22 May 2012

Unusual 1.e4 Responses According to Khalifman

In Openings According to Khalifman, I assembled 'a summary of the theory covered by each volume, as determined by following the site's Anand Chess Books Collection on the series "Opening for White According to Anand"'. Digging further, I found on the web a preface and an index of variations for all 13 volumes. This is the minimum information a potential buyer needs to determine whether a particular volume covers his own interests.

In fact, I found a preface for all 13 volumes except one : volume five, covering rare responses to 1.e4. To fill that gap, here it is in entirety.

You are now holding in your hands the fifth volume of our series "Opening for White According to Anand - 1.e4". This book is devoted to openings (to put it mildly) rather exotic. In fact, most of the chess professionals consider the systems that we have analyzed in this volume as simply incorrect. It is maybe the Alekhine Defence, which can be spared such definite evaluation, but this would be probably only due to the reputation of this outstanding chess genius.

It is hardly worth denying that Black would eventually fail to equalize after moves like 1...a6, or 1...b6. Nevertheless the chess players, belonging to the older generations, definitely remember the famous game Karpov - Miles (Skara 1980) 1.e4 a6 2.d4 b5 and, no, not 1-0 after 20 moves, but just the opposite -- after 15 moves Black was already slightly better, after 25 moves Miles was clearly dominant and White resigned on move 46. Naturally, all that does not prove that the opening 1.e4 a6 is quite correct, but still it clarifies that neither the win, nor the opening advantage is irrevocably guaranteed even to the best players in the world. White needs some precise knowledge and energetic play to maintain his advantage in these somewhat inferior openings.

This small introduction should tell you that the author has had serious problems collecting practical examples (according to Anand) and elsewhere at a really high level, in the process of writing this volume. The present theoretical material was not of much help either, because all these openings had never been analyzed thoroughly. It became necessary to systematize the available material and to give precise recommendations to White after the numerous orders of moves that Black had at his disposal in these rare openings.

I am not so optimistic about the eventual evaluation, which this book might deserve by my colleagues –- grandmasters. It would hardly be as superb as the reviews of the previous volumes. Moreover, some of them might even pay no attention to it and that would be easily understandable. White presently has so many problems to solve, for example in the Marshall Counterattack, or in the Sicilian Sveshnikov, so why bother about the fine points of the Owen’s Defence (1.e4 b6), which is being played so seldom anyway?

Meanwhile, this book is addressed not only to grandmasters and even least of all to them. Many less experienced players have encountered opponents at club level who solve their opening problems once and for all, by avoiding the endless complicated lines of the Ruy Lopez, or the Sicilian Defence and instead respond to 1.e4 with 1...Nc6 (1...b6, 1...a6, 1...Nf6) and take care only about all immediate refutation attempts? The author has written this book for these particular players with the hope that it might be really useful for them. I would not venture to guarantee you winning your games with White, but you are going to have the opening advantage -- be sure about that!

I never knew that 1...Nc6 & 1...Nf6 were considered to be on the same level as 1...b6 & 1...a6. I used to be successful with 1...Nf6 until I ran into a problem with a critical variation. That was in the time before computer analysis. Perhaps I should look at it again.

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