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am 19. September 2000
When you first pick this book up, you are struck by its quality. Nice binding, sturdy and beautiful flex-cover, clear typesetting, white pages that are opaque and have almost no bleedthrough. (Hold one of the pages up to a strong light and you can barely see the print on the opposite side of the page!) I have spent many hours in this book preparing this review, (somewhere between 20-50); and the book shows almost no wear-and-tear at all! The publisher obviously went through great pains to produce a quality product. Begin to read inside and you see the author has produced an atypical opening book also. The first part of the book is an introduction where the author explains some of the basic ideas of the QGD in a very instructive question and answer format. The author even delves into things not usually covered by an opening book, such as various possible move orders and how they affect what you have to learn in the Opening as White and Black. I went through the book with a fine-toothed comb looking for errors of the type that chess books usually contain dozens, if not hundreds of. I found no typo's, no diagrams with an incorrect position, no games with move pairs left out, no mistakes in analysis, etc. Obviously, the PC and chess programs are having a huge impact on the market of chess books. The publisher must also have a first-rate proofreader, someone who obviously must play chess!! (A plus over convention!)
The author covers virtually every line one could conceive of facing in the Queen's Gambit Declined, with one notable exception. (The Cambridge Spring's Defense for some reason is left out.) The author continues his highly instructive question and answer format. He often delves into questions of strategy and many other topics not usually covered by a chess opening's book. He uses complete games for a model, and the student always gets the entire game - from move one to the resignation! (An improvement over the norm for chess books.)
Chapter One covers the Lasker's early ...Ne4 in the QGD. Chap. Two covers the Orthodox variation with 6...Nbd7, (Old Main Line), and the various systems after 7. Rc1, c6. (He covers Capablanca's freeing maneuver, [early ...dxc4; and/or ...Nd5;]; without crediting the originator.) Chap. Three covers the Orthodox variation and even covers the ultra-modern 7. Rc1, a6!? Chap. Four covers White's 7th move alternatives in the Orthodox variation. Chapters Five and Six covers the Tartakower Variation in complete and up-to-date fashion. Part Two, [Chapters 7 & 8]; covers The Exchange Variation. (An early cxd5 by White.) The final section of the book [Part Three], deals with such lines as an early BxN/f6 by White, and 5. Bf4.
The coverage in this book is very modern; you will find very few "old/classic" games in here. (Necessary for a modern chess opening's book. The average game dates from 1985 to the present.) The coverage is fairly balanced, with both White and Black on the winning side. The author has obviously strived to make this a quality book and has even turned it into an outstanding teaching vehicle! I can find only a few minor faults with this book. I am puzzled how one could write a book on the "Classical" QGD and omit coverage of the Cambridge Spring's Defense. (A modern player can certainly count on seeing this line even today. It is certainly as likely a variation as any of the others in this book.) Some of the games that I thought were key to opening theory, (See any Informant, NCO, or MCO-14.); are not necessarily covered here. I am not sure what the criterion was for choosing the games, and the author does not explain that in this book. And the author often lets 25 moves of a game, (or more) transpire with virtually no comment. But again, for the most part, these concerns are trivial. I will conclude my critique by noting that the Table of Contents serves as an outstanding index of the variations, and there is a first-rate index of complete games.
If I were grading this book as a teacher might, I would give an "A+." On a scale of 1-10, I would give it an 8.5, which is as high a mark as I would be willing to give any opening book. (A pity. Had all of my concerns mentioned here [above] been addressed, I might have awarded it a perfect 10!!) This book sets a very high mark for a book on the openings, and all the others that come after this one will be judged by this new standard. The bottom line? If you currently play the White or Black side of the QGD in either postal or over-the-board chess, then you MUST buy this book! If you are below 1800 USCF and spend just a little time with this book, then you will probably learn as much as you have ever learned from any chess book, period. This is the highest praise you will ever see this reviewer giving an opening book.
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