It's time for another Informant review, this time covering Informant 129, which offers a digest of the best of the chess from May through August of this year. Regular readers of this blog are probably pretty familiar with the drill by now and have a good idea of what this publication looks like, even if they've never seen one themselves. Nevertheless, there are always new topics and often new authors in each issue, and there are always new readers visiting this blog, so it's worthwhile going through the exercise once again.
In the old days the Informant came out twice a year and included approximately 700 games per issue, most of them annotated by always with languageless symbols. Now it comes out four times a year and only 200 such games are published, but (a) the notes are (on average) much deeper and (b) the 200 games make up much less than half the book. (In this issue, they fill only 129 of the 319 pages.) There are also the puzzle sections - again a holdover from the old days, with nine combinations, nine endings, and nine endgame studies. The tournament results from the relevant time period are also given, and so too are the best game and the most important theoretical novelty from the previous volume.
All told, those traditional features take up approximately half of the volume, and the other half (or slightly less - 143 pages) are like a very high-level magazine. All the remaining material is in English and authored by grandmasters, always including at least one super-GM - in this case Michael Adams. Here's a summary of the articles.
First is Adams' review of this year's British Championship, which he won with the enormous score of 10/11. He analyzes four of his games from the tournament, from the last five rounds, in considerable detail.
Next comes a review by GM Spiridon Kapnisis of the Bilbao Grand Prix, won by Magnus Carlsen. All ten of Carlsen's games are annotated!
Third is a review by GM Aleksandar Colovic of Wesley So's victory in the Sinquefield Cup; eight of So's nine games are analyzed therein.
The strong Indian GM S.P. Sethuraman recaps his victory in the Asian Continental Championship, culminating in a wild last-round win over the favored (and leading) Wei Yi in a game that features some mind-bending analysis.
The next article looks at another continental championship, this one for the Americas, and was likewise written by the winner, Peruvian GM Emilio Cordova.
After this the tournament summaries are left behind. GM Michael Roiz discusses fighting for the initiative ("at any cost!"), and while he is a very strong grandmaster his examples are all from other players' games.
GM Rafael Leitao takes a look at some of the new trends in the London System against various Black setups, and as an aside I should say that this is a wonderful statement of the richness of our game. Until 2-3 years ago, if not sooner, the idea that a top-shelf periodical like the Informant could write about "new trends in the London System" sounded almost as implausible as a serious scientific summit on the flat earth theory. But here we are, and while I doubt that the London will ever become as rich as an opening like the Najdorf Sicilian or the main line Closed Ruy starting with 9.h3, it has become a legitimate opening in its own right for players who want to fight for an edge - at least against some plausible setups.
GM Mihail Marin's "Old Wine in New Bottles" has been a constant since the Informant began its "magazine" section, and this time around he looks at some Modern Benoni games, past and present, highlighting the need for Black to play very precisely.
GM Emanuel Berg's "Mirroring" column has been around a while, demonstrating first White's chances in a given opening line and then Black's. The subject in this issue is the Bayonet Variation against the King's Indian Defense.
GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant's "Intuition" column looks at the endgame queen + g-pawn vs. queen; poignantly, she often refers to Mark Dvoretsky's work on this ending.
Speaking of endgames and the recently, sadly departed, the final article is by endgame specialist Karsten Mueller, who takes a look at the endgame legacy of the great Viktor Korchnoi.
As usual, I believe the issue offers excellent value for the money, and I can warmly recommend it to stronger players, say, 1900 and up. I think the average level of the commentators is a bit lower in this issue than in most of its immediate predecessors, but even so it's worth adding to the collection!
More information, and samples, here.