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Lars Schandorff’s new Semi-Slav book

July 24th, 2015 67 comments

Nikos Ntirlis writes: The Semi-Slav is one of the most fascinating openings in modern chess. It is the opening that helped Vladimir Kramnik to climb Mount Olympus as a youngster and make his appearance among the best players in the 90s and today it is Vishy Anand’s most trusted weapon. It helped him to get his first undisputed world title in 2007 and of course who can forget his amazing performance at the 2008 world championship match against Kramnik when the Indian scored two amazing wins with Black in the Meran variation! Of course Anand is still the man to watch for developments in the opening as he is still unleashing opening bombs like in his game against Aronian in Wijk aan Zee 2011!

We would expect such a popular opening complex to be well covered in modern literature, and this is the case. David Vigorito’s “Play the Semi-Slav” is still surprisingly relevant in many lines despite being now seven years old and other experts like Dreev and Sakaev have also presented well respected works on the opening. Still, the last couple of years have been outstandingly rich regarding developments of many key lines for both sides and what is worse, the Semi-Slav has become so deeply and widely analysed that the typical club player will feel lost trying to navigate himself in the complexities of this minefield of modern chess.

In my humble opinion, it is very difficult to find a better author on this subject than Lars Schandorff. His other works for Quality Chess like the two “Playing 1.d4” books as well as the slightly older “Grandmaster Repertoire 7 – The Caro Kann” have proved that he has a special talent to present complex opening lines in a very reader-friendly way. Another thing is also at least as important, Lars is a true expert on the Semi-Slav who has vast experience of defending the opening successfully against strong opposition for many years (a look at the database will convince you!) and thus he has acquired deep understanding.

So, what the reader can expect from The Semi-Slav by Lars Schandorff is fascinating chess, deep analysis and research, and a very friendly presentation of the latest developments of this very important modern opening, many of which cannot be found in other works, simply because 2-3 years back many lines were not even known! This is one such example:

Read more…

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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.

10.Qa4
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…Nd5
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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Free ‘Book of the Month’ for April/May

April 3rd, 2015 12 comments

We are continuing our special offer – if you buy three books or more and live inside the European Union (as defined by UPS) we will send you an extra book free.
For the past two months, the default option on the free book has been Tactimania but we will change that now to GRANDMASTER VS AMATEUR.

But if you already have GRANDMASTER VS AMATEUR or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:

TACTIMANIA
TRUE LIES IN CHESS
CHAMPIONS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM
SAN LUIS 2005
ATTACKING THE SPANISH
GRANDMASTER VS AMATEUR
REGGIO EMILIA 2007

Also, the excerpt of Avrukh’s Grandmaster Repertoire 1A – The Catalan is now available at the following link. We are still waiting for the final word from the printer, but the publication date looks like April 29th.

My endless to-do list for next week includes working on a Playing 1.e4 book (yes, it will exist) and reading a lot of Razuvaev title suggestions. One of Ray’s suggestions “Razuvaev on Gambits” is a title I had suggested earlier in the office. If we use that title, do I get the free book?

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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.

8.Bg5

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.

13…h5!

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.gxh4

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

15…g5!

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

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Negi novelty tested

March 11th, 2015 22 comments

The Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf is one of the most theoretically dense variations in modern chess. Negi gave plenty of ideas against it in 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I. But would players remember the theory? And would the ideas work?

Yes and yes. Obviously.

Jorden van Foreest (2494) – Nico Zwirs (2358)
Amsterdam 20.02.2015

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 Qd5 18.c4 Bxd4 19.Rxd4 Qa5+ 20.Rd2 0–0 21.Bd6 Rd8 22.g4 Nc6

All Negi. It’s on page 255 of the book if you wish to check.

23.g5!?

This move was a novelty when Negi suggested it, and 15-year-old Dutch IM Jorden van Foreest is the first to test it. In Negi’s words, this move is “the maximalist try”.

Negi’s main line is 23.0–0!? which is “the simplest way, which does not require too much analysis.”

Read more…

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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.

10.Bf4
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…a6
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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Petrov’s ‘The Modern Benoni’ – still working

February 10th, 2015 7 comments

 

I like to keep an eye on how our various opening repertoires are performing over the board. When seeing a new game in the database, there will be comments in the office such as “That’s in Avrukh” or “I edited this line – it’s in Petrov.” The following recent game from the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters is both Avrukh and Petrov.

Re. Schaefer (2104) – M. Muzychuk (2520)
Gibraltar Masters 27.01.2015

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6

A move order favoured by some Benoni fans.

3.g3

After 3.Nc3 Black might well prefer 3…Bb4 rather than a Benoni.

3…c5

With White committed to a kingside fianchetto, the Benoni is a more attractive option to some.

4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8

9…a6 10 a4 is an equally common move order.

10.Nd2 a6 11.a4

Back in the main line.

11…Nbd7 12.h3 Rb8 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Na3 Nh5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a5 b5 17.axb6 Bb5 18.Naxb5 axb5 19.Nxb5 Qxb6 20.Na3 Qb3

This is all following the main line of the main line of the main line of Marian Petrov’s answer to the Fianchetto System. It is variation B332322 on page 244 of GM Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni for those who have the book. It is also where Petrov meets Avrukh’s GM Repertoire 2. I would bet Boris will choose something different next time.

Read more…

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