Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Ruy Lopez Revisited

Title: The Ruy Lopez Revisited - Offbeat Weapons & Unexplored Resources
Author: Ivan Sokolov
Publisher: New In Chess
ISBN: 978 90 5691 297 0
Pages: 271
Pdf extract

5 Introduction
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

When taking up a new opening, should you first go for a sideline and only later add the mainlines? In 'The Ruy Lopez: A Guide for Black' we argue that in the Ruy Lopez you quite early should take on the mainlines as the sidelines are easier to handle when you understand what's going on in the critical mainlines. In his preface to 'The Ruy Lopez Revisited', Sokolov quite convincingly argues for the opposite view. I guess the correct answer depends on your approach to theory, your personality and not least on the opening in question. There is no doubt good reasons to - at least for some time - play one of Black's alternatives to 3...a6 in the Ruy Lopez.

As can be seen from the Table of content, except for the main line 3...a6 and the fashionable Berlin variation 3...Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4, Sokolov covers almost everything inside the Ruy Lopez complex. That is:
  • 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
When waiting for the book, the title made me wonder whether Sokolov would include some of Black's 'weird and wonderful' 3rd moves, like 3...Qe7, 3...a5 or 3...Bb4. There is no discussion of these moves, and there really is no room for them in top GM chess. There are no explicit information on how the variations that actually were included were selected. However, they are all pragmatic choices demanding relatively little preparation and - most importantly - it seems Sokolov has played them all. The most respectable 3rd move not considered probably is 3...d6. That may be because the delayed version (3...a6 4.Ba4 d6) is better in almost all respects. But probably it was left out simply because Sokolov never has played the line himself.

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).

In addition to the 3rd move deviations mentioned, Sokolov - a little inconsistently in my opinion - covers one and only one line with 3...a6: Zagorovsky's 4...f5!?.  In a way this seems quite natural as the line obviously is related to 3...f5 and comparing these lines is a quite interesting exercise. Nevertheless Sokolov's decision is a little surprising as it doesn't seem he has played the line himself, and he doesn't really offer improvements that make the line attractive. As a matter of fact he warns that the variation is best suited for blitz. It would have been easier to understand his logic had the line been added in order to give the reader useful insight into 3...a6, including an introduction to the Exchange variation 4.Bxc6, but Sokolov doesn't exploit this opportunity. However, this chapter only takes up 12 pages so it's a kind of parenthesis anyway.

Don't get me wrong - it is a rare occasion when a genuine top grandmaster writes on openings he plays himself. So when this happens, you take what you are offered and don't complain when something you were hoping for isn't there. What Sokolov does offer of analysis does indeed appear to be a treat. The only lines about which I have (had may be more accurate) any detailed knowledge are 3...f5 4.Nc3 Nf6 and 3...a6 4.Ba4 f5!? so I had a closer look and must say I was impressed by the details. On page 95 I found my game against Thomas Ernst at Gausdal in 1993 far better analyzed than my own old notes - with plenty of improvements and alternatives for both sides.

As you can expect from New in Chess, the book's production value is quite high - roughly on par with Quality's, Gambit's and Everyman's products. Nevertheless I have some small remarks:
  • 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). 
My evaluation (for players interested in the Ruy Lopez from Black's viewpoint):
  • 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.
It should be added that book is close to indispensible for those who want to be thoroughly prepared for playing the White side of the Ruy Lopez.
Some supplementary reviews:
British Chess Magazine by John Saunders
John's Chess Book Reviews by John Elburg

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:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1.b4 - Theory & Practice of the Sokolsky Opening

Title: 1.b4: Theory & Practice of the Sokolsky Opening
Authors: Jerzy Konikowski and Marek Soszynski
Publisher: Russell Enterprises 2009
ISBN: 978-1-888690-65-1
Pages: 315

  • Preface (1 page) Acknowledgements & Selected English
  • Bibliography (1 page)
  • The Name (1 page)
  • Signs & Symbols (1 page)
  • Playing the Sokolsky (3 pages)
  • Introduction (12 pages)
  • 1.b4 a5 (11 pages)
  • 1.b4 c6 (21 pages)
  • 1.b4 e6 (45 pages)
  • 1.b4 d5 2.Bb2 Nf6, 2…Qd6, 2…Bf5 (35 pages)
  • 1.b4 Nf6 2.Bb2 g6 (33 pages)
  • 1.b4 f5 (13 pages)
  • 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 f6 (55 pages)
  • 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 d6 (27 pages)
  • 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 e4 (8 pages)
  • 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 (22 pages)
  • 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.Nf3 (16 pages)
  • Afterword (1 page)
  • Index of Games (3 pages)
The first few tournaments I played - more than 30 years ago - left lasting impressions. One of these was the enthusiasm displayed by a somewhat older junior from a neighbouring chess club for the first move 1.b4. He was preaching its virtues to anybody willing to listen and his main message was that with his first move White put his mark on the game. Since then I have been following the move but very rarely played it myself. Except for a few rapid games with 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b4, the nearest I have come was a time when the Budapest gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5) figured in my repertoire and I decided to meet 2.Nf3 with 2...b5!?.

Although I was tempted I didn't buy Lapshun and Conticello's 'Play 1.b4' (Everyman 2008) as it seemed to be rather short on analysis (this was my impression from browsing through it and reading online reviews - not the result of any real investigation). This book, however, I couldn't pass over as it was immediately evident that it contained a huge amount of analysis, research and knowledge about this somewhat esoteric opening.

Let me state it immediately: All serious practitioners of 1.b4 need this book - there simply is no way around it. Every page is packed with game references and there is a fair amount of fresh analysis. The variations are logically organized and there are lots of complete and interesting games. Even with the huge databases that are now available you realize that there must be an enormous amount of research behind this project. I seem to sense some of the same fanatism

That doesn't mean the book is perfect:
  • In my opinion there is too little prose to really make the book a good read and more seriously there generally is a lack of strategic explanations.
  • Some of the information is of little practical value and mainly confuses the larger picture. Possibly you grow more tolerant regarding unorthodox moves after having played a large number of 1.b4 games. Nevertheless I dare to say that the book would have been better if the line 1.b4 Nh6 2.Bb2 Rb8 had been cut and replaced with some prose in the mainlines.
  • There is no detailed Table of Content. Only the first few moves are given and then comes the game information (name of players, site and year). This makes it harder to locate a particular variation that interests you. When looking for the line 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 0–0 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bb2 Re8 7.e3 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Be2 Rxe3!? (for some analysis see these entries in Sverre's Chess Corner) it took me some time to locate the variations on page 277. The analysis was a little less exhaustive than I had hoped for but quite likely I will follow up this variation in my analytical blog.
  • There are a few editorial lapses. When looking for the line above in Chapter 10, I was several times referred to Chapter 10. In at least one of the cases that turned out to be correct but that didn't make the reference any more informative. Some mistakes of this kind are unavoidable but I suspect that there may be more than average of them as found several other minor errors in a relatively short time.
My evaluation:
For players below 1300: Not really worth the money.
For players 1300-1800: Recommended as your second book on the Sokolsky.
For players 1800-2300: An extremely useful reference work if you want to play 1.b4.
For players above 2300: I suspect you would score better with another first move.

Some supplementary reviews:

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Blog Lives

Unfortunately this blog has been dormant for more than a year. The main reason I haven't closed it, is the link collections which have been quite useful for my own web searching. However, it now has a "follower" and I take that as an obligation to revitalize it.

The main reason it never really got started probably was too high ambitions coupled with a few books that were very difficult to review fairly. Therefore my first project will be a series of mini reviews starting December 1st.

In 2010 I will try to have at least one monthly collection of reviews. In addition I will occasionally add some other thoughts on chess reviewers, publishers, authors and maybe even chess readers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Philidor Files

The Philidor files, detailed coverage of a dynamic opening

Christian Bauer,
Everyman 2006,

304 sider, paperback

Even though it may not be entirely obvious from the main title, the sub-title makes it clear that Bauer’s book is an opening monograph. More specifically it’s a book about Philidor’s Defence. Traditionally this opening was defined by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 and regarded as a difficult defence for Black who - unless he was well prepared - risked being mated remarkably quickly. Lately this reputation has improved somewhat as many players have turned to the Pirc move-order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 followed by either 3...Nbd7 and 4...e5 or the immediate 3...e5.

As can be seen from the Table of Content, Bauer’s book deals with both move-orders. In addition it covers the systems (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6) 3.f3 and 3.Bd3 which frequently have been ignored or underestimated in previous works.

A Traditional Opening Manual

Basically ‘The Philidor files’ is a traditional opening manual where the variations are organized in a three structure. However, the author has in addition attempted to achieve some of the advantages of Everyman’s favoured ‘Illustrative Games’ approach by adding entertaining games in full wherever natural - frequently with diagrams and full annotations.

Despite being a solid 308 densely written pages, the book is a fairly comfortable read as there is plenty of prose in between the moves. Unfortunately some of the prose appears to have been added mainly in order to allow the eye some rest from long reams of moves. When Bauer after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 first lists White’s alternatives to 4.Nf3 (A: 4.f4, B: 4.Nge2, C: 4.dxe5) and then in line B: comments: ‘1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nge2!? An interesting alternative to the usual 4.dxe5 and 4.Nf3’, the information value is so low that you are reminded of the Norwegian chess writer who annotated 14.Qd2 as follows: ”White moves his queen to d2”. Fortunately this is an exception, and not the rule in Bauer’s book.

‘The Philidor files’ comes closer to being an encyclopaedia than a repertoire book. In most key positions the book offers alternatives for Black as well as for White. Actually the book frequently offers more than one way to advantage against dubious variations. However, this approach isn’t entirely consistent and if Bauer consider a variation unsatisfactory for Black he frequently concludes his analysis very quickly.

Some Omissions

Even though Bauer’s book is the incomparably most detailed overview of Philidor’s defence so far, it doesn’t cover everything. And although some omissions seem to have been deliberate, others probably are accidental.

After the classical move-order 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6, Bauer primarily analyses 3.d4. The only alternative to receive any serious attention is 3.Bc4 which is not much weaker. This is particularly popular at club level - possibly because White hopes to get in Blackburne's ancient trap 3...Bg4?! 4.Nc3 g6? 5.Nxe5! Bxd1?? 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5 mate. Bauer recommends 3...Be7, and mentions several alternatives but gives no repertoire advice if Black was heading for the Larsen-variation (3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 g6).

Against the main line 3.d4, Bauer recommends 3...exd4 but he also examines the older mainlines 3...Nd7 and 3...Nf6. Even Philidor’s original 3...f5?! receives full coverage with 4.Nc3; 4.dxe5; 4.exf5 and 4.Bc4 which really is an overkill. In contrast there is little of interest for fans of Blackburne’s old gambit 3...Bg4. Admittedly Bauer offers one of White’s very best lines - 4.dxe5 Nd7 5.exd6 Bxd6 6.Nc3 Ngf6 7.Be2 Qe7 8.Nd4 - but that’s about it. And it’s at this point that Buecker - the gambit’s modern spokesman - really starts his analysis.

It would not be fair to criticize Bauer for his sparse coverage of these rather minor lines. However, when it comes to Larsen’s variation (4.Nxd4) 4...g6, I don't find his explanations adequate regarding 5.c4. In practical play this is not a popular choice but this probably is mostly because players opening 1.e4 prefer quick development over space gaining. Actually, after 5.c4 (Dia) Black has to choose between to systems which are not too highly regarded:

a) After the natural 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be2 Black hardly has anything better than 7...0-0 which after 8.0-0 is a King’s Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7) position which would normally arise from the line 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 exd4 8.Nxd4. This is playable for Black but considerably less popular than the alternatives 7...Nc6, 7...Na6 and 7...Nbd7.

b) If Black isn’t tempted by the transposition to a rare King’s Indian line, he can - as Bauer suggests - play 5...Bg7 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.Be3 Nge7. What he doesn’t mention is that this position is a quite deeply researched line from the Modern Defence (1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7), and normally reached via the move-order 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Be3 e5 6.Nge2 exd4 7.Nxd4 Nge7.

Bauer’s conclusion is slightly surprising: ‘...for those who find 5.c4 annoying, there is no disadvantage in starting with 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 and only then 5...g6!’. This may well be correct but should in any case have been accompanied by some variations and explanations as 6.Bg5 seems to be an important extra option for White. And even if 6.Bg5 should prove harmless, the knight on f6 blocks the dark-squared bishop’s diagonal - a factor which in certain lines seems to offer White additional options over the 4...g6 line.

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4, Bauer discusses almost all of Black’s playable continuations - even some which seem rather pointless, like 4...Bd7. In contrast, after the main continuation 4...Nf6 5.Nc3, only Antoshin’s 5...Be7 is considered. Admittedly this clearly is Black’s most popular move. But there are alternatives that deserve a mention - if for no other reason to show why they are weak:

a) This would be the natural place for a closer look at 5...g6, and in particular the reply 6.Bg5.

b) 5...Nbd7 has been played by strong grandmasters like A.Sokolov, Vorotnikov and Nicolaidis.

c) 5...Nc6 can arise from several move-order and has been employed by Piket, Wahls and Istratescu among others.

d) 5...a6 is extremely flexible and has been tested by up and coming players like Nepomniashchy, Sedlak og McShane.

After an admirable treatment of the Antoshin variation, Bauer moves on to the modern move-order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6. Here his coverage seems relatively complete. Actually I doubt that anybody would have missed it if the author had skipped White’s alternatives to 3.Nc3.

Instead Bauer offers the most detailed examination of 3.f3 I so far have seen, 3...e5, 3...d5 as well as 3...Nbd7 get full coverage. As a consequence it seems slightly inconsistent when he after 3.Bd3 only discusses 3...e5 (in a exemplary way), and almost in passing mentions that 3...c5 and 3...g6 seem to be Black's most interesting alternatives. To me it appears that 3...c6 and 3...Nbd7 could be alternative paths to a Philidor position. If that's not the case, an explanation to the reader would have been very useful.

The Hanham Lives

In the book's final part, Bauer treats the classical Hanham variation which today normally arises after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 e5 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0–0 (Dia).

Bauer offers an impressing coverage of the mainline 6...0-0. There is however, very little for the many amateurs who were hoping for some advice on the lines where Black delays castling and rather plays ...h6. Following Jansen's and Rekom's bok 'The Lion', (which will soon come in a new version) this has become a popular weapon in online blitz. Admittedly Bauer gives a game with 6...h6, and suggests some improvements for both sides. But he fails to mention the less committal move-order 6...c6 7.a4 Qc7 which allows Black to await White's set-up before deciding whether to go for a direct attack with ...h6, ...Nf8, ...g5, ...Ng6 and ...Nf4.

Table of Content

5 Introduction

Part 1: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6

10 1 Early Deviations

44 2 3 d4 exd4: Introduction and Larsen's Variation

83 3 Antoshin's Variation: Introduction

109 4 Antoshin's Variation: 6 Bf4

Part 2: 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6

132 5 Early Deviations and 3 f3

147 6 3 Bd3

264 7 3 Nc3 e5

275 8 3 Nc3 Nbd7: Introduction and 4 f4

197 9 3 Nc3 Nbd7 4 g4

Part 3: The Philidor Hanham Variation (1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nbd7 4 Nf3 e5)

207 10 Introduction and 5 g4

218 11 5 Bc4: Introduction and Bxf7+ Lines

232 12 Main Line: 7 Qe2 and 7 a4

247 13 Main Line: 8 Re1 without 8...b6

280 14 Main Line: 8 Re1 b6

299 Final Thoughts

301 Index of Variations

Despite the constant flow of opening monographs, it's far from an everyday occasion that as strong a grandmaster as Bauer authors an opening book. In this book he writes on lines he knows very well from his own games. The book is fairly well penned and inspires confidence with many new suggestions, deep analysis and generally clear explanations of the ideas behind the moves. I recommend it to all players already playing Philidor's defence and to everybody looking for a good defence to 1.e4.

This review is based on my review in Norwegian for the online newspaper Nettavisen which has an excellent chess section.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Welcome to my chess book review blog. It is intended to supplement my other blog - Sverre's Chess Corner.

I have always been reading a lot of chess books. A few years ago I started writing some too. Now I also want to review them.

My ambition is to offer objective and quite detailed reviews; that obviously will conflict with speed and quantity. Maybe I will divide my reviews in 'Quick Reviews' and 'Full Reviews' in order to minimize this problem.

It is possible that I occasionally will review other chess products than books but for the moment I don't plan to do so. However, from time to time I plan to post some other chess book related items on publishers, authors, other reviewers, chess book collecting etc. For the moment I cannot say how frequently this blog will be updated. In the next few months I will just let it develop as I find natural.

Books Awaiting a Review

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

Note for Chess Book Publishers

If you would like me to review a book, please send it to my postal address:

Sverre Johnsen
Bogstadveien 30B
0355 Oslo

I cannot guarantee that all received books will be reviewed but I will do my best. There of course is no guarantee that a review will be positive but if it seems relevant I will point out positive aspects even if my overall impression is negative.

I can be reached by email at: