Friday, December 4, 2009

Fighting the Ruy Lopez

Title: Fighting the Ruy Lopez
Author: Milos Pavlovic
Publisher: Everyman
ISBN: 978 1 85744 590 9
Pages: 174

Preface 5
Introduction: The Ideas Behind the Marshall Attack 7

Part One: Gambit Lines
1 The Main Line 15
2 The Modern Rook Shuffle: 15 Re4 26
3 The Mysterious Retreat: 13 Re2 40
4 The Kevitz Variation: 12 Bxd5 cxd5 13 d4 45
5 The Dangerous 12 d3 49
6 The Tricky 12 g3 64
7 Declining the Marshall 69

Part Two: Anti-Marshall Lines
8 The 8 h3 Anti‐Marshall 75
9 The 8 a4 Anti‐Marshall 96
10 The 8 d4 Anti‐Marshall 107
11 The Steinitz Variation: 8 d3 119

Part Three: Other Lines
12 The Worrall Attack 130
13 The Delayed Exchange Variation 137
14 Early d4 and Nc3 Variations 144
15 The Exchange Variation 156
Index of Variations 168

Fighting the Ruy Lopez is a repertoire book for Black against 1.e4. The repertoire is based on the Marshall Attack and after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 (the moves characterizing the Ruy Lopez), most of White's serious tries are covered.

I must say I was a bit sceptical before receiving the book: could really the main subject of the book - the Marshall Attack be dealt with satisfactorily in only 55 pages? Knowing that Everyman's opening books usually are based on complete games it seemed rather unlikely. Well, it turned out that there are very few complete games in Pavlovic' book. In certain respects that's a drawback but together with the autor's decision to recommend a fairly narrow repertoire (normally only one move for Black but occasionally two) it made him able to offer a nearly complete coverage of this ambitious opening in his rather limited space.

Much of the same can be said of the rest of the material covered. The Anti Marshalls and White's early deviations, including the exchange variations, are well explained in prose and variations in a relatively small number of pages. However, although the mainlines and White's most dangerous systems generally are covered in the necessary detail, Pavlovic has been a bit short on some of the quieter lines:
  • The book doesn't even mention the 8.a3 Anti Marshall. Admittedly the line isn't very popular but it contains some poison as 8...d5 may be dubious and after 8...Bb7!? White can try to omit or delay h3. One good reaction is to play 8...d6 and transpose to Suetin's line in the Closed Ruy Lopez which is generally considered harmless. But in order to play that position sucessfully you need at least a basic schooling in standard Closed Ruy Lopez positions.
  • It was a bit surprising to see that against the Worrall Attack the book recommends the line 5.0-0 Be7 6.Qe2 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d6, only mentioning the 'Pseudo-Marshall' 8...d5 in passing (noting that White with good reason usually declines the pawn with 9.d3). I believe most Marshall players would have preferred to have the 8...d5 line in their repertoire (and now may be left wondering whether there is a theoretical challenge hidden in these lines).
  • In his introduction to the 8.d3 Anti-Marshall (which he interestingly calls the Steinitz Variation) Pavlovic briefly points out that the resulting positions also can arise from the move-orders 5.d3 and 6.d3 (and even from the Italian Game). Therefore it's a bit disappointing that there is no discussion to be found over the merits and finesses of these moves - there actually are some points to note.
In my opinion these minor omissions don't really detract from the book's value. What Pavlovic really offers is a strong Grandmaster's guide to a very interesting opening, complete with improvements wherever necessary. I must, however, point out that I am still awaiting the book 'The Marshall Endgame Explained'. Any volunteers?

My evaluation:
  • For players below 1300: Probably preparing for 3.Bc4 and 2.f4 will pay better dividends.
  • For players 1300-1800: A quite useful book but how often do you actually reach the Marshall?
  • For players 1800-2300: Here is everything you will need in order to face the Ruy Lopez confidently.
  • For players above 2300: A very useful resource but you will need to do some work yourself and stay updated by following the top GMs.
Some supplementary reviews:

No comments:

Books Awaiting a Review

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  • Build Up Your Chess 3 Mastery (Yusupov)
  • Dangerous Weapons: The Pirc and Modern (Palliser, McNab & Vigus)
  • Kaissiber (German Magazine)
  • Zuke 'Em (Rudel)

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