FCO — Fundamental Chess Openings

Paul van der Sterren

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Gambit Chess
480 pages

Former Candidate Paul van der Sterren has produced a one-volume introduction to the openings in English based on his three-volume De Wereld Van De Schaakopeningen published in the Netherlands earlier this decade. The result, Fundamental Chess Openings, is a whopper of a book coming in at 480 oversize (almost 10’ by 7’) pages.

A modern day version of Reuben Fine’s Ideas Behind The Chess Openings, Fundamental Chess Openings primarily uses words to describe the ideas and motivations behind different opening systems. The emphasis is on understanding rather than memorization with van der Sterren rarely going beyond move ten. The contents page shows that all major openings are covered.

Symbols and Notation 5
Introduction 6
The First Move 8
1.d4 9
Queen’s Gambit Declined 11
Slav and Semi-Slav 27
Queen’s Gambit Accepted 40
Other 1 d4 d5 Openings 46
Nimzo-Indian Defense 57
Queen’s Indian Defense 77
Bogo-Indian Defense 89
King’s Indian Defense 93
Grünfeld Defense 121
Benoni and Benko 140
Other 1 d4 Nf6 Openings 159
Dutch Defense 174
Other 1.d4 Openings 185
Flank Openings 198
Symmetrical English 199
Reversed Sicilian 222
1.c4 Nf6 and Other English Lines 233
Réti Opening 248
Other Flank Openings 261
1.e4 269
Ruy Lopez 272
Italian Game 301
Scotch Opening 312
Four Knights Game 318
Petroff Defense 322
King’s Gambit 328
Other 1.e4 e5 Openings 337
French Defense 347
Caro-Kann Defense 375
Sicilian Defense 389
Alekhine Defense 447
Pirc Defense 453
Other 1.e4 Openings 461
Index of Named Opening Lines 469
Index of Variations 472

van der Sterren explains things clearly and carefully. Fundamental Chess Openings is aimed at club players but those up to master level will benefit from some of his observations. That said, this book is primarily aimed at those from 1400 to 1800 who are looking for a guide to explain good opening play. Those within this rating range will be well served by this book.