"A Fighters Repertoire Against the Famous Sicilians"

From the first moment (about a year ago) when Mr. Daniel Vanheirzeele from Thinkers Publishing contacted me about the possibility of writing an opening book, I was really excited about the prospect. Writing a chess book was a completely new direction for me, and anything new excites me and gives me a high. Then after some discussion we narrowed the topic down to 1.e4 (‘Best by test’) and I found myself with a contract to cover two major variations within the Sicilian: the sharp Najdorf and the trendy Taimanov.

I actually already had a decent reputation as a dangerous theoretician on the white side of 1.e4, and in particular against these two openings. I had shown some interesting ideas in my games over the years which were the result of my real passion for opening knowledge, a trait which has stayed with me throughout my chess career.

From a very young age I had this incurable curiosity about intricacies in the opening. One memorable episode, of which I remain proud even today, occurred when I was 13 years old. I had been watching the game Karjakin – Anand at Wijk aan Zee 2006, in which Vishy unleashed a fascinating novelty with 24…Nc7. After watching that game I was unable to sleep and I began to analyze the crazy, razor-sharp English attack for hours and hours. I found some very interesting ideas and shortly afterwards I showed them to my coach GM R.B.Ramesh (a very famous, world-class trainer) in a training session. There were, in total, 20 pages of analysis based upon the game! He was stunned by the level of detail as it was not normal for a thirteen year old in those days to create such in-depth analysis (of course now it’s a different story as people regularly become Grandmasters at the age of 13!).

From that time on I’ve been consistently cementing my reputation, especially among my fellow Indian Grandmasters, as an opening expert. I have real insights to impart from the many years of work and so it was a no-brainer for me to seize the opportunity to write a book and share my knowledge with the readers. The only remaining hurdle was the time factor. Being an active and ambitious player, I had many tournaments lined up on my schedule and was not sure when I could find time to work on this project, since it was clear that it would be a sizeable undertaking. Second thoughts crept into my mind at some point, but once I got started on the work, I built up a lot of momentum. In both the openings, I’ve worked tirelessly to find new paths and provide fresh perspective.

Thanks are due to Mr. Vanheirzeele, a passionate chess lover, for giving me that extra time cushion when I needed it and for having great belief in my work. I would also like to thank GM Romain Edouard, the editor, for suggesting improvements. They truly helped me do my best work and I think the end result that you are holding contains a really impressive array of new ideas.

It gives me great pride to be writing these lines and signing my name at long last on this page. As they say, the first one is always special. I present to you my first opening book, which I really hope you enjoy!

S.P. Sethuraman
Chennai, May 2020

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