Archive for December, 2018

Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko

December 15th, 2018 9 comments

My girlfriend gets upset with me whenever I claim to be old. She does not remember the fall of the wall at all, while I remember the Iran hostage crisis. I cry about the death/retirement of Rock ‘n Roll, while she sees it as a genre of Classical music, as I see Mozart, Gershwin or Charlie Parker. 
A decade ago Yusupov told me he participated in the European Championship and played eleven GMs between 2500 and 2600 of whom he had never heard at all! This was his “I am from the past” Epiphany. 
I have lots of them these days and honestly I enjoy them. I like the way new chess publishers are trying new things. As the old fart I am, I like what we do best of course, this is why we do it this way. But I really like that things are moving forward.
Yesterday I was made aware of two videos by GM Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko, whom I honestly still thought of as 21 years old. Actually, he is 32 and has three beautiful children, as the internet informs me. But thank you for Michael to making me aware of these videos, they are very complimentary to me.
The first one deals with the method of the three questions in a tactical setting, with a position I first saw in Byron Jacob’s wonderful little book Analyse to Win, but there were a small mistake, which was the justification for me including it in Excelling at Chess Calculation, with some chat.

White to play

The second position is more positional in nature and comes from one of his own games.

White to play

This one is a bit harder and I have to confess that I got it wrong! But it is all very logical and instructive.

Overall this first visual encounter with Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko was been a total pleasure for me. Not so much because of the nice recommendation of the three questions, but more because of the clarity and high level of his explanations of the positions. If you are looking for a private trainer, I think he teaches on, which apparently is not just about Puzzle Rush… You can find him on Facebook here.

Woodpecker in Ethiopia

December 12th, 2018 1 comment
Woodpecker in Ethiopia 

We received the above photograph and the email below from Michael Schimmer of Frankfurt, Germany:

“For a three weeks’ adventure trip to Ethiopia I wanted to take with me ONE paper book – a chess book of course.

The book should have:
a) decent paper
b) decent cover sides
c) decent binding
considering I would use it in a tent or in some wild spots…

I came up with The Woodpecker Method, as I loved Pump Up Your Rating from Axel Smith.

And yes, The Woodpecker proved itself worthwhile. Usually we chess players praise first and by far foremost the content, but here I want to praise paper and binding as well. Very good job!

The attached picture was made 3600+ meters above sea level in the Simien-Mountains – and the book survived later on 100 meters below sea level as well without visible problems.
Keep on working on good content AND on good paper/binding – both is much appreciated.”

Thanks Michael! So if anyone was wondering if you could do your Woodpeckering 3600 metres up a mountain in Ethiopia, then the answer is yes. I am sure Axel and Hans would approve.

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The Electrifying Elephant Gambit

December 10th, 2018 131 comments

First of all, check out the fantastic cover design for this book!

We have received a number of draft chapters from our Danish friends Michael Agermose Jensen and Jakob Aabling-Thomsen, the Elephant enthusiasts – that is, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5. They are doing excellent work and I can see the finished book having a ‘Mayhem-in-the-Morra-esque’ effect, whereby people realize the gambit is much better than its reputation.

Having seen snippets of the work, I have not been able to resist experimenting with the Elephant every now and then. I tried it in two rapid games against lower-rated opponents, both of whom accepted the gambit. I went slightly astray in the opening (the relevant chapters have not been delivered yet, so I had to rely on my own guesswork rather than the authors’ expertise) but won both games after some adventures. Perhaps more significantly, I played the Elephant in two local league games against guys in the 2250-2300 range. Both of them were too fearful of the Elephant’s tusks to accept the gambit pawn, and opted for a more timid line involving an early queen exchange. In both cases I equalized quickly and pressed for an advantage, eventually eking out a win in one game and settling for a draw in the other.

Obviously I won’t be playing the Elephant in every game, but so far it has been a delight to get it on the board and force my opponents to think hard at such an early stage. What do our blog readers think? Can you see yourself adding the Elephant to your repertoire as a 6,000 kg surprise weapon?

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Remembering Playing 1.e4

December 6th, 2018 15 comments

If you want to know your opening repertoire well, you need time to memorise it. Some of it will make a lot of sense and some of it will be concrete, but counter-intuitive. Sometimes a line a tempo down is no worse, for example.

I just played a blitz game where I successfully remembered all of John’s analysis on the Alekhine, but ran out of time… As online blitz games have no relevance for the real world, I am still pleased by being able to get all the way to +-. After this I missed mate in four and lost on time in a totally winning position. But who cares…

The main reason I remembered the line, was because of an attractive shot in this position (did not really happen). Often these types of anchors and little nuggets of information helps us remember what comes before.

White to play. What is the strongest continuation?

Find the game here.

Free ‘Book of the Month’ – December and January

December 3rd, 2018 17 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, if a European buys the Special Offer on Judit Polgar’s superb trilogy, then we send Judit’s 3 books in hardback, plus one free extra book.

The previous default option on the free book was Carlsen’s Assault on the Throne. For December and January we will switch the default option to GRANDMASTER VERSUS AMATEUR. 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:


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