|Title: Tiger’s Modern
||Author: Tiger Hillarp
|Publisher: Quality Chess
|Price: £ 15.99
||Date: 21/10 2006
Tiger Hillarp Persson has been a champion of the Modern with …a6
for many years, so it is highly appropriate for him to write a book
about this opening. The title of the book is fitting as Hillarp
Persson gives us a personal take on the opening. He is not trying to
cover everything, but instead gives the lines he thinks are the most
The basic position of the opening arises after the moves 1.e4
g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 (or Nf3 or f4) a6! Black wants
to play b5, Nd7, Bb7 and c5 to attack the centre.
The good thing about the opening is that White has no clear
drawing lines. The bad thing is that neither has Black! You must be
prepared for an unbalanced and difficult fight.
The book is structured according to White’s different responses:
A) Variations where Black plays 4…a6:
- f4 – Austrian Style
- Flexible Dragon Unleashed – Be3 without Nf3
- Flexible Dragon Restrained – Be3 and Nf3
- The Hippopotamus
- Classical Variation
- Bg5 – Into Midair
Obviously, this part is the core of the book, as it deals with
Black’s “ideal” setup.
All of White’s set ups in this part of the book contain some poison.
The positions that ensue are usually very unbalanced and complex.
You could say that a6 and b5 constitutes a weakening of Black’s
queen side, but in most lines White attacks Black’s undeveloped
kingside. I have tried the Modern a few times lately and think there
is much truth in this excerpt from the Introduction:
Playing these lines is a constant struggle. Occasionally I
wake up thinking “it’s crap – I must find something else”, but
then, a few mornings later (after some hard work) I wake up
thinking “ It’s alive! It’s a miracle!” and so it goes on. Don’t
let the first of these mornings scare you. If you are not too
lazy the other kind of morning is waiting around the corner.
Maybe I’m too lazy, but so far I have been beaten badly a few
times. In the process I have found out that some of the lines
recommended in the book are not the best. In other places, the most
principled (and probably best) move is not even mentioned, although
is has been played before.
Over all Hillarp Persson does a good job of defending
"his" opening. But in
doing so I feel he somewhat undermines his own statement that in
this opening ideas are more important than concrete lines. The
positions are extremely sharp and thinking in terms of general ideas
might very well leave you in big trouble.
B) Variations where Black does not play 4…a6
- Bc4 – Mad Dog
- g3 – Fianchetto variation
- c3 Lazy Variation
- Unusual Lines
Although Black can almost always play a6 and b5, Tiger deserves
much credit for not being dogmatic about it. Against certain lines
he recommends a different course of action. Mostly, his
recommendations are based on playing Nf6 and getting castled and
then strike in the centre.
In my opinion, these chapters represent the most convincing part
of the book. Tiger’s recommendations seem solid and yet dynamic.
Having read these chapters one definitely feels well prepared in
C) White Plays c4
- Averbakh Variation
It would have been perfectly acceptable not to include this
chapter, as 3.c4 transposes away from the Modern. But since c4 is a
real problem for Black, this chapter is thrown in as a help to those
unfortunate souls who don’t play the Kings Indian with Black. The
book recommends 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 e5!? While this is
definitely better than many of the alternatives, the chapter left me
with the impression that in the long run the Kings Indian is a wiser
This is the book you want to buy if you want to play the
Modern with …a6! It is well written and
instructive and very entertaining. My reservations about it are
mostly reservations about the soundness of the opening itself.
If you are willing to take risks and/or are looking for a
opening in must-win situations with Black, this book comes