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I have tried playing games with random openings, and I want to learn more about the Slav as Black. What is the best book on the Slav for me? Below are some details:
1. I am hovering between Class D and Class C, if that matters.
2. I do not want to play the Semi-Slav. The Moscow and Botvinnik lines look too crazy for me. (I might add Semi-Slav to my repertoire later, though.)
3. As I play in novice Classes, I would prefer a book that has at least some coverage of strange and offbeat lines. A book that only covers the main line would not be too helpful for me.
4. Annotated games tend to be more helpful to me then lines of theory (i.e. MCO). However, annotated games are helpful to the extent that they show proper mainstream play - a game involving some theoretical novelty that Anand played once but never used again would not be too helpful to me. [Edit: I also prefer lines that have stood the test of time rather than some faddish line that might fade away soon.]
5. To the extent that a book covers a Slav repertoire, I would prefer a more positional one (meaning that I focus more on positioning my pieces well; not necessarily meaning "defensive") than a more tactical one (meaning one with lots of sacrifices).
6. I play the Caro-Kann vs. 1 e4 if that makes a difference.
7. I don't need the most up-to-date theory, but on the other hand, I don't want to play something that has been refuted convincingly.
Some book candidates: (I am open to other books as well)
* Starting Out: Slav and Semi-Slav by Flear (I think)
* Slav: Move by Move by Lakdawala
* Play the Slav by Vigus
Probably this one:
Recently GM Leonid Kritz has issued a couple of DVD's on the same variation. The Chebanenko can't be called "offbeat" anymore, but nevertheless, it's less well known than the mainlines.
Do you have a database?
Filter for ECO codes D10/00 - D19/99, both players over 2500, and to avoid outdated lines, for the last ten years only. This should give you 1500+ games. Put them in a new database to save them.
Begin going through the games. Don't worry so much about annotations, just pay attention. You should not try to analyze each game deeply, the idea is to see the recurring ideas, plans, and tactics for both sides. Spend no more than 15-20 minutes each (you can mark the best games to go over more deeply later), but play out each to the end, including wins, losses, and draws.
Over time you will begin to recognize the patterns, the themes which work and those which do not. You will also see how middlegame play progresses, which your openings books won't give you very much of, and even the typical endgames which arise.
After you've gone through 100 or so games, you should have a good idea of what the Slav is all about.
Keep it up to date with TWIC.
I would prefer to go through games that are annotated by grandmasters, etc. given my relatively mediocre playing skill. Not sure if I can pick up on the nuances and significance of the moves just by playing out some games without anyone explaining the games to me.
The Chebanenko Slav looks good, but this report seems concerning: http://www.chesscafe.com/text/cvo_19.pdf
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