I've been reviewing the latest issues of Chess Informant for quite some time now, and the favorable trend continues with this look at Informant 123. If you don't want to skim through the details, here's the bottom line: the Informant is a very sensible purchase for serious tournament players rated 2000 and up, for ambitious young players rated at least 1800, and for correspondence players - who have probably already purchased it.
For those of you familiar with old-time Informants, some features remain: a couple of hundred games given with languageless annotations, a recap of the best game and the best novelty from the previous issue, a set of tactical puzzles and endgames for solving and a list of the main tournament results from the period covered in the issue. (In this case, from late 2014 through the end of January 2015, as far as I can tell.) But nowadays and for quite some time a huge chunk of the periodical consists of a series of articles written in the King's English, or something close enough to it. Here's a rundown of that material:
1. Alexander Morozevich takes a deep look at the sharp and newish exchange sac line in the QGA starting with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 b5 4.a4 c6 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Nc3 a6 7.Nxb5 axb5 8.Rxa8 Bb7 9.Ra1 e6. If you play either side of this variation at a serious level, you may want the issue for this article alone.
2. Ernesto Inarkiev takes a look at three of his games from the Moscow Open.
3. Ivan Sokolov looks at some highlights (and one lowlight) from Magnus Carlsen's play in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year, examining more than half of his games from the tournament.
4. Mihail Marin's "Old Wine in New Bottles" column delves into the Hedgehog, using the Wojtaszek-Jobava game from Wijk aan Zee as a jumping-off point on his way to an examination of some classics involving Miles, Gheorghiu and from his own practice as well.
5. Rafael Leitao looks at several games from the 2015 Brazilian Championship.
6. Julio Sadorra looks at some games played in the Philippines in late 2014.
7. Emanuel Berg, who has been establishing himself as an important theoretician of late, takes a look at the trendy Najdorf line 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 8.g3; alas, there is no mention of Nepomniachtchi's 8.Ng1.
8. Alexander Ipatov analyzes five games, all involving young, promising players.
9. Turning to the endgame, specialist Karsten Mueller looks at a series of single-rook endings, several of which seem simple at first sight. This apparent simplicity is deceptive, but by focusing on activating the rook, whether on offense or defense, we will generally improve our chances of a favorable result.
10. Back to the opening: Christian Bauer offers a survey of the Nimzowitsch/Pirc Defense line 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6.
11. Vasilios Kotronias continues his monster series on the 2.c3 Sicilian for Black; this installment includes chapters 17 and 18! This time around he examines 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Na3 and 5.Bc4.
After that it's time for the traditional sections (games, combinations and endgames, all mentioned above) rounded off by nine endgame studies by Yochanan Afek.
Despite my recommendation, I have a criticism or at least a query. On the issue's webpage, it also claims that there is coverage of the Wijk B tournament by Sam Shankland and an article by Sulskis and Colovic on the Zurich Chess Challenge. I found neither in my e-copy, and checked both the PGN and the ChessBase databases therein. Perhaps it is present in the proprietary Informant version of the database, but as I cannot integrate that database with ChessBase (and I assume very few of my readers can, either) I haven't checked it.