The Best Chess Book I have ever written

Two days ago was the official publication date for Thinking Inside the Box.

I am not a very sentimental person, so it was not a special day for me. Holding the book in the hand does not have the same emotional experience as it did holding The Panov/Botvinnik Attack in my hands in 1998. Incidentally, that is the only one of my books that is out of print as far as I know.

Despite the lack of excitement with the physical form, I am very pleased with the book. At some point, someone speculated on this blog that I had lost interest in the project, as a way to explain the long time it took to get around to write it. The reality is very different. Let’s not wrap it up in euphemisms.

I simply did not believe in my abilities. I knew what I wanted to say and I have been teaching it for years, but writing a book is much harder than it may seem from the outside. And I set myself a goal back in 2004, when I decided to do this as a profession: to always make the next book I wrote the best book I had ever written. I think I succeeded with this all the way up to 2016. The first Gelfand book was better than the second.

As far as I know, only Anish Giri disagrees. Don’t get me wrong; if I had written them in reverse order, I might still be on track.

Because, I honestly think that Thinking Inside the Box became as good as I wanted it to be. People will always disagree on some of my opinions and others would have preferred a book that went deep with the subject they found most interesting, but the book is as I wanted it to be.

Any feedback from people who have read the book till the end is very welcome. I am happy to discuss anything.

155 thoughts on “The Best Chess Book I have ever written”

  1. Great personal project for you but for me a bit lukewarm….yet to fully go through chess content but for me Im not so keen on the life coach stuff…the chess is universal but eating and exercise… that’s not really relevant to anyone except yourself.
    Nevertheless definitely can tell you put your heart and soul into it

  2. Jacob Aagaard

    Seems you skipped 350 pages to come to that conclusion :-).

    The diet stuff is an appendix for a reason. People are religious about food, so no matter what I would come with, 95% would always have a different opinion.

    The psychology chapter is not life coaching, as you indicate, but something I have gone through with a lot of players over the years that really needed to reset their default position. For many of them, it made the biggest difference. If it is not for you, fine, there are plenty of other chapters in the book. It is solely about playing good chess. Others have already told me it really resonated with them, so I am sure there will be something for many in there.

    I used to rate books by whether or not I learned something valuable every 100 pages. It does not always happen. I feel confident that there will be something on every 100 pages for everyone in this book.

  3. not read the book yet ( probably this summer) . But personnal experience, personnal opinion is always a good starting point. Luther’s book is good, Guelfand book is good, Watsons’s, Hendrik’s…. all those who share experience and reflexion there is always ( at least ) pages of very high value

  4. @Jacob Aagaard
    Agree I read the last few chapters as they were the easy content but I thought I’d made clear the rest was tbc. Appendix ust didn’t resonate with me . Even nikos chapter disappointed…I don’t need to know about minimax and tunnelling etc if you don’t give tips on how best to avoid it when using an engineThe size of the chess content means it is just lukewarm at the moment…may upgrade my opinion in the future once I work through it. But I thought you did ask for our honest thought. Will take a long time for most readers to finish it if you’re only wanting reviews from those who have finished it. As I said can see it is a labour of love for you it just might not hit the same chord with me

  5. Jacob Aagaard

    Once a friend of mine went into a literature exam having read the first three pages, last three pages and the blurb. In Denmark you can allow people to come and spectate. He made a lot of stuff up and was totally winging it, when one of the examiners asked him to illustrate his ideas from the perspective of “George”. At this point one of the spectators collapsed laughing, knowing full well that Torben had not read the book and would not know George, who despite not featuring in the start and end of the book, or on the blurb was the dominating main character.

    I would love to hear what you think of the book once you have read it :-).

  6. Hi Jacob!
    I’ve just ordered the book. There’s a lot of interesting chapters in it and I think it would contain valuable things before page 100 😀

  7. Jacob you’ve spurred me on to read a bit more. Any tips on how to categorize your “typd”. Pretty sure I’m not too good on dynamism but think I’m a bit intuitive and a bit logical too.looking at the players you quote I’m at such a lower level than them I can’t really categorize myself…I’m pretty sure I’m not channelling much kasparov topalov tal but even looking at the 2 groups of carlsen and karpov with botvinnik korchnoi and gelfand what sort of decisions differentiate the 2 groups? Thanks

  8. Recently I did a bit of research on the reasons behind my problem to win much better positions. That was the main motivation to read Jacob`s latest book and he delivered an answer quite convincingly and in great detail. It will be a hard nut to crack but now at least I know where to start. I used the book as a toolbox so far, did not yet read it from begin to end but was looking for answers to certain questions I had in mind.
    Contrary to Johnnyboy I liked Nikos chapter on computer chess a lot, the KID position where the programs reject to play …Ne8 is an eye-opener!
    Very helpful so far. Inspiring, and yes, disturbing when it comes to nutrition :-).

  9. Can’t comment on thinking inside box yet, waiting for books to arrive. Positional decisions is one of first book read cover to cover in recent times, and similar to most like it very much. The subject matter of the dynamic is just very difficult. Struggling to get into it. It was noticable the lack of reviews for this book too, compared to previous one.

  10. Jacob Aagaard

    It is all there in the chapter: Logical or Intuitive? Dynamic or Technical (call it structural, static or positional if you like, even though positional could also cover dynamics). Watch yourself as you are thinking. What do you miss? What do you always see?

  11. Jacob Aagaard

    I was in no doubt that the nutrition appendix would be “challenging” for just about everyone! Andrew suggested that we shift it from a part of chapter 2, to the back. He was entirely right of course.

    I stand by it, fully. But my two points are this: 1) It has not much to do with playing better chess. 2) Although I spent a lot of energy on this area, it is naturally the one I have the weakest background in. It is a personal experience, more than professional advice. But hardly any coach in anything I have ever come across did not have advice outside their own core expertise.

  12. Jacob Aagaard

    @John Simmons
    Dynamics is the one thing in chess where talent really matters, in my opinion. Some people really struggle to understand dynamics and play a bit “wooden” as Short once put it.

  13. Shout out to Ntirlis and the entire QC Team who got one of the most full throat-ed and enthusiastic reviews I have ever heard from a GM on video.

    What am I talking about? Well in CBM178 GM Erwin L’Ami did a small update to his 2015 DVD on The Two Knight’s defence, where he heaped praise upon praise on Ntirlis’ Playing 1.e4 e5 (2016) repertoire book, I mean he was absolutely gushing in extolling it’s virtues and encouraged viewers to quickly go out and purchase a copy.

    All I can say is WOW! and keep striving for excellence guys.


  14. This book is on the top of my to buy list – I can’t wait to read it! I’ll give you my opinion once I’ve read enough.

  15. @Jacob Aagaard
    Sorry I can’t see anywhere in the chapter which helps tell you which type of player you are- there are players that you categorise in each type so I presume you have to ”identify’ yourself with some of those players but that seems to be the only guide. Do I need to buy the Hansen book to understand it?
    If you had some test positions or scenarios eg a technical player would do x here but a dynamic player would do Y it would make it a lot clearer

  16. Johnnyboy is really good in seeing what he doesn’t like. I’m sure he can learn more from the book if he can focus on the chess ,which the book is mainly about. I’m looking forward to reading the book , even though his comments are a little bit discouraging… it’s really would have been interesting to hear about the 350 pages he may have skipped. 🙂 will do my best to skip the life coaching and diet stuffs.

  17. Ps who is the woman chess players appearing mid game against djuric and why is it there as it seems to have no relation to the text…guess this is not this a forward chess glitch?

  18. Frank van Tellingen

    It must be a bit boring to hear this, but you wrote a great book. I especially liked the openness and honesty of Sam Shankland’s annotations. Secondly, it made me realise that I have been in a FM-state for most of the last two decades, a really sore loser, and although the road to hell is paved with good resolutions, change is necessary if only to enjoy playing chess more! As a child that was what we set out to do, right? (That and of course to become world champion). Such a strange paradox that in order to experience success you must let go of all ambitions and secondly work very ambitiously on one’s game. By the way, I could not help but notice a subtle reference to Wittgenstein’s remark that in philosophy you could see progress in the sense that you scratch where it itches. (Or at least I thought it was.).

  19. @lindokuhle
    Jacob is right- it is really 80% chess but there is a lot of life coach/philosophy/psychology thrown in too which I’m less keen on but each to their own. I really like his other Grandmaster preparation books which are closer to 100% chess but no wonder Jacob is proud of his work and is ‘the best book I’ve ever written’ as it is a deeply personal tome. I’m sure it would be my favourite book if I wrote it but I didn’t so its not.

  20. Jacob Aagaard

    Just in case others are wondering.

    There is a 29 page chapter on the psychology of chess improvement. It includes points such as being mentally prepared to win against much stronger players, the importance of analysing your games afterwards and a lot of chess.

    I will accept that about 12-15 pages of it is within the realms of what could possibly be called “life coaching” if you are really anti. It has been really useful to a lot of people I have taught over the years. It is not wishy washy, but basic and easy to apply.

    If you do not like this sort of thing; skip chapter 2.

  21. Jacob Aagaard

    What you are referring to is this list:

    1. Logical and technical: Botvinnik, Gelfand, Korchnoi
    2. Logical and dynamic: Kasparov, Topalov
    3. Intuitive and technical: Karpov, Carlsen
    4. Intuitive and dynamic: Tal, Anand

    I am indeed presuming that people understand what logical decision making is, what intuitive decision making is and what technical play is and what dynamic play is. I do cover those areas later in the book as well; especially dynamics.

    You could argue that I should explain standard terms in detail. I chose not to.

    The photos origin are explained on page 6. And no, it is not a mistake.

    Don’t feel that you have to come with reasons why you dislike the book and find mistakes in it, because there was something you did not enjoy. Write to Forward Chess, tell Leonid to offer you a refund and continue your life in happiness.

  22. @Jacob Aagaard
    Apologies if this is coming across as too critical but just trying to understand your book. I have now read all the text to the end but of course not done all the chess content but what I have seen seems promising. Don’t dislike it at all Jacob just not my favourite but still a VERY GOOD BOOK (thought I should make this clear). Thought this was the point of you starting this thread for feedback. Still well worth the money but a bit different from what I expected- its more a personal journey for you through chess as a player and coach and the tips you have learnt along the way to me- a chess autobiography. “Thinking inside my box” is a more apt title.

    Not sure if your categorisation of styles is as easy to make as you feel- can see the similarities between Carlsen and Karpov but I’d not group Anand and Tal together – and Topalov seems a lot more intuitive than Kaspy. Would be interesting to hear how you would categorise a new player you have under your wing- as I said I feel that I am a bit logical and a bit intuitive (but you may categorise me totally differently) so I’m no further on as to knowing where I should look for improvement.

  23. @Johnnyboy
    I agree – I have made similar comments before on this blog. I think it’s not easy at all (to me at least) to put oneself in one of these 4 categories. It would be very helpful to have some kind of diagnostic tool / test to determine as objectively as possible in which category you belong. After all, it is important for the areas to focus on in your training, as Jacob describes in his book (e.g. intuitive dynamic players tend to be sloppy in their calculations and would benefit from training in this area. I honestly wouldn’t know in which of the four groups to categorise myself. I have a wish to be in the Kasparov group, but I’m pretty sure it’s more a wish than a fact 🙂

  24. Dont you think that aboie all categories of chess players, there are 2 distinct group ?
    Group 1 : ´Gamer’ That are mostly practical player looking to get the best result .
    Group2. : ´searcher’ that mostly look for ´truth ´

  25. I did that test and found that websites that guesses my age were better :-).

    The dynamic and technical aspects are explained in more details later in the book and how I suggest you work with them.

    I do think the title is right. It is about working with known quantities. Yes, I use a lot of my own games, because it also has this dimension. But Mark’s books had his and Yusupov’s and Dolmatov’s games all the time and no one ever said they were not about the topics discussed :-).

    I do think first impressions are important in shaping our interpretation of the world. If Johnny had started with the Calculation chapters, he probably would have found the book rather technical with a bit of chat on the side!?

    Anyway, I don’t mind the book being personal. It is a pleasant adjective!

    A good test on how to find out where you are in the four categories would indeed be wonderful.

  26. I just did the test and ended up in the box “Champion” (with Kasparov as role model). Attack – solid – calculation – emotional. Still, I don’t believe it 🙂 .

  27. I’m the romantic Ivanchuk type.
    Great, as I’m a big fan of his play. The exchange sacrifice against Shankland – fantastic!

  28. Frank van Tellingen

    If it makes a difference, I thought your games where really interesting. It seems to me it does make sense to use your own games, that you know inside out, to get a certain point accross. @Jacob Aagaard

  29. Jacob think you may have been right about first impressions and I’m warming much more to the book- much kudos to you doing 10+ hours of sport a week too. I’m also on a good downward trend with weight though I don’t think my program is quite as well researched as yours- eat less cake and don’t sit down so much sums it up. Apologies as well as I notice you ask for people to have read it all to comment in your original post- lots of food for thought in each chapter and even when you may disagree it makes you think about your own habits and abilities.

    Absolutely agree with Frank van Tellingen that using your games has a major bonus in that you were able to explain everything that was going through your head, health, lack of sleep etc rather than second guessing. I’m not quite as convinced as you about the real reason Magnus missing Bxh3 and Rb2 tactic against Svidler- only Magnus really knows and what he says might not necessarily be true.
    Out of curioisity in your sam shankland game in the chapter out of calculation did Sam actually say he had calculated the superior line you quote starting Bxa4 to the point you stop with Kd4- and did he conclude it was probably winning like you? I presume when did he stop calculating in the inferior line he evaluated this as a better chance for winning. In other words is it more a case of poor evaluation of final calculated position rather than too much calculation as though he made some omissions he didn’t seem to make any major…

  30. ….blunders in his long ‘inferior’ calculation. In other words both lines hinge on not having sufficient ‘correct evaluation and experience’ background rather than him doing ‘too much calculation’.

  31. @Jacob Aagaard

    In multiple books (including this TITB), you recommended Paata Gaprindashvili’s “Imagination in Chess: How to Think Creatively and Avoid Foolish Mistakes (2004)” book. However, this book is out of print. I don’t know how it works for publisher. If B.T. Batsford does not plan to print out more copies, can Quality Chess take over and make 2nd edition?

  32. Jacob Aagaard

    @Frank van Tellingen
    Thank you very much. I can use other people’s games as well, but as Johnny correctly states, this is a book that tries to do many things. Too much? Perhaps. It is generally something I try to avoid with books, but this is sort of the central point in three series’s, where Grandmaster Preparation is one, Grandmaster Training is quite far along and Grandmaster Knowledge is extensively mapped out. But I will not have time to finish any of the books the next six months, I think.

  33. Jacob Aagaard

    I research too much, because it means action can be delayed :-). There are many ways to do anything; I think I say that in the book as well. I am a perfectionist, an extremist. What works for me might not work for others and vice versa.

    Shankland game. Yeah, we discussed it. It is as written.

    Carlsen. I sat two meters away from him, straight across. I have years of practice of looking at students while they are thinking. I entirely believe him. Of course it is not obvious that the Lputian-Kasparov game was in his subconscious and hard to prove. Some of the analysis is speculation and I do not think I present it as otherwise. Obviously he knows the game, but did it help his analysis or not? Who knows.

    The key point, that he missed Bxh3 is solid. And that he could calculate the lines afterwards is solid too. Trust me on those.

  34. Jacob, now that your series GM Training is complete, can you share your views to a preferred order of studying the books? Especially, how do you view TITB, is it best to study that first or last in the series?

  35. Hi Jacob,

    I was waiting for the book and have bought now the whole series, even not knowing if there’s enough time to work through it. But I like chessbooks and I will go through them the next weeks if I can’t sleep. Knowing your style from the three german translations of your five book english series for club players I am sure I will have my fun and my critics with the six books.

    When being confronted with the possible end you think a little, what you do. As I have nearly every important task from the to-do-list, this will give me pleasure. Maybe I get some more years and more power, so I can use the books for harder training. I really like good trainers sharing their thoughts about improvement.

    The Thomas Luther book is simply fantastic honest. As a trained psychologist who did his master degree with work about chess material I’m qualified to judge the psychological contontent of Luther’s work. It is the rare case of a chessbook having understood what empirical psychology knows about chess training.

    I know we could probably debate about this. You once wrote Rowson’s first book about chess and cognition would be the better one. I assume this comes from some easy to use practical hints. My favorite is the second book, Chess for Zebras. You feel on every page that he has progressed deeply in understanding. So I’m really snoopy about the psychological chapter. The practical part of your training advices here in the blog, in your books and articles showed…

  36. The practical part of your training advices here in the blog, in your books and articles showed …
    always serious debate and thinking of an experienced trainer. The bar is set high. I’m happy about this.

    Best wishes! Jupp53
    Best wishes! Jupp53

  37. @Chess
    QC’s standard answer to this is along this line: Getting stuff on Amazon takes a couple of months time. Specialized chess retailers get the books immediately at release. Supporting them is good for everybody. So consider buying from a chess shop, if possible.

  38. Jacob Aagaard :
    this is sort of the central point in three series’s, where Grandmaster Preparation is one, Grandmaster Training is quite far along and Grandmaster Knowledge is extensively mapped out. But I will not have time to finish any of the books the next six months, I think.

    Three series? Can I interpret this as: two more to follow? Now that would be nice 🙂


    I’m proud owner of Ntrilis’ practical Black repertoire based on classical 1…e5, but how about a potent and modern/dynamic Sicilian line for BIack.

    For example you could publish Tony Rotella’s “Kalashnikov” as a joint venture with Ntrilis, and to make it as a second edition of Rotella’s book, or as a new one. You Jacob also wrote a book about Kalashnikov so you definitely know how good this opening is for aspiring tournament/Swiss player.

    Do consider writing a book about “The Accelerated Dragon”, as a new series for Black titled (as contrary to Ntrilis) “A modern/dynamic repertoire”.

    The Accelerated Dragon is very practical and promising opening which goes along with King’s Indian and Pirc Defence. Till present day following books were published on given variation:

    1) John Donaldson, Jeremy Silman: Accelerated Dragons;

    2) Nielsen and Hansen: The Sicilian Accelerated Dragon;

    2) Peter Lalic: Play the Accelerated Dragon;

    3) Andrew Greet: The Accelerated Dragon;

    4) Raja Panjwani: The Hyper Accelerated Dragon.

    Recently I went trough Greet’s “Starting out: The Accelerated Dragon” and like many book reviewers I found it also to be excellent.

    You have everything in your office: Greet is you associate who could be paired with analyst like Ntrilis. They are destined to make a GM Guide book called “A Modern Dynamic Repertoire: Accelerated Dragon”.

    Please try it 🙂

  40. @Ray
    Grandmaster Training has not been published yet. Grandmaster Preparation has five work books and Box. Read Box first and work on Calculation and Positional Play together. Then the rest. But there is no really bad order to approach these books. They are not detective stories.

    Actually, as you yourself mention, the bibliography in those openings is already quite crowded. Off the top of my head, I can point out Cornette’s Kalashnikov book and Greet’s Accelerated Dragon as two quite recent and thorough titles. I would be surprised if the market for these openings would be sufficient to support what would essentially be an incremental update of some very decent works…

  42. That’s true, but I think the market for the Open Games is considerably bigger than for e.g. the (hyper)accelerated Dragon. Besides, for the Open Games you can vary a lot between books (there’s so many options for both sides), whereas for the Kalashnikov or the Accelerated Dragon the path seems much narrower. So what new stuff do you then bring to the party? By the way, Thinkers Press also published a book on the Hyperaccelerated Dragon quite recently. I’d think it would make more sense to go for another Sicilian for a new book in the ‘Playing’ series, e.g. the Kan or the Classical.

  43. In re the Ntirlis e4 book, I just pulled out the French book and looked at a few things. I was very pleased at the explanantions and ideas, so went through my stacks of chess books and unearthed the e4 e5 book again, and again very impressed. I had worked on both and put them aside without finishing which is an ongoing trait I have with chess books, but I do appreciate having the dilemma of too many books, it is a lot better than dealing with too few!

  44. Dear Jacob,

    I liked your nutrition passage a lot, beeing a (mostly raw) vegan myself! 🙂

    Good luck with your further yourney on this matter and keep up the great work! 🙂

  45. Jacob

    I suggest you make a post commenting on the comming 3 series: From The Scratch, Training and Knowledge.

    In particular Im really interested in the 1st and 3rd ones 🙂

  46. Jacob Aagaard

    Actually this is wrong, I am in talk with a Persian translator, but I do not think this is what you meant!?

  47. Jacob Aagaard

    Obviously few people would agree with it (let’s be honest, they dislike the implications, not the science), but hopefully it would make some people think about those issues…

  48. Although it starts to get offtopic; a good coverage of Rubinstein in English / translation of Razuveav’s book would fill a gap in the market. Somehow there are only very poor books or it was translated to other languages than English.


    TonyRo :

    The Doctor :
    I agree that Playing the’ style book on the Sicilian is missing. Something like the Kalshnikov or Taimanov would be good

    Let’s do it, I have enough ideas for a rev 2!

    Thank you Tony for dropping by. I’m cheering up for you all the time ?

    I hope that you will write 2nd edition under Quality flag!

    I expect nothing less from you than the masterpiece ?

  50. @ Jacob, I know you’re very busy, but I was hoping you could react to my post #41? Maybe you already answered this in some earlier thread and could direct me to the proper place, but I was just wondering what’s the best order to study your series, especially the last volume TITB. Thanks in advance for your reaction, and very much looking forward to your new series!

  51. I read the book, albeit, have not went through all the chess stuff. There are a lot of organized ideas and thought put into the book. The first book that came to mind was Yermolinsky’s Road to Chess Improvement, which Jacob references in the book. This is more systematic than Yermo.

    I am going through my worst chess period ever and have dropped my rating 175 points in the last couple years rather than getting better. Perhaps that is age, perhaps psychology. Jacob you made it clear no excuses. However, given that, there were a couple places that gave me pause. First, in the opening chapter on page 308, Jacob mentions working with Ntirlis (Playing 1 e4 e5 is my favorite opening book ever) and mention concern working with a player rated below 2000. Obviously, having read his books, his understanding is much higher. The question is why under 2000? I understand this was not the point of the book as the book addresses what should be done. But, perhaps some guidance regarding players with understanding substantially higher than their rating is warranted. Second, the issue of memorization comes up in both the opening and the ending. At this point in my life, 52, that simply is not possible. At one point, I could have shown all 1,500 tournament games I played. Now I have trouble showing 2. That is simply age.

    Systemically, it is good. The issue is finding the time to make it work. Thanks for a great book and your thoughts.

  52. Jacob Aagaard

    @Doug Eckert
    I naturally had reservations about a working with someone who would obviously have big holes in his chess understanding. It turned out that Nikos has great understanding of the opening, but his endgames were exceptionally misjudged for a long time, although he has done a lot to improve that. Actually, his main problems turns out to be practical rather than in understanding. Losing on time frequently and such stuff. So, for opening work, it really does not matter.

    About memorisation. You used to remember stuff without doing work. Well, retirement is coming, you will have time to do work then. I used to remember stuff automatically; that time is long gone too…

  53. Wonder whether Mnemonics help… building a mind palace, linking a picture of a cheering Scarlett Johansson jumping on your sofa with an attacking h2-h4 in a Grünfeld-Sideline… There are some articles about that on Chessbase.

  54. @ Doug Eckert: “At one point, I could have shown all 1,500 tournament games I played”. Are your serious?
    I think nobody is able to show 1.500 tournament games…

  55. A small exaggeration. But, if you talk to most GMs, they remember virtually all their games. Especially, the ones within their current repertoire. When I was younger, after putting 4 – 5 hours of my life energy into a game, the moves were simply burned into my mind. I went through them obsessively in my head for weeks looking for better ideas. I simply knew them. Now I don’t.

    In St. Louis we have several G/20 tournaments a month. I usually write-down about 20 moves and the rest are played in a time scramble. I can usually reconstruct the games afterwards that night. By the next day, only if the game was of some interest do I recall anything about it, which is strange. Jacob, I will try to figure out a system to get better. Usually looking for a key idea and understanding is what works and a lot of reps. But, it is really, really really hard. Since I am 9 years older than you, you won’t know for certain for another 9 years….

  56. Manfredo :
    @ Doug Eckert: “At one point, I could have shown all 1,500 tournament games I played”. Are your serious?
    I think nobody is able to show 1.500 tournament games…

    Vassily Ivanchuk was quoted for having only 10,000 games is his database. When people asked: “why so few?” he answered: “well, I can’t remember more than 10,000”

  57. I have started TITB and gosh I am enjoying it immensely. All of the Grandmaster Preparation series books are just super good I find. I also really like the Yusupov series but the personal descriptions in Jacob’s books just make me enjoy them even more. I could imagine that reading these books and solving all of the exercises many times should be sufficient to excel in chess (combined with some solid opening knowledge) unless you perhaps are above 2300. I read the appendix on nutrition and being a vegetarian, the ideas about veganism definitely gave me some interesting food for thought…

    I think that many people from the 50+ generation would have been much stronger players now if chess books had been written with an emphasis on loads of exercises in the 80’s. We are so privileged now; sitting on a train and letting the brain work 100% when solving exercises from the above or from a Dvoretsky book 🙂

  58. Jacob Aagaard

    Seven of the eight last European Champions are confirmed users of the GM preparstion series. Others too; Caruana, Karjakin, Eljanov, Gelfand and many others. 2300 or not, sitting down to think has worked forbalmost everyone, always. I always get curious when it does not…



    Reading your latest Thinking inside the box I noticed that you pretty much of your knowledge owe to Mark Dvoretsky. He would for sure like that you publish his series “School of chess excellence” and “School of future champions” as a special edition, with updates to analysis and excersises where needed.

    This would be a major leap forward for chess and a best tribute to our best chess friend.

  60. I finished the book today and am very positive. That might be a bit biased by the fact that my “type” is the same as Jacob’s so I can relate to issues as not being able to win won positions or to be unable to play quiet positions (albeit at my modest level). I especially liked the observation on the FM vs GM and the link with Kahneman’s work (of which I know more than is useful). Also, the use of very recent games makes it worthwhile reading the book now. Opposed to some comments above, I’m not that bothered with the stuff on nutrition, in the least it makes you think about it.
    Some minor negative points. The book uses some current jokes and references to the relative strengths of current players. In 10 years no-one will get the joke about Hillary Clinton, or won’t know who the current world no 2 is. Also, in one of the final chapters a reference was made to Endgame Play, but using the prefix Grandmaster Repertoire rather than Preparation, just a typo.
    All in all, great read and very inspiring. My motivation for chess had sunk to an all-time low and has gotten a decent boost after reading TITB.

  61. Ah, I forgot. Jacob, are there other openings you consider comparable to Tarrasch, as in that they are may be not the best lines but definitely playable and often surprising?

    Well, I have done a lot of original work too, but yes, I have been inspired and guided by Mark and am grateful for the things he taught me and the friends he introduced me to.

    I would love to do the books and have told his widow this more than once, but at some point you go from eager to pushy, so I have stopped repeating it :-).

  63. @Jasper
    Thanks for pointing out the type. I do type Grandmaster Repertoire so fast that it comes automatically after Gra…

    Jokes will not survive? There are a lot of books with very specific jokes and inside information that relates to, say Moscow in the 1920s (The Master and Margarita), but are still hailed as classics today. If a joke is not understood, often the spirit survives. Obviously this is a big discussion, but a timed work does not necessarily date to me.

    I am glad you liked the book. It is an ideas book; and as you say, if taken the right way, it may make you think about things. It is all I ever dreamed off :-).

  64. GM Aagaard. I solved that first exercise in the book GM Preperation: Thinking Inside the Box, but I still don’t understand why all but one GM didn’t solve it.

  65. @Jacob S
    I think that the title of the chapter gives a good hint to solve the puzzle (I tried for 20 minutes and also managed to solve it, although I’m not a GM 😛 (1950-2000 FIDE).
    I’m now reading chapter 4 and for now it’s a very useful book. In every chapter I’m getting interesting ideas. Loving the concept of triggers for example 😀

  66. @allegreison

    I know! Sam Shankland’s forward alone is worth the price of the book! Any chapter is really. I just finished the psychcology chapter, so you’re ahead of me. The preperation advice is simply outstanding. I get what you’re saying on the simplicity hint, but what I am trying to ask is what is what is it about the Bxf7+ & Qd5+ pattern that makes them miss it? Is it giving up the bishop pair, the doubled d pawns, trading queens in that position, etc?

  67. Jacob Aagaard :
    Obviously few people would agree with it (let’s be honest, they dislike the implications, not the science), but hopefully it would make some people think about those issues…

    I hope so too Jacob! At least one has to try to change something…

  68. Jacob Aagaard

    @Jacob S
    All of the above. It takes a lot for a GM to give up such a bishop for a stupid pinned knight. Especially with the idea of doubling your pawns and exchanging queens! It would be associated with mate.

  69. @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks GM Aagaard for your response. It’s got to be rather tough to solve under game conditions sure. I am racking my brain trying to decide which GMs would have the best chance of solving it in the same situation you found yourself in vs GM Rowson. Maybe Vishy, Micky Adams, Ivanchuk, Karpov, Kramnik, but it’s difficult to say for certain. It’s got to be someone who is top notch at evaulating exchanges. Like a Capablanca on steroids.

  70. Jacob Aagaard

    @Jacob S
    Carlsen and Kramnik, Kasparov and so on would definitely miss it. But Tal, Morozevich, Anand and other very imaginative guys would see it.

  71. @Jacob Aagaard
    I forgot about Morozevich and Tal! Of course now Shirov also comes to mind.Like you said it takes some imagination. Although with the way top GMs use computers these days it might not be as big of a longshot as we think. Thanks again for your responses GM Aagarrd!

  72. @JA
    In TIB you mention that there is going to be a new book series aiming at Grandmaster level.
    Is there any similar project for <2000 rated players?

  73. Jacob Aagaard

    I am working on two different series’s.

    Grandmaster Training, which will be quite similar to Grandmaster Preparation. Difficult books.

    Grandmaster Knowledge, which will be text books and aimed at a wide level. Some grandmasters will consider them rather general, but may learn from them as well. But I hope they will be readable for players of general club level as well.

    But our big u2000 recommendation is always the Yusupov books of course.

  74. Great, I’m very much looking forward to these new series! Finally an update of “Mein System” 🙂 .

  75. @JA
    It is obvious that I already have the Yusupov books… My correct question should be “Is there any similar NEW project for <2000 rated players?"

    Good luck ! and please try to make the "knowledge" series readable for u2000…

  76. Jacob Aagaard

    I have these Grandmaster Training books, which are not too dissimilar from the Grandmaster Preparation books. But I want the other series to be very different. I want it to be very accessible. Like the Excelling books, just much much better.

  77. I am now halfway through TITB and I really like it! I think it is a very honest book, in which Jacob is very critical of his own decision making process. This is very enlightening for me as an amateur – to see that GMs make similar errors 🙂 . Also, I like the advice in the chapter on chess psychology. I used to have the goal to increase my rating, but I’m now convinced it’s much better to set as a goal to put a certain amount of time into (enjoyable) training.

    I have one question though @ Jacob: in the chapter on the 4 types of decisions you define the critical moment as a decision in which a computer assessment of =/- 0.5 points is at stake. However, this does not tell me how to recognize a critical moment in a game. How can I see if a moment is critical or if a decision is strategic? I think it would be great to have puzzle books for all 4 types of decisions, so that I could train this and develop a feel for this. Are you by any chance considering writing such books?

  78. PS: really a pity you didn’t see that briliant combination against Fedorchuk – I rarely saw such a wonderful combination 🙂

  79. Jacob Aagaard

    I think the story is better for me not seeing it. I think others can learn more from it as it is. And to me today, that means more.

  80. Jacob Aagaard

    Fair question.

    Let’s define the four types of decisions differently.

    a) there is nothing to think about – check if that’s true and if yes, play the move

    b) many decent moves are possible. You can feel your way, use the three questions and similar. Essentially it is OK to guess, as it is unlikely you will guess wrong, unless you blunder. Also, there is not really anything to calculate.

    c) the position is complicated and you sense that a mistake in this position will be costly. You cannot play on feeling; you have to think of it as an algebra test. Work it out.

    d) the position is complicated and you can see that you cannot work it out, but still have to go deep. You go deep and then guess.

    If you go through your games you will, I guess, not find it difficult to see which category you would put the decision in. Remember, it is quite personal. My critical moment, may be your strategic moment. My simple decision may be a deep decision for you. And vice versa.

    Having said that, I do have books coming long term that will deal more with this subject, like for example THE CRITICAL MOMENT.

  81. Still this algorithm will not detect sudden changes of a peaceful position into a tactical one.

    My personal way to attack the problem is as follows (I am still working on it, in a real game I do not follow my own advice): spend your time wisely:

    1. When you calculate, make sure that what you are calculating makes sense (needs to be calculated) and you are not going round and round (here the tip to calculate slowly I think is key).

    2. When you think positionally, use the three questions and do it fast.

    3. After the game you check where your time has been badly allocated. Obviously you are going to miss stuff, critical moments included, but as long as the time has been correctly allocated you cannot really do anything else, intuition should tell.

    BTW Jacob, about nutrition: i’m trying to eat healthier and i’m having problems to decide what to eat out of the three big meals of the day, what do you eat? i usually go for chocolate or something along those lines. maybe i should get a sandwich? with what?

  82. Jacob Aagaard :
    Fair question.
    Let’s define the four types of decisions differently.
    a) there is nothing to think about – check if that’s true and if yes, play the move
    b) many decent moves are possible. You can feel your way, use the three questions and similar. Essentially it is OK to guess, as it is unlikely you will guess wrong, unless you blunder. Also, there is not really anything to calculate.
    c) the position is complicated and you sense that a mistake in this position will be costly. You cannot play on feeling; you have to think of it as an algebra test. Work it out.
    d) the position is complicated and you can see that you cannot work it out, but still have to go deep. You go deep and then guess.
    If you go through your games you will, I guess, not find it difficult to see which category you would put the decision in. Remember, it is quite personal. My critical moment, may be your strategic moment. My simple decision may be a deep decision for you. And vice versa.
    Having said that, I do have books coming long term that will deal more with this subject, like for example THE CRITICAL MOMENT.

    Jacob, this troubles me too. I can’t detect critical moments and GMs too more often than you think…the example you give of karjakin carlsen in…

  83. … candidates was causing engines to light up but I don’t remember anyone commenting without engine support that it was an obvious miss. Hindsight is always 20 20 and it is easy to say that magnus should have spent more time thinking when there was no guarantee that there was a tactic there. Willy Hendriks in move first think later makes a similar point. He quoted a game of Jacob Vs Ong where you thought for 50ins

  84. … candidates was causing engines to light up but I don’t remember anyone commenting without engine support that it was an obvious miss. Hindsight is always 20 20 and it is easy to say that magnus should have spent more time thinking when there was no guarantee that there was a tactic there. Willy Hendriks in move first think later makes a similar point. He quoted a game of Jacob Vs Ong where you thought for 50 mins. Did you really know there was something there or was that rash with hindsight? Be interesting to see if you have spent time checking if you have enough accuracy in your spider senses that you know it really is a critical moment.thanks

  85. @Gollum
    This is one of the most critical questions in addition to finding the solution at the critical moment. Jacob, we are looking for your words of wisdom on this, I assume in the next book. Since I try to not clutter my mind too much during a game, I only have three triggers; does the opponent have a loose piece anywhere on the board, did my opponent’s last move reduce piece coordination that was previously present, or do I have a 7 point piece count advantage or greater aimed at my opponents king. If any of those three conditions arise, I try to take more time on a move thinking it may be the critical moment, if I had not already seen the solution. The problem is that if this happens two or three times during the game and either there is not a solution or the solution is not identified, I have burnt all my time. I am assuming by solving more problems this will increase my pattern recognition. What other triggers or considerations should be taken into account?

  86. Frank van Tellingen

    @Jacob Aagaard, would you consider devoting some exercises on the theme of flexibility, e.g. waiting moves in order to preserve flexibility of responding in a certain way depending on the course the opponent choses? Of course there is a lot of overlap here with the theme of profylaxis, and it is insanely difficult, but still. I am thinking of moves like 11.Kh1 in Karjakin – Carlsen, Corus 2010.

  87. Jacob Aagaard

    @Doug Eckert
    OK Johnny, I felt I had adequately explained this in the book. But let me make a few simple points.

    The four types of decision are different from player to player. If you cannot calculate everything to the end, it cannot be a critical moment. You will have to guess. It would likely be a strategic moment, you would have to combine both calculation and your strategic insights/you intuition. Let’s say that there are attacking positions grandmasters would calculate to the end, but you cannot feasibly do. You will have to guess. This is a strategic decision. For you. For Nakamura it may be a critical moment. He can calculate it till something clear cut.

    Whatever computers see is irrelevant. The whole setup is based on what you realise at the board and not what you may know afterwards. I think you are talking about Svidler-Carlsen and not a Karjakin game? Carlsen entirely missed the best move. If he had seen it, it would have been a critical moment, but not a very difficult one. Because he did not sense in any way that there was a tactical chance, he reacted as if it was a simple decision. So it was in any meaningful way.

  88. Jacob Aagaard

    This also explains well that at times we all get it wrong. We do not realise what type of decision we are facing. Even the strongest player of our age gets it wrong at times. If you do not see that there is something to calculate, how can you afterwards say that this was the moment you should have calculated. It was not a problem that you did not calculate. It was a problem that you did not look for other options at all. Or that Carlsen didn’t.

    Which brings me to Hendriks in many ways highly entertaining, but also in some ways very stupid, book. He is so eager to call everyone else who have ever spent time on writing about how you play chess better idiots, that he chooses either not to understand people on purpose or rushes to the conclusion that everyone else are idiots which such eagerness that it comes close to being unacceptable. If the book was not so beautifully written, I would not like it. As it is, it is, and I think there should be a lot of room to criticise other people’s ideas. But when you do, you should also be willing to defend them on substance. I had some interaction with Hendriks after his book was written and he wrote a blog post for us in reply to what my reaction. You can go back and find it with google no doubt.

  89. Jacob Aagaard

    My problem with his treatment of my chapter (and I did not feel personally mistreated, but the way he wrote about for example Carsten Hansen was a bit over the top for my taste) was that he did not try to understand this classical notion of the critical moment at all.

    He shows an example where a player blundered and his opponent could have won in one move, I think with …Nb4 and says that it is only afterwards that we knew that this was the critical moment. I have never ever seen anyone else than this provocateur/assassin describes a mutual blunder as a critical moment. It was certainly not in my books. If you do not sense that accuracy is much needed in the position, how can you afterwards come with computer analysis and say that it was critical.

  90. Jacob Aagaard

    This moves us to Doug’s question and to some extent yours as well. How do you determine what type of position you are in (and why does it matter)?

    Doug gets it right. Experience. Having a check list will not work, it has to be intuitive to a great degree. You should always check candidates, but if you do not spot random chances, they can be written off as “chess is difficult.” Solving a lot of positions, looking through games and seeing what type of decisions are made at the various moment, which territory you would consider yourself to be in. And so on.

    But honestly, I do not encounter people in my lectures (say Sunday in Aarhus, where I asked people to determine the type of decision in 10 positions and no one said anything else than I had expected) that have a great problem with this. Players of different level have different answers, which is as it should be. Many of my simple decisions are strategic moments on top level. Because the differences between the quality of moves matter more there.

    The main question here is, how do you spot it is a critical moment. You basically spot that there are tactical options that needs calculation. If you want a critical moment to be a two-mover, sorry, this is put in the critical moment category in my model, which is not very helpful, as what you need to train is not to recognise that it is a critical moment, but just general candidate moves. And there should be 100s of books on candidate moves, but so far only IMAGINATION IN…

  91. Jacob Aagaard :
    He shows an example where a player blundered and his opponent could have won in one move, I think with …Nb4 and says that it is only afterwards that we knew that this was the critical moment.

    This is not what Hendriks says. He shows that position as an example of how players go wrong in ‘non-critical’ positions, implying that those positions were critical for those games after all.

  92. Let me do what I’ve complained about before here and ask an off-topic question:

    What is the best training/excercise material out there with NO hints in terms of topic/theme/type of decision for each position, like book/chapter titles? I.e. you have no idea beforehand which positions are easier or more difficult, which require deep calculation, a sacrifice, a simple positional move, prophylaxis, exchanging off, avoiding an exchange, etc. etc. Naturally the excercises/solutions should also be good and helpful for improvement. (I’m around 2200, but this kind of material could exist on all levels.)

    I already know about Inside the Chess Mind by Aagaard, two “Chess Exam” books by Khmelnitsky, Practical Chess Exercises by Cheng and The Best Move by Hort/Jansa. And probably some Dvoretsky books like Positional Play (I attended a training session where GM Hammer used some positions from it and was surprised by how many deep, tactical points there were) and the Analytical Manual.

    I ask partly because there may be material like this somewhere in the GM Prep series or other Quality books?

  93. Come to think of it, maybe knowing at least roughly the difficulty would be good, so people can avoid wasting time on positions that are trivially easy for them (or on the contrary, impossibly difficult). But deciding whether a position really is as easy as it looks is also a type of intuition/skill…

    I guess clearly labeling books as i.e. “GM Preparation”, “for improvers”, “for club players” etc. take care of this problem.

  94. Great news!

    I gather there is nothing exactly like this in Thinking Inside the Box then? I think Yusupov’s Revision and Exam (including assumed future volumes 2 and 3) could be used for this if I could randomize the positions before solving them. Maybe just cover up the page headings and generate a random number sequence to follow.

    I will probably just enjoy the Hort and Jansa classic while waiting to be blown away by the coming Dvoretsky and Aagaard books.

    There’s also the related solitaire/”guess the move” genre, with decent-looking books by Bosch and Franco. But actually this may be one more chess book niche where the ultimate book hasn’t been written yet… something for QC to consider?

  95. P.S.: The “problem” with most of the solitaire/guess the move/test your chess books if you want well-rounded training is that attacking and otherwise dramatic or unusual games tend to be over-represented. And they could go further than they have so far in providing training advice based on the reader’s systematic pattern of “hits” and “misses”.

  96. @Jacob Aagaard
    I realize that and didn’t mean to portray it as one. But there are still some exercises there, right? I thought there might be some “randomized” ones connected to the discussion of the four types of decision, for instance.

    From what I’ve heard it’s an amazing book. I will buy it eventually; just trying to decide which of “Box” and Positional Play to buy and read first.

    At my last tournament, two opponents I failed to beat recommended QC books to me: GM Preparation: Positional Play and the Yusupov series respectively. While in-between rounds I read Axel Smith’s chapter on time trouble and was inspired to believe maybe there’s some hope of reducing it, even for a notorious addict like me. Quality Chess sure impacts my chess life! 🙂

  97. Box is proving thoroughly interesting so far. Plainly, there is a huge amount of experience, thinking and reading in there. It’s refreshing to come across a book with non-chess stuff that actually helps and impacts the chess stuff. Plaudits and respect.
    Interesting enough to make me think about getting a proper coach for the first time (as a 42-year old prof, married with two kids, ‘FM’, who is miles from any active chess of any level and thus plays rarely, with a sadly plummeting rating).
    @Jacob – the ‘Individual’ and ‘group’ training links on your site do not connect anywhere. I’m guessing the website is new and still being built?
    Re: a specific aspect, the ‘Growth Mindset’ issue is a fundamental one, I agree. Writing as a fellow professional educator. I’d avoid interested punters actually buying the Carol Dweck book though (I did buy it). I came at this a while back through language teaching in HE, not through chess btw. Dweck was unable to sustain the idea to justify a whole actual book, alas. Great idea, but a truly horrid book – just lists endless examples. Tediously. Those interested should stick to articles. In fact there is enough in Box to explain it sufficiently, I’d say.
    Back to the Box of Delights….

  98. Well, on Hollydays now. I will get time to a serious reading of this book.
    Maybe i will say ina few weeks
    ” the best chess book i’d ever read”….
    Anyway, it looks a bit controversial from the varions readers feedback. Let’s see on my own .

  99. Stigma :

    While in-between rounds I read Axel Smith’s chapter on time trouble

    Is this in ‘Pump Up Your Rating’? Always interested in hearing more thoughts on time trouble…

  100. @Will
    Yes, it’s in Pump Up Your Rating. I also read the parallel chapter in Lars Bo Hansen’s “How Chess Games are Won and Lost”, and their advice have some similarities.

    It matters that both authors admit to having struggled (and sometimes still struggling) with time trouble themselves. So they know it’s not easy an easy problem to fix, and go quite a bit beyond the overly simplistic advice you often see, like “divide up your scoresheets in parts with time allocated for each” (I already do that and almost never manage to follow the schedule), Write down your clock time every move (again I do that, but I almost never manage to sit down and analyse those data), or “play fast in the opening and in non-critical positions” (I already play fast when I’m “in book”, but my opponents below 2100 are often out of book by move 8 in some of the openings I play, and do something new or weird).

  101. Re growth mindset: I thought Dweck had written more advanced academic books and articles on this, and “Mindset” is just the popular account for those who aren’t going to read the academic psychology? Popular psychology is notorious for filling out books with endless stories and examples.

    P.S. What does “HE” mean? Higher Education?

  102. An easy tip regarding time trouble, which helps everybody at least a bit, it to write only on your opponents time. You are allowed to answer first and then write down both moves. This saves 5 to 10 minutes per game.

  103. @Andre
    I only do that if I have a move ready and can play it quickly (a forced capture, only legal move, etc.). Otherwise there’s a risk of forgetting writing down a move and ending up with White’s moves in the right column and Black’s on the left…

  104. time trouble is not a major problem. trying to avoid time trouble is always good but it is also very useful to learn to :
    – dont panic in T.T. (play intuitive )
    – dont blunder in T.T. ( play safe)
    – keep your advantage in T.T. ( play technic)

    in a given position ( simple or complicated) you usely find a acceptable solution within a minute or less, extra time doesnt change much. So it is better to be in T.T. with a better position than have full time to try to solve in inferior game.

  105. @SimonB
    I agree entirely on the Dweck book. At least make it a shorter book!

    The website has not been updated for a while. We just got too busy. I am in contact with a potential PA to help me get a number of things under control, but even this takes time to set up, as it could easily lead to a lot of problems if you get the wrong person.

  106. Time trouble is a reality for a lot of people. I found that with myself, it was a problem of not making decisions, which is part of the reason why I got so interested in the decision making part of chess.

  107. RYV :
    time trouble is not a major problem. trying to avoid time trouble is always good but it is also very useful to learn to :

    As a general statement this is just false. If I say time trouble is a major weakness in my play, who are you to disagree? There are great players who might have made it to the very top if not for their struggles with the clock: Reshevsky, Korchnoi, Ivanchuk, maybe Grischuk…

    I agree much can be done to avoid imploding and play reasonably well once in time trouble. But quite often critical positions arise just when I’m short of time, especially between move 30 and 40. When I look at all the great positions I’ve turned into draws or losses, of course I see opportunities for improvement in this department.

    There is no magic bullet, but many types of training should help: Understanding the four types of decision, calculating better, trusting intuition more, actually improving intuition, understanding typical middlegames, knowing more opening theory, being tactically sharp for tournaments. Most of these should also have a main effect on playing strength – they’re like “two for the price of one” bargains!

    And then, at the board, “hunt for every second”. (Axel Smith)

  108. @Jacob Aagaard

    Everything in the chapter fits to my knowledge. I had to read it twice, because my inner structure is very different. The chapter summary at the end of the book has been a great help.

    It was fun to read it. Thank you!

  109. This book is incredible. My progress had stalled for the last 2 years and this may be what I needed to get going again.

    Thanks, Jacob!

  110. I have been reading the book for 10 days and it is really very interesting. I dont understand every concept, i dont agree to all ideas but it is full of usefull reflexions.i see it as A training book explaining training method.
    great work!

  111. Jacob Aagaard

    There are many sensible ways to explain things in chess. If you have the opinion that there should only be one, you can disagree with other ways of explaining things. If you are open to thinking of things as more or less useful for you personally, I think you get the most out of reading chess books. Not saying you don’t, just generalising.

  112. @Jacob Aagaard
    good book must be read slowly.
    when finished, we have to re-read it again … and again…
    each time we should discover something new.
    It is not important if a agree or not with the author. What is are the reflexions and arguments that goes around in that way, your book offers a lot

  113. Hi Jacob.
    I Read practically all your books , and actually , i am in chapter 9 ( Abstract Thinking.) of your new book., of course ih ave a lot to read ( fortunatelly ) but my impression actually is very good. the only thing that i am not liking very much , is that this book is much more psychological than all your other books.. together. , very few things about Strictly the moves ( like , for example , the motif of the different colour bishopps be a good thing in positions with rook vs bishopp vs two rooks.) of course i have 200 pag for change my opinion , but actually i am very happy with all the rest , and don´t very happy with this.

  114. Jacob Aagaard

    It is not possible for everything to speak to everyone. Others have held this studf up as very useful for them. When I read books, I pay little attention to the stuff that does not speak to me. When you write a big theory of how to improve in chess as I have, you cannot cover everything- -and at the same time you try! There are many original ideas and maybe hundred concepts in the book that can be applied by the practical player. If five of them do not speak to you, or half, you are still getting a lot out of it. I have written nine improvement books for Quality Chess. And one chapter on psychology and a small appendix on nutrition. I think I have found a decent balance 🙂

  115. … and then there are psychology nerds like me who would have liked even more psychology! Just shows you can’t please everyobdy all the time.

    I find psychology sprinkled through all the improvement books by Aagaard and Dvoretsky, as well as Axel Smith’s book. For more in-depth chess psychology we can pick up Excelling at Chess, Inside the Chess Mind and various books by Rowson, Avni, Munzert and Krogius.

    We’re lucky to be living in the golden age of chess publishing, on virtually every topic.

  116. I really liked the chapter on psychology as well! By the way, Rowson’s Chess fo Zebras is absolutely great on this topic.

  117. @JA
    I really enjoy reading your book. To be honest, I read it going back and forward and “jumping” between chapters. I have a question for you:
    Using a piece of paper I am trying to guess your moves in your games (using of course a chess clock).In page 218, I “played” 30…Qd8 in less than a minute, considering it a “simple decision”, and by answering 2 of your questions:
    1.Where are the weaknesses? Kingside
    3.What is the worst placed piece? My queen.It is the most powerfull piece and must be used in the attack.
    I did not really consider that the move required calculation.
    Was my approach totally incorrect?

  118. Dear Mr. Aagard,
    I was reading and enyoing “Inside the Box”, I was impressed by the chapters about calculations, the three questions and desicion making. But some questions occured while working with your book. I worked on my weaknesses endgame, calculation and tactics. I thought I was getting better, but instead I got worser. What can I do against this issue and also how can I find out what kind of player I am? Thanks for your help in advance.

  119. Why do we get worse when we work on chess? It happens sometimes. And sometimes our results improve when we do not work. But this is all short term of course. Long term work, well, works.

    When you work on chess and do not improve, the first question to ask is if you work on it in a sensible way and if you implement it sensibly in your games. It would take a lot of time to work out. Especially for others. We need to look at ourselves carefully.

    What type of player are you? Do you like to attack or do you prefer to convert an extra pawn (dynamic or technical), do you calculate a lot, or play what feels right (logical or intuitive). No one is everything, but it is easier to put yourself on the scale than to put others there.

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