Chess Books Review: 1.d4 Repertoire Books, Part 1

Dec 17, 2013, 8:30 PM |

A few years ago I purchased a repertoire book based around 1.d4, getting away from the theory behind 1.e4's Sicilian and French defenses. I also wanted to expand my opening knowledge to be better prepared for 1.d4 with the black wood. Since then I have purchased a couple more books based on 1.d4, and have been playing Queens Pawn openings for a while now.  Naturally, there are some differences between the books, and I am going to go through 3 of the books in this set of posts.  The books are:

The first book I purchased was "Strategic", then "Black and White", and lastly I bought "Cunning" this week. Right away, there are some similiar points between Cunning and Strategic which in some cases will fall back onto similiar Catalan or fianchetto positions. 

The main differences, and somewhat most importantly, are in the first couple moves (1-4). So let's compare!

Cunning goes in for 1.d4 2.Nf3 and then diverges depending of what black does, delaying c4 until there is a target (d5).  c6 is usually met with e3. Some examples:

Strategic is a bit different. In fact it is not a 1.d4 opening book! However, many of the positions will transpose in some variations. Strategic revolves around 1.Nf3 2.c4 3.g3.  The reason I say that this book will transpose into d4 type openings is the responses I usually get begin with 1...d5.  The book still recommends 2.c4 in reply, and after dc, then e3.  The book only mentions this as a small footnote in the preface, however at the club level this move order seems to happen more often than not, and I can't say that its that easy to work through. Either we can transpose our way back to 2.d4 or continue with 2.c4 and some of the g3 lines in Cunning where black fianchettos or delays central action. Example line with d4: (Chapter 10 - Tarrasch
And steering into a Catalan







Black and White relies somewhat heavily on computer analysis, and is at times hard to follow since there are no common themes or ideas, only "best moves".  But, that doesn't take away anything from the valuable information contained within.  Using software like Chess Position Trainer, one can quickly learn the key moves. Black and White gives all replies to 1.d4 2.c4 going through each reply with exacting detail. 








Strategic Opening Repertiore Very good book based around sound principals, detailing how the white position arises from black positions. Based around Nf3, c4, g3. Some transpositions around d4, in-depth look at hedgehog responses from black. Very advanced book, going over some very complicated positions and ideas, lots of theory and chess history.                      2000+ Players
The Kaufman Repertiore In depth looks at every variation, pitfalls, and the latest trends. Mostly tries to avoid the most dangerous lines. Recommends lines that keep the Bishop pair, and other small advantages. No theme in the moves, only the best lines. Hard to follow at times, recommend to use a opening book trainer. Club - 2000+
Cunning Chess Repertiore for White Somewhat themed opening lines (delay c4 till there is target), easy to read on Kindle - variations have links to relevant chapters. Stresses to "play chess" over memorizing lines. The book tries not to be overly passive, but some lines lack a "bite" or easy to follow tabias beyond the first couple moves. No mention of the goals of some of the lines, only sidelines. Club Level

In the coming parts to this series, I hope to dig deeper into the crucial lines of each book, and post some games playing with the lines in a standard timed game, giving annotations.