This week it was my great honor to get to chat with the acclaimed author, trainer and co-founder of Quality Chess, GM Jacob Aagaard. GM Aagaard is chairing the FIDE trainer’s commission and has worked with elite chess players like GM Sam Shankland and GM Boris Gelfand. Jacob was very generous with his time and wisdom in our conversation. You can keep up with Quality Chess on their blog, and you can email GM Aagaard here. You can find out more about the Quality Chess Academy here.
For timestamps and details about all that we discussed, read on.
0:00- Intro and discussion of the vision behind Quality Chess Publishing, co-founded by GM Aagaard in 2004 (along with GM John Shaw and IM Ari Ziegler).
12:40- A brief digression into some Science Fiction shows Jacob has been watching in his scant free-time. He recommends Altered Carbon on Netflix and a German series called Dark.
15:30- We segue into a detailed discussion of Jacob’s most recent highly acclaimed book, Thinking Inside the Box. As GM Aagaard discusses in the book, each move in chess can roughly be categorized into one of 4 decision types:
Automatic Decisions (This includes a discussion of this game between GM Sam Shankland and GM Richard Rapport. )
SImple Decisions (This is where Aagaard’s famed 3 questions come into play- 1. Where are the weaknesses? 2. What is the opponent’s idea? 3. Which is my worst placed piece?)
Critical Moments (positions where there is a large difference between the best move and the next best move)
Strategic Decisions (complicated positions with no clear-cut way to approach them)
34:00- Jacob answers a question from a supporter of the podcast relating to how to use diagrams in chess books. While answering, Jacob rattles off a few of his favorite chess books. They include GM Romain Edouard’s calculation books, Imagination in Chess (out of print), Perfect Your Chess, and the Arthur Yusopov series. As a scholastic player, Jacob was a big fan of legendary Danish player Bent Larsen’s books.
42:30- GM Aagaard tells the story of how he became a trainer of other high level players. For any listener looking for a coach, GM Aagaard recommends his former student, Italian GM Sabino Brunello. Jacob also tells the story of how he became one of the trainers of former World Championship Challenger, GM Boris Gelfand and of US Champion Sam Shankland.
52:00- What feat did GM Sam Shankland accomplish that has gone a but under the radar? What does he think of GM Shankland’s prospects for a continued ascent in the world rankings?
1:02- GM Aagaard answers another question from a Patreon supporter about how to work on your chess when you do not have a coach. Jacob stressed the importance of analyzing one’s own games.
1:08- Jacob discusses his upcoming chess camp, The Quality Chess Academy, which will be co-taught along with renowned trainer R.B. Ramesh. You guys should sign up for the camp, then after attending you should email me to tell me about the camp. :)
1:15- Jacob discusses another new project of his, chairing the FIDE trainer’s commission.
1:26- Jacob gives his opinion on how big a role rapid chess should play in the World Championship Cycle.
1:35- What will be the next phase of chess, following what Jacob calls, “the digital period"? Jacob mentions a couple of alternatives to Chess960 that he finds interesting.
1:42- Jacob’s contact info and goodbyes 👋