Thursday, July 24, 2008

'Chess Explained: The Taimanov Sicilian' Reviewed

As I noted in a previous post, I am starting to play the Sicilian again after spending the last year working on the open games. I am a little split as to whether to play the Taimanov or the Classical (Najdorf/Scheveningen, Dragon: too much theory even for me; Sveshnikov: a possibility, but I have worked so much on the white side that I feel a certain 'white pieces bias' towards it, even though it scores very well and is an excellent line; Kan: the diversity of white responses I find staggering; others: I don't really like offbeat variations). I have chosen to research the two concurrently to decide which I like better, and so I bought both Chess Explained volumes on the openings. I recently received the Taimanov book, and so far I have been impressed.

James Rizzitano has been a blessing to chess fans since he picked up the pieces (after a long hiatus) and the pen several years ago, and he's produced several fine works recently. I especially can recommend his book How to Beat 1.d4, which I used primarily for it's anti-main line Queen's Gambit section. He's a thorough writer who provides what is for me a good mix of analysis and explanation.

Chess Explained: The Taimanov Sicilian naturally contains more verbal explanation than analysis, though a quick check on Chessbase shows that the critical lines are covered. I like the way the information is broken up, and the recency of the games is a major plus. I find Gambit books in general to be easier to read than Everyman and Quality Chess, though let me be clear that all three of these publishers regularly produce quality works, and I own plenty of books from all three. I like the two column format, and the text is well sized to get a lot of information on the page (a gripe I sometimes have with Everyman) without being too hard to read (a problem that crops up from time to time in Quality Chess books, IMO). I still don't know if I'll play the Taimanov a lot, but between Chessbase and this book I doubt I'll need another resource for some time even if I adopt it as my main open Sicilian Defense. Overall, a good book.


tanc(happyhippo) said...

Hello Caeruleum,

Greetings and hello from a fellow chess blogger!

When I first started out, most of the popular Sicilian variations contains a bit of theory to wade through and I got turned off. However if you're comfortable with the resulting pawn structures/activity you get from the opening position then by all means go for it.

One of the problems of chess is the amount of literature available and spending stuff that you don't really require. I've been trying to restrict myself on chess books and chess DVDs (I blame Chessbase) and ones that suit my playing style.. albeit not always successfully. :)

cheers and take care.

transformation said...

welcome aboard! lovely blog. marvelous. thank you.

i am adding you to my rss feed and will be sure to add you to my links, from the list of future revisions i maintain (already so large, more work to do, endless, endless work on earth or was it vanity, in Ecclesiastes).

warm regards dk (i am the DK mentioned there, aka david k et al)

Caeruleum Canis said...

Thanks so much for adding me to your rolls! Thanks to all for taking the time to check out my blog. I hope you all like it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Caeruleum,

Greetings from Dalllas. It looks like we are starting this blogging thing at about the same time.

I agree with you that both Rizzitano books are excellent. I especially like his coverage of the Colle, London, Tromp, etc in How to Beat 1. d4.

If you are considering the Classical Sicilian, you might try to find an old copy of Easy Guide to the Classical Sicilian by Yrjola. It has some of the best explanations of typical plans that I have read in any opening book.

If the black side of the Exchange Ruy Lopez, has you frustrated, you might try 5. ...Ne7. This line is fairly well explained in The Ruy Lopez: a Guide for Black by Johnsen and Johannessen.

Yes, I really do have too many chess books. Thanks for the review.

Caeruleum Canis said...

Thanks for the advice. I have the Finnish GM's book, and it does provide good explanation, it's just out of date. And I like Yermo's style a lot. I was playing a rather rare line with 5...Qf6 that gives decent play, but white can always kill the game if he wants to play solidly but without ambition.

Thanks for reading!