What I am trying to do with the Grandmaster Preparation series

People keep asking what level the Grandmaster Preparation series is going to be at, ignoring the hint given by the title! Also I get asked a lot if this series will work well as a sequence to the Yusupov series. The answer is YES, but they can also work in combination. Whatever inspires you will definitely work. All will become clear when I talk about the enjoyment circle in THINKING INSIDE THE BOX.

Will we be giving a 5 for the price of 4 offer on the site? Yes, we will. But only for shipments within the European Union and as it looks now only when we have published all the books. But if you want to get them as they come out (in hardcover) then make a deal with your local chess retailer. I have only asked one and they said they would definitely say yes if someone offered them €100+postage up front for the books. Who wouldn’t?

Let me tell you quickly about what will be in the books: First of all, they will mainly be workbooks. That’s right, plenty of exercises. You do the work while I sit on the beach drinking pina colada checking the royalties tick in on his 3g Ipad. But at the end of it you will be fit for fight and I will be fat and slightly crisp…

The theory behind the training will be presented shortly in an easy to understand way. This is meant to be simple and practical.

I will write introduction chapters to each set of exercises, with the only intention being to inspire and entertain. I find chess fun anyway!

The exercises will be difficult, but not impossible – unless labled as such! In the CALCULATION book we will have 75 positions in the “Difficult Positions” section. The remaining 375 will be “easier”. Not easy. Remember, this is a series of books that will prepare you for competing at Grandmaster level.

CALCULATION will not cover all minor parts of calculation theory (I did this in Excelling at Chess Calculation), but offer exercises in eight sections: Candidates, Combiantional Vision, Prophylaxis, Comparison, Elimination, Intermediate Moves, Imagination & Traps. Then there will be 10 tests of six positions each and then the already mentioned difficult positions.

POSITIONAL PLAY will be the easiest of the books. This is really an introduction to the strategy book. I would say that players under 2400 would gain a lot of benefit from this book, while 1 in 3 players between 2400 and 2600 might learn something new going through the planned 125 exercises. The book will be built on the three questions:1) where are the weaknesses, 2) what is my opponent’s idea & 3) which is the worst placed piece. Again simplicity is the goal. And yes, I have used these questions in teachning positional understading to players over 2600 and they do not find them “too” simple.

STRATEGIC PLAY is going to be quite difficult. Where positional exercises are based on positional improvement in the present, strategy is long term positional improvement. So, call it a blend of calculation and positional play if you like, but know that in strategy you can at times do poor seemingly positional decisions now to get a great positional advantage five moves down the line.

ENDGAME PLAY will to some extent be an expansion of the previous books. It will include a lot of “tactics in the endgame” exercises and a lot of “strategic play in the endgame” exercises.

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX will be a mixture of everything. Chess training. Chess psychology. Chess philosophy. Different approaches to the opening, middlegame and endgame. Analysing your own games. Other ways to improve your chess. And so on.


73 thoughts on “What I am trying to do with the Grandmaster Preparation series”

  1. Where in hell did you find the time to write this epic cluster of book?!?
    Sounds very good, too much to be true!

  2. Antonius :
    Where in hell did you find the time to write this epic cluster of book?!?
    Sounds very good, too much to be true!

    Perhaps is there a mAn behind each “A” in Aagaard ?

  3. Jacob Aagaard

    First of all, it is five books, not one! Secondly, I am just about to start on the last chapter.

    We print on Friday! Publication confirmed for the 25th of May (unless something finally goes wrong with the printer after seven years of no delays).

  4. I am very excited about the forthcoming canon of chess instruction from Grandmaster Aagaard and the publisher Quality Chess. While ambitious, I am quite confident that these books will be truly remarkable. I own the series of books that Mr. Aagaard published with “Everyman Chess.” The Excelling series are still among my favorites. However, for each of those books I had the same wish; MORE EXERCISES. While I am excited about how much these five high-level books will do for my chess “understanding” I’m more excited for how much I feel these books will impact “how well” I play chess in practice. I am a firm believer in the value of training exercises over prose as a method of improvement. I greatly enjoy the books of Aagaard, Dvoretsky, Mueller,Watson, Soltis, etc. Lots of Prose is great its engaging without it we would not be reading, but for me at some point I simply get confused and understanding chess becomes more of an abstraction. At that point I start to wonder If the time I spent could have been used more productively by simply studying exercises of various forms. To say that studying exercises alone is the key to chess improvement would be extremely naïve. Subsequently some authors have made this mistake. To put it bluntly. Five books, well-selected exercises on all the important aspects/phases of the game, If you put in the work (difficult for me First I’m lazy. Second time constraints) how can you not improve significantly. I am very much looking forward to these masterpieces.

  5. Jacob, when you say you’re just about to start on the last chapter, do you mean the first book or the entire series? Also, why are you not publishing softcover also (I apologize in advance since you probably mentioned your reasons and I missed it)? From my perspective- no offense intended- I’d much rather buy a less expensive version since I’m a lot more interested in what inside the book, not its sturdiness. I’d imagine the same goes for the majority of chess fans.

  6. Barry :Jacob, when you say you’re just about to start on the last chapter, do you mean the first book or the entire series? Also, why are you not publishing softcover also (I apologize in advance since you probably mentioned your reasons and I missed it)? From my perspective- no offense intended- I’d much rather buy a less expensive version since I’m a lot more interested in what inside the book, not its sturdiness. I’d imagine the same goes for the majority of chess fans.

    Actually, I doubt it applies to the majority. Probably more 50/50. There’s more to the hardcovers than sturdiness. Quality Chess does something that other hardcover publishers don’t do. Format the hardcovers properly. If you take “ChessMath”, the publishers of the 3 hardcover books on Duncan Suttles’s games, they are hardcover, with a jacket, but they suffer the same problem that paperbacks suffer. The flap closed. Quality Chess hardcovers don’t do that.

    With the hardcovers, if the book is over 300 pages, it will stay open quite easily. For those 300 pages or less (i.e. Play the Scandinavian, GM Repertoires 5 and 7, etc.), I usually have to open the book from somewhere in the middle, and then flap backwards or forwards for pages near the beginning or end of the book, but if you do that, the book will stay open without a problem.

    Back before they were coming out with the hardcovers, I had GM Rep 3 in paperback (it’s the one book I have in both formats), and with 480 pages, trying to read the first few or last few chapters is a royal pain with paperbacks.

    The extra 8 to 10 dollars truly is worth it.

  7. Jacob Aagaard

    @Frank N
    I agree with a lot of your sentiment. This is why I introduced this diagram preview idea in the Attacking Manuals and also inserted it into Advanced Chess Tactics and found about 50 exercises for that book (Psakhis had a few as well) and 300 for Chess Tactics from Scratch (all me this time – as with so many of our books, the line between the author and the editor blurred a bit and we worked well together, sharing our strengths).

    But I would want to check out what really happens when you sit down to solve exercises if you say you are lazy, and at the same time as you are so excited. Are you forcing yourself to do training? Are you saying to yourself “I should?”. If you don’t want to do the exercises, do them, if not, don’t. Don’t make a bit story about it and make it a general characteristic of your personality. If you want to do the exercises, think about how you could make it most fun and then do them. Or don’t. :-).

  8. Jacob Aagaard

    Originally we were planning on publishing all five books together. But I want to send out review copies as the books got printed. But then we were thinking that maybe we should put some hardcovers on the website for limited sales. Then we thought the chess specialists would maybe take offence and we really did not want that.

    Eventually we thought we would promote the hardcovers. The paperbacks will also be sold through Amazon and similar and all places at the same time. Our obligations to those places means that it is much better for us to send all the books out together.

    So we end up with the early availability of the hardcovers. They cost € 5,00 more than the paperbacks. Especially for puzzle books this is a bargain. We have no extra income from this really, but the authors and the chess specialists get something better than they would otherwise.

  9. Jacob Aagaard

    The great physical properties of our hardcovers is luck only. A good printer.

    Btw. GM3 will be out in hardcover later this year.

  10. I possess GM7 in hardcover, and even if the book isn’t over 300 pages, I can confirm it’s very solid and easy to read in all its sections.

  11. @Jacob Aagaard
    The comment about being a “lazy chess player”, or lazy in the process of training chess was a bit tounge-in-cheek. The time constraints part is very true. Also, to be clear, I understand that it is a choice how much one trains. If you want to be a strong player train, if not, not. Personally, I find the process of solving training exercises sharpens my play pre-tournament the most. Especially the range of positional and strategic ideas available in my thought process (range of maneuvers in early middle games, prophylaxis etc.) I really enjoyed Popov’s ‘Chess Lessons’ in that he provided “play out positions” in addition to great exercises. “Chess Lessons” is underated in my view. It is the first book that I have seen where an author provides positions that can be played against the computer, or against your mates. I think Dvoretsky was a proponent of this method. I’m guessing that Mr. Aagaard’s books will have a similar feel in a sense that a professional player is guiding your training. I feel that some chess books albeit superbly written make chess some what of an abstraction. If your time is limited I feel that exercise based training in multiple phases of the game (not simply tactics) maximizes your improvement efficiency regardless of level or time spent. It is rare that books cover multiple aspects of the game. Books that cover Tactics (Many) Positional play (fewer) Strategy (fewer still) Endgame (less). To release in a series will be unprecedented. These books will be fun! Cheers 😉

  12. Jacob Aagaard

    @Frank N
    Chess Lessons is not underrated by us and we got it nominated for ECF book of the year 2011 http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?p=13224) although we knew it was never going to win.

    I do have lots of positions in the Attacking Manuals that can be played against a computer/friend. In general I recommend this practice a lot. Especially against a friend!

  13. Jacob Aagaard

    By the way – everyone can find 10 minutes a day if they want to. No one is that busy. This is all you need for some progress – 1 exercise a day :-).

  14. “CALCULATION….Then there will be 10 tests of six positions each and then the already mentioned difficult positions.”

    I REALLY do hope that the TESTS will be random…nothing worse beyond the beginner level or less (?) productive than knowing what you are looking for in a TEST. No one will tell you during a game. A TEST should actually TEST your ability to discern which idea you need to be utilizing just as much as actually utilizing it. That is why I actually prefer the Ray Cheng “Practical Chess Exercises” when I am getting limbered up for a tournament than many of the many ‘test’ books on the market.

  15. Hi Jacob,

    I see that that Everyman and Gambit are starting to make their titles available in Kindle format. Any chance Quality Chess would do the same? Keep up the good work. Cheers, Eduardo

  16. 1) “Free Shipping (in EU) if you order 3 or more books”

    2) “Will we be giving a 5 for the price of 4 offer on the site? Yes, we will. But only for shipments within the European Union and as it looks now only when we have published all the books”

    Does it mean if someone buys from your site (paying with the credit card or PayPal) the “box” books (5 books in total at the price of 4), he will not be charging ANY additional charges (costs)? Are you kidding or do I have to misplace anything? I apologize, but I would like to be sure because I do not believe if it is true (as well if the price of the “box” books will be 100Euros). And are all of them in hardcover? I just cannot believe it might be true – than the conclusions are very simple: you are getting 5 books at the price of 4, all of them in hardcover and free shipping (in EU) only to buy/pay by credit card from your website.

    I (or rather we?) am waiting for an excerpt – to see how could it look like (before buying).

    Jacob: If your books are so well structured and explained in a simple way with series of great excercises, than I think you might be SERIOUS contender of getting some kind of distinction – no matter if it is a reviewer or BCF award or at least readers praise!!

    If you could tell us how many pages have all the books (in particular and total) I will be glad. I am considering buying your books (the “box version”) together with a few puzzles books. I think you should be prepare to “defend” when many customers (I mean – most who are waiting and reading this blog) make a purchase directly with your webpage: I believe this series is one of the first “real” (=strong, but understandable and enjoyable) nice effort to show people what kind of tasks and positions they have to know and understand at GRANDMASTER level. It is very impressive and I am glad I could buy these books in the nearest time!

    Jacob – be prepared to see great reviews – I mean serious ones (not just “the paper is not so soft as silk”). Thank you very much – and good luck at drinking your cool drink 😉 :). Great job!

  17. Jacob Aagaard

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    If we are talking shipment at the same time, then yes, we would not charge shipping and we would send out five at the price of four. It is sending them one at a time that would pull teeth. Combining those practices would not work.

    I will see how it works out in practice, but in general I want this to be available to people.

    The first book is 304 pages, heavily packed with material. I am very happy with the book, but I am not sure it will be to everyones taste. It was uploaded to the printer last night so and should be shipping late this month. I cannot give you page numbers for books not finished yet. We don’t sit on the books. A lot of material is written, but in typeset form, who knows how it will look :-).

  18. @Jacob

    I am looking forward to Lars Schandorffs two new opening books, can you please letme know whether these are still likely to be coming out this month? Thanks.

  19. George Hollands


    If the book has now been uploaded to the printer can we be expecting a pdf excerpt soon? 🙂

    Very excited about this new series of books and to chime in on the hardcover/softcover debate, I will always buy QC books in hardcover. Some of my earlier QC books GM1,2 & 6 were purchased in softcover and despite me being very meticulous in looking after my chess library the plastic coating on the softcovers are peeling.

    This made me decide to shell out a few extra quid on the HB edition of GM 4 and I haven’t looked back. I hope you never decide to stop printing hardcover editions.

    All the best,

  20. Jacob Aagaard

    @George Hollands
    At the moment it makes sense to do them. I cannot guarantee for the future.

    Yes, an excerpt is coming any moment. To be honest, I have sort of collapsed after finishing the book.

  21. Off topic I wqas wondering if QC has any plans/thoughts on writing another Sicilian book for Black.

    I know GM6 is Najdorf/Scheveningen and Rogozenko did the Sveshnikov.

    Any plans on the other lines, there is a lot to go at:

    Kan/Taimanov, Dragon/Acc Dragon, Kalasnikov, Lowenthal, O’Kelly, Classical.

    Personally I would love someione have a go at writing a book on the Classical, covering Ritcher-Rauzer, Sozin with e6 & Qb6, Boleslacvsky & Classical Dragon v Be2.

  22. Congrats on the release of Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation, reading the excerpt looks very impressive!!!

  23. @decredico
    My bet not May 2012 like it says on the schedule.

    I really like the look of the GM Prep series by Aagaard, just wish I had time to read them all!

  24. Hey Jacob,
    I could be wrong about this but it looks like the descriptions for the two upcoming Schandorff books got switched around. I recall Lars quoting Botvinnik’s games in Playing the Queen’s Gambit.

  25. Jacob: thanks for answering. Also looking forward to the latest Alterman effort when it finally washes up on Yankee soil soon (time lag between Eu and US release seems interminable). Really can’t wait to get my hands on these soon to be released Schandorff books. 🙂

  26. Hi Jacob,
    I’m looking forward to “Grandmaster Preparation series” although you have published the best chess tip ever somewhere in the “Excelling at series” (or at least in the German version)

  27. This book will be hard work but also lots of fun. Great Series, I very much liked the old “excelling at …” seiries and this one will be great for sure.
    Jacob, one question, what is the best way to work with these books? Would you say 1 hour per day , or solving 4-5 ore more exercises per day ? After reading your excelling at I use a real chess board, as I found it much more difficult to solve from the book , especially when the exercises are more difficult.
    Obviously it also depends from the level of the student , how long it takes ( i have 2240 FIDE, by the way my best rating ever after completing the excelling series).

    Some tips would be great !

  28. Jacob Aagaard

    The main thing is to train doing it right. In the book we are dealing with eight thinking techniques. Slow down and make sure that you are doing it right. I seriously doubt that you will be able to do more than an hour when you are fully concentrated anyway. It is tought work in the beginning to do it right, later on it becomes a little easier.

  29. Jacob, actually NOT buying through Amazon but am going through a company called Chess Books from Europe and sometimes through chess for less and often I buy from UK sites. I will look into this vendor you mention…thank you!

  30. Jacob Aagaard

    Chess4Less will have them. Chess Books from Europe buy from us directly sometimes only. You can always nudge Emanuel to get these books, especially as we will have two more in the middle of next week for him to get.

  31. Jacob,

    I am bit confused on the order of the release of your Grandmaster Preparation series. Isn’t “Inside the Box” the first book that a student should tackle since this covers the training methods etc. But it seems this book is not being released until 2013. Perhaps, I misunderstood?

  32. As prep for the Calculation book about to come out, in addition to reading the everyman book does the Chessbase dvd of positions you put together with Esben Lund still have relevance?

  33. Jacob

    What is the date of publishing all the “Box” (series) in hardcover? When is it possible to make an order by your website? 1st of September or a bit sooner? I am really willing to test theses books as they are difficult (but digestible) and want to see what will be the effect in practical play :).

    5 for the price of 4 and every book contains 300 pages: it might be quite long holidays as you sit on the beach drinking pina colada checking the royalties tick in on his 3g Ipad 🙂 ;). But anyway – I believe it is great ratio containing quality in comparision to price :).

  34. Jacob Aagaard

    Yes, there is a lot of truth in that. But we are going by our general principle not to sit on books. And it really has to be the book written in the end as it has to refer to all the other books. I could have released all of the books together – and we are doing this in paperback. But we decided to send out the hardbacks early on to have a few more people discover them and to get some talk about the series before the real release.

  35. Jacob Aagaard

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    This will be a bit down the line, I think. We will not sell the 5 for 4 6-9 months in advance as there will always be someone complaining that it is not sent out now or one by one and so on. And financially we can only send them out in one go and only inside the European Union (should it still exist in 9 months time!). But I have argued that many local shops will make the 5 for 4 deal with anyone paying in advance if you ask them.

  36. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Is it likely that GM6 2nd Edition will be published before September? I am going on holiday in September and would like to take GM6 2nd Ed to read with me, if possible.

  37. @Jacob Aagaard
    in that series you write something about your way of writing a chess book. And especial the park “I’m not afraid of being wrong” was quite inspiring. But it is probably my fault to think, that part of the book as someting to do with chess.

  38. @Avrukhs boos when White doesn`t go for 2. c4
    Any chance that he presents some nice stuff for 1. d4 d5 2. Bg5 f6!? 3. Bh4 c5 ?

  39. ok thx. According to my Mega2012 …f6 scores pretty well against the Trompovsky.
    I hope Avrukhs books against 1. d4 sidelines will be released soon.

  40. Jacob Aagaard

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    They are very closed to the end in editing terms, then comes typesetting and printing, a process of 4-6 weeks, depending on how many discount shopping catalogues have been ordered from the printer :-).

  41. Jakob, excellent with a workbook on the endgame!

    It has not escaped my notice that Quality Chess has almost ignored this topic for years (although Marin’s ‘Legends’ is a true masterpiece, truly of great value).

    There is always room for more exercise-books, and, knowing Quality Chess, the books will have the best possible layout and ‘feel’; clear diagrams, easy-to-follow annotations, elegant look. By the way, I love Yusupov’s series; very useful in all respect. Big fan.

    Keep up the good work! /D

  42. @Jacob
    Maybe a stupid question, but should I first finish my book about GP Calculation or could I start also with GP Positional Play? Because I like to do different topics and not the ‘Same’ like Calculation the whole time.

    If so, I understand that its best to start with GP Strategic Play only after Positional play because of that Strategic is like Positional but then in a greater sense so to speak?

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