an excellent monograph on the Petrosian system, still reckoned to be White’s best response to the Queen’s Indian Defence.
The Petrosian system is introduced by White’s distinctive fourth move in the sequence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3. Part 1 of the book covers the consequences of 4 … c5 and 4 … Ba6, but the main focus is on 4 … Bb7 (Parts 2-11). A final section (Part 12) focuses on gambit lines. Surprisingly perhaps, the purpose of 4.a3 is to fight for the e4 square. White spends a tempo to prevent … Bb4 in response to Nc3, which enables the knight to support e2-e4.
After the usual 4 … Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5, the first player has three options. The older 7.e3 generally leads to quiet positional play; the e-pawn will reach e4 in two moves, not one. The modern 7.Qc2, aiming for an immediate e2-e4, is much sharper. White will meet … Nxc3 with bxc3, capturing toward the centre, and castle kingside after Bd3. Sharpest of all, mind, is the Dementiev system, characterised by 7.Bd2. White aims to play Qc2, 0-0-0 and a later e2-e4, recapturing on c3 with the bishop. If Black responds with … c5 at some point, as he really should, the situation can get very dicey for both sides. Whatever option he chooses, White can usually count on a smooth harmonious development.
Each section has the same format: ‘Main Ideas’ to give the gist – a general overview – of a particular variation or system; ‘Move by Move’ to present the analytical nitty-gritty. This format strikes me as an effective, user-friendly way to set out the theoretical material, though some complete illustrative games would have been welcome. The prose is fine overall, though the translation does read peculiarly in a few places: ‘that’ where ‘this’ would be appropriate, the omission of an indefinite article here and there. There is plenty of helpful explanatory text alongside the often heavy-weight analysis and a conclusion ends each section.
That Beliavsky is the co-author is a virtual guarantee of quality, and so it turns out. All in all, this is a balanced and authoritative examination of the Petrosian system.
You can view a pdf extract (contents page and foreword) from The Petrosian System Against the QID here.
By Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin
Chess Stars, 2008