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Neil McDonald Book: 1e4 Starting Out
Compiled by fredthebear

Starting Out: 1e4! A Reliable Repertoire for the Improving Player by Neil McDonald, published in 2006 by Everyman Chess (Random House trade mark). Neil McDonald is an English grandmaster and reputable author of about 50 chess books and counting. Many a chess player has a favorite book written by McDonald!

The hidden value of the book is that the reader commits to playing 1.e4 each time as White. It's well-known that 1.c4, 1.d4, 1.Nf3 and 1.g3 are strong first moves, but it's way too time consuming to learn to play them all properly. A non-professional should play 1.e4 as White every time out until becoming a tournament rated expert. When defending as Black, you will need preparation against all such opening possibilities.

Note the book title does not say BEGINNING player; it says IMPROVING player, which implies having prior experience. However you chose to interpret the book's title, this theoretically-brief 200-page book is too difficult for a novice and advanced beginners to undertake, IMHO. It is far wiser and more useful to become well-versed in the basic fundamentals and general principles in chess for the 1.Opening, 2.Middlegame, AND 3.Endgame before studying any specific openings-oriented book like McDonald's.

FTB recommends studying simplified Endgame positions first until all forced elementary checkmates and pawn promotions are accurately mastered - a forced win w/a material advantage. Unfortunately, most Americans don't bother with this approach and wrongly begin with the opening, proceeding forward blindly. It's best to start at the end, with a few units on the board in simplified positions.

Gradually gain experience and become well-rounded in all THREE PHASES of the game. Choose a few GENERAL INSTRUCTION books that cover chess history, moves, rules, terminology, tips, tactics, traps, checkmating patterns, and complete annotated games. Acquire a well-rounded chess understanding before studying specific openings in depth.

Safe bets for amateur starter books (in no particular order) are by authors Ted Nottingham, Al Lawrence, A.J. "Tony" Gillam, Kevin Wicker, B.H. Wood, P.H. Clarke, D.B. Pritchard, David MacEnulty, C. H. O'D. Alexander and T.J. Beach, John Bain, Fred Wilson, Bill Robertie, Fred Reinfeld, Kenneth Harkness, I.A. Horowitz, Milton L. Hanauer, Milton Finkelstein, Peter Kurzdorfer, Allen Savage, Ken Whyld, Enno Heyken, etc. among others. Certain qualified chess writers since imprisoned have been omitted from here as well as those talented authors who write mostly advanced books or topical books. Follow up GENERAL INSTRUCTION books with more challenging versions from the likes of Murray Chandler, Dan Heisman, C.J.S. Purdy, Irving Chernev, Leonard Barden, Ron Curry, Rudolf Teschner, Lev Alburt, Frank Marshall, Julius DuMont, Jose Capablanca, Dr. Tarrasch, the Laskers, GM Larry Evans, Dr. Euwe, and Rebuen Fine. You have plenty of choices!

Proper beginner's books should have a board diagram on almost every page. However, books printed about 75-100 years ago that are worthwhile classics often have a sparse number of diagrams, but are still informative.

Furthermore, do not fall for the trap...these ridiculous modern term papers written for school by unqualified teenagers and recently graduated non-masters outside their field of expertise trying to make a fast buck. They crank out a few ideas copied from elsewhere, whip up a glorious "beat 'em all" title and print it as a book for sale! These insufficient tree killers are pie in the sky. Do not bite on the Amazon bait! Instead, purchase real, genuine, classic chess books written back when and edited by true chess professionals as listed by names above.

Here's one example of a fool's book from Amazon... "CHESS: ONE DAY CHESS MASTERY: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Chess in One Day! Proven Tactic & Strategies for Playing Like a Pro" by Craig Santoro. This so-called book is 36 pages long, but it claims to lead the reader to chess mastery in ONE day. Impossible! Do NOT buy this type of garbage from Amazon!

Not convinced? Here's another fool's book from Amazon... "How To Play Chess For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide For Turning a New Chess Player Into a Pro Using Expert Strategies (Chess Tactics, Chess Openings, Chess Tips, Chess Strategy)" by Chris Newton. Mr. Newton should be ashamed of himself for proclaiming such rubbish in a mere 25 pages.

Another fraud... Chess: Win Chess Every Time With Step-By-Step Instructions To Beat Your Opponent Easy (Chess Domination Series) by Dave Pattersin in just 34 pages.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The morale of the story? NEVER judge a book by it's cover! Ask yourself when was the book printed? (Be leery of books printed this century -- it may be good, great, or a deceptive con w/a glorified cover.) How many pages is it? (FTB knows of just six chess books less than a 100 pages long that were worth the money and most were written more than 50 years ago in descriptive notation.) Is the book from by a well-known chess publisher that has produced several chess books over a span of years? Who is the editor and what are his qualifications? Most importantly, what are the author's chess credentials? Has the author written more than one chess book? Is the author cranking out other books that are NOT chess related? Most classic chess books for sale on the internet have positive reader reviews that list specific strengths of the book. Never judge a book by it's cover!

Do keep in mind that almost ANY chess book that is 200+ pages long is NOT a beginners book. That's just too much information to absorb and assimilate without playing experience. (An advanced beginner w/a chess instructor or sparring partner probably can absorb a 200 page chess book if s/he has a passion for the game.) Good editing is a must; but the reader finds this out the hard way. Typos, missing pages, and misplaced diagrams disrupt the readability of the book. Almost all chess books contain a few small errors somewhere. When the reader hits a position that does not make sense, seems to have no correct solution, it's possible that a particular piece is missing from the diagram, or the move given is a typing error. Occasionally, it's the wrong diagram altogether, or the correct diagram is on the following page.

Some of the very best chess tips FTB ever received came from beginner and intermediate chess books. One cannot be sure when or where to find clarity that speaks to their mind permanently. Unfortunately, FTB had to sort through and learn to disregard some overstatements that were exaggerated, less reliable. More often, most good books seem to confirm the other good books; it's how the information is projected that can have a lasting impact. Reinforcing affirmation is healthy. One's growth, view point of the game changes from year to year as one better understands pawn structures, piece functions, and strategic positional play -- all of which take a back seat to tactical threats. If you're not a killer tactician (checks, captures, and threats to check or capture), it won't matter how many books you read. "One bad move ruins forty good ones." -- I.A. Horowitz.

* Here's a link to Morphy Miniatures:

* Here's a link to a simple tactics course using miniatures:

Here's a good self-test... obtain the common book Teach Yourself: WIN at Chess by William Hartston (the reprinted edition has 5 more games and an extra chapter on the computer age). If necessary, ask your local library to obtain a copy from another library through inter-library loan. Read any edition of this book cover-to-cover. The beginning is easy, but the information gets more in-depth later on. If it's too DIFFICULT to understand, you're simply not ready to study a specific openings book as given here by McDonald. (To be fair, some of Hartston's examples of attacking combinations from grandmaster games will be hard to see first time, even for strong local players, but you should be able to comprehend what the author is saying.) Review the picture diagrams and play over the 13/18 annotated games in the back again and again and again until you can visualize the next move coming without having to look it up. Spend weeks going back over this book. Those 13/18 games serve as your foundation of what to do, how to neutralize a good move to maintain an even game, and what not to do. FTB believes it's better to thoroughly understand those 13/18 annotated games before studying McDonald's 1.e4 book.

When you can easily comprehend WIN at Chess by William Hartston, follow up by reading an annotated games book written about a king pawn attacking player like Paul Morphy, Joseph H. Blackburne, W.H. Pollock, or Rudolph Spielmann. After playing through all the annotated games of an attacking player who opens with 1.e4, it's O.K. to study a specific openings-oriented book like McDonald's 1.e4.

Note that Teach Yourself: BETTER Chess by William Hartston is something of a sequel to Hartston's WIN at Chess. BETTER Chess is more difficult, more subtle, topically varied. After reading the entire games collection of a 1.e4 player as previously suggested, it would be suitable to study McDonald's Starting Out: 1.e4 before Hartston's BETTER Chess. FTB highly recommends Better Chess for Average Players by TIM HARDING and Why You Lose at Chess by Tim Harding before Hartston's Better Chess. There is also Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking: From the First Move to the Last by Neil McDonald. All of these books are suitable for IMPROVING, intermediate players but not beginners. You'll need to read each of these books two or three times to get the most out of them.

FTB would not be Fredthebear if he failed to give a plug to Startling Chess Correspondence Miniatures by Tim Harding and Chess Openings For the Average Player. FTB feels like he is letting a secret out of the bag...Tim Harding's books can steer a dedicated intermediate player toward master level as long as the improver becomes a killer tactician who knows how to conduct the endgame advantage.

More suggested books for beginners to advance:
- Checkmate!: My First Chess Book (Everyman Chess) by Garry Kasparov. - Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess by Fischer by Bobby Fischer, Stuart Margulies, and Don Mosenfelder. This unique book stresses the three responses to check, and eliminating defenders that prevent checkmate. Read this book again and again until you can answer every multiple choice question correctly. - Guide to Good Chess by C.J.S. Purdy.
- A World Champion's Guide to Chess: Step-by-Step Instructions for Winning Chess the Polgar Way! by Susan Polgar, and Paul Truong (the endgame chapter has 30 basic positions that must be thoroughly understood). This book is mainly simple checkmates and common tactics to capture opposing pieces. It's O.K. to get a few wrong answers as long as you understand the correct solutions. - Easy Endgame Strategies by Bill Robertie. Here's an easy-to-follow explanation of how to finish off different types of endgames move-by-move. - The Chess Tactics Workbook by Al Woolum. Tucked away far back in the solutions are 30 king pawn games called "Italian Tactics". Use a chess set to replay ten of these 30 games over the board every evening. Don't forget to solve the puzzles too! - Chess Basics by David Levens. The information is good, with interesting game examples, but the shape of the pieces is a bit unusual. - Chess For Beginners by I.A. Horowitz (NOT the picture guide) has an excellent endgame chapter. The combinations (a sacrifice to remove a lesser unit followed by a checkmate or tactical capture) are a good test at this stage. - Chess Tactics for Beginners by Fred Reinfeld. This should be fairly easy for the reader. - Beginning Chess by Harry Golombek.
- How to Force Checkmate by Fred Reinfeld. Solve 300 checkmate puzzles in 1, 2, and 3 moves. A training tool you can take anywhere. - The Game of Chess (Penguin Handbooks) by Harry Golombek. - The Art of the Checkmate by Georges Renaud and Victor Kahn. A classic! - How Not to Play Chess by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky. Haste, thy great enemy! Slow down, look around, form a plan. - Winning Chess: How To See Three Moves Ahead by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld. How to spot tactics! - How to Win in the Chess Openings by I.A. Horowitz. Some technical considerations to be aware of, but don't try to memorize this. - The Basis of Combination in Chess by Julius Dumont. This is an out-of-print classic that might be your game-changer. - Complete Book of Beginning Chess: 10 Easy Lessons to Winning by Raymond Keene. It's not available until September 2018, so there's no way FTB has read it. GM Keene is a prolific chess author, so it's gotta be useful. Ten lessons in 264 pages had better have lots and lots of diagrams. - Modern Chess Lessons by IM Eric Tangborn. A bit of each phase. - A First Book of Morphy by Frisco Del Rosario. Some typos, but highly instructive! - Winning Chess Endings by Yasser Seirawan. Part of a series. - The Winning Way by Bruce Pandolfini. Yes, do use the queen when opposing pieces are hanging! - Starting Out: Pawn Endings, by Glenn Flear, 2004, Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-362-4. A good book for advancing and intermediate players. - The Guide to Chess by Malcolm Pein. Forgotten gem, instructive. - Back To Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman. Tactics determine who wins most of the time, not the opening. - Great Short Games of the Chess Masters by Fred Reinfeld OR Great Brilliancy Prize Games of the Chess Masters (Dover Books on Chess) by Fred Reinfeld. Knowing how to attack helps one defend. - Chessercizes: Checkmate by Bruce Pandolfini. Become a stone cold assassin! - Practical Middlegame Techniques by Danny Kopec. A quick read that is very useful. - Power Chess by Bruce Pandolfini. Short games w/various checkmate patterns. - Winning Endgames by Tony Kosten OR Endgame Play by Chris Ward. Both are talented chess writers; by either used book cheaply. - 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners: The Tactics Workbook that Explains the Basic Concepts, Too by Franco Masetti. - Attack & Counterattack in Chess by Fred Reinfeld. This book should be an easy read at this juncture. - Common Sense in Chess by Emanuel Lasker. A classic, but some experience is necessary first! - A New Approach to Chess Mastery by Fred Reinfeld OR Learn Chess from the Masters by Fred Reinfeld. Just 10 games, move-by-move. He uses a Question-Answer method. - What's the Best Move? by Larry Evans. You don't need a repertoire book until you can handle this one by yourself. This book is logical and will give the reader confidence in the opening. - The King Hunt in Chess by William H. Cozens (and John Nunn). More skull bustin' fun. - C.J.S. Purdy On the Endgame, by Cecil Purdy, 2003, Thinker's Press, ISBN 1-888710-03-9 - collection of various articles, not a full encyclopedia. - 101 Chess Endgame Tips: Golden nuggets of endgame wisdom by Stephen Giddins, 2007, Gambit, ISBN 978-1-904600-66-4 - Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev. A classic! (FTB believes it best not to read this book too soon. The slick combinations might be too difficult for some, while others might be too influenced by general principles when they need to calculate variations.) - Improve Your Chess in Seven Days by Gary Lane. Easy to follow for an intermediate. FTB cannot keep Gary Lane and Gary Ward separate, but they're both good writers. - Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge 3rd Edition by Yuri Averbakh. You'll understand it better if you set up the positions on a board and move the pieces by hand. - Essential Chess Endings: the Tournament Player's Guide, by James Howell, 1997, Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-8189-7. A small but comprehensive book. - Chess Endgame Quiz by Larry Evans. By now, your endgame skills will be stronger than the majority of your opponents if you have studied faithfully. Games that were even contests in the middlegame become your domain in the endgame! If Larry's quiz was difficult, then you'd better re-read the books listed above. - Discovering Chess Openings: Building Opening Skills from Basic Principles by John Emms. After this review, you well understand how to begin the game properly. - "Winning Chess Strategies" by Yasser Seirawan. Part of a series. - RUSSIAN CHESS (Fireside Chess Library) by Bruce Pandolfini. This will help your Black defenses and positional sense. - Emms, John (2001), Simple Chess, Everyman Chess, ISBN 1-85744-238-5. FTB emphasizes active piece play on open lines and taking advantage of pawn structure weaknesses. - 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate, 21st Century Edition by Fred Reinfeld. First, re-read Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess and Al Woolum's workbook, then take on this Reinfeld challenge. Hint: Reinfeld uses plenty of examples that sacrifice the queen! A few positions don't seem to have a correct answer, especially if Black declines to accept the sacrifice. FTB wrote down all his answers in a notebook and then graded himself. Give yourself full credit for a correct answer, and half-credit if you got part of the solution correct. - ABC's of Chess by Bruce Pandolfini. This book is underrated for it contains a wide range of useful information. Just remember that you are not going to play all the different openings discussed. - Pandolfini, Bruce (2009), Endgame Workshop: Principles for the Practical Player, Russell Enterprises, ISBN 978-1-888690-53-8 - Best Lessons of a Chess Coach by Sunil Weeramantry & Edward V. Eusebi. This book was once very popular. - Practical Endgame Play, by Neil McDonald, 1996, Cadogan. ISBN 978-1-85744-176-5. - Mednis, Edmar (1987), Questions and Answers on Practical Endgame Play, Chess Enterprises, ISBN 0-931462-69-X. Mednis produced some wise chess books. - The Art of Chess Combination (Dover Chess) by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky. FTB did not like this book as much as Silman, but FTB does like the series even if it is dated. - Chess Strategy and Tactics by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld. 50 games good for your chess soul. - How to Play the Middlegame in Chess by John Littlewood. - 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, 21st Century Edition by Fred Reinfeld. Can you clobber your opponents, or do you let them get away? This will put your batting eye to the test! - Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. This book is no easy push-over. - Is Your Move Safe? by Dan Heisman. Don't play give-away! - Znosko-Borovsky, Eugene (1980) 1938. The Middle Game in Chess. Dover. ISBN 0-486-23931-4. Capablanca mentioned this one. - 50 Essential Chess Lessons by Steve Giddins.
- A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, by David Hooper, 1970, Bell & Hyman. ISBN 0-7135-1761-1. Small yet relatively comprehensive book. - The Road to Chess Mastery: a Sure Way to Improve Your Game 1966 by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. Some swear by this book. - The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy by Irving Chernev. Probably over-rated for instructional value, but the games are dandies. - Judgment and Planning in Chess Paperback by Max Euwe. - 'Art Of Sacrifice in Chess' by Rudolph Spielman. A classic! - A Guide to Chess Endings, by Dr. Max Euwe and David Hooper, 1959, 1976, Dover. ISBN 0-486-23332-4. Analysis of positions of many types, but little overall discussion of principles. Are you grown-up in the endgame, or not? - Play for Mate (A Batsford chess book) by David Hooper and Bernard Cafferty. Never forget that checkmate is the primary objective! - Masters of The Chessboard by Richard Reti.
- Modern Ideas in Chess by Richard Reti. Which Reti book do you like best? - Chess Training Pocket Book: 300 Most Important Positions (Third Revised Edition) (Comprehensive Chess Course Series) by Lev Alburt. You should be a killer tactician by now, which is not to say that your rating has reached master level, but it's getting close. - New Ideas in Chess by Larry Evans. It's mostly about pawn structures. FTB likes this better than Kmoch's book. - 100 Endgames You Must Know by GM Jesus de la Villa. Ditto! - Capablanca's Best Chess Endings: 60 Complete Games by Irving Chernev. - 40 Lessons for the Club Player by Kostyev. FTB likes this book but can never read it straight through. - FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul Van Der Sterren. It's very fundamental and worthwhile, but some openings receive more treatment than others. - The Heavy Pieces in Action by Iakov Damsky. Coordinate and finish 'em off! - Attack with Mikhail Tal (Cadogan Chess Books) by Mikhail Tal and Iakov Damsky. A player like Tal is easy to appreciate. - Amateur to IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods by Jonathan Hawkins. A contemporary inclusion. - Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres, 1973, R.H.M. Press. ISBN 0-89058-028-6. Highly regarded. Reprinted in algebraic notation. This one is on everyone's list if they've read it. - Rate Your Endgame by Edmar Mednis & Colin Crouch. It's time for another self-test. - Art of Attack in Chess by Vladimir Vukovic. FTB's chess bible. - Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles by Horowitz and Reinfeld. - My Best Games of Chess, 1908-1937, 21st Century Edition by Alexander Alekhine (Author), Igor Zaitsev (Foreword). This grand book (combines two volumes) has influenced future world champions. - Understanding the Chess Openings by Sam Collins. - The Art of the Middle Game (Dover Chess) by Paul Keres and Alexander Kotov. Two great chess brains explain the MG. - Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sunny Side of Chess Endgames by Gerardus C. van Perlo, 2006, New In Chess, ISBN 978-90-5691-168-3. Like it says...comprehensive, and popular. - Chess: The Complete Self-Tutor (Algebraic Classics Series) by Edward Lasker, John Nunn, and Graham Burgess. FTB has the older version, which he never finished because Bronstein's book kept calling. This book should be a piece of cake this far down the list, but fabulous chess writers Nunn and Burgess might have spiked the punch. - Chess Exam And Training Guide: Rate Yourself And Learn How To Improve (Chess Exams) by Igor Khmelnitsky. - Chess Middlegame Combinations by Peter Romanovsky. Ka-BOOM! - Chess Middlegame Planning by Peter Romanovsky (Author), Jimmy Adams (Translator). Find a weakness and hammer it! - Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games by Mikhail Botvinnik and Stephen Garry. This is a great chess book. - Endgame Strategy (Cadogan Chess Books) by Mikhail Shereshevsky. - Reshevsky on Chess by Samuel Reshevsky. World War II interrupted Reshevsky's prime, or he may have dethroned Botvinnik. Reshevsky was the American champion and early rival of Bobby Fischer. - Now if you read half of these books on the list (it's an incomplete list BTW), you've spent a whole LOT of time reading chess books, and probably not enough getting physical exercise outdoors (take up bicycling, gardening, bird watching, etc). On the other hand, if you read these books spending quiet, restful evenings at home in leu of watching perverted garbage on television or drinking at the pub, then good for you!


Starting Out: 1.e4! is better suited for eager intermediates and experienced club players who understand the rules, fundamentals, and the give and take struggle of chess. Perhaps experts and candidate masters wanting a second-string line in their already established king pawn repertoire might make use of a chapter or two. In chapters 2-7, this book takes the uncommon approach of teaching the Open Sicilian (1.e4 2.Nf3 3.d4). It just scratches the surface with 75 pages of information but a noble attempt at simplification for the student by the talented McDonald. Most grandmasters play the Open Sicilian -- a vast ocean of ever-changing theory, yet most authors of complete repertoire books chose the Closed Sicilian approach (refraining from 3.d4 cxd4) with the white pieces for amateurs. Technically, there's nothing wrong with either approach, but there's so much more theory to keep up with when playing the Open Sicilian. How much opening theory do you want to study the rest of your life? No study, no lasting success... be it in the classroom or chess.

In today's busy world of multiple activities and tight schedules, a youthful player (and an aging player) is probably better served to play the formulaic, time-saving King's Indian (Reversed) Attack as young Bobby Fischer did See King's Indian Attack: Move by Move by Neil McDonald. Of course, Fischer had an obsessive one track mind for chess and tackled the Open Sicilian a few years later. (The driven, unquenchable Fischer had a photographic memory, read every chess book he could get his hands on, was surrounded by other top level players for competition and advice, and could have conquered any opening he put his mind to.) Most youthful players will not push their chess career to expert or master level, much less grand master level like Fischer did. Still, each person is unique and must follow their own path. If the Open Sicilian is calling your name, by all means play it. McDonald is convinced youth should play the Open Sicilian from the beginning, in part because White quickly gets an active game by exchanging off a center pawn.

Chapter 1 covers the double king pawn 1.e4 e5 open games in just 40 pages, finishing w/the Scotch Opening (to avoid all the Ruy Lopez theory says the author; See Ruy Lopez: Move by Move by Neil McDonald if you wish). Black can deviate on the second move with the Latvian Gambit, Elephant Gambit, Philidor Defence, or Petroff Defence covered within. This is a good way for all players -- amateurs and professionals -- to start out, so Chapter 1 is right where it should be.

Chapters 8-12 cover semi-open defenses other than the Sicilian in the last 68 pages. Also included in the back are indexes of variations and complete games. Such inclusions are the mark of a properly published book, but FTB wishes some of the lines and variations had been extended farther out.

If the reader is serious about tackling this book as your chess opening repertoire w/the white pieces, start by photocopying the opening moves index in the back, confirm the accuracy of the index (no typing errors) with MCO 15 by Nick de Firmian, and rehearse the index each evening until the moves come automatically. The BOLD print lines matter most when learning, but your opponent does not have to cooperate! Memorize all the BOLD print lines first and only in all chapters, then return to the top and add branches / sub variations one chapter at a time. Unfortunately, this book should have bolded more lines in the index, but the game examples of less common lines are certainly good.

Be absolutely positively sure you know chapter 1 by heart before you go on to the next chapter. Personally, FTB would skip ahead after chapter 1 to chapter 8 and save the SICILIAN chapters for LAST (except the bold lines that you started with).

Book reader, can you play 8-10 exact book moves in 8-10 seconds without hardly a thought? If not, keep practicing until such is recalled instantly. The common lines must become entrenched in the mind and played by hand as quick as a hiccup. (Slow down in actual tournament play as a deliberate disguise so as not to give away the fact that you are well-prepared in that line. Why alarm your future opponents to shy away from playing the line? Pause half-a-minute to make it look like you are trying to figure out your next move when in fact you have the entire line memorized. It certainly blends in better when you are surprised in the opening and really do have to stop and think a bit. Over time, it does help to slow down and play chess with a "poker face" and not look too eager at the start because the opponent has stepped into your pet line that you know by heart.)

Remember, no chess opening guarantees victory; there is no silver bullet to chess success, but study and consistent rehearsal will get you off to a good start and improve your chances of gaining an edge early in the middle game. This book was written by a grandmaster using grandmaster examples! So, when you lose, it's not the fault of the opening. Stick w/the opening and keep training -- don't change it.


Yes, at some point of progress after having read a dozen chess books and having played through hundreds of games of chess on your own, comes the time to MEMORIZE a specific opening repertoire. No, you will NOT achieve long-term success by simply going by the general opening principles of central control, rapid piece development, and castling for safety. That's just too general to sustain success over the long haul against well-prepared opponents. By starting off all your games the same way with the same prepared lines, you improve your chances of getting an even or better middle game position that is familiar to you.

Here are the BOLD opening lines from the index in the back that should be memorized. FTB has taken the liberty of including some important additional lines from the book which should have also been BOLD, IMHO.

Open Games (Double King Pawn), p. 194:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.NxNc6 bxNc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 (Scotch game)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 6.Be2 (Latvian Gambit; non-bold line taken from the book)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d4 e4 6.Ne5 (Elephant Gambit; non-bold line taken from the book)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 6.g3 0-0 7.Bg2 Bg4 (Philidor's Defence; non-bold line taken from the book)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 NxNc3 6.dxNc3 (Petroff's Defence; non-bold line taken from the book)

The (3.d4 cxd4 Open) Sicilian, p. 195:
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.a4 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.f4

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.BxNf6 BxNf6 11.c3

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 (non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Bb4 9.f3

Alekhine's Defence (Exchange Variation), p. 196: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6

Caro-Kann Defence (Panov-Botvinnik Attack), p. 196: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3

Scandinavian Defences, p. 196:
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxd5 4.d4

1.e4 d5 2.Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bd2 (Center Counter Defense; non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 (Nimzowitsch's Defence to the king pawn; non-bold variation from the book)

Pirc, Modern and Other Defences, p. 197:
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 b5 6.0-0-0 Nd7 (Bold line, preferred move order p. 165)

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 (Philidor's Defense by transposal; non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.Bh6 c6 7.h4 Qb6 8.0-0-0 (150 Attack vs. Pirc Defence; non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 a6 2.d4 b5 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.Bd3 e6 5.Qe2 c5 6.c3 (St. George/Birmingham Defence; non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.Qe2 Nc6 5.c3 e5 6.Nf3 (Owen's Defence; non-bold variation from the book)

French Defence (Tarrasch Variation), p. 197:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Qb6 8.0-0 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Qxd4 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qa4 Qb4 13.Qc2

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.c3 f6 7.Bb5 fxe5 8.dxe5 (Guimard Variation; non-bold variation from the book)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 (non-bold variation from the book)

For lines that are not bold print, Black usually varies quickly with a different second, third or fourth move. These variations can be tricky; they're just as IMPORTANT as the bold lines. The bold lines tend to be more common at grandmaster level, but it's joker's wild at the amateur vs. amateur level. Therefore, do learn the bold lines first and then add the non-bold branches or suffer the consequences of getting surprised by a Black counterattack that should have been studied with respect.

* Garry Kasparov Teaches Chess (Batsford 1986): Game Collection: Garry Kasparov Teaches Chess

* Game Collection: Checkmate: Checkmate Patterns This link has a good, concise collection of checkmate patterns by name. The new reader may wish to consult it initially to the point of memorization.

* Here's a link to Morphy Miniatures:

* Here's a link to a simple tactics course using miniatures:

* Andre the Giant: Game Collection: Defensa Philidor, ese campo de minas

* 23 pages of King's Gambit (over 2000 games) wins by Black!
M Galyas vs J Bick, 2006 
(A40) Queen's Pawn Game, 1 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 1, page 9
G Lane vs M Wojnar, 2006 
(C40) King's Knight Opening, 20 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 3, page 14
Greco vs NN, 1620 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 14 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 4, page 15
Adams vs Kurajica, 2004 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 37 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 5, page 20
Shirov vs M Klinova, 2006 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 18 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 6, page 23
N Davies vs G Wall, 2005
(C41) Philidor Defense, 27 moves, 1-0

B46 1-0 25
Anand vs Morovic Fernandez, 2004 
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 25 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 8, page 27
Tseshkovsky vs N Giertz, 2004 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 16 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 9, page 30
Motylev vs Koneru, 2006 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 25 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 10, page 33
Karjakin vs V Malinin, 2002 
(C45) Scotch Game, 20 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 11, page 36
B Savchenko vs K Georgiev, 2006 
(C45) Scotch Game, 52 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 12, page 39
Tseshkovsky vs Morozevich, 2004 
(C45) Scotch Game, 63 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 13, page 41
Radjabov vs Karjakin, 2005 
(C45) Scotch Game, 31 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 14, page 44
Rublevsky vs J Geller, 2004 
(C45) Scotch Game, 42 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 15, page 53
K Spraggett vs J Khedkar, 2004 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 20 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 16, page 55
Anand vs Timman, 2004 
(B67) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7, 29 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 18, page 65
E Berg vs Campos Moreno, 2006
(B45) Sicilian, Taimanov, 44 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 19, page 70
Adams vs Topalov, 2006 
(B84) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 42 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 21, page 77
Anand vs Leko, 2006 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 49 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 22, page 83
K Georgiev vs Ward, 2005 
(B76) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 43 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 23, page 87
de Firmian vs C Bleis, 2005 
(B76) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 30 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 25, page 98
Leko vs Radjabov, 2006 
(B33) Sicilian, 45 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 26, page 100
Kasparov vs Shirov, 1994 
(B33) Sicilian, 38 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 27, page 102
Anand vs Van Wely, 2006 
(B33) Sicilian, 42 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 28, page 105
Kasparov vs Lautier, 2002 
(B32) Sicilian, 34 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 30, page 112
Sutovsky vs K Arakhamia-Grant, 2005 
(B48) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 24 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 31, page 115
Leko vs Polgar, 2005 
(B48) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 25 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 32, page 116
Grischuk vs J Geller, 2004 
(B48) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 27 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 33, page 118
Ivanchuk vs Kamsky, 2006 
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 54 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 35, page 127
Adams vs Santo-Roman, 2004
(B03) Alekhine's Defense, 31 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 36, page 130
Naiditsch vs Timman, 2002 
(B03) Alekhine's Defense, 58 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 40, page 144
A Timofeev vs N Eliet, 2004
(B14) Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack, 26 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 41, page 149
Grischuk vs C Bauer, 2005
(B01) Scandinavian, 40 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 42, page 151
Topalov vs Kamsky, 2006 
(B01) Scandinavian, 25 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 43, page 153
B Vuckovic vs S Vukanovic, 2005
(B01) Scandinavian, 18 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 44, page 154
Svidler vs Dreev, 1997 
(B01) Scandinavian, 34 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 45, page 157
Y Lapshun vs R Adamson, 2004
(B01) Scandinavian, 29 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 47, page 164
K Mekhitarian vs Arencibia Rodriguez, 2005 
(B07) Pirc, 17 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 48, page 169
Radjabov vs A Stromer, 2005 
(B00) Uncommon King's Pawn Opening, 18 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 49, page 177
M Saltaev vs A Bednorz, 1989
(C05) French, Tarrasch, 19 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 52, page 182
Kasparov vs Bareev, 2001 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 41 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 55, page 189
Kotronias vs S Halkias, 2005
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 67 moves, 1-0

Starting Out: 1e4! by Neil McDonald, Game 56, page 190
Vescovi vs Karpov, 2004 
(C10) French, 22 moves, 1-0

43 games

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