Chess Book Reviews

Fundamental Chess Openings

cover of a chess book on openings

All editions credit authorship to Paul van der Sterren. This book was originally published in three volumes in 1988, in the Dutch language. The English version was first printed in 2009 by Gambit Publications. Fundamental Chess Openings (FCO) is generally not recommended for beginners but for experienced club players and tournament competitors, and that can be important if you’re looking for a book to give as a gift.


Brief Review of the Chess Book

FCO covers a wide range of chess openings, similar to Modern Chess Openings (MCO) except that FCO appears much more devoted to explaining the purposes of the various lines, for example (in two different parts of the book):

[Queen’s Gambit Accepted] Two other moves, 3 e3 and 3 Nc3, were considered less accurate for a very long time because they allow the bold response 3 … e5. The position after, say, 3 e3  e5  4 dxe5  Qxd1+  5 Kxd1  Be6  is indeed fine for Black, but recent practice has shown that White can do much better: 4 Bxc4!  exd4  5 exd4 (or 3 Nc3 e5  4 e3!  exd4  5 exd4) when the resulting middlegame with an isolated pawn on d4 is perfectly playable for White.

[Bogo-Indian] This is a very popular variation, illustrative of the fact that the Bogo-Indian is really all about subtle positional judgment. Lovers of wild tactical complications will not feel at ease here (at least not in the opening stage of the game) and for this reason many players use the Bogo as an occasional weapon, hoping to unbalance an opponent who they think might feel uncomfortable in this type of purely positional play.

opening book FCO

One Amazon customer reviewer said:

FCO is by far the best general chess opening book. Reading this book you will get:
A historical perspective of chess opening evolution.
A clear understanding of each opening and variation covered in the book.
A very nice reading, even it is possible to follow most of the content without a chess board.

Fundamental Facts

479 pages (although Amazon says “448”) – Paperback, about 10 inches by 7 inches

ISBN-13: 978-1906454135  (English)

On Nov 17, 2015, this was ranked #30 best-selling book on Amazon in the sub-category “Puzzles & Games > Chess”



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“Nearly-Identical Positions” for Chess Beginners

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Giving a Chess Book as a Gift

What is the chess-playing skill of the gift recipient, when you’re to give a chess book as a gift? That’s a big question needing an answer.