On Opening Preparation:

In my opinion Opening preparation is one of the most complex aspects of the chess training. It is very time consuming, puts a lot of demand on your memory and overall requires a serious commitment of financial and physical resources. To reflect my thoughts on the process, I have devoted a chapter in my new book Chess Exam and Training Guide on the subject of openings. I also a little while ago I had written a detailed memo for my students (not-published anywhere else) on how to prepare openings.

Beginners can get away with some very simplistic preparation, while professionals need to spend hours and hours to be adequately prepared.

You, the reader must determine your niche, develop a plan and get your hands on available resources. Remember, that if you do your preliminary research well, pick the right opening (solid and well-suited) and prepare thoroughly, you will have an opening you can use for many years.

I view database management program (ChessBase or ChessAssistant) as a staple that should be used by everyone who is even remotely serious in their attempts. After that come chess books, of which are 100s available.

If you are seriously interested in a certain opening, I think buying 3-4 of the recent books by renown authorities in those openings is a reasonable investment. The main reason - author already did a big part of the manual work for you. Just think about it in a different light - can you pay a very strong titled player $15-20 and have him do an extensive research for you personally? Impossible! Yet, when you purchase a book, you get just that - research by a chess authority who invested a lot of effort and is not afraid to put his credibility on the line.

Today I have express comments about two new books - "Starting Out: Alekhine Defense" and "Beating Petroff"


Starting Out: Alekhine Defense by John Cox

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Everyman Chess; (January 1, 2005)

I've seen a few books from the "Starting out" series by Everyman and it was my impression that the prime target audience was experienced beginners who are ready to venture into the complexity of opening preparation. This particular book, however seems more suited to the experienced player. I found a lot of analysis, nice display of recent trends and some original ideas. The inexperienced player (<1300) will probably get only minimal benefit. All major lines were presented and well annotated 42 illustrative games range from older ones that explain some common principles to more recent ones that show recent trends (games form 1967-2004). Overall, there are too few books written on this exciting opening and this book - "Starting Out: Alekhine Defense", while not sufficient to be a standalone reference, can be a good complement in you research for good lines for White as well as for Black. Recommended.


Beating the Petroff by Vasilias Kotronias and Andreas Tzermiadianos

Paperback: 224 pages

Publisher: Batsford (March 28, 2005)

"Beating the Petroff" is another interesting book I have checked recently. While acknowledging that it is not possible to give the reader an real way to beat this very popular opening, authors attempting to provide a set of clear-cut lines that should help White to get a good positions against virtually every Black's play. The book is written solely about 3.Nxe5 line and you are only advised to buy it if this is the variation you want to play. You won't find another main line, like 3.d4 or sidelines 3.d3, 3.Nc3 etc… Moreover, after 3.Nxe5 d6, only 4.Nf3 is given. I suggest you do your preliminary research using a database program (ChessBase / ChessAssistant), Chess Informants, New In Chess and other recently published books on Petroff. Once again, the authors cover all recent trends. Also, I found really attractive how authors present relevant Middlegame (25 pages) and Endgame (3 pages) ideas. I would suggest using Fritz/or another chess playing program to practice some of those Middlegame setups, to see if you like the positions. 38 well annotated games with numerous sub-variations will provide a lot of information to absorb even for experienced players. Overall, if you want to try 3.Nxe5, this books is Recommended.


More on chess training and opening preparation:

Chess Exam and Training Guide  $24.95 + shipping  How to Prepare Openings (Ms Word)- $4.95 (free with book purchase)


Copyrighted @ 2005 Igor Khmelnitsky

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