Negi's 1.e4 Repertoire Volume 2 Book Review
I've been playing the 6.Bg5 Najdorf since I started seriously playing 1.e4 a few years ago. I mainly used quality chess's Experts vs. the Sicilian as my main repertoire book, which definitely provided enough material for me. But as time flew by and I became stronger, I started needing an update. I began playing the English Attack for a little while, but quickly realized those positions really belonged to super grandmasters. They are simply too tough to play for white while black's plans tend to be super straightforward. And so, I turned back to my old 6.Bg5 and hoped I wouldn't have too many games in it.
Now, a few years later, the 6.Bg5 Najdorf represents the crossing point between my white and black repertoires. I know many of the lines well, to say the least, and have played many long OTB games in the maze of variations that is the 6.Bg5 Najdorf.
By the time I picked up Negi's second volume covering the 6.Bg5 Najdorf, I had already completed his first volume a long while before. As I noted in my review of that first volume, I absolutely loved it. The combinations of great analyis and fantastic variations surrounding the French, Caro-Kann, and Philidor really improved my play against those openings dramatically. To say the least, I was excited for his second volume to improve my 6.Bg5 Najdorf.
I can honestly say that Negi's second work has definitely achieved just what I expected: a world class opening repertoire against the Najdorf that will hold up well. Negi presents tons of novelties and has extremely deep analysis. One chapter in the poisoned pawn lines even starts on black's 20th move!
With all that in mind, Negi's second volume is definitely a different beast from the first. There is a lot more analysis in these sharper variations compared to the Caro, French, or Philidor, and thus fewer explanations. But this is not Negi's fault of course. These sharpest of lines simply need more analysis.
Even so, Negi somehow manages to sneak in his explanations in seemingly every subvariation, managing to give you great understandings of pretty much every line he reccomends. Considering this is a book on the 6.Bg5 Najdorf, one of chess's sharpest and most developed lines, that is a real achievement!
Let's see an example of what's the sharpest thing you'll get out of this book:
This is one of the main lines of the poisoned pawns, and actually is the starting point of one of the chapters in Negi's book! A bit horrifying, right? For some, that may be the case. Hard driven 1.e4 players will love this sort of thing. Others may look at it in disgust and go back to their systematic, closed sicilian sort of ideas. It really lays out the story of Negi's work: Either you're not adamant enough to learn and play this stuff or you are.
But it would be unfair to show such a crazy position above to classify the entire book. It's not like that at all in fact. Once you get past the poisoned pawn lines (which I started with despite the lines being sequentially last in the book), everything gets a whole lot simpler. Take the following:
This is the Gothenburg variation in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf, one of the oldest lines in this complex. And since the first famous games where played in this line, the justified piece sac 11.Nxe6! has always remained the main line. But there is a lot of theory there and white's attack is not always so straightforward. So before even analyzing any of that, Negi offers a much more concise sideline in 11.Qh5!?, which seeks to set black more positional problems than tactical ones. Giving out two options like this is very typical of Negi, just like in his first book. And each time he gives two options, it's always welcome.
So in conclusion, Negi's second volume in his 1.e4 series is completely different than the first. That makes it a far more mercurial work compared the easily accessible first volume. For some, that will make this second volume an even greater success. For others, that will make it a worse sequel. It's all based on opinion, and that's completely fine.
Where does a long-time 6.Bg5 Najdorf player like myself stand on this? Let's just say that I can't wait for Negi to continue his work on the Sicilian, because I absolutely love this book. I have played a few Najdorf games since finishing the book and have won every one of them (against opposition with an average rating around my own of 2100 or so). I think this work is just as strong as the first volume, and give it my seal of approval.
Again, if I have one thing to downgrade this book on, it is just that accessibility that the first book has so much of. The 6.Bg5 Najdorf is not an easy opening line to simply pick up. It takes loads of practice and study time. It is such a rewarding line, but it takes a lot of dedication and love.
Perhaps a contemporary and simpler line like 6.h3!? could have thus been considered for Negi's reccomendation for a wider audience. But in the end, Negi and the quality chess team chose 6.Bg5 for a reason: he wants to build the finest world class 1.e4 repertoire ever written. And this book succeeds in creating just that against the Najdorf.
This review represents my humble opinions on the book after a full reading. Nobody had any influence on the review but myself. I bought the book myself (nobody shipped me a review copy or anything).
More on the book, including a pdf preview: