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I am not a big fan of Encyclopedias, not lately anyway. Why carry around a huge book or collection of books if the information is readily available on your computer. However, there is one exception - Encyclopedia of Opening Errors by Matsukevich.

Highlights: 800 pages, 4000 games, each 13 moves or less. Practically every opening is represented, so you can see what the typical traps are and safely avoid them. Each game has a diagram so one can study all of the critical positions without a chessboard. Even though the games are so short, make no mistake, there are plenty of masters and grandmasters among the unfortunates who had to resign so fast. Some games have numerous players making the same mistake.


My favorite example, that is still useful in the era of ICC battles:

This is an old tricky idea, that first happened in Alekhine's game from a simul and later in many serious games.

Nowadays, it is the favorite way to win a game in a 1- minute blitz game on the Internet Chess Club, when after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe 4.Ne4 Nd7 White plays 5.Qe2!?! and unsuspecting Caro-Can players mechanically move the 5...Ngf6. And after 6. Nd6# they scream and challenge opponent for a next game.

This is one book that I would recommend for multiple uses -

While there might be other uses, here are a few specific suggestions/tips, some of them and a lot more are mentioned in my new book "Chess Exam and Training Guide: Rate Yourself and Learn How to Improve."

Finally, on a personal note - recently I was invited to do a presentation and a simul against 20 or so players (rated 1200 - 2100) in the local club. One of the players before the simul mentioned that I play boring lines against the Sicilian as White. To which I responded, even boring lines can bring quick results. 20 minutes later we had the following miniature:


Khmelnitsky - NN

1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Bg4 4.d4 Nc6 5.d5 Ne5?? 


After 6.Nxe5 Black resigned. He looses a piece for nothing. To give my opponent a credit he handled the loss well and we had a nice conversation afterwards. I suggest he takes a look at this Encyclopedia.


Later I checked the Encyclopedia myself and the line we played is indeed listed, game #1452 Madera - Francisco, Spain 2000. 

Who should use this book Experienced players with ratings of 1200 (USCF) and above. 

Strongly recommended!

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This is review is a Copyright @ 2004 by Igor Khmelnitsky & www.IamCoach.com

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Igor Khmelnitsky

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King of Prussia, PA 19406