If you like Karpov’s black openings this is an underrated gem
Now, I have to admit being attracted to this book when I first bought it many years ago because Anatoly Karpov, the 12th World Champion, has always been my favorite player. I remember enthusiastically reading his Grandmaster Musings column in Chess Life magazine in the late 1990s.
Khalifman did a five-volume series on Vladimir Kramnik’s white opening repertoire, Opening for White according to Kramnik, and years later made a new edition of these books. He also wrote a 14(!) volume series on Viswanathan Anand’s white opening repertoire, Opening for white according to Anand.
The Karpov book is a slim 187 pages plus an Index of Variations, and there are no other books in the series. Still, it’s a definitely worth having if you have interest in playing drier openings that resist cutting-edge theory.
The openings for black
Against 1.e4: Caro-Kann
After 3.Nc3/Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4, he gives 4…Nd7.
Of course…this is often known as the Karpov Variation!
In the Advance Variation, Short System after 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2,
Khalifman’s guidance on sidelines is sound and easy to understand. In general Chess Stars authors really shine at conveying the ideas behind the moves.
Against 1.d4: Nimzo-Indian, Queen’s Indian, Catalan
You start with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6, as Karpov usually did.
Against 3.Nc3 you go for the Karpov Variation of the Nimzo-Indian (3…Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 cxd4 9.exd4 b6).
The coverage is better than I’ve seen anywhere else. Again, supplement with newer games.
Against 3.Nf3, the recipe is the Queen’s Indian with 3…b6.
I suppose 4.g3 Ba6 is the main line here
so you’ll want to consult a database for more up-to-date games.
Against 3.g3, when white plays the Catalan, you play 3…d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0
The explanations are great, but as I keep saying, you need to supplement the text with contemporary games.
A similar approach with …Nf6 and …e6 is given against Queen Pawn Games like the London, Trompowsky, Torre, Veresov, etc.
Against 1.c4: English with 1…e5
I’m not a specialist on these lines, so I can’t comment on how theory now views the lines given, but once again the commentary is instructive.
Against 1.Nf3: 1…Nf3 2.c4 b6
Some similarities with the Queen’s Indian section, but in many lines Khalifman recommends a double fianchetto and does a great job showing how the play can develop. Again, newer approaches are missing, but it’s a great start.
Khalifman also gives some guidance against 1.b3 and 1.g3 in this chapter.
As you can see, this book has definite limitations in 2020. Still, the structure of the repertoire, care taken about move orders, and above all the easy-to-understand insightful commentary make Opening for Black according to Karpov one of the forgotten opening book gems of the past 20 years.