Safest Grunfeld, The

Alexander Delchev, Evgeni Agrest

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Chess Stars
347 pages

The Bulgarian firm Chess Stars is best known for its multi-volume opening repertoire series for White and Black based on the games of Kramnik and Anand. These justly praised works produced by GM Alexander Khalifman and his team in St. Petersburg raised the bar for opening books and even top class Grandmasters have been known to use them. In some ways they are too good as the level of coverage is overwhelming for all but the most diligent of professional players.

Likely Chess Stars recognized this, as for over half a decade they have also produced stand alone one volume works that meet the needs of a wide range of players from experts to Grandmasters. The latest offering, THE SAFEST GRUNFELD by Alexander Delchev and Evgeni Agrest is a fine book.

The term “safest” might not sound like it belongs with a dynamic opening like the Grunfeld, nor does it have the zip of a title with the words “winning” in it, but rest assured the reader is well served if their expectations are realistic. As Delchev writes, the aim should not be memorization but understanding. The lines that are advocated are sturdy with a solid positional background. The focus is on strategic ideas, plans and typical pawn structures and less move-by-move forced play. This minimizes the role of calculation and home preparation.

All this said, THE SAFEST GRUNFELD is still almost 350 pages long, and while there is a lot of explanatory prose there is also plenty of analysis. To help the reader assimilate this material it is organized quite conveniently first by Main Ideas, next by Basic Plans and Structures and Typical Tactical Motifs and finally by Step by Step and followed by Complete Games. This is a logical approach that enables students to get a quick handle on the opening and then fill in the gaps as they gain more experience.

Highly Recommended