Looking into 2018

First off, I can announce a few publications on the 17th of January. We will finally have Grandmaster Repertoire 2A – The King’s Indian and Grünfeld out. When you have produced as many books as we have, a certain repetitiveness can creep in, but I have to say with this book, I am truly excited. It is really a Class A opening book. The amount of new ideas and the imagination of them is quite impressive. Boris Avrukh is still the king.

At the same time, we will also release the paperback version of Thinking Inside the Box. This is of course my own book; and will probably continue to be my seminal work. I will leave it to others to judge it. I have been pleased with the feedback I have received from strong players in private, but I will have to let you take my word for it.

Also, we have reprinted Python Strategy. It is always nice to see books about the less flashy greats of the past do well. It helps that it is a good book, of course.

Looking a bit further ahead, we have a collection of essay on the middlegame by Slovakian grandmaster Jan Markos called Under the Surface nearing completion of editing. I am predicting a March publication.

The same will happen with the first title by double Olympic gold medallist, American grandmaster Sam Shankland, titled Small Steps to Giant Improvement in Chess. This is a book about pawn play. We are putting a “pawn goes to moon” cover together to justify the title. Sam is at an event in St Louis in the beginning of March, where we are hoping to have a pre-release lecture happening. The book will be widely available one to two weeks later.


Also hopefully out in March will be Playing 1.e4 – The French and the Sicilian. Do not listen to the cynics. A lot has happened, and John and Andrew are working non-stop completing this book, not looking sideways for anything or anyone. Nikos and I are assisting too. As always with John’s books, this one is an ambitious team project. Are we talking 700 pages? Not sure. Maybe more even.

Further down the line we have Michael Rioz with Grandmaster Repertoire – The Queen’s Indian Defence, which he says he will hand in before the end of the year. We also have a book on the Taimanov Sicilian with only two minor chapters needed to be written.

Waiting in our inbox for an available editor, we also have the next book from grandmaster Axel Smith. This one is co-written with another Swedish grandmaster, Hans Tikkanen. Some of you may remember that Tikkanen means “woodpecker” in Finnish. This is why Axel has previously talked about The Woodpecker Method, which is also the title of their joint venture.

I am hoping April as the release month for these three books. And no, this is not the final cover, but a small sketch I made and sent to our graphic designers as an initial direction of travel. There has been some changes to the concept already; just thought maybe one or two of you would be amused by my poor drawing skills…

We have other titles planned. A few classics. A book from Boris Gelfand towards the end of 2018. Hopefully a book or two from Negi (we are pushing him) and then I am writing on a few books, as always. I know this is not a complete 2018 list, but for December, for us, this is pretty good.

443 thoughts on “Looking into 2018”

  1. Great news !
    Hopefully the QID book will include fresh analysis on Polugaevsky Nh4 ! ( since Alphazero seems to like it a lot and had crushed S8 with it )

  2. i’m of two minds whether John should read the new Dismantling the Sicilian- if he reads it he will go back and look at lines he has previously covered and it will be even more state of the art. Downside is we won’t see it till xmas 2018. All in all I think you need to cross it off John’s xmas list…

  3. Frank van Tellingen

    Looking forward (foremost) to John’s book. The first part cleared up a lot of things that I was either too lazy to find out in the past or ignorant about (since my last theory-update was around 1994). The first book was very informative and a very helpful starting point for my preparation (recently I got his antidote against the Portugese Gambit on the board, which gave me a nice advantage on the clock and a good position). Just very curious what he will recommend against the Sicilians, having already bought and read Negi’s books, but it won’t hurt to have more options.
    Happy New Year to John (and Andrew).

  4. @ Johnnyboy:

    Wat struck me in Dismantling the Sicilian 2nd Edition is that it’s quite concise. If you subtract the illustrative games and general chapter introductions, you end up with less than 300 pages repertoire. Which is quite good, considering it deals with main line Sicilians.

    But of course John’s book will also cover the French, which is also quite some theory, even of he recommends the Tarrasch rather than 3.Nc3.

  5. Johnnyboy :
    i’m of two minds whether John should read the new Dismantling the Sicilian- if he reads it he will go back and look at lines he has previously covered and it will be even more state of the art. Downside is we won’t see it till xmas 2018. All in all I think you need to cross it off John’s xmas list…

    Too late, I already have this book. I have no doubt Max Illingworth has done an excellent job, so I will check it for sure. But it will not slow me down, as there is not so much overlap with our plans. I cannot give any more details than that.

  6. @John Shaw
    That abridged variation section at the end is what I think many people were looking for.

    I think perhaps some people thought that in prvious excerpts you’d see the contents section and then a few pages on a line that would be 9th choice for good opponents. At least this way one can go away and explore the upcoming lines on your own and then go and see what Avrukh suggestions when you have the book.

    It almost gives some hooks to hang the actual lines on before you read the book. It is like memory. The more you know about something, the easier it is to remember new information about it when you already know something about it.

    Thanks John.


  7. @John Shaw
    I think that you have done a great job with the excert. It covers everything i would want to see (barring the rest of the book 😉 ). I dont understand it when publishers only show a contents page – knowing how the chapters themselves look is important, as is knowing the lines the book covers and getting to read the introduction helps understand what the intention with the book is.

  8. @ Jacob/John Shaw

    Many thanks for listening to previous blogs on an improved insight into the contents of QC opening books. The abridged variation section in Avrukh’s 2A is excellent…thank you

  9. Any chance the Taimanov book will cover both the 5…a6 and the 5…Qc7 move order? Or just Qc7 as all previous repertoire books?

  10. Really like the abridged index. I’ve taken a punt in the dark with some qc books not knowing what I’m getting. Mostly very pleased I did but still wavering about a few titles. Any chance of a retrospective abridged index for roiz nimzo and key concepts books in particular? Sure other readers may have titles they would like an abridged version of… Anyone?

  11. @Johnnyboy
    I will take a punch at this one and say no. We are looking forward only. But Nikos has made a small video on the Marin book on the Pirc Defence, which we will put up tomorrow.

  12. Siddhartha Gautama

    John Shaw :
    We took into account feedback that some would like the excerpt to give a more detailed idea of the lines covered. See what you think.

    This is excellent!

  13. @JohnShaw
    I have liked the excrept but I would have preferred to see the full index to have a concrete idea of what he reccomends against every black line instead of just seeing what black lines are, which I already know. The abridged index is not enough in my opinion.

  14. David :
    I have liked the excrept but I would have preferred to see the full index to have a concrete idea of what he reccomends against every black line instead of just seeing what black lines are, which I already know. The abridged index is not enough in my opinion.

    If give everything in an excerpt, why should you buy the book…

  15. it would be nice to cover, Benoni again, because, with the sacrifice of quality, the black achieve a fantastic game. Otherwise, I think best of all about your publishing house, also Avrukh.

  16. @Jeff Hall
    I am curious if the Stockfish team allowed this match. I doubt it. As I understand it, Stockfish was deliberately diminished; no opening book and on a inferior processor.

  17. Great new books coming, fantastic! I can’t wait. Just wanted to point out … Tikkanen is “a little woodpecker” in Finnish. Great title regardless. Greetings from Finland.

  18. How is the woodpecker book structured ?
    a) Intended elo for the audience
    b) Number of practice exercises

    This would help me to:
    a) Align my expectations when I hold the books in my hand.
    b) Go through appropriate tactics books(Nunn, Chess tactics from scratch) till March before I dwelve into the woodpecker in April.
    c) know whether your Everyman calculation and Quality chess calculation can be used post Woodpecker.

  19. Dear Jacob,

    Do you have any plans for a book on Sicilian Kan in the future … ?

    And why this opening is not popular in top level … ?


  20. @Leaf
    Anand tried it in the match against Carlsen and got killed, but maybe it is not that bad. We do not have any plans, as we have a Taimanov book coming relatively soon.

  21. Franck Steenbekkers

    Can you tell us who is the writer of the Taimanov book?
    Do you have intention to write other books about great players (like the super books about Tal

  22. The way I have been working on my chesss since the last few months:
    From Yusupov’s Orange books I identify the chapters that come under each of these sections (Tactics, Endgame, Middlegame) and then go through the corresponding chapter in the below books:
    – Tactics(Martin Weteschnik, Chandler, Gormally, Nunn)
    – Endgame(Jesus de la villa)
    – Strategy(Nimzo’s – My system & Grooten’s book)
    Once I have understood the chapter, I go through Yusupov’s chapter and see if I am able to understand his examples along with his explanations. If not, I go through the chapters from the above books again and then go through Yusupov’s examples. Once I feel that I have understood his examples, I then take the tests. I have been getting good results using this approach.

    There are few sections where I need your advice:
    1) I have been struggling with Calculation of Variations. The book recommended for this section is Dvoretsky’s school of chess excellence. I am struggling with this book. Please suggest me some books for me to work on my calculation aspects.
    2) For Opening – Yusupov has suggested – Catastrophe in the Opening by Neishdat. This book is not available at my place. Could you suggest some alternative.
    3) Henceforth, I also plan to start spending 10-15% of my study time on Openings. Could you suggest openings for both white and black that would help in my understanding of the game(Open and Closed games) and also give me a good foundation.

  23. Frank van Tellingen

    I don‘t know what your tactical ability is, but when you have just taken up chess, you can improve the most if you train your combinational vision first. For that purpose the step methode (in my opinion, I am not a shareholder) is excellent, step 2-step 6 take you through all kinds of basic tactical motives, simply adding a ply each time you go up a level. And Nimzowitsch is a very very good writer and his explanation of profylaxis and blockade and pawn structures are very interesting, but also pretty dogmatic when it comes to his system, so watch out and don‘t believe everything he writes. (@Vittal

  24. I have not played a rated tournament, but I have been able to understand Weteschnik’s chapters on second reading.
    I plan to complete and revise the orange(yusupov) books and then play my first tournament.

  25. @Vittal
    1) Try Excelling at Chess Calculation, which points forward to Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation later on.

    2) Alterman’s Gambit Guide gives an insight into violent openings. Maybe this was something. If you send us an email on salesgroup(at)qualitychess.co.uk we may offer you a deal if you get all three ;-).

    3) It really depends on which openings you want. If it is 1.e4 e5 with Black, we have a good book in Playing 1.e4 e5 by Ntirlis.

  26. I like the look of the GM2A excerpt; need to buy that one when it comes out.

    I wonder about chapter 17: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c5 4.dxc5! But if Black wants to play …c5 he can also delay it one more move: 3…Bg7 4.Nf3 c5. Does that just transpose to this chapter? Or does White go 5.d5 to be covered in an upcoming volume on the Benko and Benoni?

  27. Johnnyboy :

    Jacob Aagaard :
    And a photograph!

    hope you sacked the heretical minion who did the semi slav book cover the ‘wrong way round’ before you make the same mistake twice

    The Taimanov GM Repertoire cover will have a cover position photo from White’s side, so we have this potential crisis under control.

  28. Stigma :
    I like the look of the GM2A excerpt; need to buy that one when it comes out.
    I wonder about chapter 17: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c5 4.dxc5! But if Black wants to play …c5 he can also delay it one more move: 3…Bg7 4.Nf3 c5. Does that just transpose to this chapter? Or does White go 5.d5 to be covered in an upcoming volume on the Benko and Benoni?

    It just transposes. White takes on c5 on move 4 or 5, to avoid tricky Benko lines. I know that sounds mysterious now, but Boris explains it all in the book.

  29. @John Shaw: Thanks. Not that mysterious: I’m guessing it’s connected to Black not having to play …Bxa6 early on in that move order to the Fianchetto Benko, so he can try moves like …Bf5 and/or …Nxa6 instead.

    But perhaps the real mystery is how dxc5 brings an advantage! Will be interesting to read.

  30. Jacob Aagaard :
    1) Try Excelling at Chess Calculation, which points forward to Grandmaster Preparation – Calculation later on.
    2) Alterman’s Gambit Guide gives an insight into violent openings. Maybe this was something. If you send us an email on salesgroup(at)qualitychess.co.uk we may offer you a deal if you get all three ;-).
    3) It really depends on which openings you want. If it is 1.e4 e5 with Black, we have a good book in Playing 1.e4 e5 by Ntirlis.

    Thanks for your reply and have already placed my order for the Calculation book you recommended.
    I know very little about openings…but what I would like is to start learning one positional(like d4) and one open game(like e4) from both white side and black side, that will help me understand chess better both from positional and tactical perspective. I am not so attracted about fancy openings and also do not want to spread my time over too many openings and only once I reach a 2000+ rating, I would focus on widening my opening study.

  31. @Jacob Aagaard
    Ah he is very eagle eyed. This is the only black repertoire you’ve done where the picture of the chess board on the cover has a photo from the black side of the board. All the others are from the white side. Which perhaps makes more sense as it matches the diagrams inside.

  32. @Paul H
    I do not want to say what we call this in Denmark, as it is rude. But it is something like mountain out of an anthill… We liked the photo better that way around and went with it. What I do not understand is where the damage is 🙂

  33. Happy Christmas and have a fantastic New Year guys.

    In regards to Michael Rioz’s forthcoming book on the Queen’s Indian, is he handing this in at the end of 2017 or 2018 please?

  34. Used to be the party line to have it from black side.. Marins black repertoire and the original semi slav too but nothing recently… this must have slipped through the gap. I’m only jesting though Jacob I’d rather have quality analysis rather than diagram from the black side in the big scheme of things.

  35. @Johnnyboy
    I try to be creative for the covers, but I really care more about the quality of the books too… Covers help selling the books, but overall promotion is overrated for a small market I think; quality and reliability is worth more.

  36. @Jacob Aagaard
    I may have my slight disagreements about what I would prefer compared to you Jacob, but never had to complain about the ‘quality’ of the work in quality chess yet…

    PS any feedback about that supposedly ‘busted’ line in the Botvinnik semi slav as yet?

  37. Given how great the GR covers look with photos of nice wooden sets and given how easy it is these days to embed photos in text documents, would it be possible to replace diagrams in chess books by photos of a proper board and set? For readers this would be a good compromise between just looking at the diagrams and setting everything up on a board. I know it would help me to see things more fully. Or perhaps it would be prohibitively expensive? They would probably have to be a bit bigger than the usual diagrams.

  38. @Jacob Aagaard
    On this I’m 100% behind you Jacob. My favourite videos on Youtube of games have a digital diagram of the board position as well as the camera view of the board. Pawns get hidden behind major pieces and if the definition isn’t good enough you can’t tell if its a king or queen sometimes

  39. Hi all,

    Just a quick one on the upoming Taimanov Sicilian book if I may? Will it start 2..e6 or 2..Nc6 and will all of white’s anti Sicilians (e.g. 2 a3, 2 Nc3, 3 c3, etc) up to the main lines be covered also?

    Thank you.


  40. @Ray

    Well maybe a Taimsnov player would like to reply 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6, which gives us a whole host of different Anti-Sicilians.

    I felt the Closed/GPA lines in BTAS were more biased towards Najdorf/Sveshnikov/Dragon players

  41. @Ray

    I don’t think the lines v GPA/Closed given in BTAS fits in well with a Taimanov players repertoire. Would be nice if they did some Bonus Chapters like in 1.d4 d5 and in The Flexible Sicilian on a Repertoire for 2…e6 players after White plays 2.Nc3 then 3.f4/3.g3/3.Nf3 etc.

  42. I agree this would all be nice, but still I see higher priorities for books on important openings that have not been covered yet by QC. Easy for me to say of course, since I don’t play the Sicilian myself 🙂 .

  43. The Christmas 2018 Wishlist!:
    GM repertoire

    1st priority:
    Leningrad Dutch- Marin
    Scotch opening- Hopefully by Negi. He has done a video for this on chessbase but theory has progressed fast
    Buy Lopez
    Guico Piano

    Completion of d4 series by Avrukh

    2nd Priority:
    classical Sicilian

    A book by Gelfand on the opening

    A book on engine management/ opening preparation/ correspondence chess by Nikos

  44. There’s not much happening in the Petroff.
    Neither on the board nor in opening developments.
    With some decent books around not much need for another one.

  45. No, there’s been a lot going on with lots of top players playing it recently. Furthermore, almost all the elite Chinese players are using it as their main opening against e4.

  46. Dextro53 :
    No, there’s been a lot going on with lots of top players playing it recently. Furthermore, almost all the elite Chinese players are using it as their main opening against e4.

    That does not necessarily make it an interesting topic for a book. From Black´s point of view, how do you make life interesting after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.d3 ? That may be good for a professional but not for me as an amateur. Of course that´s only my personal view. There may be others who look forward to playing something like that.

  47. Dear Jacob,

    Your Stonewall book is great, do you have any plans to update it … ? It was written last century, can we have a 21st century version Stonewall … ?


  48. I know it is only a wishlist but Jacob has already mentioned that Gelfand does not wish to write an openings book. So I think that is one wish that Santa/St Nick will not fulfil. There may also be a bit confusion. IMHO Gelfand may not be an opening theoretician. I think it is his long-time second, Israeli-russian GM whose name I cannot remember right now, who should be asked to write the opening books. But a number of opening theoreticians usually refuse to write books.
    BTW, GM Shaw et al’s book is a white repertoire based on the Scotch, why ask for another book on the Scotch?

  49. @Tom Tidom
    You’re right. And even if you find that positions somehow *interesting* there’s still no big development since Sakaev’s excellent book. You can even use the old Jussupow book, or use the one by Cohen.

  50. Happy holidays to all!
    My 2018 wishlist
    More books aimed at the club player rather than 2000 + players whether it be opening middle or endgame
    Emphasis on understanding positions rather than variations (nikos new book good example)
    If we are to get more opening books we need greater bias towards getting edge as white… John and Negi’s books will plug the gaping hole for white e4 players when they appear
    How to train tips
    Book on fun tragedy and beauty in chess… Van Perlo book and Blunders and Brilliancies good examples of this.. We love a good blunder and amazing moves, crazy positions to try on a friend down the club always a winner

  51. Any book chosen to be published by QC team would be a good option for sure, given their quality standards.

    Personally I would like a Dutch Leningrad book for Black (if Malaniuk one is somewhat outdated, I don’t know if it is).

    Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone

  52. Any estimate when Avrukhs GM REP 2B comes out in hopefully 2018?
    I got the hardcovers 1A and 1B for Christmas. Couldn’t be happier 🙂

  53. I don’t know that the Malaniuk book is outdated, didn’t think Leningrad (or should it be St Peters post USSr) theory changed that much.

  54. @John Johnson
    In that case maybe we should rename the Yugoslav attack the Serbian, Croatian, Bosnia and Herzegovinan, Slovenian, Kosovan, Montenegro and Macadonian attack!

    Got a nice ring to it!

  55. I think 7…Qe8 is the most popular in general but the old 7…c6 gained its popularity back recently, while dodgy 7…Nc6 is also played a lot with not too bad results.
    I’m not a theoretician but I played the Leningrad Dutch against many GMs and I think 7…Qe8 8.Re1 is not a problem unless someone discovered something new over the game Mamedyarov – Grischuk, Baku 2014.

  56. @Bebbe
    Imo Malaniuk makes a convincing case against 8.Re1 Qf7 9.e4. Almost all of his lines end in “0.00” and I haven’t been able to find anything convincing for white.

  57. Happy New Year to you Ray and all at QC.

    Looking forward to the new 2018 pdf catalogue…..and also to see what Avrukh recommends against 1..d6 in GM Rep 2B (I didn’t like 2 g3 but might be the same) and also to see if he stays with the fianchetto against the Benko.


  58. If there is going to be a Leningrad book, I’d really like to see 7…c6 given as the main recommendation because 7…Qe8 seems to be the more popular choice in the literature (Malaniuk, Kindermann, etc.).

  59. I prefer the Leningrad move on move 7 that gives most winning chances/ sharpest positions. Not sure what that move is though!

  60. What a wonderful list and I still HAVE to buy the one by Marin and the Ntirilis from 2017. When you push Negi please tell him I love his writing and analysis which helped my chess a lot and I look forward to him completing his 1.e4 repertoire.

  61. Hi Jacob,

    Very much looking forward to Playing 1 e4 volume 2 (I think everyone is). I hope to be holding it in my hands before your company’s fiscal year end in just short of 3 months….. Will this be a reality!?


  62. @Jacob Aagaard
    I’ll hope so to! I really enjoyed Playing 1 e4 and I’m sure the next volume will be just as enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the recommended lines on the Sicilian (e.g. perhaps 9 0-0-0 or 9 g4 in the Dragon, and who knows what against the Najdorf and Sveshnikov.

    Thank you Jacob.


  63. GM2B says on the website “Published 17 January 2018” but is out of the Coming Soon section and now in “Openings”. Is it early published, or what happened?

  64. Does Roiz have a future book on what to do after 1. d4 Cf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 for Black ? Or at least what would someone play here if they follow his book on Nimzo and future book on Queen’s Indian ?

  65. Frank van Tellingen

    Looking at John’s own games, it is more likely to be an Anti-Sicilian…but Negi’s books give you a lot of good info on the Open Sicilians, so you could already buy those (volume I, II and III) @James2

  66. @Leon Trotsky
    Regarding the Catalan I think both Ntirlis (4…dxc4) and Pert (4…Bb4+) offer interesting solutions for Black in their repective books. I see no real need for a third suggestion by another author.

  67. @Leon Trotsky

    I think it would be consistent to play 1.d4 nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ with the roiz Repertoire.
    I think Roiz will recommened this line in his new book about the queen’s indian.

  68. @Ray
    Indeed, 3…Bb4+ makes no sense in the context of a Queen´s Indian repertoire. The best fit seems to be 3…d5 and then choose one of the decent options on move 4.

    Of course, if Black is happy with a completely different structure he can also offer a transposition to the Modern Benoni with 3…c5.

  69. I have said this before, but am happy repeating it. Roiz is close to finishing a book on the QID. He had hoped to finish it for January first, but is a bit delayed. This is not a big issue, as Andrew will be helping John for the next few weeks. Meanwhile Roiz will play a tournament or two before returning to the last few variations in the book.

  70. @ Jacob Aagaard

    I’m very much looking forward to the QID book by Roiz – his book on the Nimzo is very good i.m.o.!

  71. @piongu

    You are probably right. I played a recent internet Blitz were 8.Re1, Qf7 9.e4, fxe4 10. Nxe4, Nc6 11.d5, Nxe4 12.dxc6, Nc5 13.Be3. Here I played 13.-Qxc4 which is probably bad (I lost the game). Instead Malaniuk recommends 13.- b6 and he thinks the chances are equal.

    Even 8.b3 is critical. The best move is probably 8.-e5 but it is very tactical, one slip and it is over. 8.d5 and 8.Nd5 is not so dangerous in my opinion.

  72. The Leningrad Dutch almost always leads to entertaining play. The games are extremely dynamic and it avoids boring stuff like London and torre.

    It is also highly practical, and flexible.

  73. @Bebbe
    Will you ever get it though, with all of the variety on moves 2, 3, etc, etc. Dangerous gambits and other things as well as the mainlines. I found a line I think Eric Lobron has played/plays that wan’t in the Chess Stars Dutch book by Malaniuk and the other guy. I can’t remember it off the top of my head so I will have to dig my notes out I’m afraid…


  74. @Bebbe
    I meant Lobron from the white perspective, to add more detail from the white perspective and it wasn’t a mainline.

    Also, how about just 1 d4 f5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bg5. Yanvarjov has a good score with this and you won’t get a Leningrad anyway. Also it is viewed in a positive light in Gambit’s book on the Stonewall from way back when….. (2008 I think).


  75. @Bebbe: According to my experience, these Nf3+Bg5, Nc3+Bg5, London, and what have you – tries of White are even more boring when playing the Dutch. For me this was a reason to go back to 1…d5 and to try to play Nikos’ book. These attempts are by no means better for White but I’ve found it very hard to play for a win against some of these lines as at least one pair of minor pieces gets exchanged and the black structure is less fluent with the pawn already on f5. I’ve got the opinion that until recently every amateur followed the GMs and played the fianchetto Main Lines with White or sharper souls played dodgy gambits which is both a lot of fun for Black but I’ve got the impression that they know play more and more “system openings” against everything and with the Dutch I find as dull as dishwater to play for instance against Nf3+Bg5. But just my two cents …

  76. @Jacob Aagaard
    Ah, yes. That looks like a good move order. I might have noting better than playing 3 g3 and going into a fianchetto. The only thing is I now wouldn’t have the opportunity to play some lines with Nh3/Nf4 and h4.

    I might try 1 d4 f5 2 Nf3 d6 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 g6 5 0-0 Bg7 6 c3 0-0 7 Qb3+ e6 and 8 Ng5. I’m not saying it is any better than the main lines but it is something to play. There are obviously options for black from the 3rd move onwards.


  77. @McBear

    The anti-Dutch are mostly fun to play with sharp lines, lots of opposite side castling.
    More fun than Torre, colle, zukertort and London.

    Just my opinion, you can have your opinion and I respect it.
    It is a matter of style.

  78. @Jacob Aagaard

    The problem is 3.Nc3. I don’t mind 2.Nf3, Nf6 3.Bg5, e6 4.Nbd2, d5

    The Leningrad player must be prepared to play stonewall structures as well. Besides it gives variety and broader strategic understanding. See Malaniuks book for further details.

  79. Bebbe :
    Even 8.b3 is critical. The best move is probably 8.-e5 but it is very tactical, one slip and it is over.

    Yes, 8.b3 is a bit problematic. I lost two important games in St Petersburg in 2016 against GM Jumabayev and GM Huzman. Theoretically 8.b3 e5 should equalize but I agree with what you said about it.

  80. McBear :
    @Bebbe: According to my experience, these Nf3+Bg5, Nc3+Bg5, London, and what have you – tries of White are even more boring when playing the Dutch.

    I completely disagree. Nf3 and Bg5/Bf4 lines are not dangerous at all. I believe the position is much more dynamic than a normal Torre/London or whatever so whenever I know my opponent plays some “system opening” I go for a Dutch. There’s no symmetry, not many pieces are being exchanged etc.

    Jacob Aagaard :
    Maybe 2…d6 is a superior move order then, to have Nbd7 on Bg5 in the future!?

    In some lines premature …d6 is inaccurate. For example when White goes for a quick b4 it’s good for Black to have option to play …c6 followed by …d5 or …Nc6 b5 Na5 and some …d5 might be important move then as well.
    One interesting game is Wojtaszek-Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee 2015.

    The only line I would recommend quick …d6 is 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 as 3…g6 runs into 4.h4 but here White has commited his Knight to c3 which doesn’t match the plan with quick b4.

  81. Hi all at QC,

    I wanted to ask if there was any more informaton on Negi 5? For example, when is a realistic hope we will be holding it in our hands (Aug-Sept 18 perhaps?). I just wanted to guage how far off we were.



  82. Where are we with the Pirc book? I’ve noticed that some people have raised some issues (me included although mine was a minor line) with transpositions to lines to be avoided on some lines involving the placing of the dark squared bishop. I know an update on this is in the works.

    What I wannted to know is what is the opinion of any Pirc aficionados outh there?


  83. @James2
    I guess you could call me a Pirc afficionado 🙂 – I don’t like one of the lines mentioned on this blog in the 4.Be3 variation with f3 and 0-0-0 for white. It is rather a passive line for black (as pointed out on this blog), where black plays …d6-d5 and has a knight on h7. I have looked at it for a while but it doesn’t look that attractive for black i.m.o. The optimal move order gives me quite some head aches – Kornev recommends an early …Bg7, but this is also better for white according to Marin (white plays Bh6 and later 0-0-0 with a pleasant space advantage). According to Kornev it’s equal, but again black can not do much but wait. So the question is, what is then the right move order for black? Can he avoid the position with the knight on h7 or is there no need to worry?

  84. PS: maybe black should ook for an improvement earlier on, e.g. on move 1, by playing 1…e5 :-). After all this is the move he often wants to play in the Pirc anyway…

  85. @Ray
    I had also hoped the book would give me confidence to play the Pirc, but it doesn’t.
    The line you mentioned hasn’t a clear solution. The Austrian Attack with c5 can also be a tightrope ride. And the omission of 3.Nd2 doesn’t impress me either.

  86. Haha ! So Pirc afficionados do exist . I had always believed the last one was Uncle Joe at my club ! ( just kidding )

  87. Franck Steenbekkers

    I think Negi and also Avrukch are writers in the supercategory, but even here a lot attacks in there books can be neutralised

  88. Siddhartha Gautama

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @Alex Relyea
    They won’t be relevant.

    Does this mean Roiz chooses the Ba6-Setup for his repertoire book?
    I was hoping he will close the “gap” Mikhalevski left in his book, when Mikhalevski saying positions will transpose to a Bb7 Queens Indian position

  89. @Ray
    No. I meant Negi will be providing a system against the Pirc and it would be interesting to see what he recommends against it. Nothing about ‘burying’ the Pirc.


  90. I think it is very very hard, in a book about such a flexible and non-forcing opening like the Pirc, to make sure one has covered all possible transpositions and move-orders. Therefore I don’t really blame Marin or the editors for the few small things he/they may have overlooked. It is the nature of the play in the opening in most systems (the lack of concrete clashes and the considerable flexibility for both sides) that creates the grounds for such oversights; nothing serious, IMO.
    In addition, QC has very often treated us with free PDF/PGN updates and additions to their books, and it may well be the case for the Pirc book as well in the near future; Marin has shown in the past his willingness to contribute in this way. So I don’t think all these minor quibbles should detract from the undisputed value of his book.
    On the other hand, responding to Thomas: I fully comprehend your lack of confidence in playing the Pirc, but I think it is 100% owed to the opening itself and not the book 😉

    1. I have said this often. There are 2nd tier openings, where Black will have to be more accurate to equalise, but can do it. Pirc, Tarrasch and so on. They require a higher level of preparation as Black, but on the other hand, your opponents will often not know what to do against them.

  91. Hi John,

    I’m sure we are all looking forward to your upcoming 1 e4 book. I’m interested to see what you recommend against the 3..c5 Tarrasch and also in the Tarasch mainline see if you choose Ngf3 or Ne2 lines (I think it will be Ne2). If it is Ne2 how far along the mainlines (e.g. with Bg5 after ..Bd6/Qc7) will you go!? I’m sure all of these questions will be answered soon.

    I hope you are finding the work rewarding (or at least used to……!)


  92. Jacob Aagaard :
    I have said this often. There are 2nd tier openings, where Black will have to be more accurate to equalise, but can do it. Pirc, Tarrasch and so on. They require a higher level of preparation as Black, but on the other hand, your opponents will often not know what to do against them.

    The perfect reason to publish a book on the Alekhine !

  93. @Thomas
    Third tier opening. No matter how much you try, equality is nowhere. But having said that I used to play this crap and has affection for it, so I would not necessarily say no if an author emerged.

  94. Dear Jacob,

    Is Scandinavian second or third tier opening … ?

    Some junior students wish to use Bauer’s book to build a repertoire but worry about it is third tier opening and therefore they cannot achieve equality no matter how hard they try …


  95. I have been building up a set of notes on Alekhine’s Defense for a long time now, and have basically just determined that 4.Nf3 is tough to equalize against. To my taste the Miles is both a bit lame and not quite equal, but maybe the Kengis or 4…g6 with 5.Bc4 c6 is good enough. Against the 4PA there is really only one option, and against the Exchange the …cxd6 line with …Bf5 is quite nice, and is one of my highest scoring lines OTB.

    Would be very excited to see a QC Alekhine’s Defense book emerge. Previous literature is…just okay for me.

  96. @ Leaf

    I.m.o. the Petroff is absolutely a first tier opening. I would be interested to hear which openings qualify as first tier according to the QC team. Maybe this was already mentioned somewhere on this blog? My guess would be Najdorf, Ruy Lopez (especially Berlin, Breyer and Marshall), Petroff and Caro-Kann against 1.e4 and QID, Nimzo, Semi-Slav and Grunfeld against 1.d4. I am doubting how to qualify the French – is this a first tier or a second tier defence. I think first tier but I’m not sure.

  97. @TonyRo
    I would love to see a book based on such a repertoire. I have played the Alekhine for more than 30 years (not all the time, of course) and I also like the lines you suggest against Nf3 and the Exchange. I am surprised at what you say about the Four Pawns, though. At my level (1950ish) anything is good against the 4Ps.

  98. Personally I only play second tier openings like Kingsindian, Leningrad Dutch and classical Sicilian. I Think they are more interesting than the first tier openings. These are figthing openings while first tier openings really aims to equalize the position.

    French, Dragon and sicilian kan are a second tier opening.

    Modern, Pirc, philidor, Owens, Dutch stonewall and Budapest gambit are third tier openings.

    Latvian, Englund, Elephantgambit are fourth tier.

  99. @ Bebbe

    Thanks for adding these – I forgot those! Concerning your remark on 1st vs 2nd tier: in general that might be true, but I think it isn’t true for the Najdorf. I don’t think this opening aims to equalise the position. And neither does the Grunfeld i.m.o.

  100. @ Jacob Aagaard

    Which openings are you referring to in your two remarks above? The first I guess is the Petroff, but the second remark?

  101. Steve :
    I would love to see a book based on such a repertoire. I have played the Alekhine for more than 30 years (not all the time, of course) and I also like the lines you suggest against Nf3 and the Exchange. I am surprised at what you say about the Four Pawns, though. At my level (1950ish) anything is good against the 4Ps.

    I think that if you’re qualifying it by implying that people will make mistakes, then indeed there are a lot of lines with reasonable practical value against the 4PA. I have not been able to make anything but the absolute main line work, and even there I think 10.Be2 has more venom than people give it credit for, and that Black needed some new ideas there.

  102. If Roiz is not planning to write on 3. g3, how would you think about playing in Benoni style with 3…c5 would complement his two repertoires on Nimzo and Queen’s ?

  103. @Leaf
    Or Cohen wrote a fantastic book on the Petroff in 2013. Sakaev another in 2011. I spent a year of my life trying to learn the Petroff. Black is probably equal in most lines or very slightly worse. There are a couple of issues with the Petroff. First, there is a huge amount of theory. Second, Black is just passive in many lines. The computer may say equal, but, the positions were very hard for me to play. In 7-8 games against players 2300 – 2500 my score was awful. As great as Cohen made the Petroff seem, all those players played the lines even he couldn’t make fun for Black. Ntirlis play 1…e5 book is easier to learn and the lines are much more fun for Black. Look at what happened to Caruana and Hou the last couple of days at Tata Steel. Kramnik drew all those Petroff games because he was brilliant at holding those positions. Kramnik hasn’t played it in years.

  104. All this talk of classifying the openings into a tier system interests me a great deal (for some unknown reason) so I have decided to make a tier system for both White and Black according to my own, well, opinion basically (take it with a grain of salt).

    For White, 1st tier openings are ones that greatly challenge Black, and even if he is able to equalize, he must be very precise to do so. 2nd tier openings are ones which are still potentially dangerous, but give Black more options to equalize, or at least err from theory without drastic consequences, though White should not end up worse. 3rd tier openings are ones where it is usually Black, rather than White, who is pushing for an advantage with precise play.

    For Black, I made 4 tiers. 1st tier openings are those which are often seen at top level, and challenge White to prove even the slightest edge. 2nd tier openings are very playable, and often give White a small edge with precise play, though Black usually has counter chances. 3rd tier openings are ones where White usually has multiple paths to at least a slight edge, if not a significant one. 4th tier openings are usually losing or much worse for Black with accurate play from White.

    Of course, since this is a theoretical discussion, we must assume that both sides play the best/most critical moves within the given openings.

  105. Starting with White:

    1st tier: Open Sicilians, Ruy Lopez, Mainline (3.Nc3) French, French Tarrasch, Classical Caro, Advance Caro, Mainline (3.Nc3) Scandi, Mainline (3.Nf3) Alekhine, 4 Pawns attack Pirc.

    QGD exchange, Catalan, and regular mainlines, Meran, 5.Bg5 Semi-Slav, Mainline Slav, Mar del Plata, Bayonette, Saemisch KID, Exchange Grunfeld, Russian System Grunfeld, 4.Qc2 Nimzo, 4.e3 Nimzo, Benko accepted with Bg2 set-up, Flick-knife attack or Modern Mainline against Modern Benoni, QGA 3.e4, Bg2 set-up against Tarrasch, Mainline Bg2 set-ups against Dutch.

    2nd tier: Most Anti-Sicilians; Scotch, Italian, 4 Knights game, etc.; French Advance, KIA, Exchange; Fantasy, Panov-Botvinnik, 2 knights Caro-Kann.

    Most D-Pawn Specials (minus Blackmar-Diemar), 2.Bg5/2.Nc3/2.e4 Dutch; Exchange Slav, minor lines against Slav, Semi-Slav, NID, KID, Grunfeld etc. (such as fianchetto KID, or 4.f3 Nimzo, you get the picture); Slow Slav, 1.b3, 1.f4, and 1.c4 without transposition to 1.d4 mainlines (I am still not sure if this should be 1st or 2nd tier).

    3rd tier: King’s Gambit (I know some will not be happy to see this in 3rd tier, but I need to be convinced otherwise), Blackmar-Diemar gambit, Smith Morra Gambit, French/Sicilian Wing Gambits, Danish Gambit, Grob, Orangutang.

  106. Now for Black:

    1st tier: Najdorf, Sveshnikov, and Taimanov Sicilians; Berlin, Marshall, Breyer, Zaitsev Ruy; Petrov, King’s Gambit Accepted; Caro-Kann (maybe this should be 2nd tier).

    QGD, Slav, Semi-Slav, Mainline Catalan, Grunfeld, Nimzo Indian.

    2nd tier: Most other Ruy defences, KGD/Falkbeer, French (should this be 1st tier?), Pirc, Modern; O’Kelly, Kan, Dragon(s), Kalashnikov, Classical, Scheveningen Sicilians; 2…Qxd5 Scandi (maybe this should be 3rd tier), Philidor (maybe this as well…).

    Chebanenko Slav, KID, Bogo, QID, Benko Gambit, Blumenfeld Gambit, Modern Benoni, Czech Benoni, QGA, Tarrasch, Dutch, Closed Catalan, …dxc4 Catalans where Black tries to hold the pawn, Old Indian.

    3rd tier: Bad Ruy defences (like the Bird); Lowenthal, Pin, 4 Knights, Basmann, Nimzowitch Sicilians; 2…Nf2 Scandi, Alekhine (probably the best in this tier), Owen’s Defence.

    Snake Benoni, Albin Counter-Gambit, Budapest Gambit, Schlecter Slav, Von-Hennig Schara Gambit, Chigorin Defence.

    4th tier: Borg, 1…b5, Englund Gambit, Elephant Gambit, Latvian Gambit, Fred.

    Obviously this is not comprehensive, so feel free to add any openings I missed. My apologies for any spelling, naming or classification errors in this opening nomenclature.

  107. @BigTy
    You have made an enormous effort here. Probably impossible. There are a lot of high level correspondence games now with the QGA and Black seems to hold fine. Hard to classify the QID as second tier since it has held the test of time for so long. Black side of Catalan, there are a number of different ways to play for Black that are hard for White to gain an advantage. I like most of your other choices for second tier.

    From a long time English player, 1 c4 second tier is harsh. Maybe right, but harsh. I look at the English / Reti a bit like the Italian, the transposition possibilities and requirements to understand a lot of different positions that are only slightly, but sometimes significantly from a strategic perspective make it very dangerous at a lot of levels. In today’s age of information, maybe that is all we can ask for from an opening.

  108. @Doug Eckert

    I was not sure about the QGA as I have not played the Black side of it, and only 3.e4 with White, though at my relatively low level Black often gets a really good game if he knows what he is doing (I prefer facing the QGD, Slav, or Semi-Slav to be honest, but maybe that just shows that I need to prepare better against the QGA). I have not played or studied the QID from either side, so I cannot say. I guess I was just going by the fact that I see much more 3…d5, with a transposition to the QGD after 3.Nf3, among strong players, but that does not necessarily mean the QID is inferior…

    While writing the 2nd tier openings part of my post, I kept thinking that this section could possibly be split into 2 sections, with a total of 5 tiers instead of 4. The English is one example of an opening, where it seems wrong to put it in the same category as the Pirc, but also in the same category as the Ruy Lopez and Queen’s Gambit. Maybe I am just biased as an 1.e4/d4 player, and not a 1.c4/Nf3 player, but I think an argument could be made to have tier 2 become two tiers (with openings like the English, KID, French in tier 2, and openings like the Pirc, Dutch, Benoni in tier 3), or even just to move the English and Reti to tier 1 based on their popularity and success in recent high level games.


  109. @BigTy
    There is a huge amount of judgement in this. I think your rational is very good.

    One thought on the opening trends. For many years, I never thought of Kramnik as a big thought leader in openings. But, think about the various openings that he played over the years that became hugely popular, Berlin, Petroff, Sveshnikov, and now the QGD. Its almost unbelievable the trends he set, very quietly. Ntirlis acknowledges his contribution to the QGD in his book Playing 1 d4 d5.

    As White, Kramnik is playing a lot of 1 c4 and 1 Nf3 these days with very creative ideas. I wish I had 10% of his creativity. For many years I viewed him as someone who almost understood chess too deeply and he gave draws when he should not. Yet now, he seems to be playing better than ever and his creativity is brighter than ever. Given his level of understanding, results and ability to set trends, anything he plays probably should be considered tier 1.

  110. @ Doug Eckert

    I see your point on the Petroff. on the other hand, it also has some advantages: 1) Indeed it is a lot of theory, but if you know it well, you end up with equal positions almost everywhere. 2) You avoid a lot of theory as well, so I doubt if in the end the Petroff has more theory than all the white options after 2…Nc6 combined (I think not). 3) “More fun” may be a matter of taste. I agree some of the Petroff lines are rather dry / technical, but if you like endgames this can be fun. On the other hand, almost everyone seems to play the Italian with d2-d3 nowadays, which is also not to every black player’s taste. I would dare to say that the subtleties of this system are also quite difficult to learn; I have read several GM’s remark on this (e.g. MVL in a recent interview in NIC).

  111. @Ray

    Yes I agree that Najdorf and Grunfeld are exceptions and that black strives for the initiative in many variations. The practical problem with these openings are that there are many forced draws. I am not aware of any forced draw in the Leningrad dutch or the Classical Sicilian

  112. @BigTy

    Great job in categorizing the openings. The big question is what to use this information for?
    It would be interesting to categorize openings according to how theorethical they are and to playing style. For instance: Which first tier opening for black against 1.e4 demands the least theorethical knowledge or is the most tactical? Thus we can have a table showing these correlations.

  113. Ray :
    I agree some of the Petroff lines are rather dry / technical, but if you like endgames this can be fun.

    I doubt if even the greatest endgame lovers have too much fun with a knight ending with symmetrical pawns right out of the opening.

  114. @ Thomas

    Point taken 🙂 . On the other hand, the Scotch Four Knights is not that much more exciting. And Nikos’ main line in the Italian Two Knights with 4.Ng5 ends in a forced draw. If white doesn’t want to play chess, there’s not much you can do about it with black. I guess it’s a matter of philosophy: do you want to win with black or do you want to avoid losing? That being said, the Petroff probably isn’s the best choice for a GM against an IM. But neither is the Berlin Wall and a whole lot of other solid openings. In that case he can always play the Pirc of course 🙂 .

  115. @Ray
    I think we are trying too much to follow the top players and their no-risk-attitude. It kills too much creativity.
    I accept that I won’t ever understand all the subtleties of the Berlin – but then there’s no reason to play it.
    So many having played the Catalan and now switching to 2.Bf4 – even more solid. OMG.
    I still dream of someone writing a nice book on the Velimirovic-Attack.

  116. @BigTy
    Thanks for the fantastic contribution to this interesting discussion! The one that interests me is the relative ranking of the French and the Caro-Kann for Black, noting that BigTy has questioned his categorisation of both of these openings, i.e. which is the “third best” reply to 1.e4? I think it is commonly accepted that the Advance Caro (tier 1 by BigTy) is a bigger challenge for Black than the Advance French (tier 2 by BigTy) and I feel less challenged as Black in the Exchange French than in the Panov Attack (both tier 2 by BigTy). And Black seems to have a wider choice of good replies against 3.Nc3/Nd2 in the French than in the Caro-Kann. But perhaps in the ultra mainlines against 3.Nc3/Nd2 the Caro-Kann is the more dependable if Black follows the best path? (not sure). As a modest player with the outlook of someone who tends in the main not to be pressured to win v. 1.e4 I think I would give a very slight edge to the French from my perspective, but close enough to put them in the same tier. But tier 1 or 2 is difficult, and perhaps the main replies to 3.Nc3/Nd2 would need splitting in the same way as Black’s Open Sicilian and Ruy defences to clarify this (I am not planning doing this!).

  117. @ Thomas

    I agree. It is astonishing how risk-avoiding also the white players are nowadays. On the internet I get the London all the time against 1.d4, and against 1.e4 over half of my games is in the French Exchange… And these are 10 minute games! It seems everyone is just concerned with not losing any rating points rather than having an exciting game.

  118. I have been planning on writing about this way down the line. I will purposefully ignore the way Bigty has done it (and have purposefully not read more than a few lines of it, as to avoid plagiarism on my own idea :-).

    I saw Doug’s comment and have to say that I do not find the English to be second tier, if White is ready to transpose into favourable 1.d4 openings.

  119. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @BigTy – The Grob belongs in a tier all by itself.

    “… it comes closer to losing by force than any other first move.” — John W. Collins, “How the Chess Openings Got their Names”, Chess Life, July 1965 (Best of Chess Life & Review, volume 2, page 153).

    True that. I have played it many times myself, with excellent results, only because sheer terror kept me on high alert from move one.

    I think all tier systems are doomed from the start, because tier implies step-wise differences between classes of openings. The differences are more gradual, with the exception of the Grob.

  120. @bebbe

    I am not sure if this information is useful for anything, other than to help very strong players make informed choices. I think that for most of us, playing a 1st tier or 2nd tier opening will not make much of a difference in our results, assuming we know how to play both of the openings. For example, my results with the Najdorf tend to be better than with the Sveshnikov, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Najdorf is a superior opening. Rather, I know the ideas better and find the positions easier to handle. Likewise, I probably do better on the Black side of the Modern Benoni than the Semi-Slav, but I would be laughed right out of here if I tried to argue that the Semi-Slav is inferior from a theoretical perspective. As for categorizing openings by amount of theory and playing style, I will leave that to someone else, as I do not think I have the knowledge to do so (especially amount of theory). I will say, however, that generally the higher the tier, the more theory the opening has — which seems pretty obvious.


    I agree, though I think the Catalan is a highly complex and interesting opening, which tends to be solid, though can also get sharp rather easily (like the Ruy Lopez against 1.e4). Thus, I am never dissapointed to see it in a high level game, unlike the London.


    Regarding the French/Caro debate, I really cannot decide which move I would rank higher. I think a common opinion is that the French is a better winning…

  121. Oops, I went over the character limit. Here is the rest:


    Regarding the French/Caro debate, I really cannot decide which move I would rank higher. I think a common opinion is that the French is a better winning try (if you can get past the exchange), while the Caro is better for not losing… However, these days with all the crazy lines in the Advance variation, and opposite side castling in the Classical, I think that it is not clear at all. If I had to rank one defense is giving better chances for equality from a theoretical perspective, I would say the Caro, but only because of the light square Bishop problem that Black often has in the French. Due to the inability to decide where to place these openings in the tier system, in my previous post I proposed dividing tier 2 into two separate tiers, with tier 1 being Sicilian, 1…e5, tier 2 being French and Caro, and tier three being Pirc, Scandi, Modern, etc.


    I have noticed this too, and it is frustrating. I probably get the London system after 1…d5 almost as often as 2.c4 online, and I wonder why I even bother studying Anti-Moscow Gambit theory if for every Anti-Moscow Gambit I get 20 Londons? After a while I quit playing the French partially due to getting the exchange variation in half my games as well (OTB it did not seem to be a problem, but online players of all levels seem to love the exchange with White). I guess I will always have the Dutch and Sicilian as part of my repertoire for…

  122. @Ray

    I guess I will always have the Dutch and Sicilian as part of my repertoire for this reason.

    @An Ordinary Chessplayer

    I embarrassingly have lost to the Grob in blitz on more than one occasion, even against weaker players. Perhaps that is just due to the fact that I cannot be bothered to really study it though (it seems like common sense moves should be sufficient). However, if you like, we can put it in tier 4 for White along with the Bong Cloud.

    I agree with you regarding the gradual differences between openings, and to classify them all within 4 or 5 tiers does not seem to do justice to the gradual differences between them. I for one have trouble putting the KID in the same category as the Benko, but I don’t believe it belongs with the Grunfeld either.

  123. @Ray
    I view the Petroff like this. There are a pair of center pawns exchanged early in almost every line leading to more static pawn structures. Against 3 d4 Cohen gives 8 chapters and Sakaev 7. Against 3 Nxe5 Cohen gives 12 chapters and Sakaev 14 chapters. Both books are around 300 pages. Several of the chapters have long tactical sequences that both authors indicate a lot of deep memorization required. The Petroff pawn structures need to be of the type you like to play. If they are not, it is going to be a tough opening to play. I found it just was not my style.

    With 2…Nc6, there are more options, not only for White, but also for Black. The d3 systems in both the Italian and Spanish are very subtle. The opportunity to change the pawn structure for both sides creates a very interesting strategic battle. I also remember MVL’s comment about strong GMs not understanding it. That seems to create opportunity to strategically understand positions and create opportunities to out play opponents. Not easy, but an opportunity.

    I never thought I would play 1…e5 after playing the Sicilian for 28 years or so. It took me a year of work to convert and the results with 1…e5 have been encouraging. Other than a game or two, I have for the most part achieved good positions in most of my games. Living in St. Louis, the competition is shall we say strong. Against most lower rated players, I am having an easier time than I was…

  124. @BigTy

    I aggree that it is more important to know the ideas. Even the guys in Wijk are playing second tier openings.

    Regarding The French/Caro debate I think it can be hard to get a sharp game against 3.Nd2. If everbody played the advance variation and 3.Nc3 i would also play the french.

    The classical variation with opposite castling is of course sharp but a queen exchange is never far away. Besides I think that white is doing most of the attacking.
    In the classical french Steinitz variation there is also opposite side castling after 7-.cxd4 8.Nxd4, Bc5 9.Qd2, 0-0 10.0-0-0. But here the queens will stay and it is more a case of mutual attacks

  125. The classical variation in the Caro-Kann with opposite castling is of course sharp but a queen exchange is never far away. Besides I think that white is doing most of the attacking.

  126. @ Bebbe
    I think you are now addressing a different point than the question on which tier the French and Caro are in. The QGD has a lot of quiet variations without opposite castling, and nobody would dispute it’s a first tier opening.

    More on the content: whereas I also prefer playing against 3.Nc3 or the Advance, i.m.o. the Tarrasch French also has plenty of quite sharp variations after 3…Nf6. If you have a look at Berg’s tome, you’ll see piece end exchange sacrifices abound.

  127. @BigTy @Bebbe @Ray
    Thank you very much for the further contributions to the French/Caro Kann tier discussion. Those were the days 25+ years ago when (before 5.Ng5 came into prominence) the 4…Nd7 Caro-Kann could be the centrepiece of a simple and solid repertoire v. 1.e4, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the Advance Caro-Kann tended to be regarded as a sideline back then! Now I find playing the Caro-Kann as Black can be quite burdensome theoretically on a number of fronts, albeit I am sure much less so than the Sicilian and 1…e5, and I struggle a little to see the obvious “upside” to playing it compared to other defences.

  128. @claretjames

    Some players would argue that the Caro-kann is the best choice if you need to play for a win at all costs against 1.e4. Why? Let’s look at the aternatives:

    Top tier Sicilians: tend to have a lot of long lines that lead to mass simplification, forced draws (like in the Nadorf PP), or opposite coloured bishop situations where both sides have mutual weaknesses (Sveshnikov). I am not sure about the Taimanov, though generally one could argue that very tactical variations are not suitable for playing for a win against a booked up opponent due to the reasons above, and the positions being too ‘solved’ in general.

    2nd tier Sicilians: maybe these are also a good choice, especially ones that are not so tactical and forcing (I am thinking of the Kan as a good choice, and the Dragon as perhaps not so good).

    1…e5 There is the whole problem of getting into one of those ‘Spanish torture’ positions, where Black just kind of defends without any real winning chances. Also, some lines have forced draws or are at least very forcing and deeply analyzed (Zaitsev, Marshall). White does not even have to play the Ruy, and can go for many lines which lead to a symmetrical pawn structure and early exchanges.

    French: exchange variation, though it is by no means a forced draw.

    Moden, Pirc, Alekhine, Scandi: maybe good in must win situations, but you are also increasing your chances of losing in my opinion — more so than with 1…c6.

  129. I am mostly a Sicilian player, but I play the Caro sometimes as well, and seem to get good results (though have not tried it in OTB tournaments). I know the ideas a lot better than the concrete theory, and that seems to be enough to get an imbalanced position where I can try to outplay my opponents (or get outplayed). I am only around 2000 strength though, so for stronger players, a more indepth knowledge of the actual theory is probably required. Here is my rational for why the Caro is a good winning try, and a good choice in general:

    – It is always going to be imbalanced: the pawn structure rarely ends up symmetrical, and often there are minor piece imbalances as well.
    – Not a lot of forced draws: there may be some in the sharp lines of the Advance variation, but Black has options and can avoid going into those lines.
    – Hard for white to kill the game: there are some lines in the classical which seem pretty boring, such as when white exchanges light squared bishops without pushing the h-pawn, but even here Black can play for a win because the pawn structure is asymmetrical.
    – less theory than other 1st tier openings: assuming we can agree on it being 1st tier, the Caro has a lot less theory than 1…c5 or 1…e5, though it still has quite a lot.
    – few minor piece problems: unlike in the French, the c8 bishop is rarely a problem, though sometimes Black lacks space for his kingside pieces in the Advance variation.
    – less popular than 1…e5 and 1…c5: this is…

  130. – less popular than 1…e5 and 1…c5: this is potentially an advantage as well, as White likely has less experience playing against the Caro than against 1…c5 and 1…e5, and probably invests less time in studying its theory.

    I could go on and on, though perhaps you are right in that if Black wants a solid game and does not like being attacked, then the Caro is probably not the best choice. In a lot of lines, I have come to see it as a counterattacking opening — much like the French and Sicilian. But if Black players can no longer count on the Caro for safety and solidity, then where should they look?

  131. @BigTy
    Where is the forced draw for White against 1…e5? Look at Aronion’s games. He is trying to win. Just at that level, well… Even in the 4 knights, there are imbalancing plans for Black that are not terribly risky.

    If I had to win as Black, I would probably play the Sicilian Kan. Second tier opening, but I can get a hedge hog position. I avoid Bb5 lines. There are a lot less forcing variations there. I just need something against 2 c3. I have not looked at that for a few years now to see what could work.

  132. @Doug Eckert

    I guess I phrased that wrong… I cannot think of a forced draw in the same way that they can be found in some Poisoned Pawn lines, other than the Nf3-g5-f3 repetition against the Zaitsev, though here Black has a chance to choose a different system if he wishes. I guess I wanted to say that some of the theoretically strongest lines, such as the Marshall and Berlin, are very deeply analyzed and tend to have a drawish tendency in high level games, though I am sure that at my level that would not be the case. In the closed Ruy lines, like Chigorin and Breyer, it seems like Black often has a tough time creating dangerous counterplay against White’s slow positional grind (hence the term Spanish torture), much in the same way White can play for 2 results (level depending of course) in the Catalan.

    I find I go through phases with 1…e5, where for a while I play it exclusively, and then not at all for a while. The thing I find annoying is not the Ruy, as I am happy to play the Zaitsev and have some back up ideas if White goes for the repetition, but rather lines like the Scotch gambit (if memory serves me right), where there seems to be a lot of early forced simplification (depending on what White does), leading to a rather symmetrical structure and sometimes right to an equal ending. Black should be happy here, of course, but I found that often these types of lines gave White fewer chances to err if he just followed the theory and played logical moves. Maybe…

  133. Maybe I just don’t know how to play 1…e5 right…

    As for the Hedgehog, I find it interesting, though it has never really been a part of my repertoire for either side, and something I have only entered ‘by accident.’ I studied the plans for both sides in Rios’ Chess Structures book, and it looks preferable for Black when compared to the Black side of an Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind, but my question is, if White sits tight and tries to just hold back all of Black’s pawn breaks, does Black still have good chances to win?


  134. @BigTy
    As I have gotten older, I have tended to look for more clear cut solutions. (Maybe that is why we lose strength as we get older.) Beating any strong player from near equal positions is going to be difficult irrespective of the opening. I am taking the approach that I want to know for certain my position is OK, then figure out what I can make of it. Sometimes it is just a draw.

    In the Scotch gambit, I am assuming you are referring to the position 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 c3 when everyone recommends 4…d5, the Capablanca defense and an equal ending is a logical progression. 4…Nf6 transposing to a Ponziani is an interesting option for Black. I have had the Capablanca ending twice in rapid games as Black and won both. Both players were in the 2100 ELO range. Certainly White is at least equal. But, the position is not dead.

    When I was younger, I hated these positions and did not find 1…e5 that interesting. I played 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 for the first time in a tournament game in February 2016. It has been an adjustment and an enormous time investment. I think the investment is worth it. I looked at my record, +7 -4 =3 in Classical games since 2016. All of the wins were ELO 2000 – 2150. The four losses were 2250 – 2530 ELO, 1 IM (Bregadze) 1 GM (Mirandi). The three draws were 2350 – 2500 ELO 1 IM and 1 GM (Fishbein). So, I have not yet beaten anyone really strong with it. But, I also did not lose or draw…

  135. @Doug Eckert
    Of course there is no forced draw for white against 1…e5, but i.m.o. the Scotch Four Knights is quite dry – if drawing margin in the endgame line is quite high.

    @ BigTy
    If white is happy with a draw, he can play the exchange variation against the Caro-Kann. Here too the drawing margin is high if white is determined not to lose. In my experience the winning chances for black against the French Exchange are not lower than against the Caro-Kann Exchange. I.m.o. against almost every opening white can “kill” the game if he really wants to. As to your question where black should go to if he can no longer count on the Caro-Kann for safety and solidity: the Petroff comes to mind 🙂 . It was remarked on this blog some days ago that Caruana and Hou lost with the Petroff in Tata Steel, but those losses had nothing to do witht he opening.

  136. Ray :
    ….but those losses had nothing to do witht he opening.

    Hmmm. I’m not so sure. The positions might have been ok, but look at the large amounts of time used by black around move 15 in both games. That shows how difficult those positions are to play.

  137. A fighting repertoire in the french with reasonable amount of theory could be:

    3.Nc3 Classical (the winawer is very theorethical with lots of sidelines) , 7.-cxd4 8.Nxd4, Bc5 with opposite side castling against Steinitz 4.Bg5, Be7 5.e5, Nfd7 6.Bxe7 (6.h4, h6), Qxe7 3.Nd2, Nf6 with 11.-0-0 instead of 11.-Qc7 (much less theory)
    3.e5, c5 4.c3, Nc6 5.Nf3, Qb6 6.a3, c4 (keeping lots of pieces)
    3.exd5 just play chess

    A fighting repertoire in the caro with reasonable amount of theory could be:

    3.Nc3/Nd2 classical with opposite side castling
    3. e5, Bf5
    3. exd5, cxd5 4.c4, Nf6 5.Nc3, Nc6
    3. f3, e6 4.Nc3, Bb4

    Which one do you prefer?

  138. If choosing french 1.d4, e6 could be a practical option.
    Maybe the stonewall after 2.c4, 2.Nf3 and 2.g3.
    I think the stonewall is a low maintenance opening.
    The downside is that it is much less dynamic than its brother,
    the Leningrad Dutch.

  139. @ Thomas
    Maybe you’re right – I’m not an expert on the Petroff, on the contrary. I don’t play it, but I do think it’s an intriguing opening.

  140. @ Bebbe

    I have played both the Caro-Kann and the French, but in the end I prefer the French as a fighting opening. It’s so rich in both strategical and tactical idea. And very flexible due to the closed nature of the positions. Besides, many 1.e4 players don’t like the (semi-) closed positions from the French. I agree it makes sense to play 3…Nf6 against 3.Nc3. The Winawer is great, but too much theory you have to learn but almost never have on the board (e.g. the Posioned Pawn). I.m.o. Jacob and Nikos already gave us the perfect figthing repertoire in Playing the French 🙂 . I prefer the McCutcheon over 4…Be7. 3…Nf6 against the Tarrasch offers fighting chances, but my score in this line is horrible. I think 3…c5 is simply better and offers fighting chances as well in the line with …Qxd5. The white knight is then just misplaced on d2. In summary: I’m very happy to just follow the repertoire in Playing the French !

  141. PS: 1.d4 e6 is great, since you avoid a lot of sidelines. I am in favour of playing 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 and go for a Nimzo. This is i.m.o. one of the ideal fighting openings. Very sound but plenty of opportunities to unbalance the game. And in this move order you avoid the Tromp. Of course there’s the Catalan, but Niko’s antidote is convincing and offers sufficient winning chances for black. That leaves only 3.Nf3. If you want a fighting option you can play the Benoni, but the Ragozin is also great. And I hope Roiz will also offer a fighting repertoire in his upcoming book on the QID!

  142. @Ray

    I think that you are right about that french is the better fighting weapon: too many exchanges in the Caro.

    We also agree that 3.Nc3, Nf6 is the way to go.

    What I dont like is Qxd5 against Tarrasch. There is an early queen exchange with slim winning chances for black.

    Your repertoire after 1.d4, e6 is much more ambitious than mine and requires a lot of learning. The stonewall dutch is almost theory-free compared to what you suggest. It is still a great fighting weapon even if objectively black is slightly worse. I only consider 1.d4, e6 as a second option to my leningrad dutch which avoids all the anti-dutch lines when I am not in a mood for those.

  143. @Ray

    I’m very happy to just follow the repertoire in Playing the French !

    Agreed I do the same, a great book. Wish they’d do a Sicilian in the same style

  144. Many thanks to all for the further contributions to the French/Caro-Kann discussion. @BigTy, your points about the imbalance in the Caro-Kann are well made, and I don’t disagree. I think I am sort of somewhere in between you and @Ray on the Caro-Kann Exchange, I suppose that Black has prospects of minority attack style play. I had been looking at the statistics shortly before this tier discussion started, hence my interest. From a large online database, after 1.e4 e6 (or c6) 2.d4 d5, in the French the frequencies are 71% for 3.Nc3/Nd2, 16% for 3.e5 and 12% for 3.exd5 and in the Caro-Kann they are 44% for 3.Nc3/Nd2, 26% for 3.e5 and 27% for 3.exd5. (Rare moves account for the balance of 100%.) French then splits 42% for 3.Nc3 and 29% for 3.Nd2, Caro-Kann doesn’t really matter because 3…dxe4 is almost always played. This includes historical games, but I don’t feel the numbers are unrepresentative of current trends. I take from this that we are significantly more likely to get our mainlines in the French, but need to be prepared to fight more frequently on more fronts in the Caro-Kann. White has the fundamental 3.Nc3/Nd2 choice in the French, but otherwise it seems to me that Black is choosing the battleground in the French but White is choosing the battleground in the Caro-Kann….

  145. We can debate the merits of Winawer or Classical in the 3.Nc3 French, similarly in the Tarrasch, on top of which the Rubinstein Variation is also available against both White moves if Black wishes to choose this on move 3 on some occasions, but Black has these choices. Whereas in the Caro-Kann I think we are up to at least 3, possibly even 4, recent Black repertoire books all suggesting the Classical with opposite side castling?

  146. @ Bebbe

    The queen exchange against the …Qxd5 Tarrasch is indeed a problem for black if he needs to win. But in practice it might not be so bad. In my experience the odds of getting this position in the first place are rather small. And besides, if white desperately wants to draw against the French, then why not go for the Exchange rather than the Tarrasch where he has to be ready for 3…c5, 3…Nf6, 3…Be7, 3…Nc6 (by the way also quite an interesting fighting option), 3…a6 and 3…h6 ? If in a tournament you can prepare against an opponent and know beforehand he will play the queen exchange, you can always specifically prepare a fighting response for that occasion of course.

  147. @Ray

    I have actually played this variation two times in classical games and in one of them the queen exchange occured but maybe it is not that common.

    Still, after 3.-Nf6 there is no real bailout for white.

    I agree that the MacCutcheon is a great fighting weapon, but it is much more theroethical than 4.-Be7, quite similiar to the Winaver with many sidelines.
    A great fighting line is 5.e5, h6 6.Bd2, Bxc3 7.bxc3, Ne4 8,Qg4.

  148. I don’t recall who was the first person who uttered this statement: “In a symmetrical position, the better player will usually win.” I guess there is some kernel of truth in that statement. Maybe you will not always win against weaker players but if you are clearly the better player, you do not have to fear the French Exchange variation as there are still plenty of pieces on the board with which you can outplay your opponent.
    Sometimes I fear that somebody may go into one of those variations which exist for instance in the French Tarrasch Nf6 or Be7 which lead to a draw by repetition of moves or there are forced moves until the endgame with hardly any pieces left. But then I have to tell myself: which White player would prepare a line with 15-20 moves only to reach a draw once in a while. No amateur player …

  149. @Mcbear

    I agree that the forced draws are more fearful for the clearly better player than the French Exchange. Black can always break the symmetry to liven-up the game. There are lots of pieces. The better player will know what pieces that should be exchanged and those to keep.

    What forced draws exists in Tarrasch Nd2?

  150. @bebbe: I was thinking of a crazy line in the Nf6-Tarrasch with 12.Nc3 with 15…Ng4 in which both sides play computerish moves to reach an absolutely drawish endgame at move 31 for instance. I don’t want to give the full line in order not to encourage white players to play that stuff. Or for instance in the Bg5 line in Berg’s book there are also 1 or 2 lines in which White has to sacrifice stuff but can later secure a draw by repetition.

    In the Tarrasch with Be7 there is for example also a line with 5. Qg4 in which you may be forced to repeat moves at move ten, at least in the line I play.

    But I have never faced any of this in a game and I guess you can avoid such stuff if you really want to by choosing different lines, like the 0-0 line in the Nf6-Tarrasch you mentioned above.

  151. @RYV
    It needed a few more things from the author which we have just received.

    Flores Rios has not sent us anything, but we are still hopeful he will remember us when we send the next royalty statement…

  152. @Doug Eckert

    I am familiar with the Capablanca Defence, but was actually thinking of a different line (maybe it is classified as part of the Two Knights Defence): 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qa5 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Neg5 0-0-0 and White takes on e6, and already the tension in the centre seems to be gone, though the Queens are still on the board and there is opposite side castling, so maybe Black should be happy. If I recall though, Bologan gives some lines which lead to a rather equal ending (at work at the moment, so I cannot check), and I found in blitz at least that these kinds of positions were fine for Black, but could be hard to win because I wasn’t creating a lot of opportunities for White to go wrong… Objectively Black is fine and cannot complain, but positions that involve a lot of early trades in the center, thereby dissolving the tension, and which are very open, perhaps are just not to my taste. Maybe if I go back to 1…e5, I should play 5…Bc5 and allow White to play the Max Lange, as those kinds of positions are more up my alley, despite White’s good results when compared to 5…Nxe4.

    I also agree with Ray regarding the Scotch Four knights. At my level it is usually not drawn, but that does not stop it from being boring… Some lines in the Scotch also lead to mass simplification early, though with some imbalances of course. The worst thing though is that I would encounter these kinds of openings more than…

  153. The worst thing though is that I would encounter these kinds of openings more than the Ruy Lopez, and when I finally got a Ruy, white would play some early d3 or d4 line, avoiding my Zaitsev. 🙁

    Am I asking too much by trying to play a highly imbalanced and exciting game with Black every game? Probably. However, despite what many people say about Anti-Sicilians being popular, I find that I get far more Open Sicilians as Black, and frequently the most critical lines like the 6.Bg5 Najdorf. Whether White knows how to play these positions after the first 10 moves or so is up for debate, but at least I am getting exciting and critical lines. With 1…e5 I almost never end up in a mainline Ruy.

  154. Regarding the whole French/Caro debate… I never found the exchange Caro to be drawish, and would often play a rather comfortable QGD type minority attack — except with Black, instead of White, but maybe for GMs the situation is different. My repertoire is based around Schandorff’s book, which seems to be quite combative, though I am not sure how much I like the well known endgame line in the Panov…

  155. When I played the French (and I will probably return to it at some point), my combative repertoire looked something like this, and I did well with it, though have not tried it in an OTB tournament. I used Moskalenko’s books as a guide:

    Exchange: if White plays an early c4, we give him an IQP and castle kingside and play against that, and if White plays Bd3,c3, 0-0 etc, we play Bd6, Nc6, Nge7, Bf5/g4, Qd7, 0-0-0, and f6 in some order, if permitted, giving a fairly interesting opposite side castling pawnstorm game.

    Advance: the typical setup with c5/Nc6/Qb6/cxd4 and trying to get the King’s knight to f5 to give some pressure to d4, while allowing White to trade his light squared bishop for it (as given in the Flexible French, sorry for the vagueness and lack of a name for this).

    Tarrasch: this line was always the biggest problem for me, and I do not do well with 3…Nf6, so I was experimenting with 3…Be7, though don’t have enough experience to say whether I like it or not.

    Mainline: Winawer Black Queen Blues (6…Qa5, usually going to a4 after). This line is interesting and cuts out a lot of White’s early sidelines. I have not looked in detail at Negi’s response to it, but in my experience it is quite playable for Black.

    I think this repertoire is fairly combative and non theoretical, but I switched away from the French because I got tired of seeing the exchange in half my games, and wanted some variety in pawn structures…

  156. @BigTy
    Nothing is perfect. But, in the line you quote, Ntirlis gave 8…Qd7 instead of 8…Qa5. The point being in the variations with RXe4+ and Nxd4, Black has the bishop pair for free after Nxc6 since Black can recapture with the Queen. Of course White is equal, but White has no chance at an advantage. If White allows Black to have the two bishops in the symmetrical position, what else could you ask for from the opening. A risk free run at someone.

    Sure, the Scotch four knights is awfully boring. A few points. First, Black can obtain the bishop pair for an impaired pawn structure. There are chances to try to win as Black. You can also play 5…Bc5. I think White has some chance for an advantage there. But, it keeps pieces on the board and provides some imbalance. Junior Tay also wrote an article in NIC YB 107 about just playing 5…Bb4 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 Bd3 d6. Lots of lines where Black played h6 g5 against Bg5 and created kingside play.

    Of course you are correct White can play d3 in both the Italian and the Spanish. First, it is not an aggressive move. It leads to positions that both sides can play. Second, against the Sicilian, White can also play d3 in a closed Sicilian. The positions are not necessarily dramatically different in the style of play. But styles do matter. As you mentioned earlier, you have trouble playing the Slav as Black. Probably because you make a counter in the center too quickly with e5 or c5…

  157. I have the same problem. Finding openings where the pawn breaks match your style and temperment probably make a 100 – 200 playing point difference in strength. The objective merits of the line may not matter that much if you just have trouble with that type of position.

    There have been several repertoire books recently that are focused on transpositions to d4 type openings. I agree with a lot of the comments on when to do it favorably. But, there are a couple transpositions that have been recommended where I am thinking, I play the English / Reti specifically so I never have to play that position…

  158. @Doug Eckert

    Thanks for the suggestions. I was a bit familiar with those ideas in the Scotch Four Knights, but must admit that the Ntirlis line with 8…Qd7 is new to me. I will look into that when I switch back to playing 1…e5 regularly. I should really give it more of a chance over the board, as there I think people would try for more of an advantage with openings like the Ruy, than they do online, but maybe that is not true. My only tournament game with 1…e5 was an exchange Ruy, which I won, though it had little to do with the opening.

    Of course White has a variety of quiet lines against the Sicilian, like the closed and c3 Sicilians, but for some reason my opponents rarely go for them (and I have faced them enough over the years that I generally have a good feel for the Black side). Even low rated players who probably have no business studying theory seem to play into an Open Sicilian, probably because they learned somewhere that it is White’s most challenging option, so against lower rateds I often get a very nice game with the Sicilian right off the bat, which encourages me to keep playing and studying it. Maybe if I got more Anti-Sicilians, and fewer Opens, I would start to feel discouraged, as has happened with 1…e5.

  159. Regarding the Semi-Slav, I am doing well with it online for the most part, though still have a lot to learn and relearn. It helps that I play both sides of it. I think my greatest weakness is actually very symmetrical positions, like the exchange Slav, where I often end up worse from a combination of trying too hard to make an imbalance, getting bored, and falling into some early Qb3 tactical stuff due to not knowing what I am doing. In general, though, I do much better in highly imbalanced than symmetrical positions, be they tactical or strategic in nature.


    I think after 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Black could still transpose into a Leningrad Dutch xmas tree variation, assuming you are willing to play that (personally, as a Leningrad player, I would take it over the Stonewall or Classical if given the choice).

  160. @BigTy

    Thanks for the advice! I think your suggestions suits me better than the stonewall.
    The christmas tree is a good alternative to my normal dutch with Qe8.
    Alo this is a good way to aviod the anti-dutch variations.

  161. Interesting discussion! Tome the big problem of playing 1…e5 is that indeed I almost never get a main line Ruy Lopez, whilse at the same time I have to remember a lot of theory for the odd case I do get it on the board. That’s just not practical to me. I also used to play the Semi-Slav and there I had the same problem: having to remember loads and loads of Meran and Botvinnik theory, while in practice I never got that on the board in a serious game. Most opponents play system openings like the London, or if I’m lucky, some anti-Meran line. That’s why to me openings where black can determine the battlefield early on are attractive. The French is such an opening against 1.e4 (except of course for the Exchange, but in a serious game I almost never encounter that – only on the internet), but the Caro-Kann as well. Against d4, the Dutch seems very practical in this respect. Otherwise against 1.d4 one just has to accept that the London is very popular and just prepare a good antidote to it (I really like Nikos’s recommendation because it is quite easy to learn). In the past I played the KID, but that has the same disadvantage as mentioned above: having to learn insane amounts of theory in the Mar del Plata, whereas I almost never encountered this in a serious game.

  162. @Ray

    I agree on your conclusions on what openings are practical and the reasons for why they are practical.
    The KID is practical in one way as it is universal and can be used against 1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.Nf3. In another way it is impractical since the lines that are the most interesting (Mar del Plata, Gligoric, Petrosian, Makagonov and Sämisch) are encountered rarely. Instead we are hit with all kinds of KID sidelines and London, Torre, Trompowsky, Veresov and Barry attack.
    The problem is that many of these lines are dangerous and require serious preparation.

    The task is much easier in the Leningrad Dutch (which has some KID flavor) and the mainline is met very often.

  163. I doubt that Black has much chances to complicate the game in the Two Knights after 8…Qd7 because of 9.Nxe4 Be7 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Nxd4 with complete equality.

    In my view Black should play 8…Qh5 aiming for the position after 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Bg5 Bd6 11.Nxd6+ cxd6 12.Bf4 Qd5 with an unbalanced position where Black has scored well so far.

  164. I´m not sure if 1.e4 e5 is suitable if one “desperately” needs to win. I´m more certain though that the Philidor Counter Gambit (which is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5?!) only leads to pain for black. I´m speaking from experience. 😉

  165. Siddhartha Gautama

    Regarding the Taimanov bokk, I am not sure if it has been asked before. Can we expect true Bb4 Taimanov variations or will we see Scheveningen style variations with Be7,d6 and a6 as well?

  166. @Phil Collins
    I disagree. Playing lines that are objectively just bad will do no good for your results and your chess in the long term. It´s a long time ago but I´m sorry now that I ever wasted time to make the Philidor Counter Gambit work.

    If one really wants to unbalance the game early on there are better ways to do this. Besides 1.e4 e5 I have Tiger´s Modern in my repertoire for that purpose.

    Also I think it´s worthwhile to play those equal positions that sometimes arise in the Open Games until the very end. It´s also better for your chess development.

  167. @Tom Tidom
    Mamedyarov won a game that was going nowhere against Adhiban yesterday, but blowing up the position and taking so many chances he was at minus 3 or 4. We can always play bad moves to rock the boat :-).

  168. I wonder how often ordinary amateurs like myself really “desperately” need to win a game anyway. The only occasions that come to mind are team matches where your game is of decisive important for the match result. But honestly, how often does that happen? And besides, that situation suffers from hindsight bias, because at the start of the match you don’t yet need to win desperately. Another situation might be if you have to win in the last round to win a tournament, but I have never been in such a situatin – I wish I had, and I would in that case also be perfectly happy with a second place 🙂

  169. @Ray
    exactly !
    playing for a win at all cost happened very rarely. If so, avoiding opening where white has a forced draw might be OK…but only if your opponent does not need a win on his side.

  170. What is blacks best line against the aljechin-Chatard?
    I think 6.-h6 and 6.-0-0 has the best reputation. How is black doing after 6.-c5 which was the choice in play the french?

  171. Play sound stuff where you might develop chances. Ntirlis, Roiz, Pert have shown the way. Tonight last round, needed a win for a prize in our Saturday 15 minute rapid in St. Louis. White, 2606 FIDE – Black Me (Not 2600 FIDE…) 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 c6 4 Bb3 a5 5 a3 a4 6 Ba2 d5 7 Nf3 Bd6 8 Bg5 Be6 9 0-0 h6 10 Bxf6 Qxf6 11 exd5?! cxd5 12 Nc3?! (12 c4) Ra5. Black is already a lot better. Sadly I did not convert and only drew. Not Ntirlis line, but, a nice line that develops chances for Black.

    French is good, it keeps lots of pieces on, good understanding should prevail. Caro harder to develop chances, but, certainly sound. Sicilian if you have a great memory great. If you are older, talk to Yermolinsky. All first tier openings. Jacob, blowing up the position and being minus 3 probably works against me. But, probably not the recommended idea in a super tournament. But, very funny.

  172. @Bebbe
    I don’t think theory develops atthe speed of light in the Chatard-Aljechin, so my guess would be 6…c5 is still ok. However, white has a slight plus after 6.Bxe7, as shown in Playing the French, so why not play the MacCutcheon instead? It gives much better winning chances for black.

  173. @Phil Collins
    That doesn´t change the fact that it´s just a very bad opening. And you forgot to mention that he lost with it. Even Nakamura has tried it once and lost to someone rated 200 points less.

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Isn´t your slogan here proposing to play mainly, errhm, main lines, 😉

    I know you have also published some books on second tier openings, but these are still basically sound. That´s not something one can say about the Philidor Counter Gambit.

  174. @Ray

    Objectively you are right. From a practical point there is much more to learn in the maccutcheon. I like the thematic ideals after 4.- Be7 which are similair to the Steinitz 7.-cxd4 8.Nxd4, Bc5.
    Yesterday I found analysis from Vallejo Pons were he advocates 6.-h6 against the aljechin-Chatard.

  175. I saw on chess-stars that a new book on 1.d4, d5 2.c4, e6 comes out in februari.From the contents it is hard to figure out what Kornev recommends against 3.Nc3, Nf6 4.Nf3, Be7 5. Bg5, h6 6.Bh4, 0-0 7.e3. I hope it is the tartakower but judging from the page count it must be something else.

  176. @Bebbe
    I think it’s not realistic to search for a black opening that is sound, gives good winning chances AND has little theory. For example, you can’t play the Leningrad Dutch just on ideas, it’s very concrete and in some lines (8.b3. 8.Re1, as already mentioned somewhere above) one error hives black a very bad position. Other openings rely more on ideas (e.g. the Black Lion), but those are simply third tier openings. Chess is just very concrete nowadays, and a lot of hard work – i.m.o. there’s no way around this unless you except an inferior position with black. With white it’s another story of course.

  177. @Ray

    I completely agree with what you said about 1…e5 being impractical, due to never getting a mainline Ruy on the board, yet having to remember a bunch of theory on it. I kind of put it aside for that reason for the moment, as I mentioned before. I play the Semi-Slav currently as well, and am finding the same problem that you mentioned (too many Londons, and not enough mainlines), but I have a great antidote to the London, and rarely lose against it (White often is the one fighting to draw, though maybe not because of the opening, but the player) and having played so many Dutches over the years with Black, it is nice to have variety (I really like the Modern Benoni as well as a practical fighting weapon, but it does not solve the problem of systems like the London).

    Regarding the must win situation discussion. True, I am rarely in a position where I really must avoid a draw, but over the board I often play players several hundred points or more below me, and the idea is to get a position that is strategically or tactically complex enough where I can outplay them, or at least count on them to mess up somehow. This is easier to do on the Black side of a Leningrad Dutch, than an Exchange Slav, for example. Though that being said, lower rated players rarely play for a draw against me OTB, and I can usually count on having chances with any defence because White will try to win. It is just nice to play a defence knowing from the first move that White cannot easily kill…

  178. @BigTy
    We have all danced around the big issue, dealing with lower rated players, rather than the ‘must win’ game. You bring up the big point here. In all the openings I play, I want to understand where I can get an imbalance that gives me something to play for. Jacob is correct chess is a draw. We can’t run from that. The better a person’s strategic understanding of an opening, the better we can create imbalances on our terms. That is probably much more important than the choice of opening itself.

    Can you share the anti-London line or at least give a hint? I must face that opening at least once a tournament…

    Kotronias in the GM Battle Manual set out a long list of considerations. Among those, fighting for key squares, correct piece exchanges, semi-blocked positions with a space advantage and in static positions, play less forcing moves that give the opponent chances to go wrong. His advice argues against my choice of 1…e5. These points among other considerations he set out are good advice for the types of positions that we should strive for.

    I won’t argue with Ray and your arguments against 1…e5. I have made a big investment in this. In the U.S. where I grew up needing to score 4.5 / 5 in the weekend swiss tournaments to win, I developed an overtly sharp repertoire of second tier openings. When I played really strong players, they had a tendency to find the deficiencies quickly and sent me on my way. When…

  179. When I went into the 1…e5 investment, I felt it would strengthen my knowledge even if I never played the opening. I spent two years studying before I played it for the first time. The fragment I gave above from a game played just last night against a player rated 500 points higher than me would never have happened had I tried one of my old overtly sharp openings. The French, Caro etc. should achieve the same thing with sufficient knowledge. I just decided to try and focus on openings where I would not be conceding a space disadvantage from the first move.

  180. @ Doug Eckert

    Great points, as usual. One reason that I played/studied (and will certainly return to at some point) 1…e5 was more for its benefits to my chess knowledge and development, instead of for results. That being said, my results were not at all bad, and there is something very satisfying about playing sound, logical chess, without ceding a space advantage or giving yourself a bad minor piece right off the bat. 1…e5 will probably always be the soundest move, from a theoretical perspective, which explains its popularity in high level chess. I think will start playing it again regularly, while keeping the Sicilian or Caro in reserve for those times when I need to win, or am up against lower rateds. I just hope to get more opportunities to play the Ruy, as it really is a wonderful and interesting strategic battle for both sides.

  181. As for the London, I think what I play more or less matches Avrukh’s recommendation in his 1.d4 Sidelines book (I do not have it on me at the moment, and have not looked at it for a long time, so I cannot confirm this): 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.c3 Qb6! 6.Qb3?! (maybe Qc1 or Qc2 is better) c4! when taking on b6 gives us the open a-file and the straightforward plan of pushing the b-pawn, while 7.Qc2 runs into Bf5, gaining a nice tempo. If white develops the queen’s knight early, say with a 2.Bf4 move order (delaying Nf3), I think Black can play the same set up, minus the Bf5 trick (though …g6 to prepare it, and fianchetto the king’s bishop, looks good IMO). If you are a 1…Nf6 2…e6 player, then the London with 2.Nf3 can trick you out of being able to put the bishop on f5 or g4 (after 2…e6 White goes 3.Bf4 instead of 3.c4), but I think you can still play the c5/Nc6/Qb6 basic idea and be ok.

    I don’t really know any theory here, but have had the queen exchange line dozens of times in online games, and the other lines quite a bit, and although the queen exchange looks bad for White, he can follow up with a quick Na3-b5, trying to block up Black’s play and cause trouble on c7, though I think Black is still ok there with some care.

    Overall my results are quite good, and the few times I lost have had nothing to do with the opening. To say Black is better is probably pushing it though.

  182. @BigTy
    The London has now become so refined it has been worked out that if White does not play Nf3, the line you give does not work. So 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 Qb6 5 Qb3 c4 6 Qc2 Bf5 7 Qxf5 Qxb2 8 Qxd5 Qxa1 9 Qb5 and this has been worked out to a White advantage. If White plays Nf3, your line is great. If White does not do that, you need a back up. Thank you for sharing. I am looking for Nirvana.

    Take a look at these two games, Le Quang Liem – Andrew Tang 2017 and Shimanov – Popiliski 2016. Ntirlis gave some move order subtleties to potentially avoid this. I thought I had an idea that neutralized all of this. I had my chance against Shimanov in September. Game 90 + 30 second increment. He had more time on the clock when the game was over than when we started…I never got out of his prep and was killed. I put the game into my various programs, let it run for days. I don’t trust any of the analysis. When Liem gets back from Gibralter, I will try to get an answer from him whether I am in the ball park or just completely wrong. I am thinking the latter. Its not that the London is a killer, it is not. But, there are about 10 guys in St. Louis playing it a lot, that are very highly rated and they have worked this out to ridiculous lengths.

  183. @Ray

    I know that it is not possible play the Leningrad Dutch only on ideas.
    The variations you mentioned require deep preparation which I have done.
    Nevertheless my point is that there is much less to learn in the Leningrad than in KID.
    Both openings are second tier openings in my view and they are of equal value.
    Thus I chose the Leningrad.

    In fact there is one opening that is sound, gives godd wining chanses and has Little theory: Stonewall Dutch. It is played by MC beating 2700+ players, so it cannot be bad.

  184. @BigTy

    “It is just nice to play a defence knowing from the first move that White cannot easily kill off the game.”

    I agree. That is exactly why the Leningrad Dutch is such a great practical weapon.
    No London, Torre or exchange variation.

  185. What is the most practical (and yet sound) way of meeting 6.Bg5?
    The amount of theory required to play against 6.Bg5 is the reason I have quit playing the Najdorf. If I find something which I like against 6.Bg5 I will start playing it again.

  186. @ Bebbe

    That strikes me as odd in the light of your comments on the benefits of the Leningrad – isn’t the Najdorf the most theory-heavy opening around? Aren’t there less theory-intense openings with similar benefits as the Leningrad against 1.e4? The Pirc comes to mind 🙂 .

  187. @ Ray

    I play the classical Sicilian which has similar benefits as the Leningrad Dutch although there is a more theory to learn.

    Yes the Najdorf is very theory-heavy. But I like the character of the play except in the 6.Bg5-variation. I am looking for something that gives attacking chanses against the white king.
    Previously I played the poisoned pawn, but it is only computerbased analysis these days were white is doing all the attacking.

  188. I hope QC will soon write a new Najdorf-book with something nice recommended against 6.Bg5 which gives black chances of attacking the white king.
    Then poisoned pawn (and delayed PP) 7.- Nc6, Gothenburg variation and polugaevsky, are ruled out.

    Is it possible to play 7.-Qc7 8.Bxf6, gxf6 9. Be2, b5?
    I know 9.Qd2, b5 is playable with the idea of playing the knight to d7.

  189. @ Phil Collins

    Why do you think there is no problem for black in the Keres attack?
    I think it is very dangerous and give white the advantage.
    Besides I cannot play 6.-e5 versus the English attack if I play the Scheveningen.

  190. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    Doug Eckert wrote: “Kotronias in the GM Battle Manual set out a long list of considerations. Among those, fighting for key squares, correct piece exchanges, semi-blocked positions with a space advantage and in static positions, play less forcing moves that give the opponent chances to go wrong.” – Hedgehog for black fits that description. Maybe English for white.

    @qualitychess readers – “Chess is a draw.” I agree. If you don’t want a draw, there is a far smaller selection of “playable” openings, and in fact a far smaller selection of “playable” candidate moves in any random middlegame position. In the endgame avoid the draw at your peril. Back when I was still competing, my results improved greatly when I stopped playing to avoid a draw, and just played simple, classical, draw-allowing chess. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times a -200 Elo opponent played directly for a draw against me AND succeeded. Instead of worrying that an opponent “might” try to play for a draw, just play the opening that best suits your style. For me that is simple and classical. For you that might be tense, fighting, or even (gasp!) unsound gambits.

  191. @ Doug Eckert

    Again, I am no expert on the Black side of the London, but in the line you give, I would probably play 6…Nf6 followed by 7…g6, to put the bishop on f5 that way. I am not sure if the Black dark squared bishop belongs on g7 or not in this set-up, but my results playing this kind of thing have been fine. It just seems like a normal position where the better player wins.

    @ Bebbe

    Dare I say great minds think alike (lol)? We seem to play the Leningrad for the exact same reasons.

    Regarding 6.Bg5 in the Najdorf, since taking the Najdorf up again a few months ago, I have been playing 6…Nbd7, following the analysis of Ftacnik in GM 6 (when I remember it). It seems very playable, and I quite like the pawn sac on the kingside for active play. Would I feel confident playing it against a very strong 6.Bg5 expert? Maybe not, but at my level it seems to have a fair bit of surprise value.

  192. @ Ray

    The Najdorf is probably the most theoretical defence to 1.e4, but there are so many options for both sides, so I think there is a lot of room for both to choose less theoretical options. For instance, apart from 6…Nbd7 in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf, I also play the set-up with an early …h5 against the English attack, cutting out the most theoretical and forcing lines. Calling this a ‘lazy man’s Najdorf’ would be going too far, but when compared to some options that Black has (like the PP), it kind of is…

    Personally, at my level at least, I find the Sveshnikov much harder to play and more theory laden than the Najdorf. Black’s position seems so delicate in many lines, and one mistake often is enough to decide the game. Furthermore, in many lines, such as where White sacs a piece on b5, Black’s position is just so much harder to manage in a practical game, even if it is objectively fine. I really want to make the Sveshnikov work, but I am often scared to play it against strong opposition, for fear of them being booked up in the tactical lines. One could argue though that the Svesh is only harder because I have always taken a mainline approach to it, whereas in the Najdorf I am often happy to play sidelines. It could also be that the type of positions arising from the Najdorf just suit me better, regardless of concrete theory.

    @ Phil Collins

    Why the heck would I trade all my fun and interesting defences for that??

    @ An Ordinary Chessplayer


  193. @ An Ordinary Chessplayer

    Great point. Many players, me included, worry too much about drawing against lower rateds, which rarely happens because of the opening.

  194. @ Bebbe

    Have you ever considered playing the Hyperaccelerated Dragon? That seems to give black dynamic play without being very theoretical.

  195. @Ray

    Yes I have considered the Hyperaccelarated dragon. The problem is Maroczy bind.
    There is a new book by thinkers publishing on this. What is the recommendation against the Maroczy?

  196. Yes, I have this book – I think it’s quite interesting. The author gives two recommendations against the Maroczy. One with …Ng4, in which he gives an interesting novelty, and one with the main line, which seems playable as well. The author maintains that the Maroczy is overrated for white, and the computer assessment is not accurate (similar to the KID, where the engines mostly give around + 0.4 for white, whereas it is perfectly playable for black). I’m considering giving this opening a try, since it’s not a lot of theory, it’s dynamic and most white players may find it not so easy to face (okay, you have put your pawns on e4 and c4, and now what?).

  197. @ An Ordinary Chessplayer

    I also agree. To beat lower rated opponents you need a good understanding of your positions and/or a lot of “sitzfleisch”. In my last tournament I had to go over the full time of 7 hours in more than one game but mostly succeeded.
    I don’t see any problem with openings allowing forced draws. Players that know these lines are usually strong enough that a draw would be no problem and on the other hand that they don’t want a draw against a weak FM like me. Weaker players mostly don’t know their openings good enough to get there.

    A different thing are lines like Berg’s in the Winawer, where he shows no alternative to the Rg6-Rg4 draw before move ten in the a3-lines. Any 1800-player can play that way.

  198. @Ray & TD

    9… e5 seems more like a “tricky” variation without much complexity. I do not like it.
    I want to play something more “heavy”.

    What is the classical mainline with 15…e6? Is it after d6, Bd7, Nxd4?

  199. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @Thomas – Well, forced draw by repetition or perpetual is one thing, I mostly try to avoid it. But if it is THE WAY to equalize with black, then I do it. Simply drawish is another thing. I read a lot of complaints online about openings like the exchange Slav and the exchange French, but these are two of my best openings with black! Something like 15 wins, 1 draw, and no losses on the black side of the exchange French. Exchange Slav more draws but against stronger opponents, still no losses. The biggest problem I have is winning with black against a _higher_ rated opponent. Mostly they try to win, and I do the same. But if they offer me an early draw, oh well, just shake hands. I’m still looking for a win as black against a GM. I almost had one, but flagged on the last move of the time control. That was 1.e4 e5, he did not blunder, I will immodestly say that I outplayed him in the late opening and early middlegame. Every opening can be played to win if it is the right opening for you.

  200. Re the upcoming Chess Stars book on the Queen’s Gambit Declined, I think they will recommend 7 Nbd7 (as Nikos did in his book last year) and it will be interesting to compare how the two books differ.


  201. @TD

    This is more to my taste. The idea is Be5 followed by Qh4 I guess.
    How is black doing in this position?

    Another variation that concerns me is 3.d4, cxd4 4.Qxd4.

  202. What is the recommendation against 7.Bc4 in Rajas book?
    He names it “his” variation.

    I would consider to just transpose to the yugoslav attack after 7.Bc4 even if the theory is extensive. Thus black can avoid 9.0-0-0 and 9.g4 variations against the dragon.

  203. @ Bebbe,

    At this moment I don’t play the (Hyper)Accelerated Dragon myself, but Black seems to be doing OK in that position. An important variation is 16.Rfd1 Be5 17.g3 (!? Khalifman) Qe7 18.Nb5 (+/= Khalifman) Rfd8 19.Nd4 d5!

    As for 4.Qxd4, Panjwani says it “offers Black real chances to play for a win”. One variation is 5.e5 Nc6 6.Qa4 Nd5 7.Qe4 Nb6! 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.Bf4 d5!

  204. @bebbe
    Raja discusses a Paulsen-Dragon-Hybrid, starting with 8. …a6. This is a rare but interesting idea, you might catch an opponent fully unprepared. I tried it in blitz with devastating results. Alternatively Raja gives 7. …Da5 which is rather solid but not my cup of tea.
    If you search another interesting line, you might look for 8. …Te8, which is discussed in Negis 1.e4 vs. Sicilian 2 from the white point of view. Transposing to Yugoslav Attack is a valid option too.

  205. @TD

    Thanks a lot! The book seems interesting. I will take a look at it and decide if I am going
    to start playing this. The advantage with 2.-g6 is that it avoids some anti-sicilians.

    If it appeals to me my black repertoire will be:

    1.e4; Classical Sicilian, Hyper accelerated dragon
    1.d4, 1.Nf3, 1.c4, 1.g3: Leningrad dutch varying between 7. -Qe8 (more dynamic than 7.-c6) and 7.-c6 (more solid than 7.-Qe8) in the mainline. Frequently transposing to english lines.

    I think this is a practical, dynamic repertoire with a reasonable amount of theory and no forced draws I think.
    It is not a world class repertoire, but I think it is good enough up to 2600 which is far above my level.

  206. @krokohol

    8….a6 is interesting and cuts down the theory work (yugoslav attack). Did your opponents castle queenside in any of your blitz games?

    7.-Qa5 is not my cup of tea either.

  207. @ Krokohol

    Indeed, 8…Re8!? is very interesting. Even Negi didn’t succeed in finding even the slightest edge for white. This line is really underestimated.

  208. 8…a6 is interesting but the main Line proposed by Raja vs f3 is a bit dubious unless you accept to play for a draw with R vs R+B at the very end of the line …

  209. @ Bebbe

    A big advantage of the Accelerated Dragon is that you can also get the same Maroczy positions after 1.c4 c5 or 1.Nf3 c5 2.c4. So you then have a second option against 1.c4 and 1.Nf3 next to the Dutch.

  210. @ Bebbe

    I’m not sure – 8…Re8 might be a “high-class waiting move”. You’d have to check Negi’s book. He provides quite some detail, but as far as I can remember play becomes rather concrete.

  211. @Ray

    Thanks for pointing out that I can play an accelerated dragon against both 1.c4 and 1.Nf3. I only need to prepare something against the symmetrical English.

  212. Maybe it is even more “cunning” to start with 1.c4 g6, then depending on white’s reply black can switch to the Dutch (e.g. after 2.g3) or the Maroczy (e.g. after 2.e4). Just a thought of course.

  213. Pinpon :
    8…a6 is interesting but the main Line proposed by Raja vs f3 is a bit dubious unless you accept to play for a draw with R vs R+B at the very end of the line …

    Hi there, which variation do you mean exactly? I do have to book, but do not find what you mean…thanks! 🙂

  214. @Ray

    Yes that is a possibility. However white can play 1.c4, g6 2.d4.
    No Maroczy and 2.-f5 3.h4! is known to be better for white.

  215. Raja’s book is very interesting for players willing to take some risk to play for a win. The author commits himself to clear recommendations and opinions.
    There’s one huge gap though, which only became popular lately: He doesn’t mention the recommendation against the Maroczy published in CBM 180 at all. The line is 1.e4 c5 2.Sf3 Sc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Sxd4 g6 5.c4 Lg7 6.Le3 Sf6 7.Sc3 d6 8.Le2 0-0 9.0-0 Ld7 10.h3 Sxd4 11.Lxd4 Lc6 12.Qc2

  216. TD :
    @ Bebbe,
    At this moment I don’t play the (Hyper)Accelerated Dragon myself, but Black seems to be doing OK in that position. An important variation is 16.Rfd1 Be5 17.g3 (!? Khalifman) Qe7 18.Nb5 (+/= Khalifman) Rfd8 19.Nd4 d5!

    17.Bf4 used to be a main move I think but Black is doing really fine. I tried that line against strong player GM Korneev before Raja’s book was out and I had no problems at all.

  217. @bebbe
    Yes, most of them castled queenside. They had no obvious way to make the play against my king work while i had a bunch of natural and good moves. I’m not sure if that holds in classical play though.

    The strange move 8. … Te8 plans against the usual set-up 9.f3 e6! 10.Qd2 d5!. If white does not prepare castling long after f3, e6+d5 provides a good IQP-position (8. …e6 is a common idea as well, but Te8 is a useful developing move while f3 weakens the white structure). Castling short shifts to classical dragon after d6.

  218. @ Maik : after 8.Bb3 a6 9.f3 Qc7 10.Qd2 b5 11. 000 Bb7 12.h4 h5 13.g4 e6 14.Kb1 Rfd8 15. Rdg1 b4 16.Na4 d5 17.gxh5 Nxh5 18.Nxe6 fe 19. Nc5 ( stronger than Rxg6) can continue this way 19…Qf7 20. Nxb7 Qxb7 21.Rxg6 Qf7 22.Rg5 a5 (Na5 is possible ) 23.exd Qf6 24.c3 a4 25. Bc2 Qxf3 26.Qd1 QxQ 27. RxQ Rxd5 28. RxR exd 29. Rxh5 bxc3 30.bc Bxc3 31.Rxd5 Rb8+ 32. Kc1 Bb2+ 33.Kd2 Nb4 34. Rg5+ Kf7 35.Bxa4 ( Bb1 doesn’t change the evaluation ) Nxa2 36.Kc2 Bc1 ( or Bf6 ) 37.Bxc1 Rc8+ 38. Kd2 Rxc1 39. Bb3+ Kf6 40.Bxa2 Rh1! and Rxh4 is R vs R+B

  219. @Bebbe

    In 1990 Otto Borik wrote a book: “Kasparows Schacheröffnungen” (Kasparows Chess Openings). kasparows main weapon against 1.e4 was the Scheveningen Sicilian. He also wrote a book about it together with Nikitin.. When he got older he changed to the Najdorf “Scheveningen-Style”.

    @Keres attack: When you get attacked, you also get chances for a counterattack.

  220. Pinpon :
    @ Maik : after 8.Bb3 a6 9.f3 Qc7 10.Qd2 b5 11. 000 Bb7 12.h4 h5 13.g4 e6 14.Kb1 Rfd8 15. Rdg1 b4 16.Na4 d5 17.gxh5 Nxh5 18.Nxe6 fe 19. Nc5 ( stronger than Rxg6) can continue this way 19…Qf7 20. Nxb7 Qxb7 21.Rxg6 Qf7 22.Rg5 a5 (Na5 is possible ) 23.exd Qf6 24.c3 a4 25. Bc2 Qxf3 26.Qd1 QxQ 27. RxQ Rxd5 28. RxR exd 29. Rxh5 bxc3 30.bc Bxc3 31.Rxd5 Rb8+ 32. Kc1 Bb2+ 33.Kd2 Nb4 34. Rg5+ Kf7 35.Bxa4 ( Bb1 doesn’t change the evaluation ) Nxa2 36.Kc2 Bc1 ( or Bf6 ) 37.Bxc1 Rc8+ 38. Kd2 Rxc1 39. Bb3+ Kf6 40.Bxa2 Rh1! and Rxh4 is R vs R+B

    Thanks, this is something to study in depth I guess… 🙂

  221. Pinpon :
    @ Maik : after 8.Bb3 a6 9.f3 Qc7 10.Qd2 b5 11. 000 Bb7 12.h4 h5 13.g4 e6 14.Kb1 Rfd8 15. Rdg1 b4 16.Na4 d5 17.gxh5 Nxh5 18.Nxe6 fe 19. Nc5 ( stronger than Rxg6) can continue this way 19…Qf7 20. Nxb7 Qxb7 21.Rxg6 Qf7 22.Rg5 a5 (Na5 is possible ) 23.exd Qf6 24.c3 a4 25. Bc2 Qxf3 26.Qd1 QxQ 27. RxQ Rxd5 28. RxR exd 29. Rxh5 bxc3 30.bc Bxc3 31.Rxd5 Rb8+ 32. Kc1 Bb2+ 33.Kd2 Nb4 34. Rg5+ Kf7 35.Bxa4 ( Bb1 doesn’t change the evaluation ) Nxa2 36.Kc2 Bc1 ( or Bf6 ) 37.Bxc1 Rc8+ 38. Kd2 Rxc1 39. Bb3+ Kf6 40.Bxa2 Rh1! and Rxh4 is R vs R+B

    Maybe black can try to play the quite risky looking 16…gxh5 and hope to battle through the jungle of variations…I will have a look at it for sure!

  222. @Maik
    As Raja wrote , everything is new in this line !
    I analyzed the above variation a lot just to make sure it’s not a lost cause .

    But I think the real problem for the hyper is elsewhere : Qxd4 with absolutely no chances to win if White knows his theory in the 5.Nc3 variation : 5.Nc3 Nc6 6. Qa4 d6 7.e5 de 8. Nxe5 Bd7 9.Nxd7 Nxd7 10.Bb5 Bg7 11.OO OO 12. Rd1 Qc8 13.Nd5 .

  223. But it’s not proper to Hyper , if White wants to kill the game , White draws most of the time , even in the Leningrad ( simply look at lines without c4 and with Nd2, Re1,e4 and the likes )

  224. I have taken a look at the hyperaccelerated dragon.
    I do not like the maroczy. Consider instead to play the Sicilian Kan as a second choice after the classical Sicilian.

    Against 5.Bd3 the plan is to play 5.-Bc5 6.Nb3, Ba7 which is sharp and gives black attacking chances if white castles queenside or grabs the g7-pawn after Qg4, Qxg7. White can also strive for a maroczy setup. Here I like the fact that the blacksquared bishops will usually be swapped and black will play a d6, e5-setup which makes the remaining white bishop rather bad and white is weak on the black squares.

    Against 5.c4 it will be the hedgehog. Many pieces on the board and complications coming up later in the game after some manouvering.

    Against 5.Nc3 I have not decided if it will be 5.-Qc7, 5.-b5 or 5.-d6.
    5.-b5 looks fun and can lead to hard play after 6.Bd3, Qb6 7.Be3, Bc5 8.Be2, Nc6 9.Nxc6, dxc6 10. Bxc5, Qxc5 and normally white castles queenside and black kingside.
    8.Qg4 is very sharp after 8.-Bxd4 9.e5, Bxe3 10.Qxg7, Bh4

    The problem is that 7.Nf3 is considered best these days and seems a little better for white.

  225. @ Bebbe

    I would advice you to have a good look at Kotronias’ white repertoire against the Kan, since he claims he has more or less refuted the Hedgehog. At least his new plan gives white a very dangerous and straightforward attack which doesn’t seem that much fun for black.

  226. @Ray

    Thanks for your advice. I thougth the hedgehog was unrefutable due to its flexibility.
    Maybe 5.c4, Nf6 6.Nc3,Bb4 is the way to go here, or is it also almost refuted?

  227. With Valentine’s Day less than two weeks away, I am hoping for John to show the love and produce am excerpt of Playing 1 e4 vol 2 on that day! :0)

    Hopefully there won’t be any posts confirming a release date of 1st April 2018…..


  228. @James2
    What is wrong with releasing the book on the 14th anniversary of the founding of our company?

    Jest aside, we are very near the end of a very long journey. Today we are finishing Sam Shankland’s book, but on Monday we run up the home stretch.

  229. @bebbe

    I don’t remember the details, but it all looked nice for white i.m.o. So I suggest you have a look at Kotronias’s book before taking up the Hedgehog – it could safe you some losses 🙂

  230. I know we have only just received GM 2A by Avrukh, but I can’t wait for the release of the final book in the set, 2B.

    Is it too much to hope that this might be released by the end of this calendar year?

    Thanks all at QC.


  231. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    @Ray – Please, what is the title of this Kotronias book that you are recommending? The one with white against the Kan and Hedgehog?

  232. @Jacob Aagaard

    Recently I had some problems as white against the Tarrasch-variation in the QGD in my online Blitz games.
    Black equalized rather easily. I am more of an attacking player, but the Tarrasch is more about the isolani and the endgame.

    Maybe it is just a coincidence as I have a decent score against the Tarrasch in classical games. I have used both 9.dxc5, Bxc5 10.Bg5, d4 11.Ne4 and 9.Bg5.

    What is your recommendation against the Tarrasch for an attacking player?

  233. @Jacob Aagaard

    Thanks for your advice. I will take a look at 6.dxc5 and see if it appeals to me.
    I have GM10. If remembered correctly white is playing for two results in many variations after that.

    I’m not allergic to endgames. Have used 7.dxc5 in QGA accepted successfully.

  234. franck Steenbekkers

    Is there news About the new edition of the najdorf.
    Btw i think that the ftacnik book is ok and not so outdated….only the 6bg5 stuff is outdated

  235. Jacob Aagaard :
    What is wrong with releasing the book on the 14th anniversary of the founding of our company?
    Jest aside, we are very near the end of a very long journey. Today we are finishing Sam Shankland’s book, but on Monday we run up the home stretch.

    I really do like the cover you did! 🙂 More of this sort would be much appreciated… 🙂

  236. If you look on the Chess Stars website, they have upated their initial pdf contents of the upcoming 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 repertoire book by Kornev. He also recommends 7.. Nbd7 in his mainline, just as Nikos did. It will be interesting to see how the lines compare and how much (if any) analysis is drawn from Nikos’ book.


  237. Due to QC’s constant refusal to publish a book on the Classical Sicilian I decided to have a closer look at the two volumes on the Dragon.

    The more I look, the more I love it.

    Thank you very much, Gawain!

  238. @Steve
    Roiz is playing a few events, but is close to the end. And we are close to the end of Playing 1.e4, so it will come at a time where we have a lot of editors available. I predict a lot of books coming out in 2018.

  239. My list of lines in the Richter-Rauzer is:
    1. Kozul variation
    2. Li Chao B variation
    3. Spassky variation
    4. Kingside castling variation
    5. Dreev variation

    Of these lines1 is the best and 5 the worst. There are of course many more lines that are playable. It is a real network of variations.


    Great news guys 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Niggemann states….John Shaw: Playing 1.e4 – Sicilian & French ### Verlagsankündigung für 21.03.2018

  241. There has been some talk about a Leningrad dutch book.
    Eagerly awaiting this one.

    Both 7.- Qe8 and 7.-c6 are in decent shape.
    The world elite prefers 7.-c6 and 7.-Qe8 has been covered in Malaniuks book.

    So I guess the recommendation will be 7.-c6 which is used by Nakamura, Caruana, Svidler and Ivanchuk. 8.d5, e5 9.dxe6, Bxe6 is really hard to crack, black is really solid here.

  242. Just read that Karjakin had a recent Candidates training camp in Scotland…any involvement with QCHQ or you couldn’t possibly comment…?

  243. Jacob Aagaard

    We had lunch with Alexander Motylev and I scored 1:1 against him in blitz. Beyond this, no involvement.

  244. Jacob Aagaard :
    They make it up always :-). Our next two publications will be Shankland: Small Steps to Giant Improvement and Jan Markos, Under the Surface. Both out in about 5 weeks from now.

    I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at a chess-book publishing company and all the factors involved but shouldn’t books that are second volume get priority? Especially in this case since it covers the sicilian, which is the most widely used defense to e4.

  245. Finishing the second volume of Playing 1.e4 is our top priority now, as illustrated by the fact that over half our company is working on it.

    At other points, we have made a priority of finishing editing books by authors who are not on a QC wage, as it seems unfair to delay their royalty earnings. But right now, I am all about Playing 1.e4.

  246. @Anyone who can answer
    Only a minor question
    Regarding the Taimanov book. Is the move order 2…e6/4.Nc6 or 2.Nc6/4.Qc7

  247. There exists a publishing schedule in this blog from march 2012, in which they expected both volumes of Playing 1.e4 to arrive one month after the King’s Gambit book!

  248. I’m sure it will be well worth the wait – I’m expecting nothing less than the mother of all white 1.e4 repertoire books.

  249. Remco G :
    There exists a publishing schedule in this blog from march 2012, in which they expected both volumes of Playing 1.e4 to arrive one month after the King’s Gambit book!

    Ah 2012… 4 years before the brexit vote, 2 before scottish independence vote, hunger games in the cinemas and gangnam style in the charts and Playing e4 about to be published. Those were the days…

  250. King’s Gambit at 680 pages is my current doorstop and I bought Playing e4 Vol 1 (632 pages) on Forward Chess to stop my postie getting a hernia. Do you think Vol 2 will beat them both? With the recent introduction of 90g rather than 80g paper as well it may be thick enough to act as a chair in between rounds at your next congress. Seriously considering switching to 1.d4 just to save the planet…

  251. In Nikos’ excellent book on 1d4 d5, he does not cover g4 bayonet lines such as 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 Be7 5 g4 or 4Nf3 Be7 5 g4. Any recommendations as to how Black should meet such lines?

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