Grivas Opening Laboratory - Volume 5

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Chess Evolution
Efstratios Grivas
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In the fifth book of the series we continue to deal with ‘QGD’ schemes. We will start by dealing with how to face ‘Various Lines’ in the ‘QGD’. Well, these sidelines are considered to be ‘second-hand’ and rightly so! They can be good for rapid or blitz games but are rarely adopted by top, or even simply good players, with very few exceptions from time to time. There is no real point in talking about statistics, as these lines are usually played from the black side by lower-rated players, so the results strongly favour White. It must also be noted that there are plenty of possibilities to further improve the white side as well, as a lot of games are played at club level, where the white player is ‘weak’ as well! Generally, I cannot suggest these lines to any player playing Black, as they are ‘fishy’ and rarely helpful in the development of a chess player. But the truth is that the ‘Baltic Defence’ and the ‘Symmetrical/Austrian Defence’ are quite playable and need ‘special care’ and preparation to face, something I cannot say for the ‘Albin Counter-Gambit’ and the ‘Marshall Defence!’

The second line we will examine is the so-called ‘Chigorin Defence’, which can be quite dangerous for White, as Black seeks early piece counterplay. My proposed line scores a solid 59%, but the games in question number approximately 210, so the sample is not so big. Then we move on to the infamous ‘Tarrasch Defence’. This is an opening that enjoyed great popularity in the 80s’, mainly owing to the success of the FIDE’s 13th World Champion, Garry Kasparov. But today it seems that it has vanished from top-flight play, unlike the ‘Semi-Tarrasch Defence’, which has enjoyed a great comeback. Well, Black is ready to accept an isolated pawn in return for active play, but with the help of chess engines everything seems to be kept at bay nowadays.

For this reason (mainly) White (with the suggested lines) scores a healthy 59.1%, which is way above the 52% that is the general (approximate) White ‘advantage’. However, this doesn’t sound logical, as the general score across all variations sits at 51.8%, when the average expected number of white ‘superiority’ is 51.5% to 52%, but we will see why this is so. Finally, we deal with how to face the ‘Semi-Tarrasch Defence’. This is a solid system for Black, which lately has been adopted by many top-level players, unlike the ‘Tarrasch Defence’.

With our proposed system to face it, White scores a  very healthy 58.8%, which looks quite enticing. In this book you will find not only a concrete and well structured move-by-move presentation, but also chapters on the middlegames, endgames and tactics that are typical for this variation, which together will help you to understand it better. The only two things you have to do are to buy the book and study it! Note that the research on the games included is up to mid-September 2020.