This book is about the Marshall Attack and the lines which can be grouped together under the banner of the so-called Anti-Marshall. The theory has developed so much in the last decade that there is more than enough material to be going on with just in those areas, but I also decided to include a detailed look at an important line in the Exchange Variation. Black’s key concept in the Marshall is giving up a central pawn in return for activity, and I have tried to give as many lines as possible which adhere closely to this principle. Why is this so significant? Well, for starters, usually in the Ruy Lopez Black is looking for long, slow games in solid, closed positions. The Marshall flips this on its head and Black tries to accelerate the play and radically change the character of the game at an early stage. Let’s briefly discuss the material of the book itself and the lines that I have decided to give. First of all, I started off with the standard Marshall Attack, after the initial moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5. I have given direct analysis wherever possible and I have tried to cover all the essential lines. Of course, with the passing of the years and the continual development of theory we can see how the popularity of some positions has shifted and, in some cases, how certain lines have simply been rendered obsolete. I also discovered, to my surprise, that there are still new, unexplored, and interesting paths for further analysis.
Over time, my attention focused on the Modern Benoni. In this opening, the bishop on g7 is the same icon that is the basis of the King’s Indian, but here it can operate on the whole a1-h8 diagonal instead of being locked in by its own pawn on e5, as usually happens in the King’s Indian. Black’s plan is outrageously simple: with pawns on d6 and c5, and sometimes b4, he creates a breakwater that opens up space for his favorite on g7.
My expectations from the opening were reinforced by two games by the greatest chess romantic of all time, Mikhail Tal. It seems to me that these games will help you, dear reader, to be imbued with love for this extraordinary opening.
Times are changing (as even the Wild West at some point became industrialized) and theory has developed on everything. It has therefore become possible, inter alia, to try and write a rigorous opening manual on the Modern. What I mean is not that equality has been found and this should be your exclusive opening choice for all time to come (I would be lying to you if I said that) but rather that there is now a roadmap as to how you should study this opening. About time, given the number of 1.e4 repertoires that have been written and which contain anti-Modern recommendations (usually in the ‘Other’ or ‘Miscellaneous’ section towards the back!) that nobody has taken the time to combat rigorously.
Furthermore, there has been a sea change in the ethos of Modern players (and also Pirc players): we no longer wish to get something totally new, or redefine the concept of development in Hippo style, but usually these days we want to get a Sicilian structure! That is to say, a position where Black gets to play …cxd4 (or have White play dxc5) and thereby obtains a central majority that will stand him in good stead for the long term. That has now become the intellectual gold standard, a trend that has progressed in tandem with the inclusion of this opening in more players’ repertoires and its slow shift in towards the mainstream from the fringes of what is acceptable.
As artisans (for we must never forget our roots) on this moving fringe, it is important to have your bearings. Nowadays (and however much you feel like playing it freehand) if you want to include the Modern in your repertoire you should do some study. You should know, for instance, where White can get a safe plus (in my opinion, just chapter III.2), where White can get a less-safe plus (chapter IV.4), and where there are routes to equality, dynamic or otherwise (essentially the rest of the book!)
The Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence is so popular that the total number of games played in this line exceeds the number of games played in many complete openings! It has been the favourite line of many world champions and grandmasters. Famous lines such as the Poisoned Pawn, the Polugaevsky Variation, the Sozin, the English Attack, to name just a few, are known to all chess players as belonging to the Najdorf Sicilian.
Learning the Najdorf will help all players to understand Sicilians in a better way. Different aspects of chess such as defence, attack and sacrifice, positional themes and tactical storms, can be found in this book.
The Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Gambit Declined are among Black’s soundest and most universal answers to 1.d4. In his trademark style, Milos investigates the most positional ways to proceed after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6
There is no doubt that the Nimzovich Defense is one of Black’s most inspiring openings after 1.e4. Black strives to unbalance the position by creating new problems for White from move two, giving himself every opportunity to fight for the initiative from the outset. It is no surprise that 1…Nc6 appeals ambitious players who relish a complicated battle. In this book, GM Christian Bauer explains how to use this powerful weapon drawing from his own successful experiences. He is not shy to show you the fundamental ideas, the traps, the pitfalls and naturally the move order subtleties which play such an important role in our modern game of chess. We are convinced this book will give you plenty of confidence and make your opponent think more than twice.
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.
(FREE RE-DOWNLOADABLE FOR THOSE WHO PURCHASED THE FIRST EDITION)
Contrary to what the critical pessimists might say, the Reti opening is an ambitious weapon for White. By avoiding the main theoretical debates, White tries to reach an unbalanced position from an early stage of the game, with many different plans being available.
“The Ruy Lopez is such a classic opening that never gets old. Regardless of what you already knew about this opening, there are always new ideas to be found and tested over the board. That is why this book is beneficial to chess players and enthusiasts at all levels, including top Grand Masters like myself. Reading the first volume of this book has been inspiring, as I feel that I have broadened my chess knowledge in certain variations. I am eagerly waiting to try Dariusz’s solid recommendations in my future games, and I look forward to the second volume of his series. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Ruy Lopez.” ~ Le Quang Liem
This second volume on the Ruy Lopez consists of two parts. In the first part I focus on modern systems with ...Bc5, attempting to dissect both the Archangelsk and Moller Variations. These two variations have quite a rich history but in 2020 there have been several developments. If I had to name one person that contributed the most to the developments in those lines it is, without a doubt, Fabiano Caruana. His encounters in the Candidates Tournament in Ekaterinburg, then his theoretical discussion in those lines with Leinier Dominguez, revised my opinion on many of those lines and led to interesting discoveries that I analyze in this book.
In the subsequent part I discuss the Closed Ruy Lopez. It is easily one of the most popular openings throughout the history of chess with many games occuring as early as the 1800s. I suggest going for 9.h3 which usually leads to a positional battle. I present new trends and find new paths and ideas in such evergreen variations as the Zaitsev, Breyer, Chigorin and others. Additionally, I attempt to crack the Marshall Attack by suggesting the Anti-Marshall lines with 8.a4. I must admit that I thought that it would be a pretty easy task to analyze those openings having some prior analysis and experience with both colors. However, time after time I was encountering new challenges and new ideas from both sides that I had to resolve. My conclusions, based on careful analysis with the most powerful engines currently available is presented in this book.
This book completes my series on the Ruy Lopez.
In spite of its long history however, for most of its life the Scotch did not enjoy great popularity. It was a recognized answer to 1...e5, for sure, but it never seriously challenged the Ruy Lopez as the most “objective” way to fight for an opening advantage. The general opinion was that Black had enough resources to achieve equality. The turning point for the fortunes of the Scotch was the world title match between Kasparov and Karpov in 1990, the first time that the opening had been tested at such an elite level. Unsurprisingly, Kasparov’s decision to employ this old opening meant that its appearances in tournaments soared. The popularity of the Scotch generated by this match remains today, and I would say it is perhaps more popular than ever before. That begs the obvious question – why? Well, due to the nature of the positions that tend to arise it is ideal for engine analysis, and so it lends itself perfectly to the tools of the current day. It is a nice paradox that the Romantic foundations of this opening merge so well with the computerized modern era. Credit can mostly be given to Kasparov for reviving this old opening, but there are many others who have contributed to exploring new ideas and forging new paths. A lot of discoveries have been made by some young grandmasters who don’t shy away from analysing deep tactical solutions with the aid of the silicon beast.
The only other book written on the Scotch that I used whilst searching for material is the excellent work by the English GM Peter Wells, The Scotch Game. Wells’ book comes from an older, classical style of opening literature which is helpful in developing the reader’s understanding and certainly still has its merits today. Since its publication in 1998, however, many new lines have been introduced and our general approach to the Scotch has changed dramatically. Nevertheless, it served me well as guidance as I wrote this work. This book is going to be a big one, so my introduction will be a little different to my usual approach. I will try to present the most important features in the book so that readers can immediately see what kind of material they will find.
The Dutch Defense is an old opening. A seriously old opening. So old, in fact, that in large part it currently has the reputation of not really causing a well-prepared White player to fear losing. That is especially the case with the variant of it I am analysing in this book: the Stonewall (in which Black continues with ...e6 and ...d5). I intend to show that that impression is mistaken.
First things first: it’s a very positional opening. In contrast to the King’s Indian (which shares the feature of having few early piece or pawn exchanges) play moves slowly and despite there obviously being some sharp lines, the absolute prerequisite for playing the Stonewall Dutch is that you understand positional chess. The first person to really understand the strategic themes at play here, and develop decent plans for Black was sixth world champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. From which it should be clear that positional doesn’t necessarily mean easy.
There have been many revolutions in how chess players view tactical play or opening strategy. However, for me it is fitting that the resurgence of the Stonewall is coming at the exact time that strategic chess is being redefined by Carlsen. It is an echo of when the opening was first introduced: Botvinnik, the ‘Patriarch’ of the Soviet chess school, with its discipline and its principles, produced a similarly seismic shift in how people viewed positional play at the time.
The positional themes in this opening are incredibly complex. We’ll get into it more later but let me just explain some of the confounding factors. From Black’s perspective, playing with a hole on e5 is very much an ‘acquired taste’, in spite of the ideas that have already been found to counterbalance it, such as a queen (or bishop) transfer to h5, or launching the f-pawn against the enemy king.