FM Matthew Wadsworth, one of England’s most promising young players, has earned his first Grandmaster norm from his excellent performance in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew, who is eighteen (nineteen in June), has a current FIDE standard play rating of 2413 and is ranked 34th amongst the active players in England (by FIDE rating) earning his FM title in 2016. Matthew has IMs norm under his belt but could leapfrog to Grandmaster status with further norms and by increasing his live rating to 2500. Most likely, however, is that the IM title will be ratified at the next FIDE Congress now that his live rating has topped 2400.
Matthew’s first ECF grade was 66A in 2007 (aged 7) and he played for Maidenhead in local leagues, St. Pirans’s School and then Reading School. Matthew joined 4NCL at an early age and played for AMCA (Andrew Martin Chess Academy) soon rising the ranks to the AMCA first team and he currently represents the Guildford 2 team in Division One of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew’s 4NCL results for the 2018-19 season were :
1. Fodor, Tamas Jr, draw
2. Ashton, Adam G, win
3. Gonda, Laszlo, draw
4. Kulon, Klaudia, win
5. Holland, James P, win
6. Stewart, Ashley, win
7. Ledger, Andrew J, win
8. Plat, Vojtech, loss
9. no game
10. Jackson, James P, win
11. no game
giving a performance of 7/9
One of the undoubted highlights of Matthews chess year was has draw with Oxford domiciled GM Hou Yifan, three times Women’s World Champion from China during the annual Varsity match, Matthew representing Cambridge.
The author of this book Herman Grooten is an International master and has taught players such as Loek van Wely.
At the start of the book Grooten emphasises that many chess players memorise lots of opening theory but it does not improve their results as they do not understand the position when their opponent deviates from theory.
He explores the various pawn structures in variations of openings in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) and (Giuoco Piano) Italian game.
The first variation he looks at is the so-called Berlin wall (Berlin Defence) which was used very successfully by Vladimir Kramnik in his World Championship match vs Gary Kasparov.
Knowing Kasparov was a great attacking player Kramnik chose a variation which leads to a Queenless middle game.
Although Black ends up with doubled pawns on the Queenside (as in the Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation) his bishop pair is good compensation and his doubled pawns are not weak and easily exploited.
Grooten then shows what each side should be trying to achieve to progress their position.
In the Open Lopez the pawn structure is very different : White has a four to three pawn majority on the kingside and with a pawn on e5 and good use of the d4 he has good chances for an advantage and it is well known that Viktor Korchnoi played the Open Lopez in his famous match with Anatoly Karpov. Black has a four to three majority on the queenside but his c7 pawn is backwards and weak. If Black can play c5 then he will probably equalise but he normally cannot afford to play Nxd4 as after cxd4 his c7 pawn is very weak.
Next Grooten examines variations of the Closed Lopez where play typically goes 5 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 00 8 c3 d6 9 h3. Here the Zaitzev 9…Bb7 Chigorin 9…Na5 and Breyer 9…Nb8 are explored in detail. In all three of these famous lines the pawn structure is the same White pawns on c3 d4 and e4 Black pawns on c5 d6 and e5.
White normally can decide the structure by either playing d5 or d4xc5 or maintain tension with Nbd2 when Black can change the structure with c5xd4,
Paul Keres often did this in the Chigorin Variation.
Grooten looks in depth at the theory of the Two Knights where White plays 4 Ng5 including some variations in the main line 5 Na5 which I have not seen before and maybe are unusual and interesting.
Finally, He also looks at some interesting world class games the best of which is a win by Paul Keres over Mikhail Tal as Black in the Chigorin Variation.
In summary, this excellent book will appeal to club players who know these openings but are not sure what plan(s) to adopt in the consequent middle game.
The Chigorin defence to the Ruy Lopez comes about when black plays the closed 5…Be7 variation and play continues 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 00 9.h3 now black unleashes 9…Na5.
The opening is named after the Russian player Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850 to 1908) who twice played Wilhelm Steinitz for the world title, losing on both occasions.
The authors of the book are Dutch Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov and Spanish (appropriately enough !) Grandmaster Ivan Salgado Lopez.
Anyone playing the black side of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 has to face the problem of how to get equality after 3.Bb5 undoubtedly the most challenging move. White’s normal strategy will often be to play for a kingside attack and therefore black needs to find a good defence that gives him equal chances and the opportunity to take over the initiative if white goes astray. The two Ivans offer a defence to the Ruy Lopez that seems to do that and one which is a lot more interesting than the (in my opinion) boring (according to many!) Berlin Defence.
Firstly, I was surprised to learn that this opening variation was first played by (1910 World Championship Challenger) Carl Schlechter in 1902 and his opponent was Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Chigorin himself played the defence twice but it was Akiba Rubinstein who made the opening popular playing it many times against world class opponents. Later on Capablanca, Lasker, Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky and particularly Paul Keres all helped to make it a popular response to the Spanish Opening.
The book starts out by discussing early games and detailing middle game plans for Black. The first variation to be discussed in detail is 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 citing the stem game Lasker vs Tarrasch giving an excellent example of how black should play the position. A whole chapter then looks at the games of Paul Keres (most of which he won) however it does not include his famous game v Robert James Fischer (Zurich 1959) which is nevertheless analysed in another chapter : Fischer won that historic encounter.
An attractive (and unusual ) feature of this book is that it also points out best lines for White to play rather than simply evangelizing the Chigorin Variation from Black’s perspective. An example of this is when black chooses 11…Bb7 over 11…Qc7 and after 12.d5! it is difficult for black to activate the bishop or the knight on a5.
A better 11th move for Black is Nd7 which features in several games. Here again the author’s point out that 12.d5 is playing into blacks’ hand as he plays Nb6 intending f5. A better try is 12.a4 as a number of high level games demonstrate.
The latter part of the book discusses much theory and sums up which lines are promising for each player and which are to be avoided.
Summing up, I would say that this is an excellent book and any player studying it is likely to be better prepared than their opponent for sure.
Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, April 16th, 2019
After four years, ending in 2014, of working with the Bulgarian Grandmaster, Veselin Topalov, the second (“a Second generally has to work at night, often all night”) to the former FIDE World Champion speaks of his duties, preparation and with colour (“He fought like a lion for 71 moves”). It is a tale of dedication and loyalty to a seemingly fearsome character. (Presumably this could not have been written whilst the author, who is also the Managing Editor of Thinkers series, was under contract?!)
Chapters: A World Apart. The Start of Our Co-operation. Learning the Job. Zug More Success! Tough Times in Thessalonika. Rollercoaster in Beijing! Preparing for the Candidates. The Candidates Tournament. A Few Novelties More. Exercises 24 positions and Solutions.
Many annotated games, mostly recent, no Rabars but ratings quoted. Use of smaller diagrams in notes (good!). A few cartoons and 7 crosstables. Very artistic colour cover. No index.
Digestible and thorough and, happily, honest. The author has been a French grandmaster for the last decade.
This is a relaxed and almost carefree publication written by a grandmaster little known to me, though I imagine readers of BCN will not confuse him with Gennady Kuzmin (b.1946). Alexey was, in fact, born in 1963 and is sensibly introduced on the back of this weighty paperback, a recent arrival from Thinkers Publishing who are, in turn, a new publisher in the realm of the Royal Game.
The subject matter is the Candidates tournaments and matches – almost all staged within FIDE – and bears the sub-title ‘Budapest 1950 to Berlin 2018’.
Certainly the book, which features test positions, crosstables, black and white photos, no index, a very artistic aqua marine cover, six chapters, a key to symbols and, of course, well annotated games, should be of interest to many players. Not all the games are from candidates matches or tournaments but this surely doesn’t matter. And I did say it has relaxed in approach.
Younger readers will, I hope, enjoy a bit of history as the qualification history is relived and the old names, so many champions from the time of Botvinnik onwards, are resurrected respectfully and with relish.
I spotted a few mistakes. The numbering of the Tests, which surely might have been sequential, is the same in each chapter. Jussupow called himself Yusupov as long ago as 1986 and some of the photos are so dark that they are hardly worthwhile.
I would like to like this book but it is a bit of a mix, a hotch-potch, at least in my opinion. Certainly it is pleasantly free from misprints and original in concept.
James Pratt, Basingstoke, April 2019
Book Details :
Papercover : 280 pages
Publisher: Thinkers Publishing, (1st January 2019)
This book, written by the young English GM Daniel Fernandez and published by Thinkers Publishing, is (as the sub-title suggests) a repertoire book for Black players of the Caro-Kann defence. As such, Fernandez does not cover all possible black lines, but instead he recommends lines against each of the systems that White can employ against the Caro-Kann – and in many instances he recommends more than one line so that the reader can choose according to preference.
His repertoire consists of one or two solid (but not sterile) lines against each system, but additionally he throws in the occasional not-so-sound line (and always warns that he is doing this) that can be tried as a surprise weapon, or perhaps at faster time controls.
This is an excellent book, Fernandez manages to mix detailed analysis, explanations and personal opinion in a way which makes the book readable and enjoyable to go through (and believe me, some of the analysis is very detailed). The book is well produced and organised, and quite substantial at 416 pages. There is no detailed Index of Variations (usually a bugbear of mine!), but it is easy to find the line you’re looking for from the Table of Contents and the beginning of the book and a mini-Table of Contents page at the beginning of each chapter for the sub-variations.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone thinking about taking up the Caro-Kann, and for that matter to anyone who already plays it – it is one of the best opening books I have seen.
It is difficult to discuss this book without comparing it to Jovanka Houska’s book “The Caro-Kann” produced by Everyman Chess. Both books are recent (Houska 2015, Fernandez 2018) repertoire books by top English players who play the Caro themselves. (It is the Houska book that I used when I started using the Caro a couple of years ago.) In my opinion, both books are top-notch and provide the prospective Caro player with a good repertoire. If asked which book I would recommend this prospective Caro player to buy I would answer “both of them” – despite the overlap there are substantial differences in some lines (for example Houska recommends 4 …Bf5 after 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 whereas Fernandez recommends 4 …Nd7 here) and this gives players more choice over the lines they select. Of course, if budget does not permit buying both books then either one will do the job. I would be reluctant to choose only one of these excellent books, so I will not do so.
In summary: The Modernized Caro-Kann is an excellent choice for prospective Caro-Kann players, or indeed for those who already play the Caro-Kann and are looking to update their repertoire.