Here we are, together on this page, both interested in the French Defence with 3.Nc3 Bb4. Before telling you what you can learn from this opening, let me tell you a little story about my journey in the French. I started playing the French after reading John Watson’s Play the French, which improved my play a lot. I learned that the French is a positional yet concrete opening, and many of my young opponents couldn’t grasp its subtleties. Moreover, many opponents were far less prepared against 1...e6 than against 1...c5 or 1...e5. Unfortunately those days would end.
During the 2008 Dutch Youth Championships (U20), I understood that everyone would throw 7.Qg4 in the Winawer at me. In that respect, my opening preparation was simple: I’d study the Winawer for Black very intensively and the problem would be solved. In reality, I faced many difficulties. Novelties I’d find in the evenings were promptly refuted by the engine the next morning; I was constantly thinking about the French, but I couldn’t quite make it work. There was this strange, inexplicable feeling in my stomach, some might call “butterflies”. I had fallen in love with a chess line! Despite my two losses in the crucial games, I still believed I had a great repertoire with countless novelties to show for it.
The Pirc is more of a counterattack than a defence: Black allows his opponent to occupy the centre and provokes a confrontation, trusting in the power of the g7-bishop and the dynamic potential in his position. It is the perfect weapon for players who demand to play for a win with the black pieces.
The Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5) contains countless variations and sub-variations that have been discussed in detail at all levels of play for many years. Even "small" specialized systems have been covered in exhaustive detail in book after book.
That is why this book is unique, The Carlsen Variation, which arises after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4, has never previously been covered in detail before.
The variation was uncorked by World Champion Magnus Carlsen in 2018 and has since been played by several other top grandmasters such as Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and several others.
Yet despite this attention, the theory of the variation is largely unexplored and this book aims to set this discrepancy straight. Main lines are established and carefully analyzed with hundreds of new ideas and improvements suggested along the way.
For the reader, this book is an excellent resource to get the opponent out of their opponent's "book" into our book.
Time to have some fun in the Sicilian - enjoy!
Many players are serious about their chess but become stuck at a certain playing strength. It’s rarely a lack of talent or practice or opening knowledge that holds them back. Usually they get left behind because they don’t know how to make best use of the time they have available to study chess.
This book addresses this problem and is your self-improvement plan. It shows you how to work on your own games to root out mistakes. It will sharpen your calculation of variations. You will be challenged to find the best middlegame strategy. Endgame technique is also covered in detail. All topics are discussed with numerous examples and puzzles from the games of modern players such as Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Viswanathan Anand. If you want your chess to leap forward it’s time to Coach Yourself!
One of the finest chess books ever written, now in the revised algebraic edition. The author expounds both the basic principles and the most complex forms of attack on the king. A study of this masterpiece will add power and brilliance to any chess enthusiast's play.
Having covered the Catalan in the first installment, Volume 1B supplies a top-class repertoire for White with the Queen’s Gambit, covering defenses such as the Slav, Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Chigorin, Tarrasch and various others
This work is a follow-up to my first book “Unconventional Approaches to Modern Chess – Rare Ideas for Black” which was published in February 2019. This time, I am flipping the board and exploring offbeat opening ideas from White’s perspective. The structure of the book has remained basically the same as before, except that I merged Part III (Showing Ambitions) and Part IV (Early Surprises) into one combined chapter Ambitions & Surprises.
Part I explores sidelines in several mainstream openings. This is the most in-depth chapter of the book in terms of opening analysis. Part II presents two systems that are quite universal in nature and can be used against more than one opening. Part III gives a broad overview of a variety of aggressive lines taken from GM-level games.
As I stated in the previous book, I’m a big believer in the practical approach to chess. In order to win, you don’t need to find the best move in every position. It is neither possible nor necessary. To win a game, it is enough to be just a little bit better than your opponent. To make this happen, especially when facing a strong player, you must force your opponent to solve practical problems. You must get them into a position where the cost of a potential mistake is much higher than usual.
If there is no room for your opponent to make a mistake, then they are unlikely to make it. It is your job to give them plenty of opportunity to go wrong. As Mikhail Tal famously put it, “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”
This book aims to expose you to a variety of opening ideas that can help you to achieve this goal. I hope you find reading it beneficial in your future endeavors at the chess board.
In Magnus Wins With White Grandmaster Zenon Franco deeply analyses 32 of Magnus Carlsen’s most instructive games where he wins with the white pieces. This book is written in “move by move” style, a good training tool containing exercises and tests. This format is a great platform for studying chess, improving both skills and knowledge, as the reader is continually challenged to find the best moves and the author provides answers to probing questions throughout.
Most of the games are taken from Magnus’s recent career, including one from 2020 and eight from 2019. His opponents are nearly all super-grandmasters, and they include former world champions Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, as well as Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, and, naturally, Anish Giri. In the majority of these games, Magnus demonstrates his ability to outplay his opponents in the middlegame by simply making stronger moves and applying constant pressure that eventually forces the opponent to crack and play weaker moves. In some games, however, this takes place in the endgame. A second book, Magnus Wins With Black, is forthcoming.
This book series is about that central question: what matters in the opening? What plans are on hand? Which (hidden) concepts are concealed in the current position that has arisen just after the opening? Volume 2 in a new series by Herman Grooten covers Queen’s Gambit Structures.
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!
Simple Attacking Plans is a classic right from the get-go
Let me share here how I have made my choices for this second volume. Ten years ago, I would sometimes even play the Petroff against people who had games with 3.Nd2 in the database. I actually thought that the Petroff gave me better winning chances! You might have a similar story. 3.Nd2 gives White a very nice pawn structure so it is difficult to get a grip on the position as Black. For many years I have tried moves like 3...Nf6 from the GM Repertoire book or the more drawish 3...c5 and 4...Qxd5 line. It has taken me a lot of time to find the variation against 3.Nd2 which best fits my playing style. After trying virtually every possibility, there is only one satisfactory variation for me – the isolated pawn!
The reason why I had left this option at the bottom of my list initially is because there was a firm belief at the time that Black was worse in these isolated pawn positions. On the flipside, players on the white side have usually studied the lines after 3...Nf6 or 4...Qxd5 in much greater depth. This is one reason why people often mix up their theory as White. Typically they assume they are already better, so why would they need to remember any subtle details? The whole point of 3.Nd2 is to be microscopically better. Fortunately, this can all be easily neutralized with good opening knowledge.
Whilst studying most of the existing literature, I have noticed that there is hardly any recent analysis on the systems with 3...c5 and 4...exd5. Still, many authors who have been covering them from White’s perspective have a lot of respect for the variations and hardly achieve anything against them. When I started to play with the isolated pawn myself, my results against 3.Nd2 became better. My score against 3.Nd2 is actually better than my score against 3.Nc3 now. I have noticed that in correspondence chess, these isolated pawn lines are favored by black quite often. That is when I realized that this small advantage was just a prejudice.
I have to admit, the positions are slightly harder to play for Black. However, that is probably also true for the other lines against 3.Nd2. It just takes some time to become familiar with all the possibilities and ensuing middlegames. But once you finally master the isolated pawn structure, it will serve you well and equip you with a wide selection of tools with which you can outplay your opponent. My original plan for this book was to cover 3.Nd2 as well as all the other options besides 3.Nc3, but I believe it is much more important to focus on showing as many examples as possible of how to play with different versions of the French isolated pawn. All the material in this book is designed for you to be able to pick your favorite line in the 3...c5, 4...exd5 system. Consequently there will be a third volume in this series, covering the rest of White’s options against the French.