Bronznik & Terekhin's Techniques of Positional Play: A Quick Review
Monday, October 21, 2013 at 12:43PM
Dennis Monokroussos in Book Reviews, Bronznik, Terekhin

Valeri Bronznik & Anatoli Terekhin, Techniques of Positional Play: 45 Practical Methods to Gain the Upper Hand in Chess (New in Chess, 2013). 254 pp. $29.95/€24.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

FM Anatoli Terekhin wrote an earlier version of this work in Russian, which IM Valeri Bronznik refined, expanded and translated into German in 2005. Thanks to one Ian Adams, the work is available in English. The book presents 45 techniques over the course of 10 chapters, with an eleventh chapter offering 40 practical exercises. (Some exercises invoke multiple techniques, in case you're wondering.)

The first four chapters present techniques focusing on pawn play in one way or another, while chapters 5-10 are more geared towards the pieces. (This is a matter of emphasis and not a hermetically sealed division, of course.) Let's have a closer look at one chapter from each section.

Chapter 1 is "Restricting the Enemy Pieces", and includes seven techniques. Two restrict enemy knights, four deal with bishops and one addresses the rook. Technique #1 is "Paralysing the knight with the duo of wing pawns", which includes but is not limited to the idea of restricting, say, a black knight on b6 (or on g6; or a white knight on b3 or g3) with a white pawn on b3 (or g3, or a black pawn on b6 or g6 - and likewise for the further examples and specifications), sometimes followed by kicking the knight further with a4-a5. Against the bishop, the various techniques include building a barrier of pawns on f3 and e4 against a fianchettoed Black queen's bishop (Technique 3) and Capablanca's method of immobilizing a bishop (Technique 5, most famously seen in Winter-Capablanca from Hastings 1919, but used by him on other occasions too). Of course pawns can be used to help promote one's own pieces' prospects, but let's move on to material in the second (implicit) part of the book.

In Chapter 5 the authors present five "Techniques in the fight for an open file"; I'll mention three. Starting with ones you may well know, there's "Blackburne's Battering Ram" (Technique #20, generally labeled "Alekhine's Gun", but since Blackburne purposefully and effectively employed it 52 years before Alekhine-Nimzowitsch (San Remo 1930), maybe he should get the credit instead?) and "The Padlock" (Technique #21, which might be alliteratively labeled "Petrosian's Padlock"). The first is a formation with rooks in front on a file, backed up by the queen; while the later is a device to keep files closed, most famously used by Petrosian in game 7 of his 1966 world championship match with Boris Spassky. (18...a6 sets up the padlock: Black meets b5 with ...a5 and a5 with ...b5.)

Many club players already know #20 and a smaller but still significant fraction are aware of #21 (thanks largely to the Spassky-Petrosian game), but how many of you are familiar with Technique #18, "Queen behind the rooks - Smyslov's formation"? The word "behind" is a bit of a misnomer, as it makes it sound like Blackburne's Battering Ram/Alekhine's Gun. It's not a vertical relationship but a horizontal one, e.g. the black rooks are on a8 and c8, with the queen on d8. One important value of this setup is that it allows a player to defend an open file against an opponent who has doubled his rooks on that line. This technique is used in certain opening lines - by Black, for instance, in the Fianchetto King's Indian, where ...Qb6 is followed by ...Rfc8 and ...Qd8.

All of the techniques are illustrated with multiple examples - 327 in all, by my count - each of which is well-explained but not with an overload of annotations. The point is to get the idea, and the authors are effective in making the main point the main point. Some techniques and some examples will be familiar, but for players up to around 2200-2300 many of the techniques and most of the games won't be.

I like this book, and intend to use it on occasion with my students. Highly recommended for players between 1500 and 2200, plus or minus 100 points.

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