Category Archives: Opening Theory

The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black

The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black
The Caro-Kann Revisited : A Complete Repertoire for Black

From the rear cover we have :

“Francesco Rambaldi is an Italian Grandmaster who currently lives in St. Louis (USA) and plays for the Saint Louis University Chess Team. Shortly after graduating from high school, Francesco was awarded the Grandmaster title after winning the Wien International Open when he was 16 years old. Throughout his career, he found success at a national level both in youth championships, becoming Italian champion in the U10 (2009), U12 (2011) and U14 (2013) categories, and in open championships, becoming Italian Champion for Rapid and Blitz in 2016. Francesco also won numerous international opens including the previously mentioned Wien International Open (August 2015), the Bergamo International Open (July 2016), the Capo d’Orso International Chess Festival (June 2017) and the Panama Chess Rumble (November 2017).”

GM Francesco Rambaldi, photograph by David Lada
GM Francesco Rambaldi, photograph by David Lada

and also

“This book presents a comprehensive, ready-to-use, and high-quality repertoire for Black against 1.e4. With meticulous analysis and in-depth explanations, the author demonstrates how the Caro-Kann Defense can be used successfully by players of any level. He also draws on his experience and on his trove of novel ideas to present a new take on the Caro-Kann: one that emphasizes Black’s dynamic options while maintaining a solid and flexible setup.”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. We had got used to glossy paper in previous titles but this one reverts to matt. Bring back glossy!

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 welcome addition is a bibliography which is normally absent from TP publications.

However, there is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Some readers will be disappointed.

This first book from GM Francesco Rambaldi provides a more or less complete repertoire for Black versus 1.e4

In the BCN office we have examined books on the Caro-Kann that use various adjectives in their title :

First Steps, Move by Move, Dangerous Weapons, Main Line, Classical, Novelties, Dynamic, Understanding, Easy Guide, Grandmaster Secrets, Training, In Black & White, Krusher, Play the, Starting Out, Grandmaster Repertoire, Beating, New Ideas and finally Modernised. Revisited is a welcome addition!

Previously from Thinkers Publishing we had “The Modernized Caro-Kann” from GM Daniel Fernandez which focused on the Smyslov variation.

The main content is divided into seventeen chapters distributed amongst six parts as follows :

  1. Advance Caro-Kann
  2. Open Caro-Kann
  3. Two Knights Caro-Kann
  4. Panov Variation
  5. Exchange Caro-Kann
  6. Miscellaneous

Each chapter’s content is treated in familiar Thinker’s Publishing style : variations are analysed in detail move by move with game references liberally sprinkled into the text. The explanations and discussion are detailed presenting the ideas in the position.

We kick-off with a thorough discussion of the third most popular line for White : the Advance variation.

Every Caro-Kann player should know that 3.e5 deserves much respect and accurate play from Black to avoid a painful experience : we quite agree that this should be the first chapter therefore. Rambaldi recommends the trendy 3…c5 which scores slightly better than the conventional 3…Bf5. There are 157 pages on 3…c5 alone with most emphasis on the critical 4. dxc5 including the very topical 5.a3 :

which is treated in great depth with new ideas for Black in a line that White in increasingly turning to.

We then turn to the main “meat and potatoes” of this book : the Korchnoi Variation. We have seen this line referred to as the Tartakower Variation in “Understanding the Caro-Kann Defence” by Keene, Soltis, Mednis, Peters and Kaplan (Pitman, 1980). Rambaldi dedicates 70 pages including more explanation of the ideas than for the other parts.

as the main line after

5…exf6 has hitherto largely been ignored in the Caro-Kann literature in favour of the Bronstein-Larsen variation, 5…gxf6, the Capablanca / Classical Variation of 4…Bf5 and Smyslov’s Variation of 4…Nd7. One might have to employ the Tardis and visit (from 1989) Jeremy Silman’s “The Dynamic Caro-Kann” to find any appreciable treatment. JS dubs 5…exf6 the Original Caro-Kann for those who are keen on labels. Rambaldi calls this the Open Caro-Kann, presumably after 3…dxe4.

The popular Two Knights Variation is treated with the reliable 3…Bg4 line and the Panov via Bg4 and Be6 ideas depending on White’s tries. Even the (in)famous double rook endgame (that rarely gets an outing these days at the highest levels) is given a detailed treatment. All of White’s ideas are covered in detail with appropriate recommendations for Black.

The so-called Pseudo-Panov

and the Fantasy Variations

are covered in adequate depth providing almost complete coverage from Black’s perspective.

The coverage of the King’s Indian Attack is disappointingly thin, almost superficial. OK, so 2.d3 is rather uncommon but, nonetheless, a better treatment would have been welcome.

In summary, we have roughly 400 pages of quality analysis with in-depth explanations and new ideas for Black. There is a fresh (and not before time) treatment of the Korchnoi Variation and excellent coverage of the Advance, Two Knights, Panov and Exchange Variations. Of course, these are the lines you will face day-to-day.

Rambaldi recommends the unusual 4…Nf6!? move order in the Exchange Variation :

rather than the more common 4…Nc6 (and 5…Qc7) with the idea to develop the c8 bishop more quickly : interesting!

Rambaldi is a welcome new writer with a friendly style. He is not afraid to disagree with previous authors and present his own ideas.

We would recommend this book as a stand-alone treatment of the Caro-Kann. If you have played 4…Bf5 and / or 4…Nd7 and want to freshen up repertoire then why not consider 4…Nf6 ? It is less drawish and more ambitious if you need to play for the full point with Black.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 5th June, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 406 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (14 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510766
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510761
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Caro-Kann Revisited A : A Complete Repertoire for Black
The Caro-Kann Revisited A : A Complete Repertoire for Black

The Richter-Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation

The Richter - Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation
The Richter – Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation

From the books rear cover :

“The Richter-Rauzer is one of the most complex and rich battlegrounds in the Open Sicilian. This book is the distillation of the authors’ decades-long experience in this variation, offering a practical approach based on understanding and knowledge of typical ideas. Do you wish to explore something double-edged and sharp, this book will leave you confident and fully armed to play for a win. For this second revised edition, Grandmasters Kozul and Jankovic teamed up to present you a way to even throw your most experienced opponent off balance!”

“Zdenko Kozul is a Croatian Grandmaster and the winner of the 2006 European Individual Championship. He has represented his country at Olympiads, European and World Championships for almost twenty five years. His peak FIDE-rating he achieved in 2004, being 2640. Zdenko combines now successfully playing individual an team competitions with working as a trainer for the Croatian Chess Federation.”

“Alojzije Jankovic is a Grandmaster and FIDE trainer from Croatia. In 2010 he shared first place in the Croatian National Championships and played for the Croatian team et the Olympiad. He won several international tournaments and completed his degree at the faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb Croatia.”

At 400 pages The Richter-Rauzer Reborn (second edition) is, indeed, a weighty, almost massive tome ! The first edition was published in September 2014 at a mere 315 pages.

If you are curious (as we were) about the naming of this variation then there is an interesting article (albeit from 2015) on chess.com.

Here are sample pages from the publisher

For those unfamiliar with Sicilian Defence naming schemes, the Richter-Rauzer is one of the sharper open sicilians which starts here :

in which …d6 and …Nc6 are interchangeable to get here.

The Kozul Variation continues from the above position to reach :

MegaBase 2020 lists around 9,000 games with 8…Bd7 with 8…h6 as the runner-up alternative. If we turn on the “Top Games” option we find almost 4,000 games so clearly a popular line at the top level.

Fairly obviously this is a highly theoretical variation (which is not unusual for the open sicilians) with many transpositional possibilities mixed in with sharp and hairy lines : buyer beware !

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

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

The main content is divided into ten chapters :

  1. 9.f3
  2. 10th move sidelines
  3. 10.Nxc6
  4. 11th move sidelines
  5. 12.Nce2
  6. 12.Nf5
  7. 12.Nf3
  8. 13.f5
  9. 13.Qe1 & 15.–
  10. 13.Qe1 & 15.Bd3

In each of these chapters there is an immense amount of detailed analysis to work through and therefore we have 400 pages of material on a position starting at move nine ! An incredible tour de force of an opening book that will take some beating for depth and detail. Probably invaluable to the devotees of the open sicilian and certainly not for feint hearted. Almost certainly this audience for this book will consist of 2000+ Elo rated players who have the motivation to investigate the fine detail and ideas of this hyper sharp line.

Clearly we have not checked the analysis (and why we would we do that anyway?) but if you play open sicilian with either colour and you want to everything there is to know about the Richter-Rauzer then this book is for you.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 8th May, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 2 edition (17 Dec. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510626
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510624
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.5 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Richter - Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation
The Richter – Rauzer Reborn : The Kozul Variation

The Modernised Stonewall Defence

The Modernised Stonewall Defence
The Modernised Stonewall Defence

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

GM Milos Pavlovic
GM Milos Pavlovic

This is his fifth title in the “Modernized” series from Thinkers Publishing with a fourth on the Scotch Game having being published on November 17th. We first reviewed a title in this series with The Modernized Caro-Kann from GM Daniel Fernandez and then we reviewed The Modernised Colle-Zuckertort from Pavlovic.

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

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

The main content is divided into eleven chapters organised into four parts :

  • Part I -Systems with g3 and Nh3
    • Chapter 1 – 5.Nh3
  • Part II – Systems with g3 and Nf3 (Classicial approach with …Be7
    • Chapter 2 – 7.Nc3
    • Chapter 3 – 7.b3
    • Chapter 4 – The Surprising 6…Ne4!?
  • Part III – Systems with g3 and Nf3 (Modern approach with Bd6
    • Chapter 5 7.Qc2
    • Chapter 6 7.b3
    • Chapter 7 7.Nbd2
  • Part IV – Other White setups
    • Chapter 8 – White plays d4, c4 and Nc3
    • Chapter 9 – White plays d4, Nf3 and e3
    • Chapter 10 – London System
    • Chapyter 11 – Irregular 3rd moves

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. In his Introduction the author emphasises the strategical nature of games played in this structure and its legendary reliability : perhaps viewed as a system to avoid losing rather than playing for a win. He goes on to layout the material covered.

The “Modernized” refers to an emphasis in which there is a more active set-up for Black :

rather than the older development on e7 :

As you can infer from the chapter titles the bulk of the book covers lines for White in which the f1 bishop is fianchettoed.

The approach of each chapter is to examine a variation move by move citing example games in sidenotes and the analysis is reinforced by an engine.

This is not a complete repertoire book on how to play the Dutch in general. The student will need to study and learn all of White’s popular second move alternatives such as

and

and, of course

to name but a few. However, there is a stand-alone chapter on

no doubt because of the London System’s huge popularity at club level in the last few years.

This book is ideal perhaps for someone who plays the Classical Dutch (or even the Lenningrad Dutch) who wishes to add the Stonewall to their repertoire. The treatment of the main lines in the Bd6 and Be7 Stonewalls is detailed and up-to-date as of 2020.

If you have never played the Dutch before (as Black) then this book forms the basis of your study with perhaps another Dutch book which covers the pesky second move alternatives. A common trick by Stonewall and Classical Dutch players (to circumvent some of these ideas) is to play 1…e6 rather than 1…f5 but, you will need to be happy playing the Black side of a French Defence after 2.e4.

Playing the Stonewall Dutch will add to your understanding of positional chess and strategy and, of course, Black has won many games with this weapon using a King side attack especially with the g pawn !

We like this book and so will you.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 7th May, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 198 pages
  • Publisher:  Thinkers Publishing; 01 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510731
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510730
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

The Modernised Stonewall Defence
The Modernised Stonewall Defence

Attacking with g2-g4

Attacking with g2-g4 : Dmitry Kryakvin

Attacking with g2-g4
Attacking with g2-g4

From the book’s rear cover :

“The secret of its success may be its anti-positional looks. The pawn thrust g2 – g4 is often so counter-intuitive that it’s a perfect way to confuse your opponents and disrupt their position. Ever since World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik started using it to defeat the elite grandmasters of his day, it has developed, on all levels of play, into an ever more popular and attractive way to fight for the initiative.

Grandmaster Dmitry Kryakvin owes a substantial part of his successes as a chess player to the g2 – g4 attack. In this book he shows how it can be used to defeat a number of important Closed Defences: the Dutch, the Queen’s Gambit, the Anti-Nimzo Indian, the King’s Indian and the Slav.

With lots of instructive examples Kryakvin explains the ins and outs of the attack on the g-file: the typical ways to gain tempi and keep the momentum, and the manoeuvres that will maximize your opponent’s problems. After working with this book you will be fully equipped to use this modern battering ram to define the battlefield. You will have fun and win games!”

GM Dmitry Kryakvin
GM Dmitry Kryakvin

“Dmitry Kryakvin is an International Grandmaster from Russia and an experienced chess trainer and author.”

A first glance at the title and you might think The Grob / Borg has, as promised, returned (to assimilate everyone). Have no fear, this book suggests deploying g4 somewhat later than move one !

This interesting book has a constant theme : the use of x…g2-g4 as a “battering ram” type move by White in various positions arising from main stream Queen’s pawn openings. They range from as early as move two versus the Dutch Defence

to a number of moves later with varying degrees of surprise and effectiveness. The author’s inspiration for this theme comes, perhaps from a surprising but reliable source : the games of Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik.

The author has divided up his content into eight parts (with further sub-chapters) as follows:

  1. Botvinnik’s heritage
  2. The Dutch Defence
  3. The Queen’s Gambit Declined
  4. The Nimzo-Indian Defence
  5. The Anti Nimzo-Indian
  6. The Slav Defence
  7. The King’s Indian Defence
  8. The Grünfeld Indian Defence

Each Part has a significant and interesting introduction establishing the historical context of the opening ideas espoused. For example, Chapter 5 (Attacking with a cast-iron alibi) discusses

an idea of Gerald Abrahams and includes an appreciation of Abrahams himself.This chapter is based around four high quality games analysed in detailing employing the Abrahams idea.

Maybe the most famous early g4 idea is the familiar Shabalov-Shirov Gambit in the Semi-Slav Defence, Meran Variation :

which the author covers in great detail with ten master games.

One of the more shocking ideas is that of Murey Attack vs the Grünfeld Indian Defence. This is

and features in Part VIII.

As with every recent New in Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is (mostly !) 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.

So, what we have here is a veritable potpourri of aggressive ideas to spice your White openings. This book is aimed at the player who perhaps plays main lines most of the time and would like a sort of “something for the weekend” addition to their repertoire for those “must win” situations. You will probably win more games with these lines but you might also lose more games. At any rate fewer draws are likely. The ideas are all “sound” at the level normal humans plays and probably all sound in the hands of Magnus Carlsen.

To take a look yourself try the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. Of course, the book may be purchased from any good chess retailer !

The Kindle format version may be obtained from here

This book is probably not for the London, Torre, Stonewall, Colle system players who like a peaceful start to their games getting the pieces out in routine fashion.

For completeness players of the Black pieces might want to be prepared to face these aggressive lines that might become more fashionable following its publication.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, May 2nd 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 256 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (25 Feb. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918656
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918651
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.9 x 23.3 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Attacking with g2-g4
Attacking with g2-g4

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

Cheparinov’s 1.d4!

Cheparinov's 1.d4!, Volume 1 : King's Indian & Grünfeld
Cheparinov’s 1.d4!, Volume 1 : King’s Indian & Grünfeld

Here is the author’s Wikipedia entry

GM Ivan Cheparinov
GM Ivan Cheparinov

From the rear cover :

“This book marks the start of a series of four on 1.d4 in which Ivan will share the secrets from two decades spent analyzing and playing it at the pinnacle of world chess. This volume in particular deals with two of the most popular replies Black can play after 1.d4: the King’s Indian Defense and Grünfeld Defense. Ivan presents the cutting-edge theory with his personal refinements as well as explanations of the deep strategical nuances that arise after his recommendations.”

Courtesy of New in Chess we have a sample of the content

The author has divided the content into four chapters as follows :

  1. Early Sidelines
  2. Benoni Structures
  3. The Grünfeld
  4. The King’s Indian Sämisch

As mentioned previously, this book is Volume 1 of a four volume series for White to play 1.d4 and 2.c4. Volume 1 presents a repertoire for White to play against the Kings’s Indian, Grünfeld and Benoni defences based around 3.f3, building (or attempting to) a strong centre as follows

The Early Sidelines chapter covers reasonable third move alternatives for Black such as a Benko Gambit style attempt, 3…e6, 3…Nc6 and some lesser alternatives. The author then spends some time on Benoni (but not Benko) type structures suggesting that this approach is one of the best for Black.

The main meat and potatoes of this book is naturally taken up with the Grünfeld and King’s Indian type responses from Black. Each of these are analysed exhaustively using a discursive style that compels the reader to look further into these interesting ideas.

This book will be of considerable interest not only to the White player but also to Grünfeld and King’s Indian players who are keen to stay on top of attempts to stop them doing their thing.

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

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

However, despite these shortcomings this is an excellent addition to White’s armoury and Black players should take note. We look forward to volumes 2,3 and 4 in this series from Cheparinov !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 4th April, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • Publisher:  Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510707
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510709
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1 x 23.4 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Cheparinov's 1.d4!, Volume 1 : King's Indian & Grünfeld
Cheparinov’s 1.d4!, Volume 1 : King’s Indian & Grünfeld

Side-Stepping Mainline Theory

Side-Stepping Mainline Theory : Gerard Welling and Steve Giddins

Side-Stepping Mainline Theory
Side-Stepping Mainline Theory

From the book’s rear cover :

“Spend more study time on what’s really decisive in your games!
The average chess player spends too much time on studying opening theory. In his day, World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker argued that improving amateurs should spend about 5% of their study time on openings. These days club players are probably closer to 80%, often focusing on opening lines that are popular among grandmasters.

Club players shouldn’t slavishly copy the choices of grandmasters. GMs need to squeeze every drop of advantage from the opening and therefore play highly complex lines that require large amounts of memorization. The main objective for club players should be to emerge from the opening with a reasonable position, from which you can simply play chess and pit your own tactical and positional understanding against that of your opponent.

Gerard Welling and Steve Giddins recommend the Old Indian-Hanham Philidor set-up as a basis for both Black and White. They provide ideas and strategies that can be learned in the shortest possible time, require the bare minimum of maintenance and updating, and lead to rock-solid positions that you will know how to handle. By adopting a similar set-up for both colours, with similar plans and techniques, you will further reduce study time.

Side-stepping Mainline Theory will help you to focus on what is really decisive in the vast majority of non-grandmaster games: tactics, positional understanding and endgame technique.

Gerard Welling is an International Master and an experienced chess trainer from the Netherlands. He has contributed to NIC Yearbook and Kaissiber, the freethinker’s magazine on non-mainline chess openings.

IM Gerard Welling
IM Gerard Welling

Steve Giddins is a FIDE Master from England, and a highly experienced chess writer and journalist. He compiled and edited The New In Chess Book of Chess Improvement, the bestselling anthology of master classes from New In Chess magazine.”

FM Steve Giddins
FM Steve Giddins

The authors have divided up the content into six chapters as follows:

  1. The keys to successful opening play
  2. The Old Indian against 1.d4
  3. The Old Indian against Flank Openings
  4. The Philidor against 1.e4
  5. The System as White
  6. Tables of the main variations

So, what we have here is somewhat unusual : this is a complete repertoire book for the same player of both the Black and White pieces using essentially the same structure. Precedents have been previously set using similar approaches with a combination of the Pirc and King’s Indian Defences combined with the King’s Indian Attack or reversed King’s Indian Defence but, nonetheless, this is an unusual and welcome approach to building a repertoire.

So the structure for Black is essentially :

which could be so-called Modern Philidor when white plays 1.e4 and The Old Indian when White defers e4

and the structure for White is :

which is essentially a Reversed Modern Philidor / Old Indian or more correctly An Inverted Hanham.

All of these structures are sound, resilient and reward manoeuvring play where the better play will win. More importantly a player familiar with these structures will enjoy understanding of the plans and ideas is likely to enjoy a considerable advantage on the clock. This is particularly true for the first player based on the rarity of the Inverted Hanham.

The authors have organised their material very logically showing the reader firstly the way to play for Black against almost anything and only then (when the structures are familiar) do they demonstrate the way for the first player. I’m sure players will be more comfortable playing these lines for Black since it might seem somewhat unnatural to play 1.e4 and then play slowly after that.

The authors use a standard model to explain these systems : they take 92 high quality games and analyse each one in detail. Combined with this is a clear description of the themes and ideas contained within the Black and White structures. This is very much an ideas based opening book rather than based on rote memorisation. One of the issues analysing these lines is that they are very transpositional compared to say the sequential and forcing lines of the Sicilian Dragon or Slav Defence. Chapter six helps enormously the reader to navigate their way through the transpositions especially for the Inverted Hanham.

Here is a game from Istvan Csom, an expert on this system :

As with every recent New in Chess publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is (mostly !) 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.

In summary, Welling and Giddins have produced an out-of-the-ordinary book which fills a gap in the market : complete opening book not based on rote memorisation. The middlegame starts very early in these lines and the ideas for White are particularly intriguing. if you adopt these suggestions then your middlegame play will benefit hugely. This is probably not a book for hackers or those who have no patience : highly recommended !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, March 31st 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • Publisher: New In Chess (16th August 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918699
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918699
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.8 x 23.6 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Side-Stepping Mainline Theory
Side-Stepping Mainline Theory

Chess Opening Workbook for Kids

Chess Opening Workbook for Kids : Graham Burgess

Chess Opening Workbook for Kids
Chess Opening Workbook for Kids

FIDE Master Graham Burgess needs no introduction to readers of English language chess books ! Minnesota, USA based, Graham has authored more than twenty five books and edited at least 250 and is editorial director of Gambit Publications Ltd. In 1994 Graham set a world record for marathon blitz playing and has been champion of the Danish region of Funen !

FM Graham Burgess
FM Graham Burgess

Readers may remember “101 Chess Opening Surprises” published in 1998, also by Gambit Publications, was well received and added to GKBs reputation for originality, accuracy and encyclopedic knowledge of openings.

Chess Opening Traps for Kids is the ninth in a series of “for Kids” books and is robustly (!) hardbound in a convenient size such that weights are not need to keep it propped open (unlike some A5 paperbacks) meaning studying with this book is more convenient than with many books. The layout and printing is clear (as you would expect with Gambit) with numerous diagrams. In essence, players under 18 (for whom this book is intended) will find it easy to dip in out of and it can be used without a board (although BCN would always recommend following each game on a “proper” board).

As you would expect with Gambit, the notation is English short form algebraic using figurines for pieces. Each diagram has coordinates and a “whose move it is indicator” (thank-you Gambit !); welcome for the intended junior readership.

This book follows on from the highly regarded (2018) Chess Opening Traps for Kids from the same author and reviewed here

The author divides the material into 11 chapters titled as follows :

  1. Warm-Ups
  2. Mate
  3. Double Attack
  4. Trapped Pieces
  5. General Tactics
  6. Hunting the King
  7. Development and the Centre
  8. Castling
  9. Does Bxh7+ Work?
  10. Advanced Exercises
  11. Tests

This is not a book about openings per se. It focuses more on tactics and traps and tactical ideas that happen very early in many games. It is not organised on a per opening variation basis and neither is there an index of openings. If that is what you want then this is not the right book for you.

However, this is much, much more than a book about openings…

Chapters 2 – 9 each kick-off with an introduction to the chapter’s theme followed by (in some cases) 60 example test positions where the theme can be exploited by an accurate move sequence : the student is invited to work-out this sequence. The chapter ends with detailed solutions to each test position.

Chapter 10 are exercises using any of the themes in the previous chapters but randomised and without any clue as to what the theme is. In general these are more challenging and serve as a test of what should have been learnt so far !

Chapter 11 contains 40 test positions some according to theme and rest without a clue. Following the solutions the student is invited to assess their strength at these exercises using a simple score table.

Here is an example from Chapter 3, Double Attack :

Example #5


White has just played 6c4?? Why was that a blunder ?

See the foot of this review for the solution should you need to.

For further insight you may use the “Look Inside” feature from Amazon here. Of course there are many worthy book retailers to be your supplier !

In summary, this is an excellent book with much original material presented in a clear and friendly way and therefore to be recommended. It is an ideal follow-up to Chess Opening Traps for Kids and we would advise studying Chess Opening Traps for Kids first and then move on to this workbook.

One negative comment we would make concerns the cover. “Never judge a book by its cover” we are told and you might look at this book cover and think it was suitable for say primary aged children. I would say not but I would suggest it suitable from secondary aged children. I would say strong juniors from 12 upwards would read this book and enjoy it.

We would like to see an index of openings from which the theme examples were obtained.

The title and cover might, perhaps, put off the adult club player market. However, the content is totally suitable for adult club players upto say 180 ECF or 2000 Elo.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, March 30th 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd. (15th November 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465379
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Chess Opening Workbook for Kids
Chess Opening Workbook for Kids

Solution to Example#5
The problem is similar to the Cambridge Springs Trap : 6…dxc4! wins a piece. After 7 Bxc4 Qa5+ the queen check picks up the loose bishop. This has even cropped up at super grandmaster level. The other key point is that White can’t unload his bishop with 7 Bxf6 because 7…cxd3 leaves two white pieces attacked.

Remembering Gerald Abrahams (15-iii-1980)

Gerald Abrahams by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), whole-plate film negative, 21 August 1933
by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), whole-plate film negative, 21 August 1933

Death Anniversary of Gerald Abrahams (15-iii-1980)

In the recently (February 25th, 2020) published “Attacking with g2 – g4” by GM Dmitry Kryakvin writes about Abrahams as follows :

“It is believed that the extravagant 5.g2-g4 was first applied at a high level, namely in the British Championship by Gerald Abrahams. Abrahams was a truly versatile person – a composer, lawyer, historian, philosopher, politician (for 40 years a member of the Liberal Party) and the author of several books. Of his legal work, the most famous is the investigation into the murder of Julia Wallace in 1931 in Liverpool, where her husband was the main suspect. As an alibi, William Herbert Wallace claimed he was at a chess club. Dozens of books and films have been devote to the murder of Mrs. Wallace – indeed, this is a script worthy of Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie!

Abrahams played various card games with great pleasure and success, but the main passion of the Liverpool resident was chess. Abrahams achieved his greatest success in the championships of Great Britain in 1933 and 1946, when he won bronze medals. The peak of his career was undoubtedly his participation in the USSR-Great Britain radio match (1946) where on the 10th board Abrahams beat Botvinnik’s second and assistant grandmaster Viacheslav Ragozin with a score of 1.5-0.5

Gerald Abrahams had a taste of studying opening theory, and made a distinct contribution to the development of the Noteboom Variation, which is often known as the Abrahams-Noteboom.

Ten years after he introduced the move 5.g2-g4 to the English public (1953), the famous grandmaster Lajos Portisch brought it into the international arena.”

Here is an interesting article by Tim Harding on the naming of the Abrahams-Noteboom Variation of the Semi-Slav Defence

Here is his Wikipedia entry

See his games at Chessgames.com

Technique in Chess
Technique in Chess
Not Only Chess
Not Only Chess
The Chess Mind
The Chess Mind
Test Your Chess
Test Your Chess

Gerald Abrahams contributed to opening theory in the Queen’s Gambit Declined / Semi-Slav Defence with his creation of the Abrahams-Noteboom Defence as discussed in the following video :

Remembering John Cochrane, (04-ii-1798 02-iii-1878)

John Cochrane
John Cochrane

Death Anniversary of John Cochrane, (04-ii-1798 02-iii-1878)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

Scottish player, barrister, called to the bar in 1822. If the so-called romantic style existed then Cochrane has a claim to be regarded as its founder. A dashing player, he attacked at all costs often sacrificing pieces with abandon, a style that was successful in the England of the 1820s; but when in 1821 he went to Paris, then the world’s chess centre, he was beaten by both Deschapelles and Bourdonnais. Subsequently he studied the game but he did not change his style. In 1822 he published A Treatise on the Game of Chess, a popular book largely based on Traite des Amateurs (see Verdoni) and Lolli but with a few contributions of his own.

Although Cochrane came from an old Scottish family he led the London team in the famous correspondence match against Edinburgh, 1824-8. He persuaded his team to play the Scotch Gambit, but when London had obtained a fine position Cochrane left for India. Although the Londoners, led by Lewis, failed to carry the attack, the Scotch Gambit became fashionable for more than 15 years, and other lively attacking openings were developed.

Cochrane stayed in India until his retirement in 1869 except for one visit to England, 1841-3, when he played hundreds of friendly games against Staunton, who began by winning a large majority, Wilhelm Steinitz knew both contestants and states that their last encounter was a match of 12 games. Staunton conceding pawn and move for the first six- and that Cochrane made an even score when receiving odds but won (-1-3—2— !) when playing on even terms, John Cochrane should not be confused with James Cochrane (c, 1770-1830), co-author of a book on the Muzio gambit.

The Cochrane Gambit is :

and the Cochrane Variation in the King’s Gambit is :

The Sicilian Defence, Staunton-Cochrane Variation is :

and the Scotch Gambit, Cochrane Variation is :

The Cochrane Defence is a drawing method for in the rook, bishop & king vs rook & king ending.