I am happy to note that so far all reviewers have been quite kind to our book on the Ruy Lopez. However, that doesn't prevent me feeling misunderstood at times. When Silman says that he cannot recommend the Zaitzev for anyone under 2200 he in a sense is right. A 1600 player will not have much practical use of opening analysis starting around move 20 for several reasons - most obviously because most opponents will deviate from the mainline long before.
But not all chess study should be concerned about immediate and practical use. Sometimes you have to stretch your mind in order to become a better chess player. One way to do that is really deep study of a well chosen middle game position.
This position arises after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 f5 18.Nh2 Nf6.
While it is not easy to say how this position should best be handled, a few other aspects can be established quite quickly:
- It's an unbalanced position where the plans of both players can be stated quite certainly.
- The play will soon become quite concrete and tactical - the kind of play where you can find good moves by hard work, even if your positional understanding isn't very sophisticated.
- If you understand how to play this position, you will also understand a lot of the position after Black's 17th move, and you will probably be able to find a good move even if White should surprise you with something other than 18.Nh2.
- It's a position that has been played and commented upon by some of the worlds' top players.
- Even if your chances of reaching the position are fairly modest, they are better than a randomly selected position from a grandmaster game.