Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Chess Reviews: 97

Dangerous Weapons: Anti-Sicilians
By GM John Emms, IM Richard Palliser & GM Peter Wells
285 pages

‘…bold possibilities for Black against some of White’s popular Anti-Sicilians, and also weapons for White to try, aiming to shock and confuse opponents.’

The popular Dangerous Weapons series continues with an examination of 12 trouble-making ideas in the Sicilian Defence. There’s a 50-50 split between suggestions for each colour.

One of the most interesting is the early pawn lunge by Black in a popular variation of the Closed Sicilian.

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Be3 h5

Black intends to throw White off his rather automatic scheme of development. Indeed, should White continue to proceed as normal, he runs the risk of the h-pawn’s advance causing serious problems just a couple of moves later.

…when 9 Bf1 and 9 Bf3 Nd4 (or 9...Ne5) look promising for Black.

White’s most promising gambit in the book would appear to be after the sequence:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0–0 Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.d4

Black can grab the pawn but GM Wells provides some potent lines for White.

It has to be said that some of the ideas seem quite tame in comparison to the extraordinary and downright crazy weapons found in other volumes. It’s not easy to believe that the move g2-g3 can be classed as a dangerous weapon in any opening. In this case, readers hoping to unleash 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e5 Nd5 4 g3!? will probably have to wait a very long time.

Dangerous Weapons:
The Pirc and Modern
IM Richard Palliser, GM Colin McNab & IM James Vigus
224 pages

‘Your authors have aimed to produce a mini-repertoire for Black against most of White’s tries, while also covering a few dangerous and quite complex ideas for White.’

It seems to me that this volume contains more serious dangerous ideas and one shouldn’t have to wait too long before seeing them over the board.

The basic contents should whet the appetite.

1 Castling into the Argentinean Attack
2 Castling into the 150 Attack

3 A Neglected Approach in the Classical

4 Benjamin’s Flexible 6...e6
5 A Cunning Sidestep

6 The Delayed Spike

7 Not the 150 Attack!

8 Spicing up the Fianchetto Variation

9 Meeting 4 Bg5 in Dragon Style

10 Blunting White’s Bishop on c4
11 An Early Lunge

12 Trumping a Tricky Transposition

Chapters 3,6,7 and 11 all supply ammunition for the first player but there is a bias in favour of Black; it’s quite understandable, with noted Pirc/Modern experts Vigus and McNab on board.

Chapters 3 and 5 in particular caught my attention.

GM McNab provides some fine detail for those wishing to adopt A Neglected Approach in the Classical.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.0–0 c6 7.Bf4

‘With this direct move White hinders …e5 by Black, at the same time preparing to advance his own e-pawn.’

Indeed, the illustrative games show the trouble Black can easily fall into after playing very natural moves, so Pirc players really need to take a look at the analysis if intending to play 6...c6. GM McNab has played Pirc/Modern systems for a very long time indeed so if he highlights a problem line for Black it simply must be taken very seriously.
A Cunning Sidestep shows Black varying from a very well known theoretical variation.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.e5 Ng4 8.e6 Bxb5 9.exf7+

Black is encouraged to step away from the main line (9...Kd7) with the tricky 9...Kf8

Black will soon Hoover up the f7 pawn (9...Kxf7 10 Ng5+ isn’t the best way to do it).

There’s lots of food for thought in this book. Anyone who already plays such things as Black cold easily slip a few of these weapons into an existing repertoire in time for the new chess season.

7 Ways To Smash The Sicilian
IM Yury Lapshun & US Master Nick Conticello
190 pages

‘It’s impossible to play Open Sicilian positions with either colour without an intimate knowledge of these sacrifices.’

The Sicilian Defence lends itself to smashing sacrifices. White’s early lead in development often results in an attempt to cash in the chips before Black’s long term advantages begin to make themselves felt. Sicilian games published in newspaper columns are often speedy White victories with a cascade of brilliant tactical strokes. Black has lots of fun after 1 e4 c5 too but the successful games are usually a bit too long to catch the eye.

1 e4 players seeking to extend their armoury against the 1...c5 should welcome this new book. The basic contents are:

1 The Knight Sacrifice on d5
2 The Knight Sacrifice on e6

3 The Bishop Sacrifice on e6

4 The Knight Sacrifice on f5

5 The Knight Sacrifice on b5

6 The Bishop Sacrifice on b5
7 Miscellaneous Sacrifices

Some of the sacrifices are very well known and readers will find some familiar material, such as the famous debut and debacle of the Gothenburg Variation.

Spassky, Geller and Keres faced Pilnik, Panno and Najdorf respectively in round 14 of the Gothenburg Interzonal. The latter players saw their prepared variation blasted away by classic sacrifices:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.fxg5 Nfd7 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qh5+ Kf8


The Argentineans were ready only for 13 Bc4 which they had analysed together before the round. The idea of White’s 13th, first played by Geller, is to control the d7- and c6-squares so as to remove the important defender from b8.

The Soviets clocked up an impressive 3-0 in these games. (Fischer later found - and played - an improvement for Black with 13...Rh7!)

Other sacrifices will be new to most readers and the authors have exhumed some excellent rare games for our entertainment, such as this one:

Gusev - Averbakh
Moscow 1951

The great Averbakh must have been shocked by 22 Rxf6! exf6 23 Qxd6 Rc6

…and now the amazing: 24 Qxe5!!

After 24...fxe5 25 Rf1 the bind proved to be curiously impossible to break and White went on to win in style.

There are 109 main annotated games.

The bibliography rounds up the usual suspects but includes more diverse titles such as tournament books for the 1974 Nice Olympiad and San Antonio 1972.

It’s a well-researched and energetic work, with a good index of variations to make navigation between themes and opening variations smooth and comfortable.

Yes, it will make very good study material for players on both sides of the Sicilian Defence but it also makes for excellent browsing and entertainment.

Fighting The Ruy Lopez
By GM Milos Pavlovic
174 pages

‘Drawing upon his years of experience facing the Lopez, Grandmaster Milos Pavlovic devises a sound yet ambitious repertoire for Black based on the legendary Marshall Attack.’

The Introduction runs through the basic attacking ideas at Black’s disposal and discusses the compensation Black has for the pawn. The stem game of the attack, unleashed by Marshall against the great Capablanca, is then given with notes.

The Marshall Gambit appears on move eight…

After 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 c3 d5

…White can win a pawn with the simple sequence…

9 exd5 Nxd5 10 Nxe5 Nxe5 11Rxe5

Marshall had prepared 11...Nf6 but went on to lose. The main line these days is 11...c6 and that is the one analysed extensively in this book.

In the words of the author:

‘In return for the pawn, Black gets fast development, aggressively placed pieces, control of the e-file and light-squared play on the kingside. Attacks on the kingside are usually introduced by …Bd6, and normally followed by …Qh4 provoking a kingside weakness. However, it is important to note that this is not always the case!’

He goes to highlight some standard pros and cons.

The Marshall Attack is holding up very well indeed at the highest level but to play it successfully requires detailed knowledge of the various branches.

This book covers:

Part One: Gambit Lines (pages 15-74)

1 The Main Line
2 The Modern Rook Shuffle: 15 Re4
3 The Mysterious Retreat: 13 Re2

4 The Kevitz Variation: 12 Bxd5 cxd5 13 d4

5 The Dangerous 12 d3

6 The Tricky 12 g3

7 Declining The Marshall

Part Two: Anti-Marshall Lines (pages 75-129)

8 The 8 h3 Anti-Marshall
9 The 8 a4 Anti-Marshall

10 The 8 d4 Anti-Marshall

11 The Steinitz Variation: 8 d3

Part Three: Other Lines (pages 130-167)

12 The Worrall Attack

13 The Delayed Exchange Variation

14 Early d4 and Nc3 Variations
15 The Exchange Variation

The main lines are attractive and produce some fascinating positions, such as this one (from chapter 2).

White to play

‘Here there are many perpetual check possibilities, for instance 28.Rxe2 Rxe2 29.Rf2 Bxh2 30.Qf1 Rxe1 31.Qxe1 Bf4+ …’

It is easy to see the appeal of such swashbuckling play.

The final chapter is just as important as the rest, at least in terms of fulfilling the aim of providing a complete repertoire against the Spanish Game. Black players neglect the Exchange Variation at their peril. Here, the recommendation is 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Bxc6 dxc6 5 0-0 Bd6 ‘…a line recommended to me by Gligoric himself as Black’s best approach’.

A discussion of the various plans for both sides is followed by a selection of illustrative games (with numerous examples of GM Hebden doing very well as Black).

The lack of a bibliography is unfortunate; one would have thought it essential in a specialist opening book.

All in all, this book would suit serious players who have the time and energy to work hard with the given material. Club players may well find themselves out of their depth.

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