The Anand Files & Playing the Najdorf – New Excerpts

We recently made two new excerpts available.

The Anand Files will be published on November 20. Its excerpt is here

Playing the Najdorf by David Vigorito will be published on December 11. Its excerpt is here

Both books are excellent. And big. 512 pages for the Anand book and 544 for the Najdorf.

And of course on November 20 there will also be the superb Small Steps 2 Success by Sam Shankland. Its excerpt is here.

68 thoughts on “The Anand Files & Playing the Najdorf – New Excerpts”

  1. Vishy Anand is turning 50 on 11th Dec 2019. Maybe Quality Chess could get signed copies of his book (the Anand Files) for the first 100 buyers perhaps?!

  2. @GoodPlayer

    No, “The Anand Files” will not be on Forward Chess. If you saw this title appear briefly on FC, it’s because a QC person (specifically me) made a mistake that was rapidly corrected.

  3. @Amit
    Although Anand is very complimentary about this book and has written a foreword for it, we assume that he will prefer to promote his autobiography coming out on an Indian publisher, rather than this book…

  4. Jonathan O'Connor

    Is there a reason why “The Anand Files” won’t be appearing on Forward Chess? Is this a new Quality Chess policy not to publish anymore on Forward Chess? I hope not.

  5. @Koustav

    There is an Appendix about Anti-Sicilians which, for example, offers some thoughts on how a Najdorf player should meet 2.Nc3, plus more detailed lines against the Moscow (2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+).

    But this Anti-Sicilians Appendix is “just a little bonus” to quote the author. The full repertoire coverage starts after 5…a6.

  6. Just in case you guys ever decide to do a reprint of Shankland’s Small Steps 2 Success, typo/grammar error on page 115. Note to Black 37: ”… so that his room rather than his queen will lands on the open file at the end. ” Both “lands” and “will land” make sense, but not “will lands”. Just an FYI.

  7. @Seth
    Had the question been framed as “does Vigorito recommend 3…Bd7, 3…Nd7 or 3…Nc6?” I might not have been able to resist.

    But anyway, the answer is 3…Nd7.

  8. Looking forward to the Najdorf book. I have enjoyed Vigorito’s books thus far. For Andrew to answer laconically:
    Will the Najdorf book be coming out on FC? If ‘y’, out prior?
    Don’t need to bother with a full ‘yes’ or ‘no’ there. Simply y/n is good 😉

  9. Time for a quick edit on Carlsen’s 6. Bg5 e6 7. f3!? or has the Najdorf book gone to the printers and is good to go on the 11 th as advertised?

  10. Wow! Shocking find in Shankland’s new book! Did Aagaard miss this when editing? Page 140, Shankland basically declares Aagaard’s “three questions” from Grandmasdter Preparation – Positional Play” as wrong and outright ridiculous. Shocking that Jacob would let Sam knock his system around like that!

  11. @Tobias
    Or is it? At least for me there is an issue with the iOS App not being able to download from their cloud. Not an issue If you buy directly in the app, or use the PC based app, and presumably temporary but irritating none the less.

  12. @Patrick
    Sam has a wicked sense of humour and we trust that most readers will get that he is joking. I (and Jacob) thought the comment was hilarious.
    You can find the same kind of thing in Sam’s previous book as well. For example, in the Intro, when talking about his rapid climb towards 2700, Sam says something like “Hoping to exploit my improved credentials for his own monetary gain, Jacob asked me to write a book.” It’s just banter between them.

  13. Also, not that it matters that much because the comment was a joke, but Sam actually praised the ‘3 questions’ model – the negative comments were about Jacob’s writing and chess philosophy in general.

  14. @ Quality Chess

    HUGE problem with Playing the Najdorf on FC.

    Chapter 6 on 9 Nd5 the lines are not present (I.e. missing completely) it just a repeat on the lines in Chapter 7!
    Anyone else notice this problem??

  15. @The Doctor

    This was an issue that was identified and fixed yesterday, shortly after the book was released. If you are on a mobile device, just delete and redownload.
    On the desktop app, it is enough to refresh, as David suggested.

    Digital format makes it easy to update.

  16. Hi QC team
    Can I ask a general question? Why did you get rid of the Informator style tables that you used to start with eg Marin’s early books? Theory is so dense nowadays you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees and the tables provided a very useful and visual overview before you delve into the details in the text. I really miss them as I was able to scrawl on them as theory updated or give yourself an indication where you need to make a decision. For instance I would write notes such as “line 2 leads to perpetual so choose line 2 if you need a win” or “line 3 now refuted due to carlsen game in note 25 so choose Anand line in note 22”. You can’t really do this with the current QC index and chapter starts format. I really miss them…any chance of bringing them back?

  17. @JB

    It’s been a while (over 10 years) since these books, so my memory of all the reasons may be shaky. But one point was that we felt it was not the best way to communicate the ideas the authors wish to share in their writing. True, you can see a variation and its ultimate verdict clearly (say, “slight edge White”) but to see why White is better, you needed to see many small superscript numbers next to many moves, then turn a few pages forward to find the related note, then same again, back and forward, for the next note. We found it much more confusing to follow than the layouts we use now.

    Of course opinions can vary on that. Anyone who wants to see the table-with-superscript-notes I am talking about can check out an excerpt Page 18 shows a table with notes on later pages.

    Normally I find Marin a joy to read, but not so much when it’s chopped up into separate notes over many pages; nothing flows.

    So sorry JB, but I am not in favour of going back to that.

  18. @Andrew Greet

    Interesting, Andrew. I actually ordered his first book on Tuesday (along with Pump Up Your Rating), in route for delivery. The example you gave there sounds like banter, but I was somewhat wondering if he was serious here and that the position there was by chance a rare case where it applies. Thanks for clarifying. I knew the tone was a little tongue in cheek, but thought maybe he was serious about his thought that there were major flaws in Jacob’s approach. Amazing how written text can be interpreted many different ways, unlike oral, which is usually pretty obvious! 🙂

  19. @John Shaw
    If opinions of other customers counts, I must say I agree with John and not JB. That table and super-script notes is like trying to read the old Chess Informants from the 90s like a novel. I’ve been great use of the first 20 sections of the blue-covered “C” volume, but still, Wolfgang Uhlmann’s excellent book “Winning With the French” (used to compare publications in the same decade – Quality Chess didn’t exist then) is light-years easier to read and I learned far more from that than ECO C. The table and notes format is a headache, not a help!

  20. Correction to previous post: “That table and super-script notes is like trying to react the old ECO from the 90s like a novel.” (not Chess Informant).

  21. John et al
    Apologies for not making myself clearer- I don’t want to go back to the chopped up notes with no flow either but as an improved overview of each chapter’s main lines that you currently use. To use John’s recent Sicilian main line book as an example in the Ch 11 Najdorf main line I’d rather have the main variations in a table than the index you currently use on page 403 – no superscript numbers needed unless you wanted to put in some of the explanations that you currently use in the conclusions page on p446 and a reference to which Game in the main text this line in the table is covered in. Everything else would be as in the book and require no extra pages but in my eyes be a much clearer overview and allow you to ‘edit’ the book with notes in the table if needed in the future. For instance I would scrawl a note to what to play (g4 or 0-0-0?) after 8..Be7 9. Qd2 Nbd7 as this is not mentioned in the book

  22. As a very small step towards what JB suggests, I would like one more move in the chapter contents pages. For example, if it is a repertoire for black, the last section is usually something like C232: 15.Rb1 . I would like to see black’s recommended reply in the contents page, e.g. C232: 15.Rb1, Ba6. It would be helpful when doing a quick revision before a league game or weekend tournament. If I have thoroughly studied the section before, it would also be enough to remind me what the main ideas are.

  23. Let’s be honest, anybody wanting the ‘old style’ format could easily knock together and Excel template and do it themselves. It might assist in garnering more knowledge about the opening by doing it. Who knows.

  24. @Steve
    If I was using the variation index that way, I’d actually prefer not to be given the extra move at the end. That way I would force myself to think about the line and test my memory. And if I wasn’t sure of the answer, I’d have the relevant page number immediately to hand to enable me to check.
    I’m not saying this is definitively ‘right’ and your way of revising lines is ‘wrong’ – but I don’t see it as a compelling reason to add superfluous information to variation indices.

  25. I find it funny how everyone seems to be up in arms about indexes (book, chapter – like what everyman does at the end or quality chess does at the beginning of chapters, etc).

    I think the crux of the problem these days with opening books is everyone taking the repertoire approach. Very few are objective any more. I am well aware that theory in 2019 and theory in 1983 are not the same. Writing an objective book on the Kings Indian would be 5000+ pages. However, more specialized lines can be written as such. For example, the Mar Del Plata, or Bayonet Attack, or Petrosian, or Be3 Saemisch, or Bg5 Saemisch, etc.

    The problem with repertoires is that they lead you down a pigeon-hole approach. Take the Najdorf – against 6.Be2, you will play X, against 6.Be3, you will play Y. Repertoire books with complete games? White or Black scores an ungodly percentage.

    I could maybe see this argument for White (especially against more rare defenses, like Everyman’s “Beating Unusual Chess Defenses: 1.e4”), or Black against unusual openings (i.e. b4, f4, b3, Nc3, etc). But in general, more objective books with results that follow in line with the theory are best. It forces the reader to decide for themselves their areas of comfort, and get an objective evaluation rather than a false positive on how great their opening or defense is. A book like “The Wonderful Winawer” (Moskalenko) is one of the best in this category. Even the same author’s “The Even More Flexible…

  26. (cont.) “The Even More Flexible French” doesn’t meet the level of “objectiveness” as “The Wonderful Winawer”.

    So instead of worrying about indices issues, should QC maybe not start looking at going the more objective approach to opening books instead of churning all of these repertoires, force feeding a pigeon hole approach to studying openings with false positives for evaluations? It just feels like there are too many books out there that are psychological marketing ploys with complete games where White or Black wins over 90% of the games, and we’ve lost the concept of objective analysis and having players think for themselves about building a repertoire. What ever happened to the “Here’s all the objective info about the 6.Be2 Najdorf – No you go decide which line works best for you given this info, whether it be 6…e6, 6…e5, etc”?

  27. @Patrick

    I couldn t agree more. With the current format, one evaluation change can make the entire repertoire collapse. Give the complete and honest picture of the variation and let each player choose his confidence area


  28. @Patrick

    Firstly, readers vote with their wallets, and experience has shown us that there is significantly greater demand for repertoire books than more generalized opening books. That doesn’t mean we won’t consider other types of books – but we would be foolish not to consider the differing levels of demand when deciding what kinds of books to focus on.

    Secondly, you keep using the word ‘objective’, which to me seems to insinuate a certain lack of honesty from the authors of repertoire books. We may not be perfect but I can assure you we demand the highest level of objectivity from our authors and we don’t hesitate to tell them to reanalyse variations when we find a significant improvement for the opponent (not that it happens too often, as we strive to work with authors who do things the right way from the outset).

    Finally, there’s no law stating that readers have to follow every recommendation in a book; it’s always better to make up your own mind, following the ideas that fit your style and using another book and/or doing your own research for those lines where you have a different preference.

  29. @Andrew Greet

    I should clarify that I’m not trying to insinuate that the analysis is garbage or anything like that, but Repertoire books by all publishing companies (I’m not pegging QC) seem to sometimes stretch evaluations. For a QC example, this forum had a lot of talk years ago about the +/= evaluations for dead equal positions in multiple lines of the Fianchetto King’s Indian in the first edition of GM Rep 1.d4.

    With objective books, isn’t there less marketing motivations to stretch such an evaluation? Maybe I’m wrong, but I would think that if a lower rated player, like 1600 or below, sees a book written for White that has all +/= evaluations or a bunch of “1-0″s in the case of complete games that he would be more inclined to buy it after flipping through the pages for 10 minutes than if Black scored a total score of about 45 percent across the book? A 2100 player like myself (or higher) would tend to be more thorough in evaluating an opening book before buying it.

  30. @Patrick
    I don’t remember the discussion about Avrukh’s book, but even a great theoretician like him can make mistakes. Besides, it’s quite feasible to reach a position where the engine says 0.00 but in a human game one side can keep playing with no risk while the other has to walk a fine line, which arguably justifies a ‘+=’ evaluation. This may or may not have been the case with the Avrukh lines – as I said, I don’t recall that discussion – but it’s a reminder that ‘0.00’ often doesn’t tell the full story.

    It’s certainly true that books offering complete coverage of a variation put the author under less pressure to ‘prove’ good chances for one side or the other. On the other hand, there are many drawbacks to this approach: the expansion of opening theory makes it impossible to cover an entire opening at suitable depth in a single volume – you have already conceded that such books would have to be limited to discussion mere sub-variations of an opening; readers would therefore have to buy many more books to fill all the gaps in their repertoires; and last but by no means least from a publisher’s perspective, repertoire books appear to be what the market demands, according to our experience.

  31. I think the discussion about the depth of a single book is ridiculous, because Quality Chess is the only publishing company which satisfy my claims of a good opening book.

    Every other company has most of the time only some game examples for differents lines and not the courage to analyse them in detail because it would show that the mainline is only equal according to machines. I think the most opening books are for players above 2000 and QC is the only company which also publish openings book for master players.

    Of course QC authors cannot analyse all the lines in great depth, because there is also limit of time. Also I want to mention that with the help of modern engines you will always some holes in differents lines. But that’s why every player has to update his repertoire on their own. You can’t expect a “lifetime” repertoire in which every line is playable for the next 10 years.

  32. @Riesner
    It is completely foolish to say that only one publisher has good books on a subject, whether it be opening, endgame, tactics, etc.

    Some of the best opening books out there come from other publishers, and I’m not going to sugar-coat Quality Chess just to give them a ficticious rating.

    As far as Quality Chess is concerned, I only own 19 of their 81 opening books as I tend to prefer their middlegame writing, and IMHO, the best ones (and yes, a few of them are repertoire books) are Tiger’s Modern, The Berlin Wall, The Cutting Edge Sicilian Najdorf 6.Be3, Experts on the Anti-Sicilian, and King’s Indian Warfare.

    However, it would be foolish not to give credit where credit is due. The following to me are amongst the best opening books ever written (and again, some ARE repertoires):

    The Wonderful Winawer (New In Chess)
    Win with the Stonewall Dutch (Gambit)
    Dismantling the Sicilian (New In Chess)
    The Extreme Caro-Kann (New In Chess)

  33. @Andrew Greet
    Truth be told, I can probably tell you precisely why the demand is for repertoire books. Chess players are cheap. I have seen NUMEROUS threads on looking for ways to build opening repertoires without buying chess books, typically for one of two reasons. Either A) they don’t want to spend money, or B) they are too lazy to spend the time going through books, say so themselves, and expect to be spoon-fed openings free of charge via the forums. You would think the openings threads would be specific questions on a specific line, and occasionally it is, but more often than not, it’s players not wanting to spend money, and so to save money, they’ll take the cookie-cutter approach of reading one repertoire book or whatever they can find on UTube for Free. The fact that they are cheap is what drives the demand, and in some ways that’s really sad if you ask me. The other sad part is these are often 1000 to 1600 players that have no business studying opening theory anyway – they should be studying basics (tactics, endgames, etc).

  34. To take the other side of the debate – the only reason I buy opening books nowadays is if they’re a repertoire. I buy them to get the author’s recommendations, and since I am unlikely to be able to learn multiple options (with a few exceptions), I generally want only one option at each point. Of course, how happy I am with the recommendation depends entirely on the author, so I have to be pretty selective of authors, and even then sometimes I am disappointed.
    If I want a full-spectrum view of variations I’ll use my database. It’s all there in very straightforward fashion. What I don’t have with the database is some guidance as to which line to choose, and that’s where the books come in.

  35. I want to give some praise here to the recent “Opening Simulator – The King’s Indian Defence”. I hope it is the future of opening books. It’s a third option.

    It is not a repertoire, but a book that covers all the variations — *in about 165 pages, not 5000*. It focuses on all the ideas behind the variations with explanations and some lines, not on the most recent theory. It’s way more information that I (a ~2000 player) could ever remember from any book, and it’s easily sufficient for me to play the opening with both colors.

    Then, it has about *330 pages of exercises*, from mates in 1 to very hard training positions, in all kinds of KID lines.

    I hope lots of people buy this book so that this becomes the format of the future.

  36. There is a new trend in openings books relative to correspondence chess and it seems to me that QC was amongst the first ( if not the first ) to include the newest CC lines. With Leela and the likes, it could be interesting to consider a book ( and engines of course ) with new methods of evaluation (because a line which is +5 = 90 -5 is not equal to another which is +25 = 50 – 25 ) , depending on average ratings . I mean , the stats could be different between 1800-2000 and 2200-2400 for exemple .

  37. I think some ppl want a repertoire book, others want an overview/gentle introduction and yet other ppl want to have all information and decide for themselves.

    The last one is difficult to publish since it is a massive amount of data for a very select public, who can find the same but better up2date data in chessbase.

    For me personal, I buy all QC repertoire books of openings I play (or would like to play :)) and all improvement books and everything written by super-GMs such as Gelfand and Polgar.

  38. Patrick Mccartney

    Typographical error (similar to post 13) in Shankland’s Small Steps to Giant Improvement, just in case you do a reprint. Page 33, note to 18-White. Should be “He is planning b3-b4-b5”, not b2-b4-b5. (White played 14.b3).

  39. @Cowe
    Another chapter was received over the Christmas break so we are getting there. The Elephant may seem like a slow, lumbering beast but its power is unstoppable.

  40. Anyone bought the Giri Najdorf Repertoire on Chessable? Looking at the Chapter index there seems a good overlap with Vigorito book which I do own eg follows the old main line vs 6. Bg5. The word count looks promising that there is some explanation not just a forest of variations but is it worth getting it? I know Jacob wasn’t impressed with his French repertoire but that had a much smaller word count which makes me think Giris new course is more thorough but maybe Vigorito covers it better or at a similar level it’s not worth the extra cost if I already have the QC book.
    Thanks for any feedback

  41. Just out of interest what is the word count on say the QC Najdorf book?..…’s a fair doorstop and helps you appreciate the depth QC go into in their books compared to many ?

  42. @JB
    I have it, I’ve not done extensive research, but yes there is a fair bit of overlap between the Vigorito, I like the fact it has an Anti-Sicilian repertoire too.

    I think it’s a must for a Najdorf player and a good compliment to Vigorito’s book.

  43. I agree on the inclusion of anti-sicilian lines. To me there has not been a good anti-Sicilian book for Najdorf players since Joe Gallagher in the mid 90s. The anti-Sicilian books on the market today try to cater to all Sicilian players, when the type of anti-Sicilian you want to/are comfortable playing is to a large extent derived from the main line you play. The one size fits all approach in anti-Sicilians does not work in my opionion.

  44. @Paul H
    I agree, the Chessable Lifetime Repertiore book on the Taimanov also gives Anti-Sicilian lines specifically catered for 2…e6 Sicilian’s something Ftacknik did in GM Rep 6, which was really good.

    I agree that as good as the Kotronias book on the Anti-Sicilians is, it doesn’t really cater for all Sicilian players.

  45. @JB
    Ik bought it too. I think it’s great. I very much like the Chessable spaced repetition format. It’s a really great way to learn openings. I hope QC will also add more opening books to the Chessable format.

  46. @Ray
    Think I will buy it too before the sale price ends.. FYI the QC books on offer in the Chessable holiday sales are both Shankland Small Steps and Mating the Castled king. The Forward Chess sale features Jacob’s Calculation, Avrukh 1b, and a Judit book for anyone wanting a bargain ? Have a happy chessic new year. ?

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