go in a specific direction, but it just does not.

John Shaw – Andrew McClement

1.e4 c5 2.f4 Nc6
3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qd8 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.0–0 Nf6 8.Ne5 Nd4 9.Nxd7 Nxd7 10.Bc4 e6 11.b3 Be7 12.Bb2 0–0 13.Ne2 Nxe2+ 14.Qxe2 Bf6 15.Bxf6 Nxf6
Black offered a draw. It is equal, but I like to play to the death. This is partly because my strongest phase is the endgame, but I also dislike premature draws – just play the game.
16.Rae1 Qd4+ 17.Qe3 Qxe3+ 18.Rxe3
With rooks on the e- and f-files, a bishop on c4 and a pawn on f4, there can only be one threat: f4-f5!
[fen size=”small”]r4rk1/pp3ppp/4pn2/2p5/2B2P2/1P2R3/P1PP2PP/5RK1 b – – 0 18[/fen]
As Andrew explained in the post mortem, he saw the threat, but thought: “I attack d2, White defends it, then I stop f4-f5 with …g6.” I often make the same error: treating a threat as though it is a check and cannot be ignored.

18…g6= was safe and solid.
My threat’s bigger than your threat.
Also unpleasant is 19…exf5 20.Re7
20.fxe6 Rxc2?
Played quickly, but a losing mistake. There is a Bobby Fischer quote that goes something like: “It’s never the first mistake you make that kills you. It’s the second mistake that happens because you were thinking about the first mistake.” 20…fxe6 would limit the damage. After 21.Bxe6+ White meets either king move with g2-g4 with a promising initiative, but the fight continues.
The new e-pawn wins the game. The pressure on f7 makes the knight more of a spectator than a defender.
21…Re8 loses to most sensible moves. For example: 22.Bb5 or 22.Rd1 or 22.Bd3 Rxa2 23.Rxf6 gxf6 24.Bb5. The only one to avoid is 22.Rxf6? Rxc4!.
22.Rxf6 gxf6 23.e8Q+ Rxe8 24.Rxe8+ Kg7 25.a4 Rb2 26.Rb8

The second topic is from my first round loss…

Read more…

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Forward Chess Publishing Schedule

November 14th, 2013 74 comments

The first book is available, so Forward Chess has asked us what books we are hoping to put out over the next few months on FC. This is the list I sent to them. As always – things may take longer than anticipated, but this is the plan!

Pump Up Your Rating Nov
Playing the French
Grandmaster Repertoire 14 – The French Defence Vol 1
Grandmaster Repertoire 15 – The French Defence Vol 2 Dec
How I Beat Fischer’s Record – Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1
Grandmaster Repertoire 17 – Classical Slav Jan
Grandmaster Repertoire 11 – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines
Playing 1.d4 – A Grandmaster Guide – The Queen’s Gambit Feb
Playing 1.d4 – A Grandmaster Guide – The Indian Defences
Mayhem in the Morra
Grandmaster Repertoire 16 – The French Defence Vol 3
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The Counterattack

November 11th, 2013 29 comments


Once Artur Yusupov was asked why he played the Petroff and not a more aggressive opening, like for example the French. Well, he said, after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 White can play 5.d3 Nf6 6.d4 and after 6…d5 we have the Exchange Variation of the French; or said in another way – White can force the Petroff on the board against the French!

Although I am personally with those looking for unbalanced positions, I do not think there is anything wrong with having a more defensive strategy as Black. Those playing the Petroff, Berlin or similar are not necessarily playing for a draw (unless they are Kramnik anno 2006 that is), but they simply have a more patient approach. The same goes for those happy to take the black side of the Exchange Slav, Exchange/Rubinstein French and everyone playing the dreadful Caro-Kann (sorry Magnus, but come on, real men only play c6 with White – as I once stated on the way to a team match [see the game below]. Naturally the guy neutralised me with the Rubinstein French in our next encounter…).

Even such formerly dynamic players, with their King’s Indians and Sicilians as Polgar and Gelfand have at times played the Petroff. Not to make draws, but to wait for the opponent to take chances.

I do not think there is a great downside to playing for a win in defensive style. It is neither better not worse than going for the initiative. As always it is the quality of the moves that matter. Obviously, if you are looking to win quickly, in order to catch a movie or the transmission of a 15 move draw from India, it is not the right strategy.

Maybe not a greatly original thought, but one I felt like sharing after the weekend.

Finally a small repetition exercise.

[fen size=”small”]2r5/2P3pp/3k4/5K2/2R4P/6P1/8/8 b – – 0 42[/fen]

Black to play and draw

The solution will be given in the comments section.

And here is the game I spoke of.

[Event “”]
[Site “Denmark”]
[Date “2010”]
[Round “”]
[White “Aagaard, Jacob”]
[Black ” Andreasen, Per”]
[Result “1-0″]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 a6 5.f4 b5 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.e5 Nd5 9.Nxd5 Bxd5 10.Qe2 Nd7 11.0–0 c5 12.dxc5 dxe5 13.c4 Bxc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Qxc4 exf4 16.Bxf4 0–0 17.Rad1 Bxb2

[fen size=”small”]r2q1rk1/3npp1p/p5p1/2P5/2Q2B2/5N2/Pb4PP/3R1RK1 w – – 0 18[/fen]

18.c6 Qb6+ 19.Kh1 Nf6 20.Rb1 1–0 [/pgn]

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Great Carlsen Documentary

November 5th, 2013 27 comments

Most of you have probably already seen that there is a great Norwegian documentary on Carlsen available here.

But for those that have not, I would say it is worth a shot. Talking about shots, here is Hammer at work. Pay especial attention to the background:

That looks like a lot of Quality Chess books to me :-).

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Publishing Schedule – November

November 5th, 2013 204 comments

We have uploaded the Judit Polgar book From GM to Top Ten, which is at least as good as the ECF book of the year How I Beat Fischer’s Record. Also, we have a delivery date for Playing the French. The date given (and from here on) will be the day it arrives in the shops. (Websales are sent out 2 days earlier in general, but not always). Note also that we will have GM 15 – The French Defence 2 ready just before Christmas.

Maybe there will be an additional title ready in 2013. More on this later!

Ntirlis/Aagaard Playing the French 27th Nov
Judit Polgar From GM to Top Ten 18th Dec
Emanuel Berg GM 15 – The French Defence Vol 2 18th Dec
2014 Publications
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines Winter
Danny Gormally Mating the Castled King Winter
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Preparation – Endgame Play Winter
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 1 Winter
Tiger Hillarp-Persson The Modern Tiger Winter
Emanuel Berg GM 16 – The French Defence Vol 3 Winter
Boris Avrukh GM Repertoire 17 – Classical Slav Winter
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – A Grandmaster Guide – Sicilian & French Winter
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box Spring
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 2 Spring
Vassilios Kotronias GM Repertoire 18 – Sveshnikov Spring
(Secret Author) Grandmaster Repertoire 21 – 1.e4 French, Caro-Kann & Philidor Spring
Victor Mikhalevski Grandmaster Repertoire 19 – Beating Minor Openings Spring
Ilya Maizelis Russian Chess Primer Summer
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM6a – Beating the Anti-Sicilians Summer
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Forward Chess Update

November 4th, 2013 9 comments

We have been harassed (rightfully so) for the slow progress on putting books on Forward Chess. But finally I have the update that we have put a book in the store. It is of course Richard Pert’s Playing the Trompowsky. I am sure that there is a lot for us to learn before we make the most of this new format, but when I look at the first books we made, I also cannot imagine that it was really us who put those together. They are good, yes, but we have learned a lot since then!

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Mixed Sheet of the Month

November 4th, 2013 20 comments

We have started a tradition; the first Monday of the month I will put up six exercises of reasonable difficulty (for difficult stuff – see my collected works :-)). The exercises are meant to get progressively more difficult, but as always, what is difficult for some, might be easy for others.

Spend 60 minutes maximum for the sheet. If you are a strong player, you will probably have a lot of time to spend on the last exercise; but since a 2700 player missed the right continuation, you are likely to need the time when you get there!

Write down your main line. Consider writing down a move to be the same as it would be in an old correspondence game: writing it means playing it! Thus you cannot have two moves, as some of my students have from time to time.

Points are awarded for the key ideas/moves that need to be anticipated. You are awarded the point ONLY if you have written down the move. The maximum you can score is 20 points.

Please confess to your rating and your score for others to compare with.

If you want to download the sheet, you can do so here.

If you want to download the exercises as a cbv-file with questions per move, you can do so here.

The solutions can be found here.



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