Watson on Bojkov: Meet the English Opening in 60-minutes

11/7/2012 – "It's interesting to compare Mihail Marin's massive three-volume repertoire book with Dejan Bojkov's ChessBase DVDs," writes John Watson. After checking where the two overlap in an important line he shows us Bojkov's analsis of Carlsen vs Kramnik. His conclusion: "Bojkov comes out very well indeed in the comparison with written theory, even within the 60-minute format." Review.

Dejan Bojkov: Meet the English Opening in 60-minutes

Review by John Watson

The English Opening has been the subject of several ChessBase projects and I'll take some time to compare and contrast them.

In the 60-minute series we have Dejan Bojkov's Meet the English Opening in 60-minutes, which features 1...e5 and the Reversed Dragon with ...Nf6 and ...d5. This is a complete anti-1 c4 solution, of course, but to be fair, it is a system which can be played against many of White's move orders involving an early Nc3 and g3 (extremely common) and occurs in the main line 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5.

Of course, with the latter order White can play moves such as 4 e3, 4 d3, 4 d4, and even 4 e4 (the latter much more interesting than its frequency of use would indicate); in any case, it's not too difficult to find solutions to those in the literature.

Since I've written about the English Opening rather extensively in Volume 3 of my Mastering the Chess Openings series, I thought I'd take a look to see if a 60-minute project could compete with written theory on the same subject. It's interesting to compare Mihail Marin's massive three-volume repertoire book on the English Opening with Bojkov's and other ChessBase DVDs. In this case, the two overlap in the following line:

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bojkov Rev Drag Main Line"] [Black "CBase pleaseedit to match TWI"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A29"] [Annotator "Bojkov +Watson,John"] [PlyCount "52"] [SourceDate "2012.08.10"] 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nb6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 Be6 10. d3 f6 11. Rb1 a5 12. b5 Nd4 13. Nd2 Qc8 14. e3 Nf5 15. Qc2 {Bojkov does a thorough job of covering the alternatives to White's moves, and I find his solutions generally convincing.} Rd8 16. Bb2 a4 {[#]} 17. Rfd1 {The only move that Marin gives. He doesn't mention Carlsen's move} (17. Rfc1 { versus Kramnik, who answered} Nd6 18. Nde4 Ne8 $1 {, and although White ultimately won the game Black had several improvements noted by both players, and arguably the second player had good chances of turning his extra space to advantage.} 19. Qe2 (19. Ne2 Bb3 20. Qc3 Qd7) 19... Bf8 20. f4 exf4 21. gxf4 Qd7 22. d4 Bc4 23. Qf2 Bd3 24. Nc5 Bxc5 25. dxc5 Nc4 26. Bxb7 Qg4+ 27. Qg2 Qxg2+ 28. Bxg2 Rab8) 17... Nd6 $1 {With ideas such as ...Ra5 and ...Qd7, targeting the b-pawn. Marin doesn't mention any other move besides 17...Ra5, after which White gets an advantage from 18 Nc4! . This is particularly strange since it was Kramnik's move in the forementioned game, and suggested by the computer as best. In fact, 17...Ra5, which Marin analyses for two pages, isn't among my engine's top seven choices (I stopped adding lines at that point). This is a problem which I have run into repeatedly in Marin's book, i.e., that at critical main line junctures he gives either or both sides only one move, and if his suggested repertoire move proves inadequate versus another reply (which is practically inevitable from time to time), he doesn't offer the reader any alternatives. In sidelines this isn't quite so important (or realistic), but offering options should be part of any serious repertoire book.} (17... Ra5 18. Nc4 Nxc4 19. dxc4 Bxc4 {Marin:} 20. Rxd8+ Bxd8 21. Nxa4 Nd6 22. Nc3 {is the main line in Marin; White has good control over the position, and} Bxb5 $6 (22... Be6 $14) 23. Nxb5 Rxb5 24. a4 Rb4 {, and Marin gives the move 25 Rc1 a '!!', and follows with more than a page of tiny-print analysis but this is a rather simple position, and simply} 25. Qc3 $1 {is extremely strong} c5 (25... Rxa4 $4 26. Qb3+) (25... Rb6 26. a5 Ra6 27. Ba3 $16 ) 26. Rd1 Be7 27. Ba3 $16) 18. Ba1 Ra5 ({Or} 18... Kh8) ({or} 18... Bf8 {, in both cases with the more comfortable better position, at least equal possibly very slightly better for the second player.}) 19. Bf3 Bf8 20. Be2 Ra8 21. Bb2 Qd7 22. Rdc1 (22. Nc4 Ndxc4 23. dxc4 Qf7) 22... Nxb5 23. Nxb5 Qxb5 24. Ba1 Qe8 25. Qxc7 Nd5 26. Qxb7 Bxa3 {and Black was clearly better in the game Shoker-Li Chao2, Ningbo 2011.} *

So Bojkov comes out very well indeed in the comparison with written theory, even within the 60-minute format.

Video sampler: Dejan Bojkov – Meet the English opening in 60 Minutes


John Watson is an International Master from the United States. He has written over 25 books, including


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