Author Archive

Matthew Sadler reviews (part 2)

February 6th, 2017 24 comments

Last week I put up a post referring to a positive review of Victor Mikhalevski’s Beating Minor Openings from GM Matthew Sadler in New In Chess magazine. In this follow-up post, we can proudly reveal that King’s Indian Warfare, by Ilya Smirin, received even higher praise, with Sadler going so far as to call it his ‘Book of the Year’ for 2016!

As you can imagine, the entire review is something of which we as the publisher, and especially Ilya as the author, can feel proud, and I wish I could quote the whole thing! However, the following snippets of Sadler’s review should be enough to give the general picture:

“… a truly fantastic book.”

“Any player looking to take up the King’s Indian should have this book thrust into his hands before he learns a single line of theory!”

“Smirin’s comments are a perfect balance of analysis and general advice”

The review also included a couple of game fragments taken from the ‘Kamikaze Rooks’ chapter. I smiled when reading Sadler’s preamble to this section, where he asks:

“Which lunatic would come up with these manoeuvres?”

Obviously we are delighted that the book has received such high praise; and we hope readers will find it the perfect companion to Kotronias’s epic King’s Indian repertoire series (the last of which I’m currently editing), with one author providing the creative inspiration and the other the theoretical recommendations.

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Matthew Sadler reviews (part 1)

February 1st, 2017 23 comments

We were pleased to see a couple of positive reviews from the formidable English GM in New In Chess magazine.

First up was Beating Minor Openings by Victor Mikhalevski (awarded 4/5 stars by Sadler). A few quotes:

“The scope of the book is amazing.”

“Mikhalevski has clearly put a massive effort into this work and I can recommend it unreservedly to anyone looking for guidance against an oft neglected part of the repertory.”

“Just a couple of quibbles held me back from giving it the full five stars.”

The quibbles Sadler refers to are:
a) he considers some of the recommended lines to be less-than-ideal choices in terms of yielding winning chances against a weaker opponent; and
b) he would prefer if chess authors (not just Mikhalevski) would make it clearer which of their recommended lines are the product of engine analysis.

The second of these is an interesting observation on what is something of a grey area, as every line in a good opening book will have been computer-checked to some degree. Still, it’s something we will consider for future books. In any case, we were happy to see the generally positive review along with Sadler’s conclusion that “It’s an excellent book”!

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Nuking the Najdorf with Negi

October 20th, 2016 19 comments

Anton Visser – Anthony Waller
Correspondence, 2015-16

We always enjoy hearing success stories from our readers. One such message came in last week from Anton Visser, who tested Parimarjan Negi’s repertoire against the Najdorf in a correspondence game. Anton’s verdict on Negi’s analysis is that it was “better than the computer my opponent used.” Here is the game:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Ne4 h6 13.Bh4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.Be2 Bc5 17.Bg3 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Qa5+ 19.Rd2 0–0 20.Bd6 Rd8
We are deep into one of the crazy main lines of the Poisoned Pawn. Parimarjan (or “Pari”, as we call him) analyses it in Chapter 15 of 1.e4 vs the Sicilian I.

Read more…

Categories: Fun Games, GM Repertoire Tags:

World Cup Seeding System

September 14th, 2015 18 comments

When you have a number of entrants (128 in this case) competing in a knockout format, what kind of seeding/pairing system should be used?

The most common pairing system involves splitting the list in two, so that No.1 plays 65, 2 plays 66 and so on until 64 plays 128. This is seen as normal, although it’s slightly odd that the players ranked from places 60-68 (give or take) might only be separated by a few rating points, yet will have vastly differing chances of making it through the first round, depending on which side of the halfway line they happen to fall.

The actual system being employed at the World Cup involves the top seed playing the bottom seed in each round, i.e. No.1 vs. 128, 2 vs. 127, all the way up to 64 vs. 65. The main argument in favour of this system is that it gives the highest seeds the best chance of making it to the end – but does it stack the odds too heavily in their favour while making it too difficult for those players nearer the middle of the rankings?

This brings us to this week’s poll question: Is the World Cup pairing system fair?

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Avrukh on the Catalan

April 20th, 2015 31 comments

While watching the live transmission of the US Championship a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the following game which followed one of the new lines in Grandmaster Repertoire 1A – The Catalan. In the game White went wrong and lost badly, so I was keen to see how the game compared with Boris’s analysis.

A. Sharevich – K. Nemcova
Saint Louis 2015

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bd7 6.Ne5 Bc6 7.Nxc6 Nxc6
This line never used to have the best reputation for Black, but in the years since GM 1 was published it has undergone something of a resurgence thanks to an interesting plan involving long castling.

8.0–0 Qd7 9.e3 0–0–0!?
This is the fashionable way to handle Black’s position. The database contains one email game from 2003, but apart from that, every game has been played from 2009 onwards.

In GM 1 Boris gave 9…Rb8 as the main line, while also considering the sidelines 9…e5 and 9…Nd5. Obviously these lines are also given with updated analysis in the new book.

Boris mentions that he initially liked 10.Nd2 for White, when the most popular line 10…h5 11.Nxc4 is indeed promising for him.
However, he changed his mind after examining 10…e5!, after which Black’s position proved fine in Giri – Harikrishna, Biel 2014. The fact that such a well-prepared super-GM as Giri failed to prove an advantage shows how seriously this line should be taken.

10…h5 is less accurate, as Boris demonstrates in the book.

11.Qxc4 h5 12.Bd2!
So far Sharevich is doing everything right.
12.Nc3 has been played more frequently, but it is more important to get a rook to the c-file and advance the b-pawn.

Read more…

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GM 16 French – Killing the King’s Indian Attack

March 25th, 2015 20 comments

Here’s another preview of Grandmaster Repertoire 16 by Emanuel Berg, which is published today. It consists of a few lines I pulled from different parts of the relevant chapter, so this should not be considered an excerpt from the book, which is a lot more detailed.

I decided to show you a glimpse of Emanuel’s recommendation against the King’s Indian Attack, which is always popular at club level. I have focused on a couple of lines involving the author’s own games. Throughout the book and indeed most of the series, he has recommended lines that he himself plays, and this chapter is no exception.

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3

4.g3 is an alternative move order, with which White may try to avoid Black’s recommended system. The point is that, after 4…Nc6 5.Bg2, Black is unable to develop the bishop on d6 due to the hanging d5-pawn.

Therefore Emanuel prefers 4…Bd6, when 5.Bg2 Ne7 6.Ngf3 Nbc6 reaches the desired set-up. 5.Qg4!? is an interesting way to deviate, but Emanuel looked at it carefully and found an improvement for Black, which will be revealed in the book.

4…Nc6 5.g3 Bd6 6.Bg2 Nge7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Re1 Qc7

This set-up a great practical choice against the KIA. Black prevents the standard plan of e4-e5, and seeks to gain space. If White is not careful, he may easily find himself in a passive position resembling a reversed King’s Indian Defence gone wrong.

Read more…

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Executing the Exchange French

March 17th, 2015 31 comments

Playing for a win against the Exchange Variation is a challenge that every French player will face at some point. In Grandmaster Repertoire 16 – The French Defence Volume Three, where appropriate Emanuel Berg advocates long castling for Black, followed by a kingside attack . His coverage of this plan improves significantly over the work of other authors, especially when it comes to identifying certain positions and moves orders where Black should NOT castle on the queenside.

Here is a shortened version of Emanuel’s analysis of a line where Black’s aggressive strategy works perfectly.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3

Obviously White has several options on moves 4 and 5, all of which are discussed in the book.

5…Nc6 6.0–0 Nge7 7.c3 Bg4

Although Black’s last move hints at long castling, Emanuel makes it clear that Black should wait to see what White does over the next few moves before committing his king. If he opts for queenside castling at the wrong time, he could find himself clearly worse. Another important point is that …0–0 should not be played too quickly due to the Bxh7† trick.


This is quite a popular move, which has the idea of going to g3 to exchange Black’s ‘good’ bishop.

8…f6 9.Bh4 Qd7 10.Nbd2

10.Bg3 Bxg3 more or less forces 11.fxg3, with a probable transposition to the next note. Instead 11.hxg3? h5! is a typical scenario where Black gets a strong attack.

10…0–0–0 11.b4

Emanuel also shows that 11.Bg3 Bxg3 12.fxg3 (12.hxg3? h5! is, once again, far too dangerous) 12…Nf5 is promising for Black, and offers an improvement over one of his own games a few moves down the line.

11…Nf5 12.Bg3 Nxg3 13.hxg3

13.fxg3 Rde8 14.Qc2 Kb8 15.a4 occurred in Elbasuny – Amin, Amman 2006, and now Emanuel gives the improvement 15…Ne7!N, intending …Nf5 and/or …h5, with good attacking chances.


Watson recommends 13…Ne7 intending …h5, but Emanuel points out that pushing the h-pawn should be the top priority, as Black may be able to do without the knight move.

14.Qb3 h4!N

Proving the above point.


15.Nxh4 is met by 15…Ne7 intending …g5, when the opening of the h-file will prove disastrous for White.


Black succeeds in opening up the kingside, giving him a clear headstart in the attacking race.

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1.d4 1A – A Preview of Avrukh’s New Grandmaster Repertoire

March 2nd, 2015 22 comments

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3

This is the starting position for Boris Avrukh’s new volume: Grandmaster Repertoire 1A – The Catalan. The title is slightly misleading, as the book also covers the Bogo-Indian and Benoni systems that can occur via this move order. However, we decided to mention the Catalan in the title as it receives the lion’s share of the coverage. The purpose of this short post is to give you a few brief examples of what you can expect to see in the book. Some recommendations have stayed broadly the same (while still being updated and improved of course), but there are several important variations where Boris has gone in a completely different direction.

Let’s start with the Benoni.

3…c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8
9…a6 10.a4 leads to the same sort of stuff.

Previously Boris recommended 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.h3 Rb8 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Na3, but a problem line has emerged in the form of 14…Nh5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a5 b5 17.axb6 Bb5!. Marian Petrov was right on the money when he recommended this for Black in Grandmaster Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni.

10…Ne4 11.Nxe4 Rxe4 12.Nd2 is another option, when the different placement of the a-pawns changes some details.

11.a4 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Rxe4 13.Nd2
Boris has plenty of ideas in this well-known line.

And next, the Catalan… Read more…

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