All posts by Andrew Martin

Opening Repertoire : The Sveshnikov

Opening Repertoire : The Sveshnikov
Opening Repertoire : The Sveshnikov

Cyrus Lakdawala is an IM and former US Open Champion who teaches chess and has written over 25 books on chess openings.

IM Cyrus Lakdawala
IM Cyrus Lakdawala

Writing a modern repertoire book on the Sveshnikov and keeping it below 500 pages is an achievement, but Cyrus Lakdawala has managed it.

One of his latest books, Opening Repertoire – the Sveshnikov, is only 320 pages long, retailing at £18.99 in the UK and published by Everyman Chess (2020).

I say one of his latest books, as Cyrus regularly manages to write 3/4 books a year, all of good quality and they come thick and fast off the press. I can honestly say that I don’t know how he does it. His output is staggering and clearly the product of incredible self-discipline. As a fellow author, nowhere near his league, I salute him.

The Sveshnikov is a current Magnus Carlsen favourite and so if the book is any good at all, it should sell well.

One of my first ports of call was to check out what Cyrus recommended against 7 Nd5, which featured in the Carlsen-Caruana World Championship match.

The problem with repertoire books is that they can become outdated very quickly under the gaze of the silicon genius. Having said that, the chapter on
7 Nd5 is very well written ,with a wealth of interesting suggestions.

I guess the biggest challenge that the Sveshnikov presents is the vast amount of theory that has accumulated. You have to know a lot to begin with and work very hard to keep up to date. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, the Sveshnikov is great for strong players, but I am not so sure about club players. Some of the main line positions are very complex and tactical, where Black is relying on accurate move sequences to see him through. Having said that, when you do get this
opening right as Black, I imagine it can be very satisfying.

I enjoyed Lakdawala’s book and I think you will too. You will need time and energy to absorb it properly. There are extra chapters on the Anti-Sveshnikov, 3 Nc3 and an opening line Lakdawala calls ‘ the Mamba’, where Black substitutes 6…Bc5!? for 6 …d6.

I rate this book excellent, 4.5/5 stars.

Four and Half out of Five Stars
Four and Half out of Five Stars

Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey, 5th August, 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 322 pages
  • Publisher:Everyman Chess (1 Mar. 2020)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1781945632
  • ISBN-13:978-1781945636
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.8 x 24.2 cm

The book is available as a physical book and as a Kindle version.

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Opening Repertoire : The Sveshnikov
Opening Repertoire : The Sveshnikov

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games
Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

Boroljub Zlatanovic was born in Cuprija, Serbia, 05 August 1977 • Meet chess in 4 years old watching father and his brother playing • Entered first club “Radnicki” Cuprija in 7 years • FM since 1994 ( however, it was recognized in 1998) • Serbian youth champion in 1995 • Champion of Belgrade University in 2001 and 2002 • Many times won Serbian team championship (in youth competition also) • IM since 2014 • FT since 2015 • Winner of many open, blitz and rapid and internet events • Professional coach for more than 15 years • Author and contributor in American chess magazine since 2019

FM Boroljub Zlatanovic
FM Boroljub Zlatanovic

From the rear cover :

“This book would bring something new into your chess library. In computer era focus is usually on openings. Watching broadcasts new generations rather choose games with favorite opening played seeking for some interesting idea or even brilliant novelty. I offer and recommend different concept, based on famous Soviet chess school. Focus should be on understanding strategy concepts, principles and inner logic. Fashionable opening lines will be forgotten (or re-evaluated) sooner or later, but understanding cannot be lost and can be only upgraded. It is sad to see some player well equipped with opening lines, unable to realize big positional advantage in deep endgame. So, our advice is to learn about Strategy and Logic. The book is highly recommended for club players, advanced players and masters, although even higher rated players can find a lot of useful things for themselves. There is no doubt lower rated players will learn a lot about thinking process and making decisions, while some logical principles can be good advice for strong players also.”

Another review :

“Zlatanovic uses a light touch of his notes, limiting the complexity of his analysis and working to clearly explain the logic of positional decisions and ideas. Using examples both well-known and less studied, class and club players are taught quite a bit about basic positional play. I certainly leaned a thing of two. Johh Hartmann – Chess Life – April 2020.”

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.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

This is a massive book, over 500 pages and is a collection of classic games, with instructive notes. It is more or less designed for the club player. There is a bit of blurb on the back cover stating that the book will be useful to advanced players and masters, but I am not at all sure about that.

I cannot see advanced players buying this book.

Apparently, the book is based on the same principles as the famous Soviet school of chess. Strategy, logic and understanding should take pride of place, even in our computer era. I agree, but I don’t need the Soviet school of chess to tell me that. I can work that out for myself.

The book is beautifully produced and is very easy to read. It retails at a whopping £29.95 in the UK.

As there are so many books of the same type around, what I was looking for was a bit of originality. At the very least , all of the games should have been from the last 20 years, trying to unravel the complexity of the modern game.

What I found were games that I almost all seen before. There are only 15 games in the entire book that come from the period 2000-2020. None from Magnus Carlsen, for instance. This was disappointing.

Players under 1800 will get the most out of this book and trainers will have a ready source of lesson plans, if they are willing to make what is a hefty investment.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Three out of Five Stars

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 4th August 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 512 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9492510685
  • ISBN-13:978-9492510686
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games
Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games

The Modernized Delayed Benoni

The Modernized Delayed Benoni
The Modernized Delayed Benoni

Ivan Ivanisevic, born in 1977, started playing chess when he was 5 years old, while watching his grandfather and father play. At the age of 10 he started working with IM Petar Smederevac, the coach of the national team of former Yugoslavia, who is probably the real reason why he started playing professionally. Before he reached the age of 20 years old, he shared 1st place in the Championship of the former Yugoslavia. In 1999 he won the title of Grandmaster. Since 1998 he is a member of the national team, and since 2007 continually playing on the first board. Four times he was the Champion of Serbia. He won many tournaments, from which we remember mostly following: Saint Petersburg 2014, Skopje 2015, sharing 1-5 place in Dubai 2015, Vršac, the Bora Kostić Memorial, 2006, Nova Gorica 2007, Bergamo 2014, Kavala 2007, Podgorica, 2011 becoming the Balkan champion and Kozloduy, the rapid championship of Danube 2012. He was also participant of the World Cup in 2011. This this second book for Thinkers Published, after he co-authored the most acclaimed ‘Taimanov Bible’ from 2017.

GM Ivan Ivanisevic
GM Ivan Ivanisevic

From the rear cover :

“The Modernized Delayed Benoni is much more than the title makes you think! I like the author’s approach very much: it is a mixture of a personal journey and a theoretical manual. The author has been probably the main exponent of this line for the past ten years and he uses many of his games to illustrate the variations he has recommended. Although the book is again extremely detailed, there is careful attention to move orders and enough passages of explanations to make much of it understandable for non-experts. An excellent effort. GM Matthew Sadler, NIC Magazine 2020/4.

My aim in this book is to show that the Delayed Benoni is equally as attractive as its cousin, the Modern Benoni. For some reason – perhaps because “Modern” sounds more exciting than “Delayed”? – my favorite Benoni has been neglected for years, receiving scant coverage in chess publications.”

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.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

The Modernized Delayed Benoni is written by Grandmaster Ivan Ivanisevic, with an important contribution by GM Ivan Sokolov. It is an excellent 240 page book, produced by Thinkers Publishing.

There is a lot of detailed analysis here, complimented by plenty of relevant text. The book revives a system in the Benoni which has not been given the respect it deserves over the years.

This is not a beginner’s manual and strong players will get the most out of it.

The book focuses on the move order 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 g6!

as a way of getting to positions which are dynamic, relatively unexplored and suitable for playing for the win as Black.

Let’s take a look at some of these ideas…

Having digested a lot of this book, I’ve been trying the Black system online. Virtually all strong players meet it in the same way :

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 21st July 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 236 pages
  • Publisher:  Thinkers Publishing; 01 edition (30 Jan. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510650
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510655
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Delayed Benoni
The Modernized Delayed Benoni

Mental Toughness in Chess : Practical Tips to Strengthen Your Mindset at the Board

Mental Toughness in Chess
Mental Toughness in Chess

Mental Toughness in Chess : Practical Tips to Strengthen Your Mindset at the Board : Werner Schweitzer

“Werner Schweitzer graduated as a mental coach at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He knows from experience which mental factors have impact on a chess players performance. Schweitzer has been coaching players and teams for many years.”

From the rear cover :

“Your performance at the board does not only depend on your pure chess skills. Being a winner also requires a mindset that is able to cope with lots of stress and setbacks during hours of uninterrupted concentration. Just like technical chess skills, mental toughness can be trained. There are simple steps you can take that will help you to better realize your potential. Professional mental coach and chess player Werner Schweitzer has been working with chess teams and individual players for many years.

In this book Schweitzer presents practical tips and tools that will help you to improve your mental power during a game. You will learn how to: increase your concentration and stamina; recognize your own strengths and weaknesses; cope with losses as well as victories; increase your self-discipline when studying; handle disturbing thoughts and feelings during a game; boost your self-confidence; avoid underestimating (and overestimating!) your opponent; make better decisions while under pressure and other mental skills. These lessons and simple mental workouts will help players of all levels to unlock the full power of their brain and win more games.”

I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, it looks and reads like something you would pick up in a station or airport, when you have nothing to read on the journey.

There is a lot of white paper, only 144 pages , which could have been condensed to 120 or so with a more economical use of space and thus at £17.99 it is overpriced.

The book reads as though it has been hastily adapted to chess. The book could easily be rebranded as “Mental Toughness and the art of Man Management” or “Mental Toughness in the Boardroom” ; you get the idea.

This is a self-help manual , which assists you to get your brain and character into better order. The author admits in the very first chapter , that as his rating is just short of 2100, mental toughness is but only one of the factors that make a good chess player. His tips can only take you so far. With this admission, the limitations of the book are shown.

As stated , I got something out of the book and you will too. You will learn how to become a more disciplined thinker. If that’s what you feel you need, then this could be a good buy.

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 8th July 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 144 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (1 January 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918583
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918583
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 0.9 x 22.2 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Mental Toughness in Chess
Mental Toughness in Chess

Opening Repertoire : The Modern Defence

Opening Repertoire : The Modern Defence
Opening Repertoire : The Modern Defence

Cyrus Lakdawala is an IM and former US Open Champion who teaches chess and has written over 25 books on chess openings.

IM Cyrus Lakdawala
IM Cyrus Lakdawala

As a treat for our readers we allow you to download this review in Portable Game Notation (pgn) format. We suggest ChessBase Reader as a means of opening the file.

You may also download this review in ChessBase (.cbv) format.

This is the Modern Defence, which has been described both as a fighting opening, based on counterattack and a masochistic paradise, where Black has to sit with less space for the whole game and then loses.

Having played the Modern for some 40 years now, I can testify that the truth is somewhere between the two views.

You either like the Modern or you don’t and you have to get into the right frame of mind in order to play it properly. Black has to suck up early pressure and time his counterattack to perfection to break up the enemy position. If this is your thing and you have an independent character, you will find what you want after 1…g6.

I think I have most of the Modern Defence books in my library, stretching back to Keene and Botterill, through Norwood and Tiger Hillarp Persson and now complimented by the latest work from Cyrus Lakdawala : ‘ Opening Repertoire’ The Modern Defence.

Lakdawala’s book is comprehensive, brimming with ideas and gives lines for Black after all sensible opening first moves, based on complete games.

His suggestions differ from Hillarp Persson, in that whereas the Swedish GM recommends that Black plays an early …-a7-a6 in most lines, Lakdawala goes back to the Norwood repertoire of old, where 1 e4 g6 2 d4 d6 3 Nc3 c6!? was one of the key pillars of the Black counterattacking reply.

It’s an approach which seems to stand up in the present day.

Let’s dive in and take a look at a few recent games that are not in the book, but which align with the recommendations therein.

I enjoyed the book and I think you will too. Focus on the ideas and the originality of Lakdawala’s thought and you will get a lot from it. I guess the book could have been shortened by 20/30 pages with a more economical writing style, but that is the way he does things and you like it or lump it.

Lakdawala’s book is an important addition to the available chess literature on the Modern. As such, it comes with my strong recommendation.

Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey, 6th February, 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 416 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (22 Oct. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781945306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945308
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 7.5 x 24 cm

The book is available as a physical book and as a Kindle version.

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Opening Repertoire : The Modern Defence
Opening Repertoire : The Modern Defence