Authors and Authorities

Authors and Authorities

Jan 18, 2014, 10:22 AM |

The Irish Bear's Tour de Force

The best chess book ever written is Winning Pawn Structures by Baburin.   The title is more broad than the actual subject matter.  Baburin gives detailed coverage of IQP positions.  The position depicted with this blog entry arises from numerous openings including the 1 e4 Caro-Kann and the 1 d4 Semi-Tarrasch.  Baburin's discussion of it begins on page 84.  It is not a coincidence that this position is covered in the greatest chess book ever written.  This position is extremely important, mostly because it serves as a universal IQP reference point.

The Original Guide

Nimzovich was the first to discuss IQP positions extensively.  His book My System was one of the first chess books I read.  It was likely a mistake for me to read that book so early, and Nimzovich's flowery convoluted language was a major distraction.  However, the topics in the book are crucial.  Note that by the time Nimzovich wrote Chess Praxis, he had developed a negative view of accepting an IQP, but now we know IQP formations are playable. 

Black Floats a Novelty 

Nimzovich advocated the idea of playing freeing pawn moves.  The Benko Gambit is a perfect example of an effective pawn break.  Black undermines White's structure in the center, and establishes open lines for his own pieces.  


Who has written on the topic of the Benko Gambit?  Pal Benko himself wrote a book on the Benko Gambit.  Although the move orders given by Benko are outdated, I find valuable anecdotes in his book about the distinctions between the Benko Gambit and the Volga Gambit.  

Mother Volga

Many people mistakenly think the names are interchangeable, but the Volga Gambit actually covers a specific idea while Benko's idea breaks new ground and leads to our current Benko Gambit theory.  Here, I'll give the lines:

The Volga Gambit involved an early ...e6.


Proper Channels

In the Benko Gambit, 4...a6 cleans up the queenside.  After 5 bxa6 Benko believed in 5...Bxa6 followed by a later easy, systematic, flowing development with ...d6...g6...Bg7.  Today however, the finesse 5...g6 is considered best.  


Rumor has it, Benko liked his Gambit because he suffered from time trouble so often.  The Benko Gambit allowed him to navigate the opening smoothly and quickly, saving time on his clock.  The phases of the game really are related to one another:  Pal Benko is actually known as an Endgame specialist.

New Waters

Even though more recent books like Attack with Black by Aveskulov offer more accurate Benko Gambit theory, Benko's book contains important distinctions regarding the Volga, and his own personal view of the Gambit as it was developing.


Thank you International Master "pfren" for your recommendation of Aveskulov's book.  The above mentioned authors truly influenced my understanding of chess.  Pawns are the soul of chess; handling the timing of advances is critical.

...And in the Darkness Bind Them

I find no references to chess anywhere in Tolkien's books or biographies, which I find surprising because I would expect an overlap between two kingly subjects.  Despite Tolkien's avoidance of our game, I can't help but think of Tolkien's books when I play chess.  I read Tolkien's books when I was very young and the stories are deeply embedded in my mind.  The stories are full of dragons, castles and kings, and if that's not chess related, then silly me.


One interpretation of the LOTR series by J.R.R. Tolkien is that the One Ring represents the World Chess Championship Title.  People go insane in their desire to possess it.  Also, given the time in which Tolkien lived, Mordor could be the Soviet Union.

In the Lair

Anyhow, whenever I see the Dragon Variation, I can't help but remember Smaug.