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Understanding Before Moving 1 : Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

The author of this book Herman Grooten is an International master and has taught players such as Loek van Wely.

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

At the start of the book Grooten emphasises that many chess players memorise lots of opening theory but it does not improve their results as they do not understand the position when their opponent deviates from theory.

He explores the various pawn structures in variations of openings in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) and (Giuoco Piano) Italian game.

The first variation he looks at is the so-called Berlin wall (Berlin Defence) which was used very successfully by Vladimir Kramnik in his World Championship match vs Gary Kasparov.

Knowing Kasparov was a great attacking player Kramnik chose a variation which leads to a Queenless middle game.
Although Black ends up with doubled pawns on the Queenside (as in the Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation) his bishop pair is good compensation and his doubled pawns are not weak and easily exploited.

Grooten then shows what each side should be trying to achieve to progress their position.

In the Open Lopez the pawn structure is very different : White has a four to three pawn majority on the kingside and with a pawn on e5 and good use of the d4 he has good chances for an advantage and it is well known that Viktor Korchnoi played the Open Lopez in his famous match with Anatoly Karpov. Black has a four to three majority on the queenside but his c7 pawn is backwards and weak. If Black can play c5 then he will probably equalise but he normally cannot afford to play Nxd4 as after cxd4 his c7 pawn is very weak.

Next Grooten examines variations of the Closed Lopez where play typically goes 5 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 00 8 c3 d6 9 h3. Here the Zaitzev 9…Bb7 Chigorin 9…Na5 and Breyer 9…Nb8 are explored in detail. In all three of these famous lines the pawn structure is the same White pawns on c3 d4 and e4 Black pawns on c5 d6 and e5.
White normally can decide the structure by either playing d5 or d4xc5 or maintain tension with Nbd2 when Black can change the structure with c5xd4,
Paul Keres often did this in the Chigorin Variation.

Grooten looks in depth at the theory of the Two Knights where White plays 4 Ng5 including some variations in the main line 5 Na5 which I have not seen before and maybe are unusual and interesting.

Finally, He also looks at some interesting world class games the best of which is a win by Paul Keres over Mikhail Tal as Black in the Chigorin Variation.

In summary, this excellent book will appeal to club players who know these openings but are not sure what plan(s) to adopt in the consequent middle game.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, May 1st, 2019

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 144 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (9th January 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510375
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510372
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

The Chigorin Bible : A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez

The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez
The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez

The Chigorin defence to the Ruy Lopez comes about when black plays the closed 5…Be7 variation and play continues 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 00 9.h3 now black unleashes 9…Na5.

The opening is named after the Russian player Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850 to 1908) who twice played Wilhelm Steinitz for the world title, losing on both occasions.

The authors of the book are Dutch Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov and Spanish (appropriately enough !) Grandmaster Ivan Salgado Lopez.

GM Ivan Sokolov
GM Ivan Sokolov
GM Ivan Salgado Lopez
GM Ivan Salgado Lopez

Anyone playing the black side of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 has to face the problem of how to get equality after 3.Bb5 undoubtedly the most challenging move. White’s normal strategy will often be to play for a kingside attack and therefore black needs to find a good defence that gives him equal chances and the opportunity to take over the initiative if white goes astray. The two Ivans offer a defence to the Ruy Lopez that seems to do that and one which is a lot more interesting than the (in my opinion) boring (according to many!) Berlin Defence.

Firstly, I was surprised to learn that this opening variation was first played by (1910 World Championship Challenger) Carl Schlechter in 1902 and his opponent was Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Chigorin himself played the defence twice but it was Akiba Rubinstein who made the opening popular playing it many times against world class opponents. Later on Capablanca, Lasker, Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky and particularly Paul Keres all helped to make it a popular response to the Spanish Opening.

The book starts out by discussing early games and detailing middle game plans for Black. The first variation to be discussed in detail is 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 citing the stem game Lasker vs Tarrasch giving an excellent example of how black should play the position. A whole chapter then looks at the games of Paul Keres (most of which he won) however it does not include his famous game v Robert James Fischer (Zurich 1959) which is nevertheless analysed in another chapter : Fischer won that historic encounter.
An attractive (and unusual ) feature of this book is that it also points out best lines for White to play rather than simply evangelizing the Chigorin Variation from Black’s perspective. An example of this is when black chooses 11…Bb7 over 11…Qc7 and after 12.d5! it is difficult for black to activate the bishop or the knight on a5.
A better 11th move for Black is Nd7 which features in several games. Here again the author’s point out that 12.d5 is playing into blacks’ hand as he plays Nb6 intending f5. A better try is 12.a4 as a number of high level games demonstrate.

The latter part of the book discusses much theory and sums up which lines are promising for each player and which are to be avoided.

Summing up, I would say that this is an excellent book and any player studying it is likely to be better prepared than their opponent for sure.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, April 16th, 2019

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 349 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (4th March 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510413
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510419
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez
The Chigorin Bible: A Classic Defence to the Ruy Lopez