Taking Stock

Usually I write mainly about what we are doing as a team in the office, write a few more complicated posts about things I am thinking about and so on. But I have not written much about what I have been doing personally the last year – for a simple reason – I have not been doing much…

Most of the people I know at the age of 40-42 seem to be going through a rough path. I alluded to this recently with my very subtly titled post “midlife crisis”.

Last year I would have rejected the idea that it is a moment where you take stock and decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. I would have said that it was an energy question; your body no longer renews itself and you have all these pressures of work, children and depleting energy reserves on top. It just becomes too much and you feel it on a level where you cannot put words on it.

I still like this way of explaining what happens, but I have definitely taken stock and I have made some big changes in my life. All of them for the better. The most positive was to buy one luxury product to go with my IKEA furniture and general discount lifestyle (I am the 2-for-1 king and the reduced aisle stalker…). I bought a BMW 318d Sport. Used of course, but still. It is a really nice car.

Street hustler Athens

But back to what I really wanted to write about: what I am writing.

Boris Gelfand: Positional Decision Making in Chess


I am getting close to the end. This book has really caused me a lot of resistance. Boris has been great – it has been all me and probably this is where I have suffered most in my midlife crisis. Lack of energy to do difficult work. Thus lots of blog posts and a bulking archive of exercises.

I hope to finish the writing of this book in 14 days from now.

Playing 1.e4: Caro-Kann, 1…e5 and Minor Lines by John Shaw

John is getting close to the end, but I will help him a bit with finishing the first book. As always, the name John Shaw on a book means that it is a team effort, with Nikos and I helping a lot (well, mainly Nikos of course!).

No one will believe this, but we will finish this book in March and maybe have it out in April.

Thinking Inside the Box


This will take a long time and be very challenging. I know quite a lot of what I want to say. Keep in mind that no one can know everything before they start writing, so actually it is freakish how much I really know about what will be in this book. I have written a few chapters already and I have a nice synopsis. A clear run will be all it takes. I have no idea if it will take three weeks, three months or three years to write it. The book should be excellent if I do not screw it up, because I have some good things to say. So, let us call that a 50-50 percent chance that it will be as good as Attacking Manual 1 and Positional Play!? If you hated those books, obviously you do not like my style, so then it is 100% it will be crap!

25 thoughts on “Taking Stock”

  1. Sports car= mid life crisis confirmed. If it is red= doubly confirmed. I do not share your love of discounts and bargains—it seems so petty and materialistic—let go, splurge, live; you can’t take this junk or the cash with you. I suppose it is all relative to each individual but I do think attitude has a lot to do with the energy issue. My mother is 91 and played tennis twice a week until 85 when a fall made this impossible. She still lives in her home, tutors children at the nearby elementary school, and goes to plays, lectures, out, etc.. She simply does not think of herself as old and is prepared to leave the home “feet first.” I am 53 and I really do not feel less energetic. The only change I have noticed is in balance—so fly fishing in a stream I used to negotiate wading without thought—I now pay attention and move much more carefully. Anyway, I really think will and attitude can count for a lot. As usual with my posts I will await being told why I am wrong, off base, etc..

  2. Jacob,
    have you ever tried the pomodoro technique? http://pomodorotechnique.com/ and many other sources/mobile apps etc.

    Being of a similar age, I find the simple 25 mins on/ 5 mins off process helps me be productive and it is especially useful for ‘difficult’ work… or rather work I really have no desire or energy to do!

  3. But seriously: great news about all these great books that keep coming! I have kind of a backload to buy… Recently purchased the Judith Polgar trilogy with discount (great books!!) and Chess Structures (great as well!). I still have to buy Negi volume 2 and Kotronias 2 and 3… And then Berg volume 3 to come… You’re killing my bank account 🙂

  4. Looking forward to Positional decision making book. While writing the book with Boris Gelfand were there many ideas or things about positional chess that you may have learnt or perhaps became clearer? Maybe an example to gain the interest of readers/buyers. Thanks.

  5. Really looking forward to the Gelfand book. Happy to wait till its actually ready. Too many books are rushed and not really worth the cost. His best games book was excellent.

  6. I need to work more focused – not necessarily more or harder. I really do. I have been performing quite poorly the last year.

  7. i am 100 % shure this will be great books! Is there a chance for a “special edition” of gelfands book , maybe a limited edition where gelfand has signed his book

  8. @Boki
    If you run into him anywhere, he will definitely sign it. But there is a physical problem with sending books to Israel and then back again. It is bloody expensive ;-).

    We have actually not decided how to handle the publication. I guess we would do hardback and then paperback 6 months down the line, as in fiction publishing. But John makes the final decisions.

    With Marin’s new Legends, there will still be old paperbacks around for Amazon and so on. The hardback will probably be mainly for the chess shops that has supported us over the last decade – but again, John will decide!

  9. @Jacob Aagaard
    For the Dvoretsky (For Friends and Colleagues) book they got around this by shipping just the individual pieces of paper to him in Moscow, which were then stitched into the hardback version. This and Kasparov and TonyRo’s book were-I think-my only non QC book purchases last years If you did a special edition for Boris like the Dvoretsky one, I would definitely buy.

  10. I will definitely buy the hardcover version, but I’m not interested in any autographs I didn’t get personally.

  11. Jacob Aagaard

    To me this feels like cheating ;-).

    My own most precious chess book is the first edition of Dvoretsky’s Endgame University (best every chess book?) in German (first language it was out in) and first ever signed copy of it, with a personal dedication. Sadly I only got the second signed copy of the English edition… Some Russian punk beat me to it!

  12. How’s the BMW going? A few months on are you glad you bought it?
    I ask as I am considering a similar mid- life crisis style purchase.

  13. @Soviet School
    I have no regrets at all :-). I have been adviced that they are not very good in dealing with snow from a number of friends, luckily this is not a big problem in Scotland (rain is).

  14. Have you seen the really nice BMW in all the advert breaks at the Candidates?
    Also, Boris Gelfand is doing some good commentary on the worldchess site.

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