Queen’s Gambit Declined: Vienna, Jacek Ilczuk and Krzysztof Panczyk, Everyman Chess, Paperback, ISBN 9781781944776, 336pp., $28.95; Ebook $21.95
Jacek Ilczuk is a senior international master in correspondence chess; while Krzysztof Panczyk is an international master in over-the-board play. Panczyk placed third in the 1991 Polish championship and was awarded a medal for outstanding services to chess by the Polish Chess Federation. The authors have been publishing together for sixteen years in which they have written several books and more than fifty theoretical surveys for the New in Chess Yearbook. They are described as “leading chess theoreticians, well known for the depth and thoroughness of their analysis.” And that is indeed evident here.
Here is how Queen’s Gambit Declined: Vienna is described on the back cover:
“The Vienna variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined is a complex and fascinating system arising after 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 Bb4 5 Bg5 dxc4. This counterattacking weapon has become increasingly popular over the last decade and is frequently seen in games played at the highest level. Many games featuring elite players such as Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand and Lev Aronian have started out in this variation.
“In this QGD/Nimzo-Indian hybrid play can become extremely sharp very quickly and an in-depth knowledge of the theory is essential. Black will often grab material but will suffer from a lack of development and an exposed king. This variation will suit well-prepared players who have good tactical awareness and relish hand-to-hand combat.”
- A complete theoretical survey of an important variation
- A fascinating analysis of the battle between material and the initiative
- Written by leading theoreticians
The main content is divided as follows:
Introduction (11 pages)
Introduction to the Main Line: 7 Bxc4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9 bxc3 Qa5 (4 pages)
The Main Line: 10 Bb5+ Nbd7 11 Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12 Kf1 gxf6 13 h4 a6 14 Rh3 Qa5 (45 pages)
The Main Line: 10 Bb5+ Nbd7 – Deviations (27 pages)
The Main Line: 10 Bb5+ Bd7 (38 pages)
The Main Line: 10 Bxf6 (27 pages)
The Main Line: 10 Nb5 (26 pages)
7 Bxc4 – Deviations (39 pages)
7 e5 cxd4 8 Qa4+ Nc6 9 0-0-0 (27 pages)
6…c5 – Deviations (30 pages)
Black plays 6…h6 (30 pages)
6 e4 – Deviations (14 pages)
White avoids 6 e4 (25 pages)
There is also an index of variations and an index of the seventy-one complete games.
The authors use the introduction to provide a historical survey of the opening. Something I wish more authors would emulate. Here is an excerpt:
“Vienna was a place of rich chess life as early as the second half of the nineteenth century. It held its first international chess tournament in 1873 and by the end of the century eight international tournaments had taken place there. The participants included such prominent chess players as Steinitz, Blackburne, Paulsen, Zukertort, Schlechter, Janowski, Tarrasch and Pillsbury, and later on Duras, Maróczy, Réti, Sämisch, Rubinstein and Tartakower all played in the now Austrian capital. As such, it is scarcely a surprise that some chess openings are named after this very city. One of them is the Vienna variation in the Queen’s Gambit which arises after:
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 dxc4 5 Bg5 Bb4
[FEN”rnbqk2r/ppp2ppp/4pn2/6B1/1bpP4/2N2N2/PP2PPPP/R2QKB1R w KQkq – 0 6”]
“This is the key position of the Vienna. The opening floats somewhere around the realms of the Queen’s Gambit, the Nimzo-Indian and the Ragozin. Sometimes the play may even transpose to sidelines of the Botvinnik complex in the Semi-Slav. In practice, apart from general knowledge, both sides need to be familiar with a number of theoretical opening variations, as well as ideally possessing decent tactical and calculation skills.
“Not only does Black’s idea look very aggressive, but also it is extremely ambitious. He develops his dark-squared bishop to pin the knight on c3 and then (after …c7-c5) plans to increase the pressure by …Qa5. By capturing the c4-pawn, Black avoids the exchange on d5 which would lead to a Karlsbad structure or an isolated pawn on d5 if Black would like to push …c7-c5. Consequently, the c- and d-files are left open.
“White, on the other hand, gives as good as he gets and usually actively takes the centre by advancing e2-e4. Black is often forced to leave his king in the centre, as queenside castling is usually impossible due to problems with development of the light-squared bishop, and kingside castling is dangerous as White usually exchanges his bishop on f6, weakening the pawn structure on the kingside.
“After the most popular 6 e4 Black should play the active 6…c5. Here a very complicated position with mutual chances appears. Now White has at his disposal very sharp variations in the classical system with 7 e5. This forced line was common in the early days of the popularity of the Vienna, but nowadays it is again becoming fashionable, as it allows White to considerably sharpen the play and depart from the deeply worked out variations in the main line which remains 7 Bxc4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9 bxc3.
[FEN “rnbqk2r/pp3ppp/4pn2/6B1/2BNP3/2P5/P4PPP/R2QK2R b KQkq – 0 9”]
“Now the play has more a strategic if also sharp character. Theory, however, suggests that after a complicated middlegame a more peaceful ending may arise – if both sides know their stuff.
“In the Vienna variation both players ideally should demonstrate a whole range of skills: tactical, especially the ability to obtain an initiative as a compensation for the pawn, and strategic, as well as excellent knowledge of both concrete variations and endings. Not everyone is up for that and the opening certainly allows both sides to play for a win.
“The earliest game in the Vienna ended in a draw, and in a sideline of the opening.”
The authors then present the game Bogoljubow-Wolf, Karlsbad 1923, along with six other games reaching out to 1943. The first five chapters cover the main line variation: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 Bb4 5 Bg5 dxc4 6 e4 c5 7 Bxc4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9 bxc3 Qa5. Chapter six deals with the remaining deviations of the main line not already covered. Chapters seven and eight present all variations after 6…c5, other than 7 Bxc4. Chapter nine takes up the move 6…h6, with the last two chapters looking at unusual sidelines for both white and black. Each chapter begins with a summary of the opening moves followed by a detailed theoretical overview. Next come deeply annotated complete illustrative games with the most recent being from 2013. The close of each chapter features a conclusion from the authors summing up the main points.
Queen’s Gambit Declined: Vienna is a deep theoretical work. The deviations presented at just a single move can span three or more pages, most proffered with an explanation of the authors assessments. The quoted games are from over-the-board play, rapid play, and plenty from correspondence play, with the most recently played games being from 2016, at least for what I found. If you play the Queen’s Gambit Declined Vienna Variation, then you need to keep this book on hand. It will be your reference volume for a very long time.
As with any opening work from Everyman, I recommend buying the ebook because it is available as a PGN file. This can then be used as a foundation for a repertoire database that you can build based on your own experiences and analysis. In the case of Queen’s Gambit Declined: Vienna, I would strongly consider buying both versions!