American Chess Magazine: It's cool to be smart

by Macauley Peterson
10/19/2017 – That's the tagline of the quarterly print magazine, which soon celebrates its one year anniversary. The 150+ page colourful glossy "Issue No. 4" recently arrived at the ChessBase office, and includes a dose of "endgame strategy" from Karsten Mueller, a review of Simon Williams' DVD on The London System and an intriguing article on Tablebases by Jon Edwards, among extensive coverage of tournaments, player interviews, and educational features.

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Garry Back to the Future

That's the title of ACM No.4, which features the menacing visage of Garry Kasparov set against a striking olive green backdrop. Bright colors have been a clear design choice, both on the cover and inside the magainze, and none of the first four glossy issues would fail to impress if you came across them on a newsstand.

Inside the content is USA-centric, but with plenty to appeal to an international audience as well, from amateur to professional.

American Chess Magazine covers issues one to four

A year in the life of the ACM |

The cover story by GM Ivan Sokolov is (not surprisingly) all about Kasparov's return to over-the-board play at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. Sokolov writes:

With great anticipation the chess world awaited the return of the King. I think we can safely say that we got the playing style we expected. Dynamic, direct, and not shying away from theoretical battles!

There's a special sidebar dedicated to "Garry's Nimzo-Indian Concept of 9.h4" about which Ivan writes:

I do not know whether Kasparov fundamentally believes that White has a real advantage here or if it was a once only novelty, as was the case in no fewer than three other games played by Garry in Saint Louis, but the whole concept is new, dynamic and typical Kasparov-style chess.


In addition to Sokolov's extensive and engaging analysis, you can find more about Garry's performance in Saint Louis, in our coverage "Kasparov in St. Louis: a closer look".

Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov

On this DVD a team of experts gets to the bottom of Kasparov's play. In over 8 hours of video running time the authors Rogozenko, Marin, Reeh and Müller cast light on four important aspects of Kasparov's play: opening, strategy, tactics and endgame.

ChessBase in ACM

Issue number four contains loads of interesting content for ChessBase readers, but naturally a few items about ChessBase also caught our eye. Firstly, there is a look at GM Simon Williams' popular DVD on The London System with 2.Bf4 — on page 104.

FM Carsten Hansen reviews

The London seems to be everywhere these days, from the games of World Champion Carlsen all the way down to average club players. It is a forgiving opening characterised by well-defined and easy to understand plans and structures, which will enable a player to sidestep sharp theoretical lines yet obtain a playable position with good prospects for the forthcoming middlegame.

Issue 04 cover mockup

It used to be reached by the move order 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.Bf4, but nowadays more and more people play 2.Bf4, defiantly breaking that old the rule of Tarrasch's about developing knights before bishops.

The Ginger GM, Simon Williams, is well-known for his lively online commentaries at major tournaments, which have included the opens in Gibraltar and Reykjavik this year. He has also carved out a niche for himself by his unique style of presentation in both books and DVD-ROMs, where his coverage of aggressive and offbeat openings is enhanced by his flair for drama and story-telling.

The 2.Bf4 move order adds some flexibility to White's undertaking because he doesn't necessarily have to enter the standard London with Nf3, e3, Nbd2, c3, h3 and such moves. There is then the option for the queen's knight to jump to c3 instead, such as Williams recommends against Black set-ups with …g7-g6.

On this very entertaining and quite instructive DVD-ROM Williams presents the repertoire for White. He does not get bogged down by excessive detail but concentrates on explaining typical ideas, why pieces belong on certain squares what typical tactics to look out for, etc.

The London System with 2.Bf4

"Simple yet aggressive!" Enjoy this new exciting DVD by Simon Williams. Let the famouns Grandmaster from England show you how to gain a very exciting yet well founded opening game with the London System (1.d4 d5 2.Bf4).


ICCF Senior International Master Jon Edwards takes a deep dive into the current state of endgame tablebases, which have now reached as many as 7-pieces albeit at the almost incomprehensible size of 140 terabytes, necessitating — for now — that it can only be run on a powerful server.

Before foraying into the endgame, Edwards briefly dwells on the state of opening work, encouraging readers to "check out ChessBase's Live Book, almost certainly the largest opening database in the world."

As for the endgame, Edwards writes:

ChessBase users can install the Nalimov or Syzygy six piece Tablebases within ChessBase. Professional ChessBase installations will place these 6-piece databases in memory in order to speed processing. This kind of Tablebase integration reached its peak with the inclusion of the 3,4,5 and 6 piece results within Let's Check, ChessBase's online database of computer evaluations.

You'll find the full article on page 106.

ACM in ChessBase

As a free bonus, subscribers receive the chess content in ChessBase's CBV and also PGN format. That makes it easy to open any game in the issue and play through it in the interface of your choice. With full access to the issue in the form of a database, you can also home in on specific players, openings, annotators or tournaments of interest.

For instance, here are all 140 game entries in ACM 03 sorted by ECO code:

ACM in ChessBase

 Looking at Ernesto Inarkiev's analysis of Karjakin-Carlsen, from their New York match
Click or tap to expand to full size

ACM Issue 03So, in a sense, you get the best of both worlds: a tangible physical magazine you can flip through and stick in a briefcase or backpack, and a digital version you can play along with at home on your PC, or while on the go, on a mobile or tablet.

Editor-in-Chief Josip Asik emailed us to explain that this was a deliberate strategy, and no dedicated app is currently planned.

"We noticed that among readers more are interested in a ChessBase version than any kind of digital (so we do not have a digital version at all)."

This also makes it easy for us to present a sample for you here in our feature-rich game viewer. This is the endgame column on the late legendary trainer Mark Dvoretsky from GM Karsten Mueller:

Karsten Mueller in ACM Issue No. 3


Dvoretsky's Engame Manual

Russian International Master Mark Dvoretsky is perhaps the most respected chess instructor in the world today. His latest work, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, is sure to become a classic on one of the most difficult and subtile phases in chess. It covers all the most important positions required for endgame mastery, from elementary king-and-pawn endings to complex rook or queen endgames that have baffled even top grandmasters.

In the current issue, you'll find another Mueller column entitled "Greed Doesn't Pay!" in which Karsten writes:

Karsten Mueller Greed Doesn't Pay

Of course in the endgame winning pawns is often called for. But sometimes activity and coordination have higher priority, since grabbing a pawn costs time and may misplace the capturing piece.

In the old days computers were very materialistic. Nowadays we humans are much more greedy. So it is important to develop a certain intuition when and when not to hung a pawn.

He then starts out with a look at the endgame between Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri from Norway Chess 2017. "34.Kc3! Nakamura tries to disrupt the harmony of Anish's army. The direct but greedy 34.Ra8? Nd7 35.Rxa7 loses..."

See if you can spot why:


Click or tap the image above to expand and find the solution!

Karsten goes on to look at further examples from Karjakin-Caruana, as well as the Canadian Championship, World Open, and Southern California Championship (fun party trivia — California's so big they split it in two!).

Chess Endgames 9 - Rook and Minor Piece

Endings with rook and minor piece against rook and minor piece occur very frequently, even more often than rook endings, yet there's not much literature on them. This endgame DVD fills this gap. The four different material constellations rook and knight vs rook and knight, rooks and opposite coloured (and same coloured ) bishops and rook and bishop vs rook and knight are dealt with. In view of the different material constellations Karsten Mueller explains many guidelines like e.g. "With knights even a small initiative weighs heavily".

Video preview of the full Issue No. 04:

Awards and Info

A single issue costs USD $29.99, but to receive CBV & PGN files as well, you'll want to subscribe for a year (four issues) for $99, which includes free shipping for readers in the USA.

The "Letter from the Editor" column in the current issue notes with pride that ACM has won several awards from the group Chess Journalists of America, a not-for-profit organization that encourages and promotes chess journalism. Among them were a "Best Interview" award to Asik, "Best Chess Analysis" to GM Sokolov, "Best Instructive Lesson" for an article by GM Alex Fishbein, and — perhaps most noteworthy — "Best Magazine / Newsletter Layout".

A flip through any of the first four issues, and it's not hard to see why.


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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Adilson Adilson 2/18/2018 01:44
If you subscribe price goes down to $ 99 a year.
ghenghisclown ghenghisclown 10/21/2017 08:06
The price needs to drop to 16 or 17 bucks. ...Maybe 20. 30 bucks? Ah, no.
pilsbury pilsbury 10/21/2017 02:45
I did subscribe to see but have not been able to download the last two chessbase files which are time sensitive apparently to avoid downloading by non subscribers. E mail requests for clarification have been less than helpful. Nice magazine but not worth the money.
KevinC KevinC 10/20/2017 03:19
@Bobbyfozz it is about "sensibilities". I also made a decent living, but it "feels" like it is too expensive compared to some of the great books out there, which pack in much more material. Compare this magazine to Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, in my opinion the best chess book ever written, which is only $31 on Amazon. Its main competitor in terms of magazine quality is “New in Chess”, which is only $11.25 per issue. Is it really almost three times as good, or three times as big? I think not.

I have been in business for 29 years now, so I certainly understand business. No one said you have to buy it, or that they can’t make a profit, but you have to learn to keep costs down so you can sell your product to a wider audience at a price that people are willing to pay. You said it yourself “if you don’t want to pay that, then don’t”. Well, I have a feeling that many people are going to fall into the “don’t-category”, and thus, I am sorry to say, but I strongly suspect that this magazine will die off sooner than later.

One last thing is that even the name of the magazine is going to contribute to its death: I am an American, but when your audience is already limited, do you really want to target your magazine at the American chess sector? Sure, anyone can buy it, but I doubt that it will draw in as many subscribers simply due to the name.

How hard is THAT to understand because it seems like it is YOU, who does not get it? It is business.
Lachesis Lachesis 10/20/2017 12:19
I agree with those who find the price of the magazine to be too high to consider subscribing to.
Bobbyfozz Bobbyfozz 10/19/2017 09:16
Too expensive (see "goeland")??? I don't understand why a magazine, of any kind, can't be more expensive than a book. You didn't give us any reasons. The rule is: if you don't want to pay that, then don't. How hard is that to understand? Did you look at the table of contents? Lots of mouths to feed there. And, is there a law that should be introduced about making a profit?
goeland goeland 10/19/2017 08:00
I'm an executive with a good salary and I buy a lot of chess stuff without really counting. But when I see the price, 30 dollars for a magazine, more than for a book, I find it too expensive. First time in my old life, I find a chess product too expensive. Probably fantastic quality but still. its a magazine...