Book Review: The Ultimate Anti-Grunfeld by Dmitry Svetushkin
These days, the Grunfeld is probably the most played and "theoretically correct" defenses to 1.d4 at the top level, as it not only gives white a long and possibly impossible road to a slight advantage, but also gives black excellent winning chances should white falter. It's almost like the "Sicilian vs. 1.d4," thus prompting top players to look for new, creative ways to confront this troubling opening. In his book, the Ultimate Anti-Grunfeld, Dmitry Svetushkin seeks to do just that through the moves 1.d4, Nf6 2.c4, g6 3.f3!?, leaving the knight off c3 so that after 3...d5 4.cxd5, Nxd5 5.e4, there is no knight on c3 to exchange, thus preventing the typical instability white gets in the exchange Grunfeld:
But don't fear, this isn't some tricky sideline! In fact, Anand placed his faith in it in the World Championship match with Gelfand and got fantastic positions with it. If that's not a guarantee of something, then what is? Anyway, by playing 3.f3, white of course commits himself to playing the Saemisch variation of the King's Indian should black explore those waters after 3...Bg7 4.e4, and this is where the majority of the book explores:
So, let's talk about the book itself. Published by Chess Stars, it uses their trademark "Quick Repertoire, Step by Step, and Complete Games" format, where for each chapter, light coverage of the main ideas is first covered, followed by intensive theory, and finally complete games relating to those lines and fully annotated. I have to say that I really do like this format, as it gives the reader a complete understand of the lines rather than just a bunch of moves that they have to remember. This holds particularly true with the Saemisch variation in the King's Indian, where white often has to decide whether to execute kingside or queenside play. Svetushkin expertly crafts these three sections in most chapters (some lack a quick ideas section because they are extensions on lines that due have that particular section), thus giving the book some "middlegame flavor" that many opening books lack. Overall, the format is excellent.
Now, what about the content? Well, it is expertly crafted, especially Svetushkin's ideas in the main Anti Grunfeld line (3...d5 by black). These positions, although well explored by top GM's, are rather rare in club play, so of course a comprehensive look at theory is needed along with the great step-by-step section. But what really sets this book apart is how it not only goes into incredible depth in the lines, but also seeks the very best. For instance, in the following line, Svetushkin specifically tells why his plan is better than the more classical ideas that had already been tried:
It's this determination that really makes this book special, and I feel like that after just one readthrough of this chapter, I'm ready to play 3.f3 with confidence (I personally already knew the Saemisch theory before reading this book).
But that could just be one instance? Where else does Svetushkin show this determination? Well, take the following line:
This is a very trendy line these days, with black trying to see if he ever has to play ...Rb8 in preparation of his typical strike ...b5. Now, instead of just reccomending a move to confront this tricky system, Svetushkin goes on a small, yet incredible rant showing the finesses of this system. He analyzes in depth 9.Nc1, 9.h4, 9.g4 (and improves over Lars Schandorff's analysis from the excellent Playing 1.d4, the Indian Defenses, 9.b3!?, and finally settles on 9.Rb1!?. We are seeing more and more of this in opening books these days, the reccomendation of different alternatives against tricky lines like this, and Svetushkin does justice to this idea. This is exactly what you want to find in an opening book!
So what can we conclude? Well, the book is well written, flows well, is finely organized, has plenty of content, and gives you an awesome option against the Grunfeld! What else could be better?! Honestly, if you are struggling against the Grunfeld (like I was before I read this), buy this book! Stop whatever you're doing right now, click the link at the bottom of this blog, and just buy it. You won't be dissapointed.
The Publisher's Website: http://chess-stars.com/