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FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings Paperback – November 24, 2009


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FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings + Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner to Master + Logical Chess: Move By Move: Every Move Explained New Algebraic Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906454132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906454135
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Grandmaster Paul van der Sterren has won the Dutch Championship on two occasions, and in 1993 reached the Candidates stage of the World Chess Championship. He is an internationally renowned chess writer and editor: he was one of the founding editors of New in Chess, for whose Yearbooks he has contributed more than 150 opening surveys.


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Customer Reviews

Really clear, illuminating explanations and an absolute pleasure to read.
Elizabeth Zoe Vicary
FCO is well layed out, and Van Der Sterren does an excellent job of presenting the openings, and ideas.
Deep Blue
If this book is truly mastered, it is probably all a club player would ever need.
Edward H. Baker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Goosemeyer on November 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt this is the best opening book to start with, and possibly the only one you might need for quite a while. Oh how I wish this had been available when I started out. What's the first thing a beginner does (ignoring all advice)? He starts surveying all the openings to find a few that he likes (and then changes his mind repeatedly). Before this book that involved buying a book on each opening, at great expense, both of money and time. That's no longer necessary - you can buy this one and get all you need for that purpose. It does expect some experience, but no more than any opening book does.

The book reminds me alot of Watson's Mastering the Chess Openings, except that it's much broader and less deep. It's far less selective and sophisticated than Watson, but it's not superficial at all given the target audience. It gives very good explanations of the general themes, historical development, and early move orders of pretty much every opening you could want, although it does have a strong focus on mainlines. For a beginner or intermediate, this book will give you enough theory to get started - your first half dozen moves with some deviations - but not enough to distract you from tactics and endgames. Coaches should love it. I'm sure they would tell you it's all you need until you are an expert.

The book is targeted at non-Masters. It's perfect for beginners to intermediates - I would say this is an essential book for beginner to Class C. Higher class players would still get a lot of value as a reference for unfamiliar openings they encounter and for broadening their repertoires, but I suspect an Expert would get diminished value from it. It has 450 some pages of large page size and has a huge amount of prose for each bit of analysis.
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79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Chess amateur on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a miracle. It's fills a gap between more simple opening encyclopedia like Seirawan's "Winning chess openings", Collins "Understanding the chess openings" and specific opening books. This book is in fact a modern and a more advanced version of Ruben Fines "The ideas behind the chess openings". And lower rated chess players (below 1800) should understand the chess opening plans, rather than memorizing openings.

Many chess players (improvers and club players) have bought a book on a given opening, for later find that opening not suitable for them, a waste of money. So in the beginning of your chess career, you should instead buy only one book.

This book!

As an example, this book will probably give you the same introduction and plans in the Sicilian opening, as Emms "Starting Out-The Sicilian", "Fundamental chess openings" contains almost 60 pages with plans and information about the Sicilian opening. That's more than enough for player rated below 1800.
Strongly recommended!
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By revbd on December 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is outstanding in every way (apart from the awful 'FCO' title) and provides substantial coverage of ALL chess openings. It addresses both understanding and specific moves and gives lots of unusually well written explanation. In addition it is, I think, superior to comparable alternatives. For example: Watson is far less comprehensive (despite 4 vols), has big gaps e.g. Petroff, and his coverage is both uneven and less practical; Djuric et al is far less deep (despite 4 vols); Collins, though good and comprehensive, is considerably shorter and less focused on understanding; Kallai, though good, is focused primarily on moves; Fine is hopelessly out of date and, in addition, not good. Sterren's opening book is a marvel which makes shelves of my introductory opening titles redundant.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John on June 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've had this book for a few months now, and I have to say that Van Der Sterren does a great job covering the most common openings, their goals, and the subtleties of each move. In particular, his coverage of the Scotch Game and the Ruy Lopez made me a believer in 1. e4 e5 openings!

Unfortunately, though, as a lower rated player (1400 USCF), I find that opponents either 1) go out of book very quickly or 2) play side lines in the openings that are highly tactical. For example, I've faced the Scandinavian defense countless times since I started playing tournament chess, yet it only gets about 2-3 pages of coverage here. Van Der Sterren insists that the Scandinavian defense doesn't deserve the treatment that the "more developed" openings get, despite the fact that several lines have been popularized recently. The same goes for Alekhine's defense, where the author writes that (what I know to be) the Modern variation is considered the main line, and only briefly covers the Exchange variation, which I find to be much more common.

It's hard to complain too much, though, considering one of the author's main goals was to give general knowledge of each opening. This book accomplishes that well, but be prepared to look beyond this book for more detailed information on sidelines and less-common openings.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Resurrection on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is very rare to get a book in your hand which you have nothing to complain about. I am a lazy ~2300 player who never bothered to learn proper openings, but this one-volume work has been a great source of inspiration for me, both as a player and a chess coach. Van der Sterren is a superb author, who manages to balance perfectly between depth and width without neglecting the latest novelties. With an update every five years or so, this will be the standard opening overview book for many, many years to come!
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