Grandmaster Repertoire 2 — 1.d4 Volume 2

Boris Avrukh

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
614 pages
John Donaldson

Two years ago Boris Avrukh’s 1.d4 Volume 1 set a standard for opening books. His follow-up, 1.d4 Volume 2 is possibly even better. Among the openings covered are the Bogo-Indian, Budapest, Benoni systems, Benko Gambit, Dutch, Old Indian, Black Knights Tango and Modern Defense, but Avrukh’s primary focus is on the King’s Indian and Grünfeld and it is here this reviewer will focus his attention.

Before examining concrete lines it may be useful to make a few general observations. Avrukh’s repertoire is based on 1.d4 followed by g3 and Bg2 at some point. The Catalan was the heart of book one and here it is the fianchetto system against the King Indian and Grünfeld that takes up 200 plus pages. These systems often lead to a characteristic small advantage in which White’s king is safe and he has some positional pressure. This is a mature and objective repertoire that is not based on tricks; don’t expect a lot of quick wins using it.

One also has to emphasize that Avrukh is a seeker of the truth who doesn’t take short cuts, even pragmatic ones. If he were writing a repertoire book on the Black side of the Sicilian and recommended 2……Nf6 against 2.c3 you could almost predict he would take the pawn after 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 rather than play 3……Nf6. This was seen in volume 1 where he could have recommended 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.Qc2 Nbd7 8.Bf4 and 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bg2 Be7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Bf4 to cut down study time but gave different lines against the two continuations in an attempt to extract the maxim from each position.

Something like this can be seen in 1.d4 Volume 2 where he advocates 8.Qd3 in the Panno Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 a6) and 8.h3 after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 Rb8 with the idea of transposing back into the Panno after 8……a6 9.e4 having avoided 7……a6 8.h3 Bd7. Against the related 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 Bg4, Avrukh likes 8.d5 Na5 9.Nd2 c5 10.Qc2 as in the regular mainline Panno but with Black having played the inferior …Bg4 to the more useful …a6. Don’t buy books by Avrukh if you are looking to cut corners.

Returning to the Panno with 8.Qd3, there is plenty of food for thought. The rapid game Donaldson vs. Bryant, St. George (3rd Igor Ivanov Memorial) 2007 saw White go astray after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nc3 a6 8.Qd3 e5 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Bg5 Be6 12.Nd2 h6 13.Bxf6 Rxd2 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Bxc6 bxc6 16.b3 Rad8 17.Rfd1 R8d4 18.Rxd2 Rxd2 with 19.Rc1?!, but Avrukh shows the way to an advantage with 19.Kf1! (TN) 19……Rc2 20.Na4 a5 21.Ke1 h5 22.Kd1 Bf5 23.h3 g5 24.g4 hxg4 25.hxg4 Bg6 26.Nc5 Rb2 27.f3. Avrukh concludes, “White has a clear plan: his king goes to e3, then he plays a2-a4 and the rook gets into the game along the d-file. Of course this is not a forced line, but it shows the general picture of this endgame. White can play for a win without any risk, while Black’s defensive task is highly unpleasant.”

This sort of variation, where White springs an improvement and consolidates to a long-term slightly better position is very typical for the lines offered here. There are many grinding variations offered. Note Arvukh does not recommend 8.Qd3 for surprise value but because he believes it is the objectively best variation against the Panno.

The use of a less popular move also holds true in the tabiya reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 c6 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.e4 e5 9.h3 Nbd7 10.Re1 exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne5 12.Bf1 Re8 13.Be3 Be6 14.Nxe6 Rxe6 15.Kg2 Rae8. Now Black is planning among other things …a6 followed by …b5 and sometimes …Ned7 possibly in conjunction with …h7-h5-h4. White usually plays 16.Qd2 or 16.Qb3 but with no clear conclusions. Avrukh recommends the much less common 16.Rb1, inspired by a game of Ivanchuk’s when his main line continues 16…… Ned7 17.f3 a6 18.b4 Qd8 19.Qd2 h5 20.c5! (TN) 20……Qe7 21.cxd6 Rxd6 22.Qc2 b5 23.e5! Nxe5 24.Bc5! Red8 25.Qe2 Nfd7 26.Bxd6 Qxd6 27.Ne4 Qf8 28.Qe3 with a small advantage. Avrukh writes, “Black has a degree of compensation, but I doubt it is really enough.”

The fianchetto system is certainly solid but Black has many ways to combat it. Arguably the toughest and trickiest is after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.e4 c6 9.h3 Qb6. White has tried both the aggressive 10.c5 and the solid 10.d5 without proving an advantage. Avrukh recommends maintaining the tension with 10.Re1 which leads to a very sharp position after 10……exd4 11.Nxd4 Ne8 where White has more space and is trying to consolidate and drive Black back but the latter has many active pieces and many tactical tricks. The main line Avrukh offers shows a narrow path to White’s advantage after 12.Nb3 a5 13.Be3 Qb4 14.Nd4! a4 15.a3 Qa5 16.f4 Nc5 17.Qc2 Nf6 18.Rad1 Re8 19.Bf2 h5 20.Nf3!? (TN) 20……Be6 21.Rxd6 Bxc4 22.e5 Nfd7 23.Nd2 Be6 24.Nce4 Nxe4 25.Nxe4 and “White has definite pressure” – Avrukh.

Grandmaster Avrukh has done the chess world a great service in writing his repertoire series. No one is perfect. Inevitably some of the lines he recommends will come under fire and here and there small things will have been overlooked, but overall this is a fantastic achievement. Avrukh must have slaved away for hundreds if not thousands of hours. Players from master on up to strong Grandmaster will find 1.d4 Volume 2 to be extremely useful, as will ambitious players below this standard and correspondence players, but keep in mind this is a demanding book for the reader as well as the author.

1.d4 Volume 2 is a very well produced book as is typical of those published by Quality Chess. Despite being thicker than the average phone book it is very sturdily bound which allows it to stay open on any page – not an easy thing for most 600-page books.

Strongly Recommended