Quality Chess Newsletter – Ntirlis week – Playing 1.e4 e5 and a Tarrasch update

Dear Quality Chess Reader,

3rd February was the official publication date of Playing 1.e4 e5 – A Classical Repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis. This book offers a complete repertoire for Black against 1.e4 based on 1…e5, with the Breyer Variation against the Spanish the backbone of the repertoire. Ntirlis’s previous books have been well received, and we think this is his best work yet. An excerpt can be read here.

Since my last newsletter, we have also published Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 vs The Sicilian II by GM Parimarjan Negi and Grandmaster Repertoire 6A – Beating the Anti-Sicilians by GM Vassilios Kotronias.

Those of you who enjoyed Ntirlis’s earlier work Grandmaster Repertoire 10 – The Tarrasch Defence (co-written with GM Jacob Aagaard in 2011) will be particularly interested in the chess files below. In the pdf Ntirlis updates The Tarrasch Defence to show how the repertoire has stood the test of time. The pgn file gives the games referred to in the pdf.

John Shaw
Chief Editor

Quality Chess

159 thoughts on “Quality Chess Newsletter – Ntirlis week – Playing 1.e4 e5 and a Tarrasch update”

  1. Of course below 2000 ELO all three results are possible even in lines such as dxc5. The Tarrasch book is great and the update welcome.

    That being said is the Nimzo book a 2016 project?

  2. @ RB: It seems QC has a new policy to improve the accuracy of the estimated publication dates: they will from now on publish the schedule after the books have been published.


    On Niggemann site you have Nikos’ review:

    “Insgesamt ist dies eines der besten Bücher, die ich je in Händen gehalten habe. Durch die vielen Erklärungen erscheint dieses Buch sehr angenehm leicht und der Schreibstil des Autoren weiß ebenfalls zu unterhalten.

    IM Dirk Schuh

    Februar 2016”

  4. @Ray: I don’t see the KID-Exchange as a big problem, there’s enough play left.
    But as I fail to understand most of the Kingsindian my main opening to 1.d4 is the Nimzoindian/Modern Benoni. By the way, Petrovs book is excellent.
    Unfortunately there’s not much on the Semi-Tarrasch besides Pinters two volumes. Might be a good opening. Maybe someday I switch to the Cambridge-Springs or Orthodox or something like that.

  5. Quality Chess has covered all mains openings against 1.d4. Grünfeld, King’s Indian, Slav and Semi-slav. But what about the Nimzo-Indian ? Il would be great to have a repertoire on this essential classical opening…

  6. @ Thomas: I agree Petrov’s book is excellent. I also play the Modern Benoni, but not the Nimzo-Indian. The Semi-Tarrasch and QGD are too passive for my taste.

  7. @ Thomas: PS: how often did you encounter 6.dxc5 in your Tarrasch games? E.g. in the French I rarely encounter the Exchange Variation. I.m.o. white has nothing in the 6.dxc5 variation, the only problem for black is that it’s difficult to win. But I would expect that ambitious white players wouldn’t play 6.dxc5, or am I wrong?

  8. @Ray: I never encountered it in a tournament game – probably people want to win against me 🙂 . But still I don’t want to allow it. It’s not the only reason for giving up the Tarrasch. A later dxc5 is also not too much fun for black. Unfortunately White is not forced to play 9. Bg5.

    I never had problems with black in the exchange french but I agree I didn’t see it very often in serious games.

    Is the Semi-Tarrasch really that passive? I liked Naiditschs win against Kramnik!

  9. Yeah! A Nimzo book!!!

    You will have in me a customer, even if I do not know if I’ll be able to study the material. I’ve always got the feeling that the nimzo is something you need deep positional understanding to play well, so I always wanted to play that defense in order to gain such a knowledge.

    On Niggemann site you have Nikos’ review:
    “Insgesamt ist dies eines der besten Bücher, die ich je in Händen gehalten habe. Durch die vielen Erklärungen erscheint dieses Buch sehr angenehm leicht und der Schreibstil des Autoren weiß ebenfalls zu unterhalten.
    IM Dirk Schuh
    Februar 2016”

    Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

    “Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve ever held in my hands.”

    Sounds like a promising review.

  11. > “Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve ever held in my hands.”

    as ‘Shuh’ means ‘shoe’ in german, i would take this review with a pinch of salt.

  12. I just have a feeling to say this publically. I am a John Shaw fan and really looking forward to seeing Playing 1.e4 in print. Especially after what he found today!

  13. @Jacob Aagaard
    That is not nice!:@
    We are all John Shaw Fans….so you don’t have to make us even more suffer… But you can make up for it : Just give us little new informations about the book….;-)

  14. @Wolfsblut
    John found a novelty over a corr. game that seems to kill an entire book… What more can I say? Only that this is the final line in the book done. And he did it in his lunch break. What a monster!

  15. Jacob, do meant that John found a refutation of the line he was going to recommened and now he has to go back to the drawing board..?

  16. Hello guys. Yes, 6.dxc5 is a boring line, but latest evidence show that Black has easy equality here. I didn’t want to put that line as well in the newsletter so not to make it very big and unreadable.

    By the way, one friend GM emailed me after reading the newsletter that “if i have to play this 9.dxc5 against the Tarrasch to get an edge, i’d rather play 1.e4 and fight for more against the Najdorf!”

  17. @Jacob Aagaard
    The supense is killing me… Very much looking forward to 8 QC new books! Shaw 1+2, Avrukh 1B, Razuvaev, Mikhalevski, Kotronias on the KID volume 4, Negi Scilian volume 3 – and what’s number 8? Maybe Gelfand+Aagaard volume 2?

  18. @Ray
    I am happy to say which 8 books I am working on. Gelfand 2 is a major book of course, it is also the main thing on my mind right now. Smirin’s book. Helping Tiger a little bit, just conversations really. Yusupov’s new book, which is basically ready for publication, just needs a check and a bit of indexing. 2x John, KID 4 and one of my own books.

  19. @JacobAagaard But when can we expect a new catalogue and a new pub. schedule? Next week or in two weeks? We are all very excited, and didn’t see a schedule since November…

  20. The Doctor :
    I reckon it’s in the Scandinavian!

    I think you would probably be right.
    If so I think I know which book too,
    although I think it is a good book,
    but this would only be speculation.

  21. Are there any plans for GM repertoire 6b?
    The 6.Bg5, Nbd7 chapter really needs to be updated.

    I did not like Ftacnics recommendation in the 6.Bg5, e6 7.f4, h6 line.
    In the most critical variation white has an extra pawn in the endgame
    with good winning chances. This is suffering for black.

  22. @ Jacob Aagaard: Thanks, that’s some exciting news! Looking forward to hearing more about the books of Smirin and Tiger (maybe a book on the Reti?!), as well as your own book (Thinking inside the Box? – or do you have another project going?)

  23. @Nico
    Tiger has not even been able to clarify to himself what the book is about, but a lot has been written already. This is really happening, after 10 years of pushing.

  24. Next survey:
    Which opening did John find a refutation for a line:
    A Scotch
    B Scandinavian
    C Sicilian
    D French
    E Caro Kann
    F Pirc/modern
    G Alekhine
    H other

    I can’t decide between A or B at the moment.

  25. @Ray
    Yes, I am working on and off on Box, but also on about 10 other books of my own. I still collect exercises all the time, especially because Boris and Sam keep demanding new material.

    A curious thing. I was crushed completely in the 4NCL by a young talented English junior of Chinese heritage, who after the game told me that all the top Chinese players use my training books, even the ones that speak no word of English. I don’t really get upset losing anymore, but in this case I was actually standing up from the board in absolute joy!

  26. @ Jacob Aagaard
    Wow, that’s a lot of books in the pipeline! I guess it’s always nice for a master if his pupil defeats him 🙂

  27. My guess is that Smirin will write a book about the Sicilan Kan.

    Tigers book will be something original and not about openings.

    What happened with Marins new project?

  28. Kotronias on the Sämisch Kingsindian is also something to look forward to.
    6.-e5 which he usually plays seems to be in some kind of crisis lately.

  29. 6.Bg5 in the Najdorf is giving me a headache.
    Want to avoid forced draws.

    How is 6.-e6 7.f4, Qc7 holding up these days?
    I consider meeting 8.Bxf6, gxf6 9.Qd2 with the dynamic 9.-b5.

    What about 9.Be2? Can black play 9.-b5 here too or is the less
    dynamic 9.-Nc6 mandatory? Maybe 10.Bh5 is a problem.

  30. Jacob Aagaard :
    John found a novelty over a corr. game that seems to kill an entire book… What more can I say? Only that this is the final line in the book done. And he did it in his lunch break. What a monster!

    This mother of all teasings may buy you another year of waiting, but I wish John would have found a keyboard instead 🙂

    Putting jokes aside, do you think a subscription model (sort of kickstarter) can be interesting for launching some books, hire writers etc ? this is quite different from classic editor job waiting for authors to come with a book, and you shouldn’t get uberized as the editing part in your books is very consistent and valuable.

  31. @ Bebbe
    That’s funny – Negi is going out of his way to avoid forced draws for white in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf. As long as both sides want to avoid a forced draw, I guess there is no problem 🙂 . I think generally the type of player who plays the Najdorf as black or the 6.Bg5 variation as white are both bloodthirsty and not looking for a forced draw.

  32. By the way, I like the delayed Poisoned Pawn. You then avoid the forced draws in the f5-variation, and against the line with e5 I like Andriasyan’s recommendation with …Nd5!? There doesn’t seem to be an easy forced draw for white there, but i.m.o. it’s a draw all the same. Maybe you should play a less forcing opening (e.g. the Modern Tiger) if you don’t like forced draws. If you play a really forcing opening such as the Najdorf, in most lines it will turn out that either it’s a (forced) draw or it’s winning for white or black.

  33. @Andre’
    No, not that one. Smerdon’s book is quite good actually; he takes a line that is entirely s*** and almost makes it playable. But of course, take the money and run works against gambits from time to time. But there is always counterplay.

  34. I want to keep the Najdorf in my repertoire.
    It keeps you young and test the tactical ability and your memory.
    This is good to avoid Alzheimer.

  35. @Bebbe

    I don’t know if there is a forced draw after 7…Qc7, but I don’t like it. I guess you have studied Negi’s book?

  36. Ray,

    No I have not, but I will purchase it soon to make up my mind on what to choose.
    I guess it will be rather difficult to decide.

  37. @ Bebbe
    You should definitely buy Negi’s book on the Najdorf; no serious Najdorf player can do without it i.m.o. Then it’s simply a matter of choosing which of the critical Negi lines you like best from the black point of view.

  38. @Jacob Aagaard
    But sugar intake and glucose intolerance is not directly linked. A very complex subject like chess. Read some of Jacob Guardiol’s articles on the matter. Btw, the brain needs glucose to function well.

    (Maybe you mean food with lots of refined sugar)?

  39. @ The Doctor

    I Think it’s The Scandanavian also. I have been discussing the merits of the mainline offered in the newest repertoire Book on the Scandi on another website, and what was apparent to me is that the line seems to be hanging by a thread.

    Curiously Tiviakov himself did a video in Chessbase Magazine # 167 concluding that the Scandi with 3…Qd6 was no longer playable.

    Food for thought.

  40. I think the Scandinavian is a candidate. But in that case it could be refutation of two books, right (Kotronias’ and Kasparov’s)?

  41. Whilst I hope I’m proved wrong in the very near future, we have been waiting for John’s books for so long that the question remains will this novelty ever see the light of day anyway….in the meantime I don’t think Quality Chess should be making comments suggesting the refutation of lines in other publishers works without being more explicit especially when it can, as it has done here, create speculation around a book from an author that also writes for Quality Chess….

    Jacob would be the first to jump and down if someone passed such comment about a future book from Quality Chess!

  42. Great books are to be expected from QC soon. Is there perhaps any forecast when the last Karolyi volume (part 3 on Tal’s games) will become availabel?

  43. Maybe Tarrasch defence would stay popular had Kasparov not abandoned it at a point in his career.I think it is a bit interesting but there are not many top players who play it.

  44. @Jonas
    http://www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity/ – This is where I have this from. When I say sugar, I mean this not as a Doctor talking at a conference (I am neither), but as a lay person talking normal language, where sugar simply means free sugars.

    Fruit is known to be good for you and is full of sugar, but it is all bound up in fibre. I am sure we will agree entirely on this?!

  45. @Michael
    The book is written. This was the end. And no, I do not think anyone should lecture on how we are allowed to speak in our own house about ourselves; but I guess I am just misreading you.

  46. The Doctor :
    Bloody hell 6 yrs!! How the heck did you get the funding
    Mine took just 3!

    Well, I guess my supervisor after 4 years didn’t feel like not letting me graduate after spending a fortune on me :–D

  47. @Jacob Aagaard
    You should be PROUD Jacob! If your opponents kills you at the board… with the best weapon available at the whole Universe… it must be Quality Chess (weapon). It must be really funny to be crushed by the ideas your are working hard with your colleagues (and published these as GM’s rep books).

    BTW. I will not be very surprised if after the next World Championship – the challenger says: “Yes, I won the title due to using Quality Chess books, ideas and books – you cannot ask for better quality and creativity source” 🙂

  48. I am just looking at the new Ntirlis book, and am very impressed at the research he did. I am only as far as the Vienna section, but I thought the Modern Vienna Chess Stars book was sort of a hidden treasure, and Ntirlis quotes it and the Lokander book. Again that is a very high standard of research.

  49. @Jacob Aagaard Very happy to hear about the Nimzo book. Will there be a companion volume offering someone against 3.Nf3 and the Catalan?

    Also regarding the refutation of a competitor author’s book, is it the Flexible Sicilian by ChessStars?

  50. @John Johnson
    I fully agree – it’s a great repertoire with splendid explanations! Only the Breyer is not really to my taste, so I play the Open Spanish instead, using Mikhalevski’s repertoire..

  51. By the way, @ Nikos: Am I wrong, or is the Scotch Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Bc4) missing from your book? I can’t find it in the index, but maybe I’m looking wrong? If it’s missing, I think it should have been added.

  52. @Ray
    The line you give is not the “Scotch Gambit”, but a weird, rare (and very bad?) gambit. The real Scotch Gambit 🙂 comes after 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 and this is covered in the 2Knights section, a transposition i am sure it is mentioned in the text.

  53. @James

    Is it possible to answer the Catalan with the Tarrasch? For example something along the lines of:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 c5

    To me it looks like a Tarrasch where Black for some reason has rushed to play Nf6 but it does not seems to matter much as White has committed to a g3 scheme already.

    The QI move order is more troublesome for me, as a transposition to a Tarrasch is not possible:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5

    and now White has 4.Bg5 and I don’t know if we can transpose to lines covered in the nimzo by playing 4…Bb4 or we have to settle for a classic QGD line.

  54. James,

    You can play the Benoni against both 3.Nf3 and 3.g3.
    Then you have Petrovs excellent book.

    If you want something more solid the Bogoindian can
    be played against both 3.Nf3 and 3.g3.

    Or play 3.-d5 against both. If white plays 3.Nf3, d5 4.Nc3 then play 4.-Bb4.

  55. A fourth repertoire is to play the black knights tango 3.-Nc6 against both 3.Nf3 and 3.g3.

    A fifth is to play the Queens indian against 3.Nf3 combined with any of the alternatives mentioned against 3.g3. Or to play the original Budapest-like 3.- e5!? 4.dxe5, Ng4 against 3.g3.

  56. A seventh choice which I am not recommending to serious players is to play the Snake Benoni against both 3.Nf3 and 3.g3. 3.Nf3, c5 4.d5, exd5 5.cxd5, Bd6 or 3.g3, c5 4.d5, exd5 5.cxd5, Bd6.

  57. @Nikos Ntirlis
    Playing 1.e4 e5 looks like a really great book and I will use it as my guideline against 1.e4 in the next future.

    A few minor lines I haven´t found covered, perhaps intentionally:

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Be2 heading for a reversed Philidor after 3…Nf6 4.d3
    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d3 with similar intentions
    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.Nd2 hoping for an improved version of 6.Bd3
    1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e5 Nh5 5.Qe2 intending to go for g2-g4 later. Probably not good but maybe not so easy to deal with unprepared.

  58. @Jacob Aagaard
    “John found a novelty over a corr. game that seems to kill an entire book… What more can I say? Only that this is the final line in the book done. And he did it in his lunch break. What a monster!”

    This book was not on my to buy list, but after the above teaser, I simply have no choice now. 🙂

  59. Hi Mr. Aagaard,

    I know, this is not the right blog for my question, but after successfully reviving the Tarrasch, is it possible to revive the classical Sicilian, too?

  60. Saying that John found a novelty on his lunch break that ” kills an entire book” is for my taste a bit too much. Most well respected authors do not write an entire book based on one or two suspicious moves. While this ” novelty” may bust a line, we have seen this for years and will continue to do so. Such is the nature of finding improvements. Novelties as well often have a one use shelf life and usually are refuted in days or weeks in general as strong responses are sought. I think the author as well if the “killed book” may have a word or two to say, not only in his defense but also as to the nature of possibly finding strong responses to this new novelty. The jury is still out until we can compare material and see what all the fuss is about .

  61. @Steven S.

    “Saying that John found a novelty on his lunch break that ” kills an entire book” is for my taste a bit too much.”

    I don’t think that Jacob meant that John found the novelty on his lunch break, but only that he managed to finish the final chapter during it.

    Perhaps the 3…Qd6 Scandi isn’t unplayable as Tiviakov himself suggests, but the evidence shows that is rather unpleasant for Black.

  62. @Thomas
    🙂 I’m betting on ‘ Die hypermoderne Schachpartie’ by Tartakower – after all, recently an English translation has been published by NIC, so it fits the description.

  63. ‘A Cunning Chess Opening for Black’ by S Kasparov.
    The book is about reaching a philidor by pirc move order initially:
    So 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3Nc3 …
    Now instead of normal pirc of 3. …. g6
    The whole idea of the book is 3 ……e5 to reach a philidor opening,
    saying that white will respond with 4. Nf3.
    However I believe this move order is refuted by white playing 4. dxe5.
    so that 4. ……dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Bb5 Bd6 8 Bxc6 bxc6.
    White has superior position.
    Please comment I am curious what does everyone think?
    Have I missed something Nikos or John?

  64. @Ed
    First point.
    Well, yes, you are stating that a particular opening is a particular opening. Equally 1 e4 c5 is not the French 1. e4 e6. And cooking my breakfast omelette is not abseiling.
    The book about that opening is about that opening. It is, yes.
    Second point.
    No. It’s a bit more complicated than that. Fortunately. A respectable line is unlikely to be so readily refuted by two moves of simple development. Do you think?
    Bologan did a decent ChessBase DVD on this line some while back. Have a look – it’s good, and you’ll learn plenty.
    Third point.
    Respectfully, it really is better that they focus their time and energies on writing theoretical chess books than answer such asinine questions.

  65. @ Simon B
    First point
    The philidor is normally arrived by 1.e4 d6 2. Nf3 d6
    The book is about arriving at that opening by arriving at a different move order.
    As stated above.
    Second Point
    Thank you for your reference to the bologan DVD.
    The title I have found is ‘The Fighting Philidor’.
    I did not know it was a respectable line.
    I feel humbled by your advice, clearly you are a superior player than I.
    Third Point
    I take back placing their names in the blog as I agree their time is best spent on theoretical books.
    I was trying to create discussion about something I found interesting.
    Chess is a game which is great when people discuss and give opinions.
    I never said or thought I was right, but was trying to create discussion among fellow bloggers to learn. I could have learnt a lot from you if you have a few moves and ‘very briefly’ explained why I was wrong.

  66. @Ed

    Negi in his first book about 1.e4 does advice this exact move order for Black if they want to play the Philidor, and says something along the lines that the line you propose is believed now not to give White an advantage, so he prefers to play Nf3 and Bc4.

  67. @PaulH
    Yeah, volume 2 will be coming some later. A lot is written, but much more is needed.

    I think we are maybe 2-3 weeks from an excerpt. I hope to publish a new publishing schedule soon, probably next week. We have editorial on Monday, then I will know where we are.

  68. @JacobAagaard: being very curious of Smirin writing a book – as I really enjoy his play – could you just say if it’s a book on openings or something else? This teasing is unbearable 🙂

  69. @Ed re Philidor

    Philidor for years now is reached via the 1…d6 move-order because the “normal” move-order is almost busted.

    6…Nc6 in your line is very bad. And 6.Nf3 is not even the critical test.

  70. Is it me or does anyone else think it’s a bit odd that 3 of the major publishing houses (QC, New in Chess, Chess Stars), have not written books on the Black side of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Strange considering you could argue it’s one of Black most popular defences over recent years.

  71. Absolutely agree with The Doctor! John Cox’ “Declining the Queen’s Gambit” (everyman) from 2011 is the latest book from a Black’s viewpoint, and while I like it quite a lot I would be very interested in QC style “bible” on the subject.

  72. @Jacob Aagaard

    A book about the QGD? Can you reveal if it will be 3…Nf6 & 4…Be7 or other lines? It would be great to have the classical QGD, as I’ve played it for quite. Another MUST BUY book…

  73. @Nikos Ntirlis or @Jacob Aagaard

    Very interested in 1.e4 e5 from black point of view.
    If I want to play 1…e5 but without big lines in RL (for the moment) what should I play after 3.Bb5 ?

  74. @Nikos Ntirlis or @Jacob Aagaard

    I have a question about the following position:

    1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5
    5.Nf3 Nc6 6.e3 Nf6 7.Bb5 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7
    9.O-O Bd6 10.Nf3 a6

    In the book you mention that the position from 9…Bd6 is very typical IQP stuff, no need to analyse. (page 259, 260) Then you recommend one line from a Kasparov – Kramnik game where the game goed 10…a6 and 11.Be2

    I’m also watching the DVD from Erwin L’ Ami on the Tarrasch Defense where he says 10…a6 is not a good move because of 11.Bxc6. Where he says that 11…bxc6 is bad because of 12.e4 where white has a strong initiative and black is in trouble. He claims that 11…Bxc6 also isn’t good because white goes b3, black is missing active options and white is very harmonious.

    L’ Ami recommends 10…Bg4

    Is this overlooked or is the position too ‘ unimportant’ for this? What would you recommend after Bxc6?

    At first I thought I could avoid this line by playing 6…c4 but then I discovered line C from chapter 20 can transpose to the line above.

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