Thursday, 18 January 2007

Chess Reviews: 20

Beating The King’s Indian And Grunfeld
By FM Tim Taylor
Everyman Chess

FM Tim Taylor’s new book presents some very interesting lines and ideas against two of Black’s most popular defences.

The King’s Indian and Grunfeld were both boosted by the games of Fischer and Kasparov and are frequently encountered at all levels of play.

The author bemoans the current trend for long theoretical lines and his stated mission is to select lesser-known variations, where the emphasis is on understanding of key ideas rather than memorisation of a plethora of database variations.

At first sight it would seem odd to recommend the Four Pawns Attack against the KID, in which the sharpest lines do indeed require a very specific knowledge of extremely sharp lines. However, the suggested repertoire does seem to fit the bill.

Taylor advocates two related positions as tabiyas.

The Martz Variation
Named by the author after American IM William Martz. White aims to capitalise on the extra space granted by the Maroczy Bind set-up.

The Liz Variation
Named after the author’s wife! Rather than the trendy - and difficult - variations stemming from cxd5, White tries a different tack. The odd looking f4 pawn more often than not lunges to f5 in the near future.

Good coverage is also provided on Black’s deviations from the main lines.
The second half of the book gives a couple of unusual ways to take on the tricky Grunfeld Defence, namely:

The Knezevic Variation

The Keres Variation

Both of these will carry some surprise for the Black players, who will have spent lots of time booking up on the Exchange Variation and Russian System. By playing 4 e3 before 5 Qb3, White hopes to enjoy the usual pressure associated with the Queen’s early excursion with the added ingredient of being able to meet 5 …dxc4 with the developing move 6 Bxc4.

This is a very enjoyable book, written with style. The recommendations are very tempting and appear to be very promising. Well worth a look if you are thinking about refreshing your 1 d4 repertoire.

Boris Spassky
Master of Initiative

By GM Alexander Raetsky and IM Maxim Chetverik
Everyman Chess

The games of the 10th World Champion Boris Spassky - possible the most universal of all the champions - form the basis of this book. Following a brief biography (nine pages), the exercises start with ’Warming Up’, a small selection or relatively straightforward examples.

Then come the chapters: ‘A Greater Depth’, ‘It’s Time To Calculate’ ‘Up Another Level’, ‘The Very Best of Spassky’, ‘Endgame Legacy’, ‘Retaliation’ and ‘Missed Opportunities’ all of which are fairly self-explanatory.

The puzzles are given initially with no clues, but those in need of help can flick forward a few pages to find the ‘Tips’ section, and everything is wrapped up in the second half of the book with ‘Solutions’. This part also gives the full scores of all the games.

Here are a few random samples, well within your powers, dear reader. First, to warm up…

Schweber v Spassky
Antwerp 1965
Black to play and win.

Ribli v Spassky
Montpellier 1985

How did Spassky save the game?

Spassky v Larsen
Palma de Mallorca 1969

Find a winning line for White.

Lots of great games (albeit with only the briefest of notes) and a useful work-out for your tactical skills. The real Spassky story has yet to be told, of course, but this is a bright and breezy look at some of his most dazzling moments at the board.

Caro-Kann Defence
Panov Attack

By GM Anatoly Karpov & IM Mikhail Podgaets
Batsford Chess

The second volume in a new and thorough coverage of the Caro-Kann covers the Panov Attack (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4) and the Steiner System (1 e4 c6 2 c4).
The input of IM Podgaets is not as hidden as it was on the first volume and his name takes its rightful place on both cover and spine.
12 illustrative games round off the book, all from 2004/5.

I found this to be an altogether better and more readable book than the first volume. However, it is certainly not for beginners and a reader would have to be a hardened Caro-Kann player looking for greater encyclopaedic depth to get the best out of this book.

Kasparov’s Fighting Chess
By GM Tibor Karolyi & Nick Alpin
Batsford Chess

This is the second - and presumably final - volume by the authors, covering the latter years of the great Garry Kasparov.

The book starts with the Wijk aan Zee tournament of 1999 and concludes with Linares 2005 and the great man’s shock retirement. For a man seemingly embroiled in World Championship matches in perpetuity, is a stark reminder of the state of top level chess to see Kasparov played only match in the period covered in this book - namely his strange, unsuccessful bout with Kramnik in 2000.

77 game are analysed and the annotations are indicative of a huge amount of work by the authors. There’s an tremendous amount of fresh analysis; most games receive at least four pages of notes, with the more complicated ones (for example, the brilliancy against Topalov at Wijk aan Zee 1990) covered in no less than eight.

Despite the depth of analysis, often running to numerous sub variations, the book is still immensely readable. Every event is given excellent prose coverage in between the classic games.

This volume features games luminaries such as Karpov, Short, Adams and Carlsen. When one considers that Kasparov’s early opponents included the likes of Petrosian and Tal, is brings home what a very long and varied career he enjoyed.

The place in chess history of Garry Kasparov, the 13th World Champion, is absolutely secure. He may have retired but we can all still enjoy his wonderful games. These 336 packed pages provide the best available guide to the twilight years of the great champion.

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Happy reading!
January 2007