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The Powerful Catalan

A Complete Repertoire for White
Nivå B-D
Utgivelsesdato Oktober 2012

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En systematisk og sympatisk bok om den populære åpningen Katalansk med et hovedblikk fra hvits side. Bologan har fått en stjerneposisjon som en av tidens dyktigste analytikere og formidlere av åpningskunnskap.

Forfatterens forord:

To start my story, I will jump to that contemporary, all-knowing oracle that is Wikipedia: ‘The Catalan Opening – a chess opening, beginning with the moves 1.d2-d4 Ng8-f6 2.c2-c4 e7-e6 3.g2-g3 d7-d5 4.Bf1-g2

It is one of the closed openings, and obtained its name thanks to the 1929 tournament in Barcelona, Spain (Catalonia), when it was used by Tartakower’. This is pretty much a unique thing in chess history – we know not only the date of birth of a new opening system, but also its place of birth and its father! The tournament organisers wished to engrave the name of their home state of Catalonia on the minds and hearts of chess players, and they suggested the players have a competition to invent a new, original opening. The winner was the inventive Savielly Tartakower (he was also the originator of the Orang-Utan Opening 1.b4): three times he used the system with d2-d4 in combination with g2-g3, which obtained a special prize and was awarded the name Catalan Opening.

The solid new opening quickly be came popular. One need only point out that was soon in luded in their repertoires by Capablanca and Alekhine, Botvinnik and Keres, Reshevsky and Flohr. Later, it was used by almost all the chess elite, including the majority of world champions. A great deal was done for the development of the opening by Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Kortchnoi, Gelfand, Razuvaev, Sosonko, Tkachiev...

We should say a few words about my relationship with the opening. I can say that, be - fore starting to play the opening myself and teaching it to my pupils, I played for five years for the Catalan club UGA in Barcelona. This was a very pleasant, positive experi - ence, and I even learned a few words of the Catalalan language! This shows that Catalonia is very dear to me, and its language is quite similar to Rumanian, which is my mother tongue.

When we speak of the Catalan in chess, we have in mind a strong concept for White, in which he fianchettoes the light-squared bishop and this bishop be comes a very pow er - ful piece. Let us compare this set-up with the King’s Indian Defence. There Black also fianchettoes his king’s bishop, but White occupies the centre with his pawns, placing them on c4, d4 and e4; but even so, Black obtains full-fledged play.

I would ad vise you not to think of the Catalan as an independent opening, unconnected with any other. If you wish to build a general repertoire, based on the fianchetto of the king’s bishop, then you need to study a whole range of vari a tions with the bishop on g2. This includes g2-g3 against the Benko Gambit, the King’s Indian, the Benoni and the Grünfeld. I do not claim that this is the only good way to fight against these open ings, but if you have this general conception to meet these systems with a kingside fianchetto, then you will develop a better feel for the positions, the more ideas you are familiar with. This improves your understanding of chess in general, be cause ideas from one opening can be used in others, and such inter connectedness is very useful.

The material in this book is arranged in the classical way – starting with the rarest variations and moving towards the most popular. But it should be noted that ‘rare variations’ does not necessarily mean ‘bad variations’. For example, in the opening chapters, we look at some variations which arise via other openings, such as the Queen’s Indian and Tarrasch Defence. I have included these in the book because they can arise via the Catalan move-order. Black can play ...b7-b6 or ...c7-c5, and the reader will immediately be able to obtain all the information he needs. It would be cheating if we simply referred him to an other book. Thus, with this book, you can prepare for the whole spectrum of positions of the Catalan type. Of course, the most concrete and tactical lines arise after 4...d5xc4. Black takes a pawn, after which he has a mass of possible moves. White must remember the precise reply to all the main moves, be cause a pawn is a pawn – if you do not man age either to re gain it, or to obtain sufficient compensation, then Black will simply have an extra pawn.

One interesting idea for Black is to check on b4 with the bishop, and, in reply to Ãd2, to trans fer his bishop to e7 or d6, and place his pawns on c6 and b6 and his other bishop on b7. This is possibly the most solid set-up for Black against the Catalan, but at the same time, it is quite passive. White seizes the centre, after which it is not so easy for Black to obtain full equality.

Black’s main idea is to play ...Be7, ... 0-0, and then take on c4. After Qc2 a6 White can play a2-a4, but there we have a great many variations. In my opinion, from a posi - tional viewpoint, the immediate recapture on c4 is more correct, so as then to try to es - tab lish piece con trol over the cen tre. An im por tant sub tlety in this line is the multi-pur - pose move Ãd2. First of all, White wants to see how his opponent will re ply, and how he will ar range his pieces. If Black brings his knight to c6, then he can not play ...c7-c5; if he puts it on d7, then White has the possibility of Ãa5; and if he plays ...Ãe4, then later on this bishop will come un der at tack.

In my opinion, the structure of this book is quite precise; I do not be lieve I have over - looked any im por tant set-ups. For further study of this won der ful opening I would rec - om mend, of course, that you study the games of strong play ers. For example, you can start with the games of Karpov in this opening. In our day, the best exponent of the Catalan is probably Vladimir Kramnik, who has achieved fantastic results in this opening. I very much like the way he handles the line in games against very strong opponents, who are excellently prepared for the Catalan. Even so, Vladimir man ages to find small nuances and out play his opponents all the same!

Vladislav Tkachiev un der stands the Cata lan wonderfully well, and I love analysing his games with my pupils. I also rec om mend you study the games of such strong GMs as Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand.

There is one piece of advice that I never tire of repeating: if you use the computer in your preparations, never choose a move solely be cause the computer recommends it. You must try to understand and ex plain the move to your self, un der stand why this move should be played just now, and why not some thing else? What are the ideas behind the move, what plan is it following? It is always useful to hold a conversation with yourself, and ex plain in words what the move in tends. In this way, you will mas ter the material better, and in addition, independent analytical work is very important for the development of your chess understanding.

I hope that this book will come to lie at the heart of your open ing rep er toire, based on the open ing move 1.d2-d4. For fur ther study ma te rial I can rec om mend Boris Avrukh’s Grand mas ter Rep er toire for White with 1.d2-d4, where many Cata lan vari a tions are con - sid ered in great de tail.

I wish you suc cess in play ing the Cata lan. It is not es sen tial to have a knowl edge of the Cata lan lan guage, to play this open ing! You only need to know the Cata lan ‘chess lan guage’.

Victor Bologan
Kishinev, June 2012

Detaljert info
Innbundet? Nei
Type Bok
Språk Engelsk
Antall sider 252