The opening is reaching its end, and we must make a pivotal decision: what shall our middlegame strategy be? Do we seek an active plan to profit from our strengths and highlight the opponent's weaknesses? Or do we adopt prophylaxis, attending to our own position's shortcomings and hindering the opponent's plans? Alternatively, are there any ready-made plans that we know from other games that can be tailored to fit our position?
The authors present 90 'multi-choice' tests where the reader faces this task. In detailed solutions, they explain the best solution, and why other possibilities are less convincing. We develop a feel for how the decision is made, while painlessly building our 'repertoire' of plans in typical positions.
All the examples in this book arise from Queen's Pawn or Flank Openings, and are arranged by opening and level of difficulty. Many are drawn from games by virtuoso strategists such as Karpov and Petrosian. In all cases, the game is annotated in full, so we see the consequences of the critical decision, while also appreciating the finer points of some of the most instructive games in chess history.
Grandmaster Alfonso Romero comes from Spain and was runner-up in the 1984/5 European Junior Championship. He has represented his country in several Olympiads, winning an individual bronze medal at the 2002 event. He wrote Creative Chess Strategy for Gambit.
Amador Gonzalez de la Nava is a FIDE Master. He is also from Spain, and is a chess teacher and writer.
The main focus in these strategy exercises is on the key themes, so that our readers will be able to employ them in their own games to good effect. The selection of the problems was not an easy job, as we wished to choose clear-cut and memorable examples that will entertain our readers and remain in their memory, ready for later use.
In each exercise we offer 2, 3 or 4 possible answers. One of them is the correct or ideal answer, while the others are logical or natural choices, but less effective for some reason and therefore receiving lower scores. However, the strength of the main move will sometimes be similar to the second best, which therefore also receives a very high score. We have tried to be realistic in these assessments, while also producing a competitive environment in which the reader will be rewarded for making the very best decision. In the solutions, we explain the reasons for the right choice, and classify the problem according to a particular strategic theme, so that the reader is acquiring experience across a wide range of strategic themes and in making decisions at critical moments. The solution always includes the complete model game, with the notes focusing particularly on those aspects that are relevant to the main themes under discussion. Many of the selected games feature the greatest strategists in the history of chess, making them especially instructive.
By examining how well he scores in exercises on particular themes and in particular openings, the reader will quickly see where the weaknesses lie in his game, and will thus know which areas need improvement in the future.
Finally, we should mention that the problems are sorted according to difficulty (in increasing order) in each opening. However, we do not reveal until the solution what the main theme of the exercise is; otherwise, this information would noticeably help the reader to find the best answer. We should also note that the classification by opening is not followed rigorously, as we wish to provide variety to readers working through the book sequentially - there are batches of exercises with a particular opening, but for the more major openings, there is more than one such batch.
We hope you enjoy this book and its innovative features, and find it a useful source of training material, both for teachers and pupils.
005 Foreword by Veselin Topalov
007 Tests 1-90
206 Index of Players
207 Index of Openings