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.

Sicilian Najdorf 6.Be3

As I sat looking at a game of mine this morning I found myself with yet another White side to the Sicilian Najdorf. The Najdorf starts with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6. Recently I have been favouring 6. Be3 but am not 100% happy with this line.

Looking at my database I see that I have 5 ongoing games in this line but my file shows 34 older games scoring just 44% as White. Be3 played 22 times for 47.7%, Bg5 played 5 times for 20%!, Be2 (4) and f3 (3) scored 50%}

Having played 6. Be3 so many times perhaps that suits my style, there must be a reason for my favouring it, my main reference for this line is a book by Milos Pavlovic titled¬†The Cutting Edge 2: Sicilian Najdorf 6.Be3. It was published by the reputable ‘Qulaity Chess’ publishing team as part of a series tackling current trends in chess. As it is currently on offer for ¬£4 I guess it may be a little out of date.

Armed with my volumes of New in Chess Yearbooks and Magazines I must be able to find a way to tackle the Najdorf, in fact today I thought I need to be more serious about my repertoire so will be taking a major look at that in the next few weeks and working out how best to maintain it, perhaps via software or some other method. Currently I just keep the games in a database and work things out form there but that’s not going to work for me going forwards towards that IM goal.

I left the game with no decision on what to play, I have the same position in two of my games in the new Veterans World Cup 10 tournament, a tough event and the first in my new phase of looking for that 2300 ELO rating in correspondence chess so that I may get into a Master Norm tournament.