The Reti Opening: Properly Played

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The Reti Opening: Properly Played

By Jerzy Konikowski and Uwe Bekemann

Joachim Beyer Verlag, 2019

ISBN: 9783959209809

The right way to play the Reti.

This useful monograph surveys white’s principal lines of play following the moves 1.Nf3 d5. It is clear that white’s most convincing move here is 2.c4, but before moving on to that the authors cover both 2.g3 (in Chapter 1) and 2.b3 (Chapter 2). It is a bit dull, in truth, 2.g3, unless white plays a later c4. But 2.b3 can lead to lively positions.

After 2.c4, black can respond with 2…d4 (covered in Chapter 3), 2…e6 (Chapter 4) or 2…dxc4 (Chapter 5); however, the most common response nowadays is the Slav-like 2…c6.

Our options as white now are 3.b3 (dealt with in Chapter 6; and this move can lead, as when played on move two, to rich and lively positions), 3.e3 (examined in Chapter 7: an interesting approach that can give rise to strategically complex, Hedgehog like positions), and 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2, which is the main line.

On 4.Bg2, black has several possibilities, chief among them being 4…Bf5 (Chapter 8), 4…Bg4 (Chapter 9), 4…e6 (Chapter 10) and 4…g6 (Chapter 11). These four moves, while different in approach, are of about equal worth. If followed up correctly, they all should more or less equalise.

All told, I found the theoretical material (briefly summarised above) to be clearly presented and accompanied by a full, forensic analysis. Each chapter closes with some helpful concluding remarks.

In addition to the theory of the opening, there are 31 illustrative games in the final chapter, Chapter 12, including victories by Reti himself, as well as fine wins by world champions Carlsen, Kramnik, Botvinnik, and Capablanca. Most of these games are positional or strategic in nature, quite in keeping with the spirit of the Reti, but there are a few wild and wonderful creatures as well. Of these, I would point you toward Capablanca-Bogoljubov, Moscow 1925 (game 17) and Ivanchuk-Alekseyev, Jermuk 2009 (game 3) as radiant exemplars. In general, the annotations are along the lines of strategic explanations of the play, and they are very lucid at that, but when needed there is heavy duty analysis, intricate in detail.

From the assembled theoretical material, white can eke out a fair number of lines of play. For example, white could employ the line 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3; or 2.c4 c6 3.e3; or the main line 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2. But note that moves other than 1…d5 are not covered in this book. So if you intend to play 1.Nf3 and want to know how to meet 1…c5, 1…Nf6 (maybe angling for the King’s Indian Defence), or 1…f5, you need to look elsewhere. If you are in this quandary, I would recommend Nigel Davies’s The Dynamic Reti. Although somewhat dated (it first came out in 2004), it is an excellent repertoire book and even today his recommendations hold up well. It is helpful, in this connection, that there are few critical lines in the Reti, situations where white is called upon to burn his bridges.

Now for a few concluding remarks of my own. There is no clearly best approach by white in the Reti, it would seem, since black can equalise with accurate play against virtually anything that is thrown at him. Though, having said that, the path to equality will sometimes narrow slightly. So white should aim to sculpture a middlegame that will give rise to complicated strategic play. The comprehensive treatment of the opening in The Reti Opening: Properly Played, where it is properly presented and analysed, will furnish the reader with the tools to do just that.

The publisher’s description of The Reti Opening: Properly Played is here.

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