Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nothing but Praise from Watson

I was very pleased to see Watson's recent reviews at The Week in Chess. Not only does he give 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' unconditional praise, but he adds weight to his evaluation by stating that 'The Dutch has been a part of my recent writing (Mastering the Chess Openings again), and I got a chance to look at this book closely.'

As a special bonus Watson on the subject of the Ruy Lopez returns to my previous book with Leif Johannessen, 'The Ruy Lopez: a Guide for Black'. I take the liberty to lift the relevant text from his lengthy review:

In an earlier column I reviewed Sverre Johnsen's & Leif Johannessen's The Ruy Lopez: A Guide For Black, which promotes the Zaitsev Variation: 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. That book is a complete repertoire after the move 3...a6, that is, it includes solutions to the Exchange Variation and White's alternatives from moves 4-10. I consider it the best 'Ruy Lopez for Black' book in general, because in addition to great theoretical detail and a good choice of variations (see below), it has a huge amount of material on ideas and themes, strategy in the Ruy, and how to prepare and practice openings.

I have nothing to add!


Anonymous said...

If you like to play the London System as White, what openings should you play as Black?

Sverre Johnsen said...

That depends on why you like the London. If you like a solid centre, easy development and the possibility to play on the flanks, I think the Stonewall Dutch is an excellent choice. Elsewhere in my blog (including the comments) you will find some thoughts on other options like the Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6) and the Baltic (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5) which could also be potential companion systems against 1.d4.

It's harder to find a defence against 1.e4, and I have not decided yet what will be the subject of my third "Win with the ..." will be. The Caro Kann and the Scandinavian are natural candidates but don't generally give Black a solid central bastion. The French goes well with the Stonewall and secures a central foothold but frequently leads to cramped positions that are hard to play well.

For the moment I favor the Open Ruy Lopez which normally gives Black easy development and his share of the centre but it will be a rather demanding repertoire as Black must also prepare for White's deviations on his 2nd 3rd and 4th move.

This has been my reasoning when looking for fitting subjects for my books. But of course this doesn't necessarily reflect how a practical chess player thinks. For instance it's possible to turn the answer on the head and say that if you play an 'easy' opening as White it must be in order to save time and energy, so that you can play the Dragon or Najdorf against 1.e4 and the King's Indian or Semi-Slav against 1.d4.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered doing your "Win with the" book against 1 e4 on the French Defense? As you said, this would go well with the Stonewall.

Sverre Johnsen said...


I have at least one very interesting idea in the French which I would like to explore in collaboration with a GM. So I certainly have considered "Win with the French". However, it doesn't sound quite right. I believe Batsford called Uhlmann's French book 'Winning with the French' and there are also some other very good (and more recent) books on the French. I don't want to compete with all these excellent books!

This doesn't exclude the possibility that I quite soon will write something on the French. I am also looking for a good subject for a solo book (one without a co-author). And one of several ideas is to write 'A Complete Opening Repertoire for the Club Player'. In such a book the French combined with a Dutch line would be quite an efficient way to handle the black part of the repertoire.

alyechin said...

On the French: There is no detailed coverage of the Rubinstein-Variation
3...dxe4 including "Fort Knox" (Neil McDonald in "how to play against e4" wrote one chapter about)and also no detailed coverage of the "Exchange-Variation", the Reti-Gambit (2.b3) or 2.f4 (like Nigel Davies in "1.e4 for the creative attacker").

Roman said...

Playing the Spanish from the White side myself, I also thought your book was very well put together!

Sverre Johnsen said...


The 3...dxe4 variation, including the Fort Knox variation is a very rational choice. Unfortunately I am for the moment unable to muster any enthusiasm for it. That may change of course, but it will take a specific move or idea which I currently don't have.

Sverre Johnsen said...


I am very pleased if the our Ruy Lopez book proves useful for White too. I consider the book my best effort so far and it's a pity that it's not selling too well.