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The Kaufman Repertoire for Black and White: A Complete, Sound and User-friendly Chess Opening Repertoire. Paperback – 15 Dec 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess, Csi (15 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056913719
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056913717
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 3.1 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 236,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Simply the best comprehensive repertoire book that I have ever seen. --John Watson, author of Mastering the Chess Openings

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mervyn John Hughes on 18 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reviews on the .com website give the contents.
I feel that the openings v e4 are excellent and concise and the book is worth purchasing just for that. i.e. against the Danish Gambit he recommends Chigorin's 2...Qe7 and you do not really need to know anymore than that. I have known of this move for more than 30 years and have only had the opportunity to play it once. His other lines are similarly, as far as possible, non mainline. Obviously not the Breyer, but his explanation is straightforward and although I have read reviews which claim that players below 2400 will not be able to understand it, then if this is the case neither will your opponents. That said having played the repertoire for a while the nearest I have gotten to the Breyer is 9 d4.
In a sense there is a fair amount of redundancy for a repertoire book giving alternative choices for the repertoire player ie systems against the nimzo & queens indian with choices also given in individual lines. This does allow you to choose lines which are more to your particular taste, but means the analysis of the given lines is less detailed.
The first time I intended to use the repertoire was in a county match and I was a little concerned that as black I was going to play the Grunfeld against d4, which I did not know very well at that time. I sat down my opponent played !.Nc3, so much for detailed opening analysis.
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
excellent 1-volume repertoire coverage 15 April 2012
By popcorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is an excellent Youtube video of an IM covering this book and its repertoire in detail. Search Youtube for "Book Review The Kaufman Repertoire" by Chessexplained. It's 53 minutes long, though, so if you want a shorter summary, I'll list the main lines below. Also, the publisher has released an excerpt which includes the author's introduction with comments about his selections.

In general I agree with the previous poster. The long algebraic notation is a bit unwieldy, but it should be noted this notation is only used in bold on the main lines, while discussion of alternative moves and game examples are given in figurine algebraic. The intention seems to have been to make the main lines stand out from the analysis. And yes, the book promises a near-refutation of the King's Indian Defense. The idea given does appear very strong, but any club player can tell you what a nightmare the Mar del Plata variation can be to face over the board. The fact that White has destroyed Black's queenside and that theory says White should win doesn't help much when you see your king stuck in a corner getting mated. There is an alternative line given against the King's Indian for those of us with an aversion to pain.

This book is a marked change from the previous "The Chess Advantage in Black and White" by the same author. He seems to have backed away slightly from his "second best" philosophy and gone with more topical lines. For white, Kaufman switches from 1.e4 to 1.d4 2.c4 with fairly conservative variations, such as the Exchange variation against the Queen's Gambit Declined. He abandons the Semi-Slav because of problems in the Bg5 lines, instead relying on the Grunfeld, and in many cases giving several lines of various temperaments to choose from. His recommendation against the Scotch has also changed, and he has switched from the Berlin to the Breyer variation of the Ruy Lopez. He gives the reasoning for his choices, the most common being the latest computer analysis and the fact that Magnus Carlsen plays most of these lines.

The book is larger, easier to read, and printed on better quality paper than the previous work. In my opinion the coverage is aimed for a slightly stronger reader than the previous work. The book has an excellent index and a brief discussion of the author's experiences with the lines. The odd format bothered me less than I thought it would. The white repertoire is given in the front of the book and takes up a little over half the book. Flip the book over and you have the black repertoire. As in all one-volume opening books, there is no room for exhaustive coverage. You will quickly find lines that are not included and your opponents will often vary from this repertoire at an early stage. That said, the lines here are mostly well-chosen, with good examples from complete or partial games, and the reader will have some idea of what the plans are in each major variation. I have found the book has served me well even in those variations not directly covered.

The Repertoire:

For White against the major defenses:

-Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange variation with Nf3
-2.Bg5 vs the Dutch
-Bf4 lines against the Benoni
-3.e4 against the Queen's Gambit Accepted. 3.Nf3 is also covered.
-6.Ne5 lines against the Slav
-5.Bg5 vs the Semi-Slav
-5.Qb3, the Russian System, vs the Grunfeld
-h4!, with proper timing, against the King's Indian Defense Mar del Plata. 8.Be3 is given as a backup.
-Qc2 vs the Nimzo-Indian, and also coverage of the Queen's Indian
-he includes a chapter on starting with 1.Nf3.

For Black:

Against queen pawn or flank openings we play the Grunfeld or similar structures:

-Grunfeld ..Qxa2 pawn-grab lines against the Modern Exchange (with Rb1)
-10. ..Qc7 vs the old exchange variation (with Bc4, Ne2, etc), and 10. ..e6 and 10. ..b6 as backups
-1. ..g6 vs the English, usually with c5 to follow
-several chapters cover anti-gruenfeld, Reti, Neo-Grunfeld (where white fianchetos his king's bishop), The Trompowski, London system, etc. Many lines are in the spirit of the Grunfeld while some alternatives given resemble the Queen's Indian or Queen's gambit declined

Against 1.e4 we play 1. ..e5:

-3. ..Bc5 in the Italian Game
-against the Bishop's Opening and Vienna, 1.Nf6 and c6 planning a quick d5
-against the King's Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd exf, which is not only solid, it prevents the Bishop's Gambit
-against the Evan's Gambit, 5. ..Ba5 6.d4 d6 7.Qb3 Qd7 Or alternatively the safer 5. ..Be7
-against the Scotch 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6, bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6
-the Breyer variation against the Spanish
-there is also a chapter on the many sidelines of the Spanish, including an interesting line against the Spanish exchange: 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.d3 Qf6

Coverage of less common lines is also included, though some of the really absurd lines are not covered.

In all, this is by far the best one-volume opening repertoire I have found. The choices have a nice blend of time-tested reliability and modern dynamism about them, and they are both solid and resilient. There is always a chance to play for advantage, and your opening will not be busted with one line your opponent has memorized. The openings are the highest quality, not gimmick systems, and so they require work and practice for those new to them. But the rewards are very high, not only in results, but in chess understanding and a greater appreciation for chess history of the last 200 years and what past masters were able to accomplish without computers. Not every line or question can be addressed in one volume, but I believe Mr Kaufman has done an excellent job of choosing his coverage well, both with main lines and analysis. Naturally, strong players will want more detailed books on specific variations, but imo, this book gives more than enough coverage for the average club player until at least near-expert strength.

Highly recommended.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Repertoire for the Club Player 29 April 2012
By Christopher J. Falter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
International Grandmaster Larry Kaufman is best known in chess circles for authoring the evaluation function in Rybka 3 and for co-creating the super-strong Komodo engine. In this one-volume repertoire Kaufman has extensively researched promising opening lines for both sides with the Houdini and Komodo engines (running on a 12-core processor!). However, he does not simply regurgitate the computer analysis in this book; instead, he succinctly explains why particular continuations are good for one side or the other.

The goal of his repertoire for the white player is a stable advantage with dynamic chances. He recommends 1. d4 followed by 2. c4, and what comes next depends on black's response. In general, white can emerge with at least one of these 4 advantages:
* An extra center pawn
* More space
* More material (including the bishop pair)
* Superior development
He notes that Kasparov played most of the repertoire recommendations at some point, so you're in good company if you use the Kaufman white repertoire.

While I have not analyzed the entire white repertoire in depth, I can comment on a couple of lines that caught my attention:

* King's Indian Defense: Kaufman's faith in the Mar del Plata variation against the KID (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g7 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1) is quite touching; as he describes it, "White allows Black a scary-looking attack, but hard analysis seems to show that white just wins material on the queenside and beats off the attack." Of course, the engines' near-perfect defensive abilities color their favorable evaluation for white, but the average club player needs a lot of nerve to play this way. Don't let me discourage you, though; what's life for if not for taking some well-considered risks? For the less adventurous, Kaufman provides a second suggestion (starting with 8. Be3) that gives "a safe route to a modest advantage."

* Benko Gambit: Kaufman recommends trading the light-squared bishops and castling by hand (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 d6 9. Nf3 Bg7 10. g3 O-O 11. Kg2 Nbd7), followed by the recent novelty 12. a4, planning to stick a knight on b5. He follows the game Zhou-Wang 2011 (rapid), and deems black's compensation insufficient provided white improves with the engine-recommended 22. Qxb3. In my opinion, though, black could have improved a few moves earlier to obtain the typical Benko compensation. So if you like to play the Benko, don't give it up because of Kaufman's repertoire. On the other hand, Kaufman's suggestion does yield a modest advantage for white (even if black improves), so Kaufman has delivered the goods for his readers.

For the black player, Kaufman's goal is a comfortable near-equality with enough dynamic chances to score the full point if white plays a couple of weak moves. His analysis points him to some of Magnus Carlsen's recent favorites: the Gruenfeld Defense and the Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez. White has so many options against the Gruenfeld (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5) that it is difficult to summarize the main ideas for black, other than to say that black never lacks for counterattacking weapons. The Breyer Variation (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8), on the other hand, is not so hard to understand: "Black's knight will be on d7 rather than c6, which makes the bishop fianchetto to b7 attractive. Black will usually fianchetto both bishops, will usually answer a2-a4 by ...c5-c4 and ...Nc5, will aim for ...c7-c6 against an early d4-d5, and will sometimes get in the shot ...d6-d5 himself."

There's a lot to like in this opening tome:
1. The opening recommendations are solid but do not lack dynamic possibilities.
2. Kaufman's extensive use of chess engines have yielded a lot of novelties. For example, in the "fork trick" line of the Four Knights (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bc4 Nxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Bd3), he unleashes the engine-recommended 6...Nb4! and demonstrates full equality for black in further analysis.
3. He provides an index of variations and an index of players, which are of course essential for a repertoire book.
4. He closes with a chapter on "The Repertoire in Practice," in which he analyzes some game excerpts from his participation in the 2011 US Open and the 2011 Atlantic Open. He was quite satisfied with the positions the repertoire yielded, although in many cases he would confess "now I missed 19. Qe3! ...", and then in the next game "I should have played 14...Ne5! with full equality...," and so forth. Proof that you need more than a good opening repertoire to play good chess!

Overall, packing an entire repertoire into one book offers great value, as it provides a complete reference at a very modest cost. On the other hand, Kaufman necessarily had to cut some corners to fit everything into a single book. The game analyses focus on opening choices, rather than typical middlegame themes and plans; typical endgames are never explored; and the reasons behind evaluations are extremely brief (e.g., in game 13.6 of Avoiding the Nimzo-Indian, "White has the bishop pair in a fairly balanced position"--when in fact white has an isolated c pawn on an semi-open file, black has an isolated d pawn on a semi-open file, white's knight on d4 is more active than either of black's knights, etc.). It's not a bad trade-off for most club players; instead of buying 10 in-depth opening books, buy Kaufman's repertoire and then 9 great books on tactics, strategy, endgame technique, etc. You'll probably be a lot better off!

In fact, I'd recommend purchasing this book even if you're not planning to play Kaufman's repertoire for yourself, because you'll probably be playing against it a fair amount over the next few years. Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say.

Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy of this book to me. My ratings of the publisher's books have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A suitability litmus test 31 July 2012
By C. Amari - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here is a simple litmus test to determine if this book is right for you. Be honest. Would the likelihood of your competition leading (or following) you into the far depths of theory of the Hungarian Variation of the Russian System of the Grunfeld Defense resemble the likelihood of a monkey typing Shakespeare? If so, you can pass this up.

Likewise, are you looking for efficiency, an occasional gambit, and relatively early sidelines that, while not altogether sound against a GM, are more than adequate against your opposition while sidestepping months of memorization? Against your competition, can you realistically aspire to an opening advantage that would register more than 0.31 in your favor by a strong computer assessment? If so, then this book is NOT for you.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for this book, but I have to conclude that it is hardly useful for "club" players, and not what they typically are looking for in a "repertoire" book. On the other hand, if in your games, you and your opponents are exploring the depths the Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez, the Grunfeld, and a lot of main line theory (or at least theory that tends to be quite popular nowadays among the elite) then this book may be for you.

Carlsen's openings are, in particular,the model for the Black side of this book. I think a lot of players should ask themselves whether study time devoted to Carlsen's approach to the opening is realistic and practical or whether, instead, someone along the lines of Aleksander Wojtkiewicz might serve as a more suitable exemplar.

The research for this book was an very real and practical exercise in developing an opening repertoire for a 2300-2400 player. If you are in the same boat, you are most fortunate, as the author's preparation is extraordinarily professional and workmanlike. Even in this case, however, the problem with repertoire choices like the Breyer and Grunfeld is that the treatment of those complexities in a book that touches on nearly every other opening choice may not be sufficient. It is, however, an solid start.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Classic! One of the best chess opening books ever written! 26 Jun. 2013
By Tansel Turgut - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a correspondence chess GM. My library is around 2600 chess books right now.
I have written evaluation for only a couple of books, but I believe this book also deserves one.

1) In my opinion, this is one of the best (and most accurate) opening books ever written!(June 2013)The author is one of very the best in opening book analysis.
2) GM Kaufman uses iDeA (Aquarium interactive Deep Analysis) for his opening analysis. This is much more accurate than infinite analysis (ChessBase, Fritz etc).
3) The main engines used for analysis in this book are Houdini and Komodo.
4) GM Kaufman was one of the main developers of Rybka with Vas Rajlich.(who I know personally from Ann Arbor,MI, before he wrote Rybka)
5) Currently ( June 2013) GM Kaufman e is developing Komodo Chess Program (one of the best programs,slightly worse than Houdini in list. this engine has the best positional knowledge, but slightly weaker in tactics than Houdini 3))
6) Author is rated around 2400 USCF. (he was an IM, he won World Senior Championship and obtained his GM title).
7) His analysis is one of the very best in the world (probably best, only GM Avrukh's analysis is good as this book)
8) The lines in the book are main lines, not side lines (except Dutch).
9) He gives particular importance to 2 bishops(around +0.5 pawns) , which may be overestimated in the opening phase of the game.
10)The book is written as a repertoire book both for white and black. (An interesting creative setup is seen, one side of the cover is for white and the other side for black)
11) This book can be used by professionals and nonprofessionals. A condensed book with main lines, with top analysis and best evaluations.
12) I would recommend you to read the article about the dynamic/ changing value of chess pieces in different situations (Chess Life article march 1999)This article is very interesting.
http://home.comcast.net/~danheisman/Articles/evaluation_of_material_imbalance.htm
13) In my opinion, this book is a classic for our time!
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Optimistic Chess Openings for Both Sides of the Board 6 April 2012
By Richard DeCredico - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Interesting follow up/redux of the original work. Kaufman has made some serious changes in his repertoire suggestions based upon engine analysis from his beloved Komodo engine and taken directly from his own personal over the board repertoire.

The book claims to be on the doorstep of a refutation of the King's Indian defense, but I am not positive that this is the case as much as it is excited optimism from some recent successful outings.

Unique layout. Turn book over and upside down for the black side of chess life.

Long algebraic notation is a bit of a cumbersome and unwieldy choice.

If you love openings that aim to procure the bishop pair, you'll find lots of interesting lines and variations here.
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