Lost along the road to the King’s Gambit

John has finished Chapter 1 of the King’s Gambit. This does not mean that he has now started on Chapter 2 – this was done a long long time ago. Of the 22 chapters, only 3 remain; and none of them are too challenging.

Chapter 1 is mainly original analysis and spreads over 82 pages in the book. No wonder it was wearing him down.

I predict that this book is written in two weeks from now. Last I did prediction (read gambling on chess results) I lost 16 out of 16 bets. Luckily the betting agency sponsored the blitz event and I won my money back. Here is the prediction regarding some of our publications this year.

Vassilios Kotronias Kotronias on the King’s Indian – Fianchetto June
Richard Pert Playing the Trompowsky June
John Shaw The King’s Gambit June
Ntirlis/Aagaard Playing the French June/July
Emanuel Berg GM Repertoire – The French Defence Winawer July
Axel Smith Pump Up Your Rating July
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Attack and Defence August
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines Aug/Sep
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM6a – Beating the Anti-Sicilians Later
Danny Gormally Mating the Castled King Sep
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian & French Oct
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Preparation – Endgame Play Oct
Tibor Karolyi Mikhail Tal’s best games 1 Oct
Judit Polgar From GM to Top Ten – JP Teaches Chess 2 Oct
Jacob Aagaard GM Preparation – Thinking Inside the Box Later

130 thoughts on “Lost along the road to the King’s Gambit”

  1. Will GM Repertoire – The French Defence Winawer be a single volume, instead of two?
    I don’t see it in the ‘Coming soon’ section. I think having both French books come out (almost) togeather is great.

  2. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Interesting to see the Winawer book suddenly, I wonder if it will be paired with the French book, released as three with the Playing the French and the Pump Up Your Rating, or also with the King’s Gambit. I have a feeling it will be the Poisoned Pawn though.

  3. That still looks like a good, ambitious schedule but I’m sorry to see that GM6a “Beating the Anti-Sicilians” has slipped from June to a rather vague, indeterminate date of “later”.

    Ah well, I’ll just have to keep relying on Joe Gallagher’s 1994 book with the same title.

  4. There were lots of books about grunfeld, french or king’s indian lately, but I miss a book about the classical sicilian. There are just some outdated books on the market, so enough sales and profit should be guaranteed.

  5. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I notice that some Winawer-based repertoirebooks tend to have the main line after 6…Ne7 7. Qg4, with a sixthmove sideline, which I think is an interesting approach. Grandmasters seem to use those sixthmove lines as well, I am not sure if they can even be called sidelines really.

  6. Please stop publishing series of improvement books!! 😉 I have challenged myself to work through the yusupov series and only just finished the orange books (after about a year on and off)….. my wife gave me a very definite sigh of despair when I mentioned that after the 9 Yusupov books there is now another 6 book series of more advanced exercises to consider ;-).

    btw I am enjoying the process so far but must say that if Yusupov really thought these exercises were U1500 in the original German versions he has a few screws loose. I guess once you’ve been nr.3 in the world it’s hard to judge these things but at roughly 1900 strength I found some sections quite a challenge already.

    Finally a quick question if you have a minute. I travel a lot so have mainly been solving the exercises on various train journeys etc. which is when I have the time. In the introduction Yusupov states that it’s much better to set up the positions on a board…. what would you say are the big cons to solving them straight from the diagrams in the book?

    Warm wishes

    John B

  7. @John B
    This question was raised earlier in another blog entry, and if I’m paraphrasing Jacob correctly, it doesn’t really matter – just do what suits you best :-). I myself am doing most chapters from the diagrams, but some difficult chapters (mainly on strategy and positional play, where Yusupov gives relatively many moves in the solutions, without further diagrams) with a chess board. I agree with you comment on the difficulty. I’m now studying the second blue book chapter 15, and I barely passed the tests of chapters 13 and 14 on evaluating the position and planning. But I have the impression I’m learning a lot :-).

  8. @Mel Burt
    Are you kidding about Gallagher’s book? Only a few years ago QC published a good book by Experts on the Anti-Sicilians, and the first version of Ftacnik’s book is also pretty good on the anti-Sicilians…

  9. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Actually Jacob’s portion of the Experts on AntiSicilian book regarding the repertoire for 2. c3 Nf6 was my favourite of that book. Anti-Sicilians are quite annoying though, I do not know of any other opening where White avoids the main line so often. That is one reason why I also play the French. I also used to play against 2. c3 by 2…e6 to transpose into the French Advance. I was desperate enough to want to avoid a sideline of the Sicilian to transpose into the main line of a completely different opening. That also means I have much interest in the two upcoming French books for June and July.

  10. I bought your books Positional play and Strateg (Grandmaster preparation series). Im interested with which book do you recommend to start first for a player of 2100 Elo. Thanks for the answer.

  11. Jacob Aagaard

    @Mel Burt
    We have to be realistic about getting everything out. You know how many responsibilities I have Mel :-). (Mel and I are good friends and play for the same team here in Glasgow. He sometimes plays with Cathy in the club; and from the autumn, maybe also with Rebecca!).

  12. Jacob Aagaard

    What usually happens is that everyone realises this at the same time and you get an avalance of books on the same openings. It is better to just do what you find interesting.

  13. Jacob Aagaard

    @John B
    I do think that working with chess in 3D is important, but it is better working in 2D than not at all.

    Regarding the difficulties of estimating the level. I teach at a school in Edinburgh and was caught in a simple problem. My diagram on the screen did not have coordinates and the kids did not know them by heart! I could not find the place in CB where I had to turn them on, so we had to go with hilarious descriptions. Got it sorted now, but it is a clear example of how you forget the basics others have to learn until you see it.

    Yesterday we did Ke3, d3 vs. Ke8, White to win. The kids were all struggling. Chess is very very complicated.

  14. Jacob Aagaard

    Actually, if I have to use more than a few minutes on an exercise, I delay doing it till I have a board. Personal preference, not an advice. When I train the Danish national team, some use the board, others the sheets. It has nothing to do with rating.

    The main advice from my perspective is to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy. All good things flow from this state.

  15. Jacob Aagaard

    Definitely Positional Play. Strategic Play is very very difficult. It is one of the five most difficult books published, I think. (The worst is of course The Analytical Manual by Mark Dvoretsky, with Practical Chess Defence as a close second).

    The ideas in Positional Play you can use continuously anywhere. Strategic Play is a collection of very hard positions for the aspiring International. For someone rated 2100 I would recommend to spend max. 10 minutes on a position, guess and then read the solutions. There is a lot of good chess in the book and just reading it will be very useful for you. But do not feel that this is something you should be able to solve.

  16. My diagram on the screen did not have coordinates and the kids did not know them by heart! I could not find the place in CB where I had to turn them on, so we had to go with hilarious descriptions.

    The reinvention of good old descriptive notationg! I’ve seen these really old chess books from before they invented even that, and resorted to writing full sentences like “White moved the pawn directly in front of his King two squares forward” etc.

    It’s true, the things we know so well we don’t even think about them are a big challenge when teaching chess. We need to not only become conscious again of what is normally unconscious, but also explain in an engaging way stuff that seems ridiculously easy to us.

  17. @Ray
    Yes, the two books you refer to do cover Anti-Sicilian lines well but there are practical limits to the number of chess books I can buy (and absorb) so I will just wait and eventually leapfrog from 1994 to 2013 when GM6a does eventually arrive

  18. Wont some chapters of the kings gambit be out of date? They have been written years ago. But serious, i am happy if i have this book in my hands.

  19. @J.A. thanks, I finished with Giants of chess strategy (great book) and two books of Karpov Strategic wins and found out that I really enjoy reading books on positional chess. My chess understanding is after reading those books more or less focused on restriction of opponents ideas. Thats why I decided to buy your books, really enjoyed starting to read your books on three important questions, because such thinking makes me easier to play a game against stronger oponnent because opening play is something that I never studied so this kind of thinking helps me to prevent realisation of opponents ideas in opening. Thinking on such way players of aprox100-200 elo rating points better than me arent so scary to me anymore as they were before.

    Your chessbase dvds on middlegame are also very entetaining. 🙂 Sorry for bad english :).

    Keep on good work :).

    Best regards from Croatia.

  20. @Jacob Aagaard
    I do the same thing – the tactics, calculation, and endgame puzzles I can all solve within a few minutes without a board, whereas for the positional play and strategy puzzles I need a board to better absorb the solutions, in view of the less forcing character.

  21. Hello, Im considering to buy some of your books, but first, I am interested which do you recommend for a player of 2000 elo rating. Of coruse, books on middlegame.


    Tom :
    Will GM Repertoire – The French Defence Winawer be a single volume, instead of two?
    I don’t see it in the ‘Coming soon’ section. I think having both French books come out (almost) togeather is great.

    Hey Tom 🙂

    I have the same concerns as you though… Why won’t they be published in pair? The same question goes for GM 6 Najdorf a) & b)?

    Nevertheless, I will firstly reach for Play the French by Nikos, and then for both Berg’s GM Rep’s?

    Jacob, can you give us please more information about repertoire size, lines etc, and dates?



    Jacob Aagaard :
    Definitely Positional Play. Strategic Play is very very difficult. It is one of the five most difficult books published, I think. (The worst is of course The Analytical Manual by Mark Dvoretsky, with Practical Chess Defence as a close second).

    Which are the other three ones?

  24. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Well Black has quite some options in the Winawer as well. After 6…Ne7 7. Qg4, 7…cxd4, 7…Qc7, 7…0-0. After 6. bxc3, 6…Qc7, 6…Qa5, 6…Nc6, after 5. a3, 5…Ba5, after 4. e5, 4…Ne7, 4…b6, 4…Qd7… I wonder if Berg will cover one (or two?) or these systems.

  25. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I think if I remember correctly GM guides also are gameformat and the GM Repertoire as a treeformat/variationformat. If it is the Poisoned Pawn in the GM Repertoire Winawer, I suppose this makes more sense, since the treeformat is probably more suitable for the treeformat. The 3…c5 Tarrasch is not as sharp as the 3…Nf6/11…Qc7 Tarrasch for example, and 3. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 Be7 definitely depends more on knowledge of ideas than specific variations and memorisation. I would infer than Kortschnoj’s games will feature in the book.

  26. Earlier, Mel Burt said:

    “Ah well, I’ll just have to keep relying on Joe Gallagher’s 1994 book with the same title.”

    Oddly enough, 1994 was also the first year that Shaw’s King’s Gambit was due to be published. 🙂

    (I joke! I joke!)

  27. I don´t like the gameformat at all in an opening manual. When working with such a book I always restructure it for myself when entering the moves into my computer. A complete game score, often without annotations, just takes up space in a book which could be used better.

  28. Will the Tromp/Pseudo Tromp cover 1…e6 (Stopping Bg5)? I remember playing this against a tromp player to avoid his years of experience with it, and we got into a stonewall dutch structure where he was uncomfortable and I outplayed him.

  29. @Jacob Aagaard
    Of course not! Even in an opening book written in a tree structure I very much appreciate a chapter with well commented illustrative games. That´s how it should ideally be done in my opinion.

    But I don´t doubt it´s possible to write a good opening book in a gameformat as well. It´s just that so far I haven´t seen any which really satisfied me. And I still buy those books… 😉

  30. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I always knew 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 to be a solid line for Black in the French, similar to the Rubinstein, in that ideas are usually more important than concrete lines, with the possible exception of the Alekhine-Chatard Attack. Not often do I see heavy tactics such as in the Poisoned Pawn or the 3…Nf6/11…Qc7 Tarrasch where Black sometimes leaves the bishop on h2 for several moves, even though a knight is on g3. Unless you are referring to the new line with 7. f4 a6 8. Nf3 Nb6–I am not familiar with how play develops there.

  31. I recently played a correspondence game in the 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 line as black and it wasn’t what you would call ‘solid’: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. f4 a6 8. Nf3 c5 9. dxc5 Nc6 10. Qd2 Nxc5 11. O-O-O b5 12. Bd3 b4 13. Ne2 a5 14. f5 (a mistake I think) O-O 15. Nf4 b3 16. cxb3 Nb4 17. Kb1 exf5 18. Rhe1 Ne4 19. Qe3 a4 20. bxa4 Rxa4 21. a3 Qb7 (!) 0-1 (an early resignation, but I didn’t see a way for white to safe the game either)

  32. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Well I would rather play 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 than the Poisoned Pawn at least. Most of the lines are solid compared to that complex.

  33. Pre-ordered the Kings Gambit. Hope its soon!!!
    Can’t wait for the Tromp and Kings Indian defense books coming up!!!

  34. Tromp book question:
    Sure : 1. d4 d5 2.Bg5
    1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5
    1.d4 f5 2.Bg5
    Are the other move orders (i.e. 1.d4 e6 , 1.d4 g6 ..) in the book ?

  35. In terms of the hardback versions, is there a general rule as to whether the chess specialists stock them? It seems the London Chess Centre stocked some of the early ones, then stopped, now started again (eg Open Spanish, Benoni hardbacks seemed to be there)?

  36. Jacob Aagaard

    They just ran out of the others, I think. They bought them all for sure. I think NIC generally do not stock them, but most of the others do.

  37. 2000 :Hello, Im considering to buy some of your books, but first, I am interested which do you recommend for a player of 2000 elo rating. Of coruse, books on middlegame.

    Speaking as a player that was between 2000 and 2100 from August 2001 thru March 2013, and having just recently gotten into the 2100s, I can speak from experience of many of their books.

    “Chess Lessons” – EXCELLENT place to Start. This book alone shot me up from 2050 to over 2100.

    “The Grandmaster Battle Manual” – This is a great book to read if you have a lot of time on your hands. I go thru a game in this book if I have 2 to 3 hours to kill. This is NOT the ideal book to pull out for a 15-minute read, or to read without a board while sitting on the bus. However, the level of detail is critical to get over that next hump. Usually a 2000 player knows all the basics. We know how to execute pins and forks. That’s elementary to us. However, you take the first game of the Topalov/Anand match, where Anand blundered horribly on move 23, but his move doesn’t initially look much different than doing it a move later, and you start realizing the depth you have to analyze a position to get over the next hump. This is the 3rd of 4 games in Chapter 2, which I analyzed myself last week. It will be probably the end of 2013 before I finish this one.

    “Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation” – This is the first book of the series, and I’d wager the only one that a 2000 can probably knock off. I’m wagering when I get to the latter books (on chapter 6 now) that they’ll be much more difficult.

    “Advanced Chess Tactics” – I actually tried to read this book first, back before Chess Lessons, and as a 2050 player then, I can say this was extremely advanced. I’d recommend “Chess Lessons” as the place you start, and do like I’m doing, go thru the GM Battle Manual, before trying to tackle this one.

    I’m sure Jacob probably thinks very differently, but this at least gives you a perspective from the view of someone else around the same strength you are.

  38. I second the recommendation for Chess Lessons. A very good eye-opener with hundreds of clean training positions.

    I would add that the two Attacking Manuals as a definitive must read for a 2000 player. There is nothing comparable on how to systematically build up an attack and keep it fueled. What I found amazing is how consequently Jacob replaced variations by verbal explanations and assessments. These books deserve all the praise they received.

  39. Jacob Aagaard

    Very flattered. Obviously “Chess Lessons” is a complete masterpiece. I also think the Karpov books would suit someone around 2000 very well. Positional Play is definitely the most accessible and rewarding of the books from the Grandmaster Preparation series, while Strategic Play is brutal as anything.

    I found Kotronias book rather advanced, but incredibly rewarding. He is really a brilliant man.

  40. Gilchrist is a Legend

    If it is King’s Gambit, Trompowsky, and King’s Indian Fianchetto all simultaneiously released, then, the two French books in June-July. This year will be a French summer–I look forward to the hardback versions.

    I checked Coming Soon section and I see GM14: French Winawer now. However it says expected release End July 2013. So if Playing the French is finished earlier, does that mean a single release instead of the double French release?

  41. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Also the pre-order function is possible now for Trompowsky and King’s Indian Κοτρωνιάς (thaνks for correcting me Νικος). Ι shall pre-order now…

  42. BTW, I did notice the addition of the French book in the coming soon list (GM Rep 14). However, the title says it’s Volume One, the Image says it’s Volume Two.

  43. Jacob Aagaard

    Emanuel decided to write them the other way round from originally envisioned when we had the covers made. It will say volume one at some point in the near future.

  44. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Yes I noticed and thought so, but PLaying the French still says Expected Release June 2013, whilst GM14 is End July 2013. So perhaps Playing the French will be placed to July, maybe its book order page needs to edit the month release.

  45. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    Also I notice Berg plays the Poisoned Pawn frequently, so if I had to make an inference, it would be the Poisoned Pawn in GM14. I honestly am not enthuasiastic about this variation at all, favournig 7…0-0, but perhaps his book could change my opinion. Also this might be an idea for a trainingblogpost: How an improving player, especially those who strive for titles, deal with such theoretical openings, often where there is crazy play, using a database, book, computerprogrammes, etc. to enhance one’s repertoire. I have always been interested in how grandmasters handle openings such as the 6. Bg5 Najdorf, Grünfeld 7. Bc4, Botvinnik Semi-Slav etc. at a reasonable pace and handling, and of course, Winawer Poisoned Pawn. Do you think Berg would include a sixth-move alternative in his Winawer book?

  46. Hi, Im reading your (well, now its also my, cause I bought it 😉 ) Positional play and I m very, very happy that I bought this book. Probably will buy entire serie when it will be available.

    But must disappoint you abotu GM Topalovic from Croatia. If you ask Bogdan Lalic, he will probably say You the same. “GM” Topalovic is a buisness man from Varaždin, Croatia and aprox. with strenght of 1st category player. Because of prestige, he wanted to become a GM and won several games that he never played against his opponents. He is a living legend and nobody saw him play real chess with nobody.

  47. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I was trying to pre-order the King’s Indian and Trompowsky books, but the PayPal client does not respond at “Pay with your debit or credit card”. For some reason after clicking “Continue” it just does nothing..

  48. Off topic but there is a nice review of the Psakhis book on Chess Café. And for the guy who implied Nessie has been a work in progress for two decades it’s really only one. But we must be near the clearest sighting since the 1930s. Just kidding, but really anxious.

  49. These books raise a zillion possible questions, but one would sum them up: Is it possible to get those sample PDF´s at least with the contents of them?

  50. @Jacob Aagaard
    Hi Jacob, is there any particular order you recommend for studying the GM Prep series? Given the brutality of Strategic Play it seems that the series is at least not published in any specific order :-).

  51. @k.r.:
    “Can we say that a “hook” as its described in Positional play is similar to minority attack of pawns?”
    I’m not sure how it’s described in PP, but generally a ‘hook’ in such context is the enemy pawn with which your pawn storm / push will make contact. For example if the other guy play h6, it gives you a hook to play g2 -g4 – g5. You can formulate it in active or passive language.
    Minority attack or not is irrelevant. The hook for the standard minority attack would be the pawn c6 though, and it is considered a concession which makes the pawn storm quicker. Just count the moves needed until the pawns make contact.

  52. I haven’t read, or even bought yet, the book on Positional Play. I just have the Calculation one at the moment. So maybe everything I say here is garbage (Jacob can probably either confirm or correct what is said below), but I’ve always understood a hook as being specifically a weakness resulting from advancing a pawn, encouraging a pawn storm from the other side, and that hooks are typically in front of the King.

    For example, the fact that White played 1.d4 to me doesn’t give me the impression that it’s a “hook” for c5 or e5, but maybe it is.

    As for the Minority Attack scenario, when you refer to c6, I assume you mean the minior attack that often occurs in the Exchange QGD (or similar idea for Black on c3 in the Exchange Caro-Kann). Maybe that’s a hook and I just never understood the terminology, but I’ve never viewed that as a hook. It’s more to me simply breaking up a pawn chain, and creating a weakness in the form of a backwards pawn (or isolated Queen pawn if Black advances or takes on b5).

    Moves like …f6, …g6, or …h6 with your King castled Kingside or …a6, …b6, or …c6 with your King castled Queenside, are more of what I picture when someone starts talking about hooks, and more commonly the a-pawn, c-pawn, f-pawn, or h-pawn as they are only protected once by a pawn and after which pieces are responsible for guarding, assuming the central two are advanced, whereas the b-pawn or g-pawn is covered twice by pawns, and therefore, at least to me, weaker scenarios of illustrating the downside of creating a hook for your opponent.

    To me, the most classic case of a hook is in the Rubinstein Variation of the Nimzo-Indian. There is always that delimma of when Black should play h6 and when he shouldn’t. There are even different move orders that result in the same position with Black actually “gaining a tempo” in one versus the other, but that gained tempo is in the form of h7-h6, and arguments go back and forth all the time, for and against the move, one side saying it prevents White from launching pieces off of g5, others saying it merely creates a “hook” for White.

    There are plenty of other examples, but if someone asked me to find a game that illustrates the concept of a hook, first place I’d look is in Nimzo-Indian games from a database.

    I’m sure Jacob will have plenty to say contrary to what I put up here! 🙂

  53. I really enjoy Jacobs books, im very happy that im learning new stuff from his books.

    As hook and minority attack, I was thinking more on a classic game between Marshall and Capablanca where Capa destroyed white with his a pawn.

    Didnt expect to get such a debate on my question :D. I m really boring to my chess friends in club making propaganda for Jacobs Positional play, maybe im hooked on this book :D. The same affect had Karpov strategic wins 1 & 2 from quallity books and McDonald Chess giants of strategy.

    There is something in the Scotlands air that makes chess writers writing good chess books. Perhaps whiskey? 😀

  54. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I see the Coming Soon section has thre 1. e4 GM Guide books now, with pre-order functions. And also Playing the French and GM14 have Pre-order functions as well. I think I will pre-order five titles today, probably the most I have ever done..

  55. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Sorry I committed an error, no pre-order for GM Guide 1. e4 books yet. But all of the June-July opening books do have it.

    @Jacob Aagaard

    I think the ultimate Winawer coverage would be both 7…vxd4/7…Qc7 and 7…0-0 with either 8. Bd3 Nbc6 or 8…f5, but I think this would be an enormous amount of theory.

    I also noticed that the hardback is €34,99 for the King’s Indian book, €32,99 for GM14, €29,99 for the French book and Trompowsky. If the prices are based on page count, that King’s Indian book must be quite large..

  56. Any future plans for some 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 (e.g. 3. Nc3 Bb4; 3. Nf3 b6; 3. g3 c5) GM guides or repertoire books for black? Am very slowly building a “quality chess repertoire” around 1. e4 c6 with black and 1. c4. with white.

    Warm wishes.


  57. Jacob Aagaard

    @John B
    3.Nc3 Bb4 and 3.g3 d5 yes. We already have 3.Nf3 c5 and 3.g3 c5 in GM Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni. No QID planned at this point.

  58. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I meant the GM Guide 1. e4 books were added to the Coming Soon section, but yes no pre-order function yet. But I suppose it does not matter too much anyway, I already pre-ordered five of the titles in the Coming Soon section today..

  59. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Greater than 600 pages for only the Fianchetto King’s Indian is quite a long repertoire. I wonder how long the lines like the Mar Del Plata will be..

    GM14 at €32,99 seems quite long a book as well. Hopefully some alternatives to Poisoned Pawn..

  60. Jacob Aagaard :
    @John B
    3.Nc3 Bb4 and 3.g3 d5 yes. We already have 3.Nf3 c5 and 3.g3 c5 in GM Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni. No QID planned at this point.

    Can you give us any more info on the Nimzo Indian project?

  61. Gilchrist is a Legend

    3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7
    3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3
    3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. dxc5
    3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6
    3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7
    3. e5

    That will be the order that I have already formulated to read Playing the French. Cannot wait to receive it. And the other four books that I pre-ordered…

  62. Michael Agermose Jensen

    Jacob Aagaard :
    I don’t like whiskey and Neil is English . But thank you for the support!

    And it’s only in Ireland and across the big pond they call it whiskey. The scotch kind is whisky.

  63. @Jacob Aagaard
    That’s really a pity, since I love the Slav, it’s one of the main openings and there haven’t been any decent books on the main lines lately (except the Sakaev book, but that’s only dealing with ‘minor’ lines). Do you by any chance have any other plans on the Slav?

  64. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I am not sure if the Poisoned Pawn is lost, it is that the position is simply too crazy if one wants to play solidly. I am sure others have this strategy as well, as I play the French as a secondary opening to the Sicilian (Najdorf), and I already have to play some crazy positions there. When I want to rest myself and play more solidly, playing the Poisoned Pawn is not exactly a rest, in fact it probably is crazier than some Najdorf positions. Even in the Najdorf not often can White advance his pawn to h7 before move 20..

  65. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I also wished for that Slav GM Repertoire, but at least there is still the Grünfeld GM Repertoire by Avrukh and Petrov’s Beonni.

  66. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I think 7…0-0 and 7…cxd4/7…Qc7 are the two main systems after 7. Qg4. One that leads to positional, sometimes defensive positions, and one that leads to absolute mayhem. I used to play the poisoned Pawn in the Najdorf, and the complications and memorisation there meant I lost even to 2100s as well as 2400s/2500s in that line. When not in the mood for a tacticsbased position, I do not feel comfortable with trying its Winawer equivalent..

  67. @Gilchrist is a Legend
    I was joking when I called the French Poisoned Pawn ‘busted’. If I want to play solid I play 6…Qa5 and 7…Qa4 or 3…Nf6, but since the French is my main opening I do like to have a sharp option in my arsenal as well…

    The great thing about the French (and the Slav as well) is that it’s so flexible. Indeed you can lose to lower rated players if your memory deserts you, but the upside is that you can also win against much higher rated players.

  68. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I also play 6…Qa5/7…Qa4 to play solidly, and with the French book to be published within two months, 3…Nf6 will probably solidify as my main choice.

    True that the crazy positions offer opportunities to win against higher rated players, but I have tended to perform badly there. I used to play the Najdorf Poisoned Pawn and often lost before move 30 due to forgetting theory. In the Poisoned Pawn Line with 10. f5 and 15…Be7, the move 17. Rf1!! i n 2003 (which I would consider the novelty of the decade) caused me to try to study and memorise those positions past move 30, and often forget the move sequences. Having lost to both a GM, a 2200, and a 2100 in that line around move 25 my frustration probably caused me to stop playing such crazy lines. Since I play more positionally than when I was younger, I am not completely comfortable with the Winawer Poisoned Pawn.

    Surely many still play it, but if I had to play 6…Ne7, I would always choose 7…0-0. I prefer defending and then play for a counterattack than to allow White to have a pawn on h7 before move 20, but that is just me. For some reason the line simply scares me. However strangely I would not like to play as White in that line either..

  69. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I do not play 5. Bg5 against the Semi-Slav, for the same reason. I usually have no idea what transpires in the positions and I have a feeling that I will lose at any moment when I play it in a tournament game. I play Avrukh’s b3-style system instead, and usually the Catalan. But when I was younger, I used to play any crazy opening. I still remember the hours of time spent analysing the Perenyi Attack for both colours, but no more. I think after the French book I will start to centre on playing the 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 and 4. e5 with either 7…Be7 or 7…a6 lines. They are generally not too crazy, or at least compared to the Botvinnik Semi-Slav or the Winawer Poisoned Pawn lines.

  70. Gilchrist is a Legend

    The Botvinnik Semi-Slav is probably the craziest opening of all,with the Winawer Poisoned Pawn is a candidate for second place. But I would buy GM14 if there is the Poisoned Pawn. Perhaps I will be reconvinced and play it..

  71. @Gilchrist is a Legend
    I prefer the McCutcheon against 4.Bg5, since it is similarly unbalanced as the Winawer – but without a poisoned pawn variation. At the moment the Winawer is my preferred variation, but the coming books might convince me to switch to 3…Nf6 as my default option. It will be a tough choice, since I’m sure both books will be very good :-). Against 3.Nd2 I will be sticking to 3…Nf6 and 11…Qc7. Against the Advance I play 5…Bd7, but I’m curious what Jacob and Nikos will be recommending. You’re right the poisoned pawn (like the Botwinnik) is a bit like gambling, and it would probably be sensible to switch to something more ‘normal’, but I enjoy the process of playing these lines, and lately I have become less concerned with results (within limits of course) than with just having fun while playing chess. By the way, I used to play the Rustemov variation after 7…0-0 (before it was more or less busted) and there are some hypersharp lines there as well.

  72. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I am not sure what will be recommended against the Advance in the French book, but I usually play the positional 6…c4 lines. McCutcheon is good too, but I am interested in that new plan in 4…Be7 with …a6/…Nb6. I am still curious about what is the main line in 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3 cxd4 6. Bc4.Actually I have been wondering since 2011..

    I think 7…0-0 is fine, with either 8…Nbc6 or 8…f5. Rustemov’s move 8…Qa5 probably has some problems now, but I think with some thorough work perhaps someone can renew the line someday. But since there are two other good moves, there is probably no need to do so. I have not seen 7…0-0 in any repertoire book in recent years though. It would be a great addition if Berg had it analysed in GM14, but I do not think that would be so.

    1. Jacob Aagaard

      We do not give these details until the books go to print. Because we are asked all the time and with more and more details…

  73. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I think you shall be in luck with GM French Defence, Volume 2 (non-3. Nc3) because if you look in your database Berg plays 3…Nf6/11…Qc7 quite frequently. I was studying this line last year and I saw Berg’s name in the gamescores very often. I also saw games from him in addition to the Poisoned Pawn Winawer, 7…0-0, 6…Qc7, etc.

  74. Gilchrist is a Legend

    The three books will cover a heavy amount of material, since if I remember correctly I think it was said before that Berg’s GM Repertoire books and Playing the French have different lines for each response: 3. Nc3 Nf6, 3. Nd2 c5 for Playing the French, with 3. Nc3 Bb4, 3. Nd2 Nf6 for the GM Repertoire. I have no idea what is recommended for the Advance for either, but to be honest 3. Nc3 and 3. Nd2 are probably more bothersome. I used to play the Advance in the last year of playing 1.e4, until I switched to 1. d4 to have a positional game, but I did not like playing against 6…c4. Also the 3…Nf6/11…Qc7 line can be quite sharp sometimes–Black’s bishop can stay on h2 en prise in quite many lines.

  75. Gilchrist is a Legend

    That sounds like there will be much variety if one uses both books simultaneously then. Hopefully a positional line against the Advance is covered, not many books cover 6…c4 lines.

  76. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Well surely they will be. It is also nice that the following publication batches will be three books simultaneously each. And some say that there many French books available, but I think more should be published. It is a major opening anyway…

  77. Gilchrist is a Legend

    The combination of both French repertoires is quite wide, I think it would be useful to have both as a repertoire with a high level of variety (GM14 + Playing the French). 500+ pages of French repertoire is never a bad thing.

  78. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Although if there are two Winawer systems, that alone can occupy at least 250 pages temselves.

  79. On may 9th, it was predicted to take another 2 weeks for completion of KG. Can we congratulate John finally? Not that we wouldn’t wait a bit longer…

  80. @JohnShaw
    I have been thinking about including King’s Gambit in reportoire.
    Should someone play as main opening use, 2nd alternative or just occasional surprise value?
    After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 ef , due you recommend 3.Nf3 or Bc4 as having an advantage?
    Is there a disadvantage entering the king’s gambit via a vienna opening first and then transposing?

  81. Jacob Aagaard

    Congratulate him on expanding the book even further! He delivered the final big chapter today. Now there are only three tiny ones to tidy up, like why the Muzio and similar do not work. Nothing too demanding. I still hope that this book can go to the printer at the end of next week… But possibly this is too optimistic by a few days.

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