I am dead. Or at least close to. Still working on Endgame Play (Friday night 22.16), which we want to send to the printer Monday. If this happens, we will most likely make the triple publication on April the 30th.

There are still a few additions to put in. Karsten Mueller have been exceptionally helpful and forced me to push myself as far as I probably can. He wrote the following very flattering foreword, which is all I can give you now. Excepts up next week.Foreword by GM Dr Karsten Müller

Solve your endgame problems with Endgame Play!

Every chess player faces the problem of how to study the endgame. Three possible approaches are to ignore the endgame completely, or to read a theoretical manual like Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, or to watch videos or DVDs. In my opinion the first option is completely out of the question, as studying the endgame will repay high dividends because your understanding of the whole game and the capabilities of every single piece will improve dramatically. The knowledge gained will remain valid forever and will not become outdated like opening analysis. I recommend the other two options of course. But they are not the complete answer. They are only the first step.

It is not enough to have read a solution in a book or seen it in a video clip. You can only do it, when you can do it. For example, to mate with bishop and knight against a lone king, you must be able to master it over the board with the clock ticking, and not by guessing moves while watching a video clip.

Solving exercises is the second step on the road to endgame mastery and this is Aagaard’s approach in his excellent Endgame Play. The third step is to play endgames well over the board under tournament conditions. Only then are you really mastering the endgame.

So I strongly believe in training by solving exercises and Jacob Aagaard is a real master here. I often train my own students using the books from his Grandmaster Preparation series, and they really help on the way to becoming an International Master or hopefully even a Grandmaster.

Sometimes I challenge my students to a solving competition but one other method I use is for me to play on the weak side of the exercises, so that my students not only have to find the right solution but can also beat me afterwards, just like in a real tournament game. Again, the best way to train is to work under tournament conditions. If you do not have a grandmaster on hand, you can of course play on the winning side against a computer program – that is, if you really want to train the hard way.

Aagaard always selects many fresh and challenging examples, and in Endgame Play he also manages to present fascinating positions which I had not seen before – and I have seen many endgames as this has been my main occupation for years.

Endgame study has two faces – theoretical endings sorted by material, and strategical endgames sorted by motifs. Jacob Aagaard deals with both in great depth and focuses on the practical questions. He uses pawn endings to train the calculation of long variations and visualization. He investigates minor piece endings to illustrate the capabilities of the bishop and knight and their limitations, which is very important for every phase of the royal game.

Aagaard’s treatment of opposite-coloured bishop endings, which have a very special nature almost like a new game within chess, is very deep and he also looks at positions with more pieces, where the guideline from the middlegame comes to the forefront – opposite-coloured bishops favour the attacker and, unlike pure opposite-coloured bishop endings, have no strong drawish tendencies.

Then come rook endings, endings with queens, and endings with rook and bishop to complete the discussion of theoretical endings. I want to stress the presence of many endings with rook and bishop against rook and bishop. They are very important for the practical player, but are generally underrepresented in the literature.

Regarding strategical endings, Aagaard divides the material into the following categories: schematic thinking, weaknesses, domination, do not hurry, passed pawns, pawns in the endgame, freaky aspects including zugzwang, stalemate, fortresses and attack on the king.

Here Aagaard gives a good overview and again the proof of the pudding is in the eating: you should try really hard to solve the exercises. Only in this way will you gain a deeper understanding of the real meaning of the principles and guidelines and their exceptions. The real art of the royal game is not to know the guidelines by heart and repeat them every morning three times in front of the mirror. The real art is to develop an intuitive feeling for the exceptions and to be able to calculate and visualize variations well.

Especially impressive is Aagaard’s deep insight into the nature of fortresses and the way he deals with the very important rook endgames, where it is always difficult not to be too dry and technical but also not too complicated. He strikes this balance just right and also looks at all aspects of the endgame which are relevant for the practical player. No sophisticated studies – just the sort of questions you will have to deal with over the board.

With Endgame Play Jacob Aagaard has again proved convincingly that he is indeed one of the best chess authors of modern times.

GM Dr Karsten Müller
Hamburg, March 2014

13 thoughts on “Progress”

  1. I strongly believe your book will be exceptionally great. Please don’t collapse and refresh as soon as possible.

  2. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Is GM21 by Negi in the triple publication of 30/04, or is it the book Gormally therein instead, with GM21 for May?

  3. Ray :
    @Jacob Aagaard
    Aha, in that case: success with finishing Endgame Play!

    Seconded! Great review, especially the true: ” Jacob Aagaard has again proved convincingly that he is indeed one of the best chess authors of modern times.” Congratulations!

  4. Wouw, I’m for sure gonna buy this book. Yesterday, I did som cleaning and took a look at my chess books. I think that QC would be very happy with the result. My shelves are stuffed with QC books. I was quite surprised to see that one shelf didn’t suffice 🙂

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