All posts by Tony Williams

Been playing chess on and off since the mid 1970's. Currently living on the Isle of Wight and a member of the Isle of Wight and Camberley Chess Clubs.

Dynamic Defence

Dynamic Defence, Neil McDonald, Everyman Chess, 1st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945902
Dynamic Defence, Neil McDonald, Everyman Chess, 1st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945902

Here is the publishers blurb from the rear cover :

“Every chessplayer, from beginner to world champion, loves to win a game with a brilliant attacking display. However many, if not most, attacks that end in victory do so due to inaccurate defence. This may be due to simple tactical miscalculation or perhaps a more fundamental misunderstanding of the important principles of defence. Furthermore, many attacks that are launched are simply unsound but succeed because many players feel uncomfortable when forced to defend, get flustered and make mistakes.

In this book, highly experienced chess author and coach, Neil McDonald addresses these issues. Defensive skill is crucial in chess. Good, accurate defence can win a game just as well as a fine attacking display can, so expertise in this department is essential for any player wishing to improve their game. With thorough explanations, questions, and exercises, this book provides fascinating material to enable you to hone your defensive skill and not feel intimidated when your opponent hurls pieces at your king.”

About the author :

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

GM Neil McDonald
GM Neil McDonald

We have reviewed titles from Neil such as Coach Yourself: A Complete Guide to Self Improvement at Chess and Your Chess Battle Plan.

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.

Everyman Chess (formerly known as Cadogan Chess) is a major publisher of Chess books. Other reviews on this site have covered the production quality and typesetting so i am not going to repeat that here. Figurine algerbraic notation is used throughout although the book is laid out in a single column format, a departure from the double column format normally used for chess books. Like other Everyman books the diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator or caption but it is easy to work out which player is to move when going through the games. The book does contain an Index of Openings and an Index of Games at the end of the book. Virtually all the games featured in this book are recent having  been played in the 21st Century. Virtually all of  the games included in the book were played by strong Grandmasters  with several games featuring  the worlds leading players. Magnus Carlsen features in 6 of the games in the book and Anand, Aronian Caruana, Giri & Mamedyarov , are also well represented here. One notable omission is that there are no games featuring Sergi Karjakin who is considered to be one of the best defensive players in the world.

The Chapters are as follows:

1 The Power of Centralisation

2 Keeping Out the Queen and Rooks

3 Knight versus Bishop: Caution or Counterattack

4 Resisting Raking Bishops

5 Challenging a Mighty Knight

6 Opposing an Advanced Pawn

7 Using the King as Bait

8 Fighting to Survive in a Bad Endgame

The subject of defence is neglected in chess literature, there are many books filled with best games and how to attack but very few that are devoted to the topic of defence. Everyone loves to attack when they are playing chess and don’t like having to defend. The book contains 60 games all of which are analysed in depth with some games spanning 7/8 pages. The analysis mainly consists of detailed explanations by the author supported by analysis. This is not book containing lots of detailed computer analysis trying to show that there are defensive resources available to players that they would not ever find over the board. At critical points in the games the author poses questions to the reader. Each game featured in this book is a battle between elite players and offer an insight in the dynamic nature of attack and defence.

The great defensive players of the past allexcelled in holding inferior positions and then slowly outplaying their opponents. Anatoly Karpov at his best is a prime example of this, often going on to outplay and eventually beat his opponent from inferior positions. Today the game has evolved so has defensive technique and players are a lot more enterprising in how they go about defending positions. Defenders now will look at how they coordinate their pieces, cover focal squares, overprotect, and generate counterplay rather than playing passively. In this book the author takes this even further and  puts forward the concept of dynamic defence as a method of stealing the initiative from the attacking  player. It is still necessary to defend well by playing patiently and being aware of the tactical resources available to your opponent. The author assumes that players are familiar with the principles of static defence and are looking to improve their defensive technique.

Here is a summary of the key principles from three chapters in the book.

1 The Power of Centralisation: Triumph of centralisation against a wing attack. Good centralisation can compensate for structural weakness or a lack of defenders around the king . But if the situation in the centre is bad and the kingside is weakened in some way then the defender is in big trouble

3 Knight versus Bishop: Caution or Counterattack: When facing an attack a crucial decision in whether to play according to the dictates of dynamic defence – that is – to try an seize the initiative – or to quietly strengthen the defensive line.

7 Using the King as Bait: An extreme method of provocation whereby a player will leave his king in the centre of the board and invite his opponent to attack trusting in his skills as a defender or where a player will try and goad his opponent into sacrifice material to expose their king. In doing so you are creating complications and trying to make your opponent overpress.

It is possible just to play through and enjoy the games in this book but in doing so you would miss out on many valuable lessons from an expert coach. I think that it is much harder to defend than it is to attack. if you have the initiative you can often have any good options at your disposal and can choose which one to analyze in depth. However as a defender you do not have the luxury of that option. Often you have to analyse and assess all the options available to your opponent which takes up considerable more time and often have to play precisely and find the ‘only’ move to keep you in the game.

The concepts put forward in this book are difficult and not immediately obvious to understand. This is a book that deserves close study and will ultimately earn you a lot of points, as you will be developing the skills to save inferior and even lost positions. Also, as you gain in confidence you will be more willing to take risks knowing that you have ‘dynamic defence’ to fall back on.

Tony Williams, Newport, Isle of Wight, 20th June 2022

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 348 pages
  • Publisher:Everyman Chess (1 Dec. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:178194590X
  • ISBN-13:978-1781945902
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.7 x 23.8 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Dynamic Defence, Neil McDonald, Everyman Chess, 1st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945902
Dynamic Defence, Neil McDonald, Everyman Chess, 1st December 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945902

The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

The King's Indian According to Tigran Petrosian
The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian : Igor Yanvarjov

International Master Igor Yanvarjov is a professional chess coach. He has been a coach at the Moscow Chess Club “Spartak,” and has been on the coaching staff of a number of chess schools, including those of Petrosian, Geller, Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Grandmasters he has worked with include Lembit Oll, Rustem Dautov, Yury Piskov, among others. He currently teaches chess at the Anatoly Karpov Chess School in Moscow.

Igor Yanvarjov with Tigran Petrosian
Igor Yanvarjov with Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian, the ninth world chess champion was born to Armenian parents on June 17, 1929 in Tiflis Georgia.  He was known as one of the deepest thinkers the chess world has ever seen. His handling of complex strategic positions was legendary. His play combined deft tactical awareness with an acute sense of prophylaxis, so that opponents had the greatest difficulty in laying a finger on him. For his own part, he often seemed content holding the margin of the draw  rather than undertaking any heroics in pursuit of a win. In the analysis room, and in blitz games, Petrosian’s abundant tactical skills were apparent to everyone, but to the spectator of his tournament games, these were far from obvious, and he was regarded as dull. Petrosian responded to this criticisms by saying: “They say my games should be more ‘interesting’. I could be more ‘interesting’—and also lose.” Petrosian still remains one of the greatest players in the history of chess and if you were to consult the now defunct Chessmetrics Website, Tigran Petrosian was listed in the top 20 players of all time and was ranked at No 8 in  the 20 year peak range category (1954 – 1973). He was an expert against the King’s Indian Defence and played the system that now bears his name (although he was far more successful with the Samisch variation).

This is the first book by Russian international master Igor Yanvarjov. He has put together a superb collection of virtually all the known games played by Tigran Petrosian – with both colours – in the King’s Indian Defence and other closely related Indian  structures. He does this with the presentation of almost 300 deeply annotated, complete games. Although the material is organised by variations and tabias  this is not an opening manual but it demonstrates the skill and nuanced handling of positions that Petrosian was known for. The author’s objective wasted reveal the richness of Petrosian’s chess world and to follow the strategic development of the King’s Indian Defence through the prism of Petrosian’s creative work.

The book is divided into three parts with each part being split into several chapters. preceded by a preface from Levon Aronian a forward from Igor Zaitsev and a note from the author.

They are as follows :

Part 1 Tabiyas (Tabia number in brackets)
Chapter 1 Classical Variation (A1 – A7)
Chapter 2 The Samisch System (B1 – B10)
Chapter 3 The Fianchetto Variation (C1 – C10)
Chapter 4 The Benoni (D1 – D10)
Chapter 5 Other Systems (E1- E10)
Part 2 Elements of Success
Chapter 6 Portrait of a Chess Player
Chapter 7 Lessons from Petrosian
Chapter 8 The Problem of the Exchange
Chapter 9 “Furman’s Bishop”
Chapter 10 “Pawns are the Soul of Chess”
Chapter 11 Playing by Analogy
Chapter 12 Manoeuvring Battle
Part III Experiments
Chapter 13 Realist or Romantic?
Chapter 14 The King’s Indian with Colours – and Flanks – Reversed

The bibliography in this book contains nearly 80 entries which will give the reader some idea of the amount of research that the author has carried out for the  preparation of this book.

The games are all annotated to varying degrees of depth. Some have only light notes, whereas others have very detailed analytical variations. It is in this area Yanvarjov has done an excellent job. Many of the games contain quoted historical analysis or comments, whether by Tigran himself or his contemporaries.  In addition the author goes into great analytical detail where it makes sense to do so. I also thought that IM Yanvarjov did an excellent job in getting the right balance between prose and variations to describe the action taking place within the positions. In some cases a verbal description is given which should be helpful to players of club level in particular.

The following game is considered to be one of Petrosian’s finest achievements

In my opinion this is a superb book, written as a labour of love to showcase the player who appears to have made the biggest impression on the author. It contains a splendid collection of annotated games that will have enormous appeal to King’s Indian players.  Not only will it appeal to anyone who wishes to increase their strategic understanding of the game but also to anyone who wants a superb games collection from which any reader will derive a great deal of benefit and enjoyment.

Tony Williams, Newport, Isle of Wight, 17th April 2020

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 424 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises, Inc. (June 17, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941270573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941270578
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 10 inches

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

The King's Indian According to Tigran Petrosian
The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

The Modernised Dutch Defense

The Modernised Dutch Defense : Adrien Demuth

The Modernised Dutch Defence by Adrien Demuth
The Modernised Dutch Defence by Adrien Demuth

Adrien Demuth is a French chess grandmaster. Born in 1991, Demuth earned his international master title in 2011 and his grandmaster title in 2015. He is the No. 14 ranked French player as of March 2018.

GM Adrien Demuth
GM Adrien Demuth

This is his second title in the “Modernized” series from Thinkers Publishing, and like his previous book The Modernized Reti, this is a complete repertoire book providing a complete repertoire for black based around the Leningrad variation (2 …g6) against 1.d4 but also against 1.c4 & 1.Nf3.  The Dutch Defence leads to dynamic and unbalanced positions which is ideally suited to players who want to play for a win with the black pieces.

The author is a recent convert to the Dutch defence and he describes how he took up the opening and had the confidence to use it in crucial games. And although the author now days prefers to play more positional openings he still retains the Dutch Defence in his repertoire.

The material is presented in three sections:

Part 1 – Early Sidelines after 1.d4 f5 (184 pages)

  1. The Staunton Gambit
  2. The System with 2.Nc3
  3. The Goring Attack 2.Bg5
  4. Minor Lines on the Second Move
  5. Systems including an early c3 and or Nh3

Part 2 – Classical Systems (210 pages)

  1. Sidelines for White on Move Three
  2. Lines with an early b4
  3. Systems with b3
  4. The aggressive 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3
  5. The Classical Leningrad

Part 3 – Reti and English Move Orders (69 pages)

  1. The Leningrad Dutch versus the Reti
  2. The Leningrad Dutch versus the Engish

Like all the previous Thinkers Publishing books I have reviewed the production quality is excellent. The layout of this book reminds me of the Batsford Series of opening books that many older readers will remember as the material is presented as a series of variations without any illustrative games. The focus is exclusively on the opening phase with no mention of middlegame plans or typical pawn structures. All the games referenced in the book recent, within the last 5 years and the author provides a lot of interesting  novelties backed up by his own analysis.

In part 1 the author provided a very detailed coverage of all the varied sidelines and gambits  where black opts to play the Leningrad with 2..g6 rather than the Classical move order 2…e6. This is an important consideration in Chapter 3 as the author recommends the lines with 2…g6 rather than the topical 2….h6 against 2.Bg5. Also there are a number of tricky lines in chapter 5 where white plays c3 & Qb3 to prevent black from castling or where white plays an early h4.

Part 2 contains the main lines of the Leningrad Dutch and covers all of whites main options as well as the various lines where white plays the plays Bf4 which is very popular nowdays.  One criticism that I do have in this section concerns the layout for Chapter 10 on p336 which doesn’t follow previous  layout of chapters and perhaps the material should have been be split into two chapters covering the main lines and sidelines separately. Also there are several move order transpositions that can occur where white plays b3 or b4 in the main lines. However this does not detract from the content but the book would have benefitted from some more thorough proof reading.

Part 3 covers the reply 1…f5 against 1.Nf3 and 1.c4. The second chapter covers blacks responses to all of whites options where white omits playing d4,

One of the problems black players have when  facing 1.d4 is that in most openings  that white can play have a number of safe drawing lines that make it very difficult to play for a win against or unambitious lines where white can easily play for a small edge. However those options are not available against the Dutch defence. There are of course a number of gambits and aggressive lines that are available to white however if you are well prepared then you can enter these lines with confidence.

The bibliography is up to date and the oldest reference is 2014.

In summary this is an excellent book providing a complete repertoire for black against 1.d4, 1.Nf3 & 1.c4 It contains a lot of original analysis and sound recommendations.  Although this opening may not be considered to be totally sound at GM level it is perfectly playable at Club level.  I do have a number of (minor) criticisms of this book, perhaps the author could have provided a better explanation of the move order transpositions that can occur in the main lines and there are no illustrative games in the book. Also as with all Thinkers Publishing books I have reviewed there is no index of variations.  But overall this would not stop me recommending the book if you want to take up the opening or of you already play the Dutch and wanted to add it to your library.

Tony Williams, January 5 2020

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 347 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (22 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510553
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510556
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3.2 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernised Dutch Defence by Adrien Demuth
The Modernised Dutch Defence by Adrien Demuth

Candidate Moves : A Grandmaster’s Method

 

Christian Bauer (born 11 January 1977) is a French Grandmaster and author. He is a three-time French Champion and the  author of three opening books. This collection of the authors best games  is his first book for Thinkers Press.  

GM Christian Bauer
GM Christian Bauer

What makes this book unique is that each game is annotated twice, firstly from the perspective of the white player followed by the same game with the annotations this time from the black player. The book contains 38 very deeply annotated games from the perspective of both players played between 2007 and 2017.

The book is divided up into four chapters : chapter 1 covers the topic of the exchange sacrifice, chapter 2 covers tactically complex positions, chapter 3 covers games where one king remains in the centre, and finally, chapter 4 covers “quieter games”.

This a very well produced book. Recently I have had the pleasure of reviewing two other books from Thinkers Publishing and, as with this book  I have been impressed with the high quality of the publication. But, the book does not come with an index of games or a list of openings. My first criticism of this book is the title “Candidate moves” :  when you start to read this book you would assume that the book is going to discuss the selection of candidate moves, but the book doesn’t do that, in fact I would go as far as saying that the title bears no relation to the contents whatsoever. Does this mean that this is not a good book? Far from it, there are many interesting and hard fought games here and the standard of annotation is consistently high throughout. I did however notice a number of inconsistencies with the annotations where for example a move is considered bad or dubious in one ‘version’ but is passed over without comment when annotated from the other players perspective.

The author does like to side step mainstream opening theory and play offbeat or even unsound openings, e.g. In Chapter 4, Game 17 against R Wojtaszek (2724) the game begins 1d4 a6 and in Game27 against D Semcesen (2469) starts 1. c4 e5 2.a3!?  and the rationale was that as his opponent likes to play the line 2Nc3 Bb4 against the English opening he thought that he would see if opponent would be bothered by 2. a3.  These are games from classical tournaments played by a top ranking chess professional, not games from a blitz or rapidplay event. Could you play like that?

The double annotation method was to try and diminish the subjectivity in  the annotations and is a unique and innovative approach. I have seen the idea of multiple perspectives work in films but I don’t think that it really works here. I did enjoy playing through several of the games in the book and I may even try out some of the opening ideas myself but overall I don’t think that the idea works. You can achieve the same result by including all the annotations within one game.

Tony Williams, December 8th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 404 pages
  • Publisher : Thinkers Publishing (7 Sept. 2018)
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 9492510243
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9492510242
  • Product Dimensions : 17 x 1.5 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

 

Gambit Killer: Ivan Salgado Lopez

Gambit Killer : Ivan Salgado Lopez

Ivan Salgado Lopez was born in Spain June 29th 1991 and learned to play chess at the age of seven thanks to his brother Oscar and became a Grandmaster at the age of 16.

GM Ivan Salgado Lopez
GM Ivan Salgado Lopez

Amongst the best results in his chess career Ivan has twice been Spanish Champion and has won many international tournaments. He was the second of ex-world champions Topalov and Ponomariov amongst other strong Grandmasters.

Spanish grandmaster Ivan Salgado Lopez has taken a close look at a variety of gambit lines that can arise after 1. d4 and the main chapters are as follows: Budapest Gambit 34 pages Blumenfeld Gambit 30 pages, Tarrasch and Marshall Gambits 8 pages, Von Henning Shara Gambit 36 pages, Slav Gambits 12 pages, Dutch Gambits 20 pages, Easily Refuted Gambits 4 pages, Albin Gambit 10 pages and finally a chapter containing model games and exercises.

The book covers these gambits in sufficient detail to enable you to sit down and play them with confidence and equips the reader with the main tactical ideas behind the gambit together with a detailed understanding of the typical middlegame positions that may arise.

The author strikes a good balance between analysis and explanations, and, has a very engaging writing style

One thing that became clear to me when I started reading this book is that this is not a complete guide to all d4 gambits. There are a number of omissions from this book that I would expect to see, for example there is no mention of the Marshall Gambit in the Semi Slav, which is an essential to know if you are playing that opening. Also the coverage of gambits against the Dutch defence is not complete. While the Staunton Gambit (2. e4) is covered well together with the Krejecik Gambit (2. g4) the variations after 2 h3 (an idea of Korchnoi’s : Ed) followed by 3 g4 are not covered.

Another issue that I would like to point out is that the book does not contain any index of games or opening variations, something that I would normally expect to find in an opening book.

Does this book ‘kill’ the gambits? Well, not exactly ! It provides a refutation for the more dubious and unsound lines and neutralises the dangerous but playable lines. A lot of the gambits covered in the book are completely playable but risky and may be met head on provided that you are suitably prepared. Some of the gambits are recommended for blitz and rapid play games!

However, overall this is a good book despite reservations regarding the scope of the coverage.

Tony Williams, October 26th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 315 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (1 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 949251026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510266
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3 : Legendary Games

Chess Calculation Training : Volume 3 : Legendary Games by Romain Édouard

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3
Chess Calculation Training Volume 3

This is the third book in the current series following on from previous volumes covering Middlegames and Endgames.

Romain Édouard (born 28 November 1990) is a French grandmaster and is Editor-in-Chief of Thinkers Publishing.  Édouard has played for the French national team at the Olympiads of 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018, won several major tournaments including equal first place in the 2015 World Open and Montreal Open 2015.

GM Romain Édouard
GM Romain Édouard

The material is arranged into fifteen chapters and each chapter covers a particular theme e.g. “Deliver Mate” and “Hidden Moves” . Four chapters employ examples from the games of famous players (Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik) covering one particular aspect of their play which made them stand out from their contemporaries e.g. Kasparov’s checkmating attacks or Karpov’s outstanding precision in technical positions.

Volume 3 has fifteen chapters and 480 exercises. In this book, we encounter many subjects, for example attack, defence, “surprises” and hidden moves, while some chapters will be especially dedicated to four great players – Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer and Kramnik – in order to learn about their styles. The last two chapters are a little different,  ‘Extraordinary Wins’, where you will see moves of the kind you won’t meet very often in life, and a ‘Special Section’, with exercises requiring special instructions.

The material is presented in a workbook format which is generally popular and no doubt influenced by the techniques of famous trainer Mark Dvoretsky. The author provides guidance at the beginning of each chapter on how difficult the material is and which positions in particular are extremely difficult where the student should devote additional time.

The range of material is varied, from simple to solve right up to extremely complex positions. The author recommends starting out by solving a small number of warm-up exercises from chapter one before tackling the more challenging material. This type of study, solving positions on specific themes can be a double edged sword, as on the one hand providing an opportunity to study a specific theme in depth and reinforce the theme by repetition but, on the other hand, you can become too narrowly focused : expecting a type of solution. If you have just solved 100 tactical exercises, involving pins you will probably spend a lot of effort in your own games looking for pins and not focusing on other tactical opportunities. The author avoids this trap as the material in each section is broad enough within the overall theme and you may not always know exactly what the winning motif is only that there is one there.

It is also very easy to organise your own study around a workbook, as you can set aside a certain target, say to study a given number of positions and log your progress. In addition, if you are familiar with memorising techniques you can easily create a schedule to periodically repeat the material.

Overall, I found this and challenging and entertaining book to read. I have not read the previous two volumes but would expect that they have been produced to the same high standard as the volume under review.

If you are an aspiring player looking to improve your game you should find that the material is challenging enough to help you on your journey. If you are just a casual player who enjoys sitting down and solving some interesting and challenging problems then there is something there for you as well.

Tony Williams, September 10th 2018

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (8 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510308
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510303
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Calculation Training Volume 3
Chess Calculation Training Volume 3