This book is about the greatest chess players who ever lived, who dominated their era and were looked upon as World Champions even at a time when this term, this very concept, did not yet exist. On the basis of a short biography, a selection of their most famous games and a brief characteristic of their playing style I will attempt to illuminate what made these great players great and what their significance is for the chess world. This will also give an overview of how chess itself has developed over the past two and a half centuries: how it has essentially remained the same, yet changed almost beyond recognition.
During my chess career I have played almost 4000 classical games, a good deal of them against grandmasters, including world's top players, a number of which I managed to defeat. A lot of these games are interesting and instructive, and studying them will definitely help any player to get new expertise, learn new ideas and therefore improve their chess skill. This book is divided into three chapters. The first part is a brief description of my life and career. The second chapter includes 54 of my most memorable victories grouped by their main contents (tactics, attack, positional play etc.) while in every section games are arranged in chronological order. The third chapter is specifically devoted to endgames and contains analyses of the 12 most interesting, often amazing endgames, I had in my practice.
Some of the games and endings were published (mostly a long time ago) in various chess magazines. All my earlier annotations have been fully revised for this book, with the help of more modern computers and analysing engines. I don’t understand the strange approach of some chess commentators (mostly those providing online coverage of games), who decline using chess engines in order to give more "human" commentaries (which leads to numerous mistakes and blunders as they can't fully concentrate on the games in the same way as players do). I don't see any contradiction between human explanation of decisions taken in the games and their verification with technical aids. On top of this, computer analysis often reveals fantastic possibilities hidden in the position, which are as instructive as details of human thinking.
The engine has become the “Holy Cow” to which all chess players now pray regardless of their religious convictions or rating. Far from being a foe or rival it has become an invaluable helper, consultant and the highest of authorities. Since the highest of all oracles is soulless and cynical it is ready to help anyone ignoring opinions and preferences. Therefore, the task before each player is to use this dominant and universally accessible power to their particular advantage.
For the purpose of writing this book I decided to look at all the games Veselin has played from 1995 until the present, as there were many I didn’t know! I must say that, although seeing great moves from a 2800 player sounds normal, it was impossible not to be astonished by some of his games. Topalov is one of the kings of practical decisions in chess. He regards chess as more a sport than a science. If he thinks an idea will work over the board, the notion of risk is irrelevant to him. He wants to be on the attack and believes an objectively inferior position isn’t necessarily bad if his opponent needs to find several difficult defensive moves. “If that’s the only move for my opponent, let’s enter the line and see if he sees it!” is his philosophy. He never liked peace over the board or routine play. The moments where he has refused to repeat moves or has sacrificed something strictly out of intuition are countless. In short, Topalov’s aim has always been to hit hard and bring his own touch to the game, and I think he has succeeded!
Grandmaster Milos Pavlovic investigates one of the most popular openings: the King's Indian, with a focus on little explored dynamic ways to counter the basic White system
The Benoni had been under a serious cloud. Milos rehabilitated the whole opening using many new and unexplored ideas. He and the publisher are convinced that this book will inspire to use his reloaded weapons for their own benefit!
Chess has very strict, but also fairly simple, rules: rapid development, control of the center with pawns or pieces, timely castling and defense of the king, the creation of various weaknesses in the opponent’s position, attacking those weaknesses, and control of open lines. At the same time a player shouldn’t get his queen stuck in the enemy camp, or ruin his own pawn structure. Those who know these rules will succeed. It is necessary for a chess player to know opening and endgame theory, standard combinations and motifs, as well as pawn structures and many other things.
A lot of the topics listed demand a very straightforward type of thinking or approach. However it also happens that chess players often discover significant resources which formally exist outside the typical rules of chess. Those who know how to break all the rules and work around those specific guidelines reach the very top. Currently, when thousands of chess books dissect the same standard ideas in great detail, let us remember that first there were those who originally discovered them, implemented them, and made them standard, as well as those who broke the rules and created completely new ones.
The book before you is a product of what happens when two chess players start a relationship (which started over six years ago) and enter a dialogue about how to get ready for the next tournament. The content of this book is a training program for players who plan to play an over-the-board tournament a few weeks from the time they start training with this book. This book, unlike other similar books in the field of improvement, does not have a central theme. In other words, we are not focused solely on openings, middlegames or endgames. Moreover, the book does not only concentrate on specific themes (calculation, positional decisions, or other strategic aspects), though many of these concepts are addressed throughout the book. Instead, this book offers a holistic view on how to approach every single position in it, regardless of the phase of the game or the nature of the position. We try to teach players how to identify types of decisions in various positions, while pointing at the trade-off between a hardcore calculation and a heuristics judgment.
The Caro-Kann Defense has always been one of my favorite openings to play and was the very first opening I learned when I started playing chess. Former world champion Anatoly Karpov espoused this opening throughout his career and, with his solid and positional style, inspired me to play the Caro-Kann as well. Many games have been played, and theory has evolved since the days of Karpov’s Caro-Kann. As you will see in this book, this opening offers Black many opportunities for dynamic play, despite its solid framework.
My hope is that readers of all levels will find something of value to them in this book. The material contains many new ideas and the analysis often stretch quite far from the opening stages. Nevertheless, I have done my best to help the reader make sense of the complicated variations and of the positional nuances inextricably woven between them. The idea is not only to show you the moves, but also to help you develop both your understanding of the underlying plans and your familiarity with broader strategic concepts, to guide your decision-making even beyond the opening.
The strategic part of the book consists of thirty-two fully-annotated games divided into five chapters, with the fifth chapter divided into four subchapters. In this strategic part I have given an insight into the historical development of the variation and have tried to help the reader understand the most common plans and concepts for both sides. My own practical experiences in this variation date back to 1994, and over the years I have tried it with Black versus greats like Kramnik, Shirov and Grischuk. Some of these experiences are included in the book. The Chigorin Variation is rich in ideas which can be used in a range of middlegame positions arising from different variations.
Understanding the strategic ideas of this complex variation is also a middlegame improvement ‘tool’ and a must for anyone wanting to take his or her chess to the next level. The current trend, developed in recent years, is for Black to capture on d4 with his e-pawn, aiming for Benoni-type pawn structure positions which lead to rather double-edged positions.
These modern developments and the current theoretical state of affairs in general are dealt with in the theoretical part of the book by my friend, Ivan Salgado. This ‘Chigorin bible’ aims to be the ultimate improvement ‘tool’ for club and tournament players in the variation. The first part provides the reader with a good understanding of general plans and strategic concepts and the second part provides direct theoretical knowledge.
Going through the instructive examples and numerous exercises you will see all the important aspects of the piece exchange in the endgame, and enrich your knowledge and understanding of the final stage of the chess game. Trying to solve the positions, you will certainly improve your decision-making ability and analyzing skills.
Many gambit lines, where one or more pawns are sacrificed for the initiative, have to be taken seriously, but Ivan has succeeded in finding many new ideas and theoretical improvements. The result is the neutralisation or refutation of most of these common and well known 'Gambits'.