Archive for February, 2016


February 29th, 2016 2 comments

Just a brief word of apology to those who have purchased books from Friday afternoon onwards (26th). Claire is back from three week’s holiday in Australia today. The last thing she said before walking out the door two minutes ago was: “****, I forgot to do the websales.”

We usually try to get the ordered books out within 24 hours of receiving the order (Monday-Friday, we don’t have to work weekends, so we don’t), but in this case we simply have to rely on your patience. The websales will be the number one priority in the morning.

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Quality Chess Newsletter – Ntirlis week – Playing 1.e4 e5 and a Tarrasch update

February 23rd, 2016 159 comments

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

3rd February was the official publication date of Playing 1.e4 e5 – A Classical Repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis. This book offers a complete repertoire for Black against 1.e4 based on 1…e5, with the Breyer Variation against the Spanish the backbone of the repertoire. Ntirlis’s previous books have been well received, and we think this is his best work yet. An excerpt can be read here.

Since my last newsletter, we have also published Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The Sicilian II by GM Parimarjan Negi and Grandmaster Repertoire 6A – Beating the Anti-Sicilians by GM Vassilios Kotronias.

Those of you who enjoyed Ntirlis’s earlier work Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence (co-written with GM Jacob Aagaard in 2011) will be particularly interested in the chess files below. In the pdf Ntirlis updates The Tarrasch Defence to show how the repertoire has stood the test of time. The pgn file gives the games referred to in the pdf.

John Shaw
Chief Editor

Quality Chess

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Favourite Phase?

February 22nd, 2016 5 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘What do you love most about chess?’ It was a close-run race, but ‘Studying’ edged out ‘Winning’ and ‘Beauty’. As I have said a few times, I think the voters on a Quality Chess poll may not be representative of all chess players, so an emphasis on studying and winning makes sense from the voters. But based on the number of suggestions in the post below, maybe your favourite chess activity is naming books.


This week I shall continue my investigation into your chess soul by asking: What is your favourite phase of a chess game?

I guess many will spend a decent chunk of time looking at openings, but does that make it your favourite phase? The almost unlimited variety and complexity of middlegames will appeal to the fighters. But there will be those of us who prefer the clarity of endgames, especially rook endings with no nasty knights to fork and trick me.

You might think that the answers Opening, Middlegame and Endgame would cover everything, but I shall include an Other, for a few reasons. First, there is the so-called Fourth Phase when both sides queen, and you might have queen, rook(s) and pawns each. Or maybe you are the profound type who most enjoys the challenge of figuring out the transitions between the phases.

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Our new book is called…

February 18th, 2016 153 comments

We are going to publish a new book, in both German and English, by GM Thomas Luther. In German we already have a title – Vom Schüler zum Großmeister. The direct translation into English would be ‘From Pupil to Grandmaster’ or ‘From Student to Grandmaster’, but we are not happy with either of those options. Maybe they are too similar to Jonathan Hawkins’ ‘From Amateur to IM’ or maybe it’s something else, but they don’t feel right.
So we are looking for suggestions. The book is about chess improvement and training, including the story of Thomas’s journey to the GM title. So maybe the title could involve the word ‘grandmaster’, but in fact we are open to all non-obscene suggestions. If we use your suggestion, you will be mentioned on page 2 of the book and, if I’m feeling really generous, maybe we’ll even give you a free copy of the book.

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February 15th, 2016 12 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘Do you follow a fixed repertoire or play game to game?’ The majority of the readership is very definitely in the former camp, with ‘One fixed repertoire’ a clear winner followed by ‘Vary sub-system within main defence’  followed by ‘Two complete repertoires’ in the top three places, scooping up 68% of the vote between them. Not many I-make-it-up-as-I-go people on the QC blog, which makes sense.


Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, we will go sentimental with this week’s poll: What do you love most about chess?

For some it will be winning, and only winning. For the more sensitive souls, there will be beauty, or creativity or the excitement of competition, regardless of the result.

There are even those who see chess as a kind of academic hobby – they might enjoy studying the intricacies of the Botvinnik Semi-Slav, but with no intention of ever playing it.

And as ever, ‘Other’ is there as an option for the outliers.

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A fixed repertoire?

February 8th, 2016 34 comments

Last week’s poll question was: ‘What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015?’ It was a three-way fight all week between the opening repertoire books of Houska, Sielecki and Bologan, and in the end IM Jovanka Houska’s Caro-Kann repertoire edged out Sielecki by 5 votes. As it happens, Jovanka is an occasional 4ncl teammate of Jacob, Andrew and me, but I can assure you that all the counting was automatic and impartial.


We saw from last week’s poll how popular repertoire books are, but I am curious how you use them. Or how you use the repertoire you put together yourself. So my question this week is: Do you follow a fixed repertoire or play game to game? That question needs some explanation, so I shall expand on it.

Is what is in the book your complete fixed repertoire, and you follow it religiously? I know one player who for 30 years has always answered 1.e4 with the Caro-Kann, and the rest of his repertoire is similarly unchanging.

Or maybe you are at the other extreme, and make it up fresh every game? But even among those who change opening every game, there are differences. Some are trying to avoid all theory and all prep, while others are targeting a perceived weakness in their opponent’s repertoire.

Then there are those who always, for example, play 1…e5 against 1.e4, but vary which line they play against the main line Spanish. Does that count as a fixed repertoire?

Or there are dozens of other approaches, so it’s tough to be comprehensive in the list of options to click, but there’s always the comments box to explain.

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Gibraltar 2016 – Authors in Action

February 5th, 2016 2 comments

GM Gawain Jones had a great result at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, which finished yesterday. Gawain scored 7.5/10, in a tie for 3rd, half a point behind Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave. Gawain’s final-round game was with Black against Yu Yangyi, a 2747-rated 1.e4 player. Fortunately, Gawain has a Dragon repertoire he can trust.

I will give that game below, but another QC author at Gib was IM Marc Esserman, who played his favourite 1.e4 against both Nigel Short and Vishy Anand. Short played the French and lost, while Anand’s 1…c5 was of course met by 2.d4, but after 2…cxd4 3.c3 Anand avoided any Mayhem in the Morra with 3…Nf6, and drew. Great results for Marc, but I was looking forward to a Nd5 piece sac (they’re everywhere in the Morra).

On the topic of QC repertoires, Victor’s Mikhalevski’s recommended line in The Open Spanish remains popular at the highest level, with the likes of Mamedyarov, Giri, So, and Wei Yi playing it with solid results. Ding Liren even used it to draw against Magnus Carlsen at the recent Wijk aan Zee event, though he did need to hold rook versus rook-and-bishop. It may lack the glamour of the Dragon or Morra, but the Open Spanish is a great choice if you want to keep out elite opposition.


White: Yu Yangyi (2747) Black: Gawain Jones (2625)
Gibraltar Masters (10.5) 04.02.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Showing his faith in the Dragon.

Read more…

Best non-QC chess book of the year?

February 1st, 2016 42 comments

Last week’s poll question was ‘What was the best Quality Chess book of 2015?’ The convincing winner was Chess Structures by Mauricio Flores Rios, ahead of Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making in Chess.  Between them, these two books scooped up the lion’s share of the votes.



As mentioned last week, the question this time is What was the best non-QC chess book of 2015? I made a list of options based on the comments section, leaving out books whose 2015 versions were only updates of older books. As ever, there is the ‘Other’ category if I have missed your favourite.

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