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    Friday
    Jul312015

    A Short Review of Spielmann's The Art of Sacrifice in Chess

    Rudolf Spielmann, The Art of Sacrifice in Chess, 21st century edition, revised and expanded by Karsten Mueller. (Russell Enterprises, 2015.) 272 pp., $24.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    Austrian grandmaster Rudolf Spielmann (1883-1942) was one of the great swashbuckling players of his era, and was a fine writer on the topic as well. His masterwork, The Art of Sacrifice, was written in the mid-1930s and was a classic from its inception. Its main contribution to chess literature, aside from the 37 exciting games (all Spielmann's) covered therein, was its taxonomy of sacrifices, apparently the first of its kind.

    Spielmann's first distinction is between sham sacrifices and real ones. A sham sacrifice is one that leads to a clearly foreseen gain - a material advantage (or at least the recovery of the material with some positional gains) or mate. A real sacrifice is the opposite: material is offered without any clearly foreseeable and tangible return on the investment.

    In part 1, he covers the three kinds of sham sacrifices given above: positional sacrifices (the material is regained with positional interest), sacrifices for gain (the sacrificer winds up with extra material), and mating sacrifices.

    In part 2 (or is it part 2 of part 1? It's unclear in the book's formatting) he discusses real sacrifices, subdividing them into these types, each getting its own chapter: sacrifices for development, obstructive sacrifices, preventive (anti-castling) sacrifices, line-clearance sacrifices, vacating sacrifices, deflecting/decoy sacrifices, (castled) king's field sacrifices and king-hunt sacrifices.

    Finally, in part 3 (or 2?), on "sacrificial values", he has one chapter on exchange sacrifices and another on queen sacs. A brief epilogue follows, and that brings an end to the original edition, one of the classic works of its time.

    Eighty years later, we have a new edition, thanks to German grandmaster Karsten Mueller and Russell Enterprises, and it offers a significant expansion and improvement of the original. One improvement is a now-standard one, though one which will be welcomed by the vast majority of the readership: the old English descriptive notation has been replaced by algebraic. The other revisions are far more substantive: there are analytical corrections to Spielmann's original (inserted in blue italics within the body of the text), and then there are 11(!) extra chapters, each with exercises, written by Mueller.

    Of these new chapters, most involve sacrifices on a particular square, two feature star attacking/sacrificial players, one focuses on defense and then there's a final chapter with only exercises. To elaborate: chapters 14-20 feature, respectively, sacs on h2/h7 (Greek gift sacs), g7/g2, f7/f2, h6/h3, g6/g3, f6/f3 and e6/e3. Chapter 21 presents some of Mikhail Tal's magic, and chapter 22 is on Shirov's sacrifices. Chapter 23 is on defense, chapter 24 gives some final exercises for the road, and then there are 50 pages of solutions. As half the book is brand new, this is not a minor revision!

    I think the book is worthwhile in both its parts, and could be appreciated and well-used by players rated from, say, 1600 (one should have basic tactical proficiency to get the most out of the book) all the way up to and through the master level. Recommended.

    Wednesday
    Jul292015

    Events Here and There

    We've got to hold on for another three weeks before the 2800 crowd is in action again, at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, but if you're the sort of person who can be satisfied with chess played by mere 2700s then you're in luck. Biel just finished, and both the British Championship and another Russia vs. China event are underway.

    1. Biel: This finished earlier today, and was won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. MVL had been having a really lousy year, dropping down to something like #26 in the world after having been in the top 10, but he bounced back here. His score of 6.5/10 was good enough for first place, half a point ahead of Radoslaw Wojtaszek and a point ahead of David Navara and Mickey Adams, and boosted his rating by 13 points. That put him back to #16 in the world and well on the road to recovery. A lot of crazy chess was played in the tournament, so it's worth replaying the games if you haven't already.

    2. British Championship: This is a monster event by contemporary standards, with 11 rounds, and after 4 of those rounds there is a 7-way tie for first with 3.5 points apiece. One of the leaders is the top seed and new member of the 2700 club, David Howell.

    3. China-Russia Challenge Match: This is a strangely formatted event which will apparently stop on August 1 and then be resumed at some point in December. Players here include Sergey Karjakin on the Russian side and Ding Liren on the Chinese team; the latter, notably, has had a series of great events and is now #10 in the world at 2770.4, ahead of Levon Aronian and on the verge of passing Alexander Grischuk. Very impressive, and he's only 22 years old.

    4. Caruana's Birthday: Today (Thursday) marked the end of Fabiano Caruana's tenure as the world's strongest 22-year-old; he is now 23. Happy birthday!

    Saturday
    Jul252015

    Loads of Chess Footage

    The Associated Press and British Movietone have released many, many hours of their old footage to the web, and there's a good deal of chess footage included. Here are some links, some from Brian Karen, who told me about this, and some I found doing a little exploration of my own:

    1. Jose Raul Capablanca & Salo Flohr giving a simul.

    2. Boris Spassky interviewed after losing the 1972 match to Bobby Fischer.

    3. Anatoly Karpov giving a simul in 1977; opponents include a very young Nigel Short.

    4. A long (14 minute) report on the then-ongoing world championship match between Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi in Baguio City in 1978. There are some mistakes made by the commentators; for instance, at one point they refer to Korchnoi as having a 4-2 lead, when in fact it was the other way around.

    5. Footage of Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky, from their first world championship match in 1966.

    6. Also from the great (chess) year of 1966: footage from the Havana Olympiad, including the draw between Fischer and Spassky.

    7. More Spassky: six minutes or so of footage from Hastings 1965/66. Spassky went +6 but only tied for first with Wolfgang Uhlmann, a point and a half ahead of Evgeni Vasiukov and two points in front of Svetozar Gligoric and Helmut Pfleger.

    8. More Hastings: the next year's event featured Mikhail Botvinnik (who won with 6.5/9) and a very young Henrique Mecking; Uhlmann came in second this time, a point behind the Patriarch.

    There are doubtlessly many more gems, and I hope you'll share the best ones you find in the comments.

    Thursday
    Jul232015

    Navara-Wojtaszek: Ke1-h8 As Home Prep!

    King walks in the middlegame are already unusual when they are taken voluntarily and don't lead to mate; when they involve the white king going all the way to h8, and when this is done as a matter of home preparation? That must be unique or at most very nearly so. That's what David Navara pulled off today in his victory over Radoslaw Wojtaszek in round 4 in Biel. Wojtaszek, to his credit, played extremely well for a long time, and by contrast Navara made a couple of slips once he was out of his preparation. In the end though, Navara was able to turn his brilliant concept into a full point, and leads the event with 3/4.

    Here's the game.

    Tuesday
    Jul212015

    Catching Up on Events Everywhere

    None of the 2800s are in action these days (the next event featuring the absolute elite is the Sinquefield Cup, starting in about one month's time), but a lot of interesting events featuring super-GMs are going on at a pretty regular clip. Forthwith, a select summary:

    Gelfand vs. Ding Liren: This four-game match finished over the weekend, and the 2012 world championship runner-up was beaten convincingly. Gelfand was in trouble in game 1, but managed to draw it and game 2 before losing the next two games to fall 3-1. Ding Liren picked up 10 rating points and is now #11 in the world.

    China vs. Russia Match: China won in all four sub-events: men's classical, women's classical, men's blitz and women's blitz. The Chinese men were outrated and played without several of their best players but won anyway.

    Lake Sevan: This tournament featured some of the world's strongest juniors (but not only juniors), and was ultimately won by one of them: Jan-Krzysztof Duda with 6/9. Of the other two super-prodigies Vladislav Artemiev finished tied for 3rd-5th with 5 points, while Sam Sevian had a tough time, finishing next to last with 3.

    Biel: The main event at the Biel Chess Festival started yesterday, a 6-player double-round robin with Michael Adams, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov and Richard Rapport. In round 1 MVL drew Eljanov and Wojtaszek-Rapport was a lucky draw for Rapport while Adams beat Navara. In round 2 Rapport was again a bit fortunate to draw, this time against Adams; Navara bounced back to beat Eljanov with Black and MVL-Wojtaszek was drawn.

    Chicago Class Championship: This is a trivial event compared to those mentioned above, but since I played in it and did a reasonably good job I'll give it a mention. I tied for third, along with GMs Ipatov (whom I drew in the last round) and Mitkov and one other player. (So you see, prospective students*, I can play halfway decent chess, too...or at least if I can't most of my opponents can't either, which comes to approximately the same thing.)

     

    * I do offer chess lessons and have been working with students for almost two decades. Please drop me a note via the contact link if you'd like to know more.

    Tuesday
    Jul212015

    Finegold's Tribute to Walter Browne

    GM Ben Finegold remembers Walter Browne in this lecture from the St. Louis chess club, telling various stories (most, but not all of them, about Browne) while showing one game from Browne in every decade from the '60s of the last century through the '10s of this one. (HT: Allen Becker)

    Saturday
    Jul182015

    A Short Review of Moskalenko's The Even More Flexible French

    Viktor Moskalenko, The Even More Flexible French: Strategic Ideas & Powerful Weapons (New in Chess, 2015). 363 pp., $29.95/€26.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    As the title suggests, this book is a sequel to an earlier work (2008) called The Flexible French, and it's appropriate that Viktor Moskalenko has so entitled these works. Although Francophobes may feel as if all French positions are the same, characterized by the miserable interlocking pawn chains in the center, those who play the opening or have studied it with White know that Black has a huge number of possible approaches, regardless of what White plays on move 3 (or even on move 2). Where some pro-French authors pick their repertoire choices in an attempt to keep the spread manageable and to go deep in the variations, Moskalenko doesn't get as far into the weeds but gives the French player seemingly limitless options. This makes the book nice as a source of ideas and surprise weapons, but I would recommend not using this work as your only source on the French. Pair it with John Watson's Play the French, Nikita Vitiugov's The French Defence Reloaded, or one of the recent Quality Chess books on the French and you're in business.

    To give some idea of the breadth of Moskalenko's volume, he offers 3...Nf6, 3...Be7 and 3...c5 against the Tarrasch, while against 3.Nc3 he covers both 3...Nf6 and the Winawer. Within the Winawer there are still more choices: 4.e5 b6 5.Qg4 Bf8 is the first, 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5 for the second, and 6...Qa5 (intending 7...Qa4) for the third. The absolute main lines with 6...Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 or 7...Qc7/7...cxd4 are absent. For that matter, in the Tarrasch line 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Moskalenko does give one game with 10...a6, but in it he shows Black getting killed. He concludes that he "cannot understand the idea behind the popular advance 10...a6?! It seems to be a significant waste of time that allows White to develop his initiative, forcing Black to revert to safer ideas, such as ...Be7, ...Bd7 etc." He is referring to 10th move options for Black, which he covers in earlier games.

    You might get the impression that you won't learn the "real" French from this book, but only a series of sidelines. Aside from the arguable claim that today's main lines constitute the "real" French, I would disagree. Moskalenko may not cover all the absolute main lines, but he covers enough of them, and certainly enough general kinds of positions to benefit any French player.

    As usual when looking at opening books, I compared what the author had to say with what the latest book I'd seen defending the opposite side had to say; in this case, the comparison was with Parimarjan Negi's 1.e4 vs. The French, Caro-Kann & Philidor. I limited my look to the lines beginning 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3, when the books interacted on the options 7...a6, 7...Qb6, 7...cxd4 and 7...Be7. (There's the huge spread in Moskalenko, on display once again!) In general I'd say that Negi went deeper, but Moskalenko throws out so many possibilities - even one-movers - that his book does escape Negi's clutches from time to time. It is a little disappointing that Negi's book isn't in Moskalenko's bibliography, but that's not Moskalenko's fault - the former didn't come out early enough for him to address it. Let's turn to some specifics:

    A: 7...a6. After 8.Qd2 b5 9.dxc5 Bxc5 Negi recommends 10.Bd3, which isn't covered by Moskalenko. That's not really a knock on Moskalenko, as it is a rare move, but it is inconvenient for the French player looking for an answer to Negi.

    B: 7...Qb6 8.Na4 Qa5+ 9.c3 cxd4 10.b4 Nxb4 11.cxb4 Bxb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Nxd2 is a line that has long been known to be very dangerous for Black, and Moskalenko admits this. He doesn't recommend the line, but he does present some analysis, following a 2007 Freestyle game (man + machine), winding up in a draw. That suggests that the line can hold, even if it requires impractically perfect play. I analyzed this line in great depth a year or so ago, however, and concluded that White is probably winning by force, and that seems to be Negi's conclusion as well. So I think that things are even worse for Black than Moskalenko suggests.

    C: 7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 and now a further subdivision:

    C1: 8...Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Qf2 and here there are two moves discussed by both books. One is 11...Bxd4, and if anything Moskalenko gets slightly the better of the coverage here. The other option is 11...Qe7, and here Negi's coverage is greatly superior. Moskalenko stops after 12.Bd3 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.h3 Bd6 15.Kb1, evaluating White's last move as interesting, while Negi goes much further and offers some new analysis. Just giving his main line, there's 15...Bd7 16.Rhe1 b5 17.g4!N Rac8 18.f5! e5 19.Nxc6 Bxc6 20.g5 Nd7 21.f6! gxf6 22.g6 e4 23.gxh7+ Kh8 24.Be2 with a clear advantage for White.

    C2: 8...Qb6. After 9.Qd2 Qxb2 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Bb5 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 a6 13.Bxd7+ Bxd7 14.Rb3 Qe7 15.Rxb7 we have a sharp position that was especially popular in 2013 and 2014. Here the overlap spans two moves, 15...Qh4+, 15...Qd8, and they can transpose into each other. Negi's coverage is superior here, but Moskalenko gets a leg up by his analysis of 15...Rc8, a move not noted by Negi.

    D: 7...Be7. Moskalenko throws out a short suggestion or two that isn't covered by Negi, but in areas of substantial overlap it is Negi's investigation that is more thorough. I'll skip the details this time, so you'll have to scare up the books for yourself.

    Now, the Negi book is really, really good and very detailed, so the fact that it often seems to get the better of the argument (and probably does get the better of the argument in most cases) doesn't mean that Moskalenko's book is substandard. Not at all. But I do think it is most useful in an auxiliary role, for instruction, inspiration, advice and variety while using another, more conventional book as the basis for one's repertoire.

    In addition to the bare moves, Moskalenko offers lots of very accessible textual help. He writes with great enthusiasm and knowledge about his beloved opening, highlights key tips, themes and tricks, and even offers some useful statistics about results and players ("heroes") to further benefit the reader. It is a very enjoyable and useful book, and is warmly recommended to lovers of the French Defense from, I'd say, approximately 1700-1800 on up.

    Thursday
    Jul162015

    Boris Gelfand vs. Ding Liren

    Boris Gelfand and Ding Liren are playing a 4-game match in  Wenzhou, China. Game one finished in a draw earlier today; Gelfand had the white pieces in a Bayonet KID and seemed to have some initiative early on. Some minor slips let Black escape and even enjoy the better half of an ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. Ding really pushed Gelfand hard and came closer to winning than I thought he would in such an ending. After a long defense Gelfand finally saved the draw. Game 2 is tomorrow.

    Incidentally, I didn't find the Chinese website above particularly easy to navigate, even after using Google's translator, so you might just make your life easier (unless you read Chinese, of course!) and go here or here.

    Tuesday
    Jul142015

    China vs. Russia Scheveningen Match

    It starts tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are - on Wednesday), in China. It's a Scheveningen-style match - more about it, with links, here.

    Monday
    Jul132015

    Book Review: Andriasyan's The English Attack Against the Taimanov Sicilian

    Zaven Andriasyan, The English Attack Against the Taimanov Sicilian: A Guide for White (New in Chess, 2015). 175 pp., $24.95/€21.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    The "English Attack", which could as easily and with more propriety be called the Byrne Attack, is the generic name given to the White attacking formation in the Open Sicilian with the moves Be3, f3, Qd2, 0-0-0 and (generally) g4. Byrne played this against the Najdorf (with ...e5) in the early '70s, and then English players took up the mantle in the '80s against the Najdorf/Scheveningen approach with ...a6 and ...e6. It has since been used against the Taimanov as well, so with the exception of a chapter on early divergences the book offers a white repertoire in the variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 Bb4 9.0-0-0.

    The first thing to say is that this is a committal move order by White, one which has become less popular nowadays. It's more common to start with 8.0-0-0, waiting for Black to commit himself first. If Black plays 8...b5, then 9.Bf4 has been much more successful than transposing to the English Attack with 9.f3. If Black plays 8...Be7, then White may eschew 9.f3 for 9.f4, though there's nothing wrong with the former move. In case of 8...Bb4, then everything goes back to normal and White plays 9.f3.

    To his credit, Andriasyan offers some coverage of 8.0-0-0 in the early divergences chapter, but only considers 8...Be7 9.f4; the 8...b5 line isn't addressed. Is this such a big deal? Not if we're talking about geopolitics, relationships, or the saving of one's soul; in the context of creating a strong and flexible repertoire against the Taimanov Sicilian, however, it matters. One thing I almost always do when examining a new opening book for one side is to see what it says about the recommendations from the previously most recent book advocating for the other side. So what does Andriasyan have to say about Alexander Delchev's and Semko Semkov's 2014 work The Most Flexible Sicilian or John Emms' 2012 book The Sicilian Taimanov: Move by Move?

    There are plenty of places where the works overlap, but there are important gaps. Emms focuses on the move order with 8.0-0-0, but sure enough, when White plays 8.f3 he recommends 8...b5, and after 9.0-0-0 he goes for 9...Ne5. As far as I can tell, there's no place where this transposes to anything in Andriasyan's book, so here, White players, you are out of luck unless you revert to an 8.0-0-0 move order (or do some further work to be ready for 8.f3 b5 9.0-0-0 Ne5).

    Delchev & Semkov (D/S) likewise recommend 8...b5, but to the relief of Andriasyan's readers their variation will eventually merge to a line covered in the new book, after 9.g4 Bb7 10.g5 Nxd4. So all is well, and will this take care of the problem in the Emms book as well? Not so fast.

    Both D/S and Emms note that Black can also play 9...h6 (rather than 9...Bb7), and this won't transpose to Andriasyan. That's not to say that 9...h6 is best. After 10.Nxc6 both Emms and D/S think White has an edge after 10...dxc6, as Black's h-pawn gives White a hook for his attack, but D/S does think that 10...Qxc6 might not be so bad, intending to continue with ...Bb7, ...Qc7, ...Be7 and ...d5.

    Emms fans might also try another of his suggestions to avoid getting pulled into Andriasyan's repertoire, and that's 8...Ne5 (not move 9, but move 8). If White plays 9.f4 he'll have wasted a tempo relative to 8.0-0-0 Ne5 9.f4, and there's even the wild 9...Bb4 (after 8.f3 Ne5 9.f4). (The latter is very warmly embraced by the computer.)

    One might wonder why Andriasyan gives 8.f3 instead of 8.0-0-0, as it seems to give Black more options while taking away White's. I'm not sure I have an answer to this, as White almost invariably ends up castling on move 9 against any sane move. Here are two hypotheses. First, White is concerned that 8.0-0-0 would allow 8...Ng4; second, White might get a little headstart on his attack in the line 8.f3 Be7 by playing 9.g4.

    Against the first hypothesis: no one plays 8.0-0-0 Ng4. There are 22 games where that was played (out of 2977!), most of them more than a decade ago, and there's a reason for this. After 9.Bf4 Nge5 (9...e5?! 10.Nd5 Qd8 11.h3!+/- as in Arizmendi Martinez-Collutiis, Valle d'Aosta 2003) 10.Bg3 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 f6 12.f4 Bc5 13.Qd2 Nf7 14.e5 (Luther-Banikas, EU Cup 2002 and five other games) Black's position stinks. As per the second, you could make a case for that if that was what Andriasyan recommended after 8.f3 Be7, but he doesn't - he follows the 9.0-0-0 crowd.

    The foregoing is therefore a bit disappointing, or at least mysterious, but as White can just reverse his 8th and 9th moves the problem is easily solved. How does the book fare in the main lines, where the overlap is obvious? Here I don't want to go into too many details - there ought to be a reason to buy the books, after all - but I will offer some conclusions. Often Andriasyan refers to the same games as D/S and/or Emms, but they disagree slightly about the assessment, at least as a practical matter.

    For instance, in the line 8.0-0-0 Be7 9.f4 b5 10.e5 b4 11.exf6 bxc3 12.Qxc3 Bxf6 13.g4 h6 14.h4 Bb7 15.Rh2 Rc8 16.Qd2 D/S recommends 16...Bxd4 as "perhaps safest", and they follow the game Saric-Yu, Wijk aan Zee 2014 through move 27 and say "Black has no problems in this endgame". Andriasyan gives a couple more moves from the game and offers a different conclusion: "An absolutely equal position, according to the computer, but to me White seems better, a view supported by the fact that the very strong Chinese GM [DM: 2677 at the time of the game] lost this position eventually". There is something to this sort of evaluation, but it must also be acknowledged that one can examine the further course of the Saric-Yu game to improve on Black's play. Black went seriously wrong on his 33rd and especially 34th moves, and it seems that if he keeps one rook on the 8th rank he is probably fine. One idea is 33...Bf1, aiming to swing the bishop around to f5.

    Similarly, Emms also examines the variation given above through 16.Qd2, but proposes 16...Be7, saying it looks about equal. Again Andriasyan goes further, taking the analysis another 14 moves - all of it original - and ends in a position about which he suggests that although White is a pawn down in a 4th phase position (both sides have a queen and both rooks), White's attack gives him good practical chances despite the engine's claim of equality. In this case, I agree entirely, and since his analysis is original White players will have a big practical edge over those relying on Emms.

    Another important difference-of-opinion/practical-chances-vs.-computer-evaluation line is 8.f3 b5 9.0-0-0 Be7 10.g4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bb7 12.g5 Nh5 13.Be5 Qxe5 14.Qxd7+ Kf8 15.Qxb7 Bxg5+ 16.Kb1 Qb8 17.Rd7 Qxb7 18.Rxb7 Bf6 19.a4 Bxc3 20.bxc3 bxa4. Through here Andriasyan and D/S are following an important game Ter Sahakyan-Polgar, Yerevan 2014, and both works offer improvements for their respective sides along the way. In particular, Andriasyan proposes and investigates 21.Bc4 as a possible improvement over Ter Sahakyan's 21.Bxa6, and after 21.Bxa5 g5 22.Bb5 Kg7 (Andriasyan(!) also takes a deep look at 22...Nf4) 23.Rd1 D/S offers 23...Nf4 as an improvement on Polgar's 23...Rhb8. Sticking to Polgar's move, Andriasyan follows the game through White's 26th move, again acknowledging the engine's claim that the position is equal but insisting once again that things aren't so clear:

    [S]uch positions are extremely difficult for Black to play, especially when a pair of rooks have been exchanged. The c-pawn becomes very dangerous. I would not recommend Black to enter this position, where he has to play very accurately for a long time, just to make a draw.

    Indeed, Polgar did not succeed in making a draw.

    Finally, after the moves 8.f3 Bb4 9.0-0-0 Ne5 10.Nb3 b5 Andriasyan has two chapters considering four possible White moves, 11.Bd4 and 11.Qf2 in one chapter, 11.Kb1 and 11.Qe1 in the next. In both cases he thinks Black can equalize after the first move with precise play, but thinks the latter move in each pair rectifies the problems with the former move and offers White an advantage. His analysis of 11.Qf2 looks quite decent, and that's where I would steer his followers for now, because in the 11.Qe1 variation there seems to be an important omission.

    After 11.Qe1 Be7 12.f4 Ng6 13.e5 Ng4 14.Ne4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 there are 33 games in the database, and in 30 of them Black castled short. Inexplicably, Andriasyan only covers 15...Nh4, which was played just once and by a comparatively lower-rated player (2388) against an elite GM (Jakovenko, rated 2753). The move wasn't very good and isn't recommended by the computer, and unsurprisingly Black got crushed. The omission of 15...0-0 is a serious one. To be fair, Andriasyan does cover 14...0-0, and this is more common than 14...Nxe3. (Unfortunately, it doesn't transpose because White meets 14...0-0 with 15.Bc5.) But 14...Nxe3 is still an important move, and it's also the move covered by Alejandro Ramirez in his ChessBase DVD on the Taimanov. (More bad luck for club players hoping their source will beat their opponent's source.)

    It is time to conclude the review. If you are a serious player who uses the Taimanov on a regular basis, you will want this book, if only out of self-defense. And if you're a serious player looking for a way to meet and beat the Taimanov, this book will help. There is a lot of original analysis, and as we've seen Andriasyan is a player with a strong sense of when to trust the computer's evaluations and when not to. It is a worthwhile book, notwithstanding the gaps and the 8.f3 vs. 8.0-0-0 problem. Recommended to players rated 2000 and up with a serious interest in the material covered.