Reader's guide: Fine's Ideas Behind the Chess Openings

Fine's "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings" is a great book, but dated.

  In understanding the motivations behind the major opening systems, and explaining the reasons behind the various move orders, it's great, but since 1943 judgements about chess openings have moved on a bit. Fine's probably OK on the advantages and disadvantages of a given move, but sometimes moves that he gives a thumbs-down to have been shown to be at least OK. However, I don't know anything more recent that is as good (as deep, as concise).

  So, what we need is Fine with footnotes. Where Fine says on p.?? that moving the Bishop to c4 in the Sicilian is useless, we need a footnote (1) saying that "(1) This idea was revived in the 1970s with success, particularly by Fischer."

  I don't know if any publisher has plans to do this, but we can do that right here. [Like Larry Evans' BCE corrections].

  Page references depend on editions: it would be helpful to quote chapter and verse instead or as well.

Chapter 1:
Comment: Players rated less than 1600 (class C) can often achieve remarkable advantages out of the opening by simply playing "outdated" openings. Part of the reason is that their opponents are playing "lines", while they are playing *concepts*. Many double-K-pawn openings fall in this category. They have faded from master play because, with proper play, White simply doesn't get as much of an advantage as a master aspires to. But, the concepts are relatively clearcut, and in a game between two C players it hardly matters that theory has discovered equalizing resources for Black in all lines.

  ...Get "Fine". Read it. Follow his suggestions in actual play until:
a) you lose games because of his "out of date" suggestions
b) you understand why "modern" lines are better.(KS)

Chapter ?: Sicilian
Comment: Ok, everyone talks about the inadequacy of the Sicilian section, but points I haven't noticed anyone mention before:

  a) No talk of Yugoslav attack at all
b) Najdorf lines distributed over Scheveningen and other lines in discussion
(EP) c) Bc4 approach in Najdorf is underestimated (DR)

Chapter ?: Pirc/Modern
Comment: Fine dismisses this setup in a paragraph under "Irregular Openings". This, if nothing else (other than KID & Sicilian) needs to be mentioned in detail. (EP)
Chapter ?: Scandinavian (Centre Counter)
Comment: Fine says that this "cannot be recommended", although it now seems very playable. We need only recall the WC Kasparov-Anand encounter, for example. (VL)
Chapter ?: Benoni/Benko Gambit.
Comment: These were fledging openings when Fine wrote the book, and he only gives a paragraph or two to each. I would *love* to see an "Ideas" write-up on the Benoni, since I don't understand it at all. (EP) [Also, King's Indian (DR)]
Chapter ?: Catalan System.
Comment: The book considers the closed variation the "main line", whereas the open variation is played much more today. Also, the discussion of the open variation is limited to the 5.Qa4+ lines, with no mention of the (more popular?) 5.Nf3 lines. A further minor note is that he seems to regard the QGA and QGD as the most common ways to get to it as opposed to 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3. (EP)


Thanks are due to the following contributors:

  Eric Petrusic (EP); Ken Sloan (KS) ; Vitaly Livshits (VL)

Chess Quotes

"You cannot play at chess if you are kind-hearted."