Mihail Marin on the Leningrad Dutch

We have a book underway that I feel like announcing: a Grandmaster Repertoire on the Leningrad Dutch by Mihail Marin. When will it be published? No idea. As always, that depends on how smoothly the analysis and writing goes. And how wide awake our editors are.

This book will be a complete repertoire for Black starting after 1.d4 f5. In fact, Mihail will also offer some brief thoughts on other first moves such as 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 from a Dutch player’s perspective.

It’s early days to be mentioning this book, but a few readers have commented on this blog about their desire for a Leningrad Dutch book, so it feels right to say: “We agree, and we are working on it.”

114 thoughts on “Mihail Marin on the Leningrad Dutch”

  1. Wow, that‘s absolutely great! I‘m pleased to hold a high-quality-book on this topic in my hand… It fits great, because I’m just analyzing this exciting system from the perspective of a correspondence chess player (looking for the absolute truth) and notice that the existing literature is at least, …hmmmm, superficial… Have fun and good luck ! 🙂

  2. Great news!
    I am just studying the Leningrad now with Pruijssers & Williams excellent work.

    Will Marin cover 7…Qe8 or 7…c6?

  3. Franck Steenbekkers

    I think this book will be published at the end of 2019..will there a update once of his excellent c4 trilogy

  4. This is just great News! This is a must buy!
    Really looking forward to this one.
    I also think it will be 7.-c6. Finaly the dynamic Leningrad Dutch gets the treatment it deserves.

  5. Pi-Jo :
    Great news!
    I am just studying the Leningrad now with Pruijssers & Williams excellent work.
    Will Marin cover 7…Qe8 or 7…c6?

    It will probably resurrect 7…Nc6.

    I’m hoping for Qe8 but guess it will be c6 (even Kindermann moved to c6 after being a long time advocate for Qe8).

  6. 7…Cc6 is the most “loco” out of the three, and 7…c6 the solidest. I highly doubt it would be 7…Cc6, especially for grandmaster repertoire.

  7. Dear Quality Chess Team, I’m curious about the new Taimanov book… when do we get the chance to have a look into an excerpt?
    Thank you!

  8. Absolutely great, and a perfect companion to the Pirc! I.m.o. 7…Qe8 is quite playable, and since a recent book by Karolyi already recommended 7…c6, I’m hoping for the former. But either way it’s certainly a must buy!

  9. Give alpha zero some minutes and it will refute the dutch. During its learning phase, it never played the dutch consistently, so there must be something wrong with it.

  10. @gewgaw
    So it’s just three opening books?
    The Berlin & The Queen’s Gambit Declined for Black & The English for white? 😉

    Stockfish actually won one of it’s games vs Alpha-Zero with… the Leningrad!

    At the moment I am learning the Leningrad, entering my variations in Mac Chess Explorer as a good boy and checking the eval’s with SF 10 (with contempt 0).
    SF 10 is quite optimistic (+ 0,6 FWIW) about white when it doesn’t look to deep, compared to the superficial eval’s it gives in Nimzo-Indian (around +0,2) lines. I don’t know what to make of it, but I thought it was interesting.

  11. The Leningrad Dutch is not an opening to get equality but to overtake initiative quickly. Taking into the account logic of the game we assume White must make some mistakes to make it happen but isn’t chess the game of mistakes after all?
    If you are not 2600 or close to that level (and I am sure most readers are not but they care as if they were) I believe it’s a perfectly fine opening and you shouldn’t think about engine’s evaluation such as +0.5. I’ve been suffering in this opening playing against strong GMs (but maybe I’d suffer in other openings too) but it serves me as a great weapon to score points against other players. Playing for a win as Black is what every ambitious player needs when playing open events.

  12. piongu :
    The Leningrad Dutch is not an opening to get equality but to overtake initiative quickly. Taking into the account logic of the game we assume White must make some mistakes to make it happen but isn’t chess the game of mistakes after all?
    If you are not 2600 or close to that level (and I am sure most readers are not but they care as if they were) I believe it’s a perfectly fine opening and you shouldn’t think about engine’s evaluation such as +0.5. I’ve been suffering in this opening playing against strong GMs (but maybe I’d suffer in other openings too) but it serves me as a great weapon to score points against other players. Playing for a win as Black is what every ambitious player needs when playing open events.

    Ah, so yet another opening not suitable for Correspondence. Sigh.

  13. I am very sure that I have seen 2600+ GMs, even the 2700s play the Leningrad Dutch in the couple past years. And at least more than one.

  14. @Alex Relyea In correspondence there is no point in playing tricky openings, uou just need to play for a draw with something solid unless you want to have some fun. Then maybe you can risk and learn something, it depends what you want but it’s not like the Leningrad is loosing. It just doesn’t have the same effect and I am saying this being a big fan of this opening.

    @Leon Trotsky It has been played few times but there is no strong GM who plays it very often. The strongest player who had it as a first opening choice was late GM Vladimir Malaniuk. I learnt from him a lot.

  15. Have you considered to include both 7…c6 and 7…Qe8? I would be even happier to see a discussion of 7…Nc6 8.d5 Ne5/Na5 as well. The last books I can remember including all this are the ones by Harding and by Hall & Cartier (both published 19xx).

  16. Franck Steenbekkers

    is there more news about this book?
    And will there be an update of the publishing schedule?
    It seems that chessbook publishing company s publish less book then in the past.
    With Thinkers Publishing as an excption

  17. Could Quality Chess send a comment on their Internet web site telling us which day/month this book would be available? 2019? 2020? Dont know?

    I’d like to order it ASAP.


  18. @Paul H
    It was a way of saying I enjoy occasional moments of humour, such as answering ‘Yes’ to what was clearly a non-yes/no question rather than churning out the stock answer – and it was good to see at least one other person was on the same wavelength.

  19. @Thomas
    Hi Thomas, I guess you are playing Marin`s Pirc repertoire…I believe you mentioned it somewhere in this blog. How long do you think does it take to pick up the lines and to build up the understanding for someone with 2100 FIDE ? I am a 1…e5 player but flipping through Marin`s book I was wondering about playing 1…d6. Thanks.

  20. Personally I just add at least 6 months to whatever estimated publication date is given. Not always does it work, but it helps often.

    So for example if it says estimated release December 2019, I would estimate at earliest May 2020.

  21. @Bulkington

    You can play Marin’s Pirc, but unfortunately there are a lot of holes in his book. But I think it has nothing to do with the author (I hope so), rather than with this opening. You don’t have the equality like with 1…e5. I play 1…e5 myself and if you are looking to learn a new opening, I can recommend you the book about the Taimainov.

    Nevertheless I will buy Marin’s book about the Leningrad and I hope there are not so many theoretical problems like in the Pirc book.

  22. @Andrew Greet
    Marin from time to time move orders the Leningrad system by 1d4 d6 2Nf3 f5. Now I believe 3Nc3 is considered better for white. Maybe Marin can share a bit of wisdom in his book about this position, e.g. should black fianchetto or not… The position is a bit exotic but it would be cool to have this as an option to bypass some other nasty systems

  23. @Tobias
    Excellent! I’d like to think the conversation from the cartoon continued:
    “Do you mean yes to option 1?; yes to option 2?; or yes to option 3?”

  24. Some six months ago I played against Aagard on lichess (it seems the account was verified) and he said the book was almost done. But we all know that these things are hard to do with a high level of quality, like QC nad Marin always do. I bought Playing 1.e4 instead of wait more, and have to say that it was worth every penny.

    Hope this comes soon too.

  25. I don’t mind (well, a bit…) that there are still jokes about my former questions (!) on the publication date, but they where in fact two seperate questions which could each have had a distinct answer, yes or no. It’s not like my question was “Is the book expected to be published this year or next year?” Than I can understand the joke. Maybe because English is not my native language?

  26. Since the announcement of Marin’s book on the Leningrad, two books on this opening have recently been published (Karolyi and Demuth). Maybe the market has been saturated? It’s not like the most popular opening of the world.

  27. TD – Yes.
    Ray – The timing isn’t ideal but we can’t control what other publishers are doing – we’ll just continue putting out the best books we can. Marin’s writing is so instructive; his books should always attract an audience.

  28. @Leaf
    I can’t give a detailed answer as John has been the one dealing with Marin on this project, but I understand it’s all looking good. As always, we will give more details including publication date when we are ready.

  29. My current ambitious repertoire is;

    White: d4 (Avrukh, Schandorff), c4 (Marin)

    Black: Sicilian (najdorf (Georgiev), classical (Kozul)), Caro-kann (Schandorff), KID (Kotronias), Grunfeld (Avrukh), Leningrad dutch (Malaniuk)

    Have tried to avoid symmetrical positions and have a sound mixture of solid and sharper stuff.
    I consider c4, caro-kann and Grunfeld (some may argue but I think Grunfeld is both sharp and solid). The rest are sharper stuff.

    Have also tried to have openings of different character (open, closed, fianchetto, nonfianchetto, blacksquared, whitesquareed, sameside castling, opposite side castling).

    What is your opinion? Is this sufficiently varied for both open tournaments and GM-tournaments and is it sifiecently varied to improve my chess?

  30. @Bebbe: not to start a war, but I think openings are a way to start a chess game but will not essentially determine the outcome of the game. Focussing on calculation, combinations and endgames will yield much more than memorizing opening lines will. Sure it is nice to get a decent position out of the opening, but that will not prevent that major miscalculation a few moves later.

    If I look at all the stuff you want to know, I think its some 15 books of GM opening theory tomes. That is some heavy investment there.

  31. @Indra Polak

    I completly agree on what you say, so no war here. I will of course not memorize all the moves. This is for rainman. Actually my repertoire consists of 23 opening books. The important thing is to know what Mainline to play and to practice them. I play online blitz to practice openings, strategy, tactics and endgames. The point with studying openings are to learn typical patterns.

    Take the Kotronias books on KID. These are packad with a lot of stuff. You should learn the typical attacking methods in the Mar del plata and not be to concerned with concrete moves. I often look up theory after blitz games and analyser a bit myself to learn something from the games. Playing blitz without reflecting afterwards is useless I think.

  32. Openings are more important the stronger you get. I am around 2400 fide and want my openings to hold up Against 2600 fide and as white I want to put them under some pressure.

    The Kotronias books on Kid are both opening books and middlegame books. I like them very much.

  33. @Indra Polak

    I know what works to keep the level I have now. If I want to improve getting out of the comfort zone is probably the way to go. Thats why I try to widen my opening repertoire. The Caro-kann is a new experience. Rather different than the sicilian but still interesting. Caro and Grunfeld often leads to early endgames so using new openings leads to more endgames.

    I like advice from both stronger and weaker players than myself. Never really had a coach.
    Sometimes weaker players can have good training skills.

  34. I remember the first time I defeated a titled opponent (FM I think) rated 23xx was a Caro Kann where I could just copy the moves I read in a book (the Bc4 line (Keres?) with Ne2 and f4-f5) he captured a pawn on h2 I played Qe1-h4 and some nice stuff on f6 and h6 and I won having spent a minimum amount of time (merely checking the lines I remembered). Never again this worked out that good. Had to wait a very long time at the bar until my team mates were also done with their games so we could go home again.

  35. PatrickdeNormandie

    Is the publishing schedule for Marin’s books postponed once again? Will it be in 2021?

    The text from QC on the publishing schedule says (see last line) :

    Leningrad Dutch by Mihail Marin

    The Dutch is one Black’s most ambitious replies to 1.d4, as with 1…f5 Black creates asymmetrical play. Then Black’s kingside fianchetto, which defines the Leningrad Dutch, allows pawn-storming play in similar style to the King’s Indian Defence. Mihail Marin is the ideal author to explain both the strategic ideas and the latest theory.

    Leningrad Dutch covers lines where White also fianchettoes his king’s bishop – these lines are the critical test of the Leningrad. The companion volume, Dutch Sidelines, completes Black’s Dutch repertoire.

    Mihail Marin is a grandmaster from Romania. His previous books for Quality Chess have established him as one of the world’s finest chess authors.

    Praise for the author’s previous work:
    “Beautifully written and inspirational” – GM Luke McShane
    “A typically lucid and thorough exposition from perhaps the most insightful and reliable chess author writing today.” – GM Jonathan Rowson, New in Chess

    Expected Release Winter 2020

    Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78483-101-1
    Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-78483-102-8

  36. I just wanted to make sure the QC team remembered to adjust the cover art of both books by Marin. I remember reading that they were going to “fix” the cover of the Sidelines volume, because the board was tilted differently, and the title words were bigger. Since these two volumes will most certainly be purchased by people as a pair, and will be placed next to each other on the selves, I hope they harmonize the two covers for good. On the website, the covers haven’t been adjusted so far. THANKS!

  37. Hi Andrew et al,

    I was just wondering if you could let us know how many pages in length ‘Playing The Caro-Kann’ is projected to be please? Also, potentially a pdf extract early December?

    Thank you.


  38. Patrick – The Marin books will be out fairly early in 2021.

    Nick – Thanks for the reminder.

    James – The book hasn’t been typeset yet but page count and excerpt will be released when the book has gone to print, as always.

  39. Sri Sai Baswanth P

    Hi Andrew Greet is there any chance of making Queen’s Gambit Declined Grandmaster Repertoire based on Alatortsev Variation. Until now i didn’t saw QGD Repertoire for black from your side.
    It would be great if you make it Happen. Thank you.

  40. Schandorff’s GM20 Semi-Slav still passes the test today and was a key resource in helping me gaining the ICCF IM title.

  41. hasanovic :
    @Sam Sharpe
    Nice but a update would be welcome

    I have to agree with Hasanovic that an update would be very good. I still use his original book on the Caro-Kann as well as the Semi-Slav. However I am looking forward to his new QC one. Very clear explanations of positions in both openings.

  42. The new Caro-Kann book came ten years after GM 7.

    GM 20 on the Semi-Slav was published in 2015. So by 2025, who knows, maybe it will be time for a new book on that too?! We will see. In the meantime, it’s good to have a correspondence IM vouching for it.

  43. PatrickdeNormandie

    The new published schedule for Marin’s book on the Dutch is March/April 2021. Do you think this is the final and real one? Any reason to delay?

    Can we already order these 2 books or better to wait?

  44. It would be great if a Semi-Slav update included current-day help for Black on 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 (and 3.e3 followed, for example, by 4.b3).

  45. @PatrickdeNormandie
    Sorry I missed this question from the start of the year.

    I have been called in to edit Marin’s second volume while John (who has had to put his time into various other things) finishes the first one. So the book should be out in the world sometime in April, if all goes to plan from here.

  46. Hi Andrew,
    now that the Leningrad book is almost done… what is it in the main lines: 7…c6 or 7…Qe8 ?
    Probably you won´t tell, but at least I tried 🙂

  47. I know that it sounds pessimistic, but due to there already having been so many delays, if everything does not go to plan, would June/July 2021 seem a plausible time frame when the Dutch books actually get published?

  48. Jacob said a week ago: “The Leningrad due by Marin will go to print early next week…”. Do you already have a publication date? Excerpts?

  49. John and I are each proofreading the Dutch book that the other edited. We both had to spend some time on other matters recently, which is why the process has taken a little longer than expected – but we are getting there. Excerpts shouldn’t be too far off.

  50. @Bebbe

    What is the motivation to switch from the Sicilian to the Caro or even to add it at all? Objectively, aren’t they essentially equal but with more winning chances from the Sicilian?

    BTW: Between the Dutch and KID, is one objectively sounder? I wasn’t able to fully equalize as Black in the KID anyway. My main annoyance with f5 is the sidelines preventing a normal development and instead rushing stuff like e4 with awkward play.

  51. Good point JB! Our next GM Repertoire should be on the improved Dutch with 1…f6, avoiding weakening the e5-square.

    Lazy Knight, I seem to remember our friend Nikos (a correspondence specialist) saying the KID was one of the best openings at corr. level. For almost all OTB players, as long as we’re playing fundamentally decent openings, then playing something which you enjoy and suits your style should be a bigger consideration than splitting hairs over which line is better.

    By the way, something Marin talks about in the second Dutch volume is how he used to only play the Leningrad via sophisticated move orders such as 1…d6 or 1…g6, precisely to avoid the 1…f5 sidelines; but once he studied them more closely, he was no longer afraid and now relishes the chance to face them.

  52. With the Berlin Defence upcoming, I was wondering if you’ve considered a GM Repertoire on the Open Games?

    Also now Shankland is doing a Chessable LTR on the Classical Sicilian and the fact it’s played more and more at Super GM level, surely a book on this opening needs to be considered!

    Keep up the good work!

  53. @Andrew Greet

    So in summary we have 1.e4?? e5!! 2.Nf3?? d5!! -+ and 1.d4?? f6!! -+ How can white survive the opening – is there any hope for him? Perhaps 1.f3!! is the only answer ?

  54. @Lazy Knight

    The motivation was to have a more solid alternative, but it didnt work out. My chess ”genes” seems to be programmed for the sicillian, thats why now I only play the Sicilian against e4. The Caro-Kann more often leads to dull positions in my games. Maybe I lack the feeling for the Caro-kann. You are right that the winning chances are much better in the sicilian.
    I also now play only 1.c4 sometimes switching to d4 openings. It has worked very well to have a very sicilian repertoire both as White and black.

    I guess the kid is somewhat sounder than the dutch. But the dutch is more practical. Generally white players are less well preparera against the dutch.

  55. @Lazy Knight

    I agree with Andrew that there is no point being afraid of the Dutch sidelines. Many sidelines are very sharp and we play the Leningrad Dutch when we really wants to win. My own experience is to play the Dutch against the right opponents. I think it is at terrific weapon to beat weaker players in open tournaments, when you must win or when your opponent likes to simplify the game.

    If you want a draw don’t play the Leningrad. It is really dynamic and sharp and one slip will sometimes be enough to lose.

  56. There might be nothing to fear in the Dutch sidelines, but if you play the Pirc is there any reason not to play 1… d6?

  57. @Steve
    1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nc3 is unchartered area. White scores pretty well. Could be a problem for Philidor players.
    1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 f5 looks decent, though there are systems against which Black might want to play d7-d5 in one go.

  58. @Steve

    I agree with Bulkington. To clarify the systems in which black want to play d5 in one go is usually the systems where white plats b4. An early d6 will make black loose some flexibility.

  59. Is there room for the leningrad defence be named something else for the upcomming book. I’m not aware of it already being renamed, but possible new name could be maybe Volgograd Defence or St. Petersburg Defence. Seems half a bad on arrival name if kept vanilla.

    1. The Russians are calling it the Leningrad Defence. I would not want to be insensitive to their rights for ethnic self-determination.

  60. Please don’t rewrite history. The Leningrad is the Leningrad by historical reference, whatever the name of the city is today. Here in my city, in France, we still have a USSR avenue, as well as other allies names, to remember the WWII victory.
    As for the book, I see Marin goes for an immediate g6 when white plays directly d4/c4/Nc3. This is supposed to be very forcing and risky and d6 first is generally recommended. This makes me curious.
    On the main line I expected c6 systems as I lost my interest for Qe8 because of all the forcing play in the gambit after 8.Te1. Here too, I hope Marin has found something avoiding massive complications just to survive and reach a dry position. Without this gambit line, Qe8 would be my favorite, so I can’t wait!

  61. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    For those (not me) who need a different name, in Chess Review in the 1950s, Kmoch called this opening Dutch Indian. Descriptive but not very catchy.

    Isolani wrote: “I hope Marin has found something avoiding massive complications just to survive and reach a dry position.” That’s modern chess. As black you can’t avoid it, the only real alternative is *not* surviving the complications. Here is a Kasparov quote RE the computer:

    “… there is always a moment at which you can no longer play a safe, positional game, and you have to switch to playing tactically.”
    –Kasparov in Jaan Ehlvest (2019) Grandmaster Opening Preparation, page 30

  62. @An Ordinary Chessplayer
    Chess player, you say:”That’s modern chess. As black you can’t avoid it, the only real alternative is *not* surviving the complications.” But I do avoid it by playing the c6 variation where complications are more rewarding. I ‘m not affraid of complications, I play the Dutch (and the Sicilian) to reach unbalanced and complex positions. This gambit line with Te1 is very specific.White seems to have all the fun and black can just hope to survive and draw. I hope Marin will prove I’m wrong.

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