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First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

First Steps : King's Indian Defence
First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

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.

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

The author first wrote about the King’s Indian Defence (an opening for Black he himself plays) in 1989 (Winning with the King’s Indian) and followed this up with the widely acknowledged King’s Indian Battle Plans in 2004.

King's Indian Battle Plans
King’s Indian Battle Plans

The “First Steps” series from Everyman Chess is (according to Everyman Chess)

an opening series that is ideal for improving players who want simple and straightforward explanations. First Steps emphasizes

  • the basic principles
  • the basic strategies
  • the key tricks and traps

So, bearing the above in mind, does, in true “Ronseal Fashion”, this book do what it says on the tin ?

We have nine chapters :

  1. Inspiration
  2. Pawn Structures
  3. The Classical System
  4. The Fianchetto Variation
  5. Lines with Bg5
  6. The Sämisch Variation
  7. The Four Pawns Attack
  8. Less Common White Systems
  9. King’s Indian Byways

followed by an Index of Variations and Index of Complete Games (featuring a good number of the author’s own games with both colours).

Interestingly the “Byways” chapter introduces readers to the somewhat rare Dizdar-Indian, which may be new to many :

with around 1200 games in Megabase 2019, being played by Caruana, Mamedov and Fressinet to name drop but a few, this is perhaps a developing sideline should White play Nf3 before Nc3.

Anyway, before I digress too far…

The meat and potatoes of this books kicks off with six decisive (dubbed Inspirational) games which leave one with optimism about a decisive result one way or the other, when employing the King’s Indian Defence. In order to avoid accusations of bias, in game six, Black (Richard Britton), is crushed in 19 moves by Andrew himself :

White to play (and we leave the reader to enjoy finding White’s idea.

Moving on to Chapter Two, Pawn Structures, we find an in-depth discussion of typical themes and idea that arise from the variations to be discussed in subsequent chapters. If only all opening books included such an insightful chapter, players new to the opening would pick up the Good, the bad and the Ugly so much quicker !

The author is also to be thanked for including games where Black gets it very wrong and goes down in flames. Gone are the days of biased books such as “Winning with the Damiano” (OK, I picked an extreme example !) in which Black has somehow refuted 1.e4. This book therefore is much more politically chess correct and credible in what it recommends.

Having studied in detail the Pawn Structures chapter the reader should be in good shape to roll-up their sleeves, pour a glass of wine and get stuck in. For each of the remaining chapters we are introduced to the theory of the set-up selected by our opponent. The Classical System chapter (understandably the largest) features 30 games analysed in detail including emphasis on the ideas, criticism of flawed thinking by either player, top tips that milestone themes the student must understand with plenty of diagrams.

The authors style is friendly, engaging and informal, leaving the student with the feeling that they are having a lesson with the author rather than simply reading a book. This I find helps to make learning the KID a pleasure rather than a chore. You get the feeling you are learning about chess and not just another opening for Black.

To give you a feel here is an excerpt from Chapter Three :


I’m very doubtful whether action in the centre or on the kingside is going to get White anywhere, as he is playing right into Black’s hands. Smirin is now able to whip up an attack.

TIP : It is rarely a good idea to play on the side of the board where your opponent is stronger.

17…exf4! 18 Bxf4 Qh4 19 Rael Ng5 20 Kh2 Rae8 21 Qc1

You would think that 21 b64 would be high on the list of White’s priorities, but in this case 21…axb4 Na6 makes it awkward for him to defend his b4-pawn, as the natural 23 Qb3? is met by 23…Be5!

Are there any notable omissions ? A First Steps book is not intended to provide everything but I would have liked to see more detailed coverage of the increasingly popular Bagirov / Krasenkow Variation :

Games 53 & 54 in the section on the Classical Variation do provide coverage to some extent.

And, maybe also a small mention perhaps of the dangerous Barry Attack :

and the KID player (who may not play the Pirc) has to decide if he wishes to allow e4 or play a Grünfeld Defence.

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 and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text.

A couple of small gripes with the production are : the diagrams do not have a “to move” indicator. secondly, some Everyman books (but curiously not this one) have an extra folding part to the front and rear covers. These I find protect the book from damage and also can be used as an emergency book mark !

Although I do not play the King’s Indian Defence myself I would certainly be keen to use this book to introduce myself to its rich possibilities. I’m not keen on books written by an author who does not play the recommended system his or herself. In this case there can be no doubt that the advice comes from much experience, enthusiasm and passion for the KID. Please give it a go !

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

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 336 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (3 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781944288
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781944288
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.9 x 23.8 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

First Steps : King's Indian Defence
First Steps : King’s Indian Defence

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4 : Viktor Moskalenko

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4
An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

“Half the variations which are calculated in a tournament game turn out to be completely superfluous. Unfortunately, no one knows in advance which half..” – Jan Timman

The value for any practising chess player of a coherent opening repertoire when playing with the white pieces is key to success, enjoyment and efficient use of study time.  Books with “Opening Repertoire” in the title are many and varied and we were intrigued to what the emphasis in this latest book from New in Chess would be.

From the books rear cover :

Viktor Moskalenko (1960) is an International Grandmaster and a FIDE Senior Trainer. The former Ukrainian champion’s recent books include The Even More Flexible French, The Wonderful Winawer, Training with Moska and The Fabulous Budapest Gambit.

GM Viktor Moskalenko
GM Viktor Moskalenko

So, what is An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4 about ?

Up front one factor worth noting is that Moskalenko is advocating a repertoire based around the classical move order approach to playing the “Queen’s Gambit”, viz, 1 . d4, 2.c4 and 3. Nc3 rather than say 1. d4, 2.Nf3, 3.c4 which is, nonetheless, increasing in popularity.  Some lines simply do not transpose of course so please bear that in mind !

The author has identified 14 defences employed by Black and offers  lines for White against all of these.  The variations given attention (and the order in which they are presented ) are :

  1. King’s Indian Defence : Four Pawns Attack
  2. Modern Benoni Defence : Taimanov Attack
  3. Snake Benoni (a fairly rare beast at club level and good to see it discussed therefore)
  4. Indo-Benoni which includes the Schmid Benoni & Czech Benoni
  5. Benko & Volga Gambit
  6. Grünfeld Defence
  7. Nimzo Indian Defence
  8. Slav Defence : Exchange Variation
  9. Queen’s Gambit Accepted
  10. Queen’s Gambit Declined : Triangle Variation
  11. Queen’s Gambit Declined : Exchange Variation
  12. Baltic Defence
  13. Chigorin Defence
  14. Albin Counter Gambit

For each of these chapters there is a theory / instructional section containing the recommended line, analysis and variations followed by a separate section of illustrative games from modern practise. Many of these 106 games are the authors own with insightful, deep notes explaining his thought processes.

For all fourteen chapters the emphasis of the author’s recommendations is on “active play supported by a powerful pawn centre” and this bears out when exploring the various recommendations.

Ideas featuring an early f3 (hence our comment about the Nf3 move order earlier!) appear frequently with the exceptions of the slightly surprising Exchange Slav  and the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. recommendations. However, the latter pair do use active piece play lines (with an early Nf3 in the QGA).

The most interesting  bonus is when one investigates the games section that is associated with each of the chapters. There is generous use of six clear symbols designating something special about various lines as follows :

  • TRICK : hidden tactics and some tricky ideas, e.g. traps you can set and pitfalls you have to avoid.
  • PUZZLE : possible transpositions, move order subtleties, curiosities and rare lines.
  • WEAPON : the best lines to choose; strong or surprising options for both attack and defence, which deserve attention.
  • PLAN : the main ideas for one of the sides in the next phase of the game.
  • STATISTICS : winning percentages for a line for either side / player.
  • KEEP IN MIND : here, fundamental ideas for either side are given.

An example from game 66 in the Exchange Slav chapter :

Black has played 11…Na5

12. Kf2

KEEP IN MIND : The king’s move is included in White’s plan, but it is more accurate to play h2-h4 or Ng3 first :

WEAPON / TRICK : For instance , 12.h4!? Nc4 13. Qc2!? b5 14. b3!? (with initiative)  (14. Qb1 Khairullin-Kapnisis, Budva 2009) 14…b4? 15 Nxd5!+-;

WEAPON : Or 12. Ng3 !?

analysis diagram

12…Bc6 (12…h6 13 h4.!?) 13.g5!? Nd7 14.h4 Be7 15.Kf2! b5 (Moskalenko – Alono Rosell, Catalonia tt 2013) 16.Nce2!

Possibly the only disappointing  recommendation is that of the use of the  Exchange Slav to take on both the Slav and the Semi-Slav family.  Recommending more ambitious lines for White would have increased the size of the book substantially and also the learning workload for the student : sometimes a line in the sand has to be drawn !

Reviewers usually like to point out material that they believe has been omitted and we will not disappoint you ! Chapters (we believe) should have been included are treatments of :

  1. The Queen’s Indian Defence (the most surprising omission of all)
  2. The Old Indian Defence (quite a rare bird of course)
  3. The Dutch Defence (see below*)
  4. Queen’s Gambit : Tarrasch Defence (popular at club level)

*In fairness to Moskalenko he refers readers to his previously (2014) New in Chess published The Diamond Dutch treatment to handle the white side of 1.d4 f5

We can also forgive the absence of any treatment of the Englund Gambit and other such blitz and rapidplay oddities !

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.

At the rear is the customary detailed Index of Variations and following that there is an Index of Players where the numbers refer to pages.

In summary this book provides a pragmatic and fighting repertoire for White against most of the all the commonly encountered responses to 1.d4 and the Queen’s Gambit. There is a host of interesting new and dangerous ideas that help you fight for the whole point with the white pieces : recommended !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, August 13th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • Publisher: New In chess (2nd July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918303
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918309
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.1 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4
An Attacking Repertoire for White with 1.d4

Learn from Michal Krasenkow

Learn from Michal Krasenkow : Michal Krasenkow

Learn from Michal Krasenkow
Learn from Michal Krasenkow

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

GM Michal Kransekow
GM Michal Kransekow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colin Purdon, July 20th 2019

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

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

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Learn from Michal Krasenkow
Learn from Michal Krasenkow

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games
Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games : Alex Dunne

FM Alex Dunne

FM Alex Dunne
FM Alex Dunne

How we all laughed, back in the day. How we all laughed whenever Fred Reinfeld’s name was mentioned. All those books written for patzers. How to Win When You’re Ahead. How to Win When You’re Behind. How to Win When You’re Equal. How to Win With the White Pieces. How to Win With the Black Pieces. How to Win with the Blue Pieces. How to Win with the Yellow Pieces. Well, perhaps we made up some of those titles, but you know what I mean. Endless books of basic, over-simplified instruction, not for the likes of us.

But now, half a century or so on, I’d say that Fred is one of my heroes. A man who brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people, teaching them the basics so that they could move onto higher level instruction later on if they chose to do so. If they didn’t, no matter: they were still enjoying chess. And he wrote some excellent higher level books as well. A particular favourite of mine was his collection of Tarrasch’s best games: I guess Tarrasch’s logical style suited Reinfeld’s style of annotations.

There was much more to him than chess books, though. In the 1930s, when he was in his 20s, he was one of the strongest players in the USA, numbering Reshevsky (twice), Fine and Marshall among his victims.  At the start of 1942 he decided to give up competitive chess and concentrate on writing. It wasn’t just chess books that he wrote, either. His bibliography includes books on checkers, coin and stamp collecting, science, maths and history. He died relatively young, in 1964, at the age of 54. Granted another 20 or 30 years, who knows how many books he would have written.

It’s easy to mock, isn’t it? We can all name authors who decided it would be more lucrative to write bad books quickly than to write good books slowly. but Reinfeld’s books, although for the most part not written for stronger players, were by no means bad. He was an excellent writer and pioneering teacher who developed the ‘solitaire chess’ method of asking questions on a game and awarding points for good answers. It’s hard to disagree that he was one of the most influential figures in mid-20th century chess, and a biobibliography was long overdue.

Fred Reinfeld
Fred Reinfeld

Sadly, this volume doesn’t really do Reinfeld full justice. The author, Alex Dunne, is an enthusiast rather than an academic historian. It includes 282 games (actually 281, as one game appears with two sets of annotations), mostly played by him, some with notes, either by Reinfeld or by Dunne. You might possibly want more annotations, or you might think that, as Reinfeld was best known as a writer, this doesn’t matter too much.

Dunne also provides, as you might expect, details of Reinfeld’s books, although it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s a discussion about whether or not Reinfeld ghostwrote Reshevsky on Chess and Marshall’s My Fifty Years of Chess, but Dunne adds nothing further to what is readily available online and leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. There’s also nothing about Edward Young, generally assumed to be a pen-name of Reinfeld, although the books published under this name are included in the bibliography. (Wikipedia and other online sources claim that Reinfeld also used the pseudonym Robert V Masters, but Dunne tells us, without providing sources, that Masters was actually Sterling Publishing Company President David Boehm.)

Reinfeld produced American editions of various British chess books. I’d have welcomed more information about what, if any, changes were made. To take just one example, he mentions Epic Battles of the Chessboard by ‘Richard Cole’. He might have mentioned that the original title was Battles Royal of the Chessboard,  and should certainly have given the author, Richard Nevil Coles, who, for some reason, was usually known by his middle name rather than his excellent first name, his correct surname. ‘R Nevil Coles’ would have been much better. Again, Morphy’s Games of Chess is incorrectly attributed to E Sergeant in the text, but the bibliography correctly identifies the author as Philip Sergeant.

Reverting to the games, some of Reinfeld’s opponents are identified by their first name and surname, others only by their initial and surname. I thought I knew that W Goldwater, for example, was Walter, and it took all of 5 seconds for Mr Google to confirm this.

All in all, then, something of a missed opportunity. A worthy book and a worthy subject, but lacking the rigorous historical research and accuracy we expect from this publisher. I’d like to suggest a group biography of Reinfeld and his occasional co-authors Chernev and Horowitz as a possible project for a US chess historian. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything else, if you’re interested in chess history of this period, chess literature or chess teaching you’ll still want to buy this book.

Here’s one of Reinfeld’s favourite games:

 

 

Richard James, Twickenham July 15th 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 194 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 October 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476676542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476676548
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of McFarland Books

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games
Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players : The Tactics Workbook that Also Explains All Key Concepts

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players : Frank Erwich

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players
1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players

“Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” – Savielly Tartakower

Every chess player enjoys (or should !) solving and practising tactics and, let’s be pragmatic, most games at mortal level are decided by executing them if the conditions are right. Creating suitable conditions is, of course, another book or books and I’m confident New in Chess will publish such material in due course.

FIDE Master Frank Erwich is a a professional chess teacher for the Royal Dutch Chess Federations, coach and active player. In 2012 he established a teaching company and, from his own web site :

He works as an editor for New in Chess, he helps with the development of material for chess books and chess apps, he writes about chess (including author of 1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players and the e-book Basic Chess rules for Kids ), he makes online lessons for starting chess players and he is regularly active as a coach during a chess tournament (including during the European Youth Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016).

FM Frank Erwich
FM Frank Erwich

So, what is 1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players about ?

The author has identified 1001(!) positions from recent tournament praxis the majority of which are from the last ten years. This, in itself, is a tour de force as many previous tactics books bring a strong sense of déjà vu. He has categorised them into ten groupings viz :

  1. Elimination of the Defence
  2. Double Attack
  3. Discovered Attack
  4. Skewer (or x-ray for our USA readers !)
  5. Pin
  6. Trapping a piece
  7. Promotion
  8. Draw
  9. Mate
  10. Defending

and then follows these with a chapter entitled “Mix” which combines many of the previous themes and of course, a Solutions to each exercise chapter.

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 mine !). Each diagram clearly shows who is to move and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, I 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.

You might have noticed that in the list of categories the author has inserted “Trapping a piece” and “Defending” which are welcome (not often discussed) themes among the more familiar ones.

Each chapter kicks-off with a description of the theme in question followed by high quality examples. All jargon and terms are explained in detail making each section self-contained eliminating the need to go elsewhere to cross-reference. Sometimes the author invents his own terminology (such as “away” and “chasing”) in cases where there is a need and all is carefully explained.

Following the instructional text and examples there are, on average 100 test positions given as groups of twelve per page. Each diagram clearly indicates who is to move and underneath most is a hint such as “magnet + double check”. I prefer to hide the hint but some will value these clues. Of course, after say a dozen in one section, one gets a feel for what is expected and this forms part of the training. Each solution provides useful analysis (which has been engine checked) plus contextual information about the source game, players and event.

To give you some idea of the content here is an excerpt from the training section on Elimination of the Defence :

“We conclude this chapter with a spectacular move:

Li Chao, 2746
Nigel Short, 2666
Baku ol 2016 (7) (analysis)

36. Qe6!
This is called a Novotny Interference! The queen is sacrificed on a square where it can be captured in four ways, but whichever black piece makes the capture, it interferes with the range of the other pieces:

36…Rxe6 (and Nxe6) interupts the a2-g8 diagonal and allows 37.Rg8#, while 36…Bxe6 closes off the sixth rank and runs into 37.Bxf6+ Rg7 38.Bxg7#.36…Rg7 prevents immediate mate, but after37.Bxf6 Black will also have to lay down his king before long.”

Here is one of the more challenging exercises :

The hint is “away + material”

and the solution is :

31…Qe5! 32.Qxe5 32.Qd2 Rxc1+ 33.Qxc1 Qxd4+ -+. 32…Rxc1+ 33.Kf2 Rxe5 34.Nxf6 Kxf6 35. Rxd7 Re7 -+ Jonkman Inza – K. Arnold, Assen ch-NED jr W 2019 (analysis).”

Finally, a detailed glossary in itself provides learning opportunities to improve one’s knowledge.

It was a pleasure to work through the exercises and they provided ideas for my student lessons and coaching. Possibly the most enjoyable section was Chapter 11 entitled “Mix”. This is the best test of what has gone before since there is no declared theme, and, more often than not, no visible hint. You are on your own and you might start a chess timer with each new position to provide motivation and test your speed and accuracy of solution.

In summary this is an excellent book that goes highly recommended. If I hadn’t had it to review then I would have purchased it anyway ! It it much than more than “just another tactics book”.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, June 20th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • Publisher: New In chess (3 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918192
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918194
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.2 x 24 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players
1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players

Opening Repertoire : The French Defence

Opening Repertoire: The French Defence
Opening Repertoire: The French Defence

Contents : Bibliography, 8 Chapters, Indexes of Variations and 58 complete games including 3 by the author.

I was due to review this book about two months ago and had even made some notes, intending to return when the heat died-down at work. Never happened. Trouble is the French 1 e4 e6 is a favourite of mine and writing about it is like dancing naked in my own back garden.

Now – don’t say it – there is no exact parallel, for example my garden is quite small and unlikely to accommodate any dance routines, even if I could dance, which I can actually. Badly.

It was Korchnoi who, at an Olympiad long ago, was spotted, not dancing, but hastily hiding a book he’d just bought. It was, I believe, the Winawer by Moles, now a forgotten Batsford. Korchnoi loved the French and, as he got older, seemed to be playing it more and more. What he’d have thought of this book I don’t know but guess he’d have given it his time. Do the same and read on!

Areas covered include: the Anti Winawer, the Main Line Winawer 4 e5, the Tarrasch, the Advance 3 e5, the King’s Indian Attack and 2 Qe2, the Exchange Variation 3 exd5, the Two Knights Variation and finally, Second Move Alternatives such as 2 b3 and 2 f4.

Cyrus Lakdawala is an IM and former US Open Champion who teaches chess and has written over 25 books on chess openings.

IM Cyrus Lakdawala
IM Cyrus Lakdawala

IM Cyrus Lakdawala has been knocking around the chess world long enough to have developed, I hope, a thick skin. He writes with emotion, colour, humour, a broad brush but he does attract his critics. If you like your chess games dished-up in neat bundles with Informatorish symbols, names put backwards (“Talj, Mik (2600) Hail) then look elsewhere. Nor is this a book of reference so don’t go searching, necessarily, for an improvement on last night’s game. There are books which are essentially lists of games and these do help, like databases, but here we are far from that part of the forest. The author is an entertainer and so much else. Drops of philosophy creep in, good humour, lore and order.

Behold:
” When you love someone, it feels that you are with them even when they are far away” (p 85). Or ” A seasoned bazaar haggler makes a shrewd counter-offer” (p 134). We continue: ” Don’t follow principles blindly” (p 108). Also ” Open the position when you hold the bishop-pair.” (p 102) and finally “There are many mushrooms and berries in the forest that can kill us.” (p 121).

Well, that gives you a flavour. The Bibliography he lists is a bit dated, newer editions of some books are, I’m sure, available to him. As for the reader – easy to forget him (?) – questions throughout the text, nothing too complex,  are highlighted. Oh, in the Tarrasch 3 Nd2 he calls 4 … Qxd5 the most theoretically complicated line in the whole book. I can’t agree that the Petrosyan/Bronstein line in the Winawer with x … b6 and … Qd7 is better than a more conventional 4 … c5, as Uhlmann might have favoured, but readers will enjoy correcting me.

Finally, his 8 … Ne8! in the King’s Indian section is a joy.

For a cover price of £18.99 I think this good value. The author is an American IM and I promise not to mention my dancing ever again.

James Pratt
James Pratt

James Pratt, Basingstoke, June, 2019

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 366 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (15 Feb 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781945071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945070
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 2 x 24.1 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Opening Repertoire : The French Defence
Opening Repertoire : The French Defence

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games : Hans Renette & Fabrizio Zavatarelli

Hans Renette

Hans Renette
Hans Renette

Neumann, Hirschfeld & Suhle. Sounds like a Berlin law firm, doesn’t it? In fact they were 19th century Prussian born chess players with Berlin connections, all active in the 1860s. You tell me you’ve never heard of them? One of them may well be the strongest (for his time) player you’ve never heard of.

Let me take you back to the year 1860. Morphy’s short career in competitive chess had already come to an end, and Steinitz (strange to think he was a year older than Morphy) was just a fairly promising youngster. Anderssen was still active, along with younger players such as Kolisch and Paulsen, but, if you remove Morphy from the equation, there was no clear number one player.

Among those just below the top was (Carl Friedrich) Berthold Suhle (1837-1904), the first of this book’s joint protagonists. Suhle had a very brief chess career spanning the late 1850s up to 1865, when he returned home from Berlin, choosing to focus instead on family life and his career as an academic specialising in Ancient Greek.

Enter Philipp Martin Hirschfeld (1840-96), who, when he arrived in Berlin in 1859, already had a reputation as a theoretician. He was as yet no match for Suhle, though: in a nine game match in 1860 he could only muster two draws. (Note that Jeff Sonas, on his Chessmetrics site, mistakenly dates this match to 1865, causing him to overstate both Hirschfeld’s rating in the early 1860s and Suhle’s rating in the late 1860s.) Like Suhle, Hirschfeld decided to concentrate on his career rather than become a chess professional. Joining his father’s business, he set up a tea company, travelled widely and lived in London through much of the 1870s and 80s. He maintained his interest in chess for the rest of his life but never took part in international tournaments.

The main part of the book is devoted to Gustav Richard Ludwig Neumann (1838-81), who, for a few years round about 1870 was one of the best three or four players in the world. Neumann was a real chess addict who decided to make a living through his favourite game. His first international tournament was Paris 1867, where he finished 4th behind Kolisch, Winawer and Steinitz. Later the same year he won a small but strong tournament in Dundee, this time ahead of Steinitz. It seemed like a new star had arrived, but at the end of 1869 he suffered a mental breakdown and was taken to an asylum. He recovered well enough to be released the following April and that summer resumed his tournament career at Baden-Baden, where he finished 3rd behind Anderssen and Steinitz, and level with Blackburne. Sadly, his mental illness returned at the end of 1872, putting an end to his chess career. Neumann was one of the great might-have-beens of chess, but you’ve probably never heard of him.

The two authors of this volume are both respected chess historians who have written other biographies for McFarland. Hans Renette has penned excellent books on Henry Bird and Louis Paulsen, while Fabrizio Zavatarelli has published a book on Ignaz Kolisch. In 2015 they discovered that Hans was researching Neumann while Fabrizio was studying Suhle and Hirschfeld. Given the overlap in time and place they decided it would make sense to pool their resources.

If you’re familiar with McFarland biographies you’ll know what to expect and won’t be disappointed. A sturdy, large format hardback which will sit impressively on your bookshelf, 711 games with annotations taken from contemporary sources and computer-aided updates from the authors, many atmospheric photographs and outstanding historical research, The English is not always entirely idiomatic, but no matter.

Although the book probably won’t do much to improve your rating, lovers of attacking chess will be delighted to see a lot of Evans Gambit and King’s Gambit games, with the Ruy Lopez in third place.  By today’s standards these players were not so strong, but all of us, from Magnus Carlsen down to the humblest patzer, are standing on the shoulders of giants. If you value the history and heritage of our wonderful game you’ll want to find out more about Suhle, Hirschfeld and Neumann, all of whom part of what makes us what we are.

Here’s a crazily complicated game from the book. You’ll have hours of fun spotting the missed opportunities for both players.

 

Richard James, Twickenham June 7 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 384 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476673799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476673790
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.2 x 27.9 cm/li>

Official web site of McFarland Books

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4

Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4
Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4

Cyrus Lakdawala is an IM and former US Open Champion who teaches chess and has written over 25 books on chess openings.

IM Cyrus Lakdawala
IM Cyrus Lakdawala

This book is a comprehensive review of all the main continuations after White has played d4 and c4 as his first two moves.  It covers the Nimzo-Indian Defence, King’s Indian Defence, Benko Gambit, Grunfeld Defence , Slav Defence , Semi-Slav Defence and so on.  The book is highly instructive and contains detailed reviews of 72 games including many modern examples from Carlsen, Kramnik and Mamedyarov as well as classics from the likes of Kasparov and Korchnoi.  It also includes a handful of the author’s games.

A notable feature of the book is the author’s writing style which is often effusive, sardonic and humorous.  The purists may find this annoying but I quite enjoyed it.  Take this example from the Introduction as he explains why he switched to d4, c4.   ‘… my openings lacked arable land in which to be creative. For decades my choices had been kissing simplicity’s butt, in a naked display of sycophancy, not seen in the world since Henry VIII’s wives.’

The book is clear and easy to read.  Despite its 448 pages, some of the lines are not covered in great depth.  The Dutch Defence gets four illustrative games and just 18 pages.  So there is probably not enough detail for the GM preparing for his or her next tournament.  However if you are a club player this book is an invaluable and enjoyable resource which will definitely improve your handling of all Black’s main responses to this opening.

Paul Sloane, Camberley, Surrey, May 30th, 2019

Paul Sloane
Paul Sloane

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 448 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman Chess (15 May 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781945098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945094
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4
Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4
Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4
Opening Repertoire : 1 d4 with 2 c4

Understanding Before Moving 1 : Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures

The author of this book Herman Grooten is an International master and has taught players such as Loek van Wely.

IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)
IM Herman Grooten (photograph : Harry Gielen)

At the start of the book Grooten emphasises that many chess players memorise lots of opening theory but it does not improve their results as they do not understand the position when their opponent deviates from theory.

He explores the various pawn structures in variations of openings in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) and (Giuoco Piano) Italian game.

The first variation he looks at is the so-called Berlin wall (Berlin Defence) which was used very successfully by Vladimir Kramnik in his World Championship match vs Gary Kasparov.

Knowing Kasparov was a great attacking player Kramnik chose a variation which leads to a Queenless middle game.
Although Black ends up with doubled pawns on the Queenside (as in the Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation) his bishop pair is good compensation and his doubled pawns are not weak and easily exploited.

Grooten then shows what each side should be trying to achieve to progress their position.

In the Open Lopez the pawn structure is very different : White has a four to three pawn majority on the kingside and with a pawn on e5 and good use of the d4 he has good chances for an advantage and it is well known that Viktor Korchnoi played the Open Lopez in his famous match with Anatoly Karpov. Black has a four to three majority on the queenside but his c7 pawn is backwards and weak. If Black can play c5 then he will probably equalise but he normally cannot afford to play Nxd4 as after cxd4 his c7 pawn is very weak.

Next Grooten examines variations of the Closed Lopez where play typically goes 5 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 00 8 c3 d6 9 h3. Here the Zaitzev 9…Bb7 Chigorin 9…Na5 and Breyer 9…Nb8 are explored in detail. In all three of these famous lines the pawn structure is the same White pawns on c3 d4 and e4 Black pawns on c5 d6 and e5.
White normally can decide the structure by either playing d5 or d4xc5 or maintain tension with Nbd2 when Black can change the structure with c5xd4,
Paul Keres often did this in the Chigorin Variation.

Grooten looks in depth at the theory of the Two Knights where White plays 4 Ng5 including some variations in the main line 5 Na5 which I have not seen before and maybe are unusual and interesting.

Finally, He also looks at some interesting world class games the best of which is a win by Paul Keres over Mikhail Tal as Black in the Chigorin Variation.

In summary, this excellent book will appeal to club players who know these openings but are not sure what plan(s) to adopt in the consequent middle game.

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, May 1st, 2019

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 144 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing (9th January 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510375
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510372
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez - Italian Structures
Understanding Before Moving 1: Ruy Lopez – Italian Structures