Category Archives: Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Colle-Zukertort Attack

The Modernized Colle-Zukertort Attack
The Modernized Colle-Zukertort Attack

Grandmaster Milos Pavlovic was born in Belgrade in 1964 and was Yugoslav Champion in 2002. He is a well known theoretician specialising in opening theory and has written many chess books and magazine articles.

GM Milos Pavlovic
GM Milos Pavlovic

This is his third title in the “Modernized” series from Thinkers Publishing with a fourth on the Scotch Game being published on November 17th. We first reviewed a title in this series with The Modernized Caro-Kann from GM Daniel Fernandez.

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 ten chapters of which the first six concern lines in which Black plays an early d5 (usually 1.d4 d5) and the remainder where Black does not (usually playing 1.d4 Nf6).

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

This is a repertoire book for the White player utilizing the undeservedly less popular Zukertort flavour of the Colle System. In the “CZ” System the c1 (Queen’s for the more mature reader !) bishop is developed to b2 rather than the c1 – h6 diagonal as in the Koltanowski flavour of the Colle System. Typically therefore White attempts to establish a structure of the sort :

and play for ideas such as Ne5, f4 Rf3, Rg3 and checkmating attacks involving the bishop pair. These are often similar to the famous Lasker – Bauer game of 1889.

On the other hand we have the possibly more familiar Colle-Koltanowski structure of :

and the main idea of the latter is to advance e4, e5 and the launch a fairly clockwork attack against Black’s kingside.

Both of these approaches have been served by books, videos and instructional DVDs of the “Winning with the X” sort with the most well known players of the Colle-Zukertort being Aaron Summerscale, Artur Yusupow, Susan Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.

We have no intention of “spilling the beans” on all of the many and varied ideas presented by Pavlovic : you should buy the book and find out for yourself. However, as past players of the CZ ourselves we noticed interesting advice on the move order advised. The traditional move order in possibly the most challenging main line has (more or less) been :

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3 Nc6 6.0-0 Bd6 7.Bb2 0-0 8.Nbd2 leading to the following well-known, traditional position :

and David Rudel in his various evangelistic style CZ books advocated 8.Ne5 instead. In The Modernized Colle-Zuckertort we have this new move order :

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 followed by the provocative 5.0-0 ! giving us this position

which appears (well, it does!) to allow 5…c4!? This early castles move order is, in itself, modernizing and advocated by none other than the fourteenth World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik ! Other adherents of this move order include Artemiev, Vaganian and Romain Edouard, Editor of Thinkers Publishing.

To give you a feel for the book here is a sample

One idea that caught our eye was a recommendation of how to meet the Classical Dutch when played via

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5

and you might expect a line to of the CZ to be recommended but you’d be quite wrong. We won’t spoil the surprise by telling you here ! Suffice to say this is not a formulaic “Play the CZ against everything and win” style of approach. You’d be disappointed if it was !

This book contain a veritable potpourri of new ideas and material plus strategical concepts for the White player in the CZ System. It offers much more than one of the cheesy “Play this Opening and you will win” style books that we are all familiar with. Having owned all (English Language) books and DVDs we would suggest that this is the most academic and the most appealing to players wanting to make the CZ a serious weapon of theirs. In the “club player opening book wars” this book redresses the balance with the recent splurge of London System books and videos.

Get this book and you will learn about middlegame, plans of attack and a wealth of other themes : highly recommended !

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

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 208 pages
  • Publisher:  Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (July 29, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510529
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510525
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Colle-Zukertort Attack
The Modernized Colle-Zukertort Attack

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

Learn from Michal Krasenkow

Learn from Michal Krasenkow : Michal Krasenkow

Learn from Michal Krasenkow
Learn from Michal Krasenkow

In Learn from Michal Krasenkow the author annotates 54 of his complete games and, additionally, he analyses 12 of his endgames. Also, he provides just over 20 pages of interesting biographical information, which is mainly about his chess life although it includes personal details.

GM Michal Kransekow
GM Michal Kransekow

Michal Krasenkow is a top GM who has been in the worlds top 10, and in 2002 his rating was just over 2700 (which was even more impressive then than it is now). Currently 55 years years of age he has been on the chess scene for a long time, and indeed he entitles his biographical chapter “Five Decades in Chess”. As well as describing his own progress at chess, he also describes the difficulties he had making further progress within the (then) Soviet Union and he describes why he changed his name to Krasenkow, and how and why he later left the Soviet Union to become a Polish citizen. Interesting stuff…

The main body of this book contains his annotated games, which Krasenkow refers to as “Memorable Games”. Around 370 of the 408 pages are devoted to this, of which nearly 300 are for the complete games and the remainder for the endgames. The games are arranged into chapters with different themes, such as

  • “Combinations & Tactics”,
  • “Attack on the Uncastled King”,
  • “Flank attack on the King”,
  • “Positional Play”,
  • “Defence” and so on.

He also includes a “Various” chapter for games that can’t easily be categorised. Similarly, the endings are separated into chapters for Pawn, Rook and Bishop endings. I guess that this structure helps with the “Learn” part of the book’s title.

The book does have a flaw: the Index of Games is nothing other than a list of the games with numbers, players and tournament – there is no page number given ! To make it worse, the games themselves do not include the game number in the header. This means that to find a game from the index the reader has to leaf through the pages and look to see if a page has a game that is before or after the one being looked for. To be fair, the reader needs only search the relevant chapter, not the whole book, but it is still rather tedious. This is a shame, because the author uses the game numbers in his introduction and the production values of the book are otherwise excellent. It is also fair to say that an index is not so important in a games collection as it is in other types of chess book, so I will leave it there. (Ed: having reviewed several titles from Thinkers Publishing BCN is of the opinion that the publisher has a policy of no index.)

The compelling star feature of the book is the high quality of the annotations themselves. Krasenkow provides clear explanations of many of the moves, and supplements this with concrete (sometimes quite deep!) lines when the position requires it. In my opinion he gets the balance just right, and it is easy to see why Krasenkow is a top coach as well as a strong player. Players of widely differing strengths will be able to enjoy and benefit from the author’s annotations.

Here is an example of Krasenkow’s clarity of thought, when discussing a position from a game against Sveshnikov :

“16. Nxf6+?!
A) I didn’t want to play 16. f3, fearing 16… Nh5, but then White can keep an edge by means of 17. g3 [rather than 17. Nc2 Nf4! 18 Nxf4 exf4 followed by …Bg5-f6].
B) Besides, Qd3 was possible. After the exchange on f6 Black gets control of the d4-square.”

This sort of commentary is quite typical of his style, although he can and does give lengthy lines where he feels this is appropriate.

In summary: I highly recommend this book. It can be read for enjoyment by those who simply like going through well-annotated chess games, and there is little doubt that more serious study will benefit those looking to improve.

Colin Purdon, July 20th 2019

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 408 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (28 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510464
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510464
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Learn from Michal Krasenkow
Learn from Michal Krasenkow

Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame

Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame : Alexey Dreev

Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame
Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame

“Before the endgame the gods have placed the middlegame.” – Dr. Seigbert Tarrasch

GM Alexey Dreev
GM Alexey Dreev

From Wikipedia :

Alexey Sergeyevich Dreev (Russian: Алексей Сергеевич Дреев; born 30 January 1969[1]) is a Russian chess player. He was awarded the title Grandmaster by FIDE in 1989

This concise but dense book covers a range of middlegame ideas, but not the standard set you find in many other volumes. The backcover rubric says: “…Alexey…believes that through careful reading and study of his book, any player regardless of level will significantly improve their skills. Even if you are unable to solve some of his exercises, they will still be of great use for improving your understanding of chess.

Alexey considers that his book will be useful for both club and professional chess players.” Allowing for a little publisher’s rhetoric, this tells you that this isn’t an easy read and you’ll have to work hard to reap the benefits, which I think is an accurate assessment.

The book is split into six sections, the first five each containing an introduction, followed by examples from real games, including positions where the ideas don’t work (rigorous analysis is the watchword throughout), then exercises and solutions. In the final chapter seven games demonstrating ideas from the first five chapters are analysed in detail.

The ‘Practical Play’ aspect of the title are found in the example solutions, some of which to lead to a clear advantage, but many are far less prescriptive in their outcome (”with compensation for the exchange”, for example).

There are a few minor idiosyncrasies in the English, but nothing to trouble the scorers.

Here is an illustrative example from the Pawn Sacrifice chapter which gives a flavour of the book:-

From Ivanchuk-Kasparov, Linares 1991

This is a case where the knights are stronger than the bishops due to the specific nature of the pawn structure. Black’s problem is the absence of counterplay. As the further course of the game showed, White achieved a convincing victory.

But this is thebeauty of chess, that sometimes there are incredible defensive resources in a position which are hidden at first glance

15…Qc7

In the game Black played 15…a5, by means of which he gets a transfer point for his heavy pieces, the c5-square, but this does not bring relief.  16.b5 Qc7 17.Nd2 Qc5 18.Qd3 Rg8 19.Rae1±. White has many ways to enhance his position, e.g., by advancing the f-pawn. It is difficult to recommend anything for Black. 1-0 (38)

16.Nd2 d5!!

Only here and now, otherwise it will be too late!

17.exd5 Qe5!

I admit these moves do not lead to complete equality, but thanks to the pawn sacrifice, Black no longer feels besieged and doomed to a long defence. His bishops are gradually awakening from hibernation, and this gives him solid compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

18.Qxe5

18.Qd3 Bxb4 19.Rac1 Kf8∞

18…fxe5 !9.Rab1 f5!

Another important move!. Black limits the knights and prepares to connect his rooks with …Kf7, when his King will clearly be better placed than its counterpart and his pieces will gain in activity.

Black can expect compensation.

In summary, this is an excellent but difficult book, and you’ll require some pretty decent analytical chops to assess whether the ideas it covers may be sometimes applicable in your own games.

Mark Taylor, Windsor, Berkshire, July 2019

Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (8 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510316
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510310
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame
Improve Your Practical Play in the Middlegame

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

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996
Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

Gata Kamsky was born in 1974 in Siberia. When moved to Leningrad he became a student of the renowned veteran trainer, who  had coached since about 1945, witness Spassky and Korchnoi ! and author (‘Improve Your Chess Results’ and ‘The King’s Gambit’ with Viktor K), Vladimir Zak. At 12 he won the USSR Junior Championship. However, early journeys into the top game were not always successful and his fast track was criticised even by Botvinnik himself.

Gata Kamsky with Father
Gata Kamsky with Father

His father brought Gata up alone and loomed large in the prodigy’s life, Kamsky Senior even stopping Short in his tracks (“Where is your father?”). He was moved to the USA in 1989 but, sadly, has recently stated that he was never fully accepted. He became GM shortly afterwards.

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

Although a  1996 FIDE World Championship challenger, he lost a well contested match versus Karpov, whereupon Kamsky Senior announced Gata intention to pursue a career in medicine. He had withdrawn from the game, was seeking a teenage bride, and by order!

This book deals with the first part of an incredible career up to  1996. It centres on 22 games, all against fellow grandmasters, all with very deep notes. The text lacks an index. No attempt is made to list his tournament record, or give family photos or reminiscence. It is the first of two volumes, the second yet to appear.

The Two K's
The Two K’s

A recent interview on ‘Perpetual Chess Podcast’ saw Gata labeling himself an advocate of the Lasker School. He emerges from an era when preparation might even be considered cheating. a big fan of endgame studies. Further, he is revealed as almost humble, of great depth who, the introduction to his book states, as author, seems to want to be compared with Fischer. I don’t agree but, BCN, as ever, welcomes correspondence here.

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

Potential buyers of this book, which is subtitled ‘Awakening’ should definitely listen in to his interview and please let us know what you think.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details:

  • Paperback : 315 pages
  • Publisher : Thinkers Publishing 28th April 2019
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 9492510286
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9492510280
  • Product Dimensions : 17.1 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm/li>

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996
Chess Gamer, Volume 1 : The Awakening 1989-1996

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

My Magic Years With Topalov

My Magic Years with Topalov
My Magic Years with Topalov

After four years, ending in 2014, of  working with the Bulgarian Grandmaster, Veselin Topalov, the second (“a Second generally has to work at night, often all night”) to the former FIDE World Champion speaks of his duties, preparation and with colour (“He fought like a lion for 71 moves”). It is a tale of dedication and loyalty to a seemingly fearsome character. (Presumably this could not have been written whilst the author, who is also the Managing Editor of Thinkers series, was under contract?!)

Chapters: A World Apart. The Start of Our Co-operation. Learning the Job. Zug More Success! Tough Times in Thessalonika. Rollercoaster in Beijing! Preparing for the Candidates. The Candidates Tournament. A Few Novelties More. Exercises 24 positions and Solutions.

Many annotated games, mostly recent, no Rabars but ratings quoted. Use of smaller diagrams in notes (good!). A few cartoons and 7 crosstables. Very artistic colour cover. No index.

Digestible and thorough and, happily, honest. The author has been a French grandmaster for the last decade.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing 28th April 2019
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9492510448
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510440
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • 31 black and white photographs

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

My Magic Years with Topalov
My Magic Years with Topalov

Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018

Together with the Candidates
Together with the Candidates

This is a relaxed and almost carefree publication written by a grandmaster little known to me, though I imagine readers of BCN will not confuse him with Gennady Kuzmin (b.1946). Alexey was, in fact, born in 1963 and is sensibly introduced on the back of this weighty paperback, a recent arrival from Thinkers Publishing who are, in turn, a new publisher in the realm of the Royal Game.

GM Alexey Kuzmin
GM Alexey Kuzmin

The subject matter is the Candidates tournaments and matches – almost all staged within FIDE – and bears the sub-title ‘Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018’.

Certainly the book, which features test positions, crosstables, black and white photos, no index, a very artistic aqua marine cover, six chapters, a key to symbols and, of course, well annotated games, should be of interest to many players. Not all the games are from candidates matches or tournaments but this surely doesn’t matter. And I did say it has relaxed in approach.

Younger readers will, I hope, enjoy a bit of history as the qualification history is relived and the old names, so many champions from the time of Botvinnik onwards, are resurrected respectfully and with relish.

I spotted a few mistakes. The numbering of the Tests, which surely might have been sequential, is the same in each chapter. Jussupow called himself Yusupov as long ago as 1986 and some of the photos are so dark that they are hardly worthwhile.

I would like to like this book but it is a bit of a mix, a hotch-potch, at least in my opinion. Certainly it is pleasantly free from misprints and original in concept.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019

Book Details :

  • Papercover : 280 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing, (1st January 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510359
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510358
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of  http://www.thinkerspublishing.com

Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018
Together with the Candidates : Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018

The Modernized Caro-Kann

The Modernized Caro-Kann : Daniel Fernandez

The Modernized Caro-Kann
The Modernized Caro-Kann

This book, written by the young English GM Daniel Fernandez and published by Thinkers Publishing, is (as the sub-title suggests) a repertoire book for Black players of the Caro-Kann defence. As such, Fernandez does not cover all possible black lines, but instead he recommends lines against each of the systems that White can employ against the Caro-Kann – and in many instances he recommends more than one line so that the reader can choose according to preference.

GM Daniel Fernandez
GM Daniel Fernandez

His repertoire consists of one or two solid (but not sterile) lines against each system, but additionally he throws in the occasional not-so-sound line (and always warns that he is doing this) that can be tried as a surprise weapon, or perhaps at faster time controls.

This is an excellent book, Fernandez manages to mix detailed analysis, explanations and personal opinion in a way which makes the book readable and enjoyable to go through (and believe me, some of the analysis is very detailed). The book is well produced and organised, and quite substantial at 416 pages. There is no detailed Index of Variations (usually a bugbear of mine!), but it is easy to find the line you’re looking for from the Table of Contents and the beginning of the book and a mini-Table of Contents page at the beginning of each chapter for the sub-variations.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone thinking about taking up the Caro-Kann, and for that matter to anyone who already plays it – it is one of the best opening books I have seen.

It is difficult to discuss this book without comparing it to Jovanka Houska’s book “The Caro-Kann” produced by Everyman Chess. Both books are recent (Houska 2015, Fernandez 2018) repertoire books by top English players who play the Caro themselves. (It is the Houska book that I used when I started using the Caro a couple of years ago.) In my opinion, both books are top-notch and provide the prospective Caro player with a good repertoire. If asked which book I would recommend this prospective Caro player to buy I would answer “both of them” – despite the overlap there are substantial differences in some lines (for example Houska recommends 4 …Bf5 after 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 whereas Fernandez recommends 4 …Nd7 here) and this gives players more choice over the lines they select. Of course, if budget does not permit buying both books then either one will do the job. I would be reluctant to choose only one of these excellent books, so I will not do so.

In summary: The Modernized Caro-Kann is an excellent choice for prospective Caro-Kann players, or indeed for those who already play the Caro-Kann and are looking to update their repertoire.

Colin Purdon, March 4th 2019

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 416 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (8 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510251
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510259
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

available

The content of the book is available as a training course as part of ChessAble