Attacking the Spanish reviewed

We were delighted to receive the following excellent review from Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen (FIDE 2680) of Attacking the Spanish by Sabino Brunello.

“Attacking the Spanish gives a repertoire for Black against the Spanish and uses the atypical concept of giving three lines instead of the usual one, a concept previously used with success in Beat the KID, (Quality Chess 2008). The three lines are: the Schliemann (3…f5), the Marshall Attack as well as the popular ‘Gajewski’ gambit with 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 d5!?. It is noticeable that all three lines lose a pawn, but the Marshall still has a reputation for solidity and is working quite well at the top level at the moment.

All the variations are well researched, and in the two more spectacular variations, the Schliemann and the Gajewski, the author is fully objective, pointing out why Black has had problems in these lines in the past.

The book has a lot of new analysis, but the lines are build firmly on modern grandmaster practice; for example, the Schliemann is built on Radjabov’s repertoire.
A good book by an author who tells you everything he knows about the openings. A great debut.”

Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen

1 thought on “Attacking the Spanish reviewed”

  1. CHECKPOINT by Carsten hansen,

    The Scots don’t like the Spanish

    This month we look at two books with recommendations for Black against the Spanish Opening (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5), one examines multiple gambit options, while the other is a repertoire book. In the case of Attacking the Spanish, this is the third title from the Scottish powerhouse of chess publishing, Quality Chess, that deals with the Ruy Lopez from Black’s perspective, and because of their efforts thus far Spanish enthusiasts on the white side of the board are surely looking forward to the publishers finding another opening to pick on. Incidentally, all the authors featured this month, aside from those on the DVDs, are from countries in close vicinity to the Adriatic Sea.

    Attacking the Spanish by Sabino Brunello, Quality Chess 2009, Figurine Algebraic Notation, Paperback, 284pp., $29.95

    The back cover tell us that the author “is one of the leaders of the youthful revival in Italian chess” and that he “is still a teenager, but his rating is already 2550 and increasing daily. By the time this book is printed he will probably be a grandmaster.” This is an odd embellishment to say the least. A quick check on FIDE’s website shows that he has yet to become a grandmaster (at least the title hasn’t been awarded yet) and his rating is down. However, the poorly worded promotion was completely unnecessary, because he is already a stronger player than most authors today.

    This title is different from most other opening books in that it focuses exclusively on three different variations. All three are gambit continuations that have been played several times by top ten players in recent years. The table of contents is as follows:

    Introduction (2 pages)
    The Schliemann
    1 Schliemann: 4 d3 (30 pages)
    2 Schliemann: 4 Nc3 (32 pages)
    3 Schliemann: Minor Lines (24 pages)
    The Gajewski
    4 Gajewski: 11 d3 and 11 exd5 (26 pages)
    5 Gajewski: 11 d4 (34 pages)
    The Marshall
    6 Anti-Marshall (30 pages)
    7 Marshall: 12 d4 (40 pages)
    8 Marshall: 12 d3 (34 pages)
    9 Marshall: Modern Lines (22 pages)
    Index of Variations (5 pages)
    To the average player with some knowledge of opening theory the Schliemann (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5) and the Marshall (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 c3 d5) should be familiar names, whereas the Gajewski (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 c3 d6 9 h3 Na5 10 Bc2 d5!?) is of newer vintage, and may be unfamiliar to many.

    While the Schliemann has been played by Radjabov, as well as Aronian and Adams, it has never been popular at top level. It lacks the dynamic potential of the Marshall Attack, and has mostly been used as a surprise weapon. In the eighty-six pages of coverage in this book, Brunello provides the most detailed and accurate coverage of this opening to date. However, his conclusion on the critical lines in the Schliemann is quite telling: “The critical test of our repertoire came in variation C2) after 7 Qe2! Be7 8 Bxc6 dxc6 9 Nxe5. Black must certainly demonstrate some precise knowledge here, but I believe his position to be quite defensible. It is important for the second player to understand when to swap down to an opposite coloured bishop position, and I hope that after absorbing the contents of the present chapter the reader will feel equipped to make that decision. When carried out correctly, this should lead to a position that the second player ought to be able to draw without many problems.”

    Each of Brunello’s chapters begin with an introduction to the lines covered, the general themes, central ideas, and theoretical highlights. The theoretical coverage follows, and then he presents the reader with a conclusion that highlights the most important issues in the particular line. All in all, this makes the chapters a joy to read. However, in addition to just presenting the material on a given line, with the current theory and the established evaluations, Brunello goes much further, offering the reader a smorgasbord of new ideas, theoretical novelties and improvements over existing theory. He has been kind enough to assign them with the Informator novelty symbol, which helps draw our attention to these instances. I think that in a work of this kind, it can be quite useful for players of either color to see where they need to pay attention and put some extra work in if they intend to use the line in question.

    The material is very advanced, particularly in the coverage of the Marshall, which for a long time has been Brunello’s main weapon to counter the Spanish. The author warns the reader about the vast volume of variations in the main lines after 12 d4, whereas it appears that 12 d3 is currently more critical for the time being.

    This is an important and very interesting book. The young author presents the material in a very mature fashion, while injecting plenty of youthful enthusiasm into the coverage and analysis. For anyone playing the Spanish from either side, this book is an absolute must buy.

    My assessment of this book: 5/5

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