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IM Vishal Sareen on his first meet with GM Jacob Aagaard

by Vishal Sareen - 21/03/2017

IM Vishal Sareen as a coach likes to share the material he has created with all his students. He believes that sharing is an important component for improving at chess. According to him, GM Jacob Aagaard is a legend because he took the concept of sharing to an entirely different level through his book publishing house Quality Chess. In this article Vishal goes in to the flashback mode and recounts his first meet with Aagaard, conversations and a beautiful combination. Jacob is coming to Delhi on 30th and 31st of March and this is an opportunity which the residents of Delhi mustn't miss!

I first met Jacob Aagaard during the Monarch Assurance Tournament in 2005 in Isle of Man. This tournament is now more famous as the Isle of Man Open. Back then, I was on the verge of retiring from competitive chess and was already working with some of the (future) GMs of the country — Abhijeet Gupta and Parimarjan Negi. The transformation from player to coach was in full swing!

That's the 'young me' in 2005! 12 years ago!

I was also a participant at Monarch Assurance tournament as that assured free lodging and some money towards air-ticket. In addition, I obviously get to work with my students. Good life.


In round six, a fairy-tale materialized in my game. The entire episode surprises me to this date. Could I really have calculated all what I did calculate! There were just a few seconds left on my clock and with time ticking down, I had to make the last two moves before the time-control? Oh, the joys chess can give you!


Black to play. Black has under a minute left on the clock. He has to make two moves to reach the time control. What should he play? Try your best before seeing the answer.

This is something I would be proud of in the years to come. I have spent my entire life devoted to chess, and now, I had at least one position that I would be able to show to all my future students. Can you see how Black wins this?


Black first takes the pawn with 59...Qxc5!! (the double exclamation is because the king and pawn endgame looks completely lost for Black) 60.Qxc5 dxc5 The time control was reached and my opponent confidently made his next move 61.Kd3

White is going to play Kc4 and pick up the weak pawns. So what exactly was I thinking?

61...f5! The action was taking place on the queenside, but chess is a game of 64 squares! 62.Kc4 g5! 63. exf5 g4! 64. fxg4 e4!

White king is so nicely trapped on c4

65. gxh5 e3 66. Kd3 c4+! The final blow. White resigned as 67. bxc4 b3 68. axb3 a2 69. Kxe3 a1=Q 0-1

What a transformation! 


[Event "Monarch Assurance 14th"]
[Site "Port Erin"]
[Date "2005.09.29"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Mannion, Stephen R"]
[Black "Sareen, Vishal"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B67"]
[WhiteElo "2331"]
[BlackElo "2385"]
[Annotator "Vishal Sareen"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/2q2pk1/3p2p1/3Qp2p/1pP1P2P/pP3PP1/P1K5/8 b - - 0 58"]
[PlyCount "23"]
[EventDate "2005.09.24"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "IOM"]
[SourceTitle "CBM 108 Extra"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2005.11.04"]
[SourceVersion "1"]
[SourceVersionDate "2005.11.04"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
58... Qb6 {I remember this came as a flash, I had seen that white could play
59. c5 but I barely had a minute to complete the 60th move, just though it
should work somehow...} 59. c5 {Here it comes.. Took me about 10-15 seconds to
absorb the windfall that was about to come... The next few moves happened in
quick time... leading to white's resignation!} Qxc5+ 60. Qxc5 dxc5 61. Kd3 f5
$1 62. Kc4 g5 $1 {This is what I had seen while playing 58...Qb6, the
happiness had no bounds!} (62... f4 {also wins.} 63. gxf4 exf4 64. Kxc5 g5 65.
Kd6 (65. Kd4 gxh4 66. Kd3 h3 $19) 65... gxh4 66. e5 h3 67. e6 h2 68. e7 h1=Q
69. e8=Q Qxf3 $19 {Black will win this.}) 63. exf5 (63. hxg5 f4 $19) 63... g4
$1 64. fxg4 e4 $1 {White king is trapped on c4.} 65. gxh5 e3 66. Kd3 c4+ $1 {
The final blow. White resigned as} 67. bxc4 b3 68. axb3 a2 69. Kxe3 a1=Q {
Would be picture perfect!} 0-1


Later in the evening, I got a few pat on my backs for this game. I was hoping this would find a mention in some endgame books of future. Alas, for a long time, it never made it to any of the books, until recently…

While going over John Shaw's puzzle book by Quality Chess (Yes, I still solve many puzzles), I came across this position... Bingo! 

By the way, John Shaw is the partner in crime with Jacob Aagaard at Quality Chess. And it was at that moment it struck me...

I remembered Jacob was there when we played this game! I still vividly remember him asking me when had I spotted the idea and my (rather childish) response was, "Not easy to run with both hands straight and chest far behind,” referring to White's 'e' and 'h' pawns as hands and 'f' and 'g' pawns as the chest! The beautiful point is that Black will get a passer no matter what!


But this was not the end. Just a couple of days after this game, Jacob was slated to meet Abhijeet!


[Event "Monarch Assurance 14th"]
[Site "Port Erin"]
[Date "2005.10.01"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Aagaard, Jacob"]
[Black "Gupta, Abhijeet"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B65"]
[WhiteElo "2442"]
[BlackElo "2380"]
[Annotator "Vishal Sareen"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2005.09.24"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "IOM"]
[SourceTitle "CBM 108 Extra"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2005.11.04"]
[SourceVersion "1"]
[SourceVersionDate "2005.11.04"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
{Back in 2005, I was working with two super-talented young players of the
country - Abhijeet Gupta and Parimarjan Negi, these two in 2008 would win the
Gold and Silver Medal in World Junior Championship-- a rare feat! The
Classical Sicilian was Abhijeet's favourite back then and most of the theory
was already in place....} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6
6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 O-O 10. f4 Qa5 11. Bc4 Bd7 12. e5
dxe5 13. fxe5 Bc6 14. Bd2 Nd7 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Nxe7+ Qxe7 17. Rhe1 Rfd8 18. Qg4
Nf8 19. Bd3 Rd5 {All theory} 20. h4 (20. Be4 Rd7 21. Bb4 Rxd1+ 22. Rxd1 Qc7 23.
Bd6 Qb6 24. Bxc6 Qxc6 25. Qf3 Qxf3 26. gxf3 {Was found sometime later and
through one painful lesson we learned that white is good here!}) 20... Ng6 21.
Bg5 Qc7 22. Bxg6 hxg6 23. h5 Rxd1+ 24. Qxd1 Qa5 {Black is doing well now...}
25. h6 {But this is a blunder} (25. hxg6 fxg6 26. a3 {Is game on}) 25... f6 {
And white's position collapses quickly} 26. Bh4 Rd8 27. Qg4 Qxa2 28. c4 f5 29.
Qe2 Rd4 {and white resigned.} 0-1

Obviously, Jacob realized that Abhijeet works with me. After the game, Jacob came over and asked, "You are one of those opening guys?”


I smiled. We had a talk about the problems associated with openings. What he said is etched in my memory deeply. Jacob said that opening was one of his major problems in chess. However, Aagaard also realized that this is a problem faced by not just him but by the entire chess population. And, there are 100s of such problems chess players have, in various stages of the game.


This is the difference between mere mortals and legends. Aagaard not only solved his own problem, but solved the entire chess world’s problems with Quality Chess!


"One of his problems," has been ‘solved’ by his company (Quality Chess) like nobody else. The deep work done by several Grandmasters in the Grandmaster Repertoire series is truly exceptional. It is being used at all levels. I know many serious Grandmasters following it, and many young players rely on it completely. In addition, in my personal experience, I have found that it is the easiest to learn openings when you follow the Grandmaster Repertoire series.

The Grandmaster Repertoire series has many books, the most popular being the ones on 1.d4 written by Boris Avrukh 

As a chess coach myself, I have loved the idea of sharing. So all my books, analysis, databases are always available for all my students. Jacob went many steps ahead when he decided to be an author, not just a coach. All his knowledge - step-by-step - has been available to all chess players, enthusiasts and followers in form of several books for many years now.


In last 12 years, his contribution to chess is immense and it is no wonder that his students include many strong Grandmasters.

It takes special talent when you draw praise from greats like Boris Gelfand!

And now, for the chess lovers of the city, there is a rare opportunity. Jacob Aagaard is coming to India and will be doing a camp in Delhi. It will be an honour to host him in Delhi on 30-31 March. Here are the details of his camp:


The camp will be split over two sessions:

Morning session: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. only for 20 players (all rated) on both days (30th and 31st March). In this session, the players will get an insight in to modern day preparation and how to go about improving their skills. Preference would be given to younger players.  Those who register for this also get a free entry in the open house to be held after the sessions where Aagaard himself will answer all your chess questions. Lunch and snacks provided.


Afternoon session: Open house (all are welcome to attend) for players, parents, coaches, chess buffs. Both days from 3 to 5 p.m. (Snacks provided for all).

The topics of the session

The address of the venue

How to register:

For morning session, please send a mail to

For afternoon session the fee is Rs. 1000/- for both days (Rs. 500 if you want to register for one day only)


You can be a part of the afternoon session by registering online


Get to know Aagaard's entire schedule for the Indian and Asia trip

About the author:

Vishal Sareen is an International Master and well known as a chess commentator. He has been a journalist in the past and has written for many famous newspapers. Currently he is a chess coach in Delhi and has trained many talents like Parimarjan Negi, Abhijeet Gupta, Sahaj Grover, Tania Sachdev and others. He has also been the coach of the Indian women's Olympiad team.

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