I was looking through the book Simple Chess by British GM John Emms again and every time I do, I must admit I’m pretty impressed with it. In the introduction Emms writes, “This book is aimed as an introduction to positional chess; what to do when you reach a level where the phrase ‘chess is 99% tactics’ is no longer applicable; what to think about when your opponents see your traps even before you’ve set them; how to exploit a minute advantage such as a better P-structure or an opponent’s badly placed piece.”
Emms splits the book into three sections. Section 1 covers how and how not to take care of your pieces. This includes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ B’s, outposts and open files. Section 2 covers Pawns and P-structures including isolated, doubled, backward P’s, IQP’s and hanging P’s. Section 3 deals with such things as space, color complexes, opposite B’s and positional sacs.
Early on in the book where he is discussing outposts, he gives several sample games using the Najdorf Sicilian. Yes, he uses these games as examples and not some unusual, weird, offbeat or unsound opening. Using these games puts Emms in the same class as GM Alex Yermolinsky who advocates that aspiring players should not shun mainline openings played by GM’s. I would highly recommend this book to players who are stuck in the range of, say, 1400-1600, or maybe 1700, who have been devoting time to nothing but openings and tactics. The material contained in it should be enough to push them over 1800.
Speaking of the Najdorf Sicilian, he states, “this particular battle often revolves around the d5 square. If White can secure the d5 square as an outpost then his chances of success usually increase.” I found the following short game particularly instructive. You’ll notice that playing well positionally gave White enough of an edge that he can finish off the game tactically.