Archive for April, 2016

Boris Gelfand Interview

April 28th, 2016 18 comments

Gelfand 1_Badge OUTL A-W.indd

ChessBase has posted the first half of an interview of Boris Gelfand by Sagar Shah. Many topics are covered, including the process of working on Positional Decision Making in Chess. I’ll post a link to the second half of the interview when it appears.

Update: And the second half of the interview is now available.

Categories: Authors in Action Tags:

Physical Fitness and Chess

April 25th, 2016 37 comments

Last week’s question was: ‘How many Quality Chess books do you have, and do you have more paperbacks or more hardcovers?’ You can see the verdict below. There are many ways to interpret it, but many of you buy many books (thanks!). Also, if you buy more books, it becomes more likely you will go for hardcovers. Or put another way, if you have fewer than 10 books, they will probably be paperbacks.


This week, I have been thinking about how significant physical fitness is to chess performance. In the office, we have a range of levels of physical activity. Andrew must be fittest, with his Jiu Jitsu and regular gym training, but Jacob is also highly active, with lots of hours of tennis. My approach is more take-a-healthy-walk, get-a-good-night’s-sleep, and don’t drink too much the night before a game. I suspect even my low-key approach puts me in the healthier half of British chess players – British chess is a boozy culture, with Saturday-night drinking sessions at the 4ncl often lasting until 4 or 5 in the morning. Or so I’m told.

But what’s your approach? How important do you think physical fitness is to your chess performance? With my question and answers, I realise I am dealing with two different topics – how important you think physical fitness is, and what you actually do about it. But as ever, you can explain all in comments.

Categories: Polls Tags:

The stress of moving house

April 22nd, 2016 10 comments

An adult has a resting heart rate between 60 and 80 usually. This is the normal range. If you are unfit, your heart rate is often higher. If you are very physically active, you get a lower rate. Below 57 is called “athlete” in some graphics I have seen, which I think is too optimistic. Let’s call it physically active.

Anyway, moving house is supposed to be stressful, up there with divorce and death in the family. I recently had the easiest house move in history. I moved from a flat to a town house in the same building. Actually, when I moved in, the van was parked further away from the flat than the house is. On top of this I had good time, 10 days to do it in, and full understanding from my employer. I had friends that helped carrying stuff across and my mother came to visit, helping packing everything down and most of the stuff out again.

It was very stress-free, compared to other house moves I have been involved in. Still, there is a markedly change in my resting heart rate over the period, peaking on the last day of moving house. As I wear a Fitbit Surge, I have been able to track it clearly. It was something of an eye-opener.

Strees from moving


Only today I am getting back to exercise, so the reason for the heart rate not getting below 60 again is easy to explain. But the leap was rather excessive. Yes, the last 66 was the last day of moving…

Categories: Jacob Aagaard's training tips Tags:

Paperback or Hardcover?

April 19th, 2016 44 comments

Last week’s poll question asked: “Was it reasonable of Karjakin to withdraw from the Norwegian event?” The readership is split almost down the middle. By a margin of 51%-45% the verdict was that it was not reasonable. I call that a close vote, though no doubt some politicians would call it a landslide.
This week I’ll move on from asking for opinions to looking for facts. We’re interested in: How many Quality Chess books do you have, and do you have more paperbacks or more hardcovers?
I will create 6 answers which should cover almost every possibility. If you own an exactly equal number of paperbacks and hardcovers, then I admit you don’t fit into any of the 6 categories. But you can solve that problem instantly by buying another book.

Categories: Polls Tags:

Karjakin’s Retreat

April 11th, 2016 25 comments

Last week’s poll question was ‘What small changes do you want in Candidates qualifying?’ By far the most popular answer was ‘No changes needed’. Not surprising, as the recent Candidates had an exciting finish.


A week tomorrow, an elite event starts in Stavanger – AltiBox Norway Chess 2016. A great field will compete, including Carlsen, Kramnik, Giri and not Karjakin. After his Candidates triumph, Karjakin decided to withdraw from the Norwegian event. So there’s my poll question: Was it reasonable of Karjakin to withdraw from the Norwegian event? Yes, of course – he must be exhausted and preparing for his world title match against Carlsen is the top priority. No, he said he would play, so he should be true to his word.

I could instead have asked who will win the Norwegian event. Presumably Carlsen, but I will say Giri. If I say it often enough, I will be right eventually.

Categories: Polls Tags:

Candidates Quiz Champion and his Prize

April 7th, 2016 5 comments

As you may recall, the winner of our Candidates Quiz was Stefan Sattler of Germany. We sent Stefan his prize and he very kindly sent us a photo to confirm the books arrived OK.


Categories: Prizes Tags:

GM Axel Smith

April 6th, 2016 24 comments

Congratulations to Axel Smith of Sweden on gaining the Grandmaster title. FIDE confirmed on Monday that the title would be awarded. Axel has been highly successful in helping other players to improve, and it’s good to see his methods also worked on himself.

The Quality Chess connection to Axel is of course that he wrote the award-winning Pump Up Your Rating. We have always enjoyed working with Axel, and readers certainly appreciated his efforts, so it would be a wise guess that Axel will write more books for Quality Chess.

Categories: Authors in Action, Prizes Tags:

Candidates Qualifying

April 5th, 2016 18 comments

Last week’s poll question was “Do you think the current system should be remodelled entirely?” There was an overwhelming 83% in favour of NOT remodelling the whole thing, despite Jacob’s attempt to trick you by starting the “No” answer with the word “Yes”.


Jacob has one final question re the Candidates, just to get an idea of what small changes you had in mind.

The current system is that 8 play in the Candidates: 2 qualify from the Grand Prix, 2 from the World Cup, 2 on rating, the loser of the last World Championship match, and 1 ‘wildcard’, which means the organizers can invite whoever the local hero is.

So what small changes would you like to make up the 8? One more qualifying on rating, one less from the World Cup? Or one more from the Grand Prix?  Leave it alone, it’s fine as it is?

Categories: Polls Tags: