Blog Post #29: Refreshing Reading

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! No matter how busy we might sometimes be, may 2018 be a refreshing year in which we all allow enough time to rest and peacefully consider things that are actually good and important for everyone.

Reading high-quality books is a very worthwhile pastime that I would like to warmly recommend, and here are three of my favourite related quotes: “The best books should be labelled This Could Change Your Life”–Helen Exley; “A book is a dream that you hold in your hand”–Neil Gaiman; “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free”–Frederick Douglass.

Though the third quote above always reminds me of Jesus’ eternally important words “The truth will set you free”, as given in John 8:32 in The Bible, in this particular blog post, here today, I am about to focus on a great new chess book, as well as the publisher of it, and a very fine (web)shop which sells practically all the best chess products that one could wish for. I am referring to www.debestezet.nl, which has been going strong ever since it was first established just over 23 years ago in December 1994. Run principally by Woman Grandmaster & trainer Erika Sziva (originally from Hungary, but long resident in The Netherlands, and a many-times national champion in both countries), De Beste Zet (simply The Best Move, in English) is renowned for its fast, efficient, personal and friendly service. Though the site is set up in Dutch, Erika and her husband, Robert, speak fluent English too, and they do also offer a choice of languages and several currencies via http://chess.themindgameshop.com.

WGM Erika Sziva

I have never been disappointed with any chess goods from De Beste Zet, and my newest item is certainly no exception either. I am currently enjoying reading The Modernized Reti, the first book by International Grandmaster Adrien Demuth from France.

GM Adrien Demuth

The book comes from the relatively new Thinkers Publishing, and I will definitely be looking out for further works from the same publisher (www.thinkerspublishing.com) which only began in 2016 and has already earned the respect of many people.

Here is part of the text that is printed on the back cover of The Modernized Reti: “With many transpositions into different types of positions, it is one of the richest choices White has when starting the game. If you are looking for a refined, positional and dynamic way to play as White, Adrien will show you the way in his first book for Thinkers Publishing.”

Really honestly, I feel that I would have summed up the opening with practically the same words! Yes, I, too, have started with 1 Nf3 in a considerable number of games, as I always appreciate that it offers fast, active development while still retaining plenty of flexible options.

Right from the very start of his book, GM Demuth opens one’s mind to lots of fresh possibilities that can arise from the Reti Opening. Here is one that I particularly liked: after the moves 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 e6 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 Nbd7 5 b3 Bd6 6 0-0 0-0 7 Bb2 b6 8 cxd5 exd5, the author shows us 9 Nd4!, eyeing the squares c6 and f5.

If Black were to react too hastily with 9…Re8 (intending to meet Nf5 with …Bf8), then just imagine what a shock 10 Nc6 would be to the black queen! 9…Bb7 is obviously infinitely better! However, even there, Demuth points out that 10 Nf5 is problematic for Black because his dark-squared bishop can’t run away. He mentions that 10…Re8 11 Nxd6 cxd6 12 d3 actually happened in the game S.Martinovic (2445)-D.Paunovic (2320), Vrnjacka Banja 1983, and states that “White may already be technically winning.” That comment is probably not unjustified, due to Black’s seriously damaged pawn structure.

The author has worked hard to also provide us with many powerful novelties. Here is an example given on page 41.

The position arose after Black’s 14th move in the super-GM clash V.Artemiev (2671)-I.Bukavshin (2648), Sochi 2015. Amongst other choices, Demuth offers us the novelty 15 dxc5!, which was not played in the actual game. The point is that the natural-looking 15…Nxe3 fails due to the following analysis, all given by the author. 16 cxb6 Nxc2 17 Rxd7! and then either 17…Nxa1 18 Rxb7 Bc5 19 Ne5 0-0 20 Nd7 Rfd8 21 Nxc5 Rxc5 22 Ra7 and “the b-pawn is a killer”, or 17…Kxd7 18 Ra7 Rb8 19 Ne5+ Kc8 20 Nxf7 Rg8 21 Nxb5 after which “Black is a rook up, but helpless against Nd6.” 21…Bxg2 22 Rc7# would make a picturesque finish!

It’s entirely understandable that the book runs to 440 pages, as the French GM makes a great effort to provide readers with sufficient ideas for White in the Reti Opening against the many possible responses from Black. Consequently, the focus is on sound, strong and interesting opening ideas and further plans, rather than on giving complete games. The part-games which are used contain ample, well-placed, easy-to-follow diagrams and are clearly named right there and then, and so the author is able to leave out an index of players at the end of the book.

I have no hesitation in warmly recommending The Modernized Reti to you; after all, I am already finding it to be really useful myself! My only criticism (and one that is of course meant to be constructive and helpful) is that the editing of the book should have been a bit more thorough, as there are some English language errors within the text. For me personally, though, that did not seriously detract from my overall appreciation and enjoyment of a very good book.

Note: As this article has focused mainly on a special chess book review, the solutions to the puzzles in the previous blog post, #28, will be carried over and just delayed slightly, until they will appear soon in Blog Post #30.

In the meantime, I’d like to round off now by again wishing you a very happy new year.

 

Author: Paul A. Motwani

My name is Paul Motwani, but my colleagues, my students and their parents mostly call me "Mr. Mo"! My middle initial, A, stands for Anthony, because I was born on the official feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of miracles and of lost souls. I love teaching Mathematics and Chess, and giving fun-packed talks and shows in schools and clubs. The popular ingredients of Math, Chess, Mystery and Magic are my "Fantastic Four", and I give prizes too! I am an International Chess Grandmaster, and (loooooong ago!) I was the World Under-17 Champion. I am the author of five published chess books and hundreds of newspaper articles. I live with my wonderful wife and son in Belgium. I also love music, movies and puzzles. I blog at paulmotwani.com. My e-mail address is pmotwani141@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook, too.

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