Starting Out — The Réti

Neil McDonald

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess (2010)
206 pages

Starting Out: Play The Réti by Neil McDonald is focused almost exclusively on the sequence 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4, which is identified with the great Richard Réti who did much to promote it through his games and writings.

Like other works in the Starting Out series, Play The Réti is structured around 55 annotated model games, almost all played the last decade. These games will likely reveal some surprises to non-Réti specialists as the traditional main line 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.e3 is now thought to give nothing (3.g3 being a better choice) while after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4 objectively speaking White has nothing better than 3.e3 transposing into a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. McDonald explains why this is so and also has interesting analysis on 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.0-0 an unclear gambit that also arises from the move-order 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.c4 dxc4.

The last chapter on the English, approximately 30 pages, is a sort of a grab bag that tries to offer the reader ideas on how to meet non-Réti lines after 1.Nf3. Here older books on the Réti by Davies and Dunnington might be useful to consult as this is a lot of material to cover in not so many pages.


1 Black Seizes Space: (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4)
2 The Réti Slav: Introduction and the New York System (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bf5)
3 The Réti Slav: Capablanca’s System (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bg4)
4 The Réti Slav: Black Plays …dxc4 (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 dxc4)
5 The Open Réti (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4)
6 The Closed Réti (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3)
7 Ideas in the English Opening