click for larger view
Review by Rick Kennedy:
"International Master Odessky’s <Play 1.b3!> is truly a love letter. If you doubt me, recall, if you will, Lev Polugaevsky’s Grandmaster Preparation, Wolfgang Uhlmann’s Winning with the French, Pal Benko’s The Benko Gambit, or even Emil Diemer’s Vom Ersten Zug An Auf Matt! – billets-doux, all, from masters to their objects of affection and dedication.
Odessky’s ode to The Nimzo-Larsen Attack: a Friend for Life (as the book is sub-titled), though, seems at times to have been ghosted by Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky.
In 2003, I wrote my first book, The Impossible Opening, and it appeared a year later. The reviews were generally favourable. The publisher said that it had sold quite well. ‘Not bad, not bad, he would say, sometimes even looking me squarely in the shoulder at the same time… ‘Not bad – that is almost good, perhaps’ I used to think to myself. But in truth, that book no longer looks so good to me now…
Since The Impossible Opening featured 1…e6 and 2…b6 for Black, I suppose that the author could have called his second book “The Possible Opening,” the “Reversed Impossible Opening,” or even “The Impossible Opening With A Move In Hand” – so readers are fortunate in some regards that it is simply Play 1.b3! (A rose by any other name…)
I mean no disrespect to Odessky, an accomplished chess player, coach, and author, with my remarks. Nor do I think that I disparage him by likening his writing style to that of David Bronstein – after a couple of glasses of Stolichnaya.
The author presents a lot of information on how to play 1.b3, doubly worthwhile because he admits that others who play the opening these days do not play it the way he does, so that his ideas are fresher and more interesting.
Creativity is the watchword of Play 1.b3!, not self-aggrandizement. Odessky’s ideas are interesting; and he is more prone to self-doubt than patting himself on the back. Here is how he treats one of his lines from Chapter 2:
This variation is based on a misunderstanding. It is also the product of stupidity. I did not immediately realize what was going on. And by the time I realized, it was too late. The variation already existed, and was bringing results. It was already a shame to give it up.
However, John Watson, in his fourth volume of Mastering the Chess Openings, gives the line a little more attention, and pronounces it in White’s favor. (That is not to say that Odessky is incorrect when he identifies where many opening ideas come from. Serendipity often rules.)
I will assert that <Play 1.b3!> is an opening book, even if at least one other reviewer (from ChessVibes) puckishly likened it, instead, to a postmodern novel, a philosophical work with a comical twist, something in the confessional literature, or a detective story with a moral. (We both agree that the book is a love story.)
To support my contention, here are the Chapters:
Chapter 1: An Amazing Life
Chapter 2: Wanderer, There Is No Path Through, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4 f6
Chapter 3: More About Knights, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.Na3
Chapter 4: Forgive Me
Chapter 5: The Student’s Problems, 1…e5 2.Bb2 d6 3.c4 / 1…c5 various
Chapter 6: The Litus Gambit, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.f3
Chapter 7: Don’t Interfere, 1…f5 Various
Chapter 8: Tigran Petrosian plays b2-b3 – Part One, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.a3 Bd6
Chapter 9: Tigran Petrosian plays b2-b3 – Part Two, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.a3 Be7
Chapter 10: Tigran Petrosian plays b2-b3 – Part Three, conclusion, 1…d5 2.Bb2 c5 3.e3 a6
Chapter 11: Dutch Motifs, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d6 4.c4 f5 / 2…d6 3.e3 f5
Chapter 12: Dutch Motifs – Appendix, 1…e5 2.Bb2 d6 3.e3 Bd6 4.c4 c6 5.Nf3 f5
Chapter 13: The Anonymous Endgame, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4 Qe7
Chapter 14: Casus, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 Bd6 5.f4 Qh4+
Chapter 15: There Is Happiness In Life, 1…e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 d6
Chapter 16: There Is No Happiness In Life, 1…d5 2.Bb2 Nf6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.g3 e6 5.Bg2 Be7 6.d3 h6 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.0-0 Bh7 9.e3
Chapter 17: Patriarch’s Pond, 1…d5 2.Bb2 Nf6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.g3 e6 5.Bg2 Be7 6.d3 h6 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.0-0 Bh7 9.c4
Chapter 18: Extra-Curricular Reading, 1…d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3/4/5.g3
Chapter 19: Speechless, 1…Nf6 2.Bb2 g6 3.Nf3
Chapter 20: The Birth of a Variation, 1…Nf6 2.Bb2 g6 3.Bxf6
Chapter 21: The Nimzowitsch Attack – The Basics, 1…d5 2.Bb2 c5 3.e3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6
Chapter 22: The Nimzowitsch Attack – The Tabiya, 1…d5 2.Bb2 c5 3.e3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bd7
Chapter 23: Don’t Grieve!, 1…a5
Index of Variations
Index of Names
See? I rest my case. (Ah, but the writing in-between the moves, the annotations, the anecdotes, the lessons…)
Don’t overlook Chapter 6, by the way, and the Litus Gambit, 1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.f3 Bh5 4.e4!?, named after Volodya Litus (“A Moscow candidate master, better known for is ironic verses about chess; a great stylist and story-teller”) who attributed the idea to Gary Kasparov!
Play 1.b3!, however, is equally as much about how a modern master looks at an opening, how he evaluates a position, how he works backward from it and how he works forward from others. It is a powerful illustration of a chess mind at work. As such, Odessky’s words are valuable to those who don’t even play his beloved opening. Work through a few chapters (he suggests that you can read them in any order – he wrote them that way) and you will pick up some good habits, if only by osmosis.
A few words about Chapter 4 – the author admits that he has taken many of his game examples for the book, including games of masters and grandmasters, from play – especially his own – on the internet (primarily faster games, from 15-minute to 3-minute games). His explanation includes the fact that he does not play in over-the-board tournaments any more, while he does play online (at Playchess.com) – and that is where his ideas have been put to the test. Refreshingly, Odessky gives the names, not the handles, of the top players involved in those games. (If you do not trust GM analysis at fast time controls – the author does – this is a caveat.)
New In Chess has done a very good job of assembling <Play 1.b3!>, with good use of diagrams, fonts, bolding, italics and white space. I did not stumble over any typos or dypos, but there is always the possibility that I mistook a rare error for ultra-creativity in analysis. (I find it maddening that NIC uses the word processing style of not indenting the first line of paragraphs while not providing spacing between paragraphs to offset this, to aid readability – but I realize that I am merely ranting here, a troglodyte trying to hold back the tides.)
Odessky ends his book with the humility and passion that he starts with:
Dear readers! <Play 1.b3>. Probably it is not so good. But it’s so much fun…
Indeed, <Play 1.b3!> is very good, and is so very much fun, too!
<1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3!>>>>>>>
Other search results: http://www.google.de/search?aq=f&su...
<1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3! < 1.b3!>>>>>>>
Same topic, different author: <The Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack < by Nigel Davies >>:
"The Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack with 1.b3 (or 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b3) is an opening system that has been rather neglected by the theoreticians but can prove deadly in the hands of the skilled tournament player. Leading exponents of this move have included both brilliant attacking players such as Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Albin Planinc and Artashes Minasian and positional players such as Tigran Petrosian, Mark Taimanov and Vladimir Bagirov. Even Bobby Fischer tried it in several games instead of his favourite 1.e4. And the greatest exponent of this system was the legendary Danish Grandmaster, Bent Larsen.White’s set up emphasises flexibility, often adapting his position to what Black does in reply. This can prove quite lethal to opponents who like to play a single predictable set up as Black and even strong players can go badly astray when confronted by the unusual problems it poses. On this DVD Davies arms the viewer with insights into how to handle things and demonstrates how he thinks White should meet Black’s main defences. Using examples taken from the practice of leading exponents of this opening he explains the strategies clearly and concisely."
Sample video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3fo...