Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Chess Reviews: 181

It's time for a quick look around the world of chess publishing to see what has been happening since our last reviews.

In-depth reviews of some titles will appear soon in a well-known CHESS Magazine (details to follow). The reviews here will have to be shorter for reasons of time and space but hopefully the reader will gain some sort of insight into what is currently available.

1 e4 Openings

Attacking Chess:
The French
By GM Simon Williams
320 pages

Simon Williams is a hard working Grandmaster. His own company, gingergm, has recently released three new DVDs and he is still a very active player. Somehow, he has found the time to write a book about the French Defence. The French is one of Simon's own favourite openings, making this particular volume particularly interesting for fans of 1 e4 e6.

This book offers a full a sharp repertoire for Black after 1 e4 e6. The second player is advised to head for the main lines of the Winawer (1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4) and to play 3 ...Nf6 against the Tarrasch Variation (1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2). The Advance Variation is met by 5 ...Bd7 rather than the traditional 5 ...Qb6.

Simon writes in a very enthusiastic style, but not at the expense of honesty; he prefers not to gloss over lines which worry him.

I feel sure that this will prove to be one of the most popular books in the 'Attacking Chess' series and I also suspect that Simon will prove to be the natural successor to John Watson when it comes to popularising the French Defence.

How to Beat the Sicilian Defence
by GM Gawain Jones
350 pages

In this new book, Grandmaster Jones presents a complete repertoire for White after 1 e4 c5. The plan is to avoid the long theoretical lines of the Open Sicilian and to that end the new Commonwealth Champion advocates 3 Bb5 (after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 or 2...Nc6) and the King's Indian Attack (with an early Qe2) against 2 ...e6. 'Other Second Moves For Black' are not forgotten either; they are covered in the last chapter.

It's a repertoire with an aggressive stance, quite typical of Gawain's style. Fans of the b2-b4 pawn sacrifice will find several pleasing examples to study.

Gawain has a good writing style and he balances prose with chess variations very well. There are similarities with Simon's book on the French; there's enough explanation to keep club players interested and enough advanced material to appeal to a more experienced audience too.

The ABC of Alekhine
2nd Edition
By IM Andrew Martin
7 hours and 30 minutes

Alekhine's Defence (1 e4 Nf6) continues to skirt along the outside of popular theory, without ever sufficiently challenging the top dogs (1...e5, 1...c5, 1...e6, 1...c6) to match their status of reliability.

The first edition of this DVD - providing Black will a full repertoire - was released in 2007. The big question when it comes to new editions is: does the new material justify a purchase? In this case the answer is 'yes'. There are 14 new illustrative games to bring IM Martin's Alekhine coverage completely up to date (five games are from 2011) and boosting the running time to an incredible seven hours and 30 minutes.

The backbone of the repertoire is seen after: 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 d6 4 Nf3 dxe5 5 Nxe5 c6.

The Exchange Variation is met by 5...exd6 and there's an interesting twist after 1 e4 Nf6 2 Nc3, showing how Alekhine expert GM Baburin uses 2...e6 to good effect.

IM Martin remains a fine presenter. The Alekhine certainly won't appeal to all players, but those with an interest in 1 e4 Nf6 (even the more experienced players) should welcome this DVD, which is bang up to date and easy to follow.

1 d4 Openings

Attacking Chess:
The King's Indian (Volume 2)
By David Vigorito
368 pages

The first volume on the King's Indian covered the Saemisch and Classical Variations; this one covers everything else. That means there's in-depth coverage of the Averbakh, Fianchetto , Four Pawns Attack, early h3 systems and 'Other Lines' (including 5 Nge2 and 5 Bd3, among others).

It's more reliant on variations than the French book in the same series (see above) and as such will be of more use to players with greater experience.

It's an up-to-date work, with game references all the way up to and including 2011. I'm not so sure that KID novices will find this a good place to start playing this aggressive opening, but those with prior knowledge will find much of use.

The New Old Indian
By GM Alexander Cherniaev
& FM Eduard Prokuronov
160 pages

'New Old Indian'...!? Only chess books could get away with such a contrary title.

The subject of the book is 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 d6, with Black embracing the Queenless middlegames arising after 3 Nc3 e5 4 dxe5 dxe5 5 Qxd8+ Kxd8 and being prepared to fight for initiative in other lines, such as 3 Nc3 e5 4 Nf3 e4.

This is a repertoire book, with White's early options such as 2 Bg5 receiving coverage too. The author certainly lies to practice what he preaches; GM Cherniaev has been successful over the last few years, even against GM Korchnoi.

It's a practical repertoire for club players rather than one aiming to help readers qualify for Candidates events. As such, the Old Indian is a respectable choice and this book represents a solid - if unspectacular - guide to 1...Nf6/2...d6.


Power Play 15
Practical Pawn Endgames
By GM Daniel King
4 hours

It's good to see another volume in the Power Play series. GM King once again displays his masterful presentation skills as he guides viewers through the finer points of pawn endgames.

He starts by offering some basic guidance and identifies four key areas on which to focus, namely:

Knowledge of basics
Knowledge of motifs

Numerous examples of the basics in action follow, such as this one, demonstrating the impact of a space advantage on the outcome of the game.

Salov - Short
Linares 1992

Daniel's expert commentary explains how White's advantage in space allows him to play for the win. White started with 32 Kf3 and it wasn't too long before he had reached this position:

Now he played 40 f4, when Black was forced to play 40...g6+ and he didn't last much longer.

After delivering his material on the basics, Daniel then tests the viewer before running through the answers.

The Power Play series has maintained a very high standard across all 15 of its volumes. This one contains material which will be useful even to players of a high standard. It's the pick of the bunch of this month's titles.


What Grandmasters Don't See
Volume 2: Discovered Attack
By GM Maurice Ashley
3 hours and 36 minutes

The second volume in this new series looks at discovered attacks. The illustrative games feature top players missing the power of such attacks.

18 video lectures present the main material and these are followed by ten test positions.

It's interesing - and encouraging - to see even the very best players slip up when it comes to discovere attacks.

Anand v Kasparov
World Championship 1995 (Game 11)

Anand missed something important and ended up on the wrong side of a discovered attack.
28 b4? axb4 29 axb4 Rc4 30 Nb6?? Rxb4+ 31 Ka3 Rxc2 32 Rxc2 Rb3+ 33 Ka2 Re3+ 0-1

GM Ashley's enthusiasm for the subject is infectious, albeit relentless.

The next round-up will appear in approximately one month's time. Before that, there will be more in-depth reviews on a several books and/or DVDs, so stay tuned...

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