Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: Dark Knight System James Schuyler

Recently I bought a new book by James Schuyler entitled "The Dark Knight System: a repertoire with 1...Nc6", published by Everyman Chess in 2013. That is a nice descriptive title for a major branch of the Queen's Knight Defence. This book interested me greatly since I have played 1...Nc6 as Black vs everything a total of about 3000 times (counting both blitz and tournament games). And, we all have to face 1...Nc6 when we play White.

Who is this chess author? Page 3 has this note About the Author:  "James Schuyler is a FIDE Master. He was Nevada State Champion in 2007 and won the Virginia State Championship in both 2011 and 2012. He has been teaching chess for over 25 years."

The Dark Knight System teaches how to play a well-coordinated method of development as Black that helps you to win future chess games. Why call it "Dark" Knight? We begin with the Black horse that starts on a dark square. From 1...Nc6, this knight hits important dark squares, often preparing ...e5. The knight works in conjunction with the dark squared bishop. Starting from Bf8, the author has this bishop going to Bb4, Bc5, Bd6, Be7, Bg7 or even Bh6 (all depending on what White does).

Everything in the book is helpful. Schuyler's concepts are understandable. After a lengthy introduction, there are 10 chapters with specific theory. There are just over 50 branches of analysis going about 10 moves deeper. 500 positions is manageable if you plan to master the main lines to an expert level. Or on an easier practical level, you can play games with 1...Nc6, and look up the recommendations afterwards. Starting on page 134 are 100 annotated games, illustrating how to go from the opening to the finish.

Here is a summary of the ten theory chapters:
          1. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 (King's Indian Defence ideas)
          2. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.c4 e5 (Kevitz System)
          3. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 (Bogoljubow Defence)
          4. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 e5 (Mikenas System)
          5. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 (Classical Pirc)
          6. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 (Mestrovic)
          7. - 1.c4 Nc6 2.Nc3 e5 (English Opening with 3...f5)
          8. - 1.Nf3 Nc6 2.g3 e5 (Pirc Reversed with 4...g6)
          9. - 1.g3 Nc6; 1.Nc3 Nc6 (vs all others 1...g6)
         10. - Miscellaneous Topics: cutting the workload and Light Knight System

I highly recommend the book. This system is less popular, but many grandmasters play it, so we know it is sound. The benefits are real. Houdini supports all the analysis. The only minor problem I found was a bold headline before Game 22 on page 152 that reads "No problems for Black after 3...Bb4+ 4.Bd2", with which I agree. But it is placed on a page where the games had 4.Nd2 instead. No big deal. A minor editorial glitch.
If you are looking for a new opening as Black, this book provides a good option.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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