Coach Yourself : A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess

Coach Yourself : A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess
Coach Yourself : A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess

Neil McDonald is an English GM, an active player, a FIDE Trainer and a coach to the England junior teams. Neil has authored thirty-seven books for The Chess Press, Batsford and, most recently, Everyman Chess. One of his most recent works, The King’s Indian Attack : Move by Move, impressed considerably.

GM Neil McDonald
GM Neil McDonald

“Coach Yourself” is a new direction for the author whose previous titles have concentrated on specific openings and generic middlegame themes.

The Introduction reveals the book’s USP (Unique Selling Point) of enabling the reader to become their own personal coach in a wide range of sub-disciplines of the game. You might think “All chess books attempt to teach at least one aspect in detail surely?” So, does “Coach Yourself” achieve its ambitious aim ?

The author sets outs his course curriculum in thirteen precisely worded chapters as follows :

  1. Immunizing Yourself Against Blunders
  2. Training Your Tactical Imagination
  3. Teaching Yourself to Calculate
  4. Judging the Right Moment to Use a Combination
  5. Supercharging Your Feel for the Initiative
  6. Know Yourself : Diagnosing Positional Mistakes
  7. Learn How to Shut a Piece out of the Game
  8. Getting Full Value from Your King
  9. Wearing Down the Opponent’s Pawn Structure
  10. Practice Planning on a Grand Scale
  11. Mastering Pawn Breakthroughs in Endgames
  12. Understanding the Essentials of the Endgame
  13. Making Good Opening Choices

Of these, probably half of them at least could almost be titles for books in their own right. “Teaching Yourself to Calculate” probably could turn into a 300 page book without any problem : indeed, such titles do exist. Similarly “Making Good Opening Choices” must have appeared in chess publishing history at some point. The order in which the chapters are presented is, in itself, quite logical and correctly emphasizes perhaps the weight that students should attach to each section. For example, the subjects of these chapters do attempt to correct the balance of study away from openings and towards the more challenging and time consuming middlegame.

This review would be really rather unwieldy if we attempted to work through each chapter so we will select a couple of chapters to measure their coverage and style.

The author kicks-off logically with “Immunizing Yourself Against Blunders” suggesting that blunders tend to disappear once a serious study is started. Most of the instruction is centered around the study of example games in which common types of blunder occur. The student is invited to get into the habit of playing though the entire or part of eleven games on a board and learn the common patterns and themes that lead to oversights and blunders.

Here is an extract of an example :

Above All, Look After Your Queen!

VI. Fedoseev-A.Ledger
European Cup, Porto Carras 2018

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3 Nd7 6.Nf3 Ne7 7.c3 Ng6 8.Be3 Nh4 9.Nxh4 Qxh4 10.Be2 Qe4 11.h4 h6 12.h5

Here 12…Qxg2? would allow the queen to be trapped by 13.Bf3, so the best move might be 12…Qc2, forcing the exchange of queens, after which White would only have a small edge due to his space advantage. Instead, Black played the natural developing move 12…Be7?, when 13.Rc1! closed off the c2-square and left his queen suddenly trapped. The threat is 14.Nd2 Qxg2 15.Bf3, and 13…Bh7 14.Nd2 Qf5 15.g4! also does the business for White (what an ignominy for a queen to be trapped by a peasant!).
In the game Black good find nothing better than giving up the knight for two pawns with 13…Nxe5 14.dxe5 Qxe5. Fedoseev was remorseless in pressing home his advantage (one of the signs of a top player is that they don’t relax once they have gained material): 15.Qd4 Qxd4 16.cxd4 Bb4+ 17.Bd2 Bd6 18.g4 Bh7 19.Rh3 Kd7 20.Na5 Rab8 21.Rb3 Kc7

Question : Can you see the most precise finish for White?

The game concluded 22.Ba6! bxa6 23.Rxc6+ Kd7 24.Rxd6! 1-0, since 24…Kxd6 25.Bf4+ (skewering the black king against the b8-rook – there’s more on this theme in Chapter Two) 25..Kd7 26.Bxb8 is too much for Black to bear.
Fedoseev’s 22nd move, laying the foundations for the combination which followed, was inspired. Don’t worry if you didn’t see it. The purpose of the next chapter is to introduce you to various tactical themes so that you can start planning your own combinations.

So the 11 examples set one up for the more challenging content to follow.

Some chapter titles particularly intrigued us : “Getting Full Value from your King” was one example plus “Learn How to Shut a Piece Out of the Game”. For each and every chapter there is a consistent method of presenting the content : Many instructional examples each containing questions that the student is challenged to answer. Some are straightforward and many are tough. They will get you thinking in every case.

All the material is presented in a friendly style almost as if you are engaged in a coaching session with the author himself and he is asking the questions and you are answering (hopefully!). The examples span games from the last hundred years including losses by the author that presumably made their mark. One of the best aspects of this book is each chapter is more or less self contained and does not depend on previous ones or what comes afterwards. Just picking out the endgame chapters only would be highly beneficial (for example) and then pick out chapters from the rest when you have the time.

We particularly enjoyed the “Getting Full Value From Your King” and “Supercharging Your Feel for the Initiative” chapters as being novel. You will, no doubt, have your own favourites.

As with every recent Everyman Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. Each diagram is clear as is the instructional text. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

A couple of small gripes with the production are : the diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator. secondly, some Everyman books (but not this one) have an extra folding part to the front and rear covers. These we find protect the book from damage and also can be used as an emergency book mark !

So, does the content bear out the title? The material includes novel and challenging content covered from new angles. However, the answer to this difficult question lies with the student and to their level of motivation. Neil has given the student much hard to obtain advice combined with a Q&A format that allow the student to measure their improvement in understanding.

There is no doubt that this book presents perhaps 100 hours of instruction and opportunities to improve: sadly, we have not had 100 hours available to spend on this review!
However, we very much enjoyed this book and if you are not afraid of the challenge then you will too!

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 31st August, 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 336 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (1 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781945128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945124
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 1.7 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Coach Yourself : A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess
Coach Yourself : A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess

Chess Tactics : Volume 1

Chess Tactics : Volume 1
Chess Tactics : Volume 1

Cartsen Hansen is a Danish FIDE Master, FIDE Trainer and author of twenty-eight chess books on all phases of the game. He is a columnist for American Chess Magazine and Shakbladet.

FM Carsten Hansen
FM Carsten Hansen

Chess Tactics is a volume in the series Daily Chess Training the content for which is largely drawn from the authors spaces on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The book is self-published and our copy was printed by Amazon Fulfillment which we believe is a low cost method to get books printed with lower volume print runs than you might associate with a so-called main stream publisher. Being a paperback that is fairly thick compared with its other dimensions, it means weights are required to keep the book open hands-free style, unless you want to break the spine. Maybe no other review will mention this but the convenience of reading the book makes a difference for us. It should be noted that a Kindle version is also marketed for those who prefer an eBook format. The printing is fairly clear on off-white paper. What stood out to us immediately was the murkiness / clarity of the diagrams. To be fair to the author we did report this and he has taken this up with his printers.

The main content is divided into seven chapters which have the same rough format of sixteen sets of exercises with four exercises (on average) per set.

For each individual exercise there is a diagram of the starting position, a rating in the forms of asterisk symbols from 1 – 5 where * is straightforward (but not trivial) and ***** means “industrial strength” difficulty. Under the rating is an indicator of who is to move and finally a hint such as

hint : Surprising Consequences to a simple plan.

It is possible to cover up the hint with something handy such as a beer mat (!) should you chose to avoid it.

Following each group of say four exercises there is a solution which usually includes in-depth analysis plus details of the provenance of the game itself.

We could be wrong but every one of the 404 exercises appears to be from 2018 tournament, league or match practice. The author deserves to be congratulated for this aspect alone and this means is it not likely you will have remembered any of the exercises from elsewhere : respect ! Of course, 2018 was an olympiad year which must have helped enormously especially in terms of large disparity in playing strength of the two players.

The overall ethos of the chosen exercises appears to be tactics / combinations that occur in typical games played by mortals leading to winning or large edge positions. In other words they are very pragmatic choices of “meat & potatoes” strong moves rather than jaw-dropping moves that feature in tactics books time and time again.

The author makes it clear that he values feedback and he provides various ways to make contact  via his email address and various social media locations.  We received an answer to a query within the same day.

Let us examine some examples :

Set 49
Exercises to Set 49
49.1)

**
White to move
Hint : Making room for the right strike

and the solution is :

13.d5!
This clever move takes aim at a surprising piece.
13…Bxd5 14.Nxd6+!
Of course, not 14.Qxd5?? Bb4+.
14…Qxd6 15. Qe3+!
Yes, It is the rook on a7 that’s the target !
15…Kd7 16.Qxa7
Black could have resigned here but dragged the game on to move 20 against her much lower rated opponent.
16…Nc6 17.Qe3 Re8 18.Qd2 Bxf3 19.gxf3 Nd4 20.Qxd4 1-0
A.Avramidhou (2260) – V. Gunina (2528)
Chess Olympiad (women) (Batumi) 2018

and here is a one star problem :

10.3)


*
White to move
Hint : Exploit the many weaknesses in Black’s camp.

and he solution is

16.Bxe6! Nd5
Or 16…fx6 17.Qxe6+ Qe7 18. Qxc6+ Kf7 19.Ne5+
17.Be5 Also 17.Ne5 wins. After 17.Be5 fxe6 18.Bxg7 Rh7 19.Qxe6+ Ne7 20.Qf6, Black is toast.
1-0
C. Bauer(2644) – M. Apicella (2501) Cannes (rapid) 2018.

and, finally an “industrial strength” exercise :

76.2)


*****
White to move
Hint : Pursuing your dreams often comes at the cost of squashing somebody else’s aspirations

and the solution is :

28.d5!
This threatens Bxg7 followed by Qe7+ and game over for Black.
28…Nc3 29.Ba2!!
Without this move White has nothing – did you see it?
29…Qxa2 30.Bxc3 e5
Or 30…Bxc3 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32. Qxb7 and White is winning.
31.Bxe5 Bxe5 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Nxe5 White is, of course, completely winning. 33…Bxd5+ 34.Kg1 Bf7 35.Qh8+ Ke7 36.Nc6+ 1-0
M. Parligras(2645) – S.Grigoriants (2543) Hungarian Team Ch. 2018.

There follows an Index of Players and two of these players (Stamy and Sindarov) have five games referenced each. The bulk of the players are not therefore super elite players but mortals.

In summary, this selection of 404 graded exercises covers all of the most common tactical themes plus some rarely encountered ones from modern practice.  The commentary for each exercise is detailed enough.  The exercises are not grouped according to any particular theme so you are not “expecting something” : you actually have to work it out from scratch in keeping with a real game.

We’d like to see clear diagrams but maybe our reviewer needs to visit Specsavers ! Overall this is good book, packed with original material delivered with a unique style. It will improve your chess ! We look forward to Volume 2….

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 29th August, 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • paperback : 329 pages
  • Publisher: Carsten Chess (April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1790316308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1790316304
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

Official web site of Carsten Chess

Chess Tactics : Volume 1
Chess Tactics : Volume 1
Chess Tactics : Volume 1
Chess Tactics : Volume 1

Understanding Before Moving 2 : Queen’s Gambit Structures

Understanding Before Moving 2 : Queen's Gambit Structures
Understanding Before Moving 2 : Queen’s Gambit Structures

Herman Grooten is an International master, a professional coach for over thirty-five years and has taught players such as Loek van Wely, Jan Werle and Benjamin Bok.

IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)
IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)

The is the author’s second volume in the Understanding Before Moving series previously having written Understanding before Moving 1 : Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

The main content is divided into eight chapters :

  1. Studying of Openings
  2. Background of Openings
  3. Pawn Structures and Practical Examples
  4. Discussing the Variations
  5. Model Games
  6. Exercises
  7. Solutions
  8. Instructive Games

followed by a collection of 44 unannotated instructive games. There is no index but there is a liberal sprinkling of black & white photographs throughout the instructional text.

The books kicks off by providing the motivation to the reader of the purpose of taking on-board the approach that Grooten adopts. It is clear that he strongly believes studying the typical pawn structures that result from the variations of the Queen’s Gambit the student will gain greater understanding of the correct plans based on those structures. He goes to some trouble to warn students of the modern lazy tendency (younger players take careful note!) to read too much into assessments from modern engines (especially in the opening and transition to the middle game). He, quite correctly, wants the students to use their own eyes and brain to discover ideas and typical themes rather attempting to memorize so-called best moves which change anyway when the engine version is updated.

The advice continues with tips on preparation before and during a tournament which are entirely pragmatic and help the students confidence going into games against both weaker, similar and stronger opponents.

Chapter 3 is where the heavy action starts. We focus on the Carlsbad pawn structure, arising from many variations of the Queen’s Gambit :

and the author details three main plans implied by the above structure followed by twelve high quality instructive examples of these plans from the world’s best players.

For example :

Plan C : Opposite-side castling, 3.10 Pawn Storms on both sides


Position after 12…Rc8

In a position with opposite castling it’s of great importance to get one’s attack off the ground as soon as possible. It helps greatly if there is already some weakness in the enemy’s king position , and if it isn’t there – well, the first priority is to force its creation.

13.Ng5

For 13.g4 see the game Petrosian – Ilivitky, Moscow 1965.

13…b5?

In this case it was best to retreat to d7.

14.Be5!

Thus Timman forces Black to weaken himself.

The Pawn Structures chapter essentially provide the ethos of the book putting the student in the right frame of mind for the specific discussion of the variations of interest. As far as I can tell these variations are :

  1. The Tartakower Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined
  2. The Lasker Variation of the QGD
  3. The Tarrasch Variation (including the Hennig-Schara Gambit)
  4. The Noteboom (or Abrahams) Variation
  5. The Ragozin Variation
  6. The Cambridge Springs Variation
  7. The Exchange (Carlsbad) Variation
  8. The Rubinstein Variation
  9. The Vienna Variation

and all of these are treated via a 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 move order.

Some of the above could (arguably if you enjoy this sort of thing!) be said to arise from a Semi-Slav Defence or even Triangle Variation move order (for example the Noteboom / Abrahams and Cambridge Springs variations) so there is more to this book than first meets the eye. The Vienna section is most welcome since it has not hitherto received much attention in the literature and can, of course, become sharp early on.

There is no coverage of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted (the Vienna Variation comes close of course) or of the lines (typically 5. Bf4) where White puts the c1 bishop on f4 rather than g5 : some (including myself) might dub this the Blackburne Variation. There is a brief treatment of the Alartortsev or Cahrousek Variation (3…Be7) included in the Carlsbad section.

For each of the above variations the author highlights the main ideas for white, and to give you some idea here is an example from the Ragozin section :


Position after 10…Kf8

in the Interpolistoernooi in Tilburg in 1981 :

11.dxc5!!

Behind this lies a brilliant concept,

11…Nxc3 12.bxc3 Bxc3+ 13.Ke2 Bxa1 14.Qxa1 f6

It’s time to take stock of the position. White has sacrificed the exchange, but has obtained an abundance of compensation in various forms :

  • Development and activity
  • Bishop pair in an open position
  • Unsafe Black king
  • Better pawn structure
  • Control over d6, which can be used as an outpost by several of White’s pieces
  • A position in which “diagonals are more important than files”

All of this then prepares the reader for Chapter 5 : Model Games. There are 15 model games of which 7 cover the Carlsbad, 4 the Tartakower and then one each for the rest except for the Lasker and Vienna Variations.

The reader is then encouraged to test their understanding with 16 exercises of the “White to play and find the best continuation” type. Each of these exercises is analysed in detail in the Solutions chapter.

In summary, this book will be invaluable to any serious student of the Queen’s Gambit, particularly the Exchange Variation and Carlsbad structures. Any player who plays d4 but does not play a quick c4 follow-up (for example, the currently trendy London System followers) may well be sufficiently enthused to “upgrade” their Queen’s Pawn opening to a Queen’s Gambit. The emphasis on understanding via pawn structure analysis will help any student of chess even if do not play 1.d4. Highly recommended !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 22nd August, 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 238 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (15 Feb. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510421
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510426
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.5 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Understanding Before Moving 2 : Queen's Gambit Structures
Understanding Before Moving 2 : Queen’s Gambit Structures

First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

First Steps : King's Indian Defence
First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

Andrew Martin is an English IM, a Senior FIDE Trainer, the Head of the ECF Chess Academy, a teacher in numerous schools and a coach to many promising and upcoming players. Andrew has authored in excess of thirty books and DVDs and produced huge numbers of engaging videos on his sadly defunct YouTube Channel.

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

The author first wrote about the King’s Indian Defence (an opening for Black he himself plays) in 1989 (Winning with the King’s Indian) and followed this up with the widely acknowledged King’s Indian Battle Plans in 2004.

King's Indian Battle Plans
King’s Indian Battle Plans

The “First Steps” series from Everyman Chess is (according to Everyman Chess)

an opening series that is ideal for improving players who want simple and straightforward explanations. First Steps emphasizes

  • the basic principles
  • the basic strategies
  • the key tricks and traps

So, bearing the above in mind, does, in true “Ronseal Fashion”, this book do what it says on the tin ?

We have nine chapters :

  1. Inspiration
  2. Pawn Structures
  3. The Classical System
  4. The Fianchetto Variation
  5. Lines with Bg5
  6. The Sämisch Variation
  7. The Four Pawns Attack
  8. Less Common White Systems
  9. King’s Indian Byways

followed by an Index of Variations and Index of Complete Games (featuring a good number of the author’s own games with both colours).

Interestingly the “Byways” chapter introduces readers to the somewhat rare Dizdar-Indian, which may be new to many :

with around 1200 games in Megabase 2019, being played by Caruana, Mamedov and Fressinet to name drop but a few, this is perhaps a developing sideline should White play Nf3 before Nc3.

Anyway, before I digress too far…

The meat and potatoes of this books kicks off with six decisive (dubbed Inspirational) games which leave one with optimism about a decisive result one way or the other, when employing the King’s Indian Defence. In order to avoid accusations of bias, in game six, Black (Richard Britton), is crushed in 19 moves by Andrew himself :

White to play (and we leave the reader to enjoy finding White’s idea.

Moving on to Chapter Two, Pawn Structures, we find an in-depth discussion of typical themes and idea that arise from the variations to be discussed in subsequent chapters. If only all opening books included such an insightful chapter, players new to the opening would pick up the Good, the bad and the Ugly so much quicker !

The author is also to be thanked for including games where Black gets it very wrong and goes down in flames. Gone are the days of biased books such as “Winning with the Damiano” (OK, I picked an extreme example !) in which Black has somehow refuted 1.e4. This book therefore is much more politically chess correct and credible in what it recommends.

Having studied in detail the Pawn Structures chapter the reader should be in good shape to roll-up their sleeves, pour a glass of wine and get stuck in. For each of the remaining chapters we are introduced to the theory of the set-up selected by our opponent. The Classical System chapter (understandably the largest) features 30 games analysed in detail including emphasis on the ideas, criticism of flawed thinking by either player, top tips that milestone themes the student must understand with plenty of diagrams.

The authors style is friendly, engaging and informal, leaving the student with the feeling that they are having a lesson with the author rather than simply reading a book. This I find helps to make learning the KID a pleasure rather than a chore. You get the feeling you are learning about chess and not just another opening for Black.

To give you a feel here is an excerpt from Chapter Three :


I’m very doubtful whether action in the centre or on the kingside is going to get White anywhere, as he is playing right into Black’s hands. Smirin is now able to whip up an attack.

TIP : It is rarely a good idea to play on the side of the board where your opponent is stronger.

17…exf4! 18 Bxf4 Qh4 19 Rael Ng5 20 Kh2 Rae8 21 Qc1

You would think that 21 b64 would be high on the list of White’s priorities, but in this case 21…axb4 Na6 makes it awkward for him to defend his b4-pawn, as the natural 23 Qb3? is met by 23…Be5!

Are there any notable omissions ? A First Steps book is not intended to provide everything but I would have liked to see more detailed coverage of the increasingly popular Bagirov / Krasenkow Variation :

Games 53 & 54 in the section on the Classical Variation do provide coverage to some extent.

And, maybe also a small mention perhaps of the dangerous Barry Attack :

and the KID player (who may not play the Pirc) has to decide if he wishes to allow e4 or play a Grünfeld Defence.

As with every recent Everyman Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. Each diagram is clear as is the instructional text. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

A couple of small gripes with the production are : the diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator. secondly, some Everyman books (but curiously not this one) have an extra folding part to the front and rear covers. These I find protect the book from damage and also can be used as an emergency book mark !

Although I do not play the King’s Indian Defence myself I would certainly be keen to use this book to introduce myself to its rich possibilities. I’m not keen on books written by an author who does not play the recommended system his or herself. In this case there can be no doubt that the advice comes from much experience, enthusiasm and passion for the KID. Please give it a go !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 17th August, 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 336 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (3 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781944288
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781944288
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.9 x 23.8 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

First Steps : King's Indian Defence
First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4 : Viktor Moskalenko

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4
An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

“Half the variations which are calculated in a tournament game turn out to be completely superfluous. Unfortunately, no one knows in advance which half..” – Jan Timman

The value for any practising chess player of a coherent opening repertoire when playing with the white pieces is key to success, enjoyment and efficient use of study time.  Books with “Opening Repertoire” in the title are many and varied and we were intrigued to what the emphasis in this latest book from New in Chess would be.

From the books rear cover :

Viktor Moskalenko (1960) is an International Grandmaster and a FIDE Senior Trainer. The former Ukrainian champion’s recent books include The Even More Flexible French, The Wonderful Winawer, Training with Moska and The Fabulous Budapest Gambit.

GM Viktor Moskalenko
GM Viktor Moskalenko

So, what is An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4 about ?

Up front one factor worth noting is that Moskalenko is advocating a repertoire based around the classical move order approach to playing the “Queen’s Gambit”, viz, 1 . d4, 2.c4 and 3. Nc3 rather than say 1. d4, 2.Nf3, 3.c4 which is, nonetheless, increasing in popularity.  Some lines simply do not transpose of course so please bear that in mind !

The author has identified 14 defences employed by Black and offers  lines for White against all of these.  The variations given attention (and the order in which they are presented ) are :

  1. King’s Indian Defence : Four Pawns Attack
  2. Modern Benoni Defence : Taimanov Attack
  3. Snake Benoni (a fairly rare beast at club level and good to see it discussed therefore)
  4. Indo-Benoni which includes the Schmid Benoni & Czech Benoni
  5. Benko & Volga Gambit
  6. Grünfeld Defence
  7. Nimzo Indian Defence
  8. Slav Defence : Exchange Variation
  9. Queen’s Gambit Accepted
  10. Queen’s Gambit Declined : Triangle Variation
  11. Queen’s Gambit Declined : Exchange Variation
  12. Baltic Defence
  13. Chigorin Defence
  14. Albin Counter Gambit

For each of these chapters there is a theory / instructional section containing the recommended line, analysis and variations followed by a separate section of illustrative games from modern practise. Many of these 106 games are the authors own with insightful, deep notes explaining his thought processes.

For all fourteen chapters the emphasis of the author’s recommendations is on “active play supported by a powerful pawn centre” and this bears out when exploring the various recommendations.

Ideas featuring an early f3 (hence our comment about the Nf3 move order earlier!) appear frequently with the exceptions of the slightly surprising Exchange Slav  and the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. recommendations. However, the latter pair do use active piece play lines (with an early Nf3 in the QGA).

The most interesting  bonus is when one investigates the games section that is associated with each of the chapters. There is generous use of six clear symbols designating something special about various lines as follows :

  • TRICK : hidden tactics and some tricky ideas, e.g. traps you can set and pitfalls you have to avoid.
  • PUZZLE : possible transpositions, move order subtleties, curiosities and rare lines.
  • WEAPON : the best lines to choose; strong or surprising options for both attack and defence, which deserve attention.
  • PLAN : the main ideas for one of the sides in the next phase of the game.
  • STATISTICS : winning percentages for a line for either side / player.
  • KEEP IN MIND : here, fundamental ideas for either side are given.

An example from game 66 in the Exchange Slav chapter :

Black has played 11…Na5

12. Kf2

KEEP IN MIND : The king’s move is included in White’s plan, but it is more accurate to play h2-h4 or Ng3 first :

WEAPON / TRICK : For instance , 12.h4!? Nc4 13. Qc2!? b5 14. b3!? (with initiative)  (14. Qb1 Khairullin-Kapnisis, Budva 2009) 14…b4? 15 Nxd5!+-;

WEAPON : Or 12. Ng3 !?

analysis diagram

12…Bc6 (12…h6 13 h4.!?) 13.g5!? Nd7 14.h4 Be7 15.Kf2! b5 (Moskalenko – Alono Rosell, Catalonia tt 2013) 16.Nce2!

Possibly the only disappointing  recommendation is that of the use of the  Exchange Slav to take on both the Slav and the Semi-Slav family.  Recommending more ambitious lines for White would have increased the size of the book substantially and also the learning workload for the student : sometimes a line in the sand has to be drawn !

Reviewers usually like to point out material that they believe has been omitted and we will not disappoint you ! Chapters (we believe) should have been included are treatments of :

  1. The Queen’s Indian Defence (the most surprising omission of all)
  2. The Old Indian Defence (quite a rare bird of course)
  3. The Dutch Defence (see below*)
  4. Queen’s Gambit : Tarrasch Defence (popular at club level)

*In fairness to Moskalenko he refers readers to his previously (2014) New in Chess published The Diamond Dutch treatment to handle the white side of 1.d4 f5

We can also forgive the absence of any treatment of the Englund Gambit and other such blitz and rapidplay oddities !

As with every recent New in Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is (mostly !) typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

At the rear is the customary detailed Index of Variations and following that there is an Index of Players where the numbers refer to pages.

In summary this book provides a pragmatic and fighting repertoire for White against most of the all the commonly encountered responses to 1.d4 and the Queen’s Gambit. There is a host of interesting new and dangerous ideas that help you fight for the whole point with the white pieces : recommended !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, August 13th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • Publisher: New In chess (2nd July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918303
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918309
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.1 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4
An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

Life Begins at Eighty Six (!) for IM James T Sherwin

IM James T Sherwin
IM James T Sherwin

Veteran IM James T Sherwin (FIDE 2231) brought home possibly the most pleasing result of the 2019 British Championships in Torquay.

Infamously featured in game one of Bobby Fischer’s Sixty Memorable Games, James has been resident in the London area for many years specialising in rapidplay events such as the Richmond and Golders Green series of rp tournaments.

FM Andrew Lewis
FM Andrew Lewis

James and FM Andrew Lewis (somewhat less that 86!) tied first equal in the orange lit Forum area of the Riviera Centre with 7.5/9 with James beating Gerald Moore (FIDE 2132) in the final round whereas Andrew (FIDE 2283) drew with Josiah Haynes (2132).

Well done James and Andrew !

Today in Torquay…

BCN has joined the action in wonderful Torquay at the Riviera Centre.

British Championships in Torquay
British Championships in Torquay

On Board four we have IM Richard Pert vs GM Nick Pert (Richard won the game) :

IM Richard Pert
IM Richard Pert
GM Nick Pert
GM Nick Pert

and on board three : GM John Emms vs GM Justin Tan (the game was drawn) :

GM John Emms
GM John Emms
GM Justin Tan
GM Justin Tan

and on board two : IM Richard Palliser vs GM Stephen Gordon (the game was drawn) :

IM Richard Palliser
IM Richard Palliser
GM Stephen Gordon
GM Stephen Gordon

and on top board we have GM David Howell vs GM Michael Adams (the game was drawn) :

GM David Howell
GM David Howell
GM Michael Adams
GM Michael Adams

Follow the action at Twitch with GM Danny Gormally and IM Adam Hunt