Home > Publishing Schedule > Nikos with a quick overview on the Mihail Marin book, Grandmaster Repertoire โ€“ Pirc Defence

Nikos with a quick overview on the Mihail Marin book, Grandmaster Repertoire โ€“ Pirc Defence

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  1. Thomas
    December 8th, 2017 at 17:01 | #1

    Personally I would have wished to find an answer to the question why so few top players play the pure Pirc. If you see guys like Nepomniashchi, Mamedyarov or Svidler playing it it’s mostly through some Modern Defense move order. Why? What’s the problem with the Pirc ?

  2. Ray
    December 8th, 2017 at 17:11 | #2

    Great video, thanks! I have also been wondering what’s wrong with the Pirc that’s it’s so rarely played on top GM level. It seems perfectly playable to me. Maybe it has to do with the preference for space by modern GMs?

  3. James2
    December 8th, 2017 at 18:03 | #3

    I think one of the problems is a lack of space. Another one is that whote has lots of options against the opening and black needs to know a lot just to play the opening where you might be under attack after a minor slip or have a lack of space.

    Why not spend all of that time on 1..e5 or 1..c5?


  4. Frank van Tellingen
    December 8th, 2017 at 18:37 | #4

    Most probably because the Modern is the more flexible move order, trying to trick White out of his standard anti-Pirc line. However, it is most probably a matter of taste @Thomas

  5. PaulH
    December 8th, 2017 at 22:48 | #5

    If you could persuade Avrukh to do a similar short video (or indeed any author ahead of release) I predict sales would go through the roof!

  6. Patzerking
    December 9th, 2017 at 12:48 | #6

    Thank you very much for the video, I really appreciate this service to your customers.
    I hoped to find the answer to the move-order issue that Marin missed and that was mentioned on another blog at this page but it is not considered by Nikos:

    1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bf4 {(Chapter 13)} c6 5. Qd2 Nbd7 6. Nf3 Bg7 7. Bh6 {not mentioned by Marin.} O-O {This is a move order to 4.Be3, where Marin consider this as “?!”.} (7… Bxh6 8. Qxh6 Qa5 {Similar position like inthe 1.e4-book of John Shaw with Nf3 and Nbd7 inserted}) 8. Bxg7 Kxg7 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. O-O-O “strong initiative on the dark squares ” according to Marin (Chapter 8, variation C sideline 7…Nbd7)} *

    Besides this, I really like the Pirc book, Marin did a great job.

  7. Jacob Aagaard
    December 9th, 2017 at 15:37 | #7

    Yes, something like this is certainly the hope.

  8. Ray
    December 10th, 2017 at 18:00 | #8

    I think 1…e5 or 1…c5 are much more theory to learn for black than the Pirc!

  9. Money
    December 14th, 2017 at 15:11 | #9

    Any Christmas sale coming up? You already skipped black Friday.

  10. Jacob Aagaard
    December 15th, 2017 at 01:48 | #10

    I asked scrooge and he said no…

  11. Thomas
    December 19th, 2017 at 07:29 | #11

    By the way:
    Any news on the Update file for Marin’s book, mentioned by John Shaw?

  12. Ray
    December 19th, 2017 at 10:32 | #12

    I’m currently working through the chapter on the Austrian Attack with 6.Bb5+, and have already worked through the chapters on 4.Bg5 and the Classical System. I have to say that this book is absolutely brilliant! I really like the good explanations and introductory sections, and the quality of the analysis is superb! Just like Thomas I’m looking forward to the update ๐Ÿ™‚ .

    Also, it would be really nice if Marin could write a similar book on a dynamic counterattacking opening against 1.d4, e.g. the Leningrad Dutch.

  13. TD
    December 19th, 2017 at 11:20 | #13

    I second your last paragraph, Ray!

  14. John Shaw
    December 19th, 2017 at 15:49 | #14

    Thomas :
    By the way:
    Any news on the Update file for Marinโ€™s book, mentioned by John Shaw?

    Mihail is aware and will create an update file, but he has been delayed by the many many tournaments he has been playing.

  15. weng nian
    December 19th, 2017 at 20:17 | #15

    @Ray and TD, yes! After my christmas came early this year with the Pirc which we have been asking for a long time, a Leningrad rep book in the usual inimitable Marin manner would be a great 2018 Christmas present.

  16. Thomas
    December 20th, 2017 at 09:29 | #16

    Just beeing cuious: How do you work through such a chapter? What do you do?

  17. Thomas
    December 20th, 2017 at 09:30 | #17


  18. Jacob Aagaard
    December 20th, 2017 at 11:36 | #18

    Yes it would. I shall continue to harass him.

  19. Ray
    December 20th, 2017 at 11:50 | #19

    @ Thomas:

    The first thing I do is enter the variations (including comments / explanations) into my repertoire database. I also include arrows etc. at specific positions, in order to emphasise typical piece manoeuvres / plans. Usually I only enter the bold variations, but sometimes also some sidelines, e.g. if they contain useful insights or difficult tactics. After I have entered everything, I systematically go through the lines in training mode, just to memorise them. An then it’s basically repeating this regularly to keep it stuck in my memory. It’s quite some work, but it works well for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Ray
    December 20th, 2017 at 11:51 | #20

    @ Jacob Aagaard:

    Great, to hear – thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Thomas
    December 20th, 2017 at 11:59 | #21

    Thanks Ray.
    Sounds like really much work, but promising.
    I always try to look at openings also on my wooden board, for better visual memory.
    But that’s probably a question of memorising techniques.

  22. Ray
    December 20th, 2017 at 16:01 | #22

    I agree a wooden board is probably better for memorising, but the downside is that it takes much more time and , more importantly, a big advantage of working with a database that I can use the engine for example in positions where I am wondering “what if black plays x instead of Marin’s move y?”

  23. KevHun
    December 20th, 2017 at 18:54 | #23

    I agree with Ray, a Marin book on the Leningrad Dutch would be well worth buying!

  24. Dextro53
    December 20th, 2017 at 21:50 | #24

    The Gm repertoire ones we need now are:
    Leningrad Dutch
    Queens Indian
    Scotch opening
    Buy Lopez
    Guico Piano

    The kan, scandinavian and classical Sicilian aren’t the strongest theoretically but it would be nice to have a Gm repertoire for them too.

  25. The Doctor
    December 20th, 2017 at 22:56 | #25


    GM Rep Queenโ€™s Indian & Taimanov are on there way.

    Queenโ€™s Gambit Accepted

    There are two good openings QC have not covered.

  26. Bigty
    December 21st, 2017 at 00:01 | #26

    GM Repertoire ‘The Grob’ is another one I’m looking forward to…

    In all seriousness though, a GM Rep Leningrad book would be amazing, and a GM Rep book on the Ruy, focusing on the traditional mainlines instead of the early d3/a4 stuff, might even make me take up 1.e4 again… Some kind of book on the Alekhine for Black would also be interesting, and would probably fill a gap in the literature as there does not seem to be a lot of material for strong players who want to play the opening with Black.

  27. Jacob Aagaard
    December 21st, 2017 at 06:14 | #27

    @The Doctor
    Not for lack of trying ๐Ÿ™

  28. Ray
    December 21st, 2017 at 07:07 | #28

    Maybe Gelfand could write a book on the Petroff, titled “Opening decision making in chess” ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Thomas
    December 21st, 2017 at 07:20 | #29

    I would be more interested in his Najdorf expertise.

  30. Jacob Aagaard
    December 21st, 2017 at 09:47 | #30

    We would obviously include a discussion of the Petroff in such a book, but it would not be a traditional opening book. Boris is not interested in writing opening books.

  31. AliceB
    December 21st, 2017 at 17:22 | #31

    Book is very nice an Mihai had to spend lot of time with his book.
    However I think that there are 2 chapters, where I am not sure about used lines.
    Firstly: 4.Bg5 – 4…c6 & 5..Nbd7 is very interesting try and new try, but game Landa-Marin could be somewhere improved and we can start with 9.Nh3 and maybe white can claim some initiative!?

    Secondly… Chapters with 4.Be3 are the most important and I think that c6+b5 system (against all white setups) is not universal. Recomended line 4…c6 5.Qd2 Nbd7 6.f3 b5 (i would prefer 5..b5 6.f3 Nbd7 move order) 7.g4 Bg7 8.h4 h5 9.g5 Nh7 (stem game Smirin-Gofstein, but mentioned Moskalenko too) 10.Nge2 Nb6 11.b3 d5 (!Marin) – but after 12.e5 Nf8 13.Nd1 with idea something like Nd1-b2-(d3), a4 (will force b4), f4, 0-0 and trying open position with c2-c3 (look at hole c5) or even f4-f5 looks dangerous for black (there is no real counterplay, black can only sit and wait)

    Thirdly 4.Be3 c6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Qd2 0-0 – i thought that this is very dangerous for black, but Marin think that black is OK. I dont think so, because after 7.Bd3 b5 8.Bh6 Bg4 9.h4 Bf3 10.gf3 e5 white play can be improved and white can claim advantage.

  32. CbT
    December 21st, 2017 at 19:54 | #32


    About Marin’s 4.Bg5 line.

    1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg5 c6 5.Qd2 Nbd7 6.f4 d5 7.e5 Ne4 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Ne2 Looks quite nicely met by Marin to me. He gives the key improvement 12…e3 and while white can play on with the better try 16.Be2, instead of the given 16.fxe5, it does not look special for white.

    1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg5 c6 5.Qd2 Nbd7 6.f4 d5 7.e5 Ne4 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Nh3 Seems seriously worthy of analysis though (and hopefully Marin will get there). To me it seems like the least clear cut continuation and perhaps for this reason it could be investigated by some white players not happy with 9.Ne2, 9.Qe3 or (not in the book) 9.Bc4. When I looked at this 9.Nh3 I had 9…f6 10.Bh4 Bh6 11.Nf2 (quite natural moves) 11…Nxe5!? as mainline of analysis. Apart from going 12.Nxe4, trying to get something in a more open position, white can actually take a piece with 12.dxe5 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Bxf4+. Not without at least some compensation obviously. Still… if were not to work out for black his alternatives e.g. 11…fxe5 12.dxe5 or 11…Nb6 12.exf6 Nd5 don’t look obviously equalising so it could be something to follow up for white maybe.

    Have a nice evening.

  33. Ray
    December 22nd, 2017 at 09:50 | #33

    I don’t think 9.Nh3 is a problem for black. “My” (read: Stockfish’s) main line goes: 9…Nb6 10.Nf2 Bf5 11.c4 f6 12.Bh4 fxe5 13.fxe5 h5 14.Bg5 Bg7 15.c5 Nd5 16.Bc4 b6! 17.b4 a5! 18.Bxd5 Qxd5 19.0-0 axb4 20.cxb6 c5! 21.dxc5 Qxd2 22.Bxd2 Kd7! 23.Bxb4 Kc6 24.Rfe1 Rhd8 25.Nd1 Bxe5 26.Bx3 Rd5 27.a4 Rxd1! 28.Bxe5 Rxe1+ 29.Rxe1 Rxa4, with equal chances in a drawish endgame.

  34. CbT
    December 23rd, 2017 at 03:23 | #34


    Thank you for sharing that way of playing. It looks fairly interesting actually.

    9…Nb6 10.Nf2 Bf5 has the downside that black’s last two moves quite seriously limited his chances to dismantle white’s centre by; moving first the knight so it targets light squares and the the light squared bishop are essentially moves that fortify the light squares.

    There is perhaps something to be said for this approach anyway though since e4 gets defended making white’s knight on f2 quite poor and if white’s best is now 11.c4 (likely) then his centre should in the long run be more unstable.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  35. Ray
    December 23rd, 2017 at 11:17 | #35

    I’ve also looked at the line with 4.Be3 and 12.e5 you give. It indeed looks a bit passive for black – in general I’m not a big fan of these structures for black, since he lacks good pawn breaks. Anyway, maybe a solution is indeed the move order you suggest, i.e. 5.Qd2 b5 (instead of 5…Nbd7) 6.f3, and now not 6…Nbd7 but 6…Bg7, when we have transposed to the repertoire in Kornev’s recent book on the Pirc – but without allowing 4…Bg7 (this is Kornev’s move order) 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6, which is better for white according to white (the engine agrees). The question is whether or not white can profit from this different move order with an early …b7-b5?

  36. December 25th, 2017 at 15:58 | #36

    Interesting discovery on chesspub.com by pirc kid:

    As in Chapter 1 explained, if White aims for the well known classical setup, Marin explained why to avoid this line

    1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.h3 Nbd7 8.a4 Qc7 9.Be3

    where Marin see problems with both 9…b6 and 9…e5, and therefore wanted to avoid it in the first place. Instead he recommends 7… Qc7 followed by quick e5 and exd4.

    This White setup is often reached through different move orders, often started as accelerated classical. I think Marin contradicts his repertoire against this setup with chapter 9.

    In chapter 9 his chosen move order is 4.Be3 c6 5.h3 Nbd7 (the chapter only deals with 6.f4 and 6.g4, no mentioning of transpositions)

    So if White plays now 6.Nf3 aiming for the same setup as above, the obvious problem is, that blacks knight is already on d7. If Black now goes 6…Qc7, 7.a4 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0, 9.0-0 we reach the same position as above, which Marin wants to avoid.

    Other 6th moves such as 6…e5 (7.de5 de5, 8.Bc4 Bg7, 9.Qd6) or 6…Bg7 (7.e5) are not that convincing.

    Or I play 4.Le3 c6, 5.h3 Bg7 to solve the classical problem but have to skip Marins repertoire after 6.f4

    Did I miss anything?

  37. Ray
    December 25th, 2017 at 18:05 | #37

    I think all these move order subtleties are quite confusing, at least to a middle-of-the-road club players like myself ๐Ÿ™

  38. December 25th, 2017 at 20:47 | #38

    Reading all this on the Pirc have to say there is a lot to be said for the simple and solid Petroff !!

  39. AliceB
    December 26th, 2017 at 07:58 | #39


    Let’s dont limit white possibilities to 9โ€ฆNb6 10.Nf2 Bf5 11.c4 and try 11.g4!? with new complications.

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