How To Play The Opening in Chess

How To Play The Opening in Chess

When I wrote about the Sicilian Najdorf Opening and my choice of a 6gth move, I got to thinking about my favourite chess book. A difficult question as there are so many wonderful books on players, tournaments, specific openings and defences etc. One thing you can add to that are our own memories of a book, how we came by it and what impression it made on us.

Not having a formal chess education I came to the game through playing chess with an uncle and then a few other older people. Later in life I went back to the game and got my first chess book, it was ‘How to Play the Opening in Chess’ by Keene & Levy. Probably not a classic for many people but to me it opened up a whole new world of chess openings, defences and strategy.

That book was my constant companion for many years, today it sits in a cupboard with its spine all taped up to stop it falling apart. I have had the book for 42 years and even today it is probably my favourite book of the hundreds that I have owned. Why is it so good, well partly due to the history I have with it, but also because it coves so much in 224 pages.

We are treated to introductory sections followed by a chapter on each of the main lines, each chapter has 4 main sections plus lots of side lines, the chapters are,

  1. Development and Tactics
  2. The Importance of Pawns
  3. Psychology in Opening Play
  4. Kings Gambit
  5. Giuoco Piano and Two Knights Defence
  6. Ruy Lopez
  7. Sicilian Defence
  8. French Defence
  9. Caro-Kann Defence
  10. Queens Gambit
  11. Nimzo Indian Defence
  12. Kings Indian Defence
  13. Dutch Defence
  14. Modern Defence
  15. Flank Openings
  16. Some Other Openings

As you can see the book covers a lot of ground. It is a great start for someone learning the game but be aware that many of todays choices are not covered so far as modern theory is understood. For example the Sicilian Defence covers the Lowenthal Variation, Rauzer Variation, Dragon Variation and Kan/Taimanov Variation. There’s no Najdorf in there!

Having mentioned that point, I would still heartily recommend this book to beginners and those looking to advance their game. It is an easy read, not too complicated and one that I often turn to.