12/03/2008 20:27





Jim Plaskett has been busy with the pen recently.  The last book we reviewed has quickly been followed by this.

Eighty-eight games where the result was decided in the opening, are examined under various themes i.e.

Jim Plaskett's style of commenting is normally terse and pithy, but here he now and again breaks the mould giving some of the background to the game.  This gives an added interest which is badly needed as most of the games are short and thus comments that would be directed to the middle and end games are naturally excluded.

Sorting  games into particular themes can be quite difficult as there are times when two or more of the chosen themes are contained within the same game.  Thus, the sections on "Theory" and "Structural Superiority" as separate entities are particularly vulnerable.

I feel that an educational book presenting catastrophes in the opening would be better categorized by individual openings with a theme described within the game.  No doubt purchasers of this book will be looking for games that are played in openings that they use themselves.

It would seem that this book does not set out to be instructional, but rather as an entertainment.  It is none the worse for that.

Below we give three of the games that Plaskett examines.  The first is from the "Theory" section, the second from "Castling into it" and the third from "Eye off the Ball".

If I have one adverse comment it regards the price of the book.  The quality is of the usual "Everyman Chess" style but, with just 144 pages, it is a tad over-priced at 14.99.




(1) Tal,Mihail (2610) - Van der Wiel,John TH (2520) [A17]
Moscow Interzonal Moscow (4), 1982
[J. Plaskett]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.e4 Bb7 5.Bd3  

A la Romanishin.

5...c5 6.0-0 Nc6  

6...d6 would avoid much of the ensuing fun, but Romaninshin had already won a game from the 1975 Spartakiad against Petrosian in marvellous fashion against such standard Hedgehog play from Black versus 4.Bd3.


Thus White almost commits himself to gambiting, but it is the only consistent follow-up to his unorthodox fifth move, and probably one to yield adequate compensation.

7...Ng4 8.Be4!? Qc8  

After the bait. 8...f5 9.exf6 Nxf6 would have been unclear.

9.d3! Ngxe5  

Here too 9...f5! 10.exf6 Nxf6 was possible, although it seems to me to make less sense than at the previous move. Then 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Nb5 0-0 13.Bd6 proved slightly better for White in Stohl - Salov, Groningen 1982.

10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.f4  

The point is that now White gets his revved up f-pawn motoring.


11...Bxe4!? 12.Nxe4 Nc6 13.f5 Be7 might have been a bit better, though White still has natural and excellent compensation.

12.f5 g6?!  

This met with a vibrant refutation from Tal. Few people have wanted to dispute this position since, but 12...Nd4 and; 12...Be7!? remain defensive possibilities.

13.Bg5! gxf5 14.Bxf5! Be7  

On 14...exf5 15.Qe2+ Ne7 16.Rae1 Rg8 White may just plough onwards with 17.Bxe7! Rxg2+ 18.Qxg2 Bxg2 19.Bh4+ Be4 20.Nxe4 fxe4 21.Rxe4+ Be7 22.Rxe7+ etc.


Already the White advantage is decisive; an open f-line comes in very handy in such a situation.


On 15...exf5 White kills by just bringing his pieces in, e.g. 16.Rae1 Kd8 17.Nd5  

16.Qxg5 Ne7  

Or 16...exf5 17.Rae1+ Kf8 18.Qh6+ Kg8 19.Nd5 etc.


Intending Nb5, amongst others.

17...Bxe4 18.Nxe4 Qc6 19.Rxf7! Kxf7 20.Qf6+ Kg8 21.Qxe7 Rf8 22.Rf1!  

Not so much a move to introduce a new attacker, but rather one which swaps away a defender. but the effect is the same. Nobody did it better than Mikhail.                                               1-0