Alexey Bezgodov, The Double Queen's Gambit: A Surprise Weapon for Black. New in Chess, 2015. 288 pp., $26.95/€24.95.
The first question you might have is this: What is the "Double Queen's Gambit?" (Henceforth DQG.) It is an opening that has been around for a long time and that can transpose into other, better-known and officially named openings, but it has its own distinctive body of theory as well. But what is it? It's this: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5, and while Black's moves are essential it also counts as a DQG if White has played Nf3 and d4 on the first two moves, in either order.
As noted above, transposition to other openings is very possible. For instance, if after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5 White played 3.Nf3, Black could head for a Tarrasch with 3...e6 or a Queen's Gambit Accepted with 3...dxc4. So after 3.Nf3, the "real" DQG arises when Black plays 3...cxd4. Other transpositions are possible, however, and in the following cases the shift results from White's choices: 3.cxd5 Qxd4 4.e3 cxd4 5.exd4 transposes to a line of the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.exd4; here Black will normally play 5...e5); 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c3 cxd4 4.cxd4 is an Exchange Slav; while 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5 3.e3 cxd4 4.exd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 is a Panov-Botvinnik Attack against the Caro-Kann.
These transpositions are important, and if Black wants to play this opening he'll need to know something about them. There is a very significant quantity of distinctively DQG theory, and GM Alexey Bezgodov goes into great detail in this unusual opening. While you might be inclined to think that this opening is a bit of a joke - symmetrical openings for Black tend to be fraught with peril - it was recently used by Peter Svidler in a very major event: the finale of the World Cup, in game 4 of his match with Sergey Karjakin. In that game everything went wrong for Svidler in the opening and he was already in huge trouble by his 13th move, but this was largely due to his poor reaction to Karjakin's novelty on move 10. Svidler got careless and/or overambitious after Karjakin's 10.f3, and 10...h5? was the result. In his discussion of the match, however, Svidler insists that he did a great deal of work on the DQG, and was quite happy with the positions he had analyzed.
Another top player who has employed the DQG is Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who used it five times in 2013 in rapid and blitz games, all but once against fellow 2700s. His score? +3 =2 -0, and he won with it this year in a classical game against a 2582-rated GM.
Svidler's endorsement and Mamedyarov's successes notwithstanding, White's score after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5 is terrific, and while 3.cxd5 and 3.dxc5 score especially heavily the calm 3.Nf3 (transposing to Karjakin-Svidler) also fares well. This is especially noteworthy since Black is far likelier to be better prepared than White. I'm therefore ambivalent about Bezgodov's project, but not about his book. His presentation is systematic, does a nice job of emphasizing themes, and has the interesting pedagogical device of finishing with 67 exercises (for both sides) embedded over the course of 40 illustrative games played from 1903 to 1949. (Bezgodov calls it "Retro-Training.") The analysis is up to date and often original, so Bezgodov has done his duty; he's also enthusiastic about the DQG, so the reader will be encouraged on his path through the book.
So while I have my reservations about the variation, those of you who like to go off the beaten track shouldn't be deterred. One other point: there are lines where Black must play on the weaker side of a rather technical and dry position, as for instance Svidler did in his game with Karjakin. Not all the variations are like that, but it does seem to me that this opening at least leans in that direction. If you want complications and structural imbalances, this probably isn't the opening for you. If on the other hand you like relatively simpler structures, this could be just what you're looking for, as both players' c- and d-pawns tend to speedily disappear from the board. Know thyself, and act accordingly.
More info on the book, including a free sample, is here.