By Alex Dunne



Starting Out: Modern Benoni
by Endre Vegh


Let me begin by saying I like this book.  I don’t often play the Benoni, yet, but after
reading this volume, I believe I will.  Everybody needs to change his opening from time
to time if he wishes to improve.  The question here is, how helpful is this book if you
would like to begin playing the Modern Benoni?


Everyman Chess, Everyman Publishers plc, distributed in North America by the
Globe Pequot Press, PO Box 480, 246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480, has published
Starting Out: Modern Benoni
 by Endre Vegh, ISBN 1 85744 366 7 at $18.95 for the soft cover.


This is an intelligent book. Vegh begins by defining the opening and a brief history. 
He is brutally honest – he tells us in advance it is much easier to play White. 
By page 12 he i s giving us simple plans by which White can expect to gain an advantage. 
These are not long variations, but rather ideas for White, plans to take advantage
of the Pawn structure – the Pawn push to e5, supported by Pawns or not, the relocation
of the King Knight to c4, the breaking up of the queenside by b2-b4, and the advance a2-a4-a5. 
Vegh makes no bones about it, these are strong weapons against the Benoni. 
By Page 34 I was almost ready to give up on the Benoni, but I had faith Vegh wouldn’t
let me down, and he didn’t.  After showing all White’s trumps, now Vegh turned the
spotlight to Black’s plans.  Again, these were presented not as variations, but as
workable ideas against the White blitz.  He presents a richness of ideas against
White’s formation.  There are enough ideas here to make a fight of the position, from a
Benko Gambit-like ...b5 to play on the queenside to ...g5 and play on e5 and f4 on the
kingside.  So Vegh convinced me.  I am ready to try it.


After the outline of plans for both sides, Vegh next discusses variations. 
They are all basically White variations that Black has to adapt to.  Vegh gives statistical
evaluations of the variations, but does not always rely on them to tell the truth of the
position.  Again the book is not heavy on variations and analysis, but more interested
in the ideas behind the structure of the variations.  In the chess camps I teach at, the
philosophy is always the same: it is much more important to understand the position
than to just memorize the lines, so I am inclined to approve of Vegh’s approach. 
Most of the sample games given in the book are within the last five years, but there are
a smattering of games from the 80’s and a few Tal games from the 50’s and 60’s thrown in. 
If you are thinking of learning to play “the son of sorrow,” the modern Benoni, and
are rated between 1600-2200, buy this book.  It will be a very helpful book for
learning the basics (and some of the more common frills) of the opening. 




The English Attack
by Tapani Sammalvuo


Some chess books are meant to be read; some are meant to be reference sources. 
Starting Out: Modern Benoni
is an example of a book meant to be read.  The chessboard
is only needed to play out some of the ideas.  The expression of those ideas is clear and
not overly detailed.  Some books are meant as reference books.   Correspondence chess
players can use them to look up main lines and check their evaluations before making
a move.  Analysts can use them to annotate games and check on the current state of theory. 
Those books tend to sit on a book shelf until they are pulled down to check on a specific position.   Such books can be very valuable to a player to determine the evaluation of a particular position,
but unless you possess a top-flight memory, these books are not very valuable for OTB players.
(Most tournament directors today frown on players consulting opening books during the game).
The English Attack
is one of those books


Gambit Publications Ltd., distributed in the US by BHB International, Inc.,
302 West North 2nd Street, Seneca, SC 29678, has published The English Attack
by Tapani Sammalvuo, ISBN 1 901983 57 9 at $28.95 for the soft cover edition. 
Check out


The book is 272 pages of thickly analyzed notes.  Most of the variations extend twelve,
thirteen, or more moves before the analysis begins and the example game begins, if any
(usually included in the notes). If you play the Sicilian as Black, this book will be a must. 
If you want to sharpen your Sicilian attacking skills with a cutting edge attacking weapon,
this book is a must. Sammalvuo is an honest writer.  When he doesn’t grasp the full
positional/tactical evaluation of a position, he admits it.  He is also not afraid to give an
evaluation of the position when it is beyond practice. 

Another value to the book that though it is filled with extensive notes, Sammalvuo also
gives a verbal explanation of what is happening in many instances – a typical note
(chosen at random) is “11. Re1 is another way to protect the e-Pawn indirectly. 
The logical follow-up then is N-h4, as the Rook on e1 doesn’t do much to control the
d5 square. 11...h6 12. a3 Nbd7 13. Nh4 Nb6 14. Nf5 Nc4 was enough for Black to equalize
comfortably in Smirin-de Firmian, New York rpd 1995.”

This book is of value for any correspondence player who deals with the Sicilian Defense.




365 Ways to Checkmate
by Joe Gallagher


Roughly sixty to seventy years ago most of the current genres of chess books were
invented by chess author/players such as Spielmann, du Mont, Znosko-Borovsky,
Reinfeld and Fine among others.  One of the most prolific and inventive of the chess
authors was Fred Reinfeld who in 1955 almost single-handedly invented the collection
of diagrammed positions of the “White to move and win” variety.  His book,
1000 Ways to Checkmate
was a collection of 1001 diagrams with solutions of how to win them. 
Since that collection, chess authors have repeated Reinfeld’s formula with various improvements.  Some authors have added interesting information about the players or tournaments to the solutions.  Some have arranged the diagrams according to the kind of combinations that wins. 
Some have presented game positions all from one particular player.  Some have strived
for huge numbers. It is the responsibility of the author to present these positions in a
new and instructive (or entertaining) way.


Gambit Publications Ltd., distributed in the US by BHB International, Inc.,
302 West North 2nd Street, Seneca, SC 29678, has published  365 Ways to Checkmate
by Joe Gallagher, ISBN 1 901983 95 1 at $23.95 for the soft cover edition.  See


 Joe Gallagher’s presentation seems to be a book without anything new at all,
except you could solve one problem a day for a year (except every fourth year). 
This is not a bad book, it just has the individuality of a clone.



Fire on Board, Part II:  1997-2004
by Alexei Shirov


Alexei Shirov has been on the next to the top rung of the chess ladder for fifteen years. 
His first book, Fire on Board covered the period 1979 to 1996.  Around 1996 many players
felt Shirov was one of the most imaginative players around. In discussing Shirov’s games,
GM Boris Kreiman called him “a madman,” a respectful description of his game. 
Some of the victims in Volume 1 included Ivanchuk (6 games); Judit Polgar (3 games);
Timman (3 games); Leko (3 games); Gelfand (4 games); Adams (3 games); Kramnik (5 games)
– some impressive names. But then something happened.


Everyman Chess, Everyman Publishers plc, distributed in North America by the
Globe Pequot Press, PO Box 480, 246 Goose Lane, Guilford, CT 06437-0480, has published
Fire on Board, Part II: 1997-2004
by Alexei Shirov, ISBN 1 85744 382 9 at $24.95 for the hard cover.


Shirov gives us some insights into his world at the beginning of the book. 
Though the title says 1997-2004, the first two analyzed games were played in 1996. 
Throughout the early part of the book, Shirov discusses his memory lapses –
this position he thought he had studied, but hadn’t; in this position he didn’t remember
his own analysis written in Volume I. He mentions his erratic love life, his failed marriage,
his child; he discusses how a beer-inspired Queen sacrifice was born.  Many times throughout
the book he describes how his analysis for magazine publication was different from his
thoughts during the game and how his analysis for the book gave him a different evaluation
from the magazine analysis.  The list of “victims” is not nearly as impressive as the first volume: Kramnik is still a favorite victim (4 games) and there is a win against Karpov (always tough!)
and Kasparov – well, a draw.  The list isn’t a quarter as impressive.  All in all, the picture is
one of a star in eclipse.  The promise of a Volume III where Shirov promises to share his
opening discoveries is a hint of a man losing some of his ambitions.

Many of the games are fun to play over.  Even the errors are instructive. 
On the basis of the games alone, this is a book that is worth having.  But it is not up to the
quality of Volume I -- few books are.  Volume II is above average, but not too much more.


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