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KID book Reviews

Mikhail GolubevI have added a few reviews of King's Indian books here in addition to Andy Martin's ones.

Dangerous Weapons: The King's Indian, By IM Richard Palliser, GM Glenn Flear, IM/WGM Yelena Dembo (Everyman 2009)

Review by GM Mikhail Golubev

Dangerous Weapons: The King's Indian, which has three authors, deals with various lines of the KID, each chapter suggesting a line either for Black or for White.

Lines for Black include the early... c5 against g2-g3 systems (Dembo), 4.e4 0-0 5.f3 Nc6!? (Dembo), 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 Nbd7!? (Palliser); 4.e4 d6 5.Nge2 Nbd7!? (Palliser), 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nh5!? (Palliser), and, finally the classical 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nbd7 (Dembo, 3 chapters) - then either 8.Be3 Re8, 8.Qc2 Nh5 or 8.Re1 c6.

For White, recommended is the Averbakh System 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 (Flear, 2 chapters). Examined are all Black's main moves, with the remarkable point of the proposed repertoire for White being 6...c5 7.d5 h6 8.Bf4 e6 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.Bxd6 Re8 and now 11.Bxc5 (! - Flear).

As an exception, the Four Pawns Attack 4.e4 d6 5.f4 is covered for both White and Black. Firstly, there is 5...0-0 6.Nf3 e5!? for Black (Palliser). Then, the lines with Black playing 5...c5 or 6...c5 are covered from White's viewpoint (Flear, 2 chapters). And finally there is a suggested line for White after 5...0-0 6 Nf3 Na6, specifically, 7.e5!? (Palliser).

The most exotic of the proposed systems is, possibly, GM Ilincic's favourite 7...Nh5 versus the 7.0-0 Classical. Perhaps one should study this line and the book very seriously before feeling ready to play like this!

In two of the chapters it seems to me that the coverage could have been more complete:
Whatever is the value of 4...0-0 5.f3 Nc6!?, for it is not obvious that after 4...0-0, those "Saemisch" white players would really play 5.f3 rather than first 5.Be3 (and only then f3) or 5.Bg5.
After 4.e4 d6 5.Nge2 Nbd7!?, alternatives to 6.Ng3 (the move which Whites usually makes) possibly deserved more attention than half a page.

The systems which are covered in this book most intensively (and deservedly so) are the Four Pawns Attack (88 pages), the Averbakh (42 pages) and the Classical with 7...Nbd7 (45 pages).

It is clear from reading the book that all three authors invested considerable effort in their respective chapters. Dangerous Weapons: The King's Indian will certainly be useful for basically all black KI players.

The Four Pawns Attack can be suggested for those white players with aggressive styles. The Averbakh setup is more solid, but, essentially, this is also an aggressive system. In both cases White often plays for an attack or domination, and minimising the risk is not White's top priority.

A separate note for subscribers: already in the April 2009 Update we will begin to examine some important recent games in the lines which are advocated in this book.

IM Andrew Martin writes: These were the Books I found most useful in the compilation of this site. I've tried to be as honest as I can in evaluating their strengths and weaknesses- you may disagree. In addition I have given my opinion of the Databases which I used. I would welcome your contributions and suggestions in this area, particularly with regard to material which I've missed or overlooked.

The King's Indian & Gruenfeld Fianchetto Lines by Lasha Janjgava (Gambit 2003).

So far I have tried to look up two lines in this book and neither have been in it. To omit 9 b3 (see the Barsov-Paragua game) in the Panno is, perhaps, understandable but to omit 9 Qc2 (see the Huebner-Polzin game) suggests to me that the author doesn't understand his subject.

To be honest, this is a disappointing book. I hesitated before ordering it because the publishers blurb said 'a detailed survey' and this sounded like code for 'database dump' to me. Database dump is perhaps a little harsh - after all he has obviously been selective as I couldn't find the lines I wanted(!!) - but there is no personality whatsoever to this book.

The author, a retired Georgian grandmaster (his last games on the MegaBase are in 1998) brings nothing to the book except organised variations. The only original analysis I spotted was the last two pages of the book and that was on the Gruenfeld.

Even suggestions are few and far between and there is not enough language. It couldn't have taken Graham Burgess long to translate - I could have done it myself and I just know the Russian alphabet. There is the occasional stretch of prose at major intersections but I suspect that these have been added by Nunn or Burgess in a failed attempt to lighten the book. The reason for my suspicions (apart from the style) are that underneath the author's claim to copyright there is 'Additional material copyright: John Nunn and Graham Burgess 2003'. They could hardly have been adding in any more variations so they must have been desperately adding bits of text!

I am not against detailed opening books - I've written quite a few myself - but the theory has to selected carefully and the variations mixed up with explanations and comments.

Anything else wrong with the book? Yes. Janjgava doesn't have King's Indian blood running through his veins. He just plays these lines with White and that is a definite minus from my point of view (yes, I know that my last book was on the Caro-Kann which I have never played wih Black but I'm wearing my King's Indian hat now!) The coverage is not balanced. For example after the moves 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nf3 Bg7 4 g3 d6 5 Bg2 0-0 6 0-0 Nbd7 7 Nc3 e5 8 e4 ed 9 Nxd4 Re8 10 h3 a6 11 Re1 Rb8 two of the most common lines are 12 Rb1 and 12 Be3. Janjgava spends 3 pages on Rb1 and 1 line on 12 Be3(!). That would be OK in a repertoire book but not in a book like this.

There are slight hints that the coverage is slanted towards White but by no stretch of the imagination can this be described as a repertoire book. Also the book is about a 100 pages too long. We don't need 320 pages on this subject. It's enough to drive anyone crazy.

Gambit have produced some fine chess books (not least Nunn's Endgame Challenge which I have also just received; I would certainly recommend this collection of studies to any King's Indian or Fianchetto player ahead of Janjgava's book) but this is not one of them. This is Janjgava's 3rd book for them and hopefully his last (I haven't seen the others but I've heard rumours about his Petroff book). We simply don't need books like this anymore. All serious chessplayers have databases and non-serious players would prefer to be entertained or instructed (as would serious players!) OK, that's enough about that. Pretty vicious for a first review wasn't it, but books like this annoy me. They remind me too much of that awful encylopedia ECO.

Informators 1-74

NIC Yearbooks 1-50

NIC Magazine

NIC King's Indian CD

Each continues to be a very high quality publication. Despite the advent of the Database I would say that they are indispensable for the professional or ambitious player. A wealth of interesting material with excellent notes.

The King's Indian Defence (Barden, Hartston, Keene ) Batsford

Out of print now but a classic work all the same. Contains groundbreaking analysis and assessments. If you are a King's Indian fan and you can lay your hands on a second-hand copy, snap it up!

The Classical King's Indian (John Nunn, Graham Burgess) Batsford

A superior version of the telephone directory. Thorough with excellent assessments but very dry. Typical Nunn.

The Saemisch King's Indian (Joe Gallagher) Batsford

Joe is a favourite author of mine because he is willing to display his own analysis in any book that he writes. This is courageous and his books are original and fresh as well as comprehensive. Recommended.

Winning with the King's Indian (Eduard Gufeld) Batsford

Somewhat outdated as a repertoire book but if you look at it as a collection of Gufeld's games then it is excellent. Gufeld is one of the finest King's Indian practicioners - his games should be thoroughly studied.

Winning with the King's Indian/

The King's Indian Videos

(Andrew Martin) Caissa Publications/GM Video

In terms of creative content I tried to show that the King's Indian is one of the richest of chess openings. I hope that this web site continues in the same vein.

The King's Indian for the Attacking Player (Graham Burgess) Batsford

Burgess is a diligent author and this work reflects the Modern King's Indian, as played in the nineties. Very strong on all lines where Black goes ...Na6.

The Fianchetto King's Indian (Colin McNab) Batsford

Could have done with more words and less game scores without notes. McNab is as sparing with his pen as he is in conversation.

Beating the King's Indian and Benoni with the Four Pawns Attack (Anatoly Vaiser) Batsford

Excellent! Vaiser writes with authority and is generous with his own ideas. A must for King's Indian followers both with White and Black.

Beating the Anti King's Indian's (Joe Gallagher) Batsford

Gallagher strikes again with a 'must read ' Full of original suggestions.

My 60 Memorable Games (Bobby Fischer) Faber and Faber

Of course the Faber and Faber version, in English descriptive, with the original text of Fischer and Evans AND NOT the RIP OFF Batsford version, starring John Nunn as God, correcting all the mistakes and making a heavy profit in the process.

Magnificent-a classic!

Five Crowns-Kasparov-Karpov New York/Lyon 1990 (Yasser Seirawan, Jon Tisdall)

No Regrets Spassky- Fischer Sveti Stefan/Belgrade 1992 (Yasser Seirawan) ICE Publications

Two of the greatest World Championship Books ever written. Buy and enjoy!

Leonid Stein Master of Attack (Raymond Keene) Tui Enterprises

Stein was a genius and this is nowhere more keenly revealed than in his handling of the King's Indian. This is one of Keene's best works and pays Stein a worthy tribute.

Isaac Boleslavsky Selected Games (Jimmy Adams) Caissa Publications

Excellent in tracing the development of the King's Indian after World War Two and showing early ideas.

The Sorcerers Apprentice/

David Bronstein Chess Improviser

(Bronstein/Furstenberg/ Bronstein) Cadogan/Pergamon

Another true artist of the King's Indian who is unafraid (compelled ?) to innovate and then share his ideas with us. Wonderful !

John Nunn's Best Games (John Nunn) Batsford

And one of his best books alongside Secrets of Grandmaster Play because in both he tries very hard to make his commentaries accessible and not unduly academic. It's always the same in the Chess World-the stronger you become the more hangers-on attach themselves to you. Nunn's books have always got rave reviews- frankly I find a lot of them as boring as hell, but John Nunn's best games is excellent and there is solid King's Indian material to be found therein.

The Test of Time/

New World Chess Champion/

Kasparov on the King's Indian (Gary Kasparov)

Of course Kasparov is THE King's Indian player of the Nineties although he seems to have gone off it recently. All of his games and commentaries have to be closely studied.

The Unconventional King's Indian (John Watson)

Watson has rightfully become one of the world's prominent chess authors. He is so conscientious and thorough. Here he trawls the King's Indian for new and interesting ideas and the result is both stimulating and agreeable. Watch out for his own suggestions!

The Art of the King's Indian (Eduard Gufeld)

To be honest, I picked up this book not expecting too much. Or to be more precise, nothing I hadn't seen or read before. Don't get me wrong , I really admire Gufeld as a King's Indian practicioner- his games and his notes are usually superb. It's just that he has a habit of printing the same stuff time and time again. Needless to say ,there IS a lot of the old material in 'the Art of the King's Indian', but Gufeld has fleshed out the book with quite a few new games. The book hardly claims to furnish the reader with an up to date theoretical coverage but as an ideas manual it really is top-notch. Gufeld concentrates on the lines he likes best for Black and develops his argument through the use of deeply annotated games. Humour, anecdotes and cultural asides sit comfortably side by side with the analysis to very entertaining effect.

Overall, I like this book. I recommend it. Anyone can learn from Gufeld's games and ideas and in his way he is more inspiring as a player than most of the 'result robots' currently sitting on the pinnacle of world chess. His notes will hearten and encourage the reader to play the King's Indian. Unusually for a chess book, this is a first-class read.

Andrew Martin,

September 2000.

Bronstein on the King's Indian

These days, a lot of chess writing is as dry as dust. Pick up a book by David Bronstein and you are assured of something different. He attaches no labels, nor does he attempt definitions. He doesn't exhaust the reader with long,overblown variations. As with all chess artists, he lays out his philosophy through his words and his moves and then leaves you to make your own mind up.

Bronstein on the King's Indian is a patchwork effort,an assembly of various ideas,a book operating on many levels. It's random. It is to translator and co-author Ken Neat's credit that this haphazard aspect of the work is allowed to come through. The book will not appeal to those of a scientific bent .

I could detail every single thing in the book, but that wouldn't be very faithful. The point is that Bronstein is encouraging YOU to take a view, all of which will be different. The book works for me and I enjoyed it very much.

Highly recommended.


ChessBase 7.0 /

Chess Assistant for Windows Version 3

Both brilliant. With ChessBase you can do more but it's more expensive. I would say Chess Assistant is more than adequate for the average professional with the Tree Search facility outstanding.

Other books and periodicals consulted

  • The Complete King's Indian Keene/Jacobs
  • 200 Modern Traps in the Fianchetto Openings JB Howson
  • How to Reassess your Chess Jeremy Silman
  • The Power Chess Program Nigel Davies
  • Paris,Elista,Yerevan Kirsan Ilyumshinov
  • Play the King's Indian Defence. Marovic
  • King's Indian 4 e4/Fianchetto systems Efim Geller
  • Chess Meets of the Century Bobby Fischer/Dmitrije Bjelica
  • ECO Volumes A/E Sahovski Informator Belgrade
  • Konigs Indisch bis Alt Indisch Suetin
  • The Application of Chess Theory Efim Geller
  • Murder in Thessaloniki 1988 Rogers,Martin and O'Brien
  • Game of the Round Dubai 1986 Wade,Martin,Averbakh,Gufeld
  • Developments in the King's Indian Kuligowski
  • How Chess Games are Won Samuel Reshevsky
  • Le Tournoi International d'Echecs Montreal 1979 Brodeur,Jodoin,Labelle,Lemyre,Spraggett
  • From the Opening to the Endgame Edmar Mednis.