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Free ‘Book of the Month’ – January

We are continuing our special offer – if you buy three books or more and live in the normal European Union zone (as defined by UPS – for example, they exclude some islands and remote areas) we will send you an extra book free. The previous default option on the free book was The Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits Volume Two.

For January we will switch the default option to GRANDMASTER VERSUS AMATEUR. But if you already have that book, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email to salesgroup@qualitychess.co.uk with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:


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    January 5th, 2017 at 15:00 | #1

    Why was so difficult to include chapter on 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.cxd5 in “Playing the Ragozin” by Richard Pert?

    Transposition is possible, but why author did not warn the reader how not to engage in Exchange Line which is out of Ragozin repertoire?

    This is my only objection to so far outstanding book 😉

  2. John Shaw
    January 5th, 2017 at 16:11 | #2


    I am glad you think it’s outstanding. As for the intentional omission of 3.cxd5, it’s not that it was so difficult, it was that the author thought Exchange lines that don’t transpose to the book are so easy to answer that they are not worth bothering with.

    To quote Richard Pert from page 9 of “Playing the Ragozin”:

    “after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6, the two knight moves (3.Nf3 and 3.Nc3) are played in the overwhelming majority of games. Other options exist, but continuations such as 3.cxd5 exd5, 3.g3, 3.e3 and 3.Bf4 can be met with common-sense replies, keeping in mind potential transpositions to our main repertoire in the likely event of Nf3 and/or Nc3 being played in the near future.”

    It’s always a debate how much to include in a book. You can always add more and more variations, getting into the rare and harmless stuff. Opinions will vary about where to draw the line.

    January 5th, 2017 at 16:46 | #3

    @John Shaw
    Well, Ntirlis Nikolaos was more thorough in his “Playing 1e4 e5 A Classical Repertoire” covering all lines from move 2 🙂

    Besides, if Exchange line is so harmless why did it Schandorff, Watson and Kornev include it in their repertoire books, also Alexey Dreev in “Bf4 in the Queen´s Gambit and the Exchange Slav”?

  4. Tom Tidom
    January 5th, 2017 at 17:16 | #4

    Well, these books certainly do not recommend 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.cxd5, or do they?

    And after the further 3…exd5 Black can obviously transpose to Pert´s repertoire if White continues with 4.Nc3 or 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3. That leaves very minor stuff for White on move 4 which is almost never played by strong players.

    I can certainly live with this “omission”.

  5. John Shaw
    January 5th, 2017 at 17:46 | #5


    No, it’s not that all Exchange lines are harmless, it’s that all serious Exchange lines are already covered in Pert’s book by transposition.

    So 1.d4 d5 c4 e6 3.cxd5 exd5 and now what?

    4.Nc3 Bb4 is in Chapter 18.
    Or instead 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 is the first 3 chapters in the book.
    Or 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 is on page 419, Chapter 22.

    So which Exchange lines are not in the book? Ones where White does not put a knight on c3 or f3. And I am feeling good about that.

    Dreev’s book has no relevance to Pert’s book or this Ragozin topic (…Bb4!) as Dreev only plays cxd5 after the black bishop is on e7. And if after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.cxd5 exd5 White tried 4.Bf4 then it looks a little silly after, for example, 4…Bd6. No theory needed.

  6. An Ordinary Chessplayer
    January 5th, 2017 at 19:09 | #6

    RE: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.cxd5?! exd5. This particular exchange line is totally harmless for black. It is even easier equality than the Semi-Slav line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Qc2 g6! 8.e3 Bf5. Anyway after 3.cxd5 exd5 and either 4.Nc3 or 4.Nf3 black can respond 4…c6!, as pointed out a while ago in another comment on this blog. Unlike in the “real” exchange variation, black gets in …Bf5 without having to make any concession for Qf3 or Qb3. Rule of thumb, answer e2-e3 with …Bc8-f5. In this lame move order white does not even get Bc1-g5, and as John Shaw noted, Bf4 can be answered by …Bd6. At most 3.cxd5 deserves a footnote, not a chapter. Once again, 4…c6 has already been mentioned on the blog by another commenter.

  7. k.r.
    January 6th, 2017 at 09:27 | #7

    I see John is active here so I must pay him regard for his variation for 3…c5 variation in advance caro kann. I play this variation which I considered good for black many years until a friend of mine started playing a3 and must admit I had problems as black with it in blitz. Luckily found some ways how to fight against it.

    Is there any chance for publishing sicilian kan for black side in near future?

    January 6th, 2017 at 10:03 | #8

    @An Ordinary Chessplayer
    Thanks to John Shaw and you…

    John, could you comment on this post of mine, posted earlier without given reply:

    * * *

    First of all I wish a happy and prosperous new 2017 to Quality Chess Team and to all fans across the globe ?

    Jacob, do you have any plans or considerations for:


    – a GM Guide format for Black
    – recent competition books: Dejan Bojkov: “Modernized: The King´s Indian Defense”, Milos Pavlovic: “New Weapons in the King´s Indian”, Alexei Kornev: “King´s Indian – Practical Black Repertoire with Nf6, g6, d6 Vol. 2” and upcoming 🙂 in 2017 Victor Bologan: “Bologan’s King’s Indian”.


    – a GM Guide format for Black based on Tartakower and Lasker Orthodox
    – recent competition book: John Cox: “Declining the Queen´s Gambit”, and from year 2000 Sadler’s “Queen’s Gambit Declined”.


    – a GM Guide format for Black
    – a possible joint venture by Tony Rotella and Nikolaos Ntrilis
    – recent competition books: Tony Rotella: “The Killer Sicilian” and Matthieu Cornette & Fabien Libiszewski: “The Complete Kalashnikov”.

    Please take my suggestions seriously cause every proposal has many thousands of die-hard fans who are eagerly awaiting “their beloved” book from top-notch publisher.

  9. John Shaw
    January 6th, 2017 at 10:50 | #9


    Glad you like the anti-3…c5 Caro lines. Of course there is a lot of Jacob work and maybe also some by Nikos in there.

    No immediate Sicilian Kan book plans.

  10. John Shaw
    January 6th, 2017 at 10:57 | #10


    The short answers would be: no, yes, no.

    1) We are well covered in the KID. We are working to complete Kotronias’s 5-volume repertoire. OK, I understand you are looking for a 1-volume solution, but then there is Smirin’s King’s Indian Warfare. Not a pure repertoire book, but if you want to read one book to understand how to play the King’s Indian Defence, then Smirin is ideal.

    2) We do have immediate plans for a Queen’s Gambit Declined book. More details soon.

    3) I had some fun games with the Kalashnikov, so I am fond of it, but we have no plans here. There are many bigger “holes” in our range of opening books to fill first.

    January 6th, 2017 at 11:33 | #11

    @John Shaw
    Thanks for reply John.

    I’m really interested for Nikos’ new book on QGD 🙂

  12. slavof
    January 6th, 2017 at 19:49 | #12

    John Shaw wrote:
    “There are many bigger “holes” in our range of opening books…”

    Wow! Really? Its somewhat hard to imagine what exactly you mean… But its sound interesting… 😉

    — s.

  13. The Doctor
    January 6th, 2017 at 20:22 | #13


    I think QC have done a great job of covering the MAJOR openings.

    MAJOR ones that are missing are maybe;
    The Najdorf (I’m not counting the GM 6)
    A 2…e6 Sicilian like the Kan/Taimanov
    Queen’s Gambit Declined (I think Ntriis is doing one on this though)
    Queen’s Indian

    I can’t think of too many others TBH

  14. John Shaw
    January 6th, 2017 at 21:57 | #14


    @The Doctor

    The Doctor’s list looks good and we are working on filling most, but not all, of these.

    One ‘hole’ to add might be the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. No plans on that or the Petroff. I could imagine totally sound (and concise) Black repertoires on both these openings, but there might be some lines where Black must accept a drawish position. That would be a fine result at elite super-tournament level, but I imagine most of our readers want a Black repertoire that always allows playing for a win. Am I right in that assumption?

  15. January 6th, 2017 at 22:27 | #15

    @John Shaw
    Absolutely! May I add the Classical Sicilian to the list?

  16. RYV
    January 7th, 2017 at 00:11 | #16

    Hello folks

    GM-1B cover QGA from white side already and there is also a book from L.Schandorff also about white side.
    QGD from M.Sadler is a reference work, even if it is an “old ” book. Can you do a better job ?

    So far, i found QC books quite complete on openings and a serious book about Najdorf sicilian would take probably more than 3 volumes of 500+ pages each !
    Maybe better concentrate on middlegame books like M.Rios, vol2, the Gelfand serie…
    sure you have many and many more projects on that subject !?

  17. Daniel
    January 7th, 2017 at 10:41 | #17

    I would like to second the Classical Sicilian!

  18. Gueler
    January 7th, 2017 at 22:00 | #18

    First of all, happy new year! I hope you all had relaxing holidays! I spend my holidays going through Richard’s “Playing the Ragozin” book. I think it turned out excellently and I like it a lot.

    I did make an observation though. There seems to be an omission after 5. Bg5 dc4. Richard didn’t mention 6. a4. Admittedly not a main line, but a reasonable response nevertheless.

    I figure you could play 6. … c6 and if White plays 7. e3, Black could answer with 7. … b5 and we have transposed to chapter 4, line B3.

    However, if White instead plays 8. e4,… then what? Incidental, Richard mentioned the position after 8. … b5 (albeit after a different move order) and determined that this line is not good for Black in Chapter 7 at the beginning of line B.

    My response after 6. a4 would be c6 and after 7. e4 I would transpose with either Qa5 or Bc3+ to a Botvinnik Semi-Slav, which was very nicely addressed by Lars Schandaroff in his GM20 work, which I recommend as well. Alternatively people could of course also look up Sakaev’s work.

    Overall, no biggie, but I thought it was worth to mention this. Of course I would be interested in what Richard has to say and if he would recommend 6. … c6 and with a potential transposition to the Botvinnik.

  19. Johnnyboy
    January 7th, 2017 at 23:07 | #19

    In a nutshell QC need more emphasis on white repertoire. We have Avrukh and Schandorff representing d4, Marin on c4 and Negi and Shaw for e4 and a few others but countless black defence books. I make it more than 2:1 in favour of black. As we get white half the time I’m not quite sure why this bias?! For instance if I wanted a white repertoire against the main line Sicilian (ie against the most popular reply to e4)I can follow Negi and er that’s it… Unless I wait for John to complete his tome whereas I can follow dragon najdorf or sveshnikov repertoires as black. Perhaps the QC team can explain… We’re spoilt for choice as black, time to redress the balance.

  20. Alfonso Gisbert
    January 8th, 2017 at 13:02 | #20

    Dear Mr Shaw,

    Any option to update “Beating the Open games” from Marin?

    Thanks in advance.

  21. TonyRo
    January 8th, 2017 at 16:03 | #21

    Johnnyboy :
    In a nutshell QC need more emphasis on white repertoire. We have Avrukh and Schandorff representing d4, Marin on c4 and Negi and Shaw for e4 and a few others but countless black defence books. I make it more than 2:1 in favour of black. As we get white half the time I’m not quite sure why this bias?! For instance if I wanted a white repertoire against the main line Sicilian (ie against the most popular reply to e4)I can follow Negi and er that’s it… Unless I wait for John to complete his tome whereas I can follow dragon najdorf or sveshnikov repertoires as black. Perhaps the QC team can explain… We’re spoilt for choice as black, time to redress the balance.

    I agree that White tends to be underrepresented in opening books, but the reasons are pretty clear. Firstly, you can see from the volumes QC and others have already released that a full White repertoire is a monumental task. Secondly chess engines, other books, and databases make it relatively easy to pick a Black opening and prove equality everywhere through brute force. It’s not easy to find ways to cause problems as White nowadays, and so to do that against everything Black can throw at you is tough.

    I do think opening books are trending towards way overly technical and large these days (mine is no exception). When’s the last time your club-level opponent followed Avrukh’s analysis for…

  22. TonyRo
    January 8th, 2017 at 16:04 | #22

    (continued…) for 20 moves? What ever happened to books like “The Dynamic English”? It’s outdated of course, but I found the format and the level of material really excellent at the time I was using it. Very digestible, great material from an expert, etc. I’d love to see more books that look like this.

  23. Paul H
    January 8th, 2017 at 17:58 | #23

    Is this trend to overly technical not just supply and demand though? The supply meeting the demand of the sub 2200 set for opening theory?

    And is it perhaps the Kosten type books are now in the form of DVDs? I’m thinking mainly Danny King as I don’t usually buy elsewhere…

  24. Johnnyboy
    January 9th, 2017 at 06:24 | #24

    Tony Ro
    Agree a full repertoire for white a huge effort but why not mirror images of books from white perspective eg a counter to e4 e5 (nikos book) or a d4 d5 c4 c6 (Avrukh) book taking on the most popular defences you’ll meet as white?

  25. The Doctor
    January 9th, 2017 at 09:57 | #25


    Chess Stars do something similar when you see books on the Vienna, Caro-Kann and 2.a3 Sicilian

  26. John Shaw
    January 9th, 2017 at 16:29 | #26

    To answer broadly some of the points above: with Avrukh and Schandorff on 1.d4, Negi and me on 1.e4, and Marin on 1.c4 it may just be 5 repertoires, but I think in total that will be 16 books, some of them very big books. So it’s already huge time and effort to create the White repertoires we already have.

    And yes, it is tougher to create a White repertoire that has some teeth, compared to a Black repertoire that reaches equal/playable positions.

    As for the idea of a White opening book that is less detailed, more ideas-based: we will soon have one high-level/low-detail book along those lines. I am wary of saying even this, as I imagine it must be more annoying than helpful for me to be so vague. But before I have edited it, vague is all I can be.

  27. January 11th, 2017 at 16:42 | #27

    slavof :
    John Shaw wrote:
    “There are many bigger “holes” in our range of opening books…”
    Wow! Really? Its somewhat hard to imagine what exactly you mean… But its sound interesting…
    — s.


    I played John Shaw’s recommendation vs the Modern last night. It went 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 and I couldn’t remember what he said. When I got home I searched Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 and Minor Lines for quite some time trying to find it. Turns out I have to wait for the other volume as he classes this as a Sicilian. I suspect it will turn out to be a Veresov Benoni in my praxis. But a hole it is at the moment.

  28. An Ordinary Chessplayer
    January 13th, 2017 at 23:18 | #28
  29. Tobias
    January 14th, 2017 at 01:21 | #29

    A bit off-topic, but: I never know how to assess a review about a product by XYZ on XYZ.com.

    January 14th, 2017 at 10:29 | #30

    John Shaw :
    As for the idea of a White opening book that is less detailed, more ideas-based: we will soon have one high-level/low-detail book along those lines.

    Really? But how to do it: to be high level opening book with low theory… Just like when you want to look like Schwarzenegger in best years, but without training… 🙂

  31. Pinpon
    January 14th, 2017 at 11:45 | #31

    @Mark Crowther
    You can play many moves here ( 4.c3 , 4.c4 , 4.Nc3 , 4.dc ) , but only 4.d5 ( Schmidt Benoni ) is not a sicilian , even if it begins with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 . I don’t know if there is a ” best ” move but 4.dxc5 is the more testing

  32. Pinpon
    January 14th, 2017 at 12:12 | #32

    @John Shaw
    I don’t think these 3 repertoires are for the same level of players . For example yours , concerning some variations of the Scotch ( ?) , is probably too difficult for -2000 players as some technical ability is necessary to play =/+= positions with such pawn structures and to get sthg tangible .

  33. Seppe De Vreesse
    January 14th, 2017 at 16:08 | #33

    Hello mister John Shaw,

    Any new date for your book on e4 vs the sicilian and french?


  34. Jacob Aagaard
    January 15th, 2017 at 13:29 | #34

    For both sides…

  35. Ray
    January 15th, 2017 at 13:55 | #35

    I agree. In my experience many black players don’t like these type of positions where white has the better structure and can play for a win without much risk.

  36. Pinpon
    January 16th, 2017 at 11:50 | #36

    @Jacob Aagaard
    You make a point …

  37. Pinpon
    January 16th, 2017 at 12:48 | #37

    I was recently (re) reading ” Excelling at Chess ” and more precisely Chapter 8 ” Openings , Calculation and Analysis ” and i wondered if the author ( JA ) would write in 2017 the same thing .
    In ” opening preparation ” he proposed two ways to prepare and illustrated the second one with some previous books ( Easy Way to Panov , Dutch Stonewall , … ) .
    Maybe i missed sthg but i have not seen recent opening books with 3 main chapters which correspond to GM preparation : 1- the most probable endings , tips and positions to get/avoid 2- Middle game ( from 20/25th move to the ending ) with typical manœuvers to both sides , finesses , intermediate goals and the like 3- the opening
    It’s a lot of work but these ( new ? ) sorts of books are , in my view , missing …

  38. Jacob Aagaard
    January 16th, 2017 at 15:06 | #38

    The reason for this is quite simple. When we founded Quality Chess everyone was doing “easy guides” in some form or another. Two basic principles in business is a) play to your strengths and b) do the opposite of everybody else.

    There is a tendency for people to try to compete on the “mass” market, which means move by move (I suggested this to Graham Burgess, who in turn suggested it to John Nunn and got accredited for it in Nunn’s move by move. But as it was suggested to me by a friend, Lars Moller Larsen, I don’t feel shafted :-), starting out, SOS and so on.

    We have generally aimed a bit higher most of the time, but it is not a default setting. We have always been concerned primarily with the quality of the books, less so with the style.

    If you want an example of a book like that, check out Starting Out in the Modern Benoni, which I co-wrote with Endre Vegh. Well, Endre supplied some material and I made it into a book. In the end the book is mainly me. It was how I viewed this type of book to be written. Who knows, I might write something like that in the future again…

  39. Steve
    January 16th, 2017 at 15:30 | #39

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Whenever I find a different author whose style I think is outstanding, it turns out to have been written by Jacob. SO Modern Benoni is an absolutely outstanding book of that type and great to read alongside Petrov’s GMR (at least for my level) to help make sense of the lines.

  40. Pinpon
    January 16th, 2017 at 15:46 | #40

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks for your answer . I probably expressed my view inacurrately because i did not mean that sort of ” starting out with ” books . Opening preparation is so linked with middlegame and endgame positions that i considered a book with detailed analysis of the openings like the ones that are produced at QC but with extra and high quality analysis of frequent endgame and middlegame positions arriving after these very openings . I think it makes sense to have these ” lateral ” books … but it’s not a business suggestion .

  41. The Doctor
    January 20th, 2017 at 21:33 | #41


    Daniel :
    I would like to second the Classical Sicilian!

    I asked Chess Stars about this and GM Semkov basically said White has too many ways to achieve a big advantage so why bother!

  42. The Doctor
    January 21st, 2017 at 10:32 | #42

    I don’t think the Classical Sicilian will be done any time soon, everyone seems to think it’s not so great for Black. Didn’t stop Ivanchuk playing it a few times in the World Rapid end of last year.

    I agree though I think Classical Sicilian is one of the most neglected lines in chess literature

  43. Jacob Aagaard
    January 21st, 2017 at 22:24 | #43

    @The Doctor
    We have no plans.

  44. Jacob Aagaard
    January 21st, 2017 at 22:24 | #44

    I shall take it into consideration.

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