Jonathan Hilton and Dean Ippolito, Wojo's Weapons: Winning With White, Volume 2. (Mongoose Press, 2011). $29.95. 320 pp. Reviewed by Dennis Monokroussos.
It seems we're suffering from sequelitis here at The Chess Mind. Every day at the Candidates is Groundhog Day, and then it's volume 2 on the Hedgehog followed by more of Wojo's weapons! "Wojo", as many American readers will know and many non-Americans won't, refers to the late Polish-Latvian-American GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz. A strong though not elite GM, Wojtkiewicz (generally referred to as "Wojo") was a very successful competitors in US Swiss-system events, and authors Jonathan Hilton (a USCF national master) and Dean Ippolito (an IM) attribute a fair amount of that success to his well-worked opening repertoire. Needless to say (nothing beats an oxymoronic phrase purporting to be superfluous!), Hilton and Ippolito (if we can use "Wojo", we'll turn them into "HI") believe that their readers can adopt these weapons and enjoy comparable success at their level on the food chain.
Volume 1 (reviewed here) covered Wojo's treatment of the Catalan; this time around it's Wojo vs. the King's Indian Defense (KID). (That leaves at least three major openings yet to come: the Gruenfeld, the Dutch and 1.Nf3 c5.) As with volume 1, they are again following in Boris Avrukh's footsteps, as both authors recommend the Fianchetto Variation against the KID. Surprisingly though, HI don't use Avrukh this time around, or at least he isn't cited in the bibliography. (Importantly, though, Bologan's pro-KID book from 2009 is mentioned, so they've done their due diligence on "enemy" material.)
There are three parts in WWWWW II, further divided into 14 chapters. Part 1 covers ...Nbd7 lines, part 2 hits ...Nc6 lines (there's only one chapter on the critical Panno Variation, which the authors justify in part by noting that it's a rare bird at sub-master levels [it's a substantive chapter though, fear not]) and part 3 includes everything else. Together with a short intro, a very helpful index of recommended variations and a player index, there are 320 pages on the Fianchetto KID - quite a lot.
Part of that length is accounted for by the "complete games" format, and it's not just the space taken up by the additional moves, but by the annotations that come even after anything resembling theoretical significance has passed. Another feature that adds to the book's length is their possibly excessive thoroughness. If Wojo had a game in the Fianchetto KID, HI seemingly include it no matter how dubious or theoretically irrelevant Black's play.
I'm of two minds as to whether this is a good idea or not. The plus is that most of us aren't going to be playing GMs, so it's worth seeing these second-rate lines get busted. There are several counter-arguments to this, or rather to the amount of space these second-rate lines get, but I'll just offer one that's perhaps in keeping with the philosophy of the pro-side: the second-rate lines Wojo faced generally came from 2200-2400 players. So what most of it really need are third-rate lines, the kinds of moves 1600-2000 players are likely to put out there!
So it's possible to quibble with some of HI's authorial decisions. I haven't had time to examine the book closely, but from browsing it and in part based on trust from volume 1, it looks as if they have done a pretty thorough job. Both Hilton and Ippolito use Wojo's lines in their own tournament play, and there's a fair combination of game citations, independent analysis and explanatory prose. It's sophisticated material, so I don't think this is a book for lower- or mid-range club players. If you're 1800, maybe 1900 and up and looking for an anti-KID line, this might be the book for you.