- Paperback: 334 pages
- Publisher: Gambit Publications (October 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1904600603
- ISBN-13: 978-1904600602
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mastering the Chess Openings: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Modern Chess Openings, Volume 1 Paperback – October 1, 2006
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About the Author
International Master John Watson is one of the world's most respected writers on chess. His groundbreaking four-volume work on the English firmly established his reputation in the 1980s, and he has produced a string of top-quality works since. In 1999, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, Watson's first book for Gambit, won the British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award and the United States Chess Federation Fred Cramer Award for Best Book. His former pupils include the 1997 World Junior Champion, Tal Shaked.
Top customer reviews
Volume 1 of the series deals with the majority of king pawn openings, 1. e4. It is certainly not exhaustive in that it does not cover every single variation of every king's pawn opening, but it has the large majority of what most chess players will encounter over the board. The openings covered include:
- Giuoco Piano
- Two Knights Defense
- Philidor's Defense
- Ruy Lopez
- King's Gambit
- Sicilian Defense
- Caro-Kann Defense
- French Defense
- Pirc Defense
Watson does a great job of explaining all of these opening systems (or opening defenses as appropriate). That is, rather than give a summary blurb about the opening and then just prattling on with move after move, he walks the reader through the opening, explaining the purpose behind each move. Then, once finished with the main sequence of moves, he includes one or more instructive games with relevant analysis and variations. This is so much more helpful than a cold and clinical presentation of silent moves.
Watson's writing style is very clear and approachable. He neither talks down to his readership nor does he assume that everyone has a doctorate in chess.
This is a superb series on chess openings which will leave the reader with a much clearer understanding of not just the moves involved in the openings but also an understanding of the purpose and goals of any given opening and variation covered. Although the cost of the series is more than that of a single volume it is well worth it.
1) in the 1500 rating vicinity or higher.
2) You are reasonably good with simple tactics so that you don't spend lots of time questioning why certain moves hasn't been played
3) You don't get out of book quickly in most common openings even if you don't know the whole line
4) in other words, you can make reasonably sound opening moves more than not if you don't know the line.
5) You are familiar and have played a number of common openings like the Ruy Lopez, The Scicilian, QGD, etc
6) You need to increase your positional awareness
7) After a number of moves in the opening you feel you don't know how to proceed.
If you are most or all of the above then this book will greatly help you. It will help you explore themes that arise from openings and help you link middle game plans with openings, one of the ways that separates you from amateurdome.
Study the book carefully. Read it more than once (not necessarily cover to cover). Select openings you'd like to concentrate on and know more about and read and reread.
The book is very thorough and detailed and also give game examples to stress the point. It deals the most common variations and leaves other less important out (this is however subjective as some readers will complain. Check the review on Jeremy Silman's site). A good start for later deeper diving.
As with most chess books, some of the stuff he says won't make sense either because they really don't make sense or because you still don't have enough understanding of the concepts, so always have a critical mind. Always have a critical mind and ask yourself questions before jumping to the author's analysis. That will help you absorp the concepts. Computer analysis is a great tool for you to understand moves that the author left.
Now that didn't sound like a book review, rather a how-to, but I'm saying that cuz I've been through this. I was first reading the book as any other books and it turned out to me no more than variations with some description. Only when I followed the above, I discovered how helpful this book is. I learned to pay attention when the author talks about typical plans arising from the opening. This is very important.
I didn't like much Chapter 3 that everyone raves about. I think it confused me more than helped. Skim through it quickly and refer to it later every once in a while.
My other criticism is that some other important openings have been left out, so check the table of contents and see if your favourite opening is there.
Needless to say, GET BOTH VOLUMES!