Beating The Open Games

Mihai Marin

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
288 pages

If you have ever wanted to answer 1.e4 with 1…e5 and were not sure where to start, you couldn’t ask for a finer guide than Romanian GM Mihai Marin’s two volumes published by Quality Chess in 2007. In over 500 oversize pages you get complete answers to the Ruy Lopez and the Open Games.

A Spanish Repertoire For Black covers defenses for Black against all White systems after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6. The core of the repertoire is 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 Nc6 and 12…Bd7. Marin brilliantly explains the strategies, illustrates the plans with model games for both sides and then ties things together with ECO style charts outlining best play.

His task in Beating The Open Games is different. While the Kings Gambit, Guioco Piano, Vienna, Ponziani, Scotch and other 1.e4 e5 non-Ruy Lopez openings are never likely to supplant the Spanish torture as White’s main weapon, they do show up, particularly below the GM level. Here reliability and ease of learning are two important factors when stitching a repertoire together. Almost by definition it is unlikely that a proposed repertoire is going to be 100 percent one’s cup of tea. Marin advocates 3…Bc5 in the Italian Game, allowing the Evans Gambit instead of the Two Knights after 3…Nf6 4.Ng5. Some might like to accept the King’s Gambit instead of declining it with 2…Bc5. These are really matters of taste as in almost all the double king pawn openings Black has more than one system to reach a playable game. What Marin does offer again and again in clean prose are clear explanations of what Black is trying to achieve in the lines he is advocating. Again an ECO style chart showing best play ties thing together in each chapter.

Note that Beating The Open Games comes with a special four-page supplement covering Bishop opening transpositions and a simple antidote to the Belgrade Gambit. This book also examines at length an answer to the Exchange Ruy Lopez (5.0-0 f6 6.d4 Bg4).

Highly Recommended!