Vigorous Chess Opening Repertoire for Black, A

Or Cohen

Reviewer: John Donaldson
319 pages

Russian GM Sergey Shipov in reviewing opening trends the past year on the website Crestbook recently wrote, “The most significant phenomenon of the last few years has been the Berlin Variation, putting an end to nothing less than the move 1.e4

There is no question that the “Berlin Wall” has reduced many of those facing it to 4.d3 – a tacit offer to pass over the opening phase without trying for an advantage. Unfortunately for those opening with 1.e4 it’s not the only nut that has been proving hard to crack. The Marshall Gambit in the Ruy Lopez is usually avoided these days and the Petroff is as rock solid as ever. The latter is also the subject of an excellent new book by the Israeli FM Or Cohen.

A Vigorous Chess Opening Repertoire for Black offers a complete defense to 1.e4 with Cohen covering not only the Petroff proper but also attempts to avoid it (King’s Gambit, Bishop’s Opening, Four Knight’s Game, the Vienna Game and 2.d4). The material in this book is arranged around 107 model games with the author balancing a detailed theoretical treatment with clear explanatory prose.

All main lines in the Petroff are covered extensively including 3.d4, the popular 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 and the big main lines after 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 and now 8.Re1 and 8.c4. While there have been some excellent books (Emms and Marin) covering the Black side of the non-Ruy after 1.e4 e5 the past decade, Cohen’s pragmatic suggestions should find a wide audience. He advocates 2…Bc5 against the King’s Gambit and 3…d5 against the Danish (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 d5). Several previous works on the Petroff have proposed keeping the game in Petroff territory after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 with 3…Bb4 (instead of transposing into the Four Knight’s proper with 3…Nc6). Cohen believes that the “reversed Ruy” after 3…Bb4 favors White and instead opts for Rubinstein’s 4…Nd4 after 3…Nf6 4.Bb5. Interestingly after 4.d4 he proposes 4…Bb4 to add a little spice to the game instead of 4…exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 0-0 which leads to technical play.