Archive for October, 2018

Is the Swiss up to scratch?

October 22nd, 2018 10 comments

Musings on the Swiss Tournament system

I am not a chess player anymore. I am not even sure I am a chess writer as much as I am a chess trainer! My day job is still with Quality Chess, but there are a lot of other things happening.

Still, occasionally I do play a bit of chess. This weekend I played in Dundee Congress, a traditional Scottish weekend tournament with five rounds and 90 minutes + 15 seconds to the entire game.

This and musings about the Olympiad has made me conclude that there is a problem with the Swiss system. I started thinking about this when I recalled why I stopped playing the Scottish weekend tournaments about a decade ago. The tournament in Dundee was a rerun of the worst aspects of this.


First of all, Scotland is a geographically rather remote place. People only play each other and the ratings are somewhat depressed for that reason. My first round 1900 rated opponent played really well. If it had not been for the sharp time control, I would not have beaten. And there was nothing wrong with my play. It was solid 2470 level (which is what I am rated these days).

Meanwhile Andrew Greet cruised through an 1800 rated with White next to me. I finished last, he may have finished first.

In the second round we both had hard fights. I blundered twice (…Rc4 hitting the queen on f4 twice actually) and had to win the game again twice. Meanwhile Andrew really struggled with a 1900 next to me.

In round 3 I was close to lost against a 2100 (the team captain of Andrew’s and my team actually, a lovely guy) and won a good fighting game. Andrew’s opponent must have felt hit by a steam train. I think he was 1900 and having a bad day.

In round 4 Andrew and I drew. I missed a few things and was happy to escape.

In round 5 Andrew won a game against a 2100 he could have won in a simul. We all have bad games, and Declan had one here. Meanwhile I had a big fight with Calum MacQueen, a decent 2200+ player. I outplayed him, but could not finish him off and then he outplayed me. When we stopped writing down the moves (15 second and apparently you don’t have to) I was dead lost. Think queen down, although the pawns on c7 and d6 had yet to make it. I won the game in a total shambles 30 moves later after just trying to stay in it up till then.

After what was an exhausting and difficult weekend for me and quiet a nice breeze for Andrew, we shared the prize money of a whopping £225 each.

The polemic part

First of all, this was a fun weekend away with my partner. The money (once taxed at 40% remember) makes zero difference to anything. The organisers were there because they like to do good things for chess and I am terribly grateful for them hosting us. They were very pleasant to us and really cared about our well-being. What I am saying is all about opening for a debate on how we do open tournaments and to hear people’s views and not meant as a criticism of anyone.

In short: The tournament system is unfair. Andrew and I did not play the same tournament and we were treated as we did in the end. If you use a Swiss system, you should have a tiebreaker.

A tiebreaker would not be fair: Andrew did not have the chance to compete with me for the first prize if we had had one. As first seed I will win the tiebreaker mostly, as I get stronger opposition.

There is the Hort system where half the prize is shared and half the prize goes out on tiebreaker. It is a fudge. Maybe the fairest in this scenario?

I think the real problem is the Swiss system. We saw it at the Olympiad as well, where Poland played an entirely different tournament than the three team that finished above them. Their performance can be argued to be the best of the tournament. I am not saying they deserved to win, just that they did not play the same tournament as China.

There was another problem with the Olympiad, that the tiebreak system was not used for the pairing. But this is just old-FIDE rubbish, which hopefully is a thing of the past… As the way the winner in the open section was decided.

What do you think guys?

(Chess will follow later this week…)

Categories: Authors in Action Tags:

If you don’t buy Sam’s book, you may suffer the consequences!

October 12th, 2018 7 comments

Blogpost by Kallia Kleisarchaki


During the Batumi Olympiad 2018, Sam Shankland met across the board Rauf Mamedov, Azerbaijani GM. Rauf didn’t buy Sam’s book and I know! How? Well, he did exactly the kind of mistake Sam warned about in his book, Small Steps to Giant Improvement, proving once again that every chess player, regardless titles, can make simple mistakes that cost dearly.












As Sam explains in page 232 of his book, “…Black has advanced a7-a5, so White will not be able to play b3-b4. As such, white is condemned to have a pair of doubled pawns where the further-advanced one cannot be protected from another pawn.”


What kind of simple mistakes have you made and you still remember them?

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ECF Book of the Year – Under the Surface

October 8th, 2018 15 comments

I mentioned in a previous blog post that the two books nominated by Quality Chess for the English Chess Federation Book of the Year prize had both been chosen for the four-book shortlist. Well, we have a winner. Congratulations to GM Jan Markos, as his Under the Surface is the 2018 ECF Book of the Year. The judges had many kind words including “The winner stood out for its original approach and quality of writing” and “An original, fascinating and very worthy winner of the 2018 Book of the Year.”

Categories: Prizes Tags:

Free ‘Book of the Month’ – October and November

October 1st, 2018 12 comments

We are continuing our special offer – if you buy three books or more and live in the normal European Union zone (as defined by UPS – for example, they exclude some islands and remote areas) we will send you an extra book free.

Please note that if you buy a Special Offer and are in the EU zone, we will add one free book. For example, the Grandmaster Preparation Special Offer is 6 hardbacks for the price of 5. So if a European buys that, we send Jacob’s 6 GM Preparation hardbacks, plus one free extra book.

The previous default option on the free book was Attacking the Spanish. For October and November we will switch the default option to CARLSEN’S ASSAULT ON THE THRONE. But if you already have that book, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email to with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:


Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags: