ChessCafe Book of the Year nominations

The ChessCafe website has a very democratic approach to deciding its Book of the Year prize: readers e-mail their votes for their favourite book of 2010. Three Quality Chess books are on the list of nominees – The Attacking Manual 1 and The Attacking Manual 2 by Jacob Aagaard, and Boost Your Chess 1 by Artur Yusupov.

Anyone who wishes to vote for any of the nominated books (even, good grief, one not published by Quality Chess) should e-mail their vote to by January 17. After that the three highest placed books face a second round of voting from January 19 to 31. The winner will be announced on February 2.

26 thoughts on “ChessCafe Book of the Year nominations”

  1. Hahahaha. I guess you are referring to Grandmaster 5 & 6 being nominated as well!! Have you seen the thickness of John’s glasses? Can you really call this a “math mistake?”. LOL

  2. @Andre

    Andre and Jacob,

    Not Guilty. My arithmetic is infallible. The ChessCafe list is updated regularly and there were only 3 QC books nominated when I posted. I will update…

  3. I think the math mistake refers to the two Attacking manuals having been nominated together (like they were for the BCF award, which they won!).

    I know Jacob will disagree, but personally I don’t think that opening books are the best candidates for such awards, however good they are (Marin & Avrukh being definitely on the very high quality (!) of the kind).
    Looking on the list of nominees, I would bet on either Aagard (Attackings manuals 1 & 2) or SeΓ―rawan (chess duels) to win this year.
    I’m not sure about this, but the list of nominees on the ChessCafe website seems limited to books that they have reviewed in 2010.

  4. I hope this is not their criteria. That would be awful. ECF have a pragmatic, but also a bit sad rule, that a publisher can only put two books forward. This is unfair on the authors writing for us or Everyman. Although the publisher gets a nomination or two, the author might not have a chance.

  5. I must disagree with Fred. To say that an opening book shouldn’t qualify simply because it’s an opening book is being very discriminatory, like saying that one should have to sit in the front or the back of the bus based on color (For those not familiar with US History, google “Rosa Parks” and read up on the incident that occurred December 1st, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama).

    Some years have been great years for opening books, some years not so much.


    For 2010, Marin should “easily” qualify to compete with non-opening authors (Obviously GM4 or GM5 since GM3 was 2009). I have yet to see a middle game book published in 2010 that blows Marin out of the water (details below about Aagaard’s 2 books, concensus is only 1 of them should compete with Marin).

    For 2008, which I have the book “Forcing Chess Moves” (that year’s winner), it was not a great year for opening manuals. As for other publishers, the one that stands out the most is Yapshun’s book on 1.b4. Not a good book if you ask me. The book that came out in 2009, 1.b4 Theory and Practice, was 10 times better! I played 1.b4 for about 2 to 2 1/2 years with a d4 stint in 2008 sandwiched in before switching back to the English in April 2010, which I last played prior in 2003. As for opening books here at Quality Chess in 2008, here’s why I don’t give them BOTY (Book of the year):

    – GM Rep 1 – I noticed a lot of missing “common moves” by Black, especially lines with an early Bd6 instead of Be7 in the Catalan.
    – Berlin Wall – Well written, intro maybe a slight bit too long, maybe 100 pages instead of 150, just seemed very dry, almost like reading John Nunn’s Minor Piece Endings book covering all 5-piece endings with minors (B or N). The only difference is The Berlin Wall was not a mere database dump, and Nunn’s 3-book 5-piece ending series was.
    – Beating The Open Games – I thought this book was decent, but I hear nothing but complaints on this site about that book, and since majority rules, shouldn’t be BOTY.

    As for Jacob’s 2 Attacking Manuals, I know multiple people in the state I live in that have bought both books. The majority concensus is, AM1 is “eh” at best, AM2 is excellent.

    I personally haven’t read either one because I’ve been busy reading other non-opening books like the 3-book Korchnoi series, 50 White games, 50 Black games, Chess is my Life (Ohms), Fundamental Chess Endings (Gambit), and Forcing Chess Moves (New In Chess).

  6. Yes, Boris did not have …Bd6 in the Catalan in GM1 and a few minor things. However, it is one of the most influential opening books ever – certainly the most influential in the last 20 years. If you look at the amount of top players that took on recommendations from the book, it will take your breath away. Sadler’s opening books were fantastic, and one of them was BotY for ECF because of its educational value. However, since then no opening books have achieved much there, so we went with non-opening books as our two nominees.

    There was more nonsense in Forcing Chess Moves than a missing variation! If you use the positions in this book for training, you will be on your way. If you go by the words only, you are lead astray. I did not find this book a worthy winner, although I found it a decent shortlisted book. As a publisher I would not have been unhappy sending it out, but would not have put it forward. But luckily I am not deciding the awards; and fortunately people disagree enough with me to keep me at my toes!

    Beating the Open Games is a good book, but not the level of Marin’s other opening books. His first try with the genre and the best book covering those variations – but still not a candidate.

    Attacking Manual 1 is in my opinion a more important and thus better book than Attacking Manual 2. The problem is that the first edition was ruined by poor proofreading and poor typesetting. The person at fault was fortunately the author, as otherwise the author would have been devastated. If you pick up the second edition, read it and put it into practice, you will increase in 100 elo points straight away; at least. I have seen it happen. However, putting it into practice is maybe not so easy…

    The Berlin Wall is a technical opening. So, the book should be technical!? Don’t expect funky beats at a lecture in quantum physics ;-).

  7. Sigurbjorn Bjornsson

    I am a little curious about those words regarding AM2:

    “If you pick up the second edition, read it and put it into practice, you will increase in 100 elo points straight away; at least. I have seen it happen.”

    What elo-rating is it really meant for? For instance, ca a FIDE master gain 100 points by reading it and putting it into practice? Does the same go for someone with 1800 elo-points?

  8. “Does the same go for someone with 1800 elo-points?”

    I increased from 1400 to 1800 while reading AM1. Took me a few months to work through the book. Played through all positions on a read board.

  9. I can tell you that the book that gave me the biggest leap (about 600 points from 1177 to 1771 early 1997 to early 1999) was Andrew Soltis’s book “The Inner Game of Chess”.

    After that, my raise in rating has been a little slow (about 100 points in the last 10 years) where now I tend to peak in the upper 2000s, and valley right around 2000.

    However, I must say that “Forcing Chess Moves” (the 8 1/2 chapters I’ve gotten thru thus far) has gotten me to change my thought process, and look a lot deeper at sacrificial, forcing lines, and have gotten some really nice wins in the last 6 months or so.

  10. Abramov Anjuhin

    @Patrick & Jesse

    Guys, I’m at Elo 2100, and I still haven’t read ATM 1 & 2 which I have at home. Well, after reading it I expect nothing else than 2300 πŸ™‚

    Jacob, when can I get hardbacks at Niggemann, and which paper shall you use. I like used in Avrukh’s GM Rep 1d4 vol2 very much (and not the thin one (: )

  11. I meant Attacking Manual 1 – 2nd edition. And I will maintain the claim that if you understand it and put it into practice, you will gain at least 100 points.

    Forcing Chess Moves certainly can help you improve your thought process if you go over the positions (a good selection in general), but there are some bits of absolutely nonsense in the book as well. I don’t think they are important for the practical player though, and I have used about half of the positions in my training of Sabino.

  12. Jacob, an idea polluted my mind πŸ™‚

    Since Jussupow’s book received a highest praise for a CONTENT in chess training, you could build up a project in a book format about HOW TO TRAIN.

    You could dissect following:

    a) areas to train (opening, middlegame etc)
    b) timeline and detailed plan on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
    c) everything else regarding chess training

    Such book, if structured and written well, could be a new CHESS TRAINING MANUAL πŸ™‚

    Give it a try πŸ™‚

  13. Jacob, I have the first edition of ATM 1 and will soon start to look at ATM 1 and 2.
    Is your claim with 100 elo points true also for the first edition πŸ™‚

  14. Yes – it just does not look as nice. The chess and the ideas are the same. I added 3 games to the second edition, so there actually was a reason to call it a second expanded edition – and not just a proofread edition ;-).

  15. Why is it that Americans don’t like Quality Chess books as much? I wonder if the
    average rating is lower for readers, as Attacking Manuals 1 and 2 didn’t make the final cut.

    Also, what does anyone out there think of Everyman’s new repertoire series?

  16. I think the issue was that there were too many QC books on the list of nominations. But there is also a severe American bias on ChessCafe in general, which is only right. It is an American website after all. I personally cannot speak of unfair treatment; I have after all won the ChessCafe BotY award before and been nominated twice personally.

  17. @mikeel

    LOL, “Americans don’t like Quality Chess books as much”, and yet all I preach is how the 3 book series on the English is the next best thing to sliced bread, and as John has nailed down the fact in the 4th message in the comments are of a more recent article, I am an American.

    That said, I’m not one who will just shop for a book based on publisher. The 3 book series on the English by Quality Chess blows any other English book completely out of the water. Overall, Quality Chess is probably the best of all publishers. However, there are 2 things to keep in mind:

    1) Just because Quality Chess is the best overall as a whole doesn’t mean that it necessarily has 100% of the best individual parts. Therefore, Quality Chess may have 1 year where 2 books are fighting each other to win, and another year, no QC book makes it to the “finals”.

    2) I’d rather read a mediocre book on a subject that will be of use to me than to read a Quality Chess book just for the shear sake of QC being the publisher. I hate, hate, HATE the Sicilian Najdorf. It makes no sense to me what-so-ever. White, Black, you name it! Other openings I think are outright bad for one side, like the Benko Gambit, where my win percentage against it is very high, and the few times I tried to play it as Black I was always worse. But the Najdorf, simply put, makes ZIP, ZILCH, NADA, ZERO sense to me what-so-ever. That said, should I buy GM Repertoire 6 just because QC is its publisher? Or should I stick in my own territory, and read Everyman’s “Starting Out: Sicilian Scheveningen”, which the lines of the Modern Scheveningen (i.e. no early …a6, which to me is a complete waste of time) make FAR MORE sense to my own personal brain?

    In addition, this has another impact. If I can’t make heads or tails, or can’t tell the difference between my head and my butt when it comes to the Najdorf, I personally can’t say that GM Repertoire 6 is the best book of the year now, can I? It must be because I’m American, huh?

  18. Very funny.

    I think GM2 deserved some credit, but I think in general opening books don’t do well at these sort of things.

    I must say that several of the books that have won the ChessCafe award in the past were not close to being the best chess book of the year in my opinion. Excelling at Chess was one of them, by the way. I have not seen the Kosteniuk book, but the two others are not in my top 10 of books from other publishers than Quality Chess. Probably my favourite for 2010 (outside QC books) is the Olympiad United book on the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. CRITICAL MOMENTS IN CHESS by Gaprindashvili is another favourite – but I think it is too difficult for most people out there. Although deeply flawed in places, I also really liked Moskalenko’s second book on the French.

  19. Abramov Anjuhin

    I can’t see nothing special in award “ book” cause you have a bunch of sites like mentioned, so for example we can in the future see also a “ book”. For me these are just tricks to get high sells and for earning as much money as possible.

    Genuine award should be given by strong professionals in chess array like top trainers, top GM’s and so forth. Now a FIDE award for Jussupow’s books came to my mind. About such awards I do care, but unfortunately nobody reports about such competitions and their results, because it’s above publishers limits.

    Like in model contests you have also in chess a billion of awards and categories, and you can’t see a difference between trash and quality. Unfortunately, you can’t.

    One big problem detected in last decade is a level of writing chess books: they are aimed at 1400-1900 Elo level. Only 1-5% of books have targeted the 2000-2400 Elo audience, and this is a pity.

    As once Dvoretsky wrote, the least competent authors are the loudest and biggest experts. Just buy their books and become even more desperate patzer that one once was…

  20. Abramov Anjuhin :
    One big problem detected in last decade is a level of writing chess books: they are aimed at 1400-1900 Elo level. Only 1-5% of books have targeted the 2000-2400 Elo audience, and this is a pity.

    Don’t be tricked by titles. I am well aware that QC probably wants to chop my head off for saying this on the QC Website, but many of the “Starting Out” books really aren’t meant for 1400-1900, but rather 2000-2200.

    If you look at one like “Starting Out: The Sicilian”, or “Starting Out: The Ruy Lopez”, these “older” starting out books that are under 200 pages each for such in-depth openings and are extremely shallow, and not ones I’d recommend to anyone higher than 1600.

    However, if you look at the more recent and more specific openings, many of them have a much higher page count (i.e. Starting Out: The Scandinavian) and more specific openings (i.e. Starting Out: The Najdorf, or Starting Out: the Dragon, etc.), many of these are very much advanced, and a 1500 wouldn’t grasp the necessary information to succeed.

    I’m FIDE 2100, USCF 2040, and I can tell you right now that while I do occasionally play other stuff over the board, like the Scandinavian, or Nimzo, or 1.e4 e5 as Black (in addition to correspondence), that my “primary” over the board repertoire involves the following books plus a couple I intend to pick up. Many of them, especially those that are Everyman, have childish sounding titles, but really are more advanced than they appear to be:

    – Grandmaster Repertoire 3 (Quality)
    – Grandmaster Repertoire 4 (Quality)
    – Grandmaster Repertoire 5 (Quality)
    – Starting Out: Sicilian Scheveningen (Everyman)
    – Anti-Sicilians – A Guide for Black (Gambit)
    – Starting Out: Benoni Systems (Everyman)
    – Dealing with d4-Deviations (Everyman)
    – Play 1…b6 (Everyman – used mainly against the English)

    And looking to add the following:

    – How to Play Against 1.d4 (Everyman – A more in-depth book on the Czech and Closed Benonis)
    – Dangerous Weapons – Flank Openings (Everyman – mainly for games at the club against players I play all the time, throw out something else at them with the English, and also covers 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5, which can also come via Anti-Benoni after 1.d4)
    – Experts on the Anti-Sicilian (Quality)
    – Foxy Videos 91, 92, 95, 112, 113 (Andrew Martin – Offbeat Openings (B), English (W), Blumenfeld (B), Anti-Sicilians 1 and 2 (B))

    The majority of the books mentioned above are not well suited for 1400 players.

    A more accurate statement would be that most books have moved over from the Database Tree approach, talking about the entirity of an opening, to more of a repertoire approach. Even GMR 3, 4, and 5 are repertoire books. The difference is the level of details, and how complicated the lines chosen are, that decide if it’s suited for a 1400 player or a 2100 player.

    As mentioned 3 posts prior, I’d rather read a mediocre book (i.e. Dangerous Weapons: Flank Openings) on something that might actually be of use than read what is likely a better book (GM Repertoire 6 – Sicilian Najdorf) on ultimately THE OPENING that I refuse to play from either side. I’ve tried to make sense out of the Najdorf at least 4 different times. It still makes no sense at all to me. I feel like I’m playing either a Scheveningen down a move (Modern Scheveningen is no …a6), or else inviting White to dominate this nice big hole on d5.

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