* The perfect survival guide to the chess openings
* All openings covered
* Detailed verbal explanations of plans for both sides
* Up-to-date and featuring many tips and recommendations
* Insights into the 'character' of each opening
* Written by one of the world's foremost opening experts

The first moves of a chess game define the nature of the whole struggle, as both players stake their claim to the critical squares and start to develop their plans. It is essential to play purposefully and to avoid falling into traps or reaching a position that you don't understand.

This is not a book that provides masses of variations to memorize. Paul van der Sterren instead offers a wealth of ideas and explanation, together with the basic variations of each and every opening. This knowledge will equip players to succeed in the opening up to good club level, and provide a superb grounding in opening play on which to build a more sophisticated repertoire. The strategies he explains will, unlike ever-changing chess opening theory, remain valid as long as chess is played, and so the time spent studying this book will be rewarded many times over.

Grandmaster Paul van der Sterren has won the Dutch Championship on two occasions, and in 1993 reached the Candidates stage of the World Chess Championship. He is an internationally renowned chess writer and editor: he was one of the founding editors of New in Chess, for whose Yearbooks he has contributed more than 150 opening surveys.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

"What this book does do is to give you ideas about how to direct your opening studies. If you fancy taking up an opening, then there is plenty of material here to allow you to research it. For juniors embarking on this exciting hobby, then it is a wonderful 'one stop shop' tour of chess openings without young players needing to resort to an encyclopaedic maze of variations. Another impressive feature of this book is the index of variations, and more importantly, the index of named variations - allowing players to find out exactly what the basic theoretical standing of almost any variation happens to be. I feel this book does fill a large gap in chess literature" - Munroe Morrison, Open File

"I picked up some tips in openings which I had never fully understood" - GM Ian Rogers, The Byron Shire Echo

"...an absolutely ideal addition to personal and professional chess reference collections, and a highly recommended acquisition for academic and community libraries as well." - James A Cox, Midwest Book Review

"A brilliant book..." - Bob Long, Gilbert & Lange

"...a brilliant brand-new book which does actually make a very good attempt to summarise in one single volume the most important points pertaining to all chess opening theory" - GM Paul Motwani, The Scotsman

"It has been a daunting task to squeeze all chess openings into one book and explain them well. One of the best books on the subject, The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, was written by American grandmaster Reuben Fine 66 years ago. ... The Dutch grandmaster Paul van der Sterren has taken Fine's idea into the 21st century. His book FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings, ... is double the size of Fine's book. The Dutchman, one of the best opening experts, has observed trends for the last three decades. His book reflects the current standing of each opening and explains it logically in a nice, readable style. Variations are kept to a minimum, but there are enough of them to underscore the main ideas. The book should be an eye-opener for any chess player who is interested in openings and curious about how far they have progressed and where they are going." - GM Lubomir Kavalek, Washington Post

"The format of the book is very friendly, openings very clearly set out and identified, with the variations touched upon in short and sweet sections. It is nicely written, does not bombard the reader with theory or lengthy variations (which I think is wonderful as one should not try to run before one can walk) yet it informs and guides at base level. A nice feature is the opening key at the back, classified under the name of the opening, and indexed with the covered variations. I am also impressed by the neutral approach of Paul van der Sterren, an experienced chess writer, who steers away from leading the reader in preference for objective guidance. ... should you wish to gain a fundamental overview of the vast array of chess openings at base level, this book just might be the best investment you could make currently. This is precisely what it was intended to do" - John Lee Shaw, Chess Check E-zine

"This door-stopper of a tome is an overview of all chess openings by the Dutch grandmaster author who provides a textual explanation of each system in turn, giving a thumbnail of the available variations. ... a good introductory text for elementary or club players who want to sample the range of openings. Readable and comprehensive." - John Saunders, BCM

"An extensive work... the author doesn't drown us in hundreds of opening variations, but explains the many ideas behind them, and the strategies that flow from them. Van der Sterren's point is that whilst an opening's theory can change, the general principles and character of the opening don't" - Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad

"...because of the focus on textual explanation rather than detailed analysis it is very readable. It is clearly aimed at less experienced players who wish to acquire an overview of chess opening theory, and gives a good general grounding for those wanting to launch off into more detailed study of a particular opening. A further point in its favour is that because it sticks to general principles rather than concentrating on the latest theory it will not become outdated almost before it has reached the shelves." - Alan Sutton, En Passant

"In concise language, the author describes the origins and ideas of all the openings, giving players a solid grasp of what they mean in broad terms. This is really an ideal kind of book for the player who is new to tournaments and wants to get on an even keel with most club players. Without worrying about the latest variation in the Sveshnikov Sicilian that was just unearthed in a tournament last month, the reader can instead try to grasp the ideas behind the major openings and be prepared to face positions that might arise from them." - Cecil Rosner, Winnipeg Free Press

"Usually, opening tomes with three-letter acronyms ('MCO', 'BCO', 'ECO', 'NCO') focus are top heavy with variations at the expense of explanatory notes. FCO boldly goes the other way. … an excellent opportunity to learn the strategies and plans behind the openings rather than merely learn large chunks of apparently motiveless moves." - Sean Marsh, marshtowers.blogspot.com

"A modern day version of Reuben Fine's Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, Fundamental Chess Openings primarily uses words to describe the ideas and motivations behind different opening systems. The emphasis is on understanding rather than memorization with van der Sterren rarely going beyond move ten. The contents page shows that all major openings are covered." - IM John Donaldson