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Chess Openings - Book reviews

Show Me A Complete Repertoire for Black and White!

Chess Openings For Black, Explained
Chess Openings for White, Explained
Reviewed by FM Stephen Berry

Imagine that you knew no opening theory at all.  Better still, imagine that you had all the opening theory which presently clutters up your poor brain totally erased.  What could you do to make life worth living?  How would you be able to enter your next tournament with the jaunty confidence of the true opening aficionado

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Watson’s Opening

Mastering the Chess Openings, Volume 3 by John Watson, Gambit Publications 2008, Figurine Algebraic Notation, Paperback, 351pp. $29.95

30 years ago, the American international master John Watson became well known for publishing a four-volume series for Batsford on the English Opening (1 c4).  Later he published a very popular repertoire series on the French Defence which, in my opinion, has made the French the second most popular opening against 1 e4 in the UK.  At the moment, Watson is coming to the end of a four volume cycle which encompasses all the significant chess openings.  His third volume of the Mastering the Chess Openings series covers the English Opening where Black plays 1…c5, 1…e5 or 1…Nf6.  A fourth and final volume has been designated to cover 1 Nf3 and moves such as 1 b3, 1 b4, 1 f4, 1 g3 and 1 Nc3.  In addition, a few lines with 1 c4, where Black replies 1…c6, 1…b6, 1…g6 and 1…f5 will also be dealt with.

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Chess, the Easy Way
Ideas Behind Modern Chess Openings: Black by Gary Lane, Batsford (2005), Softcover, 192 pages, £13.59

Reviewed by the Duke of Brunswick

A Strategic Opening Repertoire
(Second Edition, Revised & Enlarged) by John Donaldson & Carsten Hansen, 2007 Russell Enterprises, Soft cover, 272pp, $18,00.

Reviewed by the Duke of Brunswick

Why Not the English?

Grandmaster Repertoire: The English Opening Volume One (Quality Chess) by Mihail Marin

The English Opening by Nigel Davies.  (DVD: Fritztrainer Opening – by Chessbase)

The Dynamic English (Gambit Publications) by Tony Kosten

Reviewed by FM Stephen Berry

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Armed and Dangerous

"Are you tired of constantly following the same old opening moves? Fed up with always having to keep up with modern chess theory? Or perhaps you simply wish to try something new and exciting, but cannot decide between the numerous choices available? We have the answer!"

" Dangerous Weapons is a brand-new series of opening books which supply the reader with an abundance of hard-hitting ideas to revitalize his or her opening repertoire. Many of the carefully chosen weapons are innovative, visually shocking, incredibly tricky, or have been unfairly discarded; they are guaranteed to throw even your most experienced opponent off balance."

Wow! I decided to check the truth of the above claims by buying and critically reading the book on the Open Games, Dangerous Weapons 1 e4 e5 . Are the bold claims of the series justified? Read Review


Duke of Brunswick reviews...


How to Play the English Opening

by Anatoly Karpov (Batsford Chess 2007) £14.99 -

If I could have my chess life over again I would play the English Opening. My reasons are not merely patriotic. Approximately 90 per cent of chess games start with either 1 e4 or 1d4, so when you play 1 c4 you are on relatively less explored terrain and more likely to catch out you opponent. The English Opening has a considerable pedigree. It was one of the favourite openings of great positional players such as Botvinnik, Smyslov and Petrosian. When you want to avoid long theoretical variations (and who does not in this infernal computer age?), the English Opening is the one for you.

How to Play the English Opening is not a standard opening manual. To quote from the blurb, “The book has a different format: it represents a collection of 30 interesting and important games of recent times, played with the English Opening. Many of them have a place in the development of the theory of the opening.” The games are arranged according to the variations of the English Opening. But I would here make a complaint about the book. There is no list of the variations which will be examined in the book. You have to look through the games and work this out yourself.

I did just this and present below the variations which Karpov covers.

Opening Index of How to Play the English Opening

Games 1-5:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 Bb4 and Black plays . Bxc3

Games 6-7:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 Bb4 5 Nd5

Games 8-9:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 Bc5 systems

Game 10:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7

Games 11-12:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 d5 4 cd Nxd5 5 Bg2

Games 13-14:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 (or 2 . Nc6 3 e3) 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3

Game 15:

1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Bb4

Games 16-18:

1c4 Nf6   2 Nf3 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4

Game 19:

1c4 Nf6   2 Nf3 b6 3 g3 Bb7 4 Bg2 e6 5 O-O Be7 6 Nc3 O-O 7 Re1

Games 20-22:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 d4 cd 5 Nxd4 e6 6 g3 Qb6

Games 23-25:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 e6 4 g3 b6 5 Bg2 Bb7 6 O-O Be7

Games 26-27:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 b6 4 Bg2 Bb7 5 O-O g6

Game 28:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 d4 cd 4 Nxd4 e6 5 g3 Nc6 6 Bg2 Bc5

Game 29:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cd Nxd5 5 d4

Game 30:

1c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 b6 4 d4 cd 5 Nxd4 Bb7 6 f3

I should add that not all games in the book follow the precise move order given above, and for the reason that the English Opening is a veritable minefield of transpositional possibilities.

From the above list, it’s clear that a number of variations in the English are not covered. For instance:

a) 1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Black may play 4 … e4 or 4 … g6.
b) 1c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 Black may play(4 … f5 and 4 … g6.
c) 1c4 e5 2 Nc3 d6
d) 1c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 the so-called anti-Gruenfeld
e) 1c4 e6 2 Nc3 b6 3 e4 Bb7 4 Nf3 Bb4 the English Defence
f) Black plays … c6 early against the English

And so on.

So if you want a book which covers all up-to-date theory in the English Opening, don’t buy this one. If however, you want to learn something about chess and the English Opening, do buy this book. Karpov has put 30 games (the earliest game examined is dated 1987 and the latest 2004) in which the English Opening was played under the microscope. In fact, if you consider the games included in the annotations, there are almost 100 games in the book. Karpov is not primarily concerned with recommending the best variations for either White or Black, but concentrates on the type of play that the opening demands. 17 of the games are from Karpov himself. The annotations are deep and informative. The writing is clear and easy to follow, not the rather dull translations that abound in many books translated from the Russian. I can also report that, unlike many books on openings, this is not double columned pages and thus makes for easier reading.

All the games given are analysed in full, giving notes to the opening moves, the middlegame and the endgame. Therefore the book gives a clear picture of the effect the opening has on the whole of the game and the typical positions that arise as the opening changes to the middle game. Karpov is aware of this and his analysis explains the legacy from the opening to the entire game and concentrates on the general methods of playing particular positions that can arise from the opening. I feel certain that this is the best manner to present a particular opening to the student.

For English Opening devotees (and non-devotees for that matter) this book is a must.

I finish with a game which gives a flavour of the book.


Buy from: http://www.chess.co.uk/

Caro-Kann Defence: Advance Variation and Gambit System
by Anatoly Karpov, B.T. Batsford, London 2007. 284 p.p. £15.99

Chapter One is an account of the 'Gambit' or 'Fantasy' variation against the Caro-Kann. This is an opening which has been played by Morozevich and Polgar with success. For people with little time to devote to chess, they need look no further than this enterprising and little explored line. Read Full Review ...

Caro-Kann Defence: Panov Attack by Anatoly Karpov and Mikhail Podgaets,

B.T. Batsford, London 2006. 284 pages. £15.99

This book is the second of a series dealing with the Caro-Kann opening. The first volume covered the Fantasy and Advance variations and gave the fullest coverage of any book to date on these lines of the Caro-Kann.
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More Reviews

The Chigorin Defence According to Morozevich
by Alexander Morozevich & Vladimir Barsky
(New in Chess, 2007)
Chigorin Defence 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 (fully revised English edition, Kania)
By Valeri Bronznik

Why should you play the Chigorin Defence to the queen's pawn opening (1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6)? Like its sister opening, the Verseov (1 d4 d5 2 Nc3) it drives the game into the territory which it's practitioner wants. Already on move two you will be calling the shots as Black in an opening which, even in this day and age, has received little attention. Why should you not play the Chigorin Defence? Well, apart from Chigorin over a hundred years ago, no great player has made it an important part of his repertoire. True, Colle played it in the 1920s (and was soundly defeated by Alekhine for his pains) and a number of Soviet players, notably Smyslov, used the Chigorin on occasion in the years after the war. But it never caught on.
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The Chess Advantage in Black and White

By Larry Kaufman

Opening repertoire books have become the staple diet of chess publishing houses. Typically, you will be told how to play a play a particular opening, what will cause your opponent the most difficulties and how to get the maximum results with the minimum effort. Armed with this knowledge you can expect to sweep away the hapless opposition in the next club match. But all too often, it doesn't happen this way.
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Transpo Tricks in Chess
by Andrew Soltis Paperback £15.99 June 2007

This is the first book about transpositional tricks in chess. Since Chess is so much a practical game this seems surprising when you look between the covers. What you find is a massive treasure trove of tricky transpositions in the openings and there really is something for everyone.
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How to meet e4 with e5!

Beating the Open Games by Mihail Marin, Quality Chess, Gothenburg 2007, 288 pages, £15.99. This volume is the first of two from the Mihai Marin , the Rumanian Grandmaster and much admired chess writer. They will gives a complete repertoire for Black after 1 e4 e5.

Play 1 e4 e5! by Nigel Davies, Everyman, London 2005, 192 pages, £14.99. Nigel Davies has been the author of a number of interesting books in recent years, his books on the Alekhine and Veresov are particularly worthy of mention. In my opinion, this one on the Open Games is his best. It is no less than a complete system for Black against 1 e4 in the space of one book.
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Play the Ruy Lopez
by Andrew Greet Everyma

You play 1 e4 and want to be a serious chess player? It's time to stop playing all those half-baked gambits, the Danish, King's and I don't know what else. You are going to have to learn the opening that every World Champion has played after 1 e4 - the Ruy Lopez.
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