Graham Burgess

A good opening repertoire need not require an enormous amount of study to be highly effective. A cunning choice of lines and move-orders can steer the game to positions that we like and deny the opponent his preferred strategies.

In this book, highly experienced chess opening writer Graham Burgess presents a repertoire based on 1 d4 and Nf3 with precisely those aims. Black’s possibilities for counterplay - and sharp gambit play - are kept to a minimum. Our aim is to give Black exactly the type of position he doesn’t want. If he is seeking blocked positions with pawn-chains, we’ll keep the game fluid. If he wants complex strategy, we’ll attack him with simple piece-play. Simplifications? No thanks, we’ll keep the pieces on and intensify the battle. Gambits? Hardly, as we simply prevent most of them!

The main cornerstones of the repertoire are carefully chosen Queen’s Gambit lines, the Torre Attack (vs ...e6), and a variety of fianchetto options against the King’s Indian and related set-ups. White’s position is kept highly flexible, with many possible transpositions to a wide variety of systems that the reader can use to extend and vary the repertoire. The book features a wealth of new ideas and original analysis.

FIDE Master Graham Burgess is Gambit’s Editorial Director, and one of the founders of the company. He holds the world record for marathon blitz chess playing, and lives in Minnesota. This is his 23rd chess book.

“An important openings book which, en passant, offers a great deal of general and useful information” – Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad

“The title has the word ‘cunning’ in it. In essence what does that mean? Well it comes down to the very important issue of move order. It is about trying to steer your opponent into positions that you like, denying them the chance to fight on their territory. Features a wealth of new ideas and original analysis” – Carl Portman,

“Burgess’ repertoire begins with the move 1 d4, and generally he avoids tactical complications where possible. Crucially, this repertoire requires only moderate levels preparation compared to the main lines so many books tout. Due to the non-critical nature of the play, a player who employs it won’t need to constantly keep up with new moves and changes in the theory, because those are unlikely to influence the assessment, or at any rate won’t create a life-or-death situation. I’m already teaching a couple of these systems to students of mine, and it has served to expand their frontiers while also succeeding in terms of results. For that reason alone, I can recommend Burgess’ book; with luck, we’ll have the fortune to get A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for Black from the same author!’’ ” – John Watson, TWIC

“The repertoire is definitely sound and will certainly make opponents think for themselves more frequently than they do when following longer theoretical lines. By generally avoiding an early crisis in the tactical department (due to dodging gambit lines) a player adopting this repertoire should be able to improve their positional middlegame skills too, based on a good understanding of what each line is trying to achieve” – Sean Marsh,

“One difference between the repertoire offered by Burgess and in some other books, is there no attempt to get all the lines to match. All the transpositions are covered but instead of 1.d4, 2.Nf3 and 3.Bg5 against everything, A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White offers a much more nuanced approach. This includes Romanishin’s favorite 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.a4 as well as 5.g3 versus the Semi-Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.g3). This approach requires more work but the payoffs are better chances for an opening advantage and fresher play” – IM John Donaldson

Gambit books by Graham Burgess: Chess Highlights of the 20th Century, Gambit Guide to the Torre Attack, The Slav, The Taimanov Sicilian, Chess Openings for Kids, The Gambit Book of Instructive Chess Puzzles, A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.