|Price: £ 14,99
|Reviewed by: Allan
||Date: 22/12 2001
This is the second opening book by Lasha Janjgava from Gambit. As in the first one concerning the Queens gambit and Catalan defences the aim is to present a super-solid opening system for black. I guess it is not without reason when the author is presented the following way on the cover:
"Ögrandmaster from Georgia, and president of the Tblisi Chess Federation. He has represented his country four times in chess olympiads, and has built up a formidable reputation as a very hard player to
It is also the second book I review on this topic. The first one was Yusupovs heavyweight book. Whereas Yusupovs concept reminds of the ECO, the current book is more like a normal book on opening theory with some explaining text on the way. The Petroff is experiencing huge popularity among the top players these years. Thanks to players like Karpov, Kramnik and Yusupov it has proven to be an extremely tough nut to crack for 1.e4 players. At the time of writing new contributions to modern theory appear almost every day in FIDEs knock out championship in Moscow.
Djangavas concept is a traditional book on theory without complete games. The structure of the book is eleven chapters divided in three parts. As can be seen from the following overview one chapter treats unusual third moves by white followed by four chapters concerning 3.d4. That leaves six chapters for the traditional main variation 3.Nxe5.
- Unusual third moves for white
- 3.d4 without 3...Nxe4
- 3.d4 Nxe4: Sidelines
- 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7
- 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Bd6
- 3.Nxe5: Sidelines
- 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4: Sidelines
- 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6
- 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6
- 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Be7
- The Main line: 7.0-0 Nc6 8.c4 Nb4
Systematically the writer works his way through the Russian jungle to finish with the main variation. In this review I want to discuss some examples from the book together with some of the relevant games from modern grandmaster practice. Thereby I hope to illustrate that Janjgava presents a nice guide for the potential black or white Petroff player, but it must be said not without important omissions. I shall follow the same pattern as in the book: Other variations, 3.d4 and 3.Nxe5.
Besides the two moves 3.d4 and 3.Nxe5 competing for the status as the main variation white can try 3.Bc4, 3.Nc3 or 3.d3. None of these present any noteworthy danger to black, although the gambit after 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nc3 is not without poison. Janjgava adds some new attacking possibilities to whites arsenal here, so potential white players who donít want to discuss main lines might want to look here for inspiration.
The variation with 3.d4
Bearing my nationality as a Dane in mind, I will mention the classic game Karpov - Larsen, Tilburg 1980 here, where Larsen introduced a pawn sacrifice to solve all blacks opening problems. After
3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Qe2 Nxe5 7.Bxe4 dxe4 8.Qxe4 Be6
black gets nice compensation through the bishop pair after both 9.Qxe5 or 9.dxe5. This is analyzed with relevant games amongst others by Rozentalis, who is an expert in the Petroff and plays it with both colours.
The position after 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Bd6 6.0-0 Nd7 7.Nxd7 Bxd7 8.c4 c6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10. Qh5 0-0 11.Qxd5 Bc6 12.Qh5 g6 13.Qh3
has produced interesting games after both 13...Qb6, 13...Bb4 and Yusupovs
13...Ng5. Janjgava analyzes these things and has some interesting suggestions. However he also fails to show some very relevant games here in my opinion, which simply might be a result of his deadline for the book.
I donít think the popularity of the opening is accidental these years. When a growing amount of tournaments are decided through knock out minimatches it becomes crucial to be able to play solid as black. To this purpose the Petroff is ideal and therefore
the Danish GM Schandorff has named it a "party killer".
The variation with 3.Nxe5
Below we will take at look at some lines where black plays the solid Nc6 and Be7 and afterwards the more forcing Marshall variation with
Different versions of the seemingly desperate attempt at an advantage connected with the move g2-g4 have been tried. Anands idea 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.c4 Nb4 9.cxd5 Nxd3 10.Qxd3 Qxd5 11.Re1 Bf5 12.g4 is treated very well in the book (p.225). Topalov came up with a similar surprise against Shirov recently where he played g4 twice in the tiebreak games. It is a very radical way to deal with blacks bishops strong position on f5 supported by the knight on b4. In the Topalov games I think the enormous tension in these tiebreaks is part of the explanation behind such adventures. The surprise value is not to be underestimated in cases where the short amount of time available can make it hard for the victim to adjust and stay cool. As for the objective value of the move I have my doubts.
I find it strange that Kramniks 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.Nc3 b6!?
which he introduced against Kasparov in Linares 2000 isn't mentioned at all. I guess it shows that the book is not totally up to date. Instead
10...Be6 and 10...Bf5 is analyzed. Let me just mention a few of whites latest attempts from FIDEs knock out championship in Moscow recently, to give an impression of how quickly new ideas appear in this fashionable opening.
In the match Topalov - Shirov, which went into tiebreak they discussed the opening with both colours. The tabia for their duel arises after
3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.c4 Nb4 and now
9.Be2 (an old Karpov favourite) 0-0 10.Nc3 Be6 11.Be3 Bf5 12.Qb3 c6
First Shirov played 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Rac1 a5 15.Na4 thereby trying to prove that blacks Be6-f5 is a bit extravagant. With the rising tension in the tiebreak Topalov showed no fear with 13. Ne5 followed by g4 and 13.g4 directly, which does divert the black bishop from the control of c2, but at the price of a pawn and a secure position for the king!
Earlier in the tournament Svidler introduced 11.Nxe4!? against Sulskis as a new idea in this fashionable variation. Also of interest is 11.Ne5, which Jangjava holds as "the biggest headache for black". Apparently Anand agrees on this point as he chose it to beat Shirov. Whether black plays
11...f6 or 11...c5 some problems seem to remain before he can equalize the game.
Some finesses are connected to the question of whether to play the bishop to f5
immediately or whether to play Be6 first and await whites reaction. The direct
10...Bf5 has become a serious alternative to the traditional main line with
10...Be6. In the semifinal in Moscow Ponomariov used 10...Bf5 against Svidler, who switched to 3.d4 in the third game, which he lost. Generally black appears to be very solid in the positions after
10...Bf5 11.a3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1
In this position Ponomariev chose 13...Be6. 13...Bf6 is also interesting whereas Adams has played
13...dxc4 14.Bxc4 Bd6 with a reliable position, where white must play active to avoid ending up with weak pawns in the endgame. Of these possibilities the book only considers
13...Bf6 very briefly.
The Marshall variation
Another topical variation is the sharp variation with 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3
Attention also revolves around 9.Qc2 and 9.Re1 as serious alternatives to the heavily discussed lines after
9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bg4 12.Rb1
Here theory often stops way beyond move 20. Black is at the crossroads here - whether to play
12...b6 or the developing move 12...Nd7 is the question. The first option is interesting but quite risky, because whites position has a lot of attacking potential as Jangjava convincingly points out.
Shirov has played 12...Nd7 numerous times and his performance against Grichuk in their decisive game from the previous FIDE world championship in New Delhi was remarkable. Grischuk gave Shirovs novelty 13.h3 Bh5 14.Rb5 Nb6 15.c4 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 dxc4 17.Bc2 Qd7 18.a4 g6 19.Be3 Rac8 20.Rfb1 c3 21.a5 Nc4 22.Rb7 Qe6 23.Bb3 Qf5 two exclamation marks in Informant 80, which is a nice illustration of how well prepared the young computer generation tend to be these days - scaring I think! Shirov suffered losses in this variation in Linares 2000 against both Kasparov (19.Bd2) and Anand (23.Ra1) so of course he has done some serious homework on the matter. Contrary to Jangjavas conclusion
18...g6 is not the only decent move. As shown in Nataf - Schandorff, North Sea Cup 2001
black can cope with 18...Rfe8 19.Bf5 after
19...Qc7 20.a5 Qc6! - an elegant resource.
Shirovs "angstgegner" Kasparov gave the opening a severe blow in their game from Wijk Aan Zee 2001. 6.Bd3 Bd6 7. 0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6
9.Qc2 Na6 10.a3 Bg4 11.Ne5 Bh5 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Nc3!
That game came after Janjgavas deadline, but he also holds 11...Bh5 to be dubious. Instead black must enter the hairrising complications after
11...Bxe5 12.dxe5 Nac5 13.f3 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 Nc5 15.Qd4 Nb3 16.Qxg4. It would be interesting to see what Kasparovs laboratory has come up with here.
One final game of theoretical interest to the Marshall variation with Anand on the white side against Piket from Wijk Aan Zee 2001 saw him uncork a strong novelty followed by his second Ubilava: After 9.Re1 Re8 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bg4 12. Bg5 Rxe1+ 13.Qxe1 Qd7 14.c5 Bc7 15.Nh4! it is amazing how quickly the black position collapsed. The coordination of the pieces is non existing and is an example of top level preparation at its best.
Of course it is not fair to blame Jangjava for omitting games after his deadline, but I believe the examples chosen above provide a good illustration of the ever-continuing development in the Petroff. Jangjavas book is like Yusupovs from 1999 a nice tool for the serious chess player. Donít
buy any of these books in order to be entertained!!
True to his style and reputation Janjgava presents one of blacks most solid answers to 1.e4. Certain variations are omitted which appears strange. Although not totally up to date the book is a nice guide to the Russian jungle. Despite the text the book is probably best suited as a reference book. Recommended for the tournament player rated from 1800 to 2500.