- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Gambit Publications (July 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1906454302
- ISBN-13: 978-1906454302
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Strategic Chess Opening Repertoire for White Paperback – July 24, 2012
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About the Author
Modern Chess Strategy won Chess Book of the Year’ awards in the USA and the UK. He reviews chess books
for The Week in Chess and hosts a weekly radio show on the Internet Chess Club. His bestselling four-volume
work Mastering the Chess Openings has reaffirmed his reputation as a perceptive and authoritative chess
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I've made it though about four chapters, sometimes skipping around as some openings bother me more than others, but look forward to explore the rest. As some readers have noted, this isn't exactly the best book for beginners (I feel fairly comfortable with this book and I'm about 1900 USCF, but I feel any 1.d4 player a class below or above can also gain a great deal of understanding by going though this book). As the title suggests this is more of a strategic repertoire, so if you like fireworks and tactics it may not be an ideal match. Its more about exploiting imbalances in the position (ala minority attack with the QGD Exchange Var) and building small advantages. That isn't to say the lines are boring or drawish, they leave a great deal of fighting chess to be played and provides guidance on ways to minimize blacks chances of reaching equality in a given position.
The only real criticism is that it is rather dry. It doesn't cover actual games, usually just the lines and variants and subvariants that might be encountered and then leaves off at a certain point in the middlegame. This is all useful and keeping with the purpose and intent of the book, but it can get rather tedious trying to read it as a whole and I find myself using it more and more as a reference like one would with MCO. I previously rated this book five stars, but after just reading the Move by Move Nimzo-Indian book by John Emms, I have to scale it back to four stars since Emms demonstrated in his fine work how to provide not only great instruction but also enjoyment in an opening book. Watson's book does have a very useful instructive repertoire inside, I just can't say you will find great enjoyment reading it. All said though, I think most 1. d4 players would be happy with his selection.
The majority of chess players can't devote hundreds of hours to memorizing the nuances of the new hot opening system. We can't keep up with the latest novelties from obscure Russian tournaments. If we can get a solid but rich position, we've done well.
This philosophy is where Watson's book begins. He promotes tactically sound and strategically rich openings for White, with 1.d4 / 2.c4 systems forming the basis of his repertoire. Included are a mix of mainline variations (Rubinstein Nimzo, Exchange QGD) as well as lesser-known paths. His analysis is thorough without being overwhelming, and it anticipates just about every logical response from Black.
To give you an example, I spent quite a bit of time going through the proposed lines (7.Qa4 / 7.Bg5) against the Grunfeld Defense. These are sub-lines in the massive Exchange Variation, but both moves - and 7.Bg5 in particular - lead to interesting positions where White has every chance to gain an advantage while also forcing Black to play on White's terms. I was really impressed with the depth and breadth of the analysis, and it was entirely comprehensible for a 1750 player like me.
You might not like every line that Watson offers in his repertoire, but you'll find that all the proposed choices are sound, logical, and well explained. All in all, this book is well worth your money.
The foundation of this repertoire are solid lines for White that do not require sohisticated tactical wizardy. Instead, Watson elaborated on move orders and variations that keeps Black under pressure and White playing for a win without too much risk.
So, far in tournament play (U-2000) my opponent are baffled by the move order suggested by Watson and then I proceed to increase the pressure as my opponents play aimless...
The book has a good mix of variations and words. The author explain the main ideas behid his choices and cited relevant examples. This feature is very important if you want to study additional games on your own since Watson already made the selection for you.
Finally, the books has a reasonable size despite the completeness of the material. The book meets my standard for an opening repertoire: The variations are there to support the ideas and not to confuse(justify) the choice of an ify move or variation. I really enjoy the way that John Watson blends all his chess knowledge in this book. At my level around 1900 USCF the book is easy to understand and follow.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.b3
He says black's main moves are 6...Bd6 and 6... b6, when in fact 6...Bb4 is the most common and scores the best for black according to two databases I looked at. He only mentions it as a sideline "may not be of equivalent worth but playable." I find it quite misleading and frustrating.