Three books on August 2nd

On August 2nd we will publish two new books and make a third available in paperback for the first time.

e3 Poison is GM Axel Smith’s follow-up to Pump Up Your Rating. This new book is a White repertoire with a difference – based on the moves d4, Nf3, c4 and e3, but White has great flexibility in his move order. An excerpt can be found here.

Chess Behind Bars by Carl Portman offers a guide to chess in prisons that, we confidently claim, will instruct and entertain regardless of your situation. An excerpt can be found here.

Dynamic Decision Making in Chess by Boris Gelfand was an excellently-received book, and previously had only been available in hardcover. From August 2nd, a paperback version will also be available. An excerpt can be found here.

89 thoughts on “Three books on August 2nd”

  1. good news.

    chess behind bars will be my next reading for august. I really expect something different about chess and chess books.

    e3 poison is also interresting as it looks mostly to confuse your opponent with timely move order to get him out of his confort zone and them outplay him. “the Carlsen approach “…
    But if black is fine in hedgehog structure and doesnt mind to draw the game, the poison may just have good taste and no deadly effects ?!

  2. @John Shaw

    e3 Poison looks interesting and as both a 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 player this book will fill a useful place on my book shelf.

    As the editor of the book are you able to say whether after 1 Nf3 there is any coverage of 1….c5 where black steadfastly refuses to transpose into lines with …d5?


  3. Idea might be to simply start with 1.d4 against Hedgehog- and Benoni-players… By the way, the variation played in the Kramnik – Topalov game (in the introduction) is also recommended by Yussupov in his first Mastery-book. Quite an old variation, still poisonous.
    Looking forward to read the whole story!

  4. I’d really like to understand what the e3 poison book is about. I thought it was 1. Nf3 2. e3 in almost all positions but I see it has sections for 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 and random 1. e3 e5 stuff. I really don’t care about that stuff and I hoped that the repertoire was focused mostly on non-transpositional lines. I don’t like playing an early d4 in a lot of lines so it’s stylistically unsuitable to me if that’s the case.

    My main concerns are:
    1. An effective QGD without super symmetrical structures like 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.d4 c5.
    I consider the QGD more difficult than the Slav for this system and I’ve usually had a tougher time generating winning chances. I want to know the kind of lines recommended vs this system since that’s make or break for me.

    2. Symmetrical English lines – as another reader mentioned, this is required to play 1. Nf3 2. e3. I want to know if it’s covering that stuff. Luckily, I have some resources if it doesn’t so it’s not a complete deal breaker.

    3. Dealing with Reti transpositions in hard lines like:1.Nf3 c5 2.e3 d5 3. c4 d4!!.

  5. @Alex

    e3 Poison has the main move order 1.Nf3 and 2.e3, but Axel Smith wants the reader to be able to play any of the 4 key moves (Nf3, e3, c4 and d4) on move 1. It’s all explained clearly in the book, but if White has that flexibility, you can look at Black’s repertoire and try to steer the game away from what Black wants.

    After 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 some people might like 4.d4 while others might prefer less symmetry with 4.b3. So which line does Axel cover? Both. Again, it’s about flexibility. Axel worked hard to make sure the reader has options.

    And yes Axel covers the Symmetrical English.

    I think that’s enough detail for now. For the full picture, it’s best to wait for the book. Whether e3 Poison is the ideal repertoire for you Alex, I can’t say (I don’t know you or your style). But I can promise it’s an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

  6. Thanks John, pleased the Symmetrical English is covered …..looking forward to reading the fresh ideas Axel will doubtlessly be presenting.

  7. After the great ‘Pump up your rating’ I’m eagerly awaiting Axels new book. At first I was a bit curious whether it’s a book full of lines with long variations or not. After reading the description and the excerpt I’m more than pleased with what I’ve read so far. Seems to be a good choice for us club players, especially since I already play this structure anyway (e.g. against the semi- slav). Clearly structured, well explained and focused more on ideas than complicated and long lines.

    Any idea when it will be available on amazon?

  8. @Bulkington, thanks for pointing this out but I think it is 2nd Mastery book (BuildUpYourChess-Mastery).
    @QC, I am a bit puzzled now. GM Yusupov called this a Colle-Zukertort. I thought the Colle-Zukertort was reputed to be a 2nd tier opening, or even a “systems” opening and QC’s philosophy is on “main lines”.

  9. @weng nian: the reality is that the Colle-Zukertort was played in the world championship match, and 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 in the Candidates. Which lines are the main lines changes over time.

    I think it’s more about playing it as a “real opening”, where move orders and finding new ideas matter, as opposed to playing a “system” where you just play some moves regardless of what the opponent does and then start playing on your own.

  10. That said, I think this marks the first opening book where 1.e3 is seriously considered for white? I didn’t see that coming — but I love the idea of an opening book that aims for maximum flexibility in early move order!

  11. This opening is of course not a top tier opening. But the book is a top tier opening book, with an ambitious setup and interesting ideas. We do high level books, not just books on high level openings.

  12. @weng nian
    sorry, I got lost with the English titles once QC transposed the numbering matrix of the original books and applied a somewhat weird colour code to the result 🙂

  13. E3 poison : I wonder if after move 5 or 10, there are some originals positions or only transpositions to other openings (or reverse defense). ?

  14. @Forward Chess
    It would be really cool if QC could give people who preorder a book access to it digitally through your software for just a week or two till the physical copy arrives.

  15. I am a confirmed 1.e4-player for more than 30 years now and so “e3 Poison” wasn´t on my radar or to buy list at all. But now that I have read the excerpt I might have to rethink.

    At least it looks like a very interesting read.

  16. On a totally unrelated note, the Catalan QGA move order is genius. I didn’t even realize it since I used to play the e3 lines as Avrukh recommended. However, the inclusion of 3. Nf3 instead of 3. Nc3 forces White into a weak version of the e4 lines where even with best play, you’re basically trading into a drawish endgame:

    1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4!!! 4.e4 b5 5.a4 c6 6.axb5 cxb5 7.b3 Nf6 8.bxc4 Nxe4 9.c5 Bxc5 10.Bxb5+ Bd7 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.dxc5 Qxd1+ 13.Kxd1 Nxf2+ 14.Ke2 Nxh1 15.Bf4 O-O 16.Bd6 Rc8 17.Nc3 Nd7 18.Na4 Nf6 19.Nd2 Ne8 20. Na3/Be3/Bf4

    I looked for alternatives from move 5 to 20 with engines, databases, engine matches, my own exploration etc. and honestly, I think Avrukh’s choices were best or White would actually be worse.

    If a line such as this exists, I think it suggests that 3. Nf3 precludes you from having e4 as your sole repertoire option. The e3 lines are nothing special either but they are more thematic with the rest of the repertoire (more similar to the Slav for example) and a bit easier to play than e4 lines while also having fewer direct to endgame routes for Black.

    With that said, most practical players won’t restrict their own QGA options hoping you play 3. Nf3 instead of 3. Nc3 so this move order isn’t super likely. I’m really surprised this move order isn’t exploited more at the top level though. It’s the best e4 QGA version I’ve seen. Also, it would be cool if Avrukh explained at least briefly what lines he didn’t like in…

  17. Oh, my comment got cut-off. I was asking for some more specific lines that lead Avrukh to turn away from e3 variations. If I know them, perhaps I can work on some improvements myself. Although, I agree that the e3 lines are safer for Black and tend to be a bit drawish too. I’d be fully on board for the e4 lines if it wasn’t for that astute Catalan QGA move order.

  18. BTW: If Avrukh were to do a PDF update or something like that for the entire 3. e3 QGA for those of us wanting to preserve the old repertoire, I’d be willing to pay ~$10 for it and I think many others would consider it too. It doesn’t even have to be 3. e3. It could be the 3. Nf3 QGA. I don’t think the 3. Nf3 Bg4 lines are any scarier than the 3. e3 e5 lines.

  19. I think (one of) the reason(s) why Avrukh chose 3 e3 rather than 3 e4 was avoiding a clash with Schandorff. The reason why he chose 3 e3 rather than 3 Nf3 were the Bg4 lines.

  20. Excuse me if this has been answered before, but what system will the upcoming 1.d4 d5 book be mainly based on? Tartakower? Lasker? Something else? Thanks!

  21. @Paul H

    Either in my head (depending on the complexity of the book and how it churns out lines) or on a night with the kids in bed, using a board or my phone. As this is an ideas book, then it may be ok.

  22. Bebbe, one way to do it is to play c5 immediately and this is probably the most testing. He can also play Nc6-Rb8-b5 ideas faster without developing the knight to f6. The knight may go to e7 (to reinforce c6) in some positions and so Bg5 ideas are less of a threat. Basically, Black can get his counterplay rolling faster BUT it’s still a perfectly fine position for White. It won’t always transpose but it still has Catalan themes and it’s only a tad worse than the normal lines. I’m actually surprised Avrukh doesn’t mention it. I think part of the reason is that he’d have to make the section quite long since there are so many options for both sides.

    Here’s an example of an equalizing (not a draw though) independent line: 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 dxc4 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 Nc6! 6. Qa4 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Qxd4 8. Bxc6+ Bd7 9. Be3 Qd6 10. Bxd7+ Qxd7 11. Qxc4 Nf6 12. O-O a6

    In any case, I think the increasing popularity of less testing openings like the London or 1. Nf3 g3 etc. is evidence that White players aren’t finding enough of an edge from the opening. Thus, some choose to try and take the game into less explored waters where they may have a home turf advantage. In a sense, computers allowed people to analyze/prepare openings they were very skeptical about without having to risk their ratings and the result was often the discovery that there are way more viable openings than we once thought.

  23. I hope the e3 book considers 1. Nf3 c5 2. e3 Nc6. I used to transpose to b3 lines here but then I faced e5! and it made me reconsider the whole line.

  24. @Mike
    Yes, if for example White goes 3.c4 then 3…e5 4.Nc3 will be covered in the Symmetrical English section (you can guess that d2-d4 is coming soon). And I am not saying 3.c4 is Axel’s only move. 3.d4 could end up many places, including in the Panov coverage.

    I will get back in my 1.e4 cage, so my general answer to any questions such as “Does Axel’s e3 Poison cover xyz standard early move order?” is “Yes, and with more than one option in reply.”

  25. Mike :
    I hope the e3 book considers 1. Nf3 c5 2. e3 Nc6. I used to transpose to b3 lines here but then I faced e5! and it made me reconsider the whole line.

    or 3.d4, something you can’t do after 1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 (3.d4?! cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5). In this 2.g3 line, White still has the poor man’s Botvinnik with Nf3-e1-c2-e3 but Black is more equal than White, it that makes sense.
    Apart from that, I don”t see much sense for White in 1.e3 e5 (or 1…g6). Perhaps 1.e3 has some point against people who never play 1.e4 and won’t allow 1.e3 e5 2.e4 ? or any other reason?

  26. @Alex

    Yes maybe black equalizes. But where is his winning chances?
    And what about 7.dxc5 i the QGA? How fun is it to defend this as black?
    The most black can hope for is a draw, and white has some winning chances.

  27. @Bebbe Black will need some work to defend but objectively speaking, White would have a very hard time winning those positions too. I think the dxc5 QGA is probably tougher for Black than the early g3 move if he knows both lines equally well.

    In any case, it would be amazing if Avrukh could provide a supplemental work (for a small price and/or perhaps as part of the next book) where he covers the e3 QGA and/or 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 dxc4 4. g3. I want to use his repertoire but not the drastically different e4 QGA (which I don’t feel I can use well vs 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. dxc4) and I don’t see why it was needed to go such a different route for White.

    I’d have preferred an up to date treatment of the e3 QGA which remains internally consistent and is more suited to the book’s positional lines/themes (e3 vs the Slav for example). It would be nice not to need to lug around the old v1 work as well as v1B when looking a this stuff. It feels a bit like I bought a book on the Sicilian Dragon and then upon its next edition, it became a book on the Najdorf. I’m all for changing to the best lines but this is a very early deviation with completely different play and it’s not like the e3 QGA poses no problems for Black. Admittedly, if I could use the e4 QGA effectively vs 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 dxc4, I probably wouldn’t be complaining.

    Alternatively, maybe someone can point me to an updated high quality work on the e3 QGA.

  28. I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of e3 poison. Logical and interconnected variations which seamlessly blend together – a rarity in an opening book. And if you master the material, you can open the game with d4, c4, Nf3 or even e3.

  29. The forthcoming book by Smith looks really interesting… By the way: Is there also a 21st Century Opening for black?

  30. Good afternoon Jacob and co.,

    I was just contemplating 1 d4 and I was wondering if there was an update on Avrukh book 2A and when we might expect it? I’m looking forward to that one but it has been quiet on that title of late.

    Thank you.


  31. Question about `e3 poison`: Are on page 345 ideas for White to play against the Exchange French? With or without c2-c4?
    Thanks as always.
    @Jacob: Against 1.e4 there is the Berlin- true…. but against 1.d4…?

  32. @James2
    Same and I’d love it if 2A or 2B could include a supplemental section covering the e3 QGA variations (just updating his 2008 work without switching to a different opening). I would be so willing to pay a bit extra for it! Maybe it can be a bonus for a hardcover edition or something. I don’t know.

  33. .
    Im looking to buy some paperbacks, specially “The Soviet Chess Primer”

    I have Alterman – White Gambits and the cover is flexible and soft, feels a litte bit like “plastic” which I really like, on the other hand the first 3 Yusupov books feel a little bit more like “cardboard” so not so flexibe and get bent marks easily.

    So what’s the material you are using for paperbacks now?

  34. @Jacob Aagaard

    OK, but how about considering selling a supplement for the e3 QGA (to avoid that move order issue and support people from the first edition repertoire as an extra choice) through ForwardChess? It wouldn’t be to the level of depth as a full book. It should be in the style of GM Rep. 1. d4 with Avrukh just updating the analysis from the first edition. I’d expect it to be ~25 pages and I think there would be some interest if the price is ~$5-$10.

  35. @Alex

    Like you I prefer e3 against the QGA ….theory hasn’t changed that much since the Avrukh’s original book so with the use of an online data base, engine and pencil I’ve found it pretty easy to keep his book up-to-date.

    Hope this helps..

  36. Can anyone tell me if Marin will cover a defense against the Archbishop Attack in his book on the Pirc? Thanks!

  37. Jeg taper partiet men vinner krigen

    If e3 repertoire is August, Septembre is last month of sommer…the month for Pirc by Marin ?

  38. If one orders the Smith book directly from this homepage, will it be in the letter box (living in the EU) on August 2nd?
    What about ordering from a Chess supplier (EU country)? Will it be in their box on August 2nd or in mine?
    I hope this is the right place to ask this question and it won’t sound strange but I wanted to take the book on a holiday trip starting in early August … Now I’m pondering whether it is worse the extra shipping costs …

  39. @McBear

    Our publication date (in the case of e3 Poison, August 2) is the date the book should arrive at European chess shops.

    When will a website customer in an EU country get the book? It varies, depending on many things outside our control (e.g. where you are, how fast your country’s postal service is if it’s going Airmail). We process websales as fast as possible; some get their books a day or two before the publication date, some after.

    EU websale orders of 3 books or more go by UPS from Poland, which is usually very fast.

    If you are an ebook person, then the Forward Chess version is faster than anything.

  40. @I.J.K and @Alex Of course there’s e3 Poison that does cover e3 QGA lines – perhaps not the level of detail you would look for in an Avrukh GM repertoire book, but that may be another option.

  41. Just out of curiosity: can anyone tell me if Smith’s book also deals with 1.Nf3 c5? I would hope so, since it’s a repertoire book, but it is not apparent to me from the contents page on the excerpt.

  42. @Ray
    Yes, 1.Nf3 c5 is mentioned in the ‘Move Orders’ chapter. Axel’s main suggestion for the e3 Poison repertoire is 2.e3 intending 3.d4, but he also mentions the possibility of 2.c4 first (intending 3.e3 etc).

  43. @Ray
    I downloaded the e3-poison the other day, nice thing is that Forward Chess now has a button to show/hide exercise solutions. Good to see how they develop the app further.
    One (big) corner stone of the repertoire are IQP positions, well known from 20th century :-). When starting with 1Nf3 c5 2e3 and 3d4 and c4, the idea is to get an IQP position from the Panov (or the QGA). If Black refuses to exchange cxd4, then White goes on and plays d4-d5 resulting in Benoni-structures.
    I am a 1d4 player and reading the book from this perspective, it offers a complete 1.d4 repertoire plus the poisonous possibilities of move ordering the opponent into Anti-Slav and Anti-QGD positions, known from English-e3 set-ups. The Indian defences are tackled via reversed set-ups.
    A player who like flank openings might be a bit surprised though, because in this repertoire you must be ready to take over the center with pawns, even if it is just the lonely one on d4.

  44. I intend to use E3 poison to supplement my play with 1. c4 and so far it looks a great choice. The book is written in an engaging manner and the ideas are explained really well. I am very happy with the buy and look forwards to receiving the paperback.

  45. I am using the repertoires from QC’s Beating D4 Sidelines and Beating Minor Openings verbatim. What setup(s) from these books is e3 Poison taking the white side of? Is it chapter 13, line B of Beating Minor Openings? Whatever it recommends, I am sure I will be facing it more regularly.

  46. @cornfed

    I presume you mean ‘Positional Play’ which was the second book in the series. But anyway, I know the answer to your question. It’s because we want to make a couple of minor updates/improvements to the Forward Chess version, and we have not had time to do that yet.

  47. As I didn’t find it and there’s no special topic dedicated to the book.

    Axel Smith – e3 Poison

    After 1.d4. Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 c6 4.c4 Bf5 5.Nc3 only 5. .. e6 is mentioned. 5. .. a6 is absent if I haven’t missed it.

  48. @Jupp53
    I also don’t see it. e3 Poison is a book in a very different style from any other repertoire book I have ever seen. Rather than being comprehensive, it is a concept book. I played the Marin repertoire, 1 c4 2 g3 for years. Too many anti-dotes. Main line 1 d4 is a lot of work and time I don’t have. I considered the London… The e3 concept starting with the English is allowing me to rebuild my repertoire without starting over. Some things I like, some I do not for purposes of building a comprehensive repertoire. I am using the book to identify transitions to lines I have thought about trying for years. That is fun and hopefully beneficial. I am then using other reference materials/databases to fill in the gaps. If you play the slow Slav, having Avrukh’s 1B fills in the gaps. Lots of great ideas.

  49. One set-up I’ve been unable to find in e3 Poison is the Old Indian. Smith covers 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 briefly in the Dutch section, but not the position after 2…Nf6, with Black following up …Nbd7 and …e5. I can guess his line would start something like 3.c4 Nbd7 4.e3 e5 but it would be good to have covered this position a little, as it’s fairly common in practice.

  50. there was much debate about A.S. e3 poison book before it came out. Since the book was released, we did not get many comments. I didnt buy or even look at it but i am still interrested in it’s content. could you ( you= people who have read the book) gave us your opinion ? thx

  51. RYV :
    there was much debate about A.S. e3 poison book before it came out. Since the book was released, we did not get many comments. I didnt buy or even look at it but i am still interrested in it’s content. could you ( you= people who have read the book) gave us your opinion ? thx

    There are some interesting explanations but not a complete repertoire. For example as a 1.d4 player I did not see any serious advice against Nimzo. Still I don’t regret buying the book.

  52. @ RYV

    I bought the book, but to be honest I was slightly disappointed. It’s really a puzzle to put together a coherent repertoire starting (in my case) from 1.Nf3. I udnerstand that was not the purpose of the book, but still, i.m.o. it could have been organised a little bit more structured. Also, Smith doesn’t anywhere give an assessment of the positions (like ‘=’, ‘+/=’, etc.). He argues this is not relevant anymore in the age of superstrong engines – it is more important to get a position you like and understand well. I guess I’m still more of the old school and am striving for objectively good positions. A lot of the lines Smith gives are i.m.o. rather harmless. A good example is the line against the KID. This is outright dangerous or white i.m.o. – black gets a strong attack for free. Here it’s really a pity Smith doesn’t give any engine assessments. And against 1…d5, personally I prefer Delchev’s recommendations in The Modern Reti.

  53. I like the book a lot. Each chapter has a discussion about the common structures and ideas, followed by 2 or 3 key games, and finally a theoretical section. It’s not extensive but it’s definitely plenty enough for my level (2100 FIDE). Some of the lines are theoretically harmless (as the author admits) but lead to positions where an understanding of the typical ideas will put you in good stead.

  54. @mehmet
    There is no “advice against Nimzo” because White does not allow the Nimzo. It`s not a bug, it`s a feature :-).

    @RYV, @Ray
    It is not a repertoire for activists. Personally, I like a positional approach and when it comes to opening prep I am rather lazy. Therefore, the books is a nice fit with my repertoire and my style. I look at it as a complete d4 repertoire. 1.c4 and 1.Sf3 you have to be a bit careful with move orders but it offers great possibilites to lure you opponent into unexpected terrain.

    What`s a pity though is that AS somehow missed to address Avrukh`s suggestions against a certain Zukertort setup proposed in the book. Basically all Avrukh books are listed in the references except his “d4-sidelines”. AS certainly made an effort to cover the state of the art but somehow missed the “d4-sidelines”.

  55. @ Tim S

    I see your point, but I’m always assuming that my opponent might also have a good understanding of the positions arising. I think once the surprise element has vanished, what’s left is a rather harmless set-up, whcih i.m.o. really doesn’t requite that much effort on the black side to understand – the structures are rather common and not that difficult to understand if black also makes some effort. Compare it to the London: it took some time for the black players to adjust, but nowadays several good options for black are available (see e.g. Georgiev’s recent book). It’s only a matter of time for a book like ‘beating the e3-poisonites’ will be published 🙂 . Anyway, it’s largely a matter of taste of course – I’m just giving my own opinion as an Activist.

  56. @Bulkington
    I meant Nimzo in conjunction with Bogo and Queen’s Indian. Against Bogo he proposes 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. e3 Bb4 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Nc3 0-0 7. Bd3 and comments black should be okay.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top