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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but overrated., 20 Dec. 2009
David M. Moskovic "mosko" (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: EXPERTS VS THE SICILIAN (Paperback)
This certainly is not a bad book, but it is also not deserving of the glowing reviews it has garnered elsewhere.. It

certainly fills a gap in the market left by the end of the "Beating the Sicilian" series. Having a different author

write each chapter is an interesting idea, but it does pose two problems. 1) the quality is variable. 2)

transpositional move orders can cause a problem.

Some chapters are excellent, but others are fairly poor. This is a second edition, and the text has been updated in

places. However, the updates are rather slap-dash, and no real effort has been made to integrate them properly into

the flow of the text, resulting in a confusing, rushed mess in places.

My conclusion would be that this is a good book to buy if you want to play the open sicilian. However, be prepared to check the analysis and be aware that the quality of the chapters varies massively.

More detailed comments below.

1. Najdorf Chapter

This is of average quality. My main issue is that it recommends an ultra-sharp line with a lot of untested analysis

based on sacrifises. This runs the risk of the book being outdated rather fast. There are a few major holes in the

analysis. Page 20: 8...Qa5 "this line has been recently refuted by Rajabov". The line given is worse for black but

hardly refuted. The major problem is that he ignores (instead of 12...Bg5) 12...Bc6! given by Nunn over 10 years ago:

13 Nxc6 Bg5 Kb1 Nc6 Ne4 Be7 Ne4 Be7 Nd6 Bxd6 ed6 Rd8! Now if d7!? Rd7 Rd7 Ne5! Re7 Kd8 Rd7 Ke8 =. instead of d7, 0-0

is not at all clear.

The other main problem is that theory of the Poisoned Pawn has moved on massively since this was published. I suppose the problem with recommending a line against the Najdorf is that, if you do not recommend Bg5 or Bc4 on move 6, then you have to contend with transpositions into non-Keres Scheveningen lines.

2. Dragon
I think this chapter is very well written

In general this chapter is also very good. However, the discussion of the ending on page 79 is rather meandering. For

anyone below 2700 this ending must be clearly better for white. There has been text added in the second edition, but

it has not been well integrated into the book.

4. Classical
This chapter is reasonably good. It has a major flaw, however, with the analysis on page 94. The editor has basically

refuted the author's analysis in a comment! This makes pretty much that entire page worthless. The resultant position

is one where white has no chance to play for a win. Obviously it is unreasonable to expect an advantage for white in

every line, but the author should at least take the reader to a position with mutual chances and an explanation of the

plans. On move 11, maybe white can try Rad1 Qc5 Qd3, as an example. Perhaps the real solution was to rewrite the

repertoire without the Be2 line completely.

5. Kan and Taimanov.
Starts with a good explanation of the ideas, and the chapter is good in many places. However, it is let down by some

shockingly bad analysis in places, for which there is really no excuse in this computer age.

On page 121, the whole 14. f5 idea seems bad and unnecessary. White is clearly better after a simple move like 14Qh5,

or Bd2, or Be3, or Qf3. The piece sac that f5 is based on is completely unsound. I (a 2300FIDE player) could see it

was unsound withOUT a computer. In linw (a1) on page 122 black can try 19...0-0! eg Bf5 Bf5 Nf5 gf5 b4 Nd4 cd Nf3+
! Qf3 Bd4 Kh1 Qc3! =+

On page 122-123 there is a comment that the "amnesic" editor foirgot he played a game in the line give, The book then goes on to give a series of illegal moves. A quick database search answers the question: the supposed game is in a different line (5.Bd3 and not 5.Nc3) This is extremely shoddy.

On page 141 there is another example of the laziness prolific in the second edition. The editors put in a note showing a big improvement by Delchev, after which White has no advantage whatsoever. Instead of trying to give some earlier alternatives, they just include the editorial comment and then finish the chapter with a page refuting a completely irrelevant position in Delchev's "Safest Sicilian".

6. The accelerated dragon
A good explanation of teh concepts, followed up by good analysis

7. Scheveningen
Another great chapter

8. The Kalashnikov
Good chapter

9. Four knights
Good chapter

10. Pin Variation
I didnt read this as I would play either e4 c5 Nf3 e6 Nc3, or e4 c5 Nc3 e6 Nf3, and thus avoid it.

Good chapter

12. Minor lines
A decent wrap up. My one complaint would be on the coverage of e4 c5 Nf3 e6 d4 cd Nd4 a6 Nc3 d6 g4. There is a comment in the Kan chapter that this will be covered later on page 218. We go to 218 and find: e4 c5 Nf3 e6 d4 cd Nd4 Nc6 Nc3 d6 g4 a6. This is not quite the same: Black isn't forced to play 6...Nc6 in the first example. A comment about what to do if black adopts a plan with 6...b5 Bb7 etc would have been nice.
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