Andrew Soltis




Have you ever set out to play the Scandinavian Defence in answer to 1.e4 and then suddenly found yourself having to play a French Defence?   If this has surprised you then you need to take a look at Andrew Soltis' new book and find out what more could happen in your favourite openings.

Transpositions between openings and within openings is a tricky and complicated subject and Soltis has been brave enough to tackle this in a logical format.   He deals mostly with transpositions that can occur within particular opening variations and most importantly describes the reason and purpose of such nuances.  This is well put in the Introduction by the example of the famous game between Botvinnik and Capablanca during the A.V.R.O Tournament of 1938.

The position on the left arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3 when it is well known that 5......d5? is an error as it allows White to dissolve his doubled c-pawns.    The Botvinnik - Capablanca game opened with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb5 4 e3 d4 5.a3 reaching the position of the diagram on the right.  Capablanca then continued 5....Bc3 and after 6.bxc3  Botvinnik had reached the position on the left where .....d5 had already been played and thus had no problem in ridding himself of the doubled pawns.  Botvinnik went on to win a classic victory.

Thus Botvinnik fooled Capablanca by means of a transposition that left him in a theoretically inferior position.  This is one nuance that can occur and  it is wise to be alert for such happenings in your own games.

Soltis deals with each opening in the normal opening structure of :-


Chapter One Double KP Openings
Chapter Two Ruy Lopez
Chapter Three Sicilian Defence
Chapter Four Semi-Open Games
Chapter Five Double QP Openings
Chapter Six Indians
Chapter Seven Dutch Defence and Flank Openings

These chapters are preceded by an Introduction and the book is completed with an Index of Opening Variations.

To account for all nuances in every opening would be a massive task and the author has to admit that in certain openings - such as the Najdorf Defence in the Sicilian - not all transposition possibilities have been considered. Such can also be said of the Flank Openings that can so easily switch from one opening to another. For instance if White plays the Reti, and opens 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 he can convert to a Slav Defence after 2....... c6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.d4 or a Queen's Gambit Accepted after 2....Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Bxc4 e6 5.d4 whereby he has avoided .....Bg4 lines.  In playing 2.e3 White has many transposition possibilities and avoids the possibility of 1.Nf3 d5 2. c4 d4!?

The Ruy Lopez and Sicilian provide a rich harvest of transpositions and Soltis quite rightly devotes a full chapter to each.  In fact his work on the Sicilian occupies forty pages and is the longest chapter in the book.

The Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defence is quite popular in club chess and Soltis points out a nuance that is worth some attention.  He points out that 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 allows White to see what Black is going to play on his


second move, before committing himself to c3.  In the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3, (see diagram) White prevents Black from playing some of his best replies such as in the normal Alapin after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 e6 b6 (see diagram) followed by ...Bb7 because his knight is in the way.  Consequently White can continue from the diagram 3.Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 b6 7 Bc4!.

Soltis also points out that should Black from the diagrammed position 3....d5 after 4.exd5 Qxd5  White has reached a position where the knight on c6 is a liability after 5.d4 Bg4 6.Be2 e6?! 7.h3 Bh5 8.c4 Qd6 9.g4 Bg6 10.d5!

This is a valuable chapter to study if you are a 1. e4 player.


          Position after 3.c3


The treatment of transpositions has been poorly represented in chess literature and this book fills a rather painful gap.  Andrew Soltis must have spent many hours researching the subject and must feel well rewarded by the result.  He is a well respected chess author who has many books to his name and these cover many chess subjects. To his credit he recognises the power that the written word has over copious analysis and his explanations are very penetrating and understandable.


This book which has been categorised in the Batsford

Club Player 

Strategy /Tactics

  section has
   something for everybody and is well worth the recommended price of 15:99

Batsford have maintained their high standard of production in this 219 double column page book that can be thoroughly recommended.