A player once pronounced that he could carry out Alekhine's winning combinations if he could get into a position to start the attack.  It is likely that most of us could make the same claim, but how do we get into a position from which the attack can be launched?  In his latest book Gary Lane sets out to cure this problem. He is well qualified to do so as he is well known as an attacking player who does not hold back when an attack is on the cards - and he knows when and how to arrange the cards

To address and expound on this subject, Gary uses the following chapter headings:

1. Count the Pieces

2. Carry on Attacking

3.Direct Attacks from the Opening

4. Secrets of Success

5. Cashing in Your Chips

6. History Always Repeats Itself

7. Tricks of the Trade

In addition there is a ten page Introduction, an index of openings and an index of complete games.

Gary's oeuvre of books is now very considerable, but he still writes with the same enthusiasm and verve that distinguished his early books. Clearly time has not diminished his love of the game and his need to communicate that love to the reader.  This he achieves in a somewhat light-hearted manner sprinkled with humour and a deep knowledge of the history of the game.  He rarely fails to highlight the theme he is examining without an apt quotation from chess writings throughout the ages.  Here is a quotation he uses when annotating a game by Mikhail Tal

"Tal doesn't move the pieces by hand, he uses a magic wand" - Vicsheslav Ragozin."

Let's take a look at how the themes are presented and explained.

Count the Pieces

This is not just a question of counting the pieces that are on the board, rather than counting the pieces available to attack and whether these are more and better placed than your opponents.  A simple proposition, but how many of us launch an attack with too few pieces and get repulsed.  In many cases when an attack is repulsed, the retreating player is likely to lose the game.  To illustrate this theme an example is attached here, showing how the late grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric overcame his opponent in a game from the Yugoslav Championship of 1975. Gary's annotations are succinct and very much to the point. I was interested to note that his annotations are deeper than I have seen in many of his books.  They are not as deep and lengthy as those in his Chess Café series, but long enough for one to be led  well and truly into the real underlying features of the position he is examining. This isn't necessarily achieved by long analysis but rather by good and informative descriptions.  However, his down-to-earth approach has not deserted him as these notes are clear and make the right impact.  This is particularly relevant to the next chapter ......

Carry on Attacking

...... which contains mostly annotated games where the players have castled on opposite sides.  In these cases the attack on the king is predominately carried out by the advance of the pawns in front of ones own king, thus adding to the danger.  It behoves the attacker, in this event, to attend to the defence of his own king.  The message is, don't go over to out-and-out defence but try to achieve the right balance of attack and defence, but don't give up the attack.

Among the examples given is the game Y.Razuvaev/ I Sokolov played in the Tilburg tournament of 1992.  In this game the following position was reached after Black's 23rd move with Gary's notes :


24. Ne4?

White might be adding another piece to the attack but this comes at the heavy price of neglecting his own king.  Perhaps 24.f5 needs to be examined, though the complications are tremendous

24 ...Bg7 15.Qxh7ch Kf8 26.f5

White just needs to be able to safely play f5-f6 and black will be in trouble, but Sokolov has seen further. 26.g5 Qxa2 27.Nf6 Qxc4+ 28.Kb1 was no better due to 28....Qa2 29.Kc1 Red8 and Black is winning easily e.g. 30.Qg8 Ke7 31.Qxg7 Qa1 32.Kc2 b3+ 33.Kc3 Qa5mate.

26. ...Qxa2!

The best way to defend is by attacking!

  A fine example of the theme of this chapter.  Incidentally, this is also a good example of the many diagrams that are used in that as well as the diagram shown above, another precedes Black's 26th move.

Direct Attacks from the Opening

Before delving in to the nuts and bolts of this subject, Gary sets out the criteria for such a successful attack.  Firstly he recommends that one should have a very good knowledge of the opening that you are going to play and secondly that the opening should have the potential for tricks and traps.  He then proceeds to examine a number of games in which the notes carry on the advice he has to offer on the subject. 

This is the biggest chapter covering 36 pages.

Secrets of Success 

Here Gary re-iterates Steinitz' advise that when you have an advantage you should go on to the attack.  It also gives him chance to use his dictum from previous books - "Predict-a-move" in suggesting that you work out your opponent's plan and then find a move that hides a trap.  His first illustration of this theme involves a game of his own ....


G. LANE - R. Eccles

Touckley 2007

White to play.

This is the earliest example I could think of that demonstrates Black walking into a trap in a French Defence.  Black has applied the usual pressure against the d4-pawn with ....Nc6 and ...Qb6, so I'm happy to make things easier for him.


A perfectly reasonable move, preparing Ne2 and setting up a trap if Black wants to grab the d-pawn.

11. ...Nxd4? 12.Nx4 Qxd4?

Still happily counting the pawns.




 This theme occurs in other variations of the French Defence, principally in the Milner-Barry Gambit.

In this chapter there are 15 fragments of play that give examples of successful attacks mainly based on the "predict-a-move" philosophy.

Cashing in Your Chips

The contents of this chapter need no further explanation than the title - when you are ahead of the game, recognise this and bring the game to a rapid conclusion in your favour.  The examples quoted are include the game Lane/Smyslov from the 1989 Lloyds Bank Tournament.  At the end of this game which was drawn, Smyslov's rather laconic statement to Gary was "You missed checkmate".  Need any more be said?

 History Always Repeats Itself

We should learn the lessons of history is the theme here.  Chess is no different than life.  We should learn from our own mistakes and success and from the mistakes and success of others.  Why suffer when it could have been avoided by knowing and applying the lessons of history?

This chapter gives Gary a reason to put forward 11 complete games, all annotated, and several fragments of play, that all display features of modern games that have some connection with the classic games.  

Tricks of the Trade 

Here Gary passes on hints that will help in your play.

Typical themes are :

Watch the Clock

Missed Opportunity

Opponent in Time-trouble

Never say Die

Openings on the internet

No time to learn.

Resignation - not the best move

These are all hints from an experienced player, that will help in your over-the-board play and the observance of which should improve your results.

Generally, this is a fine book from the hand of one of the finest chess authors.  Gary has a technique of making a point in a succinct and entertaining manner.

The format of the book is up to Everymans standard with clear print and many diagrams.  The cover is in eye catching attractive colours that you should not miss in the bookshop.

Quite recently Everymans have started to publish e-books to read on Kindle or your PC, and they have reproduced "Prepare to Attack" in this format. I have mixed feelings concerning Kindle publications, as I like to see row upon row of books that one can lift off the shelves and browse. However, as long as they continue to publish paper books, I have no problems with other means of publishing.

Whatever form you prefer, I can recommend adding this book to your collection, and if you are looking for a Christmas gift for your son, daughter, spouse or other close relation, look no further.

"Prepare to Attack" is published by Everymans, contains 192 pages at a recommended price of £15.99


Bill Frost

December 2012