Thursday 9 December 2010

Chess Reviews: 165

The Complete c3 Sicilian
By GM Evgeny Sveshnikov
574 pages
New in Chess

Simon Alapin used 1 e4 c5 2 c3 three times at the great Vienna tournament of 1898 and his name has been attached to the opening ever since, although his results with it were not particularly inspiring (+1, =1, -1 at Vienna and very little thereafter).

GM Sveshnikov is undoubtedly the World's top practitioner of
1 e4 c5 2 c3 (with experience from 1968 to the present day) and here he shares his secrets over the course of 574 packed pages. When an expert writes a proper book on his specialist subject, the world should sit up and take notice. The author has played around 600 games with the Alapin and enjoys a 70% score with it.

The book falls quite naturally into two parts.

Part 1: 2...d5 and other moves

Historical Overview
Basic plans and Ideas
The Typical Endgame with a White Queenside Majority
Important Games by Variation
Exercises Conclusion Part 1

Part 2: 2...Nf6

Historical Overview
Basic plans and Ideas
Important Games by Variation
Conclusion Part 2

In addition to the expert analysis and explanations on the opening itself, the author provides numerous anecdotes from his times with some of the giants of the game. His first win against Tal came in a c3 Sicilian; it seemed to be the best way to keep him away from tactical battles.

Sveshnikov - Tal
USSR Ch 1979

This position clearly shows that Tal's tactical teeth were definitely drawn on that day.

Believing the same approach would work against Kasparov, Sveshnikov worked hard to persuade Karpov to give it a try in their 1985 World Championship, but was ultimately unsuccessful. A pity for the 12th World Champion, as the Open Sicilians proved to be the decisive weapon for Kasparov in that particular match.

GM Sveshnikov also played his favourite second move against the likes of Petrosian, Smyslov, Polugaevsky and Taimanov, so he was never afraid to try it against the world's top players.

The assessments are subjective and not all will find universal agreement. For example: 'Incidentally, the line 1 e4 c5 2 c3 e6 3 d4 d5 4 e5! leads us to the advance Variation of the French Defence, which could be regarded as a branch of the c3 Sicilian!'

The reader's knowledge interested by the exercises. Some show that an advantageous endgame isn't White's only path to success. Can you see a good move for White here?

Lane - Flesch
Lloyds Bank 1983

The author's general conclusion appears to be that most of Black's second moves - including 2 ...d5 - give White at least an edge and that only 2 ...Nf6 offers chances of equality, and even then Black has to be careful how he proceeds.

This is a very good book and one which makes me want to play what the author suggests. Not all opening books have such an effect. This one is inspirational.

Dynamic Chess Strategy
Expanded and Updated
By GM Mihai Suba
207 pages
New in Chess

I remember buying - and enjoying - the first edition of this book, published back in 1991. Grandmaster Suba was living in North East England at the time and played all of the Open tournaments on the circuit, so our over-the-board paths crossed a number of times.

I even asked him to sign my copy, which he was happy to do. Indeed, GM Suba was generous with his time and his post mortems were lengthy and very entertaining.

Reading the new edition of 'Dynamic Chess Strategy' brought back some very pleasant memories. There have been quite a few changes, some more readily apparent than others.

There's a brand new, 26-page chapter called 'Dynamic Chess Strategy, Revisited' which retains the style of the original work. He offers some of his thoughts on the relevant works of John Watson (who refers to GM Suba's book in his own books on strategy), takes a swipe at internet pirates, discusses the impact of computers and provides several interesting test positions which bring to light various methods of thinking in chess.

It's 26 pages which makes me wish Suba had written a lot more books in the time period between the two editions of this one. Other changes occur throughout the book in the form of up to date game references and computer analysis.

The basic structure of the book remains the same and the chapter titles should be familiar to those who saw the earlier edition:

The Beginning
Why Rethink Chess Strategy?
Dynamic Strategy in Attack and Defence
Lest We Forget the Classics
Black Wins After All!
Quiz Solutions

Autobiographical snippets mingle happily with GM Suba's interesting and intriguing personal ideas on chess strategy. There are also cautionary tales against being too dogmatic, lessons in the Hedgehog (a long-time Suba speciality) and plenty of sensational games showing the author's theories in action.

Despite the age of the bulk of the work, I didn't see signs of the material being dated. Suba's witty writing style is just as entertaining now as it was back in 1991.

Here are two entertaining and impressive sacrifices to be going on with.

Miles - Suba
Olympiad 1984

20 ...Nxf2! 21 Kxf2 Ne5! 0-1 (27)

Ward - Suba
British Championship 1990

19 ...Bh3!!

You will have to buy the book to discover the stories behind these sacrifices, but it should be on your shopping list anyway.

Well done New in Chess for rejuvenating this classic work. Message to Grandmaster Suba: write more books!

For further details regarding New in Chess books, please visit their website.

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