Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    1948 World Chess Championship 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Open 2015 World Team Championships 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 World Championship 2018 Chess Olympiad 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Aeroflot 2015 Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Moiseenko Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Stripunsky Alexander Tolush Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi Amber 2010 Amber 2011 Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Bazna 2011 Becerra Beliavsky Ben Feingold Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Biel 2015 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bob Hope Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Budapest Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and education chess and marketing chess books chess cartoons chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film Chess Informant chess lessons chess psychology chess ratings chess strategy chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cyrus Lakdawala Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Danzhou Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin Ding Liren Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Erwin L'Ami Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Najer Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE Grand Prix FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gata Kamsky Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Georg Meier GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Giri Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Iljumzhinov Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 Informant 121 Informant 122 Informant 124 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jay Whitehead Jeffery Xiong Jeremy Silman Jimmy Quon Joe Benjamin John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jon Ludwig Hammer Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Jose Diaz Ju Wenjun Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga Kaidanov Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kavalek Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix Kim Commons king and pawn endings King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Korchnoi Kramnik Kunin Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laznicka Le Quang Liem Leinier Dominguez Leko Leonid Kritz lessons Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Mark Dvoretsky Mark Taimanov Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Max Euwe Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Tal Mikhalchishin Miles Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nanjing 2010 Natalia Pogonina Navara Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nikita Vitiugov Nimzo-Indian NNotre Dame football Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix passed pawns Paul Keres Paul Morphy Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play pawn structures Pentala Harikrishna Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Philidor's Defense Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 problems progressive chess QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Gambit Declined Queen's Indian Defense Rabat blitz 2015 Radjabov Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein Rubinstein French Rudolf Spielmann rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Kasparov Sergey Shipov Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 Shankland Shipov Shirov Short Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov So-Navara Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Invitational stalemate Staunton Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TED talks Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls Timman Timur Gareev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TWIC types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina Vallejo van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Tkachiev Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Walter Browne Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWesley So WWijk aan Zee 2012 Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015
    Thursday
    Apr142011

    The U.S. Championship Starts Tomorrow (Updated)

    Once again and for the foreseeable future the U.S. Championship takes place in St. Louis, Missouri. There are 16 players, who are divided into two 8 player sections. The top two from each section will then progress to 2-game (plus Armageddon, if necessary) semi-final and final matches. Here are the sections:

    Round Robin 1:

    1. Gata Kamsky 2733
    2. Yury Shulman 2622
    3. Varuzhan Akobian 2611
    4. Jaan Elhvest 2586
    5. Alexander Stripunsky 2578
    6. Alexander Ivanov 2540
    7. Ray Robson 2522
    8. Daniel Naroditsky 2438

    Round Robin 2:

    1. Alexander Onischuk 2678
    2. Yasser Seirawan 2638
    3. Alexander Shabalov 2590
    4. Larry Christiansen 2586
    5. Gregory Kaidanov 2569
    6. Robert Hess 2565
    7. Sam Shakland 2512
    8. Ben Finegold 2500

    Play starts tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time (= 3 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CET).

    So, predictors, here is your challenge: pick your top two from each section and who you think will win it all. (I'd ask for finals predictions too, but I can't tell from the site how the semi-finals pairings are arranged.) I'll go out on a very thick limb and pick the top seeds from each of the round-robins. In Seirawan's case, I'm not as confident, but I'm hoping that his relish at playing his first serious chess in a long time will overcome his rust and dated theoretical knowledge.

    UPDATE: I forgot to pick a winner! I'll say Kamsky.

    Thursday
    Apr142011

    Nielsen's Protest: Fun With Statistics

    Whether it has any chance of success is another matter, but Peter Heine Nielsen's protest of the tie-break procedures used at the European Championship to determine who qualified for the World Cup looks intellectually well-justified.

    More about it here.

    Thursday
    Apr142011

    Quotation Time: Six Kinds of Chess Players

    Who said it?

    I divide chess players into six categories. The first ones are the killers. Players who, figuratively speaking, are trying to kill their opponent. The second type is that of the fighters. They try to win with all means, but it's not necessary to kill. The third type are the sportsmen. For them chess is a sport like any other kind of sport. Number four are the 'players' or gamblers. Karpov, for instance, is a typical player. He wants to play any game. These four all have very strong motivation. Then we have two more, number five the artists, for whom not only the result is important, and number six the explorers.

    In a follow-up post, I'll mention who the author put in what category, but you might think of the same things, and where you'd put yourself as well. For now, though, it's a quiz!

    Monday
    Apr112011

    Dog Bites Man, Politicians are Corrupt, and Baden-Baden Wins the Bundesliga

    Yawn. As usual, OSG Baden-Baden, the best team that German money can buy, won the Bundesliga, even with new dad Viswanathan Anand taking the last weekend off on paternity leave. Still, although the Baden team is ridiculously strong, they did face a powerful opponent the last weekend of the 2010-2011 season, the Werder Bremen juggernaut. This is what their penultimate round match looked like (Baden-Baden player names in bold type):

    Eljanov (2761) - Shirov (2749)

    Svidler (2731) - Gashimov (2719)

    Efimenko (2683) - Movsesian (2723)

    Bacrot (2716) - Fressinet (2718)

    McShane (2657) - Adams (2728)

    P. H. Nielsen (2670) - Areshchenko (2664)

    Roiz (2637) - Vallejo Pons (2697)

    Naiditsch (2674) - Nyback (2637)

    Practically a super-tournament! Svidler, Adams and Naiditsch won for B-B, while Areshchenko was WB's sole winner. Still, Werden Bremen did manage second place in the league, albeit only on tiebreaks over SC Eppingen. That's a great result for Eppingen, whose team's average rating wasn't particularly high and had only one player rated over 2637 - and he hardly played. (Results by team, here.)

    Anyway, whether you're interested in the league as a league or not, it's a treasure trove of important and exciting games, so you might want to have a look.

    Monday
    Apr112011

    Rybka vs. Houdini

    For those who like to follow computer vs. computer matches, Rybka and Houdini will have a match to close the second season of engine competitions on Martin Thoresen's TCEC website. The fun starts Tuesday at 14:00 Central European Time.

    Monday
    Apr112011

    Ding Liren Chinese Champion

    When Ding Liren won the Chinese championship in 2009, at the age of 16, it was something of a shock. Now, having pulled off the feat for the second time, it certainly looks as if he will be a force to be reckoned with in world chess. In fact, this year, he clinched clear first with a round to go, and his 9/11 final score put him two points ahead of his closest pursuers. He entered the tournament with a 2637 rating, and a 2868 TPR over 11 games is going to give that number a considerable boost. Hopefully he'll get to play in some nice international events soon.

    More info here.

    Monday
    Apr112011

    The Blogger in Action

    Just a quick note to say that I played in a tournament in the Chicago area this past weekend, and emerged successfully, winning clear first with a 4-0 score. I was the second seed, behind IM Florin Felecan, and while it would have been more interesting had we played, the tournament was too short. In the last round there were four players with 3-0 scores, and the pairings were FM Albert Chow vs. Felecan and yours truly vs. FM Aleksanda Stamnov. I pulled out the win in a tough game, while Chow and Felecan had a crazy game - or at least a crazy end of the game - that finished when in terrible, mutual time trouble they agreed to a draw.

    Friday
    Apr082011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Polgar at the European Championship

    Judit Polgar recently tied for third in the European Championship, coming third on tiebreak, and along the way played (and won) some very interesting games. I had suggested in an earlier post that I wanted to have a look at those games, and have now done so.

    This week's ChessVideos show looks at four pretty different sorts of wins from her play there. There's a win in a probably drawn ending; that demonstrates her tactical alertness. There are a couple of remarkable attacking games, both involving long-term sacrifices. Finally, there's also a delicate bishop ending demonstrating that she's not just a crazy attacker. Like any elite GM, she can play any phase of the game at a high level.

    The show is here, and as always it's available for free and on-demand for the next month or so (free registration required, if you haven't already done it).

    Thursday
    Apr072011

    Anand vs. Kasimdzhanov, Tokhirjanova, Igonin

    The rapid match between Viswanathan Anand and Rustam Kasimdzhanov is, as the oxymoron goes, old news: Anand won 3.5-.5, though the match was far more interesting than the score suggests. What's newsworthy is that there is a report on it with pictures, videos, and GM Anton Filippov's annotations.

    Included in that article is a further report on a simul Anand gave against 20 strong young Uzbek players. Four of the 20 were over 2300, and an unspecified number of others were over 2200. Anand went +12 =6 -2, losing to Hulkar Tahirjanova, a member of the Uzbek women's national team, and 11-year-old Timur Igonin. Neither game was a King's Indian, both were King's Indian-like Englishes. Anand with White tried to break through on the queenside, but both times his opponents managed to smash through on the kingside to win.

    I don't know if Igonin set a record for the youngest player to defeat a sitting world champion - I remember David Howell got a game off of Kramnik at around the same age, and if I recall correctly that was a 1-on-1 game. Still, it's an impressive achievement, one Timur Ignonin can proud of for years to come, whether he pursues the game professionally someday or not.

    (HT: Jaideepblue, though I didn't use his link.)

    Tuesday
    Apr052011

    A Long Review of the Small ECO

    Small Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, 3rd Edition (Sahovski Informator, 2010). 671 pp., $69.95. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.

    Last year, I reviewed the electronic version of the second edition of the Small Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (SECO 2), this time around we’ll examine the physical version of the third edition (SECO 3).

    SECO 3 is a one-volume openings encyclopedia like Modern Chess Openings (MCO) or Nunn’s Chess Openings [sic - it's by Nunn, Burgess, Emms and Gallagher] (NCO), but in keeping with all the Sahovski Informator products (such as the Informant, which comes out three times a year) there is no verbal commentary; all the communication is with the standard chess symbols that have been in use for generations. There are advantages: language isn’t an issue and it’s easier to compress more material into a smaller space. The latter is especially important here, as even the “small” ECO still runs to 671 dense pages. (It’s small only with respect to the full ECO, which comprises five volumes, each of similar thickness.)

    There are disadvantages too, of course. The lack of natural language makes the book relatively useless for understanding general themes in certain openings. An author can express in several sentences each side’s major plans in a given variation, but that’s not available to the SECO’s readers. Maybe one can abstract some of the key ideas by replaying all of the lines and footnotes for a certain variation, but that’s not a given. The lines might stop too soon, for one thing. Another difficulty is symbol choice – and this is true in ChessBase as well, with their symbols. Suppose a player makes a new move, which is signified by the symbol “N” (for “novelty”). Let’s say it’s not a great novelty, and as a result the player is slightly worse where he could have had equality. Normally one would append += (assuming the novelty was Black’s), but guess what? You can’t. You’re forced to choose one symbol or the other, either N or +=, but not both. You can put += after White’s next move if you’d like, but that’s unclear – perhaps White could have had a clear advantage with some other move, for all we know. So the unwillingness on the part of the Informant (and ChessBase) people to string certain classes of symbols together lessens somewhat the power of their symbol system to convey information.

    Another important matter, even for a dense 671-page tome, is determining what material to include. Should the focus be on the state of the art in professional chess, or should variations that are fairly likely to occur in club play receive more attention than they would if SECO were meant for professionals only? How deeply should the lines go, and how many variations should be included when the main lines are complicated? And what about “solved” variations that are no problem if one knows the theory, but are practically impossible to solve on spec – should they be included or not? These are serious editorial challenges, and I’m not sure what the right answer is, if any. (Maybe SECO could be released in two editions: one for masters and up, the other for club players? That would be interesting, but is such a model commercially viable?)

    With this background laid out, let’s have a look at some specifics.

    Moller Gambit:

    Last time around I protested that the most common continuation was ignored, and they repaired the omission! Here’s the line: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 h6 14.Qe2 hxg5 15.Re1 Be6, and now SECO 2 gave only 16.Re3 g4 17.h3 c6 18.dxe6 f5 19.hxg4 d5 20.Bd3 Qd6 21.Qf3 Qh2+ 22.Kf1 f4 23.Re5 0-0-0 unclear, as played in the game A. Perez - J. Olivera, Cuba 1998. In my review I noted that White far more commonly tries 16.dxe6, when after 16…f6 17.Re3 c6 18.Rh3 Rxh3 19.gxh3 g6 Black is in good shape, especially if he can play …Kf8-g7 without White achieving something major in the meantime. Lo and behold, SECO 3 gives just this line, continuing 20.Qf3 Qa5! 21.Rd1 Qf5! with a clear advantage for Black as in Silver-Matsuura, Brasil [sic] 1998, from Informant 73.

    This is a definite improvement, but I wonder about the Perez – Olivera main line. If Black is clearly better after 16.dxe6 f6 17.Re3 c6, why doesn’t he just meet 16.Re3 with 16…c6? White doesn’t seem to have anything better than 17.dxe6, but after 17…f6 we’ve just transposed to Silver-Matsuura. (Indeed, in games since 1998 Black has chosen 16…c6 pretty regularly, with excellent results.)

    This is a backwater of theory, at least for the big boys, that’s true. Still, I regularly examine how sources treat the Moller Gambit, for at least three reasons. The least interesting for purposes of this review is that it’s a line I’ve followed since I was a kid, so I'm always curios to see if anything new has happened. Second, it’s pretty common in blitz and at lower levels, so it’s fairly important for club players that the line be covered correctly. Third, it’s not difficult to cover it correctly. The key ideas have been known for a pretty long time now, so I see it as a test of competence for an openings source. If they can’t get something this simple and well-defined correctly, then chances are there will be trouble elsewhere.

    Various Najdorf Sicilian Lines:

    In my review of SECO 2, I complained that its coverage of the Perenyi line in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.g4 b5 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.g5 Nd7 13.f5 Nc5 14.f6 gxf6 15.gxf6 Bf8 16.Rg1) was too superficial. In particular, I wrote that “only 16...Bd7 is covered, and after 17.Rg7 Bxg7 18.fxg7 Rg8 19.e5 0-0-0 20.exd6 only 20...Qb7 is given, not the probably better 20...Qb6. But more importantly, 16...h5 is omitted, and that was an important move even back then [in 2007, the publication date for SECO 2].” In the third edition, 20…Qb7 is still the only 20th move given in the 16…Bd7 line, but now 16…h5 is covered and given as the main line.

    After 16…h5, 17.a3 is the main line, when 17…Rb8 18.e5 Bb7 19.Qg3 d5 20.Re1 Qb6 is given as unclear, as in the game A. Stuart – D. Pillhock, corr. 1994, while 17.Rg7 is also given, with the continuation 17…b4 18.Nd5 exd5 19.exd5 Nd7 20.Nc6 Bb7 21.Bh3 Bxc6 22.dxc6 Ne5 23.Bd7+ Kd8 24.Qe4 Qb6! 25.Be6 Kc7 26.Bf7 Nc6 27.Bd5 Bxg7 28.fxg7 Rhg8 with a clear advantage to Black (Vasquez Schroeder-Vallejo Pons, Tripoli (m/5-blitz) 2004.

    This latter game was important, but White can improve with 27.Kb1, which is equal. More importantly, after 17.a3 Rb8 18.e5 Bb7 19.Qg3 d5, the move 20.Re1 is completely out of fashion. In fact, it was never in fashion, except that it was the very first try, in the 1994 correspondence game cited by SECO 3. In the 27 games to reach the position after 19…d5 since then, only once more was 20.Re1 tried; the overwhelming choice is 20.Kb1, which has scored very well and is the computer’s first choice. Maybe there aren’t any games in the Informant with this, but it would have stood out with a routine check of other databases.

    Turning to another Najdorf line, the Poisoned Pawn, there was absolutely no coverage of 10.e5 in SECO 2, and the omission has been rectified. Likewise, the Byrne Variation (6.Be3 e5 in the Najdorf) was badly undercovered in SECO 2, but is covered in far more detail this time around. Still, it’s inadequate for serious preparation. Let’s take the Vallejo Pons Variation (as Milos Pavlovic labels it in his brand new The Cutting Edge: Sicilian Najdorf 6.Be3). The variation, which is reached after 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7 (Black’s last two moves are given in reverse order in SECO 3) 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 b4 13.Ne2 Ne8 14.f4 a5 15.f5, takes up 18 pages in Pavlovic but just one row on the main page and three footnotes in SECO 3. One can view the depth of contemporary opening theory as luxurious or nauseating, but it is what it is, and you simply can’t play a variation like this against a prepared opponent with a third of a page’s worth of game excerpts.

    Marshall Gambit:

    Turning to another important line, one not covered in my previous review, let’s see how SECO 3 handles the Marshall Gambit, which is popular at all levels. It would be unfair to compare SECO 3 with Jan Gustafsson’s recent DVD on the Marshall (because the latter is more recent and the product of an elite GM’s secret workshop), but let’s see how it fares against the worthwhile works by Milos Pavlovic (Fighting the Ruy Lopez, Everyman 2009) and David Vigorito (Understanding the Marshall Attack, Gambit 2010).

    A first observation is that SECO 3 doesn’t even MENTION Marshall’s 11…Nf6 or the recently revived 11...Bb7 (after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5). Neither line is setting the world on fire, but most sources (including Pavlovic and Vigorito) at least mention the Capablanca-Marshall game in reference to the first line, while players like Short, Kamsky, and correspondence SIM and Marshall specialist Tim Harding have tried the second.

    Turning to the old main line (11…c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2), I checked its coverage of 17…Re6 against Pavlovic and Vigorito. Generally speaking, it has just about all the game references it should (always, or seemingly always, in this section, to games published in the Informant), but to really understand what’s going on one should have access to analyses beyond the bare game scores. Perhaps these are present in sufficient detail when one finds the games in the Informant – but of course you must have the relevant issues of the Informant in the first place!

    Still, this is the Small ECO, and it just can’t have everything. I did notice one omitted game that should have been included, however. After 18.a4 Qh4 19.axb5 axb5 20.Nf1 Bf5 21.Qd2, SECO 3 gives 21…Rfe8 and 21…Be4, and rightly so. Both moves are important. The line with 21…Rfe8 is continued through move 30, giving the drawn game Svidler-Jakovenko, Foros 2008 in full. 21…Be4, on the other hand – with a game citation – is the extent of SECO 3’s coverage of the latter move. This isn’t too helpful, as it’s a very tricky option and both Pavlovic and Vigorito provide a fair amount of coverage. The game reference in SECO 3 is to a 1989 correspondence game Rubinchik-Vitomskis, and surprisingly for a 22-year-old game going back to the pre-computer era (meaning before strong engines were available to the general public), the analysis by Vitomskis and the late Latvian GM Alvins Vitolins holds up pretty well.

    What isn’t present in SECO 3, however, is any mention of 21…Bh3, which led to a speedy win for Black in Shirov-Aronian, Bilbao 2009. SECO’s publication date is 2010, but what that really means depends on the publisher. Chess Stars is perhaps the very best in this respect: although their books must first be translated into English and shipped from Eastern Europe, and even so their books regularly go from the author's keyboard to the buyer's hands within a couple of months. There are other publishers, some of very high quality, whose works come out at least six months or so after the author finished writing.

    Another gap in SECO 3’s coverage of the Marshall is the line 12.Re1 Bd6 13.g3 Bf5. In fact it doesn’t even mention 12.Re1, but does give 12.g3 Bd6 13.Re1 which transposes. There’s not much about this – only 13…Re8 is given, with Anand-Aronian, Morelia/Linares 2008 cited through White’s 18th move. 13…Bf5 is not mentioned at all, even though it’s an up-and-coming line that has been known since well before the book’s publication date. (See for instance the spectacular game Naiditsch-Gustafsson, European Ch. (Dresden) 2007, 0-1 in 25 moves of home prep.)

    Finally, here are two shorter examples, from different openings. First, browsing the section on the Zaitsev Ruy, I saw the famous game Anand-Adams from San Luis 2005 mentioned in a footnote. Amusingly, it only gives 23.Qd2!?, with an unclear position, which is about as helpful as telling a starving person that food exists somewhere. Even a player of Adams’ extremely high caliber was helpless when faced with this, and after a single error he was crushed by a brilliant sacrificial attack. Again, if one has the Informant (or another relevant source) they can see the antidote, but "23.Qd2!? unclear" is a lousy place to leave the reader.

    Example #2 is from the Botvinnik System. I remembered van Wely-Smeets, Dutch Ch. 2005 as a famous and huge improvement for White over what was considered a draw for Black based on the (also) famous game Azmaiparashvili-Shirov, Madrid 1996. Curious to see if the van Wely game would be mentioned, and if there was any subsequent improvement, I looked and saw 25…Bf5! 26.f3! with compensation for the material, referring to the van Wely game and sending interested readers to – you guessed it – the relevant issue of the Informant.

    In fact, I was quite interested to do so, because “compensation for the material” did not strike me as the way things were understood at the time. Yes, it’s true that White had compensation for the material, but (exaggerating somewhat) this was like saying that McDonald’s had sold several thousand hamburgers. Well, yes, and a few billion more besides. To say that a player has “compensation” for a material disadvantage, without any further explanation, should suggest that the compensation is roughly sufficient, such that one cannot reasonably assert that either side has a substantial edge. This game, however, was taken to be something like a bust of Black’s play, so such a neutral evaluation was big news to me. So I started checking sources.

    First, I looked up the original Informant notes by van Wely himself, and he doesn't give the "with compensation" evaluation, nor does his analysis offer any grounds for thinking that Black is okay. This squares with my own pretty deep analysis of the game around the time it happened, and it is further corroborated by GM Christopher Lutz in ChessBase Magazine 110 and David Vigorito in Play the Semi-Slav. What about subsequent practice? It turns out that six other masochists have tried this with Black, and all six wound up with the same big fat 0 for their troubles. No points to SECO 3 on this one!

    In summary, one simply cannot use this volume as their one and only reference work for the opening. Club players won’t get the guidance they need to understand what to do, while stronger players focused on trendier lines will only find barebones outlines. That doesn’t mean that such a book is without value. It can help a player figure out what lines are considered more critical and what the key games are, and that’s a real time-saver. Also, there are many lines where it’s enough to know what to do up to around move 15-20, where the alternatives aren’t all fraught with tactical danger, and in those cases a quick browse of SECO 3 may well suffice.

    In conclusion, there’s really no point in a lower-level club player buying such a book: there’s too much detail and too little guidance. If you’re below 1550, you’re much better off buying a book with a lot of “talk”, focusing on generalities, like Paul van der Sterren’s Fundamental Chess Openings or Carsten Hansen’s Back to Basics: Openings. Above that level, while it shouldn’t be used as a standalone source or the last word on any line, it could prove useful as a first source, to get a general idea of what’s important and to start organizing one’s research.

    (For U.S. buyers who have made it this far and might (still) be interested, ordering info is here.)