FM Carsten Hansen book review by CHESSCAFE.COM:

http://www.chesscafe.com/hansen/hansen.htmBeat the KID by Jan Markos, Quality Chess 2008, Figurine Algebraic Notation, Paperback, 197pp., $29.95

One of Slovakia’s top players, GM Jan Markos is twenty-three years old and has a current rating of 2577. In Beat the KID he examines three opening variations that, in his opinion, offer White excellent chances of success against the King’s Indian Defense, aka the “KID.” He opens the book as follows:

“I am not an experienced chess author. However, I am a very passionate reader of chess books. When I was thirteen, I read Averbakh’s entire course on endings, and I read it with pleasure (frankly, my parents were not especially happy about that.) And I am a reasonably strong practical player.

“The book was written to serve both practical and ‘unpractical’ chessplayers. It was written to meet the expectations of those who seek useful advice, but it is also written for those who are looking for beauty an entertainment in chess. Therefore do not be surprised to find a diagram attached to some completely unimportant sub-line: I have never been able to resist the temptation to highlight a unique chess moment.

“This is a book on a specific opening. From such a book two conflicting qualities are demanded. On the one hand, it should be crammed with exhaustive and reliable information, which is easy to find if needed. On the other hand, it should be structured and intelligible enough to be read from cover to cover like a novel. I was trying to find a compromise between these two demands, although I have to admit that I am a fan of elegant, easy-to-read chess books.”

The material is divided as follows:

Key to symbols used & Bibliography (1 page)

Foreword – what can be found in this book (2 pages)

Introduction to the King’s Indian Defence (6 pages)

Part 1 – The Krasenkow Variation (2 pages)

Introduction – The Art of Prophylaxis (4 pages)

Chapters 1-5 (38 pages)

Conclusion to part 1 (2 pages)

Part 2 – The Bayonet Variation (2 pages)

Introduction – An Open Fight (2 pages)

Chapters 6-13 (62 pages)

Conclusion to part 2 (2 pages)

Part 3 – The Classical Variation (2 pages)

Introduction – Back to the Roots (4 pages)

Chapters 14-18 (44 pages)

Conclusion to part 3 (2 pages)

Epilogue – Sixth and Seventh Move Alternatives (2 pages)

Chapter 19 – Tying Up Loose Ends (15 pages)

Index of Annotates Games (1 page)

Index of Variations (6 pages)

The three lines covered in this volume are the Krasenkow Variation: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 h3

The Bayonet Variation: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 b4

The Classical Variation: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 Ne1

According to Markos, the first variation was only used occasionally by top players until Krasenkow took it up in the early 1990s and made it a powerful weapon. Krasenkow employed the line in more than seventy games and at one point he was rated over 2700, so his opening ideas should definitely be given due consideration. As you can see from the above list of contents, the author has devoted five theoretical chapters to this line.

The first of these theoretical chapters is called The Modern Benoni Structure. However, this is a slight misnomer, because the line chosen by Markos: 6…c5 7 d5 e6 8 Bd3 exd5 9 exd5 isn’t a Modern Benoni structure, but simply a Benoni structure. I thoroughly investigated this line as a young player, and I have to say that I found the coverage disappointingly sparse. Aside from the option of 7…b5, in the line after 9 exd5, he only covers 9…Re8+ 10 Be3 Bh6 and 10…Bf5. The former of the two moves is dealt with mostly through explanations to a well-chosen game, but with almost no other game examples; whereas the latter move is only covered through one game from 1990. Yet several other tenth move alternatives for Black aren’t mentioned at all, such as 10…b5, 10…Na6, 10…Nbd7 and particularly 10…Nh5. The latter in particular carries a bit of a punch if White isn’t careful, as evidenced by the following game:

Vladimirov,Evgeny (2525) - Tal,Mihail (2630)

URS Cup rapid Tallinn 1988 [E90]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.e4 0–0 6.Nf3 d6 7.h3 a6 8.a4 e6 9.Bd3 exd5 10.exd5 Re8+ 11.Be3 Nh5 12.0–0 Nd7 13.Qd2 Ne5 14.Nxe5 Rxe5 15.Bh6 Bxh6 16.Qxh6 Bxh3 17.gxh3 Qh4 18.Kh2 Rg5 19.Ne2 Re8 20.Rae1 Rxe2 21.Bxe2 Qf4+ 22.Kh1 Qe4+ 23.f3 Qh4 24.Qxg5 Qxg5 25.Rg1 Qd2 26.Kg2 Nf4+ 27.Kf1 Nxh3 28.Rg4 h5 29.Re4 Qg5 30.Bd1 Qg1+ 31.Ke2 Qf2+ 32.Kd3 Qxb2 0–1

Granted, 7…a6 8 a4 has been inserted, but this continuation is dismissed by Markos without giving any further moves and the above line can be played without 7…a6, but …Nh5 is not covered in either version. It often seems like the author is keeping information from us, such as the comment on page 52, where Black plays a move that Markos admits to being much better than the main line. He writes, “To be honest, I haven’t found any advantage for White after 11…Nb6, but White might try 12 h4 or 12 Be3.” If he wants us to “Beat the KID,” he needs to do better than this!

The Bayonet Variation has been very popular since the mid-1990s. Apparently when, after 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 b4 Nh5, Sokolov introduced the rather obvious 10 Re1, allowing White to meet the idea …Nf4 with Bf1, it sparked new interest in this line. In contrast to the previous section, the chapters on this variation are infinitely more detailed and better written. However, Markos still has a tendency to leave a few loose ends, such as when he points out an improvement for Black, but offers nothing for White to counter it.

The chapters on the Classical Variation are the best of the book. There are plenty of insights in the theory and in the prose, where Markos explains the ideas behind the various moves as well as the strategic motifs. In the introduction to the Classical Variation, or the “Kortchnoi” as Markos calls it, he postulates as to why this line isn’t very popular. He first suggests that people “loathe having their king under strong attack. However, many of them do not know that even in the 9.Ne1 line there are safe sub-systems with a very positional character.” The second part of his argument pertains to the use of computers in preparation, in that computers cannot accurately evaluate the positions because of the closed pawn structure. Markos presents the following example:

Kortchnoi-Kasparov, Amsterdam 1991

Position after Black’s 22…Qf8

Markos: “You would barely find a computer program which evaluates this position as better for Black. I have conducted a small test using Rybka 3.0. After working the entire night (!) its evaluation was += [small advantage for White]. However, Kasparov claims that White is already much worse, and he is probably right. Black’s attack on the kingside is very strong and is especially difficult to face in a practical game. Kortchnoi lost in just a few moves without committing any serious mistake. Apparently, the computer is wrong. Why? Because it was comparing the incomparable: White’s material advantage on the queenside and Black’s attacking prospects on the other side of the board. It does not understand that the e4-pawn can’t help the white king to survive.” This, of course, leaves you wondering why so few top players consistently employ the King’s Indian as black.

Overall, this is a decent book, but it is definitely has a few flaws. The point of buying an opening book is to have someone do the hard work for you, by sifting through the relevant material and then explaining the basic ideas and motifs with a fair share of author input. If the author claims to assist you in beating the relevant opening, he must be prepared to deliver a lot more ideas in critical positions, so that you can get the upper hand against opposition that is also familiar with theory. However, in many cases Markos leaves the reader hanging. Even if an author cannot prove an advantage, which will often be the case, then he should at least analyze the position in order to fully prepare the reader. Of course, the reader should always analyze things for themselves to become familiar with the position in question and enhance their overall understanding of the game.

My assessment of this book:

**3 out of 5**