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Playing 1d4 d5 A Classical Repertoire

Playing 1d4 d5 A Classical Repertoire

Author: Nikolaos Ntirlis

Publisher: Quality Chess

Edition: 2017, 335 pages

And indeed it is. Playing with Black the solid 1..d5 was, and still, the main weapon in the repertoire of all world champions, official,  non-official, candidates, World-Class, strong players, as well as club players and amateurs alike. We are not talking about the Slav, but about the classical d5-e6 formation. From Steinitz till Carlsen, the author has filtered the most important motives and plans used by famous players (Rubinstein, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Tukmakov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov, Anand, Karjiakin, Carlsen, just to name a few) to fight for and against this solid setup.

The themes that most attracted my attention in the book, and distinguishes it from other repertoire ones, are the importance of the correspondence games and the (2QPI)  (2 Queenside Pawn islands) formation. As he, himself a correspondence player, as well as an opening expert and adviser of numerous GMs, Ntirlis emphasizes on several correspondence games in which the players improved the play of strong players in their rated games (being Classic, Rapid or Blitz), and demonstrates some improved versions of attack or defense recommended by engines (who can argue with them now?).

Concerning the 2QPI (the c5-a7 pawns – and sometimes c5-a6 ones), his lucid explanation of the pros and cons of  this rare occurred theme, is nearly a rare appearance in chess literature of middle game books, as well as the importance of the dynamic factors that the b-file offers to the player and the control of the dark squares in the white camp.

Another positive score is the material distribution of the discussed openings among the chapters, going from the main to the lesser complicated ones. Each opening is explained by an introductory chapter, where the main target, pawn structure as well as the piece maneuvering are introduced in a way that facilitates the reader in later chapters the explanation of the themes adopted in the main variations, which are supported by instructive and illustrative games of famous players.

The improvements on analysis and recommendations of other authors and the nuances of the position, especially the moves order of the opening, are well highlighted by the lucid writing style of the author. Just check the chapter on the Catalan Opening  to understand what I mean.

It was a nice surprise, during the reading the index page, that the author dedicated special chapters for rare openings that sometimes pop up in big tournaments. I didn’t expect, for example, that he devoted several pages for the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, and how to refute itJ, or for the Versov or the Jobava system. I am sure that the chapter devoted to the Colle, Torre, and especially the London system will be the first chapter devoured by the White players before the Black ones (asking themselves: is the London system still useful?)

The book finishes with a bonus chapter about the English opening and the KIA (King’s Indian Attack) and how the player has to deal with them using themes already explained, and absorbed by the reader, in earlier chapters. Although these 2 openings required from the reader/player a certain attentiveness to the positional traps that the first player is trying the lay around the Black position, the plans recommended by Ntirlis are enough to adopt against them, supported by his recommendation to persuade the reader to work by his own on certain positions, testing them, using engines sometimes, in order to feel more confident about the prescribed lines.

The patience is the key of this opening, where, in a lot of lines, the Black player can play for the win after his opponent has run out of bullets. If you are a solid player, with ambition not only to equalize versus a stronger opposition, but also to win, this book is a must read by you.

A book of quality from Quality Chess.

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