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How to Play Against 1 e4 Paperback – January 20, 2009
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"Once again I would like to say how much I like McDonald as an author. He gets to the meat of the subject and shares his thoughts with the reader. As with any book there are some details that are left for the reader to work out, but the amount of valuable information that is shared far outweighs that."
- NM Bill McGeary, Chessville.com
From the Back Cover
It's not easy finding a good opening to play against 1 e4, especially if you don't have endless time available to study the latest theoretical developments. If you choose fashionable openings, it's often a necessity to keep pace with modern theory if you want to succeed with Black.
This book provides a solution. Neil McDonald advocates his favourite opening – the very popular French Defence – but chooses a repertoire for Black that requires only the minimum amount of move memorization. The lines he selects are very easy to learn and play – perfect for those who are unwilling to be slaves to opening theory. But there's also something here for more experienced players, as McDonald goes on to offer a second repertoire based on counter-attacking lines against 3 Nc3 and 3 Nd2.
*An easy-to-learn defence against 1 e4
*Provides solutions to all of White's options
*Written by a world-renowned expert on the French
*Ideal for improvers, club players and tournament players
English Grandmaster Neil McDonald is an experienced and successful player on the international chess circuit. He is a respected chess coach, who has trained many of the UK's strongest junior players. McDonald is also a talented chess writer and has many outstanding works to his name
Top customer reviews
The author, Neil Mcdonald, is a chess grandmaster and a very experienced practitioner of the French (20+ years).
So what lines of the French does the author recommend?
Against the Advance French (chapter 1 - 41 pages) McDonald opts for two lines, both of which revolve around the idea of quickly exchanging Black's problem piece - the light-square bishop.
The lines are: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 b6 followed by Ba6 and 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7 with the idea of Bb5.
Chapter 2 (21 pages) deals with the Exchange Variation and gives the Black player plenty of tips on how to get the edge in this relatively quiet and symmetrical variation.
Chapter 3 (25 pages) - the Fort Knox variation - the "lazy" player's solution to both 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 and 3.Nd2. In both cases Black plays 3. ... dxe4 followed by Bd7-c6. Black will most often give up the bishop pair in return for a very solid yet somewhat passive position, but skips all the theory of the Nc3 and Nd2 main lines (yay!).
A good choice if you want to avoid spending countless hours studying the main lines and get a playable position which, however, does not offer too many winning chances. A reasonable choice against a lower-rated opponent or if you're looking for a low-risk game.
Chapter 4 (35 pages) - The Classical Variation with 4.e5 - the more ambitious player's weapon against 3.Nc3 if you feel the Fort Knox is too passive for your taste.
No Winawer folks. If you like to stick your bishop on b4, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Chapter 5 (42 pages) - The McCutcheon variation - 1.e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Bb4. OK, so you'll get to stick the bishop on b4 after all. ;-)
But still this isn't pure Winawer territory folks.
Chapter 6 (25 pages) - The Tarrasch with 3. ... Be7 - the ambitious approach against 3.Nd2 and the preferred choice of French Defence big gun Alexander Morozevich.
So that's a total of 102 pages to study if you prefer the ambitious approach against Nc3 and Nd2, and just 25 pages of Fort Knox theory if you're the lazy type. ;-)
There's also a complete chapter (21 pages) about dealing with the King's Indian Attack and an Odds and Ends chapter which deals with White's funky early deviations such as the Two Knights Variation.
Overall a good book on the French and a must-have for any fan of this opening (such as myself).
The repertoire is based on the French Fort Knox variation. The central theme of the variations is to avoid the bad Queen Bishop while using the f7 e6 d5 pawn structure. If you want something more active, the MacCutcheon variation is also covered.
I think this book give the beginning and intermediate player a place to start against 1. e4.
I think this book is good for the 1000 to 1600 rated player, a former friend (2300 rating) enjoyed Neil's book and learned a few lines he might have forgotten over the years, it's hard being a 63 year old 2300 rated chess player. All and all, it's a good book for the newbie learning to challenge the basic opening many chess club players have left behind for "1 d4.". Sorry I am not the best chess book reviewer, all I know is this book helped boost my rating and I enjoyed each page!