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Jacob Aagaard and the Asian adventure! Part I

by Sagar Shah - 10/05/2017

When you travel with a live wire like Jacob Aagaard to seven Asian countries you are bound to have adventures! After covering five cities in India, Jacob, Sagar and Amruta were joined by FM Peter Long and they moved to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand for the next leg of the trip. Know the current state of chess in these three countries, why would someone indulge in early morning 4 a.m. blindfold analysis, some mouth watering food dishes and much more! As Jacob rightly pointed out, in this trip there was never a dull moment! 

Most of the photos by Amruta Mokal


Jacob Aagaard's trip to India was well chronicled on the ChessBase India newspage. He visited five cities - Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. In case you have missed any of those articles, the links have been provided below:

Jacob Aagaard and the magic of Mumbai

Aagaard and the amazing Ahmedabad

Delhi and 48 hours of fun with Jacob

Jacob and joy in the city of joy

Why Chennai is the chess capital of India

Even as an Indian, I hadn't done such a thorough coverage of the country from West-North-East-South in a period of ten days!
This was on 25th of March 2017 when Jacob arrived in Mumbai

That's 6th of April when he is about to leave India from the Chennai airport. Next destination: Malaysia!

Malaysia, 6th-7th of April

We were joined by Peter Long, who is a Fide Master, International Arbiter, chess promoter, and for this trip the manager of the Asia leg of the tour

Our first stop was Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia

Malaysian chess scene is not exactly booming at the moment. The country has always had some strong chess players, but is still searching for its first grandmaster. All hopes are pinned on the 17-year-old talent Yeoh Li Tian who has a rating of 2470. Naturally, such sessions by a world renowned trainer like Jacob can do a world of good to the players of the country. However, no titled players attended the lecture. While players like Adhiban, Ganguly, Diptayan Ghosh, Aravindh Chithambaram, Murali Karthikeyan etc. all around 2600 and more attended the lectures in India and learnt a lot from Jacob, it remains a question to me as to why the top guys of Malaysian chess didn't take this opportunity to learn and grow better.

Although ten days of chess training in India had been gruelling... give this man a mic and off he goes! Tremendous passion and stamina.

Young kids learnt one of the most important concepts in the lecture - the three questions. 

If you have been following Jacob's journey you would already know what the three questions are. For those who do not know, or have a poor memory, these three questions help you to quickly acquaint yourself with the position and find the right idea.

1. Where are the weaknesses?

2. What is my opponent's idea?

3. Which are the worst places pieces?

There was also a parent's and student's interaction session where Jacob spoke about the psychology of chess improvement

Well designed certificates for the participants

This event was organized by Peter Long in association with 7M Sports Global and it took place at the Malaysian university

With Peter around, you do not have to worry about good food! Mind you this is all vegan!

Now in Malaysia, but still couldn't get rid off the Indian food! Jacob enjoying a Masala Dosa.

In case you are going to visit Malaysia in the near future, don't forget to try out the cookies of "Famous Amos." In fact it's a chain which can be found in many countries, but I had these delicious cookies for the first time in my life at the KL airport.

Hong Kong, 8th April

After Malaysia, four of us (Jacob, Peter, Amruta and Sagar) flew to the next destination Hong Kong. Hong Kong literally has no chess culture. A simple search on the FIDE website shows that the country has only five players above the rating of 2000. Peter Long had included this country in the Asia tour to give us an idea of how the game of chess features no where in the priority list of the people of a country. As Indians it is easy to believe that the game of chess is popular all over world, especially because there is such an upward trend in India. 


However, for people in Hong Kong the cost of living is just so high that it is impossible to make a living out of the game of chess. Just to give you an idea, the rent that you would pay for a 85 (900 sq.feet) apartment in a normal area for a month is nearly Rs.2,00,000 (USD 3,300). It doesn't come as a surprise that the only way to survive in Hong Kong is to study hard, make it to a good university and then find a well paying job! Some people say that the entire country is involved in a rat race. Well, rat race or not I do not know. All I could understand from the 24 hours that I spent in that country is that it is a near to impossible task to popularize the game of chess in Hong Kong.

High rise buildings in Hong Kong! The real estate is very expensive.

Downtown Hong Kong

The hospitality of GM MengKong Wong was really great! Kong is a Singaporean grandmaster who now works and lives in Hong Kong.

Perhaps the reason why Peter chose Hong Kong as one of the destinations for Jacob's lectures is because he wanted to eat this famous duck!

One of the people who works tirelessly to promote chess in Hong Kong is Jackson Li. He is a Fide arbiter and a Fide instructor

Jacob can start playing blitz just about anywhere. Before the lecture was about to begin, we had a few minutes and he challenged Peter Long to a game of blitz. Peter was going to play his first blitz game in nearly five years! But none of the rustiness showed as he was almost able to beat Jacob. In the end the Aagaard had to use all the tricks in his book to score the full point. Have a look at this interesting game.

Blitz game between Peter Long and Jacob Aagaard

The lecture was held in the restaurant Pasta Papa. Around 15 players attended the session and Jacob showed to them the very interesting game between Jeffery Xiong and Wesley So which had just taken place a few hours ago.

The story behind the analysis of Xiong and So game is very interesting. When we left from the hotel in Kuala Lumpur to the airport it was four in the morning. We had hardly slept all night, so sleeping in the cab would have been the logical thing to do. But Jacob was interested to check what was going on at the US Championships. We opened the Follow chess app and checked all the games. Xiong versus Wesley So caught our attention, and the next one hour was all about analyzing the variations. All three of us tried very hard to analyze the complicated game blindfolded. By the time we reached the airport Wesley had almost played the way we had anticipated and had won the game! That one hour of intensive blindfold training was one of the best I had ever done in recent times! That's the thing with Jacob, you learn about chess all the time!


I realized that chess learning need not always be done in a quiet place, behind closed doors. It could happen at the weirdest of places, all you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open and have a free mind that is eager to learn.

[Event "ch-USA 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2017.04.07"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E06"]
[WhiteElo "2674"]
[BlackElo "2822"]
[Annotator "Aagaard/Mokal/Shah"]
[PlyCount "64"]
[EventDate "2017.03.29"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Nc3 Bxf3 11. Bxf3 Nc6 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. Bg5 Rb8 14. e3 c5
15. dxc5 Qe8 16. Rd4 Nd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. c6 Ne5 19. Qe4 Qc5 20. Nd5 Nd3 (
20... exd5 21. Qxe5 (21. Rxd5 Qxc6 22. Qxe5 Rxb2 23. Rc5 Qb6 24. Rxc4) 21...
Rxb2 22. Rxd5 (22. Rg4) 22... Qxc6 23. Rc5 Qb6) 21. Nxc7 Nxf2 22. Kxf2 (22.
Nxa6 Nxe4 (22... Qh5 23. Qc2 Nd3 24. b4) (22... Qb6 23. Qc2 Nh3+ 24. Kg2 Qxc6+
25. Kxh3 Qxa6 26. Rxc4 Rxb2 27. Qxb2 Qxc4) 23. Nxc5 Nxc5 24. Rxc4 Na6 (24...
Nd3 25. c7 Rbc8 26. b4) (24... Nb3 25. Rd1) 25. c7 Rbc8 26. Rac1) 22... Rxb2+
23. Kf1 (23. Ke1 Qh5 24. Qg4 Qxh2 25. Qf3 Qg1+) (23. Kg1 Qh5 24. h4 (24. Qh4
Qe2 25. Qh3 Qxe3+) 24... Qe2) 23... Qh5 {The threat is to play Qh3+ and Qxh2}
24. Qg4 $8 (24. Re1 $2 Qh3+ 25. Kg1 Qxh2+ 26. Kf1 Rf2#) 24... Qxh2 25. Qf3 c3
$1 {Continuing the fight.} (25... Rfb8 26. Nb5 axb5 27. c7) 26. Rc1 (26. Rh4
Qc2 $3 (26... Qd2 $6 27. Rd1 (27. Rd4 Qc2 28. Re1 e5 (28... Rb1) 29. Rh4 Qd3+
30. Kg1 c2 31. Qf1 Rb1 32. Rc4 Rxe1 33. Qxe1 Qxc4) 27... Rb1 $6 (27... Rd8 $19
{wins just like as in the main game.}) 28. Rxb1 Qd3+ 29. Kg2 Qxb1 30. Qe4 $1
Qxe4+ (30... c2 $4 31. Qxh7#) 31. Rxe4 Rc8 32. Nxe6 fxe6 33. Rc4 $11) 27. Kg1 (
27. Qe4 Qf2#) (27. Re1 Qd3+ 28. Kg1 c2) 27... Rb1+ 28. Rxb1 Qxb1+ 29. Qf1 c2
30. Rc4 Rd8 (30... Rb8 31. Nb5 axb5 32. axb5 (32. c7 bxc4 33. cxb8=Q+ Qxb8 $19)
32... Qxb5 33. Rxc2 Qxf1+ 34. Kxf1) 31. Nd5 (31. Nxe6 Rd1) 31... exd5 32. c7
Rc8 33. Rc6 Kf8) 26... e5 $1 (26... h5 $5) 27. Rh4 (27. Rd3 e4 $19) (27. Rc4 $5
e4 $1 (27... Rfb8 28. Nb5 axb5 29. axb5 Qh3+ 30. Kg1 g5 31. c7 Rc8 32. b6 Qh2+
33. Kf1 Rxb6 34. R4xc3 Rb2 $19) 28. Rxe4 c2 $1 (28... Qd2 29. Rd1 Rb1 30. Rxb1
Qd3+ 31. Kg2 Qxb1 32. Qf5 $1 c2 33. Nd5 $3 c1=Q $4 34. Ne7+ Kh8 35. Qxh7+ Kxh7
36. Rh4#) 29. Qg2 Qh5 $1 30. g4 Qc5 $17) (27. Rg4 e4 (27... f5 28. Ne6 Qh3+ 29.
Kg1 Qxg4 30. Qxg4 fxg4 31. Nxf8) (27... Qh3+ 28. Kg1 Qh2+) (27... h5 28. Rh4 (
28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Nd5 f5) (28. Rc4 Rd8 (28... e4 29. Rxe4 Qd2 30. Rd1 Rd8 31.
Nd5 (31. Re8+ Rxe8 32. Nxe8 Qxd1+ 33. Qxd1 c2 34. Ke2 (34. Ke1 Rb1) 34... c1=Q+
) 31... Rxd5 32. Rxd2 cxd2 33. Re8+ Kh7 34. Qxd5) 29. Nd5 Rxd5 30. c7 Qh3+ 31.
Ke1) 28... Qd2 29. Rd1 Rd8) (27... c2 28. Nd5) (27... Qd2 28. Rd1 Rb1 29. Rxb1
Qd3+ 30. Kg2 Qxb1 31. Nd5 c2 (31... f5 32. Ne7+ Kh8 33. Ng6+ Kg8 34. Qd5+ Rf7
35. Qd8+) 32. Rxg7+) 28. Rxe4 c2 29. Qg2 Qh5 $1) 27... Qd2 28. Rd1 Rd8 $3 29.
Nd5 (29. Rxd2 Rdxd2 $19 30. Kg1 Rb1+ 31. Qf1 c2 32. Rc4 Rxf1+ 33. Kxf1 Rd1+ 34.
Ke2 c1=Q 35. Rxc1 Rxc1 $19) 29... Rxd5 30. Rd4 Rxd4 (30... exd4 $4 31. c7 $1
Qxd1+ 32. Qxd1 Rc5 33. Qxd4 $18) 31. exd4 Qxd1+ 32. Qxd1 c2 $19 {Fantastic
chess by Wesley So!} 0-1

A happy group of Hong Kong players after the training session

The beautiful view of tall rising buildings and the sea

Physical fitness is important!

At the end of the day before retiring to bed we had a blitz session! I truly believe that if you play blitz seriously and then analyze your games, you can learn a lot.

Bangkok, Thailand, 9th-10th April

Jacob's third lecture in the Asia trip was to be held at Hotel Cha-am Regency in Hua Hin in Thailand. This year the Bangkok Open was not held in the city. Cha-am is 173 kilometres away from Bangkok. Of course it was an excellent idea to hold the lecture while the Bangkok Open was in progress. This meant that players from many countries could be a part of the training and learn from the lectures.

Who cares if the spelling is wrong as long as there is someone to receive you at the airport! Thank you Panupand Vijjuprabha for arranging this.

The hotel Cha-am regency was really beautiful

A place where players from all over the world could come, enjoy a great tournament and a nice beach holiday

The evening session on 9th of April had a huge turnout. As many as 70 people attended Jacob's lecture which dealt with "do not move the pawns on the side of the board where you are weaker!"

To understand the concepts you had to put all your brain cells to work!

A group of visually impaired players learnt a lot from the lectures...

...and Jacob ensured that they had a good time!

Taking notes is always a good idea!

Players from Philippines led by James Infiesto (left of Jacob Aagaard)

On the morning of 10th April was a training session with nearly 80 players. This time it was more about solving and putting into practice the concepts that they had learnt. The positions were not at all easy.

Aagaard always said, "One of the best parts of being a trainer is to guide a student who has no idea what the right answer is...

...but is able to find the correct solution thanks to the newly learnt training techniques."

Aagaard and Short have a light moment during the third round of the event. Mind you, Nigel won the tournament with a score of 7.5/9.

The founders of ChessBase India with Nigel Short

The style icon!

"Never a dull moment!" was Jacob's war cry at this trip!

A huge thanks to the main organizer of the Bangkok Open Kai Tuorila...

...and Peter Darby for ensuring that everything was arranged perfectly in Bangkok

That's all amigos from the land of Thai. Stay tuned for the last part of Jacob Aagaard's trip which will cover Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. 

ChessBase India shop open for seven countries

Did you know the nearly 60% discounted prices on ChessBase products for Indians is now available to players of seven countries - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh.

People living in these above mentioned countries can now buy ChessBase products from the ChessBase India online shop using Paypal.

Peter Long is the Asia distributor for ChessBase products and you can buy at discounted prices from him by writing a mail to him at

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