Tag Archives: Opening Theory

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976
Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976

“GM Pentala Harikrishna is an established elite player who has been in India’s Olympiad team for over two decades. Since November 2016 Harikrishna has often entered the top 10 of the world rankings, and has consistently stayed in the top 20.

His peak rating is 2770 and he is well known for his exceptional endgame skills as well as for the ability to convert positions with a slight or even no advantage. Harikrishna learned chess from his grandfather at the age of 4, and swiftly progressed up through age-group tournaments until he became a grandmaster at age 14.

He has been World Junior Champion (2004) and Asian Individual Champion (2011). As part of the Indian national team, he has won bronze medals at the World Team Chess Championship, gold and bronze at the Asian Games, and silver (twice) at the Asian Team Championship. He has also won many major open and invitational tournaments, including the Marx Gyorgy Memorial (2006), Tata Steel Group B (2012), Biel MTO (2013), Edmonton International (2015) and Poker Stars Isle of Man (2015).”

GM Pentala Harikrishna
GM Pentala Harikrishna

From the publisher  we have this extensive blurb:

“The French Defence was my main opening with Black while I was striving towards the GM title at the turn of the century. Quite often, I was able to use it to drag my opponent into a complicated maze of deep analysis, so I have intimate knowledge of the tricks used on the other side of the ‘barricades’. This helped me craft a solid base for our present repertoire, and many of the ideas presented in the book have brought me fine victories against some of the strongest French exponents as well.”

“At times, this means suggesting the 2nd or 3rd choice of the engine. He builds on the material from his earlier French course (Chessable, May 2019) and has expanded it with new analysis in all the lines, especially the 3…Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 variation. Harikrishna analyses both 5.Nce2 and 5.f4, so that the reader may make an informed choice about their personal preference. The driving force throughout is to keep the book clear-cut and practical. A good example of a practical weapon is the deceptively simple 3…Bb4 4.exd5 line. There are also fresh and interesting suggestions against the side lines you are likely to encounter, especially at shorter time controls. The entire Thinkers Publishing team joins with the author in wishing you enjoyment and success from this exceptional book”

End of blurb…

It is rare that one of the  World’s top ten players would write a book on opening theory but here Hari, as he is commonly called,  obliges. He has had a peak rating  of 2770 and has been a member of India’s very strong Olympiad team for around two decades .

So, the starting position of this rather large (456 pages) tome is

and this book is written from the perspective of the first player striving to take on the French Defence with 3.Nc3. Of course it will also be of considerable interest to the second player.

Chapter 1 is entitled “Odds and Ends” in which Hari examines  unusual Black 3rd moves .

He kicks off with 3…c5 which is a good move in a Tarrasch (3.Nd2) context  but a clear mistake against 3.Nc3 as White trivially wins a pawn after White takes on d5 and c5 ending up with a 4 to 2 queen side majority and the d4 square in his control  with the following position after 8.Ne4:

Next comes 3…a6 where both 4.Nf3 and 4.Bd3 are discussed . The most critical line here would appear to be 4.Nf3 Nf6; 5.e5 where in the main line Whites Q eventually comes to g4 putting black under pressure on the K side.

3…h6 is a curious third move alternative, but, as Hari points out it stops Black from getting in the Nimzowitschian style …f6 break as now g6 is horribly weakened.

Finally, 3…Be7 is covered but after 4.e5 c5; 5 Qg4 then puts black under pressure.

Both Chapters 2 and 3 look at the black reply 3…Nc6 (a idea of Aron Nimzowitsch) which has always seemed an illogical move to me in the French by blocking …c5.

After 3…Nc6 Hari first looks at 4.Nf3 then in the Chapter 3 4.e5 when 4…f6 is given as the black’s main line usually followed by 5.Nf3 Bd7; 6.Bd3 fxe5; 7.dxe5 Nb4; 8.Ng5 turns out to be good for white according to the author:

In this line black can play 5…fxe5 immediately but after 6.dxe5 Nh6 7.Bg5! again leaves White with advantage.

Chapter 4 brings the reader to the Rubinstein Variation (also ECO code C10) where black plays 3…dxe4 when after 4.Nxe4 options such as 4…Nf6 4…Qd5 and 4…Bd7 attract attention.

According to the author none of these achieve equality but 4…Bd7 is given the most analysis since it is not easy to show an advantage for white. Furthermore, 5.Nf3 Bc6; 6.Bd3 alternatives such as 6…Be4; 6…Nf6 and 6…Nd7 are all interesting tries. White usually plays ideas including c3 and Ne5 to maintain an edge.

Chapter 5 continues to look at the Rubinstein when 4…Nd7 is considered to be the main line. Hari recommends an usual approach for white which we will not reveal here: buy the book!

Chapter 6 progresses to more classical territory with the hugely popular 3…Nf6 (ECO C11 – C14) when 4.e5 Nfd7 and now 5.Nce2 is analysed in considerable depth through to the end of chapter 9.

Club French players will be expecting (and hoping for no doubt) 5.f4 or 5.Nf3 and therefore 5.Nce2 could well throw them off their stride. 5.Nce2 scores well at the highest levels (56%) and is in the armoury of Carlsen, Grischuk, Anand and Nepomniachtchi and consequently deserves much respect.

In this line White intends the usual c3 following …c5 and often will relocate his N from e2 to f4.

Having said all of that 5.f4, which Hari starts to look at in Chapter 10, seems (to me at least) to be the “best” move. Clearly it is the most popular continuation.

The “main line” continues 5…c5; 6.Nf3 where 6…Be7; 7.Be3 b6; 8.Qd2 00; 9.Nd1 is given.

Although this line leads to a white advantage the more aggressive “Williamsesque” 9.h4 which features in some of the other lines should be considered by white players, especially those who love to attack.

Chapter 11 consider 6…Nc6; 7.Be3 Be7; 8.Qd2 is looked at and Black can play …a6 and …b5 here but Whites plan here is Be2 and 00 as Q side castling is somewhat playing into blacks hand.

Instead Black can try 8…00 instead when White is best capturing on c5.

The older line 5.f4 c5; 6.Nf3 Nc6; 7.Be3 Qb6 has always been regarded as slightly suspect and Hari takes a look at this in Chapter 14.

Usually White plays b4 and black sacrifices a piece and although it leads to exciting chess the verdict remains the same. A well prepared white player should be delighted to see this line. The key word in all of this is, of course, “well”

Better perhaps is 7…cxd4 and Chapter 15 examines this: probably much tougher for white to crack. After 8.Nxd4 Qb6 the author provides a large quantity of analysis in this poisoned pawn style line where White sacrifices a pawn with 9.Qd2 and black rightly accepts the challenge with 9…Qxb2.

Finally(!) Hari leads us to the Winawer Variation but here he shocks the white player with his suggestion. To find out what this is you will need to buy the book!

I generally play the Tarrasch but my next bunch of email and postal games will definitely feature 3.Nc3 ! I’m keen to try out the authors suggestions and so should you be!

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, 19th June, 2021

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 456 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (28 Jan. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510979
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510976
  • Product Dimensions: 16.51 x 2.54 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976
Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976

Carlsen’s Neo-Møller : A Complete and Surprising Repertoire Against the Ruy Lopez

Carlsen’s Neo-Møller : A Complete and Surprising Repertoire Against the Ruy Lopez : FM Ioannis Simeonidis

Carlsen's Neo-Møller, Ioannis Simeonidis, New In Chess, 2020, ISBN 9789056919375
Carlsen’s Neo-Møller, Ioannis Simeonidis, New In Chess, 2020, ISBN 9789056919375

From the book’s rear cover :

“White players will thoroughly dislike the Neo-Møller!

The Ruy Lopez is one of the most important chess openings, hugely popular with amateurs and masters alike. Black players allowing the Ruy Lopez main lines are usually condemned to passivity, defending a slightly worse (though solid) position for as long as White chooses this situation to continue.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen doesn’t like passivity. He likes unconventional and active systems that allow him to take command and put pressure on his opponent from early on.

That’s why Magnus Carlsen revolutionized the old Møller Attack, one of the sharpest and most uncompromising variations against the Ruy Lopez. As yet largely disregarded and unexplored by the majority of players, Carlsen’s new approach allows Black to break free early and start giving White a hard time.

FIDE Master Ioannis Simeonidis is the first to investigate this system, cover it in detail, and make it easy to grasp for club players. He has called it the Neo-Møller. Simeonidis has made lots of exciting discoveries, presents many new ideas and shows that it is a reliable and playable system.

Since the Neo-Møller is a very early deviation from the main lines, it’s easy for Black to actually get it on the board and take opponents out of their comfort zone. Simeonidis has created a compact, accessible and inspirational book. One thing looks certain: White players of the Ruy Lopez are going to thoroughly dislike the Neo-Møller!”

FM Ioannis Simeonidis, photo by Jovan Petronic
FM Ioannis Simeonidis, photo by Jovan Petronic

“Ioannis Simeonidis (1975) is a Greek FIDE Master and FIDE Trainer. He is a contributor to New In Chess Yearbook, the world’s leading publication on chess opening news. Simeonidis is the inventor of a recent new system in the Sicilian (the line 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4!?), also played by Magnus Carlsen.”

End of blurb…

FM Ioannis Simeonidis recommends meeting the venerable Ruy Lopez with 3…a6; 4.Ba4 Nf6; 5.00 Bc5

which is rather an unusual choice. In fact, it is the fifth most popular option and, according to an updated version of Megabase 2020, we have the following ranking of popularity:

  1. 5…Be7 : 83439 games
  2. 5…b5 : 27907 games
  3. 5…Nxe4 : 13462 games
  4. 5…d6 : 3378 games
  5. 5…Bc5 : 3248 games
  6. 5…Bd6 : 67 games

and therefore, it is the least popular of the decent alternatives to 5…Be7. For that reason players with the white pieces may be caught unawares facing a sound line.

Its adherents include a fairly reasonable (!) selection of players such as Caruana, Kramnik and Anand and the most frequent of these are Onischuk, Stefanova, Anand and Gareyev. They would certainly make at least our B team! In fact, Alexander Onischuk has played this line 55 times up to 2020.

Carlsen himself has played 5…Bc5 versus players such as Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, Francisco Vallejo Pons and Sergey Karjakin hence the title of the book rather than say, the more obvious, but less eye catching,  Onischuk’s Neo-Møller!

GM Alexander Onischuk, 5...Bc5's most popular adherent.
GM Alexander Onischuk, 5…Bc5’s most popular adherent.

The full list of Contents is

List of Contents of Carlsen's Neo-Møller
List of Contents of Carlsen’s Neo-Møller

and we recommend that you  inspect sample pages for yourself.

Although the bulk of the book analyses the above  position it also examines earlier deviations,  For example 4.Bxc6, the Exchange variation is considered.

This has been relatively rarely essayed by the top players in recent years but it retains its popularity at club level. I have played several 5th move options as black so I was interested to see what was the author recommended.

And, perhaps predictably, 5…Bg4 immediately pinning the knight and preparing to answer 6.h3 with 6…h5 !! is the preference.

is not an unsurprising choice recommendation as it is the choice of many chess engines and seems to equalise quite easily. A well-known pair of sisters have used this line to draw their tournament games several times.

After 4.0-0 Nf6 many 5th moves such as 5.d3, 5.Qe2, 5.Nc3, 5.d4 and 5.Bxc6 (The Delayed Exchange variation) are all examined.

Against the first three of these moves the recommendation is 5…Bc5 when play will sometimes transpose to main lines.

The Centre Attack (5.d4) is an interesting choice which may catch some black players out but 5…exd4; 6.e5 Ne4; 7.0-0 Nc5

or 6.0-0 Be7; 7.e5 Ne4; 8.Nd4 00; 9.Nf5 d5!

should allow black to equalise satisfactorily.

The rest of the book, as you would expect,  mainly concentrates on the main line starting 6.c3 but many other 6th moves are completely playable the most interesting being the knight sacrifice 6.Nxe5!? when 6…Nxe5 7.d4 b5; 8.Bb3 Bxd4; 9.Qxd4 d6

where black’s position is comfortable or 8.dxe5 Ne4 when black must know the theory after the tricky move 9.Qd5 which black can refute with 9…Bb7! when after 10.Qxb7 c6 trapping the Queen seems good for black .

The main line 6.c3

has 7 chapters of analysis with 6…0-0 ;7.d4 Ba7; when 8.Bg5 was originally thought to refute the Møller but the game Anton Smirnov v Tamir Nabaty in 2016 won by black seems to have changed the assessment:

Since black has not committed to …b5 he does not have to worry about a possible a4 by White but taking on c6 and Ne5 has to be watched for so black will sometimes play exd4 as in the line 6.c3 00; 7.d4 Ba7; 8 Bg5 exd4; 9.e5 h6; 10.Bh4 g5; 11.Bc6 dxc6 12.Nxg5!? with a scary looking position for both players where black seems to be doing well.

Far more popular has been 5…b5; 6.Bb3 Bc5 played by both Shirov and Kamsky but Carlsen’s line seems to stand up to computer analysis and will make a lot of White players think early in the game.

The Møller can lead to a variety of sharp and hairy positions which are not for the faint hearted but, will appeal to black players with a tactical mind that want to fight hard to win with the black peices.

It is already catching on with Shirov, Stefanova and Gustafsson giving it a go and this could hopefully spice up world chess that is already bored with the Berlin!

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, 7th June, 2021

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 160 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (15th December, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9056919377
  • ISBN-13:978-9056919375
  • Product Dimensions: 17.53 x 1.09 x 23.55 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Carlsen's Neo-Møller, Ioannis Simeonidis, New In Chess, 2020, ISBN 9789056919375
Carlsen’s Neo-Møller, Ioannis Simeonidis, New In Chess, 2020, ISBN 9789056919375

Marvelous Modern Miniatures

Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225
Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225

From the publisher:

“50% Tactics – 50% Opening Book – 100% Enjoyment! Enter the world of chess miniatures where games are decided in 20 moves or less! Marvelous Modern Miniatures features the largest collection of miniatures chess games played in the last half-century. Over 500 pages of cut and thrust! Although every player is rated at least 2100, the overwhelming majority are strong masters or grandmasters. You will follow them as they do battle with tactical fireworks raging around them. The surprising depth of the annotations (each one of the 2,020 games has meaningful comments) turns this book into a virtual course on tactics. Looking for traps and pitfalls in your favourite openings? You’ll probably find them here. Marvelous Modern Miniatures will improve your tactical skills and alertness and sharpen your opening play. As a bonus, the entire collection is immensely enjoyable!”

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

This action packed book is an entertaining selection of opening/early middlegame disasters which includes some miniatures with  world class players being crushed in twenty moves or less.

This book is naturally arranged by opening: on starting this book, I went straight to the section on my favourites. I offer four games from the fiery Dragon Variation.

The following game is a celebrated game which features a rare crushing loss for Dragon expert Jonathan Mestel against the late John Littlewood who was a fine feisty attacking player.

John Littlewood (2375) – Jonathan Mestel (2475)
British Championship Chester 1979

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.f4 The Levenfish variation which is a decent alternative to the highly theoretical Yugoslav Attack. Bg7!? (Better is the standard 6…Nc6) 7.e5 Nh5 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.e6!? (A dangerous line which must be handled carefully, but 9.Qe2 is better and leads to a white advantage) 9…fxe6 10.Nxe6 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qc8 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Ng5 Qc4?! (13…Qxc3+ 14.Bd2 Qc4 15.Rb1 b6 16.Rb4 Qd5 17.Qg4+ Qf5 18.Qf3 Nc6 black is slightly better, for example 19.g4 Qc5 20.gxh5 Nxb4 21.Qb7+ Qc7 22.Qxc7+ Kxc7 23.Bxb4 gxh5) 14.Rb1 Kc7

John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Move 14
John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Move 14

15.Rb4! Qxa2 The queen is very poorly placed here 16.Qe2 Nc6 17.Ne6+ 1-0 (Hopeless is 17…Kc8 18.Rxb7! Qa4 19.Rc7+ Kd8 20.0-0 Rc8 21.Rxc8+ Kxc8 22.f5 Nc6 23.Bg5 with a huge advantage)

John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Finish
John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Finish

The second featured game in the Dragon variation features a well concealed mistake in the quiet g3 line, which the reviewer had not seen before despite having played the line with both colours.

Vladimir  Georgiev (2564) – Evgeni Janev (2487)
Elgoibar 22.12.2001

1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nde2 Nf6 7.g3 0-0 8.Bg2 d6 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 Rb8 11.h3 b5 12.axb5 axb5 13.Be3 b4 14.Nd5 Nd7! 15.Nd4? A natural, but it is a well known mistake that is also seen in this setup with the colours reserved in the English Opening.

Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 15
Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 15

15…Bxd4! 16.Bxd4 e6 Winning a piece 17.Ne3 e5 18.Ba7 Rb7 Winning the bishop 0-1

Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 18
Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Finish

The next struggle features the Classical Variation of the Dragon. White essays the sharp Stockholm Attack which was venomous in its early days, but the theory was worked out many decades ago.

Perez,Robert M (2210) – Esserman,Marc (2453)
US Open Orlando 04.08.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bg7 7.Be3 Nf6 8.Be2 0-0 9.Nb3 Be6 10.0-0 Rc8 11.g4 Na5 12.Nxa5 Qxa5 13.Bd4? [13.f5 Is better but black is at least equal after 13…Bc4]

Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Move 13
Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Move 13

13…Bxg4! 14.Bxg4 Nxg4 15.Nd5 (15.Bxg7 Qh5! The main point: protecting the knight and threatening mate, before recapturing on g7) 15…Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 e5 17.Qd1 Qc5+ 18.Kg2 Qxd5 0-1 (Black wins the queen back with Ne3+ followed by a crushing rook invasion on c2 a which gives an easily winning double rook ending.)

Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Finish
Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Finish

My last example Wyvern offering is from a main line in the highly theoretical Soltis Variation of the Yugoslav Attack.

Goran M Todorovic (2470) – Dejan Brankovic (2345)
Yugolavian Championship Kladovo 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.Kb1 b5 15.g4 a5 16.gxh5 a4 17.h6 (17.Bxf6 is a critical alternative) 17…Bh8

Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Move 17
Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Move 17

18.h7+ (18.Bd5 is really interesting.) Kxh7?? A bad blunder [18…Nxh7 leads to a complex struggle] 19.h5 Kg8 20.hxg6 1-0 (Black’s kingside is crumbling with no hope of support: catastrophe on the h-file follows imminently with the black king meeting a grisly execution.)

Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Finish
Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Finish

My next featured game is from an good old fashioned slugfest in the King’s Gambit, Double Muzio Variation and features the refutation to this Victorian romantic opening.

Stephen Brady (2320) – Mark Heidenfeld (2280)
Irish Championship Limerick, 1991

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 Qf5! (The bust, which leads to a large black advantage) 10.g4?? Much too weakening (10.Bxf4 Nf6 11.Nc3 Bg7 12.Rae1 d6 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Be5 Qg4 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Qxg4 Bxg4 17.Nd5 h5 18.Nxf6 Kg6 19.Nxg4 hxg4 20.Re4 Rhf8 with a winning endgame but black must still display some technique) 10…Qe6?! [10…Qg6! is even better] 11.d5? (Accelerating the loss, 11.Bxf4 is better still much better for black) 11…Bc5+ 12.Kg2 Qg6 13.Bxf4 Nf6 14.Be5

Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Move 14
Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Move 14

d6! The point of black’s play, the g4-pawn is targeted 15.Bxf6 Bxg4 16.Qf4 Bf3+! 0-1 (Forcing the exchange of queens, leaving black a clear piece to the good.)

Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Finish
Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Finish

The next game features the dangerous Max Lange Attack in the Two Knight’s Variation for the Italian Game.

Kacper Piorun (2457) – Piotr Staniszewski (2383)
Polanica Zdroj Open  21.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.g4 A sideline, 11.Nce4 is the main line: black is fine but must know a lot Qxf6?? A very common mistake (11…Qg6 is fine)

Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move 11
Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move 11

12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Rxe6+ fxe6 14.Nxe6 Qd7 15.Ndxc7+ Kf7 16.Ng5+ Kg6 [16…Kg8 is a slight improvement] 17.Qf3 Rad8 18.Nce6 (18.Qe4+ Kf6 19.Qf4+ Kg6 20.Nge6 also wins) 1-0

Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move Finish
Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move Finish

The next game shows a well known trap is the Scotch which two strong players were unaware of.

Delgado Ramirez  (2620) – J. Gemy (2401)
Arica Open 2018 17.12.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Bg7 6.Bg5 Nge7?? [6…Nce7 is best] 7.Nxd4

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Move 7
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Move 7

Bxd4? 8.Bxe7? [8.Qxd4! wins prettily 8…Nxd4 9.Nf6+ Kf8 10.Bh6#]

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Variation Finish
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Variation Finish

8…Nxe7 [8…Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 Nxe7 10.Qd4 0-0 11.Nf6+ Kh8 12.Qc3 wins for white] 9.Qxd4 0-0 10.Nf6+ Kh8 11.0-0-0 [11.Qc3 is even stronger] 11…Nc6 12.Qc3 d6 13.Nd7+ Kg8 14.Nxf8 Qxf8 15.Bb5 Qh6+ 16.Kb1 Ne5 17.Qxc7 1-0

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Finish
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Finish

The following encounter features an ancient trap in the Steintz Variation of the Ruy Lopez, known since 1892. I have not seen this before!

Dusan Popovic  (2363) – Tibor Jesenski (2361)
Senta Open 25.07.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Bd7 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.0-0 Be7 7.Re1

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 7
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 7

0-0? Falling into an ancient snare known since 1892. 8.Bxc6 Bxc6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Raxd8 11.Nxe5

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 11
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 11

Bxe4? Black hopes that he can regain his pawn exploiting white’s weak bank rank 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Nd3 f5 14.f3 Bc5+? 15.Nxc5 Nxc5 16.Bg5! The killer, this has happened many times

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 16
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 16

16…Rd7 [16…Rd5 17.c4 followed by Be7] 17.Be7 b6 18.Bxf8 Kxf8 19.Rad1 1-0

 Jesenji Senta 2002 Finish
Popovic-Jesenji Senta 2002 Finish

Here is a fine attacking game from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted which shows the dynamic potential in an isolated queen pawn (IQP) middlegame. Here the former world champion Anatoly Karpov is the victim, stuffed in 18 moves.

Ulf Andersson (2630) – Anatoly Karpov (2775)
Nykoping rapidplay Nykoping 1995

Notes by Baburin

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.Qe2 cxd4 8.exd4 Be7 9.Nc3 b5 10.Bb3 0-0 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Rad1 Nc6 13.Rfe1 Nb4? This is quite a difficult line for Black anyway, but his last move is a serious mistake. (13…Na5?! 14.d5! Nxb3 15.dxe6 Qb6 16.axb3 fxe6 17.Nd4 Bd6 18.Qxe6+ Kh8 19.Nf3 Rad8 20.Bf4! Bxf3 21.Rxd6 Rxd6 22.Qxd6 Qxd6 23.Bxd6 Re8 24.Rxe8+ Nxe8 25.Be5+- Boleslavsky-Kotov, Zurich, 1953.;
13…Nd5 14.Nxd5 Bxg5 15.Nb6!? Bronstein. 15…Qxb6 16.Nxg5)

Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Move 13
Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Move 13

14.d5! This thematic break works really well for White, due to his superior development, in fact this move was analysed long ago by Russian master V. Rauzer! 14…Nfxd5 15.Nxd5 Bxg5 16.Nxb4 Qe7 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Bxd5 1-0

Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Finish
Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Finish

The reviewer’s last offering shows an instructive loss by another former World Champion is just six moves. He followed a previous game Miles-Christansen where both players missed white’s sixth move winning a piece!

Alonso Zapata (2480) – Vishy Anand (2555)
Biel 1988

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Bf5?? This had been played by Christiansen against Miles who played 6.Nxe4? [5…Nxc3 is the main line] 6.Qe2 winning a piece 1-0 (6…Qe7 is met by 7. Nd5 whereas 6…d5 is met by 7.d3

Zapata-Anand Biel 1998 Finish
Zapata-Anand Biel 1998 Finish

In summary, this is a good read which revealed traps that the reviewer had not seen before. It just shows that even titled players can fall into lost positions very quickly.

I have one small criticism: the reviewer quickly spotted a couple of typos in the book but this does not detract from a didactic book. Look up your favourite openings and you may be surprised!

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 31st May 2021

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 424 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises (1 Dec. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859225
  • Product Dimensions: 17.78 x 3.18 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225
Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 2 – A Complete Repertoire for White

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 2 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 978-9464201086
The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 2 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 978-9464201086

“Dariusz Swiercz was born in 1994 in Tarnowskie Gory, Poland. His grandfather taught him to play chess at the age of three. During his junior career he won numerous National Championships as well as several European and World Championship medals. His highest successes include the bronze medal in 2010 at the World U20 Championship (Chotowa, Poland), gold medal in 2011 at the World U20 Championship (Chennai, India) and another gold medal in 2012 at the World U18 Championship (Maribor, Slovenia). He is one of the youngest to receive the Grandmaster title at the age of 14 years and 7 months. In 2016 he won the third edition of the “Millionaire Chess” held in Las Vegas, USA. Since 2018 he has represented the United States. Dariusz currently resides in Saint Louis, Missouri.”

GM Dariusz Świercz
GM Dariusz Świercz

From the book’s rear cover we have this extensive blurb:

“I would like to thank you for purchasing this book, I really appreciate it. It also means that you found an interest in my work of trying to crack the Ruy Lopez. As I said in the introduction to the first volume, I had no idea what I was signing up for when deciding to write a book on Ruy Lopez. This opening has such a rich history and good reputation that proving advantages in many lines is nearly impossible.

Writing the first volume on this opening was a Herculean effort and I thought “it cannot be more difficult”. After all, I was covering such solid variations as the Berlin and the Open Spanish. Well, I got surprised again! I am not exaggerating when I say that writing the second volume was at least as hard as writing the first one. This second volume on the Ruy Lopez consists of two parts. In the first part I focus on modern systems with …Bc5, attempting to dissect both the Archangelsk and Moller Variations. These two variations have quite a rich history but in 2020 there have been several developments. If I had to name one person that contributed the most to the developments in those lines it is, without a doubt, Fabiano Caruana. His encounters in the Candidates Tournament in Ekaterinburg, then his theoretical discussion in those lines with Leinier Dominguez, revised my opinion on many of those lines and led to interesting discoveries that I analyse in this book.

In the subsequent part I discuss the Closed Ruy Lopez. It is easily one of the most popular openings throughout the history of chess with many games occurring as early as the 1800s. I suggest going for 9.h3 which usually leads to a positional battle. I present new trends and find new paths and ideas in such evergreen variations as the Zaitsev, Breyer, Chigorin and others. Additionally, I attempt to crack the Marshall Attack by suggesting the Anti-Marshall lines with 8.a4. I must admit that I thought that it would be a pretty easy task to analyse those openings having some prior analysis and experience with both colours. However, time after time I was encountering new challenges and new ideas from both sides that I had to resolve. My conclusions, based on careful analysis with the most powerful engines currently available is presented in this book.

This book completes my series on the Ruy Lopez. I would like to take a moment and recall what I said in the introduction to the first volume. When both sides play very good and sound chess, it is normal that games end in a draw. It is especially true for such sound openings as Ruy Lopez. I do not attempt to dismiss one line or another because somewhere with best play Black can make a draw by force on move number 30, playing sometimes ridiculous moves that are only found during the analytical work. Over the board the reality is way different – practical aspect plays an important role in chess. Some positions are easier to play, some harder. Similarly to what I did in the first volume, I try to offer the most playable positions.

I do not mind if the positions are equal, provided it is easier to play with White or the chance of an error by Black is quite large. Sometimes I go into forced variations (e.g. in Moller Defense or Archangelsk Defense), sometimes into more positional battles (like in the Zaitsev) but I truly believe that the positions I aim to reach have potential and are tricky for Black. With proper knowledge I think White can put pressure on Black in the Ruy Lopez. I hope that you will find my approach to tackling the Ruy Lopez interesting. I am aware that there is only so much I can analyse and someone may say that I did not analyse some positions deeply enough but that is the nature of chess – possibilities are pretty much unlimited and there will always be theoretical debate!

Finally, I wish you, dear Reader, good luck and I hope you can successfully use the ideas that I present in this book in your games. Dariusz Swiercz February 2021.”

End of blurb…

Volume 1 of this series was previously reviewed here.

In Volume 2 the author looks at the major lines against the Lopez and he breaks the content down into three parts.

Before continuing it would be worth looking at this 19 page excerpt from the book.

Part 1 starts with systems with …Bc5 including the Møller defence.

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.00 Bc5 a move played by World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a few games but more regularly championed by Alexander Onischuk. White continues with 6.c3 which is the most popular move according to my database.

In the game Nepomniachtchi v Caruana the game went 6…0-0 7.d4 Ba7 8.Re1

and White plans to bring his bishop to e3. He can also try 8.Bg5 as Lev Aronian did in a game vs Magnus. White is trying to pressurise e5 and get black to exchange on d4. After 8…d6 9 h3 b5 10 Bc2 when Be3 is coming and White usually tries to play his Knight to f5 with king side pressure.

On 6…b5 7.Bc2 d5 8.a4 will surprise black players. After 8…Rb8 9.ab5 ab5 10.d4 de4 11.dc5 Qd1 12.Bd1 ef3 13.Bf3 e4 14.Be2 when Stockfish gives White as much better since he retains the bishop pair.

Black can try 8…de4 9.ab5 00 but 10 Ng5 ! seems to leave White better.  As in many lines analysis is given up to move 25 !

This whole line is very tricky and both players need to know it well. The Archangelsk with 5…b5 6 Bb3 completes Part 1 with the older move 6…Bb7 being looked at first and then 7 Re1 is given first. Having played this in many online games I as black I believe this is Whites best move now and ….Be7 is rather condemned. White can just play as he does against the Closed but he can save a tempo on h3 as there is no Bg4 move.

The modern 6…Bc5 played by Fabio Caruana and Gata Kamsky is given when 7 a4 should set black thinking. First 7…b4 is dismissed as an error as 8 Ne5! Ne5 9 d4 is good for White. Better are both 7…Bb7 and …Rb8 though White will continue his plan of building a big pawn centre with c3 and d4. In many of these lines white follows up with Bg5 when h6 Bh4 g5 can often be met with Nxg5 ideas.

Part 2 comprises the so-called main line of 5…Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 00 9 h3

when 9…a5 is the Keres variation, 9…Be6 the Kholmov variation, 9…Nd7 the Karpov and both 9…Qd7 and 9…h6 credited to Smyslov.

For the first three variations 10.d4 followed by d5 attempting to cramp black are investigated but 9…Qd7 10 d4 Re8 11 Bg5 and 9…h6 10 d4 Re8 11 Nbd2 Bf8 12 Nf1 are both given as gaining an advantage for White .

Against the Zaitzev variation (9…Bb7) white has a plan of d4 combined with a3 and Bc2 followed by b3. He must be well prepared for black to play d5 here .

The Chigorin variation (9…Na5) was a favourite of Paul Keres and following 10 Bc2 c5 11 d4

both …Qc7 and …Nd7 are looked at in detail with 12 d5 recommended against both, again trying to cramp black.

12.d5 seems better than 12 Nbd2 when black can exchange on d4 and play for pressure on e4.

The Breyer variation (9…Nb8 ) as essayed by Anatoly Karpov sees 10 d4 Nbd7 11 c4 !? a move that will probably surprise Black.

For recommendations to deal with the Marshall Attack you will need to buy the book!

The book winds up in Part 3 by looking at 5…Be7 6.d3 for players who don’t want to get involved in too much opening theory.

Generally this is a book for those who take chess very seriously and are not frightened of learning large quantities of opening theory. The book is written from White’s perspective and therefore does not include a treatment of the exchange variation.

It is also good for postal /correspondence chess as White usually ends up with an edge so can torture his opponent for some time.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, 26th May, 2021

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 336 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (13 April 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9464201088
  • ISBN-13:978-9464201086
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 2 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 978-9464201086
The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 2 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 978-9464201086

Play the Budapest Gambit

Play the Budapest Gambit, Andrew Martin, Everyman Chess, May 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945889
Play the Budapest Gambit, Andrew Martin, Everyman Chess, May 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945889

Here is the publishers blurb from the rear cover :

“The Budapest Gambit (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e5) is an aggressive, dynamic approach for meeting 1 d4 and is a great line for throwing opponents onto their own resources. It is certainly double-edged as Black moves the same piece twice early on and also sacrifices a pawn. This pawn is often quickly regained but one of the great advantages of the Budapest is that if White tries to hang on to the pawn (and many players do) Black can quickly whip up a ferocious attack.

A great number of materialistic but unprepared White players have found themselves swiftly demolished by Black’s tremendously active pieces. When White is more circumspect and allows Black to regain the pawn, play proceeds along more sedate strategic lines where Black enjoys free and easy development.

Experienced chess author and coach Andrew Martin examines all key variations of the Budapest. There is an emphasis on typical middlegame structures and the important plans and manoeuvres are demonstrated in numerous instructive games. * Includes complete repertoires for Black with both 3…Ng4 and 3…Ne4 * Comprehensive coverage featuring several new ideas * Take your opponents out of their comfort zone!”

About the author :

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

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.

We have reviewed titles from Andrew such as First Steps : King’s Indian Defence, also from Everyman Chess.

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. The usual and reliable formatting from Brighton-based typesetter IM Byron Jacobs is employed.

The diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator or any kind of caption so you will need to work out for yourself how they relate to the text that they are embedded in. However, this is fairly obvious.

There is a helpful Index of Variations and an Index of the whopping 164 completed games the author provides ranging from 1896 until 2021.

For those who do not know the Budapest Gambit starts here:

and it has some overlaps with ideas from the Albin Counter Gambit:

and even the choice of many juniors and beginners, the Englund Gambit:

The book consists of fourteen chapters organised into two main parts:

The Budapest Gambit
  1. A Budapest Timeline
  2. Key Strategic Ideas after 3…Ng4
  3. The Rubinstein Variation after 4.Bf4
  4. Safe and Sound 4.Nf3
  5. The Aggressive 4.e4
  6. The Dark Horse 4.e3
  7. Budapest Oddities
  8. The Budapest Gambit Declined
The Fajarowicz Gambit
  1. Key Strategic Ideas after 3…Ne4
  2. The Natural 4.Nf3
  3. The Acid Test: 4.a3
  4. An Independent Line: 4.Nd2 Nc5
  5. Early White Queen Moves
  6. Other Fourth Moves

Before we continue it is worth taking a look at the pdf extract which includes the Contents, Preface and pages 166 – 184.

We were immediately struck by the author’s candour in the Preface:

This has been a tough book to write and I have agonised over the format for quite some time.

In the end I have settled for an approach by which I hope the reader will get to like the Budapest as an ingenious concept and then be willing to take the risks involved in playing the opening.

This statement is really rather refreshing. Most of us can recall the dubious days of highly ambitious (and some might say misleading) book titles such as “Winning with the Englund Gambit” or “Crushing Your Opponent with the Damiano“* or maybe something equally nonsensical but amusing. Chess publishing has mostly matured for the better in that respect and we can look forward to increasingly honest and objective tomes.

*These are fictionalised titles but hopefully the point is made clear.

The first chapter will be of interest both to both the chess historian and students of the Budapest as the author provides a welcome 64 page chronology of the gambit’s development from 1896 through 2020: interesting stuff! Indeed, this type of chapter would be a welcome addition to opening books in general and we should thank the author for being innovative in  this respect.

Here is a sample game from Chapter One:

The meat and potatoes theory chapters adopt a methodology of selecting a large number (135) of practical games which are each annotated with succinct explanations rather than tedious reams of variations and engine dumps.  The author’s coaching pedigree is evident throughout which will enhance the ambitious students understanding of this interesting gambit.

Not ever having played the Budapest and not allowing it with white (in the BCN office we are all extremely dull players and chose 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3) it would not be appropriate for us to comment on the merits of various lines and variations. However the author can hardly be accused of selecting only games where Black does well. In fact, the chapter (Two) outlining the Key Strategic Ideas after 3…Ng4 contains ten wins for White out of 18 games! So, again, applause for an objective approach.

So, how does Black fare in the recommended line?

Well, this is covered in Chapter Four: Safe and Sound: 4.Nf3 and game 72 is instructive:

It would certainly appear that the recommendation of 7…Ncxe5!? is a good one since out of 62 games in this line in MegaBase 2020 White scores a rather poor 44.3% whereas the more popular (411 games) 7…Re8 scores a little better for White at 47.1% and, as Andrew writes it is pleasing to see the Ra6 rook lift working well: a nice game!

Possibly the most angst is evident in the treatment of the Fajarowicz Gambit:

Andrew writes:

I think the Fajarowicz is an excellent surprise weapon, but perhaps not 100% sound.

So, again, how does Black fare in the recommended line? We turn to Chapter Ten to find out…

4.Nf3 is, by far, the most popular (but not necessarily most testing) choice and leads to the following game with the interesting idea of 7…Bf8!:

So, why the lack of enthusiasm for the Fajarowicz? The title of Chapter Eleven is the spoiler: The Acid Test: 4.a3

To find out more about this line and all the others you will need to buy the book which is published on May 24th 2021.

In summary, play the Budapest Gambit is a comprehensive look at the main line and the Fajarowicz Gambit in a refreshingly objective way. The wealth of annotated games is a joy in itself and these are combined with the author’s ideas in keeping this enterprising gambit afloat within the unfriendly world of examination by engines. One of the author’s best works.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 22nd May, 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 383 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (24th May 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1781945888
  • ISBN-13:978-1781945889
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.7 x 23.8 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Play the Budapest Gambit, Andrew Martin, Everyman Chess, May 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945889
Play the Budapest Gambit, Andrew Martin, Everyman Chess, May 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945889

The Iron English

The Iron English, Richard Palliser & Simon Williams, Everyman Chess, 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945803
The Iron English, Richard Palliser & Simon Williams, Everyman Chess, 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945803

Here is the publishers blurb from the rear cover :

Grandmaster Simon Williams was taught the English Opening at the age of six and 1 c4 was his weapon of choice until long after he became an International Master. For this new work, he teamed up with acclaimed theoretician International Master Richard Palliser to explore his old favourite. 1 c4 remains an excellent choice for the club and tournament player. This book focuses on the set-up popularised by the sixth world champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, the so-called Botvinnik formation with 2 Nc3, 3 g3, 4 Bg2, 5 e4 and 6 Nge2.

This system is compact but still aggressive and rewards an understanding of plans and strategies rather than rote memorisation of moves. In Opening Repertoire: The Iron English leading chess authors Simon Williams and Richard Palliser guide the reader through the complexities of this dynamic variation and carves out a repertoire for White.

They examine all aspects of this highly complex opening and provide the reader with well-researched, fresh, and innovative analysis. Each annotated game has valuable lessons on how to play the opening and contains instructive commentary on typical middlegame plans.

and. from the publisher, about the authors :

IM Richard Palliser
IM Richard Palliser

Richard Palliser is an International Master and the editor of CHESS magazine. In 2006 he became joint British Rapidplay Champion and in 2019 finished 3rd in the British Championship. He has established a reputation as a skilled chess writer and written many works for Everyman, including the bestselling The Complete Chess Workout.”

GM Simon Williams
GM Simon Williams

Simon Williams is a Grandmaster, a well-known presenter and a widely-followed streamer, as well as a popular writer whose previous books have received great praise. He is much admired for his dynamic and spontaneous attacking style.”

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.

The diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator or any kind of caption so you will need to work out for yourself how they relate to the text that they are embedded in. However, this is fairly obvious.

The book consists of nine chapters :

  1. Key Ideas for White
  2. Kickstarter: An Outline of the Iron English Repertoire
  3. English Versus King’s Indian
  4. The Modern: 1.c4 g6 and 1…d6
  5. Other Fianchetto Defences
  6. The Reversed Sicilian
  7. The Symmetrical English
  8. The Mikenas Attack
  9. Other Lines (1…c6/1…e6)

Opening books are becoming thicker and more imposing year on year and at 464 pages this recent offering from Everyman Chess is no exception. Any book with the involvement of Richard Palliser deserves, without doubt, to be paid special attention to and complimenting him is the h (and now f) pawns favourite advocate Grandmaster, Simon Williams.

Having two authors with contrasting playing styles (we felt) would lead to interesting recommendations rather in the vein of “Good cop, bad cop”. We will leave you to decide which might be which!

In essence this book (and the strongly associated Chessable course) is a complete repertoire for White based around the English Opening.

In the BCN office one of our favourite English Opening books is the 1999 classic “The Dynamic English” by Tony Kosten

The Dynamic English, Tony Kosten, Gambit Publications, 1999, ISBN 1 901983 14 5
The Dynamic English, Tony Kosten, Gambit Publications, 1999, ISBN 1 901983 14 5

which is of a mere 144 pages and of even smaller physical dimensions. A timeless classic in our opinion.

The Iron English is the first (we think) book (in the English language) to provide a complete repertoire around the Botvinnik flavour of the English in which White clamps or strongpoints the d5 square with an early e4 thus:

or even more simply

and this solid generic structure is advocated against almost all of Black’s reasonable and unreasonable defences.

Chapter One provides sample games (mainly from the authors) to give an idea of what White should be striving to achieve and Chapter Two outlines the repertoire.

In order to benefit from the chapters following these two  should probably be read more than once. One of the reasons for this is the huge complexity of the transpositional possibilities and move orders. The end-of-book Index of Variations helps the reader to navigate their way through the mire of variations and following that is an Index of Games bringing up the rear.

The style of presentation is friendly and very, very chatty (Alan Carr is nowhere to be seen you’ll be pleased to learn)  and presumably driven by the same material’s presentation as part of a Chessable course.

To get a feel of this style here are sample pages to whet your appetite and here is a example extracted game from Chapter One:

which provides for engaging instruction (if you like that sort of thing!).

Quite correctly, the content is dominated by the King’s Indian (73 pages), Reversed Sicilian (102 pages) and 100 pages on 1. c4 g6 and 1.c4 d6 lines. Clearly a wealth of material and probably most suited to someone who already plays the English but not the Botvinnik System. Taking up the English for the first time via this book (and/or the course) could well be somewhat daunting and not for the faint hearted.

Each of chapters Three – Nine adopts the now familiar Everyman format of example games delivering the theoretical discussion. Thirty-three games are dissected in detail including six of SKWs.

In the BCN office we always like to see how we would fair defending “against the book” and since we play the slightly offbeat 1.c4 c6 we turned to page 440 for Theory 9A (!).

where we won our internal wager that White would be advised to play 2.e4 and transpose into a Pseudo-Panov (called the Steiner Variation in Win with the Caro-Kann) rather than to a Slav. So, how did the “game” go?

1.c4 c6; 2. e4 d5; 3.cd: cd:; 4. ed: Nf6; 5.Nc3 Nxd5; 6.Bc4!?

which is a little off the beaten track (but easily met) with 6…Nb6; 7.Bb3 Nc6; 8.Nf3 Bf5; 9. d4 e6; 10 0-0, Be7; 11.a4 Na5 12. Ba2 0-0; 13.Qe2 and instead of the move suggested (13…Rc8) we played 13…Nc6! with a totally playable position.

The text suggests that someone who plays 1…c6 could be unfamiliar with a transposition to the Caro-Kann. Yes, they may well be but more likely this is a forlorn hope.

Anyway, this recreational digression is not really germane to the main thrust of the book…

In summary, this book is a major piece of work by Richard Palliser and Simon Williams that adds considerable material to the increasingly popular Botvinnik English.

In a sense the Botvinnik English is a kind of very grown-up London System and Colle Opening approach to playing with the White pieces (i.e. a system approach) and a welcome addition to White’s armoury.  Anyone wishing to take it up will find this book to be a reliable and friendly companion.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 29th April, 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 464 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (1 Oct. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781945802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945803
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.7 x 23.8 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

As is fairly common these days, the book has been migrated to the Chessable platform. Here are reviews of that course.

The Iron English, Richard Palliser & Simon Williams, Everyman Chess, 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945803
The Iron English, Richard Palliser & Simon Williams, Everyman Chess, 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1781945803

1.d4! : The Chess Bible : Understanding Queen’s Pawn Structures

1.d4! The Chess Bible, Armin Juhasz, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-10 9464201118
1.d4! The Chess Bible, Armin Juhasz, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-10 9464201118

From the publisher:

“In his first book (we anticipate many more), the young Hungarian author makes a worthy attempt to walk his readers through a complete 1.d4 opening repertoire. Yet while he is taking you thru the opening he never forgets the other phases of the game. As a result, the subsequent middlegame and endgame elements are remarkably well organized benefiting both beginner and advanced players to acquire powerful skills with 1.d4!”

IM Armin Juhasz
IM Armin Juhasz

“Europe’s youngest FIDE accredited trainer, IM Armin Juhasz, is an active player and a successful coach living in Budapest, Hungary. Born in 1998 he is currently 22 years of age and earned the IM title when 17. In 2016 he achieved his highest Elo of 2424. Armin has twice won the Hungarian Youth Championship. He was a member of the Hungarian U18 team which won the silver medal at the European Youth Team Championship in 2016. In addition to being an active competitor he is also the owner and CEO of Center Chess School. This thriving start up effort in Budapest has seen outstanding results. Several of his students have won numerous medals on both the world and national stage. Included in this list of success are two Hungarian Championships, on in the U16 and the other in the U14 division. He has also coached a World U12 Champion from the United States.”

End of blurb.

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. We were hoping that the excellent glossy paper of previous titles would be used for this one but never mind.

With a small amount of persuasion the book can 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 and a “position after: x move” type caption.

There is no Index or Index of Variations but, despite that, content navigation is relatively straightforward.

The main content is divided into six chapters :

  1. The King’s Indian Defense
  2. The Grünfeld Defense
  3. The Benoni Defense
  4. The Slav Defense
  5. The Catalan Opening
  6. Frequent Endgame Types

Pedant warning: before we look at the important stuff you might have noticed above the above use of “defense” rather than “defence”. This is the spelling used throughout which we are surprised that the editor/proof readers/typesetter allowed through. We will shall not dwell further on this. The rear cover (but the not the preface) introduction by GM Horvath uses the horrible “thru” instead of “through”. Moving on…

Our first attempt at reviewing was to hit the buffers and this was caused by wording within the Preface (and rear cover text) from GM Horvath. He writes

the young Hungarian author makes a worthy attempt to talk his readers through a complete 1.d4 opening repertoire,

Complete? This did not fit with the above chapter listing (unless the definition of “complete” has recently been updated. Seeking clarification we consulted Thinker’s Publishing and they confirmed that the word “complete” was indeed employed erroneously by Horvath. In fact, the sub-title (which does not appear on the front or rear covers) of “Understanding Queen’s Pawn Structures” we were informed should have been given greater prominence. Moving on…

So what we actually have here is a partial repertoire for White against the five Black defences listed above plus an intriguing sixth  bonus chapter. Each of the five chapters selects a line for White and proceeds to help you understand that recommendation  using the same methodology (which appears to be both novel and sensible) as follows:

For each of chapters 1-5 we have sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Model Games (I)
  3. Theoretical Section
  4. Model Games (II)
  5. Typical Tactics
  6. Homework
  7. Concluding Tips

Interestingly Model Games (I) provides annotated games that are not in the line for White suggested but important stem games for the Black defence providing extra background about the typical plans and structures for Black that you should be aware of.

Theoretical Section gets down to the nitty gritty of detailed variations and analysis. Model Games (II) is not more of the same of (I) but model games that are directly from the recommendations contained in the Theoretical Section.  Thinking back over the history of opening books for many of them this would have been the only style of content. Things have evolved for the better.

Typical Tactics is a collection often repeating tactical ideas and themes directly arising from these variations and therefore very relevant.

Homework sounded a little weird (to us at least) since surely all of the above are examples of homework? However the point of these sections is interesting. The book provides the reader / student  with half a dozen or so high quality games that are devoid of any notes or annotations. The student is invited to play through these games on a real chessboard (!), make notes, identify critical moments and find potential improvements for both sides. Finally, the student should check their work with an engine.

Finally, each chapter ends with Concluding Tips which is a series of bullet points that should be taken away.

We could end this review here and now but perhaps mention of some chess would be welcome?

Rather than tediously listing all of the recommendations of each chapter the BCN office staff chose the Slav chapter to dip into.

The author’s fourth move recommendation for White is perhaps not one you would have even considered. This is good since it means almost certainly neither will have your opponent!

Yes, 4.g3 which is an unpretentious little move but appears 4527 times in Megabase 2020 compared with 83884 times for the more familiar 4.Nc3.

4.g3 scores a decent 57.5% at all levels at 56.5% with the Top Games option enabled.

By comparison 4.Nc3 scores 57% and 58.6% respectively.

If you would like to see some sample pages from the book then click here.

If you would like to know all of the other recommendations then you will have to buy the book!

Possibly, the most interesting and novel chapter of all is the final one, Frequent Endgame Types. Nine games are provided starting as the middlegame ends and annotated in detail. Strong players will select openings based on a structure they like and understand and potentially because of the endgame it is likely to provide.

Here is an example of a provided game (the book annotations start at move 33):

In summary, if you play 1.d4 then this book will provide a unique insight into many typical structures and plans and if you play the King’s Indian, Grünfeld, Benoni, Slav or the black side of the Catalan then this book will be beneficial.

In many ways this book has provided a fresh approach to teaching openings and, tells us a great deal about the author in the process.

It is clear as daylight that IM Armin Juhasz is a talented trainer and author with a great passion for teaching. We are convinced that his time must be in high demand!

We think you will enjoy this book and derive benefit from it.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 27th April, 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 280 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (12 April 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9464201118
  • ISBN-13: 978-9464201116
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

1.d4! The Chess Bible, Armin Juhasz, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-10 9464201118
1.d4! The Chess Bible, Armin Juhasz, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-10 9464201118

Playing the Stonewall Dutch

Playing the Stonewall Dutch, Nikola Sedlak, Quality Chess, July 2020, ISBN-10 : 1784831093
Playing the Stonewall Dutch, Nikola Sedlak, Quality Chess, July 2020, ISBN-10 : 1784831093

GM Nikola Sedlak is a former Serbian Champion who has won both the EU Individual Open Championship and an Olympiad gold medal.

GM Nikola Sedlak in 2010 at the 16th Bora Kostic Memorial
GM Nikola Sedlak in 2010 at the 16th Bora Kostic Memorial

From the publisher:

“The Dutch Defense is one of Black’s most combative responses to 1.d4, and the Stonewall is the boldest version of this opening. Black immediately seizes space in the center and clamps down on the e4-square, laying the foundations for a complicated strategic battle. Many players believe the Stonewall to be a substandard opening, naively assuming that the e5-outpost and bad light-squared bishop must give White the advantage.

GM Nikola Sedlak disagrees, and in Playing the Stonewall Dutch he shares the insights that have helped him to rack up a healthy plus score from Black’s side. In addition to providing a complete repertoire in the main lines of the Stonewall, this book also offers useful guidance on dealing with Anti-Dutch variations and various move-order subtleties.”

End of blurb…

High quality paper is used and the printing is clear: excellent glossy paper has been used. The weight of this paper gives the book an even better feel to it!

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.

A small (but insignificant) quibble: the diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator (but they do have coordinates!). There is a full games index which is most welcome. This title is part of the Quality Chess Grandmaster Guide series.

The main content is divided into eleven chapters viz:

  1. Avoiding the Fianchetto
  2. Fianchetto with Bf4
  3. 7.Nbd2 & 7.Ne5
  4. 7.Nc3
  5. 7.b3
  6. 5.Nh3
  7. The Flexible Stonewall
  8. The Aggressive Stonewall
  9. Move Orders
  10. 1.c4 and 1.Nf3
  11. Exercises

Before we continue it is confession time…

Prior to reading this book I had little knowledge of the Stonewall Dutch from Black’s perspective although I did look at it briefly when studying the Triangle Variation and the Abrahams (Noteboom) Variation of the Semi-Slav. There are lines where Semi-Slav players have the option of transposing into a Stonewall Dutch and Gerald Abrahams did play this way on occasion. I am more familiar from White’s perspective but, nonetheless, to my chagrin, insufficiently so.

In a previous review I made the comment:

The Stonewall Dutch has not hitherto had many books published about it. Popularised by Botvinnik it has found most support by club players rather than by elite Grandmasters. The well known structure for Black is typically :

arrived at by numerous move orders.

and therefore comparison with this other book will be beneficial to the student.

The authors recommended move order of 1.d4 e6 clearly requires Black to be familiar with the French Defence (or the Franco-Sicilian  as a matter of taste.) and is a very common mechanism among practitioners of the Classic / Stonewall Dutch. Lenningrad Dutch players have less flexibility at their disposal. 1…e6 has the virtue of avoiding some of White’s pesky so-called Anti-Dutch ideas such as 2. Bg5, 2.Nc3 and the Staunton Gambit (2.e4).

However, for completeness, the author provides ideas for Black to combat the above (and more) white tries after 1.d4 f5 in Chapter 9. In fact, the coverage of these move two tries is more comprehensive than most books on any line of  the  Dutch Defence.

Consulting Megabase 2020 we find that the author, Nikola Sedlak has recorded 2102 games which ranks him as one of the most active players. We find that against 1. d4 nowadays he plays both 1…f5 and 1…e6 with the latter being the modern move order choice. The Stonewall features in many of these games.

Apart from the move two alternatives I was curious to see the recommendations for dealing with the overly ubiquitous London System. Indeed, against the Stonewall and Classical Dutch is one of the rare occasions where I would consider playing

and 3.Bf4 is only eclipsed (as you’d expect) by 3.c4 or 3.g3 in popularity. There is extensive coverage in Chapter 9 of this club player favourite.

Before delving deeper it is worth knowing that Quality Chess have provided a pdf excerpt of the Preface and and the first twenty or so pages of Chapter 5 on 7.b3. This will give you an excellent feel for the style of presentation so please take a look!

The Introduction chapter is 13 pages of invaluable discussion of the overall strategy of the Stonewall structure interspersed with plans, strategic ideas, themes and motifs. Re-reading until you fully understand these ideas will be time well spent.

Each main content chapter comprises of a schematic of variations followed by a detailed introduction to the ideas and then a number of high quality model games many of which have the author playing the black pieces.

The analysis and recommendations are generous with explanations  not spoilt by reams of tedious engine dumps. On average each page contains 3-4 diagrams giving the content a user friendly feel. It is clear that the author  does his best to keep the reader engaged and “on-side”: this is not always easy for opening books which are generally harder work to stay with than say games collections or tactics primers.

As I mentioned earlier, my knowledge of the “main” lines (those where white plays g3) is superficial so I decided to conduct a “gedanken”  experiment and use MegaBase 2020. Using the “most games” style of lookup I arrived at the following position to have been played the most up to 2020:

giving white a range of 7th move choices. Note that Black has opted for the more active …d6 development of the bishop as against the more conservative …e7. There is a considerable body of theory for both options.

By a considerably large margin the most popular move here is 7.b3:

and MegaBase 2020 has roughly 4,500 games between players of any strength and 1,000 games if you use the “Top Games” option. The author dedicates Chapter 5 and a full 40 pages to 7.b3. (The Pavlovic book also dedicates substantial space to this line.)

So having arrived here I asked Megabase 2020 to show me the most popular direction of travel from here :

7…Qe7; 8.Bb2, 0-0;9.Nbd2,b6;10.Ne5, Bb7;11.Rc1,a5; (various move orders are available as the saying goes) and then White is less clear about the next most popular move although 12.e3 is the standard recommendation.

Consulting the author we find ourselves in Chapter 5, variation B2), page 134 and the variation is considered over six pages in considerable depth. (Pavlovic also covers this position as you would expect.)

The first model game of this chapter to enjoy is this gem:

which is analysed in depth.

Unlike some reviewers I will not be revealing a list of spoilers of what the author recommends in positions x, y and z. Usually I like to point out important lines that have been missed out but I get the impression that coverage is comprehensive and devoid of such omissions.

The overall impression is of a superbly produced book suitable for someone considering adding the Stonewall Dutch to their repertoire as well as an excellent booster for someone who is experienced with it.

Highly recommended!

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 15th April, 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 328 pages
  • Publisher: Quality Chess UK LLP (15 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1784831093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784831097
  • Product Dimensions: 17.17 x 1.6 x 24.28 cm

Official web site of Quality Chess

Playing the Stonewall Dutch, Nikola Sedlak, Quality Chess, July 2020, ISBN-10 : 1784831093
Playing the Stonewall Dutch, Nikola Sedlak, Quality Chess, July 2020, ISBN-10 : 1784831093

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 1 – A Complete Repertoire for White

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 1 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 9789464201031
The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 1 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 9789464201031

“Dariusz Swiercz was born in 1994 in Tarnowskie Gory, Poland. His grandfather taught him to play chess at the age of three. During his junior career he won numerous National Championships as well as several European and World Championship medals. His highest successes include the bronze medal in 2010 at the World U20 Championship (Chotowa, Poland), gold medal in 2011 at the World U20 Championship (Chennai, India) and another gold medal in 2012 at the World U18 Championship (Maribor, Slovenia). He is one of the youngest to receive the Grandmaster title at the age of 14 years and 7 months. In 2016 he won the third edition of the “Millionaire Chess” held in Las Vegas, USA. Since 2018 he has represented the United States. Dariusz currently resides in Saint Louis, Missouri.”

GM Dariusz Świercz
GM Dariusz Świercz

From the book’s rear cover we have :

“The Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular openings of all time. It is a frequent guest in the games of players around the world from novice to Grandmaster. As a result of the increased power of analysis engines the theory of the Ruy Lopez has greatly expanded. Lines that did not exist years ago have been fully developed, supported with extensive analysis, and incorporated into the repertories of top players. Despite this exponential growth in theory, I believe that when armed with sound knowledge it is possible to pose certain practical problems for Black. The purpose of this book is to provide you with detailed and clear explanations of the intricacies of the Ruy Lopez.”

In this series (this is Volume 1) the author takes an in-depth look via 513 pages of how to play the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Opening) from Whites perspective giving many lines that he believes will leave White with some advantage after the opening .

Part 1 looks at opening lines that are slightly unusual and “off-beat” such as the Bird’s defence;

the Schliemann defence;

the Cozio defence;

the Smyslov defence;

the Classical defence;

the Steinitz defence;

the Norwegian defence (ed. the Taimanov defence for those with long memories!);

and Averbakh variations;

Unlike many recent opening books, unusually Dariusz does not analyse complete games but does provide copious amounts of analysis as to how to play against many different tries by black.

Having played the Schliemann a great deal both OTB and online I was interested to see what his recommendation was:

and 4. d3 fe4; 5. de4 Nf6; 6. 00 was his choice here

with both 6…d6 and the main line 6…Bc5 discussed in detail.

Against 6…Bc5 it is recommended that White goes pawn grabbing with 7.Bxc6 bxc6; 8.Ne5 00 9 Nc3 d6 10 Na4 with analysis that goes as far as move 25 showing that White has a clear advantage.

The delayed Schliemann 3…a6; 4. Ba4 f5 is also discussed but this has, for many years, been regarded as suspect concluding that 5.d4! is considered the “refutation”.

Part 2 deals solely with Kramnik’s favourite (and Kasparov’s anti-favourite!) the Berlin Defence 3…Nf6 which has caused even some of the top players in the world to switch (albeit temporarily) further south from the Spanish Opening to the Italian Game, 3.Bc4.

Both 4.00 and 4.d3 are examined closely and in the castles line he prefers variations for White that keep the Queens on: after 4…Ne4; 5.Re1 Nd6; 6.Ne5 Be7; 7.Bf1 Nf5; 8.Nf3 d5

both 9.d4 00; 10.c3 and 9 Nc3 are considered as alternatives.

The depth of Berlin analysis runs to nearly 100 pages and is aimed at players who are willing to look at openings well over 20 moves deep.

4.d3 is also studied when both 4…d6 and 4…Bc5 are looked at with much analysis again going to over 20 moves and showing that usually white has an advantage and can continue putting pressure on black .

Part 3 features the Open 5…Ne4 line when after 6 d4 b5 7 Bb3 d5 now both 8 Ne5 and the more popular 8 de5 Be6 9 Nbd2 the move that Karpov employed in his games against Korchnoi is discussed:

I played this variation for at least 30 years and came to the conclusion that White is always a bit better.

Essentially this is the coverage of Volume 1. To learn about the Closed Ruy Lopez we will be looking at Volume 2 in a future review.

In summary, this book is for players who are not frightened of looking at an opening in considerable depth that is sure to happen in a significant number of their games. It is a handy tool for “correspondence” players and I will, no doubt, be consulting it for good use in my future games!

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, 9th April, 2021

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 520 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (28 Jan. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9464201037
  • ISBN-13:978-9464201031
  • Product Dimensions: 16.51 x 3.18 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 1 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 9789464201031
The Modernized Ruy Lopez – Volume 1 – A Complete Repertoire for White, Dariusz Swiercz, Thinkers Publishing, ISBN 9789464201031

Win with the Caro-Kann

Win with the Caro-Kann : Sverre Johnsen and Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen

Win with the Caro-Kann, Sverre Johnsen and Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, Gambit Publications, March 4th 2021, ISBN 1911465678
Win with the Caro-Kann, Sverre Johnsen and Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, Gambit Publications, March 4th 2021, ISBN 1911465678

Sverre Johnsen is a chess analyst, researcher, organizer, trainer and writer from Norway. He is co-author of Win with the London System and Win with the Stonewall Dutch, two of the best-selling openings books of recent years.

Sverre Johnsen
Sverre Johnsen

Grandmaster Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen is from Norway. He is one of the founders of the chess retail business Sjakkhuset and works full-time as a chess trainer. He was the first coach of Magnus Carlsen (in 1999) and has worked with three other players who went on to become grandmasters.

Grandmaster Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen
Grandmaster Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen

Gambit Publications have their own YouTube channel to promote and publicise their products. Here we have GM John Nunn introducing this book :

The book is organised into the following  five chapters followed by a highly useful Index of Variations:

  1. Classical: Korchnoi Variation
  2. Classical: Capablanca Variation
  3. Advance Variation
  4. Exchange Variation
  5. Early Deviations

Hitherto books on the Caro-Kann extolling the virtues of the Korchnoi Variation are few and far between

However, in recent years we reviewed The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black, Francesco Rambaldi, Thinkers Publishing, 2020.

Our current review book from Gambit is fully self-contained and forms the basis of a complete repertoire for black against 1.e4 after

offering the Korchnoi Variation for those needing to win with black (whilst risking a potentially difficult endgame) plus in Chapter Two the reliable Capablanca Variation:

whose endgame prospects are more attractive.

These two alternatives form the beating heart of this repertoire with brand new ideas and analysis to give white players problems to solve and spend time on the clock.

Prior to these chapters is an excellent Introduction which sets out the layout of the book, the philosophy of the repertoire, many strategic ideas and other useful words of wisdom and encouragement.

Each and every chapter is broken down into a series of Lessons (there are thirty Lessons in total)  covering each variation in detail.

Consulting MegaBase it is clear that Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen favours the Caro-Kann and plays the Korchnoi Variation when permitted and as a past trainer of Magnus Carlsen he definitely knows what he is talking about!

Following on from the optional lines after

we have six lessons on how to face the Advance Variation. 3.e5 can cause more headaches for the Caro-Kann player than 3.Nc3 and the authors provide a repertoire based around the increasingly popular Arkell/Khenkin Variation:

Another six lessons then cover both the Exchange Variation and the Panov Attack:

and

and probably it is fair to say that the latter is the most common way of taking on the CK at club level.

Chapter 5 covers more or less everything else including the Fantasy Variation (which the authors call the Maróczy Variation)

followed by the Two Knights, the Pseudo-Panov (they call this the Steiner Variation, the King’s Indian Attack and the Hillbilly Attack plus some very rare beasts.

Curiously the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

is not found in this chapter but in Chapter 1 as a fourth move alternative. All lines (including transpositions) are easily located via the Index of Variations.

It would be wrong to reveal all of the various innovations analysed in this book but to give a flavour I will mention that the twist the authors give to the Capablanca Variation is to to defer 7…Nd7 in favour of Dreev’s 7…e6!?

and the idea is for black to play a quick …c5 followed by …Nc6 at the right moment .

So, how is the material presented?

A quick way to find out is to use the “Look Inside” feature to be found on Amazon.

Each lesson comprises at least one model game plus what the authors term “Theory Magnifiers”. Essentially these are points in the model game where there are significant alternatives  for white that require detailed study.

Liberally sprinkled throughout the text are multiple “fourth wall” type Question and Answer exchanges which worked so well for Matthew Sadler in his Slav and Semi-Slav books for Chess Press and Everyman Chess.

Cleverly, the authors have organised the material so that preparation of the material is in the most logical sequence eliminating the need for the student to create a preparation plan for themselves.

As a long time player of the Caro-Kann I can say that the repertoire presented here is thorough and instructive based on modern games. There are things I might disagree with but I’ve never known that not to be the case!

I suppose I am obliged to comment on the “Win with the” title. I’m not a huge fan of this style but a title is all that is it. If you can put this to one side and  overcome it and focus on the content you will reap the rewards of not letting prejudice getting in the way.

So, in summary, this is an excellent repertoire trainer for black against 1.e4, which, after all, is the most important move of whites to prepare for.

Enjoy and good luck !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, March 23rd 2021

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover :240 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd (4 Mar. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1911465678
  • ISBN-13:978-1911465676
  • Product Dimensions: 17.15 x 1.65 x 24.77 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Win with the Caro-Kann, Sverre Johnsen and Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, Gambit Publications, march 4th 2021, ISBN 1911465678
Win with the Caro-Kann, Sverre Johnsen and Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, Gambit Publications, march 4th 2021, ISBN 1911465678