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Reviews

I am afraid that we don't receive more than the occasional book from publishers, and as for buying books, I very rarely bother! However, I have been helped by Michael Stevenson who writes reviews for NZ Chess, and if any other reader does have any strong views about any books, please share them with me here, and if they are not likely to get me into any trouble with the author, I might quote them here!

Otherwise, I can readily recommend the discussions over on Flank Openings Forum which cover all new books of note.

English

Réti

Other Flank Openings


The English

The English Opening Volume 1 (Grandmaster Repertoire series), By GM Mihail Marin (477 pages, €24.99 $29.95, Quality Chess 2009) - Buy the book here.

Review by GM Tony Kosten

The English Opening Volume 1 is a large, well laid out, repertoire book for White. This is the first volume of two and deals with 1 c4 e5. He basically recommends the lines I myself have always preferred (like the Botvinnik System, 4 d4 against the Keres, 5 Nd5 against the Reversed Rossolimo, etc.), although with a subtle move order difference should Black play 2...Nc6 (instead of 2...Nf6): first 3 Nc3 and only then Bg2. The reason for this is clearly and coherently explained, both in the introduction and in the relevant chapters.

My first thought when the book arrived in the post was to see what he suggests in several of the lines where I feel Black has given White problems since my book came out, and I wasn't disappointed: in each of these variations he has made excellent suggestions, many or them completely new. And all of which I will be itching to try in my own games! He has also mentioned areas where he considers one of my suggested lines weaker, and explains why, which will be useful to anyone who follows my old repertoire.

Key lines are deeply analysed and are illustrated with complete or almost complete games, with less important moves discussed in lucid notes. There is a lot of explanation and discussion of thematic plans and structures, knowledge which I feel is essential to successfully play such an opening. It is immediately evident that this book is written by a strong Grandmaster who plays the opening himself and who thoroughly understands all the strategic and tactical nuances.

For most of the last ten years people have been asking me when I was going to write The Dynamic English 2nd Edition, and finally I can say there is no need, I think that had I decided to write an updated version this is the book I would have liked to have produced!

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can offer is that this is the only book that I will now be taking with me to my tournaments and team matches!


English 1. c4 e5 (cd) by Mihail Marin (Chessbase)- reviewed by Michael Stevenson - Buy the CD here.

Mihail starts off his cd with a fascinating introduction called the 'English opening from Staunton to Kasparov' and then moves on to over 55 texts/chapters that are an introduction to the games on this cd. There are 69,000 games in total of which Mihail has annotated over 350 games himself and other strong players have annotated 1,800. Players like Grandmasters Gelfand, Svidler and Kramnik and Grandmaster Tony Kosten!


Tony K: As I mentioned in About the Authors, I learnt the rudiments of the English from a book by Taimanov, I think that this might be Slawisch bis Réti-Eröffnung , (Berlin 1971), but it is rather basic, and completely out-of-date now. I have depended very heavily on the John L. Watson series on the English, and for me this was the 'real thing'.

Actually, I only have two of these: English 1...P-K4, (Batsford 1979), and Symmetrical English 1...c5 , (Batsford 1988). They are both complete, well-written, thoroughly researched, and chock-full of ideas. It is just a shame that they are both quite old; although, that said, they are still useful, nonetheless. Unfortunately, they are also all out-of-print, and it doesn't look like there will be any new versions out in the foreseeable future. I asked John Nunn (Gambit publications Chess Director, and occasional chessplayer) about this a little while ago, and he seemed to think that a new edition would be too large, and too costly, to produce; pity.

Still, the good news is that I have written a book on the English myself, The Dynamic English, (Gambit 1999), and it is a repertoire book, with a suggested line for White against any eventuality. Now, it would be somewhat immodest of me to rave about how wonderful this book is, so I won't! Anyway, you can always buy the book here.

I do have other books about the English, but have rarely found them useful.

Firstly, there is Winning with the English, by Ribli and Kallai, (Batsford 1992), which despite its title, is, in fact, a collection of games, many of which White actually loses! Still, that said, the games are interesting, and it does serve as a reasonable introduction to the opening. The other book is The English Opening (well, someone had to get that title), by Nigel Povah (2nd edition, Batsford 1991) which is similar, an introduction to the opening based around a selection of key games, and as I play for Nigel's team in England, I have to say this is a great book!

 

Réti

The Réti Opening (cd) by Don Maddox (Chessbase)- reviewed by Michael Stevenson.

The Réti Opening 1 Nf3 d5 etc is a hypermodern opening that lets you take the battle to Black when and how you wish. Don has written this cd with the one aim of teaching chess players how to play the Réti. Through about 32,000 games in which 1,000 have annotations as well as some well written text, he has written about the main ideas and principles of the Réti in plain English and then he moves right up to a section which is called Advanced Réti Praxis. The main variations on this cd are 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 and a line with 2.b3 and then Bb2 is also covered.


Easy guide to the Réti Opening By Angus Dunnington, Cadogan, 1998

Angus Dunnington has made the flank openings something of a speciality, with books on this opening, plus the Catalan and the King's Indian Attack.

Firstly, this is an excellent introduction to the opening, in a repertoire style. The book covers all those lines where White plays with c4 (lines involving e4 would be covered in the KIA book, I suppose). It is not like other Easy guide books at all, as the author has used entire games as a framework for each variation.

The author explains almost every important move, why White plays this, or the idea behind that, very clearly. When several possibilities are of equal value, or where the choice is a matter of taste, he gives a game for them all. Otherwise, he tends to concentrate on the line he recommends, sometimes mentioning other possibilities in the notes, always taking care to clarify his reasons.

As a bonus for the reader the author also gives a line against 1...f5 (to deal with any Dutch players), and also offers a system against the King's Indian.

The only other book I (Tony Kosten) have is Réti opening 1 Nf3 d5 , (Batsford 1982) by Viacheslav Osnos, which isn't a bad book, for its time, that is- before ChessBase, and PCs. It covers the theory well enough (with the caveat that it is well out-of-date), and shows the various plans available.

 

Other Flank Openings

Opening Sideways (Russian Chess House) - reviewed by Michael Stevenson.

There are five booklets in this series starting with the Albin Counter Gambit and Blumenfeld Gambit, but it’s the last three that will be of interest to readers of Flank Opening pages: Birds Opening A03, A02 and the Oranngutan. They all have around fifty pages, following the tree system of setting out books and look like the old Trend’s style of booklet.

They’re easy to read and as there isn’t a great deal of reading material around on these openings, will be very useful to use at tournaments.


1.Nc3 The Van Geet Opening (cd) by D.D. van Geet (New in Chess) - reviewed by Michael Stevenson Buy the CD here.

This cd is "the best of times, the worst of times" (apologies to Dickens). The 'best of times' is the well written text in which IM and Correspondence GM Dick van Geet and others have "paid attention only to those variations which have relatively independent significance", so there is no moving into an opening like the Vienna e.g., if Black plays 1...e5 then the recommendation on the cd is 2.d4 or 2 Nf3. After the introduction you move on to the basic ideas and main variations of the Nc3 opening, which feature most of the annotated games and text, and lastly there is the big database where most of the games are not annotated. The 'worst of times' of this cd is the chessviewer; unlike ChessBase readers which are easy to use, the New in Chess viewers are hard to navigate.

Bird's Opening by Dmitrij Oleinikov (Chessbase Training Cd) - reviewed by Michael Stevenson.

1 f4 is one of those openings that a lot of chess players think belongs in the twilight zone. However, Dmitrij shows that Bird's opening is an interesting and enjoyable way to start a game of chess. On his CD Dmitrij covers, in fourteen well-written training databases, the theory on the opening so that the reader can get a good understanding of how to play this opening. Then he moves on to a 24 strategy and 23 tactic-testing databases, so you can gauge how much you've learned. A first rate CD which will teach you all you need to know to start playing this opening.


I don't know of any other books on the other openings, but I suppose there must be some, somewhere?

Incidentally, I have heard that there is a book Beating the Flank Openings by Kotronias, but as this is clearly impossible, I will pass it over without further comment!