Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Left Hook Grand Prix Revisited

I have posted The Left Hook Grand Prix Revisited, analyzing two critical games that appear in Gaiwain Jones's recent Starting Out: Sicilian Grand Prix Attack (Everyman 2008). The Left Hook can be reached by a number of transpositions, but typically begins with 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.a3!? My favorite lines follow the gambit 5...e6 6.b4! But more critical seems to be 5...d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.O-O Nge7 8.d3 O-O 9.Qe1 (see diagram). Black's best is to break in the center with 9...d5! when White must decide between 10.Ba2 and 10.Bb3, which is a much more important decision than it would at first appear (which Jones does not acknowledge).
I don't mean to fault Jones's book, which I think is a great addition to the Starting Out series. As you would expect of a survey text for Class players, the book does not offer deep analysis. And like most opening books these days, it is really a repertoire book, so you are not going to get a wide range of ideas. All lines begin 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3, so the author can skip the Tal Gambit, but there is some variety within that -- including treatment of both Bc4 and Bb5 lines. Probably the greatest added value of the book is its discussion of 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5!? but I was disappointed that after 3...Nd4 Jones only covers 4.Bc4 and not 4.Nf3!? (discussed by Chris Baker, following analysis by Paul Motwani). I did like some of his specific choices and think it is certainly a corrective (or important addition) to "Chess Openings for White, Explained," so it would be worth having if you have used that book previously to build your GP repertoire. I think that anyone below 2000 rating who is thinking of adding the GP to their repertoire would find it a useful starting point, so it is definitely well suited to the audience and purpose.