On Book Titles

We start with a preview from the Gelfand book, taken from a variation from Navara – Gelfand, Prague (1) 2006.

Black to Play and Win


In our weekly editorial meeting we have been debating the book with the working title Chess from Scratch at length almost every week. To cut to the pawn ending, basically we have wanted to squeeze a Soviet treasure into a title where it did not fully fit.

The title is not a description of the content of the book, but something we use to make people look at the book and find it interesting. Once you have people reading, hopefully they will forgive you anything. Obviously we care a lot about what is inside the book and not about the title, though we have to find good titles nonetheless…

On Friday I came to the meeting with a bombshell. I had finally realised that the box did not fit. We want to develop the ‘From Scratch’ series with a few more books, based among others on how much we love Chess Tactics from Scratch. But the Maizelis book does not fit. No matter how much we wanted it to fit.

So, we will publish it as The Soviet Chess Primer. It will be out in 5-6 weeks. We will have another book called Chess from Scratch quite soon as well. The author is someone a lot closer to home. Me.

The position at the start of the article arrived by chance when I had a training session with a GM last week. I have used a few positions from the coming book Positional Decision Making in Chess, which I have helped Boris Gelfand to write. In the game against Navara, White played 31.Qa7-c7. Instead a student tried 31.h4. But this loses to 31…gxh4! 32.Nxh4 Rd1!!, as I am sure you have already worked out.

56 thoughts on “On Book Titles”

  1. My first idea was 31…g4, with the same …Rd1!! idea, but it’s worth noting that this doesn’t work on account of 32.Ng5! – I am curious to hear if anyone else found 31…gxh4! by trying to debug 31…g4.

  2. Boris Gelfand teaches Jacob Aagaard chess

    Albert Einstein Teaches Chess

    Jesse Gersenson Teaches Chess

    The Karma Sutra of Chess Improvement: Positional Play

    How to Write about Chess, from Scratch

    How to Publish a Chess book, from Scratch

    Play Better Chess, from Scratch

    Openings for (Internet/Online) Blitz, from Scratch

  3. I’d suggest that John Shaw and I co-write Jesse’s “How to Write About Chess, from Scratch” – Book of the Year in 2020, no doubt.

  4. No offense to old Albert, but my understanding was that his chess playing abilities were just a little above his skills as a violinist.

    His opening move of E equals MC squared, however, has proven difficult to refute.

  5. Thomas I was brainstrom titles and, as you know, comedy sparks creativity, http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1987-27192-001

    Let’s see other people’s lists of titles.

    Learn to play chess, from scratch
    Endgames, from scratch
    How to be creative and (follow) a (chess) plan (, from scratch)
    Do you want to be a Grandmaster: Situated to Visual cognition, from scratch
    Play chess blind-folded, from scratch
    How do scratch-and-sniff books work, from scratch

  6. Ok, My wife is gonna kill me because of quality chess. Why? Your books are so good, that I buy them when ever I have opportunitv to buy them. For now I own Karolys Karpov strategic wins 1,2, Jusupov evolution, 1d4 vol 1 and vol 2, Aagaards Positional play, strategic play, attack and defence, calculation, Trompovski attack, Chess tactics from scratch, Chess tactics for advanced players (it turned my view on chess upside down 🙂 ) GM prep Caro kann, GM prep Slav.
    Why had I write this? Because when I calculated money I spent on this books I can see why my wife is angry.

    Keep on publishing good books, sometimes its good to have angry wife :). For now on, I decidec to buy only Gelfands book when it will come out, there is too much material to study and man must listen to his wife, every now and then :D.

  7. @Niall

    Last year I managed to finish only Karolys Karpov strategic wins 1&2. From 2nd category player became CM without doing any serious opening work. Now I m finishing tactics (W. and P. books).
    Working on chess only on week when she works in 2nd shift, she is a profesor and must do preparations and check esseys aprox 1-2 hours per day so I work on chess. 🙂

  8. “my wife is angry”
    “Last year [I went from] from 2nd category [to] CM”
    “she works 2nd shift”

    Why Women Hate Chess, from Scratch

  9. @Jesse
    Big LOL 🙂
    I know.

    I m like a kid now when I had read that Gelfands book will be quality chess book :).
    Hope to learn more dynamic positional play from it.

    Books were by Fisher opinion the best way to improve. Just had read it yesterday in Kasparov book My great predecessors. He writes that when somebody asked him how come that he play so good he ansered I read 1000 books :). He was even reading books from middle of 19 century, he was full of chess ideas that his contemporaries werent familiarized.

    My experience with Quality chess books I was working with (theres a lot of them which are still waiting on my books shells.
    Regarding quality chess books, I like the fact that chapters on middlegame are in small chunks where you can study one part of a game. So there is no coincidence that Yusupov books took the first prize infront of Garrys books the year they were published. Opening books as I was just checking them are also very nice (didnt start studying them yet) – specially Avrukh ones. Well, cant say for others cause dodnt own them :). But beside middlegame books, I really like books that are analysizng games of one player as Karpov. I learnt a lot from his games. Even more than frome other books I studied. Annotations are very good. Going throug games makes you very happy, Karpov style is very “restraining” and you learn a lot how to restrain your opponent ideas, how to prepare pawn breaks, how to take control of open files, when to sacrifice a pawn for paralyzing opponent pieces….Very good work from Karoly. I like also Chess tactics from scratch, my tactical vision is for player of 1800 and its a big gap between my live rating (2100) and tactical vision so this book opened my eyes. Though Im making my self a hard work on it, when i find solutions from exercises i put diagrams on my fritz and play against it. Frustrating :). Psahkis book will blown my mind when I finish Tactisc from scratch.

  10. @kr
    And if you like books that are analysing games of one player, I would say Karoly’s book on Tal is also a must, especially since you’re also studying tactics at the moment!

  11. @kr – what would be your top 10 books you have ever read in terms of feeling you have gained considerable strength/knowledge?

  12. @Michael
    My best games – A. Karpov
    Karoly Strategic wins 1 &2
    Chess in praxis (Aaron N.)
    Lisicin (Strategy and tactics)
    Convetka ctart 4.0
    Convekta endings
    Daniel King chessbase videos pawns (think its number 5) and Squeeze.
    All three books on chess evolution (Yusupov).

    Now working on Chess tactics from scratch, and Chess tactic for advanced players.
    This will be the only tactics books I will ever read plus working on Convekta CTART 4.0.
    No need for more tactics, of course, Calculation and Attack and defence are on book shell,
    so they will also come on my working table one day. Hope so 🙂

  13. @ Jacob
    October is here in 1 & a half weeks!
    Any idea when in October you think next books will be published?
    Still those 3 in the proposed publishing schedule table or different?
    Looking forward.

  14. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I see on Forward Chess that Modern Tiger shows for Autumn 2014, with 440 pp., so I suppose that October is plausible perhaps for the paper publication. A confirmation would be needed though.

  15. The good news is that Jacob and crew have been very quiet on the blog lately.

    That’s good news because we know they are working hard to bring us more goodies. 😀

  16. @kr – yes I remember Danny King’s DVD on Pawns – Capablanca’s ‘cramping’ technique really stood out to me. Thanks for the list. There was one book I had not heard of before so I will look into it. Also I know you said no more tactics but the book ‘A course in chess tactics’ blew my mind and is like a natural follow on to Chess Tactics from Scratch.


    ### GM Repertoire for Black 1… e5 ###

    Bologan launched a top-notch book in this field, I’m very curious who will try to surpass him 🙂

    Indeed, I have bought this book as well. He gives some interesting lines. He also claims to have found some improvements against Shaw’s recommendations in the King’s Gambit (Quaade and Modern Line) but to be honest these were rather shallow in my opinion, he just says ‘ Shaw didn’t mention this move’ and then gives 3 or 4 moves more without any detailed analysis…

  19. @Ray
    How did you find your way through this book? I was lost after looking at some chapters, wondering who had the idea of reversed 3D-diagrams and that strange colors. In some chapters, the book clearly provokes a parody:

    “Here you can use the Steinitz maneuver with the Adams idea, unless you see the Shirov trick which forces the Capablanca defence. or you go for the Blackburne hook in the Karjakin line, followed by the Petrosian swap to reach the Euwe ending!”

    I must admit I was a bit confused.

  20. @Thomas
    🙂 Don’t foget Fat Bertha!

    I thought it was interesting to actually see a book with the white and blacks sides changed in the diagrams. It takes some time to get used to it, but once you get used to it it is kind of strange to see a ‘normal’ diagram again :-). There was a discussion on this topic some time ago on this blog. Jacob didn’t think it would sell any extra books and I agree with him.

    And indeed Bologan seems to have gone slightly over the top at places with showing his erudition. Other than that, I like many of the lines he proposes. Most of all, FINALLY a new book with the Two Knights from black’s perspective – the last book was the book by Emms, and that is quite old. Also, I like his recommendation 5…Bd6 against the Spanish Four Knights and the fact that he proposes two lines against every opening. But ennough advertising for a non QC-book. I’m sure QC can improve on it with their GM Rep Open Games book which we’re all eagerly awaiting 🙂

  21. @Ray
    Actually, I thought it was a very good advert for a QC book. Irrespective of the content, the editing of the book (in terms of layout etc) is awful and shows what an outstanding job the QC team does. When reading it, my first thought was when Jacob said Andrew Greet should not be forgotten for his contribution to how Negi’s e4 book turned out.

  22. Andrew’s touch is felt in the language, the relatively low amount of missing lines, ideas and questions here and there and finally the organisation.

    I did the typesetting, but to be honest, it was only 10 hours of work. Colin then proofed it and refined it. Any mistakes are his fault.

  23. I thought the Bologon book was good. I thought tbd layout was okay. I have seen LOTS worse, just a matter of taste I reckon.

    I do think that it was high time QC brought out a GM rep 1.e4 e5 without the Spanish, would be a big best seller IMHO.
    Agree with Ray, so nice to see do recent coverage of the Two Knights!

  24. Regarding the diagrams from the Black perspective in the Bologan Book. It made no impression. I didn’t even notice that they were reversed until it was pointed out here!!! Whatever, I thought before it makes absolutely no difference for the extra effort and expense.

  25. @Ray
    Besides the Fat Bertha I was surprised to see variations by Sitting Bull, and “Evans machine gun”. No. Sounds funny at first, but the more you read the more it get’s embarrassing. Layout and look are awful. No match for any QC book.
    And after a quick look I was surprised to see him recommend different lines in the same position if reached by transposition (Ponziani). Haven’t looked further yet, sure there’s more to find judging his other books.

  26. @ Ray and The Doctor

    Agree with you about the Two Knights but I would have prefered the Nd4, or b5, variation in place of Na5…

  27. Blue Knight :
    @ Ray and The Doctor
    Agree with you about the Two Knights but I would have prefered the Nd4, or b5, variation in place of Na5…

    Maybe because there is no compensation for black after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nd4 6. c3 b5 7. Bf1 Nxd5 8. cxd4 Qxg5 9. Bxb5+ Kd8 10. Qf3. 😀

  28. @Chris
    No. Hum, Berliner, Estrin… have analyzed this line very deeply, there are resources for Black in this line.

    8. Ne4 is, I guess, considered as the main line, or the line which gives the most problems to Black. I guess. But in your line, what about e.g. 10… Bb7 11. O-O Rb8 (11… e4 and 11… exd4 also give compensation, it seems) 12. Qg3 Qxg3 13. hxg3 exd4 = (Shabalov – A. Ivanov, USA, 1996)?

  29. @Blue Knight
    This is the variation why i totally gave up 3. …Sf6. I searched alot for black improvements, but didnt find them. If you have a look at correspondence games, black is suffering HEAVILY. If white does know what he is doing, i dont think otb is that fearfully too.

  30. The Nd4 line is alot of fun, especially in faster games, with both kings massively under attack in some variations. The Na5 line is of course playable, but less aggressive (LESS, not NOT). I came from 3. …Bc5 and shifted to Nf6, but after i found the line i mentioned to be good for white i simply went back to Bc5. I have to admit i dont know all the details about Na5.


    The Doctor :
    I thought the Bologon book was good. I thought tbd layout was okay. I have seen LOTS worse, just a matter of taste I reckon.
    I do think that it was high time QC brought out a GM rep 1.e4 e5 without the Spanish, would be a big best seller IMHO.
    Agree with Ray, so nice to see do recent coverage of the Two Knights!

    First and foremost I’m strong devotee of Quality Chess books, which I have about 50.

    To my mind Bologan’s new books is excellent and I find new layout, in comparison with old telephone-book style, very readable and enjoyable. But I’m surprised why so many people, who even don’t have a book or haven’t work with it, are spitting on Bologan? He is top notch player, not a 2600 or 2500-nobody……

  32. I’ve known Viktor Bologan for a few years and have a very positive opinion on him, as well as his books. I feel these books are sometimes a little “loose”, in the sense that he skips certain lines, overlooks others and so on – but only to a small extent. These books basically give the impression that a supervising editor is lacking, from the publisher’s side. But the pure content I find very interesting; Viktor’s knowledge and experience shines through, and he offers plenty of interesting ideas.
    However, this new “Black Weapons” book is terrible, absolutely terrible…until you take a few dramamine pills and succeed in reading it. The chess content is very very interesting, lots of significant old and new ideas presented, very useful hints and suggestions. The material may not be terribly detailed, as in some QC books, but it was not meant to: this book has clearly been conceived as a) a repertoire book for amateurs, who don’t require any deeper preperation, b) an inspirational book for more serious players, prompting them where to look further.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. What NIC has done with the presentation of the book is simply atrocious. It’s horrible. Every single thing in this book, apart from Bologan’s chess material, has been botched: the diagrams, the fonts, the tree structures, everything. I seriously suspect the typesetter was heavily on drugs during work – there can be no other realistic explanation. And nobody else saw the draft before going to print. I cannot believe that the same company that produces such a nicely laid-out magazine can mess up a book so much… And I really don’t know why Bologan hasn’t sued them. I stop here, I am at a loss for words…
    Get the book, if you are interested in 1.e4 e5, it’s really interesting and quite good in my opinion. It’s just unreadable, but maybe you are less prone to vertigo than I am.

  33. I’d rather go with middelwave. Nobody intended a personal attack on Mr. Bologan.
    The pure content seems to be quite decent, but the making of the book is horrible and those never ending “personlisations” of lines don’t improve the text at all.

  34. I look forward to purchasing Bologan’s new book and will wait until it comes out on FC. Many of the issues with it’s layout will be solved, I think, with the e-version.

  35. @Nick
    I agree. Content-wise it’s simply good – i.m.o. the reportoire is detailed enough for players with a rating of at least upto 2300. As for the layout etc.: come on guys, aren’t you exaggerating more than a little bit? Some of the feedback sounds a bit hysterical to be honest. I’m also a fanboy of QC, but that doesn’t mean there are no other good books around 🙂

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