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Happy Birthday Jacob

Today is Jacob’s 40th birthday. To celebrate, everyone in the office went out to an excellent steakhouse for lunch and had a couple of drinks. Productivity in the afternoon may have dipped.

The article below is translated from today’s issue of Politiken – a leading Danish newspaper.

Jacob Photo

Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard – 40 today and entirely on top
He was recently awarded the last of the four big Book of the Year awards and is the first player in the World to have them all. Jacob can also brag about having the highest trainer title, FIDE Senior Trainer. Quality Chess, of which Jacob is a co-founder, is the World’s leading chess publisher; not the least because of Jacob’s diligence, enthusiasm and great capacity.

Jacob is simply put, one of the leading people in the fields of chess literature and chess training and we are very grateful that he at the moment is a (great) trainer for the Danish elite. In other words: everything is on track for the Scottish Dane. But it was not always like that.

Jacob had a rough start in life; in his youth he had a sensitive and restless mind, which made it difficult to translate the obvious talent into results. His play went from sublime to horrible and it was more the inner demons than lack of ability which were to blame for him only reaching the IM-title in his mid-20s. From then on it took another ten years before Jacob could put GM on his business card.

Meanwhile he wrote a lot of chess books and trained a lot of people. In 2007 he finally broke through and got the GM-title and won the British Championship. He has also won the Scottish Championship and is currently the Danish Blitz Champion.

In a memorable Scottish wedding in 2004 Jacob replaced Denmark with Scotland and said ‘YES’ to Anne. They still live in Glasgow and have two girls, Cathy and Rebecca, aged 5 and 4. For a few years Jacob played for Scotland, but luckily he is back in Denmark now.

Jacob has written more than 20 chess books. The major works are Attacking Manual 1&2 as well as the current series Grandmaster Preparation, which looks like it is going to be the training bible of the future. Jacob manages to entertain and be funny, as well as to keep a high instructional level. A merciless inner drive combined with the ability to grow with the challenge has been with Aagaard throughout his life. He has not yet peaked; though it will be difficult to achieve more within the fields of chess training and chess literature.

GM Sune Berg Hansen, Politiken 31.07.2013


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  1. kieran
    July 31st, 2013 at 17:15 | #1

    Happy birthday Mr Aagaard and thanks for all ! Keep up the good work !

  2. croflash
    July 31st, 2013 at 17:54 | #2

    Happy Birthday!

  3. July 31st, 2013 at 17:54 | #3

    Happy birthday, Jacob! I appreciate the thought-provoking books as well as blog posts here.

  4. Quality Buyer
    July 31st, 2013 at 18:00 | #4

    Happy Birthday Jacob! Love your books (I have most of them)!

  5. didac
    July 31st, 2013 at 18:47 | #5

    Happy birthday, maestro! my best wishes for you and your family.

  6. Daniel Peter
    July 31st, 2013 at 20:24 | #6

    Happy birthday Mr Jacob! Congratulations for your big work and wait for the following grandmaster preparation books ! Success!

  7. Michael Wilde
    July 31st, 2013 at 21:15 | #7

    Happy birthday Jacob!!!

    Thank you for being there for us on this blog to answer questions and give needed advice to us that want to improve our chess and our lives in general. You are a generous man and your books and training material are at the very top. I wish you the very best in everything that you do. And look forward to any book with you name anywhere on it!!!

  8. July 31st, 2013 at 23:37 | #8

    Happy birthday!

    I hope you stay as healthy, happy and rich (as now) in next ten years, too! Great to see you here, especially as you are asking all the questions and problems as much as give us quite nice ideas and provoking to think deeper!

    Have a nice life Jacob! I bet you are one of the lucky men who achieved (most of) the goals set up in your life! Take care of you as much as your family and friends! Respect to you GM Jacob Aagaard! 🙂

  9. August 1st, 2013 at 00:22 | #9

    Happy birthday from California U.S.A. I enjoy your sharp pen and practical wisdom. Best wishes to your lovely family also.

  10. Seth
    August 1st, 2013 at 05:54 | #10

    A belated happy birthday!

  11. garryk
    August 1st, 2013 at 08:22 | #11

    Happy birthday Jacob!

    Just yesterday I’ve started reading your Attacking Manual…can I say that it’s probably the best book I’ve ever read? Asking myself why I haven’t read it before…

  12. boki
    August 1st, 2013 at 08:32 | #12

    Happy birthday 🙂 Is 40 y tough?

  13. Steve
    August 1st, 2013 at 10:31 | #13

    Happy birthday, GM Aagaard.
    Thanks for all the great books. You are only 40? The best is yet to come, though I don’t see how your books could be improved.

  14. Jacob Aagaard
    August 1st, 2013 at 20:06 | #14

    Thank you. I am happy you like it. Without the idea for it, Quality Chess would never have existed. As you might know, the idea of having my own publishing house came to me when I realised that I did not want someone else be in control of the editing process of that book. I am not sure it is my best book, but it ended up like I wanted it to be (especially with the 2nd edition :-)).

  15. Jacob Aagaard
    August 1st, 2013 at 20:08 | #15

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    Thank you. Obviously I have not reached all of my goals and I there were a few things I would have liked to achieve that was not to be. But I love what I do and I love the balance between everything which is in my life at the moment, so no complaints from here.

  16. Jacob Aagaard
    August 1st, 2013 at 20:12 | #16

    Especially thank you to those that support what I am trying to do on this blog. I will (obviously) come out with quite strong opinions and then defend my corner to the end of my beliefs. I do not think there is such a thing as “one truth” in many things in life (chess is quite unique with the high numbers of “best moves”), but I do believe that thinking about how to do things can help us all get clarity about what we need to do to get to where we want to go. This is not necessarily the same path to the same place for everyone, but this is less important. I am equally happy with those that clarifies their beliefs through these debates, even if they are opposites of mine. I cannot help to think that it is helpful.

    Obviously I will not come with vague questions and leave it hanging in the air. Who would read a blog where the writer had no opinions? And yes, the occasional abuse, direct or indirect is a pain, but I am getting better at ignoring it :-).

  17. Andre
    August 2nd, 2013 at 09:55 | #17

    Happy belated Birthday, Jacob! 🙂

  18. Jacob Aagaard
    August 2nd, 2013 at 12:05 | #18

    Thank you

  19. Ray
    August 10th, 2013 at 18:35 | #19

    Happy belated birthday from me as well! Just back from two weeks holiday, and now I’m looking forward to the wonderful new books which were published in my absence :-).

    Just one off-topic question, Jacob: would you recommend studying Attacking Manual 1 and 2 or your GM Preparation books after finishing the Yusopov series (3 more books to go :-))? I’m inclined to first studying the Attacking manual, but I’m not sure.

  20. Jacob Aagaard
    August 11th, 2013 at 09:21 | #20

    The books I recommend most from myself for reading are Excelling at Technical Chess, Excelling at Chess Calculation, Attacking Manual 1 & 2. My exercise books, Practical Chess Defence, Quality Chess Puzzle Book and the Grandmaster Preparation series are all built on the theoretical framework of the first three of these books (Attacking Manual 2 is too detailed to be called a theoretical framework). I like all of these books a lot. For my other books, it is a bit hit and miss, especially the early ones. Not surprisingly all the books I like is 2004 or later. Before then I was still learning.

  21. Ray
    August 11th, 2013 at 15:03 | #21

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks for your advice!

  22. August 12th, 2013 at 03:24 | #22

    @ Ray and Jacob, thanks for asking and answering the question. I was about to ask the same.

  23. kratnasan
    August 12th, 2013 at 21:36 | #23

    Jacob Aagaard :
    The books I recommend most from myself for reading are Excelling at Technical Chess, Excelling at Chess Calculation, Attacking Manual 1 & 2. …

    @Jacob: How do you rate Excelling at Positional Chess? Is it still worth studying – or should it be disregarded and replaced by GM Prep Positional Play?

  24. Jacob Aagaard
    August 12th, 2013 at 22:01 | #24

    It is a nice book. There are a lot of good things in there. Many of the exercises are good, but to a great extent the book is closer to Strategic Play than it is to Positional Play.

    Positional Play is one of the corner stones of my work, together with Attacking Manual 1. It is probably my favourite of my own books – but this is only because the method has been so essential to my work as a trainer.

    Excelling at Positional Chess does not have a coherent philosophy in the same way (as I remember it), but has some good ideas and is certainly worth reading. If you have it and are short of cash, you can easily read it and postpone Positional Play for later.

  25. kratnasan
    August 13th, 2013 at 20:11 | #25

    @Jacob: Thank you – and congrats btw.

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