||An Explosive Chess
Opening Repertoire for Black
Yrjölä & Tella
|Price: £ 15,99
||ISBN: 1 901983
||Date: 20/4 2002
An Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black
Before I managed to read this book, some discussion revolved on Seagaards new
discussion forum. Some points related to both the Pirc Austrian attack and the general concept in the book
was debated. This interest in the subject made me only more curious to form my own opinion, which is given below.
The purpose to give black an opening concept against any white choice is very ambitious.
Even though the title might have the potential of becoming a best seller, I think the term "explosive" calls upon a comment. Whether
1...d6 is explosive or not is open for discussion, but clearly the authors want to make clear from the very beginning that the recommended openings are ambitious for black. Throughout the book black is on the look-out for unbalanced positions.
The constellation of an experienced GM and a strong young IM as authors are interesting and works out all right. Especially since
1...d6 allows white a pleasant choice between 2.e4 and 2.c4/Nf3/others leading to very
different types of positions it is wise to split up the amount of work in two.
1...d6 has been favoured of players like Benjamin, Agrest and Denmark's
N. Hoiberg (my fathers favourite advice is always to remember, that any woman is dangerous. More than once, I have forgotten this - also against Hoiberg, who seems to be an extraordinary good example for this general rule!).
Anand also used to play 1...d6 around 1990 and makes the following interesting remark to the concept:
"This was part of my usual opening repertoire at the time. I liked
1...d6 because it is such a complete system in itself. If you play the Pirc then you have no reason to fear 2.e4 and 2.Nf3 can be met by
2...Bg4. Since then, however, White has found ways to keep some pressure. As a result I lost faith in the system and had to learn a decent defence to 1.d4." (My best Games of Chess p.43). Tella and Yrjöla argues that "the opening theory industry" has neglected
1...d6 and they are more optimistic than Anand regarding black's resources. Apart from the objective merits of the
1...d6 system, I think that psychologically the early variation from the most well-trodden paths might prove to be in blacks favour.
1...d6 as a universal medicine is very flexible and gives many transposition
possibilities. To mention a few of the most relevant openings: The Dutch, Kings Indian, Pirc and Philidor. Seemingly,
1...d6 leaves white a pleasant choice between these openings. Larsen once wrote that he loves to give the opponent such a choice in the opening. This reminds me of an ancient fighter offering his opponent to choose with which weapon the battle is to go on, which in itself is charming. Another important aspect however, is that black can also avoid certain things adopting this sly move order. For instance 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 f5 or 2.c4 e5 or 2.e4 Nf6 3.f3 d5 are some of the options to avoid whites normal set ups. On the discussion forum special attention is given to the Pirc Austrian attack, where more players seem to have a hard time making
5...c5 work in practice.
The ambitious project adds up to no less than 33 chapters divided into six parts:
- Part 1: Consists of 10 chapters on 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5
- Part 2: 6 chapters on the so-called Hodgson Variation 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4
- Part 3: Treats other second moves for white in 3 chapters
- Part 4: Treats the Pirc! - 6 chapters
- Part 5: Treats other first moves for white in 4 chapters
- Part 6: Treats other options for black in 4 chapters
The first two parts of the book aims at disturbing the 1.d4
player's normal opening scheme. These two parts end at page 149, which corresponds to the remark in the introduction that "the opening industry" has
neglected these specific areas. After 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5
black already invites the endgame, which is seen throughout the book: In different versions an early exchange on e5 might lead to an endgame, where black looses the right to castle. Especially after 2.c4 e5 it seems completely harmless. This is supported by statistics, which is a feature I like very much in the book. White scores only 33% after 3.dxe5 in 415 available games. Each part of the book is supported by small tables indicating number of games, score in percentage, average rating and rating performance in each case. This works out fine, because the use of statistics is not exaggerated as seen in some books in this modern computer era. Yrjöla and Tella are not tempted into this and without dealing with complete games they give a well balanced coverage of the huge bunch of material.
Hodgson has made a living out of openings like the Trompovsky and 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3
Although Petrosian and others tried this out, I find it natural to link
Hodgson's name to this. The first two parts of the book are probably the most interesting, because the writers
seem to have filled out a gap in existing opening theory here. Actually, I have noticed that many strong players around have taken up
1...d6 recently probably as a direct result of this work!
In Part three other white second moves are treated. The title of chapter 18 is funny:
"Serious alternatives for white". I wondered which chapter
would deal with the options that are not counted as serious…. However, both 2.g3 and 2.Bg5 deserves to be taken seriously. One charming feature about the
1...d6 system is that the set-up with 1.d4, 2.c3, 3 Nf3 and 4.Bf4 is countered quite effectively because the black knight has not appeared at f6 yet.
Pirc or Philidor?
Part four treats the Pirc which is quite a task. As some people discussed on Seagaards forum an early
5...c5 against the Austrian attack is recommended (1.e4, d6 2.d4 Sf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5). Although it leads to risky play, I find it fair enough to make such choices in a repertoire book. For complete books on the Pirc readers can
buy many other books. If you don't like to play the Pirc, but still found the first two parts of the book inspiring the Philidor might be possible to reach. After 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 white again faces the choice between an endgame or 4.Nf3 which suddenly transposes to the Philidor. In the final chapter different versions of endgames including e4 are analyzed. One remarkable recommendation indicating that the writers
have done quite a lot of "repertoire-thinking" is seen after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.f3 e5 4.dxe5 dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Bc4
Ke7!? planning Be6.
Both 3...d5 and 4.d5 are relevant alternatives also discussed in depth.
Other Variations from Black and White
In part five it becomes clear that the flexible 1...d6 is playable against every thinkable first move by white. Part six deals with various ways for black to vary from the recommended paths after
1...d6. Different extensions of the repertoire are treated: For instance the Old Indian with an early Bf5 and 1.d4 d6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 e4 (chapter 32). Given this particular move order I think the endgame after 4.dxe5 dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nf3 is more
attractive than after 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5 as discussed in part one. This relates to plans involving an early g4 taking advantage of
black's knight on f6, which has been pointed out by Larsen and others.
Yrjöla and Tella presents a complete repertoire for black based on
1...d6. Especially concerning the first two parts the book enriches opening theory. The remaining four parts are also important for the repertoire, but here the material is more well known. All in all the book reflects a serious and inspiring attempt to give black a fighting repertoire. The book is a traditional book on opening theory without complete games. Whether the title "explosive" hits the nail on the head I shall leave for the reader to judge. Recommended for the serious tournament player.