Feature articles and hundreds of deeply annotated games
This is the first volume of the new series "Key Concepts of Chess". The idea is to deal with middlegames in which a certain structure or essential theme becomes central. The idea of starting this series is in line with the "Understanding before Moving" series because the aim, is to improve the understanding of club chess players. According to the author, playing an opening should be 'hung up' on stereotypical ideas and concepts belonging to this structure. The thorough exploration of middlegame structures is beyond the scope of opening books, hence it makes more sense to expose it in this complementary series.
In this first volume, the "Hedgehog System" is discussed in detail. Apart from being part of the author's repertoire, this typical set-up deserves to be widely highlighted. Although in the second part of the trilogy on the Sicilian, the Hedgehog has already made its appearance, in this book the seemingly fragile, but oh so treacherous creature can reconsider its spines in an extensive way.
Ian Nepomniachtchi’s road from Grandmaster to becoming Magnus Carlsen’s world championship challenger in 2021 was a long one. GM in 2007 and Russian champion for the first time in 2010, Ian only hit the elite in recent years. His victory in Ekaterinburg occurred at his very first candidates tournament. In this book Grandmaster Zenon Franco analyzes Nepo’s chess through his 30 best wins and several fragments, considering his style, his strengths, as well as his weaknesses and how he has overcome them. Like Magnus, we see fighting, practical chess with a player not afraid to push his g and h pawns in front of his king, and a more aggressive than positional style. Above all, Franco compares Nepo to Lasker, Korchnoi and Magnus Carlsen himself. In instructional move by move format, we see Ian’s best wins against Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik, Giri, Aronian, Vachier-Lagrave, Svidler, Gelfand, Karjakin, and other elite players of the last decade.
I’ve become increasingly convinced of this comfort zone theory to the degree where I’ve started to apply it to chess. To use the same logic, I believe a chess player is more comfortable in an opening that they have played since childhood. They’ll be less likely to make mistakes in that opening. You can also apply it to tournaments as well.
During the course of the book, I’ll talk about the tournaments that I felt comfortable in, and by the same token the opponents that I felt comfortable facing and the ones that I didn’t feel so happy to play.
Oscar de Prado has revisted the London Chess Opening, after the enourmous success of The Agile London System, the book he co-authored in 2016. His new book has a more practical approach. De Prado avoids long and complicated variations and concentrates on explaining straightforward plans, clear-cut strategies and standard manoeuvres.
The Philidor Defense is a most popular opening at all levels. In this first book Sergio brings a no-nonsense opening repertoire for players of all strenghts.
You will find this book nor only a useful handy guide but find it also loaded with an indispensable source of inspiring ideas.
With all the many books and articles on the Sicilian Defense, there is surprisingly little about the Four Knights Variation. Its starting position is reached after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6. It may also be reached after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6. Some prefer 2...e6 to 2...Nc6 because it avoids 3.Bb5.
The fundamentals of the Sicilian Four Knights are not hard to learn. Black reaches the middlegame quickly and safely, with lively piece play in the dynamic positions which arise. There is no easy ride for White here, and, in particular, if he gets over-ambitious, he can find himself on the receiving end of a powerful attack very quickly.