Question by ka1el: How do you read “Modern Chess Openings”?
I know that the book shows different variations of moves in addition to the main lines, but I don’t understand all of the charts. For example, some variations, columns, have moves missing, just blank, for a move or two. And others have a series of periods (…….) connecting, for example, move four of variation 7 to move 4 of variation 9. It’s hard to explain in words without actually looking at the book. If some of you know what I mean, could you help me out?

Best answer:

Answer by brucebirchall
MCO is a reference work, nor exactly light reading. If you think MCO is hard to follow, try reading Informator some time!

There are simpler works that communicate the ideas behind the main variations that you will come across but MCO aims to map out the territory of lesser-known and less well-tried lines, to give a wider picture.

Most people use it to look up the line that was played by their opponent in a recent game and to pinpoint where they went wrong, i.e. they use it to assist their post-mortem analysis and the annotations they make in their scorebook.

The MCO assessments of what is a good position for White, or for Black or a level position are vital to following the plot, You want to glance ahead to see if the position at the end of that column is favourable to white or to black and see where to deviate if you want a different outcome.

Usually the columns are arranged in a logical order, the blank bits mean “look at the column to the left and follow it till you get to the first move printed in this column, then switch to this column”. A bit like the decision tree when using a road map: several journeys all begin with using the same motorway but then they involve different turn-offs and different A and B roads to get to different destinations …

What do you think? Answer below!