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 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'.
By going through the chapters, you will get acquainted with my way of grandmaster type thinking. I can assure you of one thing: there are better and weaker grandmasters, but you won’t find a GM who is playing without ideas or, let’s say, without his way of thinking! As you will find out, I am basically trying to detect the problem or goal of the position and then I am starting to scan factors which can lead to the solution. That process you will find in many examples in the book.
(Free re-downloadable for those who purchased the first edition!)
One of the remarkable things about the Accelerated Dragon is its appeal to players with vastly different styles. In this book International Master Raja Panjwani presents a repertoire for Black demonstrating a dynamic way to fight 1.e4 from the second move.
A complete manual on how to play the Benko
When I set out to write this book, I was clear on certain aspects, like keeping the moves simple and giving as much explanation as possible at the critical moments, as I wanted to ensure that someone interested in learning the intricacies of the Berlin doesn’t get swamped by long theoretical lines, but acquires a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the positions. If you manage to grasp the dynamics of these lines, then you can play not just the systems recommended in the book, but also other popular Berlin variations that have not been covered in this book for the Black side.
This book is written for the Black side, though new ideas for White are suggested and old ones occasionally improved. It contains not only the author’s personal take on how to deal with all major White tries after 1.e4 c6, but also a range of alternatives for Black to cater for different types of Caro-Kann player.
The Colle-Zukertort is a deep independent opening in its own right, but is also very flexible. Transpositions to the Queen’s Indian or Slav are often possible. The simplicity of placing the bishop on d3, a knight on e5 and following up with f4 and Rf3 with checkmating prospects is very tempting. Underneath it all though, it is way more than that simplified idea. It is filled with rich positional possibilities and nuances that one should be aware of. I have tried to show as many aspects as possible, pointing out exactly the relevant details and knowledge that are normally only accessible to strong positional players, such as Kramnik.
This opening is for fans of classical chess. I wanted to present chess in the “old” style, before players had access to engines to help them with their play and understanding. Before engines, players such as Colle and Zukertort created and innovated to such an extent that we still use their ideas today. I wanted to use this approach, to remind readers that this style of chess still exists.
My aim in this book is to show that the Delayed Benoni is equally as attractive as its cousin, the Modern Benoni. For some reason – perhaps because “Modern” sounds more exciting than “Delayed”? – my favorite Benoni has been neglected for years, receiving scant coverage in chess publications.
The advantage of “our” Benoni is based on a waiting approach. Black would like to choose a perfect moment to play ...e6xd5, waiting for White to adopt some piece setup that turns out to be inconvenient for him after this exchange. At the same time, we would like to avoid some dangerous or deeply explored variations like the Flick-Knife (a.k.a Taimanov) or systems where White can place his bishop on the optimal f4-square.
A lot of variations in this book can also be useful for King’s Indian players, as a main or alternative way to play. My own journey in the world of the Delayed Benoni started when I was a King’s Indian kind of guy!