Archive for May, 2014

Quality Chess sponsors tournament in Denmark

May 30th, 2014 No comments

We are supporting two round robin tournaments in Denmark this year. A GM- and an IM-group played in one of Copenhagen’s nicest chess clubs. Drop by the website for live games if you need distraction from your work… The tournament starts the 3rd of June.

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Is the King’s Gambit playable at the highest level?

May 30th, 2014 12 comments


In my book I wrote that “over the board it is clear that the King’s Gambit is effective at all levels up to and including 2800+.” Maybe I should revise that to “all levels up to and including 3100+.”

At the recent clash of the best engines in the world (the “TCEC Supermatch”) Stockfish triumphed over Komodo, but Komodo had the consolation of a magnificent win with the King’s Gambit in the final game of the match.

The game is below with very brief comments.
TCEC Season 6 – Superfinal, Round 64, 2014.05.19

White: “Komodo 7x” Elo 3155

Black: “Stockfish 170514” Elo 3164
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7

The Cunningham – a Hebden favourite and perfectly respectable, but KG players do not lie awake at night worrying about 3…Be7.

4.Nc3 Bh4+ 5.Ke2 d6

“5…d6 is rather slow, and after 6.d4 Bg4 7.Bxf4 White’s powerful pawn centre and strong pieces outweigh his misplaced king.” So says page 352.

6.d4 Bg4 7.Bxf4

[fen size=”small”]rn1qk1nr/ppp2ppp/3p4/8/3PPBbb/2N2N2/PPP1K1PP/R2Q1B1R b kq – 0 7[/fen]

I have to agree with page 352.
Read more…

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The experiment

May 26th, 2014 78 comments


I have small confession. I love my juicer. It is a Matstone Masticating juicer. It put me back about £150 five years back and has needed a few spare parts over the years. Maybe another £50.

Juicing is the process of extracting the liquid from vegetables and fruits. The hard ones. You cannot juice avocado, banana and berries. But cucumber, courgette, apples, pineapple, spinach, kale, ginger, lime, sugar snap peas, carrot and beetroot frequently get molested in my juicer. It takes brilliant and fresh and is full of micro nutrients.

The last 28 days I have been through a juice fast. I have done a few in the past, maybe 3-5 days, but this time I felt that I had gone to rather an unhealthy place during the writing of Endgame Play (long long hours and the feeling that it would never end). I needed to do something to get back on track.

Read more…

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

The Best 10 Books of the 20th Century

May 19th, 2014 127 comments

I will take this one up front. No, there was no room on the list for Watson or Silman. But also, there was no room for Kasparov, Karpov, Kotov, Reti and so on.

John and I agreed our way to ten books and I have put them in order of quality, as I see it. It is certainly up for debate. Below I will give books that fell just outside the list.

One of the rules of the list is that the same writer cannot be repeated. Another rule is that the books should be relevant today.


1. Mikhail Tal: The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal

2. Bent Larsen: 50 Selected Games

3. Bobby Fischer: My 60 Memorable Games

4. John Nunn: Secret of Practical Chess

5. Isaak Lipnitsky: Questions of Modern Chess Theory

6. Mark Dvoretsky: Secrets of Chess Training (now School of Chess Excellence 1)

7. Alexander Alekhine: Best Games

8. Mikhail Botvinnik: Best Games

9. Aron Nimzowitsch: My System

10. David Bronstein: Zurich 1953


Other books we seriously considered were: Practical Chess Endings (Keres), Secrets of Pawn Endings (Mueller/Lambrecht), The Art of the Middlegame (Keres/Kotov), Simple Chess (Michael Stean), Endgame Strategy (Shereshevsky), Modern Ideas in Chess (Reti), Zurich 1953 (Najdorf), Three Matches (Kasparov), Karpov’s Best Games (written by Razuvaev, but published as if written by Karpov).

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Publishing Schedule – May

May 15th, 2014 120 comments

A few points about the sliding schedule. And this is really to the authors. 3-400 pages does not mean when exported from ChessBase! It means once we have diagrams put in and formatted the text!!!

Yeah, we are working through a number of tough ones. But they will be worth the wait. First the list, then a few comments below.

Mauricio Flores Rios Chess Structures – A Grandmaster Guide Summer
Parimarjan Negi Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The French, Caro-Kann & Philidor Summer
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – A Grandmaster Guide – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines Summer
Vassilios Kotronias GM Repertoire 18 – The Sicilian Sveshnikov Summer
Ilya Maizelis Chess from Scratch Summer
Esben Lund The Secret Life of Bad Bishops 28 July
Judit Polgar A Game of Queens – Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 3 Olympiad
Tiger Hillarp-Persson The Modern Tiger Summer
Ftacnik GM6B – The Najdorf Summer/Autumn
Emanuel Berg Grandmaster Repertoire 16 – The French Defence Vol 3 Autumn
Vassilios Kotronias Kotronias on the King’s Indian – Vol 2 – Mar del Plata I Autumn
Vassilios Kotronias Kotronias on the King’s Indian – Vol 3 – Mar del Plata II Autumn
Victor Mikhalevski Grandmaster Repertoire 19 – Beating Minor Openings Autumn/Winter
Lars Schandorff Grandmaster Repertoire 20 – Semi-Slav Autumn/Winter
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 2 – World Champion Autumn/Winter
Parimarjan Negi Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I Autumn/Winter
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box Spring

One obvious questions is: Whatever happened to Grivas’ THE GRANDMASTER PROGRAM. We were working on the book and we felt it had certain issues that we wanted to address in one way and Efstratious wanted to address in an entirely different way. We found it hard to find a compromise and decided that the best solution for all parties was for Stratos to publish his book with another publisher. I am personally disappointed about the way things went; it is quite an interesting and enjoyable book and I am sure it will do very well for another publisher. But Quality Chess has certain internal ways of doing things that might be a bit rigid, but have served us well. I am sure the book will come out on another publisher – I see no reason why it should not – and you will be able to enjoy it like I have.

To Book Shops Our lists are very much guess work and just keeping in touch with our readers. We put a date on the list when we think a date is prudent only. Otherwise we are guessing. Books over the empty lines are being edited. Books under have not yet been delivered – with the exception of ever-reliable Tibor Karolyi, of course. The official release date of The Secret Life of Bad Bishops will be the 30th July or the 6th August. But I hope we will have a presentation of the finished book at Politiken Cup on Monday the 28th July by Esben and it will be on pre-sale there of course! Quality Chess are proud to once again to sponsor this open, which is one of the top tournaments in Europe in respect to pleasure to participate in.

About order This is close to what I believe will happen. Of course there will be a few additional titles popping up along the way, but essentially, this is the order we currently believe things will happen. Up close this is definitely the case. Two months down the road – who knows.

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Thinking Inside the Box – update

May 15th, 2014 9 comments

I will put up a publishing schedule in a moment, but I just wanted to address the slide of THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Basically, I am a bit worn out after doing ENDGAME PLAY, which as I have already attested, I will have spent about 1000 hours on preparing. This includes: finding positions, analyse them, use them with students, have two seminars in Denmark with the elite, write the text, rewrite the text, find new exercises after Karsten Mueller busted about 15 of them, rewrite changes from Karsten (big thanks once again), typeset the book, proof read the book, make more changes because I was worn out and made too many mistakes…

Am I whining? Yeah, a bit (read a lot). But I am knackered. I want to take it easy for a while and do some easy things.

So, I will go back to BOX somewhere after the Olympiad (should there be one). I have the ideas and I am eager to make it my best work. Which is also pressure and less easy than it once was (kinda still very happy with Positional Play!).

So I am helping two friends write their books at the moment. It is less difficult, as they have the last say and their names are going on the cover. And then I am looking after my students.

I might also help John a little with the second Playing 1.e4 book, as he is finding it tough to both write and be the Managing Director.

So it has been moved to 2015. Sorry to the 3-4 people looking forward to it. And to the rest of you, you will not be disappointed by what I am doing instead. Probably those 3-4 people will more than forgive me. We have a treat coming in the autumn…

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Forward Chess update

May 15th, 2014 25 comments

Things are moving far better with the Forward Chess app (finally!). New books are being added all the time. In NIC 4/2014 we will carry a full page add for the app on page 3. Sales are slowly picking up, making it feasible to do the conversions (though this was not the reason for the delays, they were technical) and we start to look at it a bit more optimistically.

Also, there is a decent review on ChessCafe of the app. I should note that we have a free book on it as well and will continue to put a few free books on it over the years.

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May 12th, 2014 65 comments

In last week’s post I talked a bit about the four types of decisions we need to make during the game. (Yes, I am aware that you can define it in other ways; this is just a way I find useful to do it when helping strong players navigate the complexities of the game). Please revisit if you have not read it yet.

Ashish kindly put up a link to a blog post by American Master and Mathematician Dana McKenzie. In this Dana talks about two types of players; those that approach chess with calculation and those that approach it with more general considerations, such as bad bishop, improving the worst piece and so on.

I know this is the reality for a lot of people playing chess; even very strong ones. One guy I worked with at some point (rated about 2625) was tactically exceptionally inclined, but like a computer, he could only make decisions with brute force. Unfortunately, unlike with computers, he was not able to calculate 2 million moves a second, so he had sort of hit a ceiling.

Although exceptionally intelligent, he had not worked out how to deal with the more positional aspects of the game. He had never had a trainer and although he had worked with some of the best players in the world as a second or as training partner, he was still missing basic skills.

Because this is what Dana McKenzie is talking about. Let us compare with football (soccer for our US friends). Obviously we have a natural way to kick the ball that we all do intuitively. If we play regularly we will pick up a few tricks and improve our skills, but we might still have a “lame left foot” and struggle to head the ball (closing your eyes while doing it as I used to do).

With this player we called calculation the hammer. This comes from the old saying, for the man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.

As this guy was much smarter than I, it was very quick and pain free to teach him to make simple moves based on positional considerations. I put him through the program I had in POSITIONAL PLAY and quickly he had it all covered.

Obviously he is still a great calculator; but now he calculates when there are things to calculate, not in all situations. He has more tools in his tool box.

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