It has been a year since Quality Chess published of Chess Structures, and I must admit that the book’s success has exceeded all my expectations. Here are a few of the reasons:
- The book was voted as Quality Chess Best Book of 2015 by a wide margin (votes were cast in an online poll, by 421 readers, as opposed to a small committee)
- The book was shortlisted for ECF Book of the Year, unfortunately didn’t win
- A French Translation was recently published by ToutPourLesEchecs, a very short review is here.
- An Italian Translation will be published next month by Prisma Scacchi.
- The book received excellent reviews by many specialists, such as Grandmaster Julio Sadorra. His extremely detailed two part review can be seen here and here.
- Readers have given great reviews in Amazon too (more reviews are always encouraged/welcome!)
In addition to the above, I have received many supportive emails from readers. I am glad my 1st book helped so many players and in this post I would like to announce I plan to write three follow up works. The concept and teaching methodology of Chess Structures was very well received, and I have decided to expand this treatment of chess strategy. I hope my next books will bring many interesting insights into
- New Aspects of the Game (Both endings & middlegame, I can’t disclose details yet)
- Examine Complex Structures previously ignored
- Provide a deeper coverage of selected structures
Even though I am not in complete control of my book’s publishing dates, I believe my 2nd book will be out in 2017, my 3rd in 2018, and the final book of the series will be out in 2019. I can’t be more specific at the moment, but I think this schedule is very realistic.
I am personally very interested in hearing about the opinion of my readers. For this reason, I am making this announcement. I would like to hear about the following:
- Which pawn structures would you like to know more about?
- In what ways could the next book be an improvement over Chess Structures?
- Is there a particular topic or aspect of the game you think ought to be included
I encourage you to leave a comment below, and/or email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even though I have been selecting material for months, I still have lots of flexibility and I will be happy to take your suggestions into account. If I can’t include your suggestion into the books, at least it can be discussed in a blog post =)
Now, as usual, I am posting my analysis of a recent game. This time, the final game in the World Championship match. I believe this game was the most interesting game of the match (from a technical standpoint). Hou Yifan obtained the Najdorf Type I structure (Chapter 8 in the book) in the ending, and managed to carry out the standard c4-c5 plan with a decisive effect. Meanwhile, Muzychuk’s kingside play proved ineffective, as there are no realistic checkmate threats and White’s pawn structure seems to neutralize other attempts. My personal guess is that, despite the engine’s modest evaluation, Hou Yifan was able to correctly assess this ending as very favorable for her, at least in practice.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9. Be3 Be6 10. f3 Na5 11. Nxa5 Qxa5 12. Qd2 Rfc8 13. Rfd1
We have a standard Najdorf type 2 position. Even though the control of the d5-square is still under dispute, White’s position is somewhat preferable due to the awkward placement of Black’s pieces. It would have been better to have the queen on c7, the rooks on c8 & d8, and a pawn on a6
13…Kf8 protecting the bishop on e7
The careless 13…a6? is met by 14. Nd5! Qxd2 15. Nxe7+ Kf8 16. Bxd2 Kxe7 17. Bb4 Rc6 18. b3 Rac8 19. c4 where White is much better
14. a4 a6 15. Nd5! a good decision, converting the position into a Najdorf Type I structure, under very favorable conditions, to be explained below. 15…Qxd2 16.Rxd2 Nxd5 17. exd5 Bd7 18. a5!
This move is necessary to keep the queenside fixed. White has one image in mind: placing his pawns on a5, b4, c4, d5 and then prepare the standard pawn break c4-c5. A careless move like 18.Kf1 could have been met by 18…a5! and now White’s queenside will struggle to advance
18… Bb5 19. Kf1 (of course not 19. Bxb5? axb5 after which Black will easily activate his pieces) 19… f5 20. c3 g5 21. Rc2 h5 22. c4 g4 23. b4 f4 24. Bf2 Bd7 25. c5 Bf5
White’s also a little better after 25…gxf3 26. gxf3 Bh3+ 27. Ke1
26. Rc4 Kf7 27. Rd1 Rg8 28. g3!
Clarifying the situation in the kingside. The subsequent trades will completely neutralize Black’s kingside initiative. White’s domination becomes obvious
28…fxg3 29. hxg3 Rac8 30. fxg4 hxg4 31. Kg2
The resulting position is a testament of Hou Yifan’s superior understanding. After a series of trades she not only managed to block her opponent’s kingside attempt, but also turn the g4-pawn into a potential liability for the future. The threats c5-c6 and cxd6
must be taken seriously
31…Bd7 32. Rh1 Rg7? it was necessary to simplify with} 32… Bb5! 33. Rc2 Bxe2 34. Rxe2 Rh8 where Black remains under pressure, but retains chances to save the game
32…Rg7? is probably the decisive mistake, as it allows White to obtain two passed connected pawns after the nice sequence:
33. cxd6 Bxd6 34. Rxc8 Bxc8 35. Bc5! very simple and effective,
this move lifts the blockade of the d5-pawn and leaves Black in a
strategically lost position.
35…Bxc5 (it does not help 35… Ke7 36. Rh6! and Black is forced to take on c5, creating the connected passed pawns that decide the game) 36. bxc5 Bf5 37.Kf2 Rg8 38. Ke3 Rd8 39.Rf1 Kg6 40. Rd1 Kg5 41. d6 Rh8?! a desperate attempt to seek counterplay in an otherwise lost position. 42. d7! Black probably missed this direct approach, which seals the result of the game almost immediately. It will be impossible for Muzychuk to stop all the pawns
42… Rd8 43.c6! The decisive blow, now the a-pawn finishes off the game 43…bxc6 44.Bxa6 c5 45. Bb7 c4 46. a6 1-0
A very convincing finish for the three time World Champion Hou Yifan.
Probably the most remarkable thing about this game is how Hou Yifan goes from a seemingly level ending into an obviously winning position in the space of ten moves. In my opinion, Muzychuk did not properly assess her chances in the ending. Black’s position wasn’t quite good enough for the following reasons
- White’s pawn had already reached a5, guaranteed a space advantage in the queenside, and ensuring the effectiveness of a c4-c5 break
- Black’s kingside attack wouldn’t offer mating prospects
- Black needed to break on the queenside with the natural e5-e4, but having her rooks on c8 & a8, this plan wasn’t well suited for success.
Overall, a pretty long post this time. I chose this example because it illustrates some of the strategic nuances of the Najdorf Type I in an ending. Something I didn’t do in my 1st book, but definitely something I plan to do in the future. I am awaiting for comments and suggestions. Thanks for reading.
You should the Benko declined structure, e.g. after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. b6 Qxb6.
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Fantastic news. I do like your book and I hoped for another volume. But 3 more books is of course even better!!
Regarding of your questions about the books content.
Deeper coverage of the structures is what I would like the most. Maybe some stuctures arising in the open games.
I often get a symmetric structure of pawns on e4 and e5 without pawns on the d file. So this structure is also something I vote for.
Another thing that I really like are games between a 2100-2200 player (my category) against a say 2500-2600 player where the stronger player understands much more of the requirements of the position than the weaker player does. In this games you can learn a lot from the typical errors and you also can see the plans are more clear, because the weaker player often fails to prevent them.
Good luck and kind regards
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Nice game Mauricio, thanks for you comments!
I have not checked with the computer, but just In with a frrst look, and seeing later the whole game, it seems a bit strange that Muzychuk decided to go for g4, f4 before activating her rook on a8. Finally Hou played g3, and she could only see how her counter play disapear.
I think Muzychuk could have done that, but the rook was momentarily needed on c8. If she had played …Bd7 and …Rf8 earlier, then c4-c5-c6 could have some very easily. The biggest problem was having the rooks misplaced to begin with.
Hey Mauricio, you left a commentary on my blog, and I was searching your email address when I found you have been updating yours. I guess you wanted me to answer the questions, so I rather do it here so you can get more feedback.
1) Which pawn structures would you like to know more about?
What definitively I felt was missing from the book is some nimzoindian structure, doubled c pawns. I’m sure you know Grau’s third volume on pawn structures, that would be the classic (at least for spanish speaking people), but Sokolov too had a book on that. Maybe that’s why you went on another direction. I have said in QC blog that each new opening book should have a section like your book on it, because you cannot reach everywhere.
I felt too that simplified pawn structures where not studied in detail either (for example the ones that come up in the QGA where d and c pawns are missing for both sides. It can be coupled with some Catalan structures too, and this positions appear simple but can be a nightmare to defend with a weakened queenside for Black. My guess is that when so many pawns have left the board the placement of the pieces is of crucial importance to determine the plan, and it will be highly dependent of the opening played.
About specific structures already covered, I have to be selfish here and go for what I play, hence I think the isolani was just scarcely covered, specially the Panov where White plays Be4 (and I’m yet to know why they play that way).
The Spanish may have been considered upon the KID structure, but certainly it could have had more coverage as said previously in another post. The slow Spanish, italian game, etc. where White delays d4 should be rich enough to merit some more treatment, I guess.
2) In what ways could the next book be an improvement over Chess Structures?
I liked the book really much, so there are few things that I would change. If we are in wishland where everything becomes true, my main improvements would be to have a very short exercise section at the end of each family (say 12 exercises, which is 4 pages following QC design) but keeping the last exercise section too (yes, I am an exercise addict).
And the other little improvement would be to have a downloadable pgn file where you have put your rejected examples, so when someone wants to further delve into the structure he has some reference. Of course those games would not be annotated, so little extra effort on your part.
As I mentioned Sokolov’s book, I think you should keep your actual way of writing. He delved too much into opening theory. That does not age well, while making it a burden when you do not play the structure. Your way, where you do not go into almost any detail on the opening is to be preferred in my opinion.
3) Is there a particular topic or aspect of the game you think ought to be included.
If you want to go for a more general book about strategy, following Grau’s footsteps would not be a bad choice. I held it in high regard until I read in ‘True Lies’ from Comas that the chess contained could have been greatly improved if only Grau would have been a better player.
If you want to go the ending way, I hope you go at it in Shereshevsky’s footsteps. I think you would do a great job.
I hope I helped and wish you a fruitful work. You have a satisfied customer in me, and satisfied customer often come to buy more.
Hi, I really enjoyed your first volume of the Pawn Structures Guide. One structure which continues to trouble me is the structure in the Najdorf where White plays f4 and Black plays exf4, leaving a White pawn isolated on e4 and a Black one on d6. I have been told this structure is pleasant for Black, but I am sometimes unsure of which plan to adopt. I also think even more detailed sections on already covered structures could be useful.
Thanks for the comment. The resulting structure isn’t necessarily good for Black, I used to think this, but it’s not really true. It depends a lot on the pieces available, but either way, plans are not so clear, other than placing a knight on e5 and playing well… I have considered writing about it, maybe I will do it in the future.
I strongly agree with Gollum’s suggestions, specially the need to include lots of excercises!