Author: Ivan Sokolov
Publisher: New In Chess
ISBN: 978 90 5691 297 0
9 Part I - Jaenisch Gambit
10 Chapter 1: Main Line with 7...Qd5
27 Chapter 2: Main Line with 7...Qg5
65 Chapter 3: Fully Playable - 5...Nf6
74 Chapter 4: The Risky 5...Be7
79 Chapter 5: The Main Deviation 4.Nc3 Nf6
109 Chapter 6: The Practical 4.d3
125 Part II - Delayed Jaenisch Gambit
126 Chapter 7: A Provocative Choice: 3...a6 4.Ba4 f5
139 Part III - Cozio Variation
140 Chapter 8: An Occasional Weapon: 3...Nge7
165 Part IV - Smyslov Variation
166 Chapter 9: The Sound 3...g6
177 Part V - Bird's Defence
178 Chapter 10: Development - 6.d3
192 Chapter 11: The Accurate 6.Bc4
203 Part VI - Classical Variation
204 Chapter 12: 4.c3 - The Interesting 4...f5
212 Chapter 13: 4.c3 - The Uncommon 4...Nf6
219 Chapter 14: 4.0-0 - The Puzzling 4...Nge7
229 Chapter 15: 4.0-0 - The Viable 4...d6
235 Chapter 16: 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 - The Inferior 6...c6
241 Chapter 17: 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 - The Improvement 6...a6
247 Chapter 18: 4.0-0 Nf6 - Main Line 5.Nxe5 Nxe4
251 Chapter 19: 4.0-0 Nf6 - The Complex 5.c3
263 Index of Variations
267 Index of Players
- 3...f5, The Jaenisch Gambit
- 3...Nd4, The Bird Variation
- 3...Nge7, The Cozio Variation
- 3...g6, The Smyslov Variation
- 3...Bc5, The Classical Variation
- 3...Nf6, followed by ...Bc5
From the introduction you may get the impression that the material offered is something close to a sixfold opening repertoire against the Ruy Lopez, but that isn't quite so. As a matter of fact entire chapters seem to be written for White's benefit. For instance Sokolov makes no claim that 'The Puzzling 4...Nge7' really is playable. But the book isn't entirely encyclopaedic either. Some lines are left out without any explanation. This is mainly the case with dubious alternatives for Black, and confirms that the book has a certain repertoire slant for Black. But also some of White's options are left out. For instance there is no mention of 3...Bc5 4.Nxe5!? which fairly recently was advocated by Greet in 'Play the Ruy Lopez'. The explanation may be that Sokolov considers 3...Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 and 3...Nf6 4.0-0 Bc5 only as two paths leading to the same variation (in this position he explores the 5.Nxe5!? in two full chapters).
- The book is logically organized and it's not difficult to locate a variation you are looking for. That doesn't mean that the book is very reader friendly. The variations are structured in games and in my opinion too many game fragments lines have been squeezed into the notes. Some notes run over several pages and it takes a lot of attention from the reader not to lose his way. For the reader's convenience it would have been better if some of these notes had been made into separate games.
- It's a pity that there's no bibliography. However, it's frequently quite unclear what a bibliography really tells anyway, so the problem is not great.
- As a kind of compensation there is a remarkably detailed index of players, where you not only find all complete games but also all game references - even small game fragments. This I found very useful as it gives a very good overview over the lines a particular player prefers (but it would have been even more useful if you could see which colour he was playing).
- For players below 1300: Not a bad introduction to the Ruy Lopez but a little more prose would have been useful.
- For players 1300-1800: A very useful book but you must fill in some small gaps yourself if you want to be fully prepared.
- For players 1800-2300: Some of the suggested lines are perfect for open tournaments and this book is the ideal guide.
- For players above 2300: A lot of useful ideas and some very high class analysis. However, some of the lines considered are probably best employed as surprise weapons.
Some supplementary reviews:
British Chess Magazine by John Saunders
John's Chess Book Reviews by John Elburg