Creative Chess Opening Preparation

By

Viacheslav Eingorn

12/03/2008 20:27

Gambit have published a plethora of quality books and this is no exception.  Many books on openings deal with specific systems and variations starting with frequently played and tested main lines and various offshoots stemming from those lines.  This book is quite different as in many cases it challenges the established canons and seeks to direct any examination of openings into looking critically at moves that have been accepted and pronounced as the best of their kind.  If one draws a parallel it would be akin to the introduction of hypermodern openings in the 1920's by Richard Reti.  Perhaps Eingorn's treatise is not quite so radical but it suggests that accepted lines and systems should be scrutinized very carefully and with a questioning mind.  It is with such an approach that novelties hit the chess scene and this book gives an indication of the methods of conducting the research and suggestions on the avenues into which an enquiring mind should be channeled.  

The listed contents give an indication of the methods and research the author has undertaken in his own opening preparation :

  • 1.        Experiments in the opening.

  • 1.1 Transgressing the rules.

  • 1.2 Goals and the means of attaining them. 

  • 1.3 The battle of ideas.

  • 2        Disturbing the Equilibrium

  • 2.1 The Advantage of the First Move.

  • 2.2 Drastic Measures

  • 2.3 Borderline Positions

  • 3.       Strategic Planning

  • 3.1 Positional Assessment: A dualism of Factors

  • 3.2 General and Specific Reasoning

  • 3.3 A Choice of Priorities

  • 4       Opening Structure

  • 4.1 A problem of Our Own Choosing

  • 4.2 Secondary Variations

  • 4.3 Recurrent Opening Situations

  • 5       The Modern Game of Chess

  • 5.1 "Scientific" Opening Play: A School and its Crisis

  • 5.2 The Opening as an Accurate Move Sequence

  • 5.3 g4.  A Symbol of Chess Progress

  • 6.      A Theoretical Kaleidoscope

  • 6.1 Corrections to theory

  • 6.2 The Chess Designer

  • 6.3 History of a Variation

 The first chapter deals mostly with eccentric moves in the opening that may not be the fruit of prior research but could be played on the spur of the moment.  Such a move that transgress well established opening principles as such has been played in the diagram opposite by Liogky (Black) in a game against Spassky during the French Team Championship of 2002.  In a well known position of the French Defence, he continued with 7.....Kf8 instead of the more generally played 7.....0-0 or 7.....Qc7.  This offends logical opening play by locking in his king's rook and forsaking the chances to castle.  For this he was duly punished but in certain other cases, opening experiments may well not receive the retribution they so richly deserve.  Eingorn's message on this is not to forsake such experiments completely, but should you play an "eccentric" move, do so only in the belief that it conforms with ones own notion of "correct" strategy. 

In the second chapter, Eingorn sets out his understanding of the term "equilibrium".  He warns that this should not be confused with "equality"   His definition of of a disturbance of equilibrium is ".........any serious change in the strategic situation, which may come about through an exchange (or gain) of material, a regrouping of pieces, pawn advances, or a loss of time."  It is against this backdrop that he provides examples of play illustrating where one should examine the possibilities of disturbing the equilibrium to one's advantage.  

Strategic planning comes under the microscope in the third chapter.  Here Eingorm urges a close look at factors that will persist into the middle game and in some cases, into the endgame.  Again, he suggests that that such features as isolated or doubled pawns may not necessarily be  bad and we should not be blinded by the visual impact of such constellations.  He cites the example of the Reti Opening as being a case in point where such thinking was applied to the then understanding that a pawn centre was visually appealing but under certain circumstances could be undermined and finally destroyed.  Similarly, the accepted arrangement of the pieces may be misleading and may need a radical approach to the reassessment of their placement.  

Starting with the concept that there are two methods of identifying and classifying chess openings - by the first moves made in a game and the structure that arises after the opening moves - the fourth chapter looks more closely at how to apply the second of these two methods to the choice of an opening repertoire.  The same structure can arise from a variety of openings and it is suggested that it is better to recognise this and apply ones energies to the strategies stemming from such structures. Eingorm also indicates that some opening systems are virtually played out, whereas others are still dynamic and worthy of further research.  With one of his own games against Jansa (Hamburg 1999) he illustrates the difference between a sound positional structure and one that offers more chances of adventure. 

The following two chapters bring together all the advice contained in the book by illustrating how these factors are brought to bear on the modern game.  The history of opening theory is traced and the present day tendency of accurate and profound opening preparation is examined.  This latter approach is exemplified by a game played between Khalifmann and Galkin at Elista in 1998 that concluded with a win by White on the 25th move when the winner played just one move of his own on move 22!  Nevertheless, Eingorn suggests in the final chapter that such research has not been exhausted and there is still scope for more refinements.  He is highly qualified to make such judgement as it was he that introduced the move Rb1 in the Exchange Grünfeld.  One only has to study the games of Boris Gelfand to see how this particular theory has been applied today.

This is a very thoughtful book that is thought provoking.  It is certainly not a general treatise on how to build an opening repertoire but it gives a penetrating insight into the factors to look for when preparing a repertoire.  The main message is that an imaginative approach should be adopted and there is no room for stereotypical thinking.  

There is no need to comment on the production standard of this book.  Gambit Books set a very high standard with their initial publications and have not wavered since.

A study of this book will be most rewarding.  It will make one aware of the rich possibilities that still exist in the opening phase of the game, even in this computer age.

Pages: 158.

Recommended price : £15.99

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