Top positive review
THE Pirc Handbook!
January 11, 2002
I will write a more detailed review later. But this is THE book to buy if you play the Pirc. Players ABOVE 1900 will find it VERY useful.
(Why don't they ever put diagrams in a book from Black's side or perspective? I think there should be TWO versions of a book like this, one for a WHITE Pirc Player, and one for a BLACK Pirc Player!)
An overall nine out of a possible 10!
(09/2002) Addendum: I now have had this book for probably more than 6 months. (Several fans sent me a copy.) None of my original comments have changed. This is still THE book for the player who wants to play this line. ESPECIALLY if you are planning to play this line in postal or tournament chess!!
There are literally DOZENS of good things about this book, LOTS of explanations, in depth discussions of the tactical and strategic plans. (Etc.) This makes this an opening book SEVERAL levels above average!! It is even a good teaching vehicle! But it is also somewhat dense, several persons have e-mailed me and told me players below a certain rating (say 13-1500) may have a lot of difficulty understanding this treatise.
Now for the few drawbacks to this book. It is VERY much slanted to the player who wishes to play the BLACK side of this line, players of the White pieces will find themselves wondering where certain lines are covered. EXAMPLE: Let's start with the Austrian Attack. (Page # 213.) After the moves: 1.e4, d6; 2.d4, Nf6; 3.Nc3, g6; 4.f4, Bg7; 5.Nf3. Players of the White pieces would hope to find 5...0-0; covered in detail. But you WON'T! Why not? The authors simply pass over this move and recommend Black play 5...c5. Now this move IS covered in GREAT detail .... the authors have left almost no stone uncovered in their comprehensive analysis of these variations. But again, what if you are trying to learn these lines from the White side? (Simple answer: Better have MCO or NCO on the shelf!)
This scenario is repeated over and over. The writers of this book - top GM's who play this line - are telling you to play the lines that they play. (Kinda makes sense, don't it?) But again, players of the White side of the board are left out in the cold.
I could go on and on, but by now - I trust you get the point. Any player who wants to play (and really learn) the Black side of this difficult and uncompromising defence has got to buy this book. Players on the other side of the board - who play these lines - will also need this book; if for no other reason ... to see what lines Alburt and Chernin recommend to the 2nd player, and to plan their repertoire accordingly.
Any player (like me), expecting in depth and and encyclopedic coverage in a book that is 448 pages ... will be a little dissapointed.