Archive for September, 2014

GM Lars Schandorff lecture in Edinburgh 30th October – 2nd November

September 30th, 2014 18 comments

It is with great pleasure that we can announce that Quality Chess author and National Coach of the Danish elite GM Lars Schandorff is coming to Edinburgh to give a 15 hour lecture on aggressive positional chess, with a starting point in the games of Bobby Fischer.


The lectures will take place in Edinburgh Chess Club on 1 Alva Street in the heart of Edinburgh. Attendance costs £80 for the full session and £50 for those aged 24 or less. Also those travelling from outside Scotland will get this discount.

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Jacob Aagaard Interview

September 30th, 2014 43 comments

Jacob was recently interviewed for the Spanish blog Un Andaluz y el Adjedrez. Here is the English version of the interview:

GM Jacob Aagaard

GM Jacob Aagaard

1) Can any person, and I mean ANY, get better at chess studying and competing, in your opinion? Do you think there is a limit, and not everybody is born to be a FM, for instance?

I am sure that there is a limit for some people. There is such a thing as talent for sure, but how important it is, is not really clear. Some minor tests have been done, but the research looking at people over a decade or more has not been done in a way that it can be statistically significant for chess. Not to my knowledge at least.

It has been done in music and the suggestion there was that the early talents did not do that well. The main reason probably being that it was too easy for them in the beginning and they never got into the habit of working hard…

I believe that there is no reason to set barriers to yourself. In principle everyone can learn everything. The question is how long it will take! Is it worth it. And so on.

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Half knowledge is dangerous! by IM Sagar Shah

September 29th, 2014 11 comments

This is a long holiday weekend in Glasgow, the Quality Chess office is closed, and Jacob has gone to the seaside (?), so we have a guest blogger, IM Sagar Shah, with an article taken from his excellent blog:

I have this habit of buying one chess book in every tournament that I play. In this way, my final aim is one day to open a huge library of chess books! And there are some tournaments when I really play well. Then I can use my prize money to buy more chess books.
In my Euro trip which ended just a month ago, I had two huge achievements.
1. I became an International Master (IM) in Spain
2. I won the Dresden Open 2014 and made my maiden GM norm in Germany.

In one of my past articles: People behind my IM title , I had mentioned that there are two chess authors whom I hold in very high regard. One of them is GM Jacob Aagaard and the other is IM Mark Dvoretsky.

When I became an IM in Spain, my wife, Amruta, decided to gift me the latest book written by Aagaard.

The fifth book from the Grandmaster Preparation series: Endgame play.

The fifth book from the Grandmaster Preparation series: Endgame play.

The book was pretty expensive. 30 Euros. That comes to nearly Rs.2400. So I had kind of exhausted my resources on book buying for the trip.

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Gelfand Cover Considerations

September 26th, 2014 70 comments

Should we go for Cover A

CoverBor Cover B?


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Top players and their limitations – open for debate

September 22nd, 2014 45 comments

On Friday we received an email from a book reviewer congratulating us on the outcome of the referendum, where the Scottish people declined the proposed secession from the United Kingdom. I answered him, stating that we were actually divided in the office on the best way forward, with one declared supported, two clear no-votes, one “evil referendum” opinion and two undeclared.

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On Book Titles

September 15th, 2014 56 comments

We start with a preview from the Gelfand book, taken from a variation from Navara – Gelfand, Prague (1) 2006.

Black to Play and Win


In our weekly editorial meeting we have been debating the book with the working title Chess from Scratch at length almost every week. To cut to the pawn ending, basically we have wanted to squeeze a Soviet treasure into a title where it did not fully fit.

The title is not a description of the content of the book, but something we use to make people look at the book and find it interesting. Once you have people reading, hopefully they will forgive you anything. Obviously we care a lot about what is inside the book and not about the title, though we have to find good titles nonetheless…

On Friday I came to the meeting with a bombshell. I had finally realised that the box did not fit. We want to develop the ‘From Scratch’ series with a few more books, based among others on how much we love Chess Tactics from Scratch. But the Maizelis book does not fit. No matter how much we wanted it to fit.

So, we will publish it as The Soviet Chess Primer. It will be out in 5-6 weeks. We will have another book called Chess from Scratch quite soon as well. The author is someone a lot closer to home. Me.

The position at the start of the article Read more…

A few ideas about fortresses

September 8th, 2014 4 comments

In Endgame Play I think I had a few interesting insights, besides a lot of training material, in an already well-explored part of the game. I think the most interesting chapter in the book was probably the chapter on Fortresses. I have after I wrote the book been made aware of some interesting articles written on fortresses, but in general it is a part of chess that has not been explored fully. For example, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual is not very strong in this area, despite being sensational (and essential) in many others.

In Endgame Play I came with a few thoughts about fortresses that I personally find interesting to explore further. I am not sure I will do it personally, nor that they are accurate. But I found them useful in understanding the positions I had collected for the book.

The first thought is to see fortresses not as something that holds or not, but as a defensive technique. For the practical player this makes most sense anyway.

The second is to see how fortresses usually fail. Of course there can be a break that makes the fortress collapse, but in general what I found was that zugzwang was a big part of the picture. Surprisingly a lot of fortresses fail to exactly this position.

White has just played Kd5 and Black loses due to zugzwang. Previously White has probably exchanged a piece on f7. Obviously you could add h-pawns without ruining anything. But once the pawn is back on g3, things are a bit more difficult as we shall see.

The third observation is one I will just leave hanging in the air, but which you will see the value of if you look at the book. It is the only of these that can be said to have a real novelty appeal to it. The idea is that most bishop endings are defended through the fortress technique. As said, I will just hang it out there for you to ponder. My observations say that it is so.

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Two games versus the Chigorin

September 4th, 2014 4 comments

On my way to winning the Largs congress this past weekend, I twice faced the Chigorin Defence against the Queen’s Gambit. I haven’t faced this too often, but I could remember the basics of Avrukh’s repertoire in Grandmaster Repertoire 1.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 dxc4

In the first round my opponent played rather passively with: 3…Nf6 4.Nf3 e6?! (4…dxc4 transposes to Greet – Wynarczyk) 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 White has a comfortable version of a QGD, as the knight on c6 is misplaced. 6…h6 7.Bf4!? (7.Bh4) 7…Bd6 8.c5N This logical move is a novelty, although it soon transposes to another game. (8.Bxd6 Qxd6 9.c5 Qe7 10.Bb5 Bd7 didn’t seem too bad for Black.) 8…Bxf4 9.exf4 The doubled pawns are not weak, and the f4-pawn helps to clamp down on the centre. 9…Ne4 10.Qc2 f5? A positional blunder. (10…Nxc3 11.Qxc3 leaves White with a pleasant space advantage and the better bishop, but Black is solid.) 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Bxc6 Bxc6 13.Ne5

White is already strategically winning. 13…0–0 14.f3 Nxc3 (14…Qh4+? 15.g3 Nxg3 16.Qf2+–; 14…Nf6 15.b4 White dominates the entire board.) 15.Qxc3 Be8 16.0–0 g5 17.Qd2 Kh7 18.Kf2 Rg8 19.g3 gxf4 20.Qxf4 Qg5 21.Qxg5 hxg5 22.h4 g4 23.fxg4 fxg4 24.Ke3 Bg6 25.Nxg4 Kg7 26.Ne5 Raf8 27.g4 b6 28.c6 a5 29.Nd7 Rxf1 30.Rxf1 Be8 31.Ne5 b5 32.h5 Kh7 33.Rf6 1–0 Greet – Parks, Largs 2014.

4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5

Avrukh’s recommendation. White makes a useful developing move before taking action in the centre.

After the game my opponent said he knew what to do against 5.d5 and 5.e4, but that he had not encountered the bishop move.


Black immediately goes wrong, but it is easily done, as this is a standard move in the Chigorin.

5…h6 6.Bh4 (Schandorff recommends 6.Bxf6) 6…a6 is the main line, with the point that after 7.e4 Bg4 8.d5 the black knight can go to e5. I couldn’t remember much more of Avrukh’s coverage, other than the fact that White continues with Be2 and takes back on f3 with the g-pawn. I reckon this is about as much theory as you need to know, unless you are facing a real specialist.

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