Thursday 22 December 2011

Chess Reviews: 191

A large amount of chess literature and DVDs has been released over the last few weeks.

Given the volume of material, I shall restrict myself to very short reviews of all products over the course of the next three review columns. More in depth reviews of some products are scheduled to appear in the next issue of CHESS Magazine.

Everyman Chess have just released three interesting books on openings, with a heavy 1 d4 slant.

Chess Developments:
The Modern Benoni
By IM Richard Palliser
281 pages

Chess Developments is ‘...a brand new series providing state-of the art openings coverage’, has the stated aim of focusing ‘…on the current trends – concentrating on critical lines, theoretical novelties and powerful new ideas.’

Richard Palliser is a long-term fan of the Modern Benoni and he shares his expertise here. The coverage is not exhaustive or encyclopaedic, but rather it goes into depth with a number of key lines including the Modern Main Line, Taimanov Attack and the Fianchetto variations.

Symbols highlighting 'Tips', 'Warnings' and the like - familiar from the Starting Out series - are used throughout and they joined by a new one to draw attention to a 'Key Development'.

Do we need a new book on the Modern Benoni? Well, considering that John Watson's Gambit Guide to the Modern Benoni is now 10 years old the time does indeed seem right, especially as theory has advanced in the variations covered here. The Fianchetto Variation has become very popular indeed, due partly to Avrukh's works on 1 d4.

An examination of the material shows that Black must be very careful indeed when facing a well-prepared opponent. With the help of IM Palliser, an equally well-prepared Benoni practitioner should be just about OK to keep playing this risky opening at quite an advanced level.

Also from Everyman, there are two new volumes in the 'Move by Move' series. The emphasis is very much on explaining the key ideas and plans behind the openings in question. Both of these volumes would make ideal starting points for anyone interested in adding the openings to their repertoires.

The Nimzo-Indian: Move by Move
By GM John Emms
368 pages

John Emms guides the reader expertly through the popular and solid Nimzo-Indian Defence. The recommendation against the Rubinstein (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3) is 4 ...0-0 and that, in a nutshell, sums up the ethos of the recommended lines; Black keeps things as solid as possible and hopes to construct a fire-proof repertoire which will not swept away by a new tide of theory in the near future.

1...d6: Move by Move
By IM Cyrus Lakdawala
400 pages
Everyman Chess

I used 1 ...d6 extensively over a period of two years so I was interested to see the suggestions given by Cryus Lakdawala in this new book.

Rather than head for the relatively popular Lion and/or Philidor set-ups, Lakdawala goes his own way and gives 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 c6 as the anti-King's pawn weapon, followed by 4 Nf3 Bg4 or 4 f4 Qa5. Slppery stuff and not the sort of thing players with the White pieces spend too much preparing for.

Elsewhere, there are the familiar sights of 1 d4 d6 2 c4 e5, 1 d4 d6 2 Nf3 Bg4 and ...d6/...e5/...f5 against the English.

As '...a universal system which can be employed against virtually any first move' I believe the modest pawn move is a useful and versatile addition to any player's repertoire and this book does a good job in priming the reader for action.

ChessBase continue to be extremely active. New DVDs are being released at an incredible rate.

First Steps in Defence
By IM Andrew Martin

First Steps in Defence
features IM Andrew Martin on fine form as he takes the reader through a range of well-chosen illustrative games. The idea is to give viewers a basic grounding in the art of defence.

Admitting that most players prefer to be on the attack, the presenter impresses on the viewer the need to understand how -and when - to defend.

There are 17 illustrative games, featuring the likes of Kasparov, Karpov, Short, Spassky and Larsen. Some of these are very recent, such as the big clash between Jonathan Hawkins and Nigel Short at this year's British Championship.

The material is aimed at improving club players, but doubtless more exeprienced players learn a thing or two as well.

Tactics - From Basics to Brilliance Volume 2
By FM Valeri Lilov

On Tactics - From Basics to Brilliance (Volume 2), FM Lilov looks at the functions of the pieces in the art of tactical play.

He takes the viewer through all of the pieces, starting with the pawns and working up to the King. There's a lot of material here - there are 24 video lectures - and it's all very acccessible to club players.

1.d4 - Beat The Guerrillas!
By IM Valeri Bronznik
272 pages

This is an updated translation of a 2010 German language book. The author looks at a large range of 'guerrillas', from the fairly respectable (Budapest Gambit, Black Knights' Tango) to the eminently disreputable (Englund Gambit, Polish...).

The material is presented from White's point of view and, despite some of the lines of analysis being long, it is accessible to club players. The conclusions at the end of each chapter are a particularly useful feature.

Black players who like maverick openings will need to take a look too, to see what they have to prepare against. Some of the suggestions look very strong for White, but it's not all bad news for the second player; for example, the Schara-Hennig Gambit suddenly looks in good health.

The Ragozin Complex
By IM Vladimir Barsky
351 pages

I've never played either side of the Ragozin (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 Bb4) so most of the material in this book was new to me.

Following a thoughtful introduction looking at the pioneers of the opening, there is an essay on 'How to Study a Concrete Opening'. It's a good read and it clearly outlines the idea behind the opening before the attention is switched to an analysis of the various lines of play.

The material is denser than in the 'Guerilla' book, so club players may find it heavy going. Experienced tournament players will enjoy the depth though and those with the Nimzo-Indianand QGD (and even QGA) already in their repertoires may find some useful transpositions with which to annoy their unsuspecting opponents.

Power Chess for Kids
By FM Charles Hertan
159 pages

After divulging the 'three skills you need to be one of the best players in your school' and 'four ticks to help you think 1.5 power moves ahead', the author runs through various examples of forks, pins skewers interference moves. Cartoon characters and a very lively writing style make this an appealing book for young juniors.

Chess teachers and coaches will be able to put the material to good use too.

ChessBase Magazine
December 2011

Last but not least, the new issue of ChessBase Magazine is now available. Highlights include the coverage of the Grand Slam, the European Cup and the FIDE World Cup.

As usual, there's a abundance of material which should present something of interest for players of all strengths, from beginners to Grandmasters.

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