Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2018. May you have the best year of your life!

I do not have a lot of important news to share, so I will go with a bit of trivia.

In December I spent two weeks in India. First off, I taught for five days at the Dibyendu Barua Academy in Kolkata (which Quality Chess sponsors). It was a wonderful time.

I love spending time with kids and the dynamics of the group was wonderful, as was the hosts.

After this I went for four days to assist in a FIDE seminar in Guwahati, the regional capital of Assam in the North-East corner of India, North of Bangladesh. Again, I enjoyed the three hours I got to spend with a group of approximately 40-60 kids each day.

I showed them games and asked lots of questions. Especially from my three-questions repertoire. Showing attacking games, I would always ask: “Which piece is not playing?” On the second day I asked three times, where all the pieces were playing, and it was time for action. “Trick questions!” I yelled out. The fourth time I asked, they yelled “trick question!” at me, making me believe they were learning.


However, nothing could please my devious mind than when I managed to trick them again in the same way the next morning. The “duh” expression on their faces, the disappointment to be had in such a simple way, by such a simple man, was golden!

Sadly, a little boy on the front row was coughing on me for three hours flat, so by the time I made it to Delhi, I had accrued a chest infection. I did four days of training there commuting from my sick bed, which was luckily in the adjacent room… One of the tricks in my repertoire is to split the students into two teams and give them a winning position each and get them to play a clock simul. You never get perfect play from either side, but you get a lot of interesting group dynamics. And there is always something that goes wrong that can be explained in an instructive way.


Back home, Andrew and John are soldiering through Playing 1.e4. We are still hoping for a spring publication. It does mean other projects are put on hold for the first four to six weeks of 2018. Meanwhile Colin is supposedly a day away from editing Jan Markos’s book, Under the Surface. If you do not like the cover, blame Andrew and I.

We came up with it together. It could be worse. One day, Andrew’s Terminator/Wrestling suggestions for the covers may be the only idea in the bag…

I know some of you will be back to work, but for Quality Chess this is the second week of holiday. I am currently in San Francisco, for a training camp with Sam Shankland.

Here he is trying to solve a study by the greatest talent in Danish study composition in my lifetime. He came quite close, but ran short on time and did not judge the final endgame correctly.

You can attempt to solve the study yourself. I gave Sam 20 minutes to play the position. White to win of course!

He solved it confidently. Maybe try a bit more time if you are rated less than 2668!

The solution can be found here: Solution!

With that, I will pack my guitar, ready for Steve Vai Academy 4.0 in Palm Springs, starting tomorrow.

Will check in again next week…

10 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”

  1. @ Jacob, “First off, I thought for five days” …… Wow! India is really getting to/into you if you are turning into a Yogi ……

  2. Having just been at a Titanic exhibition, I have to point out that the ship on the cover, which apparently is to resemble the Titanic, has major historical engineering flaw: The fourth chimney of the Titanic was not in use, at least not for the engines (I think it was just for the kitchen vent), so it shouldn’t have smoke, at least not that much and in that color.

  3. @Tobias
    I am sorry our chess book is historically incorrect on the chimneys. However, there definitely was chess moves on the iceberg. True story!

  4. @Jacob Aagaard
    I’m sure it’s the major flaw in the book, and the actual content will be great 😉
    That said, if you happen to be in Denmark anytime soon, make sure to cross the bridge and visit the Titanic exhibition in Malmö. It’s really good, just a bit overpriced.


    Dear Quality Chess Team,

    First of all I wish you prosperous new 2018 🙂

    Also I’d like to thank you for all your published works which elevated the whole world chess level to new unsurpassed height!

    Your GM Guide “Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 and Minor Lines” by John Shaw brought me back to playing 1.e4. What a wonderful book!

    As many chess fans of yours I’m eagerly awaiting the upcoming “Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian & French” by John Shaw. I’m assured that a new masterpiece is in the making, especially when Ntrilis is on the board 🙂

    I know that you consulted books on Sicilian which I’ll mention now, which were high rated by reviewers, but I’ll refresh your knowledge once again:

    1) Golubev Mikhail – The Sicilian Sozin
    2) Kasparov Sergey – Steamrolling the Sicilian
    3) Sammalvuo Tapani – The English Attack
    4) De la Villa Jesus – Dismantling the Sicilian, 1st edition
    5) De la Villa Jesus & Max Illingworth – Dismantling the Sicilian, 2nd edition
    6) Zhanibek Amanov & Kostya Kavutskiy – Modernized: The Open Sicilian

    Keep up with good work 🙂

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