At a time where Kirsan the fool is visiting all torture chambers in the world in the name of chess, it is nice to see something optimistic and fun regarding our game. This is my current experience of typesetting Mayhem in the Morra by Marc Esserman. It is not a coincidence, but faith, that we will be able to publish this book on the 4th of July. With this we celebrate our ability to think independently of our leaders, whether they are responsible for the financial mess we are in, responsible for the rules of football where everyone in the world but the referee is allowed to see that there was a penalty in Denmark-Germany or Greece-Russia for that sake – or just straight loons like Kirsan…

β€œA belief in the existence of Santa Claus is more rational than imagining White has adequate compensation after the unwarranted 3.c3?” – Nigel Short

I hope I will one day be White against Nigel and he plays 1…c5!

82 thoughts on “Independence”

  1. I just read at the FIDEsite that there is a ban for chess book vendors in Istanbul at the olympiad to sell Qualitychess books. They are changing their recommended training books list too.

  2. How dare you mock our great enlightened leader Father Kirsan?Don’t you see that every tyrant that our deal leader visits soon after meets their demise! So sad that you cannot see that our dear leader is brilliant strategic thinker who is many moves ahead of the rest of us. We should not question him. We must follow like obedient sheep.

  3. Yes, according to my database Nigel only plays 1…c5 in every 1 out of 10 games as Black. That leaves your dream’s probability of fulfillment quite low – already at 5%, and that’s not factoring in your overall probability of playing in the same tournament as Nigel and getting paired against him at all. πŸ™

    That will make it all the more special when it actually does happen!

  4. but that would be a nice idea for a promotion event, when the book comes out:
    a friendly game between Jacob and Nigel Short in the Morra…

  5. Jacob Aagaard

    Afraid so. I will be 39 at the end of July and do not feel any hunger for chess as a competitive sport anymore. I love the game, but the fighting spirit is gone. Basically it went in 2008 after what happened with the British Championship. Also, being a trainer has always been more fulfilling for me.

    I actually retired in 2011, but was talked into playing the European Ch. and the Olympiad one last time. I thus decided to include a few more tournaments over the summer to get in form.

    I will still play local stuff, I guess, against weaker players, where I will not have to fight against preparation and hungry up and coming players and thus can get away with being rusty and poorly prepared.

    My main focus will be Quality Chess and being a trainer. I am looking forward to it!

  6. actually Ant I had the Turkish government in view; I really wasn’t surprised someone inferred our FIDE pres was into censorship. Sad to say.

  7. Should the match not be between the *author* and Mr. ShortyClaus? Can the abbreviated GM hold up against the saintly clauses within the Mayhem? Will he threedotdotdoteneffsix his way through to a draw (-n out struggle)?

    I will be the first to have a ringside seat, as long as I have full conditions.

  8. Yes, I must confess I am also curious re the 2008 British. You would have been defending champion, and as a resident “Glaswegian” surely welcome to venture “south of the border” to defend your title?

  9. Jacob Aagaard

    I was very unwelcome and so were all Scots. This did not change till 2011 as far as I have been able to deduct. The tournament is now basically the English Championship and has been so since 2007, when I won.

    The situation is still bad. There are many extra prices for the English and good conditions for them to play. Others are allowed to play, but the conditions are scewed. Some have argued that the ECF organises so they should be allowed to do what they want. This is nonsense. They have an agreement to hold the British Championship with the other Federations; it is not their property. But they treat it like it is and the other federations have not objected. There are a lot of this Englishness seen in Scotland as arrogance and stupidity, which is a reason a lot of my friends will vote yes to independence. I will personally vote no and campaign for a no, but not because the system is perfect.

    What really infuriated me at the time was that the Scottish Federation did nothing to fight for the players. Simply nothing. Then in 2009 I sponsored the Scottish Championship together with John with quite a lot of money. It was clear that the Federation would do nothing for the players and I wanted to play the Danish Championship in Hillerod, close to where I was born, in 2010. So I changed federations back – just to play this event. The Scottish Federation then came looking for reimbursement for the transfer in 2006 from Denmark. They were not being arseholes and when the math was explained to them it just went away. But clearly they were not able to support the players in any way. This is sad, but a normal situation for small federations.

    You can see that Jonathan Rowson is also basically gone from the chess scene. He plays a bit, but essentially he is lost. A great loss, I feel. Me? I am just getting older and was never a player first; I am a writer first, a trainer second and occasionally not too bad a player. I prefer focusing on the less glamorous things, which I like better and do immensely better.

  10. Jacob,

    I never even realized that Scotland wasn’t an independent country. I say, in addition to the publishing of the book, that Scotland should declare independence from England on July 4th. Join the party with the Americans! We always have a blast. Everyone drinks, shoots fireworks, and reminds everyone that we are owned by the Brittish no more! Make July 4th the worst day in British history by giving them the double-whammy!

    Jacob, bring Rowson and Shaw with you to the United States. Reunite with the chess scene. We love having those from out of country come in and give us a fierce battle! A big tournament in Las Vegas just happened this weekend which featured many from out of country. We had Mikhalevski from Isreal and Mascarenhas from Brazil, just to name a couple, but in the end, one of our own from New York, Aleksandr Lenderman, won it all.

    I placed in a tie for 52nd out of 92 with 2 1/2, but then again, I was the 87th seed, so I’m not complaining, other than the fact that I have been informed that my Black game is horrible, going 0 for 3 with Black. Definitely won’t complain about 2 1/2 out of 3 with White though!

  11. Gilchrist is a Legend


    For some reason the comment I posted says awaiting moderation. But if the moderator can please delete the one I posted above (which cannot be seen by others) I will paste what I typed without the link to the news article:

    I highly doubt Scotland will gain independence in the 2014 referendum. And even so, I heard that one of the politicians still wanted to propose staying within the β€œsterling zone”, as in in the rare occurrence that Scotland gain independence, they would stay within the pound sterling currency zone and use the pound. They would also be an independent EU country, but using sterling. I think if most Scots if had the choice between becoming a part of the USA or doing things the American way, they would rather retain the 1707 union with England. Also a large amount of my family were born in former British colonies. They all did not enjoy independence because it caused the creation of corruption in their independent governments and creation of the third world.
    Did you also see the story about Jamaica, who gained independence 50 years ago (1 Aug 1962) and that the majority of the people living there regret declaring independence and wish the UK ruled them?

  12. Jacob Aagaard

    There are always extra penalties, but having watching the Dutch kick penalties in both euro 1992 and 2000, I do not think this would have altered the score.

  13. Jacob Aagaard

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Clearly Scotland is not Jamaica. We will obviously have problems with abuse of power, but we already have plenty of them with the nationalist party and the conservatives in Westminster, so nothing new there.

    An important point is that the Sterling would only be a transitional currency. There is just no way that it would work long term; devaluation will naturally follow independence. This has good and bad aspects to it.

    The main point is that the public has made their mind up, 30% yes and 50% no forever in the polls. Winning the argument is getting worse for the SNP as they have been found wanting on many issues and are no longer the outsiders or the protest party. Scrutiny from the media is clearly unpleasant for them as well.

  14. Abramov Anjuhin

    Please put politics aside. This is chess blog. Thx πŸ™‚

    @ NEW TACTICS BOOK: “365 Greatest Puzzles” by GM Csaba Balogh, Chess Evolution (

    I’m hoping that this is very good tactics book, at least according to the excerpt you can see πŸ™‚

    Your comment Jacob!

    Can we count to see this year:

    a) GM Repertoire Open Spanish by MIkhalevski
    b) GM Repertoire Open Games 1…. e5
    c) GM Repertoire King’s Indian vol 1&2 by Kontronias.

    If not, when then?

  15. @Abramov Anjuhin

    In essence, chess is politics!

    – You negotiate trades, whether that be auto parts for clothing or Bishops for Knights.
    – You act friendly when you come to the table, just like one president does to another, but in reality, the back of your mind has that mean streak!
    – The truth be told, you have one and only one intention. Invade, take the ruler down, and claim glory for yourself!

  16. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard

    I am not going to say much, the final statement I shall make on this issue is that my opinion is that the UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) should have Scotland in the union, for many reasons, not least of which would be that it would be quite tedious to say and write the new official name of the UK if Scotland left the union, “The United Kingdom of England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Wight, and Northern Ireland” since “Great Britain” includes Scotland πŸ˜€

    Do you recommend French players to play various lines against all the main lines? For example, when I play French I play both the Winawer and Classical, and 3…c5 4. exd5 exd5 and 3…Be7 against the Tarrasch. Against the Advanced Variation I try with much effort to enter any line with 6. a3 c4 or any of those 6…c4 blocked, positional positions πŸ™‚

  17. Jacob Aagaard

    @Abramov Anjuhin
    Probably yes to the first of the three. And please do not advertise other companies books here. It is a bit disrespectful. Besides, I am sure that both CALCULATION and QUALITY CHESS PUZZLE BOOK are better selections. A high rating does not mean that you are a good trainer, it takes a lot of specialised work.

  18. Jacob Aagaard

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    I definitely do. Actually, for a professional one of the main things is to avoid getting killed by a novelty in the opening you do not know how to relate to. Very few people can analyse everything at home (Aronian!?) and be prepared for whatever the opponent comes up with. For this reason it makes a lot of sense to have many systems at your disposal.

  19. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard

    That sounds like good advice, I usually play the Najdorf, except unlike most Najdorf players I play both 6…e5 and 6…e6 regularly now although in the past I played exclusively 6…e5. The French seems to be unique in this respect, since there are so many main lines available. I am not a professional, I am not sure what it is called, but I range between usually 2250-2300 FIDE (I unfortunately had a very bad tournament when I was at 2298 and never passed 2300…) but I like playing a large variety of openings to avoid preparation too.

  20. Abramov Anjuhin

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @Abramov Anjuhin
    Probably yes to the first of the three. And please do not advertise other companies books here. It is a bit disrespectful. Besides, I am sure that both CALCULATION and QUALITY CHESS PUZZLE BOOK are better selections. A high rating does not mean that you are a good trainer, it takes a lot of specialised work.

    SInce you were in short marriage with Naiditsch, I sensed it was a good idea πŸ™‚

  21. @Gilchrist is a Legend

    One hopes your reading of the Najdorf book (when it comes) is more diligent than that of the geography of the UK, or else you risk being caught out in the opening πŸ™‚ Guernsey and Jersey comprise the Channel Islands, and neither are part of the UK. Nor is the Isle of Man. And the Isle of Wight is part of England.

  22. Jacob Aagaard :@Abramov Anjuhin Probably yes to the first of the three. And please do not advertise other companies books here. It is a bit disrespectful. Besides, I am sure that both CALCULATION and QUALITY CHESS PUZZLE BOOK are better selections. A high rating does not mean that you are a good trainer, it takes a lot of specialised work.

    You can also expand further in saying that some strong players are good at one topic or one format of literature, and not another.

    Case in point (and I’m using examples outside of Quality Chess, but not advertising):

    Andrew Soltis – Back in the 90s, he has written a few of the best middlegame books ever published, such as “The Inner Game of Chess”, and while I haven’t read it, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about “Pawn Structure Chess”, which he also wrote, but the same can’t be said about his opening books outside of the one variation of the Dragon named after him. For example, the 2nd edition of a d4-repertoire book for White that he wrote in 1994 is full of lines that are absolutely busted, like the gamblit line he recommends against the King’s Indian Defense, which in essence is a 4 pawns attack where on move 9, he doesn’t recapture on d5 with the c-pawn to create a Benoni or with the e-pawn to stay in King’s Indian territory, but rather advance the e-pawn as a gambit, which has basically been refuted.

    Andrew Martin – Here we see something who has a greater strength in one format of literature over another. Oral and Written communication require different skills. Of all the Foxy Videos, most of the good ones tend to be by Andrew Martin. In the Fritz Trainer series, the majority of those that got higher reviews are those by Andrew Martin. The same can’t be said for many of his books. There is no structure or layout at all in his 2004 King’s Indian Battle Plans book, and many notes are repeated. I think most other books on the Scandinavian Defense are significantly stronger than his Essential Center Counter book. Andrew’s Oral skills are significantly stronger than his Writing skills (at least when it comes to chess). He takes the time to explain what’s going on in his videos. Allows the viewer to absorb without having to hit the pause button every 5 seconds. Etc etc. Compare that to say, Sergei Tiviakov, if you have ever seen the preview for his 2 videos on the Catalan/Queen’s Indian and the Nimzo-Indian, he just rambles on and on and says that after this and that and this and that Black is slightly better and goes back to the main position in a split second. Why is Black slightly better? Martin explains this. Tiviakov doesn’t.

    So while higher rating doesn’t necessarily make you a better author, what you are trying to cover, and how you are trying to cover it, may make a difference too. Just because you can write a good book on one topic in chess doesn’t mean you can write anything on chess and write it well. Writing a book versus giving a video presentation requires different skills as well. So what it boils down to is, you really can’t generalize anything when it comes to chess literature, and must take each item individually. πŸ™‚

  23. Abramov Anjuhin

    ADDITIONS: Weteschnik Martin – Chess Tactics from Scratch, exercises section:

    (63) also mates: 1.Ng6+ Nxg6 2.Rxh7+ Kxh7 3. Qh5#

    (69) after 1.Rg4 Black can play 1… Kf8 but then 2.Qxe7!+ Kxe7 3.Bc5+ Ke8 4. Rg8#

    Guys and girls, these exercises are really really good picked up!!!

    Even with only * or ** you shall crack your head before you get to **** or ***** ones πŸ™‚

    I’m extremely pleasantly surprised!

  24. I was not awfullly impressed with Soltis’ pawn structure book; thought it was awfully dependent on the Kmoch book. I haven’t read an opening book of his, but some of his work is pretty entertaining. Chess Tactics from Scratch is a very ggod book. What I can’t figure is why the new Suba book gets no love?

  25. I browsed the Suba book briefly while I was at the National Open in Las Vegas 6/15-6/17 and I can tell you that at the “browse” level (can’t give any type of full review), it seems a little confusing from the perspective of layout. I don’t quite get why you would arrange 3/4 of the book by opening, and then the last quarter by theme. To me, it would be like writing a book on Kasparov’s 400 best games from 1980 to 2000 where all the games from 1980 to 1995 are sorted by opening, but the games from 1996 to 2000 are sorted by date.

    I just think it would have been better to arrange it either by theme (like “Essential Chess Sacrifices” published by Gambit, where it sorts by which of the 15 “Standard” sacrifices occur for each chapter), or if you specifically want to mix the sacrifices up so that the reader isn’t spending the whole game asking “is it time to sacrifice on f7 yet”, since in reality, that’s not how chess is played, then sort it by difficulty of the sacrifice. Your “simpler” exchange sacrifices of a rook for Knight where the Knight dominates in a central hole with no open files appears earlier in the book whereas your sacrifices that require deeper calculation and understanding would go near the end of the book. The latter format would be more appropriate for a book geared for higher players.

    Sorting it by opening, I would think, would encourange readers to skip large chunks of the book. I actually don’t think a book of this nature should have an opening index at all (kinda like the Karpov books). For instance, a wild attacker that plays 1.e4 as White and the Dragon and Benoni as Black might very well skip chapters 8, 9, 11, and 12. Understanding sacrifices is about being able to see things in an array of positions, not just about finding typical ideas in your pet openings.

    Arrangement aside, the content itself seemed to be of high quality with very deep analysis. If the reader isn’t tricked into reading the book the wrong way due to the arrangement, the reader can get a lot out of it.

  26. Michel Barbaut

    I’ve just read the pdf extract of “Mayhem in the Morra” and it seems I could have write the first page … since it was exactly my feeling about the opening & the reactions by others. The book starts very well !! Thanks QC .. and Marc of course !

  27. Abramov Anjuhin

    Around which date will Schandorff’s both hardcovers of Playing 1.d4 The Queen’s Gambit & The Indian Defences be available in Niggemann Germany shop?

  28. Michel Barbaut :I’ve just read the pdf extract of β€œMayhem in the Morra” and it seems I could have write the first page … since it was exactly my feeling about the opening & the reactions by others. The book starts very well !! Thanks QC .. and Marc of course !

    I’m definitely looking forward to at least browsing this book at a chess tournament when it comes out, and will be focusing on one chapter. If that one chapter can convince me otherwise from my current opinion of the Morra, I’ll definitely buy it!

    However, at least as of today (and this book may change my opinion, that’s what updates are for!), I find the Chicago Defense, and more specifically, the lines with 8…Nc6 and 9…Ra7, with 11…Na5 or 11…Bb7 (I personally prefer the former), not taking the time to play …Be7 and allowing 12.Na4, which to me is what makes playing …Be7 a mistake, as an extremely strong reply to the Morra Gambit.

    I’ve also always thought that declining it and forcing White to play into a c3-Sicilian was a simple route to equality if Black is ok with a draw, and isn’t out to make White pay the price for gambitting the pawn.

    It’ll be interesting to see what his argument is in those two scenarios with his claim that it’s White fighting for the advantage! πŸ™‚

  29. Gilchrist is a Legend

    If the Queen’s Gambit book is published first, should I pre-order the Queen’s Gambit book separately than the Indian Defences book in two separate orders rather than buying both simultaneously in one order?

  30. Jacob Aagaard

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Not if you are shopping directly with us. We always send out the books in the order we finish them; and without delay. This is also why I do not want to give the 5 for 4 offer on the site for GM Prep now – because we do not like sitting on the books and it feels confusing.

  31. Gilchrist is a Legend

    So Quality Chess online shop will have Queen’s Gambit around mid July and Indian Defences August? If that is the case, I was considering buying from the Quality Chess shop paying one order for Queen’s Gambit then pre-order a separate order for Indian Defences whenever it is published.

  32. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Also I notice from Queen’s Gambit excerpt that there is a shadow design with chrome colour with three dimensional as well, such as under the design for the box showing “Game 1”, is this a new design that will be in future books?

  33. Any recent sightings of Nessie?*

    * Nessie is my new pet nickname for the mythological beast that some people have claimed has been seen wandering around in Scotland and goes under the chess opening name of King’s Gambit… hunted for a long time now by sleuth Shaw, it has been rumored to be a real living creature but like its kin Bigfoot, it constantly seems to evade capture and all we have as any form of proof are some questionable eye-witness reports.

  34. I have to say the snippet of the Morra book looks mighty impressive. Do you think the London Chess Centre will have it by the 7th July…or is that just a few days too soon? Miss working 10 mins walk from Baker Street πŸ™

  35. Jacob Aagaard

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    This is my intention for the Grandmaster Guide series, yes. It is a double gradient effect, going from both sides to the centre. Basically I was wanting to make the design just a little bit more eye-catching, so that when you flick through the book, you will easier catch the beginning of the games, which is often what you are looking for.

  36. Decredio instead of Nessie maybe a better nom de echecs would be the Questing Beast “fewmets, fewmets!” White reference of course.

  37. John Johnson :if you print it I will buy!

    Me too!

    I play chess for fun, not tournaments. The king’s gambit may not be the best, but it is sporting and fun. But it’s impossible to find anything that covers both knight and bishop gambit. Hence, the need for “Nessie” to finally show herself.

  38. Gilchrist is a Legend

    In Grandmaster Repertoire French Defence, is the Winawer repertoire the 7…Qc7 line or 7…0-0 or some other line(s)?

  39. Rarely has the wait for chess books been as much fun and exciting as it is to to follow fewmets with real belief that there is indeed a dragon to find.

    I am thankful my previous comments were taken in the spirit they were intended and even more thankful that Quality Chess does what it does in their field and also provides us place to inquire about their endeavors.

    I think what I enjoy the most about this fewmet/Nessie hunting is that every time I think I am out and that no monsters really exist (and do not need any more books), Mr Aagaard and his staff prove my thinking to be wrong.


  40. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Thanks, I will then order Queen’s Gambit separately. It seems to have the same publication date as Morra Gambit, I suppose these two are both to be published on 13/07?

  41. Jacob Aagaard

    It will usually take about 3 months. They insist on us going through a distributor, which slows down things and demotivate us a bit in sending the books to them as well. It has to be done as cost effective as possible to make sense.

  42. Jacob Aagaard

    I think about 600 pages have already been finalised in word. I have decided that I will typeset the whole thing in one go and finish POSITIONAL PLAY before paying attention to it. One 1-2 (big) chapters need finalising. But this is likely to take some time still. I will put the book on the next publishing schedule!

  43. Chess books from Europe is usually a bit faster than Amazon; but don’t quote me on that. I don’t own any stock in either company.

  44. @Abramov Anjuhin
    I checked this book and found it to be ok, although I will not say that it is spectacular. Those interested can definitely get it without fearing disappointment. The title refers to what might be an ongoing series of puzzles taken from recent games. I have selected a number of these positions already for my own book (as can be seen by those who care to cross reference it), but I have a purpose beyond just collecting them. Some design features are very nice, others less so. The language is not great, but personally I do not care too much about this.

  45. Abramov Anjuhin

    ADDITIONS: Weteschnik Martin – Chess Tactics from Scratch, exercises section:

    (80) on 21…. Rg8 White has 22. Qxg7!+ Rxg7 23. Rd8+ Bf8 24. Rxf8#

    (81) to my mind it’s always better to force line with check, so correct is in first place 17. Bh7!

    (87) omitted is 32… Kf8 when White finishes him off with 33. Bh6 Ne7 34. Qxa8+ Qc8 35. Qxc8+ Nxc8 36. Re1 Rg8 37. Rc7+ Rg7 38. Bxg7+ Kg8 39. Re8#

  46. Abramov Anjuhin

    @ Grandmaster Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box

    Jacob, if you can solve the biggest problem and a crucial lighthouse coordinates for every chess players you can freely sit down on the tron as a best modern chess writer πŸ™‚

    How to choose right opening, according to which parameters?

    This is your assignment!

  47. Jacob Aagaard

    @Abramov Anjuhin
    You choose it according to a number of factors: your ability to memorise lines (for me this is pretty low), your style – for example, I do not do well in positions of a closed nature. Your temperament and finally to what you feel inspired by; because the most important seems to me to be what you feel fascinated working on. I would not say that I believe that the Morra is the best opening ever, but if you look at what Marc Esserman has been able to do with it, I would probably answer 1…e6 or similar against him :-).

  48. Jacob Aagaard

    This is of course one of the classics :-). But it is not my favourite. There is a Bh7 combination which is simply unreal in the book.

  49. Michael Agermose Jensen

    Very nice game Esserman-Van Wely – 15…Qf6? is known to be losing since Langrock-Stellwagen, 2003 (16.fxe5 Qxe5 17.Bf7+ which wins somewhat more prosaically than 17.Bg5.)
    Black has to try 15…exf4, don’t believe Soltis in New York Post: “16.Re1 fxe3 17.Rxe3+ Be7 18.Qd4 and wins.”

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