Book Review: Kaufman's New Repertoire for Black and White

Book Review: Kaufman's New Repertoire for Black and White

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GM Larry Kaufman's New Repertoire for Black and White is now also available in the USA. It is the updated version from his 2013 book. There is one major change in the repertoire compared to 2013: with White Kaufman now recommends 1.e4 instead of 1.d4.

GM Larry Kaufman is best known for his contributions to computer chess. In the last decade, he spent most of his time on the development of the chess engine Komodo. He was awarded the Grandmaster title after winning the 2008 World Senior Championship. With this background, it does not come as a surprise that Kaufman has an almost scientific approach to building an opening repertoire. Kaufman acts as the conductor combining the evaluations of LcO and Komodo MCTS, the Hiarcs openings bookcorrespondence, top GM and top engine game databases to create his 'opening symphony'.

His repertoire combines the choices of top GMs and less well-known alternatives. His recommendations are top-notch, state-of-the-art and fun to play. 

His main repertoire choices are:

WHITE: 1.e4

- Sicilian with 2... d6: 3.Bb5+ (Moscow variation)

- Sicilian with 2.Nc6: 3.Bb5 (Rossolimo variation)

- Closed Spanish: 6.d3 after 5... Be7 (alternative Italian 3.Bc4)

- French: Tarrasch 3.Nd2

- Caro-Kann: Two Knights Variation (2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3)


- Against 1.d4 - Grünfeld

- Against 1.e4 - Spanish Marshall (alternative Breyer and Møller Defense)

It is clear that if you want to cover a White and Black repertoire in 'only' 450 pages (which includes repertoire alternatives!) that you have to restrict yourself. The restriction is twofold: the author focuses on the main lines and does this through thoroughly annotated model games. The book does not cover the tabiyas of each opening, an analysis of typical pawn structures, the plans of each opening. By focussing on the main lines, the size of the variation trees is limited.

Personally I have been waiting for this book for a year and the book certainly did not disappoint. It is fascinating to see which opening lines a GM and computer expert, using the latest neural network and hybrid chess engines, selects. These engines are changing the evaluation of many chess positions and have lead to many new discoveries. As the book is a complete opening repertoire for Black and White in only 450 pages, I do think the book is best suited for stronger players who are already familiar with tabiyas and the typical plans of openings.

For more background on the book, please read Sam Copeland's interview with GM Larry Kaufman or Ben Johnson's interview with the author for the Perpetual Chess Podcast.

The book is available electronically at ForwardChess for $21.99 and at Amazon USA for $23.11 in paperback and $14.99 in Kindle-format. The book is not (yet) available on Chessable.