Friday, September 28, 2007

Attacking Repertoire for Black is Cancelled

It's often hard to know exactly how reliable published information is - in particular if the publishing medium is the Internet. However, when the German chess book retailer Niggemann informs that Collins' book 'An Attacking Repertoire for Black' has been canceled, I assume they have a reliable source - most likely the publisher Batsford/Anova.

Although it came as no great surprise (see my blog entry of May 31), it's really a pity that the book probably never will materialize. It's a great title; a subject that's likely to interest a lot of club players; and it promised to discuss some really interesting subjects.

In particular I was eager to see Collins' ideas on the Stonewall versus 1.c4 and 1.Nf3. It would be a great selling point for a book on the Stonewall if it offered a complete answer to the Closed games. The subject hasn't received a lot of attention in sources that I have access to. Actually the only systematic treatment I could find was an old article in a Spanish language magazine and some analysis from White's point of view in Khalifman's 'Opening for White According to Kramnik'.

There of course still is the possibility that the book will appear by another publisher, but that would most likely delay the publishing date too much for me to include it as a reference for my upcoming Stonewall book.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

London Questions

In a comment from an anonymous reader I have received 4 very relevant analytical questions to "Win with the London System".

I will in some entries try to answer them in one way or another. Due to two circumstances not all my answers will be very analytically illuminating:
  1. I have a contract with Gambit Publishing which does not permit me to publish any kind of update of the London book. This clause, of course, is subject to interpretations and I don't think it means I am not allowed to publish any kind of analysis on the London System. However, I will be particularly careful now when a German translation of the book is due to arrive soon.
  2. The main analyst in the London book was Vlado Kovacevic. If there ever will be an update of the book (I certainly hope so) I will consult him or another London expert in order to improve the analytical quality. In the meantime I must do with my own limited resources.
Q 1: After 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Bf5 3.c4 c6 4.e3 e6 you recommend 5.Nc3, but what's wrong with delaying Nc3, in favor of 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.c5 Qxb3 7.axb3 Nd7 8.b4 a6 9.Nd2 with the idea 9... Rc8 10.Nb3 Be7 11.Na5

A: There definitely isn't anything wrong with 5.Qb3. Our choice of 5.Nc3 was mainly because that move had been preferred by more and stronger players and because it after 5...Nf6 would lead to positions that White hardly can avoid anyway.
I have not really been able to determine which of the two moves is the strongest. Below follow some lines which should only be the starting point of an debate.

I will start from the position after 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.c5 Qxb3 7.axb3:
(even if 5...Qc8 really should be taken into consideration too)

I think you are right to consider this the critical move. 7...Bxb1 8.Rxb1 Nd7 9.b4 a6 of Bistric-Velikov, Rijeka 2001 must be somewhat better for White.


I am not sure whether this is better than 8.Nc3 (which gives up the Nd2-b3-a5 plan) or 8.Nf3 (which after 8...Nf6 would lead to known positions), but it can be argued that it's White's most consistent course and therefore should be investigated first.


I believe this must be stronger than 8...a6 9.Nd2, planning 10.Nb3 which should be at least somewhat better for White.


Again this seems the most consistent but 9.Nc3 and 9.h3 are serious alternatives.


There are some interesting complications after 9...Nh5 10.bxc6 bxc6 11.Bc7 Rc8 12.Rxa7 but they seem to favour White, so I assume this must be critical.

10.dxe5 Ne4

How should this position be evaluated? I am not 100% sure, but it seems to me that Black's active pieces should ensure him at least equal play.

So my tentative conclusion is that 5.Qb3 probably is a good move but that White shouldn't try to make it an independent continuation but rather follow up with normal development. And if that is correct it seems sensible to play 5.Nc3 and not force matters before something concrete can be achieved.

I will return to the rest of the questions in due time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Not Quite Fresh

A closer reading of "Stonewall II" supports my suspicion that this book has had a long production time. The preface mentions the Italian version which obviously came before the German (and the planned but probably canceled Swedish version). However, the clearest hints are a couple of Aagaard's remarks where he refers to the English version of the book which were published in 2001 (and probably written in 2000):

Game 28 (Page 105): "Five years later and a by far stronger player, I must say that today I am less convinced by the advantages of this move."

Game 72 (page 171): "The text move has not been played in any serious game during the last five years, so my annotations from 2000 are still valid".
(my translations)

So my conclusion must be that this book probably was completed some time by the end of 2005. The only indication of a later revision is the preface which is signed by "Jacob Aagaard, Glasgow 2007".

Does this change my generally positive impression of the book?

Well, not that much, actually. A theory book is always best served fresh but it cannot stay up-to-date for very long anyway. It's real worth will always be the ideas and insights it provides - otherwise we would all just be studying databases. And Aagaard's book contains a lot of useful advice for players of most strengths.

The Modern Dutch Stonewall was developed into a mainstream opening by Jussupow, Short, Agdestein and Dolmatov mainly from 1985 to 1995. After that it has had relatively little exposure on the very top level and development has been slow. Finesses are still being discovered but in a mainly strategical opening what was true in 2005 is still mostly true. However, the long production time makes me wonder whether the publishing company, Quality Chess, may have some business problems. Their homepage remains a strange mix of old news and some sporadic recent updates. If that is the case it's a pity because they seemed a worthy challenger on the chess book publishing arena.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ruy Lopez Review Under Way

I am having some busy days and there will be no substantial entries in this blog for the next week (but possibly some minor ones).

This morning I noted that there in the web pages for the German chess magazine KARL, there now is a review of Marin's "A Spanish Repertoire for Black". It's an excellent book (even if the experimental format doesn't please me) and an excellent review. However, what excites me more is a promised review of my and Leif Johannessen's "The Ruy Lopez: A Guide for Black".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stonewall II

Monday evening I finally laid my hands on a copy of Aagaard's 'Stonewall II'. I have not had the time to study it any detail yet, but here are some observations and first impressions:
  • There are enough verbal annotations to make the book hard to read for non-German readers. In particular this is the case for the long introduction (almost 60 pages).
  • As far as I can see, all the games from the first edition are still there - mostly in the same order. One has been moved and one has had the name of a player corrected.
  • I have not yet been able to determine to which extent the annotations of the older games have been updated but obviously some new game references have been added.
  • There is a list of complete games, but surprisingly the games from the introduction can not be found there.
  • There is no complete index of variations, but at the end of each chapter there is a summary of important lines with references to relevant complete games.
  • The book seems to be only very lightly updated after 2004. I have so far only found four game references to 2005 games (Pogorelov-Moskalenko, Salou 2005; note to game 10. Feller-Petrisor, Herceg Novi 2005; note to game 10. Mamedjarova-Gleizerov, Abu Dhabi 2005; note to Game 17. Rogers-Jasim, Gibraltar 2005; note to game 67) but no doubt there are some more hidden in the notes.
  • It seems that the new games are somewhat better annotated than the older ones, but this is only my first impression.
Compared to the original English edition, there are 17 new games:

Mainline 7.b3
Game 5: Farago-Ulibin, Obervart 2001 (1/2-1/2)
13: Korotylev-Ulibin, Genf 2001 (1/2-1/2)
17: Romanov-Gleizerov, Minsk 1997 (0-1)
20: Agdestein-Straeter, Germany 2001 (1/2-1/2)

Mainline 7.Bf4
Game 29: Hanley-Williams, Port Erin 2001 (1-0)
31: Kahn-Vajda, Hungary Ch 2003 (0-1)
34: Barkhagen-Jussupow, Stockholm 2002 (1/2-1/2)

White's Rare 7th
Game 51: Schandorff-Sandner, Germany 2004 (1-0)
53: Schandorff-L.B. Hansen, Denmark 1997 (1-0)

Game 58: Dreev-Radjabov, Tallinn 2004 (1/2-1/2)
63: Anand-Schmittdiel, Germany 2004 (1-0)
70: Kempinski-Radjabov, Antalaya 2004 (1/2-1/2)

Lines with an Early e3
Game 83: Cu. Hansen-Hillarp Persson, Copenhagen 2004 (1-0)
85: Sasikiran-Krasenkow, Calvia Ol 2004 (1-0)
89: Bareev-Jussupow, Prague rapid 2002 (0-1)
90:Yakovich-Kharlov, Elista 2001 (0-1)
93: Bareev-Grischuk, Enghien-les-Bains 2001 (0-1)

PS: For the Table of Content see my entry of August 8th.

Another 2005 reference: Lomineischvili-Tereladze, Georgia 2005; note to game 61. I will add more here if I come by anything.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Zwaig Variation II

There are indications that the critical line in Zwaig's variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Na5 6.0–0 d6 7.d4 f6) may be 8.Bxg8 Rxg8 9.b4!?. Tisdall describes this move as 'too ugly to be true'. But although I cannot claim to understand why, it has been the choice of some of the best prepared players ever to face 7...f6.

9...Nc4 (Dia)

10.Nbd2 Nxd2

10...Nb6!? has been played by a correspondence World Champion and should be taken seriously: 11.Qe2 Be6 12.Rd1 c6 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Nc4 Nd7 (14...Qc7 15.Nxb6 Qxb6 16.a3 c5 +=) 15.Nd6+ Bxd6 16.Rxd6 Bc4 17.Qe3 (17.Qd1 Qc7 18.Be3 Nf8 19.a4 may be even stronger) 17...Qc7 18.Rd1 a5 19.Nd2 Be6 20.bxa5 Rxa5?! (20...Kf7! Oim; 20...Qxa5) 21.Qe2 Ke7 22.Nb3 Ra4 23.Be3 += Stern-Oim, corr 1994.


11.Bxd2 c6 (11...c5 12.c3 Bg4 13.Re1) 12.c3 Be6 13.Be3 Be7 14.Nd2 (14.a4) 14...a5 15.Qc2 g5?! (15...axb4 16.cxb4 Qd7 17.Nb3 +=) 16.a4 Qb8 17.axb5 Qxb5 18.c4 +- Helmers-O.Moen, Norway 1975.

11...Bb7 12.Re1 Qd7

12...a5 is probably weaker: 13.bxa5 c5 14.dxc5 dxc5 15.Qe2 Qxa5 16.Nxe5 0–0–0 (also 16...fxe5 17.Qh5+ g6 18.Qxe5+ Kf7 19.Rd1 is clearly better for White) 17.Nf3 Bd6 18.Bb2 and White's advantage was beyond doubt in T.Ernst-Gausel, Ostersund 1992.

13.Bb2 Be7

Tisdall suggests that 13...0-0-0 is worth consideration.

14.a4 f5 15.axb5 fxe4 16.bxa6

An interesting computer-aided line goes 16.Ng5 Qg4 17.bxa6 Rxa6 18.Rxa6 Qxg2+ 19.Kxg2 e3+ 20.Nf3 exd2 21.Rea1 Bxa6 22.Nxd2 Bb7+ 23.f3 Kd7 24.dxe5 dxe5 with equality.

16...Rxa6! 17.Ng5

17.Rxa6 is met by 17...exf3! planning ...Qg4 with a mating attack.

17...Rxa1 18.Bxa1?

18.Rxa1 Qg4 19.Nh3 Qxg2+ 20.Kxg2 e3+ 21.Kg3 exd2 22.dxe5 h5 23.f4 dxe5 24.Bxe5 g5 –+.


Black is close to winning already. White has nothing to oppose the light-squared bishop.

19.Nh3 (Dia)


A nice demonstration of the power of Black's light-square play.

20.Kxg2 e3+ 21.Kg1?!

21.Kf1 may be slightly better but after 21...exd2 22.Rd1 e4 23.Rxd2 d5 White has no satisfactory reply.

21...exd2 22.Rd1 g5 23.dxe5 g4 24.Nf4 Bg5 25.Ne2 Be4 26.exd6 Bxc2 27.dxc7 Kd7 0–1 T.Ernst-Tisdall, Gausdal 1993.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Collins' Book Available Too?

I still haven't received my copy of Aagaard's Stonewall II, but I have good hopes it will happen tomorrow. Meanwhile there are rumors that Collins' Attacking Repertoire for Black is now available from Amazon UK. There is a small discussion at Chess Publishing Forum about the reliability of Amazon's announcement. I remain skeptical as long as the book isn't listed on Batsford's/Anova's website.

Postscript 9th September 2007
Today I received unofficial but reliable information that the book will definitely not appear before October 15th and probably not before Christmas! A pity but not really a great surprise.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Out of the Blue

Early tactical shots usually don’t appear from nowhere. You lose short games because you are too greedy, too timid or because you let long-term plans take precedence over more mundane concerns. But occasionally it's only about tactical alertness and nothing else. I have always enjoyed this opening trap because there really is nothing to warn White except the hidden forking pattern.

Dobrovolsky - Hardicsay, Prievidza, 1978
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nc3 Nf4!?

This probably is more trappy than good.

7.Qg4? (Dia)

This move is White’s most popular reaction. And what could be more natural. White is far ahead in development and Black's only developed piece is under attack. Nevertheless it's a serious blunder as was first demonstrated in this game. It's generally considered that White gets more than enough for his pawn after 7.d4! Nxg2+ 8.Kf1 Nh4 and now either 9.Nf3 or 9.Ne4. That's not at all obvious but there are some nice games that seem to support the assumption. Maybe that will be the theme for another blog entry.


In 11 out of the 15 games I am aware of that have reached this position, Black has found (or known) this amazing resource. Now the fork on g2 and the hanging bishop on c4 ensure that Black will win at least a pawn.


8.Qg3 Nxg2+ 9.Qxg2 Qxc4 of Exposito Portillo-Torres Maesso, Dos Hermanas 2001 is no better. In Kristjansson-Westerinen, Reykjavik 1997 White preferred 8.Qxh4 Nxg2+ 9.Ke2 Nxh4 10.d4 and fought on in a long game but finally had to resign.

8...Nxg2+ 9.Kf1 h5 10.Qe2 Nf4 11.Qe4 Ng6 12.Qe2?

12.Qxh4 was sad but necessary.


Black picks up another pawn and White has had enough: