1999 United States Chess Federation Book of the Year

1999 British Chess Federation Book of the Year

BCF Book of the Year 1999

It is now seventy years since Nimzowitsch wrote his monumental work My System. While it remains a fundamental work on chess strategy, the way chess positions are handled has changed greatly since Nimzowitsch's time - both refinements to existing ideas, and completely new concepts. John Watson's book fulfils the need for a thorough, profound work on the modern handling of chess positions, and how Nimzowitsch's theories - still controversial and revolutionary at the time My System was written - have been refined and used alongside classical concepts.

The first section of the book discusses how the understanding of classical themes, such as pawn majorities, the centre, and structural weaknesses, have been refined. Watson then moves on to discuss new concepts, including the willingness of modern players to accept backward pawns in return for dynamic play, the idea of a good 'bad' bishop, knights finding useful roles at the edge of the board and the exchange sacrifice idea that became prevalent with the post-war Soviet champions. This profound yet thoroughly practical work is rounded off with sections on prophylactic thinking, dynamism, modern concepts as they apply to the critical contemporary opening systems, and some thoughts on the future of chess.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

Watch a YouTube video in which GM John Nunn presents a sample from this book.

Gambit books by Watson: The Gambit Guide to the Modern Benoni, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, Chess Strategy in Action, Mastering the Chess Openings volume 1, Mastering the Chess Openings volume 2, Mastering the Chess Openings volume 3, Mastering the Chess Openings volume 4, Chess Openings for Kids, A Strategic Chess Opening Repertoire for White.

“Even if I had six stars in my rating, this book would get seven! Forget the theories of Nimzowitsch in original form. Learn instead the system of IM J.Watson and expand your understanding. Rating: 5/5 ***** Highest Recommendation!” - Lukas Wedrychowski, DAILYCHESSTV

“...can, without resorting to hyperbole, be considered a classic...” - GM Nigel Short, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

“A masterpiece... its feast of featured themes is wonderfully elucidated by very clear explanations and hundreds of illustrative examples” - GM Paul Motwani, THE SCOTSMAN

“No one who reads this book can fail to learn something... one of the best books to appear for a very long time” - Alan Sutton, EN PASSANT

“A thoughtful and stimulating book providing the chess student with revealing and original insights into chess thinking” - John Saunders, BBC CEEFAX

“...may have as much influence on our future understanding of chess as Nimzowitsch’s My System had” - GM Simen Agdestein, VERDENS GANG

Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy has the kind of staying power and relevance that will bear reading and re-reading in decades to come... belongs on the shelf of any serious chess student” - Randy Bauer, RANDY’S REVIEWS

“No matter what your level of play, you will marvel at the insights...Watson teaches you the classical rules of chess, and then illustrates how those rules often must be broken” - Cecil Rosner, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“An excellent work” - GM Lubosh Kavalek, WASHINGTON POST

“We took copies to the Warren Stenburg Memorial in Minneapolis... we sold every one of them. Word of mouth spread like crazy. Highly recommended” - Bob Long, THE CHESS GAZETTE

“Marvellously written, scholarly and persuasive... the best available discursive history of strategic developments in modern chess” - John Hurley, SUNDAY TRIBUNE