Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review Alekhine by Lakdawala

The Alekhine Defence: move by move book by Cyrus Lakdawala is an excellent and unique presentation on this opening. I have read 40 books on the Alekhine Defence over the past 40 years. I even wrote one myself that sold out. No book covers this aggressive counter attacking defence the same way International Master Cyrus Lakdawala does. Lakdawala is informative, humorous and articulate, which makes him fun to read.

This book published by Everyman Chess in 2014 has the standard "move by move" series approach. There are 57 deeply annotated games in 464 pages with questions posed that typical chess students ask their teachers. Also, there are exercises where students can make a critical decision or search for a combination. Lakdawala presents a repertoire for Black with a couple of basic options. You can choose either chapter one or two, and either chapter three or four. You need everything in chapters five through nine.

Here is a brief summary of the nine chapter contents after 1.e4 Nf6:
1. Main Line Classical 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6
2. Westerinen's Anti-Main Line 3.d4 Nb6 intending 4.Nf3 d5
3. Symmetrical Exchange 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.exd6 exd6
4. Asymmetrical Exchange 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.exd6 cxd6
5. Four Pawns Attack 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 g6 (not 5...dxe5)
6. Chase Variation 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nc3 Nxc3
7. 3.Nc3 Lines and Minor Variations 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3 d6
8. 2.Nc3 Default Line 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Nfd7 4.d4 c5
9. Odds and Ends 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 e5

Cyrus Lakdawala has two pet lines that are out of the ordinary for this opening. First is 3.d4 Nb6 though he also covers the Main Line 3...d6 4.Nf3 dxe5. Second is 5.f4 g6 in the Four Pawns Attack (rather than 5...dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 which he does not cover). Against the Exchange Variation he plays both the solid 5...exd6 and the sharp 5...cxd6, depending on how badly he needs a win in that game.

I enjoy Lakdawala as an author. A few reviewers complain about Lakdawla's occasional reference to issues in religion or politics when comparing a chess concept, strategy or position. I like religion, politics and chess openings. If your preferences or passions in any of those three differ from mine, that is fine with me. I know why I am passionate about what I believe; I am happy. Sometimes I agree with Lakdawala, but always I like him.

Lakdawala has played this opening for decades. ICC has over 1000 of his Alekhine's in their database; ICC has just over 200 of mine but my opponents are not usually rated over 2300. I have played almost 3000 games with the Alekhine Defence: club games, correspondence games, tournament games, simultaneous games and blitz games. Below is a recent game Sawyer vs Dunadan. I add two Lakdawala quotes from his Game 51 vs Barquin to my game. My score as Black vs 4.Nxd5 is 78% in 145 games.

Dunadan (1800) - Sawyer (2003), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 24.05.2014 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.exd5 Nxd5 4.Nxd5?! [Lakdawala: "I have had this passive move played against me by lower rated players who hope to swap their way to a draw."] 4...Qxd5 [Lakdawala: "Black gets a dream Scandinavian and I already prefer my position."] 5.d4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 e5 [7...0-0-0 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 Qxd4 11.Bg5=] 8.0-0 [8.dxe5 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Qxe5+ 10.Qe2 Qxe2+ 11.Bxe2 Bc5=] 8...0-0-0 [Cautious when 8...e4!=/+ is better for Black.] 9.c3 [Cautious when 9.c4!+/= is better for White.] 9...exd4 10.Nxd4 [10.cxd4=] 10...Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd4 [12...Bd6=/+] 13.Be3 [13.Bg5!+/-] 13...Qe4 14.Rac1 Bd6 15.Rc4 Qd5 16.Rd1? [Black falls for my trap. 16.Bxa7=] 16...Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Qxd1 [White resigns] 0-1

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