- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Everyman Chess (3 June 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 185744325X
- ISBN-13: 978-1857443257
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,93,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Excelling at Positional Chess: (Everyman Chess) Paperback – 3 Jun 2003
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Description for Excelling at Positional Chess: (Everyman Chess)
From the Back Cover
This guide teaches how to mix calculation with evaluation, contains many original exercises, and is written by a battle-hardened expert
About the Author
Jacob Aagaard is a young International Master from Denmark who has carved out a deserved reputation as a diligent and outspoken chess author. His earlier opening manuals, such as Dutch Stonewall and Easy Guide to the Sveshnikov Sicilian, have been widely admired for the clarity of their approach.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
“But wherever I looked for such tools I found only outdated ideas. Of course a good place to start is a Nimzowitsch classic, but the nature of positional chess seems to me to be far more complicated than the great father of the Danish chess tradition had envisioned.” (page 26).
This book does a great job of directly addresses a critical void that I am very aware of in my own games – the point where you are out of the opening and it is time to commit to a middle game plan of action. I realize that many of the classics actually address these questions, but it is often difficult to fully transfer general principles to the specifics into your own games. That is exactly where this particular book comes to the rescue. The second half of this book presents you with 108 diagrams in the form of positional exercises. And it is in those positional exercises that you will gain the most out of this book. Why? Because instead of passively reading about theory the exercise format here forces you to do that analysis on your own… just as if you where sitting across from an opponent during a tournament.
The idea is that you work through the positions on your own and then flip the page to find out if you were on the correct path. I tend to spend about 30 minutes on each one. I typically can identify at least two or three potential candidate moves, but it is often not clear which one is the best or why. Other times I am not even close to the best plan and learn I was not even looking in the right place!
Jacob Aagaard provides excellent explanations for why a particular move or idea is the best. Each and every time I come away with a very CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of what the best plan is and WHY. I cannot over emphasize the value of this. I can walk away with new found knowledge that sticks with me because of the real time spent struggling with an actual position - not just theory, but real-life application. I can actually see myself grow as I work through the exercises. This is exactly where my game needed guidance…. and there are 108 of these exercises! That is a lot of potential growth!!!
I realize that there are many other books that offer exercises similar to this one – i.e. “what is white’s next move”, etc. The difference is the quality of the explanations. With Mr. Aagaard you are getting first-rate Grandmaster advice coupled with very focused, concise and articulate annotations – not too much information and not too little – just the right blend. In any case, it works for me. This is what I was looking for. After this book I want to get all the other books in this series. I look forward to a lot of improvement.
Some reviewers suggest that this book might be “too advanced” for some players. I do not see that at all. You just have to pay attention. Passively reading and flipping pages is not the way to approach this book. You will need to work through all the positions… several times. Aagaard always gives you enough information, but does expect you to struggle and work at it in order to learn, otherwise what would be the point? In any case, I have yet to come across a comment or annotation in this book that could not be understood with some reasonable effort. You don't want an "easy" book, but one which will stretch you in the right places.
I have since acquired the two "Attacking Manual" books by Aagaard. These are also excellent. He expands upon the ideas presented in this book in regard to specific mating attacks. I suggest you check out this series as well. Good stuff!
But here is a different solid approach combining elements of positional theory with some practical and realistic positions on the board. I don't know if I understand Aagaard fully yet, but it is certainly fun trying and applying the ideas to my own games. Even during blitz, which happens to be my weakest spot, I found myself playing more solid moves, the kind that doesn't lose right away as a I tend to do under the pressure of time. If you want in on the fun, this is probably one of the best guides on strategy for mid levels you are going to find, well, anywhere!
This book addresses exactly that problem. If when a position breaks open, you're on the wrong end of nasty tactical shots, your position must have been weak to begin with.
This book teaches you to spot the weaknesses and strengths on the chessboard. In a sense, it preaches what Silman does in Reassess Your Chess or Dvoretsky does in Attack and Defense and his other books. The difference is this is a concise, understandable shot-in-the-arm for those with positional malaise. (Silman's information is excellent, but his here's-where-the-patzer-screwed-up approach is distracting. In contrast, Mr. Aagaard says here's where I screwed up ... and what I should have seen on the board.)
The writing style is conversational and involving. The positions are adequately diagrammed and well-chosen, for Aagaard chooses understandable positions, which are, nevertheless, crucial moments that lead to the outcome of the game.
While Aagaard's previous book Excelling at Chess was all instructional text, more than half this book is positional exercises to study and solve with detailed solutions. (No mate-follows-in-20-moves notes.)
The previous book Excelling at Chess won a book of the year award at a chess website, and this book really should, too.