11 thoughts on “The fourth Type of Decision”

  1. Hi,

    I really enjoyed the session about this position. You recommend two of your own books here. I was wondering for what FIDE rating you recommend them (I am currently rated ~1850). In general this would be a nice information to have with your books. Attacking Manual / Mating the Castled King look really appealing to me, but I fear they are over my head.

    2) I am currently working through the orange Jussupow books and almost done with them. My biggest trouble I have with the chapters on positional chess. Do you recommend to go on with the Jussupow books or first try to fix my weakness with a dedicated book on positional chess?


  2. Paused it. Fortunately in training there will be no time-trouble. Not to get the discussion about the criteria for calling something “critical moments” started again, but (1st question): in this case, where Black has just sharpened the game, it seems to me that it is very important either to get it right (see it clearly) or to keep it safe and solid – therefore one should invest some time here and try to think deeply, also during the game, right? Should this not count as a critical moment too even though the impact of getting it wrong or being inaccurate might not make 0,5 point difference with respect to the outcome of the game?

    2. What would you say is the best way to get down the time spent on such moments (e.g. I can imagine simply solving a lot to improve vision of the board, keeping track of your thinking time, writing down the thing thought about and comparing it to the level of accuracy and trying to be faster in calculating / guessing)?

  3. Jacob Aagaard

    Yes, you can argue it is a critical decision. We can also argue how to define it, but my point of view is that it should be something we feel. It is useful for me to come with definitions, so we know that we are talking about the same thing.

    In this position, I do not see “winning” as a likely possibility when I approach it. But yes, it is certainly worth investing time. As I see it (looking at the tools we use for making these types of decisions), Strategic Decisions are often a blend of positional evaluation and expectations and raw calculation. It is everything at once, in other words. Strategy usually have to do with planning, so this is included too; abstract thinking and so on. Not all decisions includes everything. But what use would 29 different types of decisions be of?

    If you start by learning to see candidates slowly, you will become faster at it. If you work with the three questions or any other type of consideration about strategy, you will identify things faster and evaluate them better – and thus also faster. Becoming a better player is the best way to speed up that I know of.

  4. Jacob Aagaard

    Hi Markus!

    My text books, books that explain things, should be accessible to most club players. I am a firm believer that things should be explained in simple ways and if you struggle to do this, you should first try to get clearer on what you are trying to say. My books are very basic; it is doing it that is hard! Which is why the puzzle books I have done are beyond you at the moment, I am afraid. The are for 2100+, should I give a number. You may also like Thinking Inside the Box.

    Danny Gormally’s book is written on order from a template I set up. It is very likely to be ideal for you. Check the excerpts. You will quickly know if this is right for you.

    About the Yusupov books. Good on you for getting through them. In time they will do you a lot of good. There will be things that are harder to understand than others in them and they are mainly books for solving, so that you get the practical experience. I personally do not worry about the things I do not understand when I work with something; I focus on the things I do make advances with and keep the faith in this way. It is not a problem for me that there is more to learn tomorrow :-).

    Maybe you could also look in a different direction a bit: Chess Structures is one of our most popular books, for a reason. It is really very accessible and full of great information. Or Sam Shankland’s new book, Giant Steps to Small Improvement (or the other way around, I always get confused!). If you are in the US, you can buy it from his website and have a signed copy. Otherwise any chess specialist will be able to help you.

    Enough sales talk. Check the excerpts. Make sure you get the book that is right for you. We sell enough books; I want more readers.

  5. @Markus, when I went through the orange Yusupov books at around your level, I found that Hellsten’s Mastering Chess Strategy was an outstanding complement for positional topics. Like the Yusupov books, it also consists largely of problems.

    By the way, the positional/strategic quizzes are the hardest for everyone, so don’t feel like you are behind your peers in that department.

  6. Markus :
    Attacking Manual / Mating the Castled King look really appealing to me, but I fear they are over my head.

    I have read both books. My impression was that a play rated ~2000 can solve 100% of Gormally’s book. So it should be a good fit for a player on the way towards 2000. I enjoyed working with his book a lot.
    Attacking Manual is more difficult, but very well explained. Jacob really goes out of his way to bring the amount of variations down. The games he chose to illustrate his concepts are very complex and full of very consequent play though. At 1850 I guess you would understand a lot on a theoretical level, but problably not everything in the annotations. That being said, the Attacking Manuals are wonderfull books, and they have no competetion. No other book on the market deals with the same topics.

  7. Thanks, and you are right. 29 definitions are useless and it is all about developing the antenna, mich like tactical vision. Obviously I wrote the question before watching the rest, which was a good reminiscence of what I read in your excellent book TITB. By the way I saw the variation with Qxc3 untill Qf6 but only considered Bb2 there and rejected Qxf6 Nxf6 because of Ke7, but failed to spot Nb6 there, although I am not sure about it after Rcd8, White should be better with the bishop pair. This for me is the hard thing about calculating, spotting candidates four, five moves ahead. Slowing down also includes slowly looking for candidates, this I failed to appreciate before. @Jacob Aagaard

  8. Jacob Aagaard

    Most tactical mistakes (including for strong players) are missing options on move 2 and 3. When people miss something further ahead, it is most frequently because they do not have a great feeling for the game. Meaning, they do not know where to look. Developing the antenna as you put it. It is very hard to do and we see with these wunderkinds that they struggle with this, even as they calculate very well. I guess it just takes time.

  9. Perhaps this was what Donner meant with his (at first sight) mysterious remark that not the player who “thinks” (he meant calculates) best wins, but the one who “sees” (I guess he meant “looks” in the sense of having a clear or total view) best. @Jacob Aagaard


    In pdf excerpt of new book by Thinkers Publishing where author dissects various types of opening books, your authors fall into each category 🙂

    “1) The encyclopaedia.
    The author wants to dissect an entire opening, move by move, ending his or her variations only when the game enters tablebase territory.
    Densely packed with confusing variations and definitely not bedtime reading! It is impossible to fault their work ethic, but the long variations can be artificial at times, and are not memorable or conducive to nurturing real interest from the
    reader. That has to come from within.

    Examples: anything by Boris Avrukh, Nikolaos Ntirlis, or Vassilios Kotronias.

    2) The BuzzFeed essay.
    The author wants you to be captivated by their passion and dedication to their opening. The books carry bombastic titles and inside they are laden with anecdotes, references to creative processes that occurred in Soviet Ukraine in 1982, and the odd extremely brilliant improvement or line that merits instant inclusion into your repertoire.

    Examples: Steamrolling the Sicilian by Sergey Kasparov; Tiger’s Modern by (naturally) Tiger Hillarp Persson; The Flexible French by Viktor Moskalenko.

    3) The personal archive.
    The author has almost certainly assembled the book exclusively from their existing analyses, which may date back a fair bit, but would prefer that you did not know this. The sentence “I prepared this in 2014 but then GM X played it and made me sad” is almost certain to…

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