Gambit Chess Studio – APP

In the past ten years (approximately) the digitalized form of chess books, so called “e-books” are on their way to overtake the old-fashioned printed version of a book. The idea is as simple as it is brilliant. By digitalizing the pages and arranging them to form an ebook one can easily save costs as well as save some books from extinction. Yet, the idea of digitalizing was not exhausted. With the development of smartphones and ‘apps’ in particular the idea of combining a digital chess book with a digital chess board entered the scene and cauzed a whole avalanche of applications which allow you to easily read and play the moves of your beloved chapter.

For me as an active player, trainer and reviewer, chess ebook reader must fullful certain qualities and requirements. The three most important being:

  • legibility
  • simplicity
  • extensibility

Let me first explain why I consider these three the pillars of an ebook reader (app).

First and foremost the legibility, the possibility to read the content without hurting your eyes or transcribing a compeltely exotic font is something that forms the basement for further reading. If you frighten your readership before they even finish the introduction you definitely did something wrong. That’s why having a pleasent font as well as a readable design which supports you in your duty is key to a successful ebook app.

The second pillar, simplicity, is another key word nowadays. Past are the times in which we needed a book that thick we could easily change our car wheels by putting it underneath, just to know how our electric tooth brush is supposed to work or being handled.

And last, but not least, the possibility to extend your virtual library. For those who vary their openings a lot as I do and have to read chess books basically 24/7, an ebook reader is more likely to become your smaller sibling if it can easily add new books so you can read it whenever you want and wherever you are. Trying to isolate yourself from your competitors by denying the addition of their books is as outdated as carrying around six or seven tomes of chess informators with you. It is understandable, but not practical and favourable.

Still, what am I actually writing about? As you might have guessed by now, it is an app. An app and an ebook (chess) reader. The main subject of this article, despite the lenghty introduction, is an app called “Gambit Chess Studio“. The legendary chess publisher Gambit Publications, as many others, have noticed the current trend and demand of ebooks and developed an app with which you can both, read chess books and play the moves on a board in one single app. My aim with this article is to see, whether the app matches my expectations and whether I can recommend this app to you, my dear readers.

So let’s get started….

The following part might resemble some sort of manual, but I found it hard to write in a different style, so please forgive me. If you open the app, the first you see is the following screenshot

Screenshot_2014-11-03-03-35-34

 

The main screen is designed as simple as it can be (this is a huge plus!!) and everything you need at the beginning is there. You have a shelve with all your installed books from which you can choose as well as the possiblity to browse through new books which you might consider purchaing and those you already dumped, yet cannot completely let go of.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-19-33

 

Gambit Publications has been one of the leading publishers in chess literature for many years and therefore has a very book portfolio of books from which you can choose from. The big question, however, is, how the interface looks like if you open a book and start using it.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-19-44Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-19-58

As you can see, the layout of the app is quite simple and easily understandable. On the left-hand side you’ve got the book and the content and on the right the board with some navigation tools as well as a variation box.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-20-03

The content page consists of the individual chapters as well as hyperlinks that bring you immediately to your favourite game. It is as easy as it can get (remember, this is something we want… simple things that work). Lets go a step further and see, how a chapter looks like.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-21-04

One of my very own favourite topics, the minority attack, shall serve us as a sample. The content is exactly the same as in the book. The font and the layout is as superb as it can be and is exactly what readers of Gambit books are used to see. This is a role model of how chess books should be designed. In the screenshot below you can clearly see the game Van Wely – Short, Wijk aan Zee 2010, which featured the Carlsbad variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. This opening is known for the typical plan of the minority attack in which white plans to use his 2 pawn minority to attack the black majority in order to lay open some weaknesses which he later plans to attack. The app allows you to play over the moves by either using the arrows on the right-hand side or by touching the moves manually on your smartphone / tablet. By the way, I’m using an ASUS Transformer tablet (might come in handy knowing which device I’m currently using). Also, using the arrows, allows you to easily navigate through the main lines and the sub variation which are all perfectly displayed at the board next to the book content. In terms of legibility and simplicity a definite plus! Easy to use and pleasent to read!

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-21-15

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-21-21 Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-22-22

In the last screenshot (above) you can see the variation box in use. At a crossroad you are free to choose whether to follow the main line or a variation which explains certain features and tells you something about the reason or purpose behind a certain variation. By touching the line or using the navigation pad you can enter or leave a certain branch.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-22-30

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-22-53

The navigation bar at the top of the app allows you to quickly jump within the content of a book. With the individual buttons you can either jump from chapter to chapter or moving forward to the next game / diagram. That way you can easily access, check and maybe even compare positions which are relevant for, say, the minority attack. You are also able to search for specific key words using the symbol on the right.

 

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-27-25 Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-27-41

 

Last, but not least, you are free (more or less) to change the design of the app. You can decide whether to have the board on the right and the text on the left or vice versa. You can also determine the size of the text, diagrams or line spacing. Additionally, if you read a repertoire book for black you can easily flip the board and perceive it as if you would in a real game.

Screenshot_2014-11-03-04-28-15

 

 

All in all it seems like a good app. However, there is one drawback which I have to mention. The three pillars which I mentioned in the introduction: legibility, simplicity, extensibility   are really key, yet only two matched my expectations. In terms of legibility and simplicity the app is just superb! However, concerning extensibility is seems to be restricted. I (at least while testing the app, so please feel free to send me a latter or mail if I’m wrong) was not able to add books which were not part of Gambit Publications. This might sound not terrible for an app which is run by this publisher, but in terms of making this app a favourite and an app to be a major part of your training, it seems to be the wrong approach. This app has the potential of becoming a key part of everyone’s training. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing other books to be added to this app. There are apps available that feature this already and in order to really make it to the top, this app has to be less conservative, but liberal when it comes to competition.

My overall assessment of this app: 3,5/5

+

legibility

simplicity

-

extensibility

 

 

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org  - www.dailychess.org

Chess.com – A look inside

Once upon a time some of my students ask me whether I know a site to practice tactics, endgame studies, to get annotated games, play and practice online etc. etc. When I started playing chess I had the same questions but unfortunately no place where I felt like “Yes, that’s it!”. Let me first introduce myself. I’m a 24 year old student from Germany who started playing chess rather late. I’ve been playing chess for about 4-5 years and got my first official rating somewhere around 1650-1700. By the time I was mainly studying basic books but lacked the opportunity to really practice and use my time efficiently. Although the first chess club I entered was very helpful, the problem was that they all met just once a week whereas my thirst for more knowledge and practice grew much faster.

That was the time when I searched the web for some chess sites and started my online training. Practicing online and studying/following the games of the masters truly helped me growing and soon, after just one year I started to perform way above my rating. I’m currently holding a rating close to 2000 and perform at 2100-2200+ Now, 4-5 years and ~15-20 sites later, I can tell you that I’ve found a place that unites everything a chess player, from beginner to master, needs in order to improve his play! It’s Chess.com and it’s exactly this very site that is the subject of today’s review!

I’ve been testing the site for quite some time now and believe that its success is built upon three pillars: Play – Learn – Share.

Main page

In the following I would like to focus on exactly these three key elements and try to explain to you why I believe this site is that great and worth using as a major aid for your training!

Play

If we are honest, after all the game of chess is about playing it! You can study hours and hours and learn everything that is to be learnt about basic endgames, basic tactics, openings and middlegame plans but that’s rather useless if you cannot use it in practical games. As one gets older it is quite normal to have less time to spend hours on your favourite hobby and travel to tournaments where you sit 5-6h at a wooden chess board. The introduction of online chess platforms changed the way people approach the game. People play on the internet whenever they can and improve their play constantly. That way the problem of traveling to tournaments or your local chess club got resolved in very nice style but offering people a permanent access to their favourite game.

You can play and practice whenever you find the time and feel like playing chess. Therefore it got way simpler to study a topic and then practice it against some players from all around the globe.

But why Chess.com? Aren’t there any other sites that offer the same as Chess.com does? Well… in terms of providing you a platform, where you can play blitz, rapid or gams with a longer time control, I must admit yes. But Chess.com does not need a client to be installed on your computer and doesn’t require anything special that needs to be downloaded in order to use it.

Chess.com offers three ways of playing online.

1. Live Chess

2. Turn based Chess

3. Vote Chess

drop-down - live chess

 

Live Chess

You simply go to the dropdown menue and choose “Live Chess”. As you can read from the screenshot the moment I took that shot, 11820 players were online, playing against each other! I can therefore guarantee you that there is absolutely no chance that you won’t find an opponent at all! Live Chess means to play in real time against an opponent (human or computer) while the time runs down. This certainly simulates a real game situation besides the fact that you enter the moves with a mouse. But as I mentioned before, one cannot always affort to travel to tournaments and attend the weekly chess club meetings so one does not an alternative and substitution for that. Live Chess is everything you need for that. You can decide whether to play Bullet, Blitz, Rapid or Standard chess and if you should still be not satisfied, you can test yourself in one of the tournaments that are available on the live chess server.

live-chess intro

You can challenge your friends to play against you or you can follow the strongest players on the server blitzing their games against the community. From time to time you can attend some simuls given by strong master players.

Turn-based Chess

If you know what correspondence chess is you can think of turn-based chess to be something in between corr. chess and live chess. You don’t have to be present at the board all the time but instead take your time (~3 days/5 days/7 days etc.) to make a move and analyze the position. It is not as slow as correspondence chess but still shares many features of that format. It is, after all, something in between. 

Hauptfenster

 

online chess - best games

Turn-based chess is the most popular format next to live chess on chess.com. This format is certainly ‘unique’ and special, since it allows players from all over the world to play multiple games without really been put under constant pressure of the clock running down. There are many clubs/teams who specialized solely on turn-based chess and offer tons of opportunities to participate in team matches and fight in a team against other players!

online chess - move

 

 

online chess - new game

 

If you are more of a solo player you can of course open a ticket for a game of chess and wait until someone interested in that offer accepts it (usually happening within 1h). This might be especially interesting for those who want to test something new without the risk of losing points in a team match.

Of course you also have the opportunity to play turn-based tournament games. There are many leagues available currently on chess.com. You can, if you wish so, join your national team and play the world league and see whether you can lead your nation to the very top! Of course there are many other tournaments available too such as individual championships, regular chess.com tournaments as well as customized club tournaments. You can expect this site to never become boring!

play - tournaments - particiaptes play - tournaments - tournament data play - tournaments

Vote Chess

This format should be rather self-explaining, but I’ll still offer a small definition. Vote chess is a format in which you join a team (usually the one you are playing for anyway in turn-based chess) and discuss opening/moves etc. If you concluded your choice you can then vote for a chess move by executing the move. This very move will then be added to a poll/survey and counted as one vote. After a certain time control the move with the most votes is finally played.

live-chess - vote chess gme

That way people, who are weaker, get the opportunity to share their knowledge with stronger players and learn by playing with them. I can tell you from my own experience, that this feature is worth more than Diamonds! It is without a doubt the most valuable experience beginners can have when improving at chess. It’s like a postmortem discussion of a chess game with a strong master.

Learn

 

LEARN

But it’s not just about playing. Chess.com is all about learning and sharing your knowledge with a huge community. Let’s first focus on learning. As a basic member you get access to daily articles with annotated games by master players as well as readworthy articles in the forums where people discuss certain openings, positions or own games.

tactic trainer

There is a lot to learn by studying a position together with other passionate chess players. But there are also many tools provided by chess.com, such as tactics trainer, opening explorer, book openings, online coaching, study plans, rules, puzzles, video lessons and of course the most advanced training tool out there: Chess mentor!

Mentor

 

Whereas the other tools are rather selfexplaining this tool requires some more information. Chess mentor is an interactive training tool, written to increase the efficiency of your training! When entering chess mentor you’ll see a list of courses from which you can pick one that interests you the most. See the screenshot below for some samples.

Mentor - Program

 

This is just a small list. There are many many more waiting for ambitious players to be run through. But what is so special about this tool? First of all, you will be able to enter the moves in realtime into the interface and immediately get a reaction from the system/coach (the coach who set the lecture before). So if you decide to choose a certain move, the system will immediately tell you whether it is the right choice or not, and if so, why it wasn’t the teachers solution. As a start I did a small course on the Sicilian Defence in which the Dragon Variation was discussed. I went through all the initial moves and reached the Tabiya for the famous and ultra-dangerous Yugoslav attack!

Mentor - Example

 

As you can see on the right-hand side, each move is annotated and evaluated to provide you with everything you need to know in order to play the position with confidence. Some positions are sharper than others and the coach will always provide you with enough explanations of why a certain move is stronger than another one.

The course plans include everything from basic rules, openings up to middlegame and endgame lessons. Lessons are added on a regular basis and range in difficulty, making it accessable and interesting for both, beginners and strong tournament players. Most of the tools are available for basic members whereas some require a premium membership. But being honest with you: Hiring a coach, at least if you do it seriously, costs you something like 45-160€/$ per month, depending on the coach and his salary. A chess.com membership for a whole year saves you a hell lot of money and you are likely to get everything you need in order to raise your rating beyond 2000! This is a promise I can make since I went through it myself and reached that very level thanks to Chess.com!

You can trace your progress by using the statistic feature of the page, showing you a chart with all relevant information about your past and recent play. You’ll see your winning/losing ratio, where you tend to play stronger and where you tend to play weaker. You’ll have an overview of how your rating progressed in the past and if you had problems facing a certain type of player or players of a certain strength. This will give you an objective evaluation of your current state and be the base for further improvements.

stats - flowchart stats - piechart stats - record und tournament

But even more valuable than these tools are the real people all around the world, who share the same passion as you: Chess! That’s why the third pillar is…

Share

Sharing your knowledge about the game with others, who know what you are talking about and do not look at you as if you were an alien from outer space (my girl-friend still believes that I’m not a human being somewhere inside me) is of huge importance for your development as a chess player. It is always good (whether in life or at chess) to share your points of view and compare them to others to maybe discover something completely new to you. In chess this includes sharing your opinions on different opening variations, endgame positons, thinking patterns or just basic opinions about chess players. Sharing is fun! And fun is everything that makes you feel better, like for example, getting better at chess!

share

Chess.com offer you plenty of choice when it comes to sharing you knowledge with others. As mentioned above you can join a club/team and set up some discussions on the forums or make friends and stay in contact. You have the options of participating in team matches and later analyze the games of yours with your club mates. But you can also enter vote chess games and discuss moves with players who have a different style than yours and approach the game in a completely different way (i.e. practical players vs. theoretical players).

If you want to set up something big and are skilled as writing, then you can start a blog on the site, filling it with content and slowly but surely attract an audience that will stick with you. That way you can get in touch with your fans and share interesting thoughts with the members.

In my opinion, what makes chess.com so outstanding compared to other websites, is the huge community loving the game and willing to share their thoughts and interests with others. It is like a huge chess club designed to grow better and stronger chess players as well as providing you with enough practical experience to be successful in real over-the-board games. Chess.com is also compatible with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter where you can post your games and let your friends comment upon them.

Chess.com also comes with an app for Android and Apple devices, giving you the chance to spend your time on chess whenever and whereever you want! I use the app on a regular basis while traveling and like the features and stability of the app! Recently a new design had been set up that allows you to watch videos, read articles and interact with the site even more!

 

Chess.com comes in four formats:

* Basic

* Gold

* Platinum

* Diamond

As a chess coach and active chess player who went through the difficult process of studying chess with limited financial means, I can highly recommend you to purchase a premium membership. It’s not about making money or something like that, it is about improving your play and getting access to all features that will suffice to reach a level of at least 2000 by just using everything this site has to offer on a regular basis!

Highly recommended website!

 

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – www.dailychess.org

Quality chess by Quality Chess

Today’s review will be about two new books published by Quality Chess. The first one complements Jacob Aagaards ‘Grandmaster Preperation’ series by adding the topic of “Attack and Defence”. In his previous volumes he already covered calculation, positional and strategic elements. His most recent update deals with important techniques while attacking as well as techniques that are essential for survival in difficult and worse positions. Those who read his books published by Everyman Chess (Excell at…) and liked them will find the next level of difficulty in the ‘Grandmaster Preperation’ series. This training course is no guarantee that you will gain the GM title after having spent countless hours solving the positions, that range from easy to ‘leave me alone’, but they will increase your level of understanding.

It’s for the serious player. For those of you, who still keep dreaming about their master titles and want to work for them. There is no shortcut to the peak, you have to work hard, show endurance and the willingness to overcome your fears and weaknesses. Overcoming those weaknesses will increase your strength and give you a new perspective with which you can grow and climb the rating ladder.

Content:

004 Key to Symbols used

005 Foreword by Sune Berg Hansen

007 Series Introduction

009 Preface

011 Attacking Theory in 60 Seconds

015 1. Include all the Pieces in the Attack

039 2. Momentum

065 3. Colour

085 4. Quantity beats Quality

097 5. Attack the Weakest Square

113 6. Attack the Strongest Square

123 7. Evolution/Revolution

139 8. Kill Zone

155 9. Only Move

177 10. Comparison

185 11. Prophylaxis

205 12. Active Defence

231 13. Multiple Exercises from the Same Game

301 Name Index

Each topic deserves to be highlighted, since each topic is important for the understanding of either attacking chess or ‘defensive chess’. Nevertheless, there are some chapters which, in my opinion, need to be highlighted and recommended to everyone, not just the most ambitious among you.

Regarding the moments in which you attack, I think knowing about the ‘momentum’ is vital and key for each attack. It is important to know, to see or just to sense when you have the Initiative and when you are the one who is in full-control of the position. Along with the momentum go the following two ideas: ‘quantity beats quality’ – This means that it doesn’t matter what disappears from the board, but what remains. It’s irrelevant if you sacrifice all your minor pieces and heavy pieces as long as you deliver mate with a mere pawn! In fact, I would say that such a scenario would make you immortal! There are so many pieces that can mate the opponent’s king, so you should only seek to exchange all defender and see whether you can checkmate him with your remaining forces. Of course you have to prepare an attack by aiming at the weakest squares in your opponent’s camp or to include all your puppets into the attack.

 

The second book I want to present is yet another one on the French Defence. Jacob Aagaard and Nikolaos Ntirlis provide a whole repertoire for Black against 1.e4 Despite the repertoire books by GM Emanuel Berg being published one after another those two took up a similar project.

The first questions that came to my mind were, if they will use the same recommendations and whether the books by Berg will be included in their bibliography. Fortunately they do not and deviate against the classical variation with 3.Nc3 by White, avoiding the Winawer variation which is the subject of the ‘Grandmaster Repertoire’ series and instead opting for the old response 3…Nf6, giving the game a completely different character than 3…Bb4!?. The book is quite thick and it would easily deserve the label ‘Grandmaster Repertoire’. Actually if you take a look at the bibliography, you won’t trust your eyes, since it spans over two pages! Almost all known sources are mentioned there, with J. Watsons ‘Play the French’ being the most appreciated work by ‘French players’. The choice, which Quality Chess provides, to either opt for the crazy Winawer or the more down-to-earth positions arising after 3…Nf6, will please most french adherents.

I gave up the French long time ago but now, after having worked with the books by Aagard, Ntilis and Berg, I seriously consider visiting my old-forgotten friend.

 

Conclusion:

Two books of high quality by the very publisher who sets the standard nowadays regarding chess literature. The style in which the books are written truly reflects the high level of writing Quality Chess is know and famous for!

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org

Two classical repertoires for Black!

In today’s review I will focus on two weapons, which belong to the family of classical openings. Both are answers against the move 1.d4 and are known to be a reliable choice.

The first book is

“The Tarrasch Defence – Move by Move” by Sam Collins (Everyman Chess 2013)

Tarrasch move by move

In this book you’ll learn a completely new opening, starting from the very beginning. This book provides a complete and sound repertoire for Black, backed-up with the current state of theory (especially some critical lines in the 9.dxc5 variations). The author covered all relevant sources in his bibliography, which highlights the seriousness of his approach. If you plan to play the Tarrasch, which is really a good opening, that offers you dynamic chances to play for more than just half a point, then you have to be capable of playing an Isolated Queen’s Pawn position (IQP) with either colour (but specifically with Black). I like the lines he recommend, since he chose the best lines out of the books already available to merge them into one high-level repertoire. Also he included the latest (at the time of writing) games in his book which also show the current trend to which grandmasters tend to draw the lines.

Those of you who already read some books of the “move-by-move” series will be happy to find numerous questions within the book, that will test your understanding and expand your knowledge of plans, ideas or typical lines which favour one side.

To end the review of this book I would like to show you one game which is regarded critical for the Tarrasch and how the author tends to improve upon theory:

[Event "Bundesliga 1213"]
[Date "2012.12.09"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Kopylov, Mihail"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 e6 3. c4 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nc3
O-O 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. a3 Ne4! 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nc3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Qxd1 14. Rxd1
Rfd8 15. Bf4 Rxd1+ 16. Rxd1 Bxa3 17. Nd4 Rd8 18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. Ra1 Bc5 20. Nxc6
Rc8 21. Nd4 

and now the move 21…Bd7N would have kept full compensation for the pawn. According to Collins White can hardly make any progress without going into a drawish bishop ending.

 

My second book of choice today is also from Everyman Chess.

“Chess Developments: Semi-Slav 5.Bg5″ by Bryan Paulsen (Everyman Chess 2013)

Semi-Slav 5.Bg5

This time it’s not the ‘move-by-move’ series but the ‘Chess Developments’ series. I still wonder why this is just a book series, not a chess magazine, since this would suit much better. The title already tells the whole truth. This book series deals with recent developments of certain lines or whole opening systems. Some openings were already covered, such as the Dragon Sicilian, Grünfeld, Pirc and now the Semi-Slav with 5.Bg5!

Playing 5.Bg5 in the Semi-Slav is like telling your opponent “you or me”. It’s unlikely that things will be quiet anymore and the points will be shared quickly. Black has several ways to meet this line, starting from a relatively solid defence called the ‘Cambridge Springs’ but going further to lines involving …dxc4 at some point. Actually the lines with 5…dxc4 (Botvinnik) and 5…h6 are among the sharpest lines available in chess. They probably can only be compared to the Najdorf Sicilian poisoned pawn variations.

However, I must say I’m impressed how much details Mr. Paulsen, a National Master from the U.S. puts  into each single game. There are many games which are borrowed from correspondence chess, since this is where sharp lines tend to die out or are allowed to exist further. A very good update on existing theory and a must-have for each serious player who does not update his repertoire of sharp lines on a regular basis (ater all, not everyone is a professional). This work has to be seen as an update, not a guide on how to play an opening. As long as you know this, you’ll be on the right side purchasing this book.

 

Conclusion:

Two interesting books which cover two openings which share the dynamic element. In the first, Black accepts positional weaknesses and try to balance them by piece play. In the second Black often grabs a pawn and tries to hold the pawn for a very long time. I very much like going through the books and compare the authors’ notes with my own. A good choice if you play one of these two openings and need a refresh from old theory.

“Dreev vs. the benoni” by Alexey Dreev (Chess-Stars 2013), 268 pages

7269

“Dreev vs. the benoni” by Alexey Dreev (Chess-Stars 2013), 268 pages

The title draws a clear picture: GM Alexey Dreev is taking up the challenge to fight the benoni! This being said, I have to mention that he not only covers the most popular among the Benonis, the Modern Benoni, but also some sidelines including the Snake Benoni and the Czech Benoni, where Black either plays a quick …Bd6 or …e5 straight away to create a closed pawn chain.

I would like to not to focus so much on the minor Benonis but stick to the main body of this book, the modern variation where Black plays …e6, takes on d5 and puts the bishop on g7. Alexey’s recipe against this is the modern variation starting with:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.e4 Bg7 8.h3 0-0 9.Bd3

This position is called the ‘modern variation’. It is one of the very critical main lines against the Benoni. White’s idea is clear. He wants to prevent any …Bg4 ideas from Black by playing …h3 first and then he puts the bishop to d3, a piece which does not have the duty anymore to break an eventual pin against the knight.

Black is said to be OK by theory, but Alexey thinks differently and provides around 150 pages of analysis to claim an advantage for White! For this review I would like to go into detail in one of the lines starting with 9…Re8, a line which was recommended by the current No.1 of Benoni repertoire books “Grandmaster Repertoire 12, The Modern Benoni” by Marian Petrov. Let’s go into details:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.h3 0-0 9.Nf3 Re8

10.0-0 c4

Here Petrov splits the line into two: A) 11.Bc2  and B) 11.Bxc4

Dreev also covers both those moves, giving each an individual chapter. I would like to say that Dreev extends the line A) 11.Bc2 further, whereas Petrov is a bit limited regarding his coverage:

A) 11.Bc2 b5 12.a3 is the move covered by Petrov. Whereas 12.Nb5! as given by Dreev gives White chances to claim an advantage after for example: 12…Ne4 13.Bxe4 Rxe4 14.Bg5! – for details please check the book.

But also the second line  B) 11.Bxc4 looks good:

11.Bxc4

MP: “This move is more challenging”

11…Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Rxe4

MP: “Black should be careful here, as the position is more open and White has the better development.”

13.Bg5! 

Here Petrov recommends the move 13…Qb6?! (the mark is given by Petrov himself!), whereas adding Dreevs main move 13…Qf8!? in the notes.

I’ll give the main lines of their analysis so you can see where both player diviate from now on:

14.Qc2 Re8 15.Rae1 Bf5 16.Qd1! “Dreev”

Petrov only covers the inferior 16.Qb3?! allowing 16…Nd7! Dreev writes that 16.Qd1 has not been tested yet whereas I was able to find a game in my database with this very move. The game convincingly showed an edge for White and the player eventually won the game:

16…Nd7 17.Nd4 and Mamedyarov was able to win his game in Mamedyarov – Pantsulaia, 2012. This might be the cutting edge of theory of the 9…Re8 variation. I think it’s black’s turn to show something concrete in that line.

 

Conclusion:

Overall I have to say that Dreev’s book scores a clear victory over Petrov’s repertoire book. It seems as if an update is necessary and I hope it comes quickly. The level of analysis is very high so you can expect this book to be very influential for the currenty state of theory. Well done Mr. Dreev.

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – lectures & reviews

(DailyChess recommends Schach NIGGEMANN)

7269

“Mastering Endgame Strategy” by Johan Hellsten (Everyman Chess 2013), 537 pages

Mastering-Endgame-Strategy

“Mastering Endgame Strategy” by Johan Hellsten (Everyman Chess 2013), 537 pages

 

The title already indicates that this book is not a collection of theoretical endgames, most of which can be found in well-established books by M. Dvoretski and K. Müller. However, the endgame strategy, i.e. king’s activity, exploiting weaknesses, exchanges and simplifications, as well as pawn play is not covered as thoroughly as the theoretical endings. Therefore I was very happy to see Everyman Chess working on that title.

In this book all relevant topics regarding endgame strategy are covered. You’ll learn several principles on how to use your pieces and your pawns while manoeuvring through this difficult stage of the game. You’ll learn about ideas which are also relevant for the middlegame: exchanging pieces, simplifying a position, creating and exploiting pawn weaknesses, setting mating nets as well as to bring your most valuable piece in the endgame into play, the king! I very much like the layout of Everyman Chess with all those big diagrams which allow you to read the book without the need to set a chess board. The text is written in English but kept simple so to reach those of you who may not be used to English in their daily lives.

“Mastering Endgame Strategy” is divided into two major parts: a huge theoretical (don’t take it too literally) part consisting of 430 pages and a test with solutions, spanning over further 100 pages. The test is especially challenging for the reader. You’ll have to remember the principles and ideas which where covered in part I and see whether those rules are relevant for the exercise.

 

Conclusion:

Quite a good book which comes close to the current frontrunners of endgame strategy (i.e. Karsten Müller “How to play chess endgames”). The style of writing is lively and as a result never makes endgames seem dry or boring, which is something they are often seen as. A very fine book I liked working with! Looking forward seeing more being published by J. Hellsten!

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – lectures & reviews

(DailyChess recommends Schach NIGGEMANN)

 

Mastering-Endgame-Strategy

“The Ultimate Anti-Grünfeld – A Sämisch Repertoire” by Dmitry Svetushkin (Chess-Stars 2013), 232 pages

 

“The Ultimate Anti-Grünfeld – A Sämisch Repertoire” by Dmitry Svetushkin (Chess-Stars 2013), 232 pages

 

“The king is dead…. long live the king!” – The world championship match between V. Anand and M. Carlsen has just ended, with a overwhelming victory for the Norwegian. But Anand is no one to be forgotten. In 2012, he played a match for the world crown against the Iraeli Boris Gelfand, whom he took down in Moscow. This match was the stage for an interesting approach against the Grünfeld Defence, namely the Anti-Grünfeld with 3.f3!?

It is well known that the Grünfeld Defence is one of the most theoretical among modern openings and one which is extremely influenced by computer analysis. The theory develops every single day, with thousands of games being played, adding ideas or refining existing theoretical evaluations. A famous author once said: White players often go for one-game ideas against the Grünfeld, because it’s so difficult to prove anything with White.

That might be true, but all those shots, no matter whether it is the exchange variation, the russian system or the Bg5 lines, have some independant poison within their fangs. Black players have to know their stuff and unfortunately they often do! So how should White sidestep all those long and partly forcing variations by playing something, that has a completely different character? Well, in the match mentioned in the introduction to this review, 3.f3 was tried.

3.f3 might look odd, dubious or even slow, but it has a very simple plan which steers the game into King’s Indian waters. White plans to play e2-e4, creating a powerful centre, which is already supported by the pawn on f3, preparing a further pawn storm with g2-g4 and h2-h4 (in typical King’s Indian Sämisch style!). This system got support by the very Elite, which we all admire and follow. Most of the top players tried the Sämisch system against the King’s Indian and they continue to do so against the Grünfeld.

In his book, Grandmaster Dmitry Svetushkin from Moldavia, with a rating of 2600~, aims to show you the cutting edge of theory in this interesting antidote to the Grünfeld and presents you with a powerful and striking repertoire for White. Despite being a weapon against the Grünfeld Defence, players who adopt this opening would do well if they study this work intensively. Experience tells us, that world championship matches define the current trend which openings take. And club players will never stop following their idols and playing the popular lines which are tested intensively at the very top.

The structure of the book is typical for “Chess-Stars”.

The chapters divide into three parts:

1) Ideas / Quick repertoire

2) Step by Step

3) Games

Whereas the first part shows an overview of important themes, ideas and rules of thumb, the second part is the one where the real work lies inside. There you’ll find a detailed coverage of the Anti-Grünfeld with 3.f3, including the lines which are in the spirit of the Grünfeld (namely 3…d5) and the transpositions into King’s Indian territory, where Black refrains from …d5 and aims to play with …d6 and later either …c5 or …e5 to undermine the centre.

As far as my research goes, I could find many interesting ideas which were tested since the book was published. Players such as Nakamura and Laznika are testing some ideas and even ‘lower rated’ Grandmasters are focusing on this recipe. This shows the practical value of the opening and the interest of strong players who want to delve in little explored waters. I myself used this line too, mainly in  corr. chess and I can assure you, that many existing assessments are altered thanks to this book and new ideas are discovered which will take you one step ahead of your opponents.  Unfortunately there is not much literature on the 3.f3 Grünfeld which I could use as a comparison. I know that some books planned and we’ll see if this one can stand the test of time.

 

Conclusion:

WItout a doubt the current market-runner regarding the 3.f3 Anti-Grünfeld. The book is presented in typical Chess-Stars fashion which I like a lot, especially due to the Ideas/Quick repertoire section which allows players, who plan to use this weapon in a single game, to quickly add a new weapon to their arsenal. But also lower rated players (club players) will benefit from that structure which wil serve as a kick-start to a new and fascinating opening.

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – lectures & reviews

(DailyChess recommends Schach NIGGEMANN)

Grandmaster Repertoire 14 – The French Defence Volume 1 by Emanuel Berg (Quality Chess 2013), 325 pages

 

Grandmaster Repertoire 14 – The French Defence Volume 1  by Emanuel Berg (Quality Chess 2013), 325 pages

 

They say the French is an opening one truly has to fall in love with in order to feel her power and see her beauty. When I started playing chess I remember picking up the French as my main weapon. What fascinated me was the fact, that Black’s counterplay comes so natural and is so easily explained from a logical point of view. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the person who introduced us to each other but I remember his statement which is probably the most important one regarding the often arising french pawn structure: “Attack the pawn chain at the bottom or at the top.” This simple phrase explains the natural counterplay behind this opening. Quite often the typical French pawn chain with white pawns on d4 and e5 and black pawns on e6 and d5 arises and one has to make sure to know the general plan for this kind of structure.

In Grandmaster Repertoire 14 – The French Defence Volume One, grandmaster Emanuel Berg from Sweden, with a peak rating of 2627, takes up the challenge and aims to provide an expert repertoire based on the French Defence (1.e4 e6) for Black. The fact, that this project is divided into three volumes (yes, you read three volumes!) already shows the ambitions of Mr. Berg. As far as I can tell, the best-sellers among the GM Repertoire books were those, who were at least two-volume thick.

In this very first volume, the Swedish grandmater covers the all-famous Winarwer variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 and provides analysis of all lines of the Winawer except the mainline with 7.Qg4, which is covered in volume two of this series. Starting with 4th move options such as 4.Bd2, 4.Qd34.a3 or 4.Nge2 and 4.exd5, providing in depth analysis and expanding existing theory in rare lines, he moves on to look at various options at move 5. Those options are 5.Nf3 and 5.dxc5 as well as the aggressive queen-sortie 5.Qg4, which is a common theme for White in the Winawer and the interesting option of 5.Bd2. But the Winawer is known for the pawn structure arising after

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7

This is the structure which is familiar to so many of us but still so complex that only few really understand it. The position is extremely unbalanced, with White having a additional possibilities in the centre and active ideas on the kingside (for example with 7.Qg4 – Part iI) whereas Black toys with plans to undermine the strong centre and attack the crippled pawns.

As I mentioned above, the mainline with 7.Qg4 is covered in the second volume, whereas in the first one Emanuel Berg deals with 7th move options:

7.Bd3 / 7.h4

7.Nf3

7.a4!?

All those lines are not without venom and I can tell you that for someone who once fought the Black side of the French and later switched to battle this very opening from the White side, those ideas are key to get a deeper understanding of the French in general. This structure is so complex that one can hardly just learn the main line and hope to understand it fully. You have to see the alternatives, learn new patterns and expand you own repertoire with ideas that are quite unique (the structure does not arise from any other opening).

Throughout the book you’ll find hundreds of novelties, verbal explanations and suggestions to forge your own repertoire. I must admit that some recommendations are not for the faint-hearted and that one needs self-confidence to constantly fight for the initiative in order to survive. But the lines recommended are still very entertaining and fun to play.

Conclusion:

I’m impressed. This book combines a world-class approach to the French, with a Starting-Out guide that introduces the opening to those of you who never touched the French. From the very first chapter, this book builds your understanding not only of the opening itself but also of the unique structure arising after 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3.. I’m sure that once all three volumes are finished, the long-term reign of “Play the French” by John Watson will come to an end. A new era of the French may lie just two volumes ahead.

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org

http://rezensionen.dailychess.org

 

(DailyChess empfiehlt Schach NIGGEMANN in Sachen Schach)

 

„The complete Albin Counter Gambit“ von Luc Henris (Jean-Louis Marchand Editions 2013), 600 Seiten

 

„The complete Albin Counter Gambit“  von Luc Henris (Jean-Louis Marchand Editions 2013), 600 Seiten

 

Was ich hier vor mir liegen habe, ist ein wahres Monster. Das Buch hat nicht nur satte 600 Seiten, sondern bietet auch ein umfassendes und mit Neuerungen gespicktes Eröffnungsbuch gegen 1.d4. Die Eröffnung ist Albin’s Gambit, welches nach folgenden Zügen entsteht:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5

Sobald der Gegner das Damengambit wählt, ist Schwarz bereits in seinem Element. Diese Eröffnung wird vielen für ihre Eröffnungsfalle bekannt sein, in die so manche Spieler nicht ungern tapsen:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.e3 Lb4+! 5.Ld2 dxe3!

Und wenn Schwarz nun keinen Vorteil aufgrund einer besseren Bauernstruktur erhalten soll, dann ist das natürlichste für Weiß dies mit dem Schlagen auf b4 zu kompensieren. Doch das erlaubt die berühmte Eröffnungsfalle…

7.Lxb4 exf2+ (Dame hängt) 8.Ke2 fxg1S+  (ja… Springerumwandlung, da Schach) 9.Txg1 Lg4+ mit Damengewinn. Das sieht man in der Form mindestens einmal täglich im Internetschach.  Albin’s Gambit ist aber nicht nur diese Eröffnungsfalle. Es ist eine Eröffnung, die von GM Alexander Morozevich immer wieder genutzt wird und durch sein kreatives Spiel enorm an Anerkennung gewonnen hat. Dank der Mithilfe von Morozevich, hat diese Waffe neue Ideen getankt, viele gefährliche taktische Verwicklungen entwickelt und seitdem auch relativ gut für Schwarz gepunktet. Der weiße Weg zum Vorteil ist nicht mehr so klar, wie er früher schien.

Das Buch ist nicht nur als reine Monographie im Sinne der Analysen zu verstehen. Es ist vielmehr ein Buch, welches die Entwicklung der Variante erzählt. Angefangen von früheren Varianten, wie dem Fianchetto oder anderen interessanten Ideen von Weiß, ging es weiter zu Boris Avrukh’s Hauptvariante mit 5.a3, welches oben geschildertes Läuferschach unterbindet. Im Laufe der Zeit hat Schwarz hier jedoch ebenfalls einen präzisen Weg zu annehmbaren Spiel gefunden. Die jüngste Hauptvariante dreht sich um 5.Sbd2, welches dieselben Ziele verfolgt wie 5.a3, doch ohne diesen „Tempoverlust“.

Die Theorie wird anhand von Beispielpartien gezeigt und systematisch abgearbeitet. Die Fülle an Ideen ist beachtlich und das Buch könnte mit ihren zahlreichen Neuerungen manch einem Top-Verlag das Wasser reichen. Ganz besonders in den kritischen Abspielen sind einige interessante Ideen verborgen, die gar von jüngster Literatur nicht erwähnt wird (u.a. A. Korneev: A practical repertoire with 1.d4 and 2.c4 vol. 1).

Doch genau hier muss ich leider etwas Bitteres einwerfen:

Wie ich während meiner Arbeit an dem Buch erfahren habe (unter anderem dadurch, da es Eins zu Eins so drin steht), hat der Autor wohl vieles, teils vollständig von anderen Seiten übernommen. Ich bin ein großer Fan der Website ChessPublishing.com, und verfolge dort regelmäßig die neuen Eröffnungsartikel. Einige Erwähnungen dort sind einfach nur kopiert und in das Buch eingefügt worden, ohne die entsprechenden Autoren zu nennen! Der selbe Wortlaut (manchmal durch eine Konjunktion erweitert) und dieselbe Struktur, die sich auf dieser Website finden lässt sind in das Buch übernommen worden. Da mich das etwas stutzig gemacht hat, habe ich noch etwas weitergesucht, was die späte Erscheinung dieser Rezension erklärt. Und tatsächlich habe ich ein Statement von GM Glenn Flear, der sich darüber bereits ausgelassen hat.

 

Fazit:

Ein wirklich gutes Buch zur Eröffnung. Zweifelsohne eine starke Sammlung von Ideen und Empfehlungen, die alles beinhaltet was man wissen sollte. Man kann in gewißerweise sagen, dass an dem Buch wohl mehrere Autoren beschäftigt waren, was leider auch den bitteren Beigeschmack ausmacht. Inhalt des Buches ist wirklich top! Die Aufmachung hätte geschickter angegangen werden können, da das Buch leider nicht das leichteste ist. Mit kleinerer Schriftgröße bzw. geringerem Zeilenabstand würden sich vllt 100 – 150 Seiten einsparen lassen, was so manchen Leistenbruch verhindern könnte. Was die Urheberfrage anbelangt: das hat jeder mit sich selbst zu vereinbaren. Eine Empfehlung verdient das Buch bzgl. des Inhalts, aber nicht wegen dem Autor.

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – lectures & reviews

DailyChess.org

www.dailychess.org

http://rezensionen.dailychess.org

DailyChess empfiehlt Schach Niggemann in Sachen Schach

 

„Pump up your rating“ by Axel Smith (Quality Chess 2013), 376 pages

 

„Pump up your rating“ by Axel Smith (Quality Chess 2013), 376 pages

 

When I first read about the upcoming publication of this book, I had mixed feelings. I wasn’t sure whether this book will be something similar to “from amateur to IM”, a book published by another house, but with a similar taste. In that quoted book, which by all means isn’t a bad work, the title was a bit misleading in my opinion, since the author only covered endgames in details. Axel Smith is also an International Master who boosted his rating from 2093 to 2458 within just two years. When the first excerpt came out I immediately had to download it and check it out. I was happy to see, that the author does not only cover endgames and the title thus adds to the hundreds of books available, dedicated to the endgame and how masters did benefit from it.

Before I continue, let me please share the content with you:

 

Part 1 Positional Chess

1 No Pawn Lever – No Plan             [ Model Player: Evgenij Agrest]

2 Fair Exchange is no Robbery       [Model Player: Ulf Andersson]

3 Auxiliary Questions

4 Calculation

 

Part II A Training Program

5 The List of Mistakes                    [ Model Player: Ellinor Frisk]

6 The Woodpecker Method            [ Model Player: Hans Tikkanen]

7 Openings                                     [ Model Player: Nils Grandelius]

8 Theoretical Endgames

9 Attitude

Appendix – Databases

Appendix – Endgames

 

If your eyes grew while reading down the list and the content, especially with those high-level players on the right hand side, made your mouth water, we probably share the same expression. The first part of the book is dedicated to some important positional themes, such as the right exchange – for which Ulf Andersson is truly the right person to look up for – or the popular pawn lever. For me – at least – the second part was of most interest and that’s exactly the chapter I’m reviewing almost every second day. When I started to read the second part of the book, I immediately skipped the two chapters and started with the openings. Don’t get me wrong. I own a passion for chess endgames, but I reorganized my openings and wanted to know if I could gain anything by reading that chapter.  Axel Smith worked with Nils Grandelius, a strong grandmaster. He helped him with his openings, preparing some important lines and helping him with the whole work next to that, such as organizing databases, reviewing them, adding the most recent games and so on. This chapter proved helpful to me, since the author shares a picture of his own databases, how he arranges them and how he structures them inside. He also covers the importance of reference databases, the Megabase, a work database and other important little elements, which as a whole; ease the task of preparation and training. As a reviewer, there comes the moment in life, where you have to leave your favorite chapter once for a while, and focus on other topics as well. Fortunately they are as good as the one on openings.

The second chapter I would like to choose for this review is the one on making a list of mistakes. Our own games teach us enough to fill more than one training session. In each game, you unavoidably make some mistakes, be it time management, a tactical junction in which you have to choose plan A or B, without calculating too deep or assessing the position correctly. It might be, that you play the opening like a god, but show your mere human shell in the endgame or middlegame in which you were not able to convert a winning advantage. All those things, among many many others, are subject of a chess game. The weaker you are, the more common mistakes occur and the more things you have to work upon. Making a list of mistakes helps in defining your own goals, your own road to mastery. Not everyone shares the same weaknesses in play and not everyone’s symptoms in play require the same medicine. You have to find them on your own, by checking your games and drawing as many conclusions and lectures out of them as possible.

This chapter is probably one of the most important one in the book, at least as long as you are not as desperate as I am when it comes to reorganizing your opening files, when looking for a well-thought formula, which helps you improving your play. I would recommend you to study this one again and again, until this idea becomes second nature to you.

 
Conclusion:

Well. Well. Well. I know I praise the books by Quality Chess to the heights, but the only way I could refrain from that would be by writing lies. Their books are top-notch, not just from the opening point of view, but also regarding all other topics in chess, such as attacking, defending, calculating, positional chess, strategic chess, endgames and the work you have to do on your own. I recommend this book to everyone, no matter what their rating is. It might be, that this book helps those, who are stuck in “ELO-hell” (i.e. <1600) for decades, without any glimpse of hope to escape from there, but also those, who are already strong chess players but need small refinements in their play or work.

 

Lukas Wedrychowski

DailyChess.org – lectures & reviews

www.dailychess.org

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http://lectures.dailychess.org

DailyChess recommends Schach Niggemann as your favourite chess-retailer

Gambit Publications

Chessbase GmbH

Chess-Stars

Edition Olms

Everyman Chess

Mongoose Press

Quality Chess

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