Summary and Info
I think I should start first with the strengths of this book. First of all, there are some unifying principles here that most of the variations share in common: attacking and aggressive openings. There is no question that some of these variations are going to win you games, if you do the follow-up research.
I'm especially keen on the Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange variation. I think this variation is very appealing to players seeking a simple way to pursue a positionally based initiative. Although I believe another book, The Queen's Gambit for the Attacking Player, recommended it as well. Looking at the variations I see that Dunnington does indeed have White play that way for the very reason I like it. By playing the exchange White can put his king's knight on e2, play e3 to back up the d4 pawn, play f3 to guard e4 and drop his dark squared bishop back to f2 (after pawn to f3 and after h6 kicks the bishop to h4) to bolster his kingside defense and his pawn structure. At the right time he may even be able to play e4.
You see, the king's knight not only over-protects d4 it also can go to f4 in certain cases and it gets out of the way of the fpawn. That is why White can often dominate e4. This is what White gets an exchange for cxd5, when Black can liberate his otherwise bad light squared bishop with exd5.
So the theme here is kingside space with hopefully prospects against the king later on, maquerading as a positional opening.
Another good one is the variation recommended against the Grunfeld. Okay, I'm not that strong of a player but Irina Krush and others have tried playing this way (4.Bf4)and it appears to have real poison behind it. Of course, the Grunfeld isn't bust by it but other ways of playing would take up 40 pages. Looking at the relevant passage from Jonathan Rowson's book on the Grunfeld he says about this variation (7.Rc1 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0 9.Nge2! [are you seeing a pattern?]) "...I think most sources have massively underestimated[it]." Dunnington gives 11.Nb5 as his mainline so I won't go further except to say that Rowson does not analyse this on the 11th move so I can't really compare. He does give 11.Qb3 as an alternative with some analysis but does not tackle Rowson's suggested answer to it, but I can say that both ways of playing are very tricky and if Black doesn't know what he is doing he will probably lose material.
Of course, it's a good idea to research this with a database and other books bfore playing it. In other words, do the follow-up.
Now I'm reviewing this book because a friend of mine gave it to me because I told him I was thinking of playing d4 in tournament. And as you can see there's some good qualities in the book.
Now before I get to the parts I didn't like, I should say that this book is at least consistent in favoring Nc3 over Nf3 on the third move. This is important because the other way of playing d4, emphasizing Nf3 (as in Palliser's book) is more passive and puts let's pressure on the Black and his d5 square. If you're going to want to attack this is the way to do it. Otherwise just play e4. In fact, in various Kasparov-Karpov encounters Karpov relied on the NimzoIndian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4)as an answer to 3.Nc3. Previously he had been using 3...d5 or playing that on the first move and going for the QGD. Kasparov, the King of Attackers would go for, you guessed it, the exchange variation with the King's Knight on e2. Karpov couldn't really get winning chances against this. Now if White avoids the Nimzo and plays 3.Nf3 black plays d5 with a much better game as White has commited his Knight to f3. This is what is called move order finesse. Therefore White MUST not be a girlyman and be prepared for the Nimzo! In this book Dunnington presents the f3 system which really just transposes to something called the Samisch. It involves playing f3. The recommended variation against the Benko gambit here also involves an early f3 by the way. I'm lukewarm on the variation, but Yakovich just wrote a whole book (f3 NimzoIndian) on it so who knows? Here Black has much less to worry about, his development is very smooth and White must be more imaginative. Sorry, that's just the way it goes, the Nimzo is a great defense. Kasparov, by the way, chose 4.Nf3 as his solution. 4.Qc2 is also a good choice because White gets the bishop pair without bad pawns, but the Samisch is alright considering you're going to have to work hard anyway.
I also think that giving 8.Ne2 in the Marshall Gambit in response to the Semi-Slav is consistent and aggressive as well as tricky!
Now for the bad stuff. Before I go on to some specifics it is worth mentioning that this is one of those Everyman Chess books that is pretty thin. That means I think some of the analysis is skimpy, or just not satisfying. In particular I thought his work on the Schara Gambit was weak. OK maybe you won't face it for years, but it is troublesome. I happen to think from a practical perspective Black gets play there and Dunnington does't stop to explain his evaluations.
My biggest problem with this book is that it recommends 4.Bg5 against the Slav. This goes against consistency, because it's not an exchange variation of the QGD, and it has virtually no Grandmater adherents. It also scores very low for White and gives him no advantage unless Black stupidly plays 4.e6. In short, it's insipid. Yes, Dunnington has a seperate chapter for the QGA, but all the QGD stuff gets slammed into one chapter! I think this book should have been twenty pages longer with the Slav and the Benko getting their own chapters. And a seperate illustrative game on the Schara Gambit, thanks! But Bg5 in the Slav is garbage with Black winning more than White!
I don't have much confidence in the line given for the Benko (King exposure), and the odds and ends chaper is a Frankenstein's monster of inadequacy. He just doesn't have enough room to make it all work. Still, he could have done a slightly better job even with the strict space limits. His given responses to dark squared Modern and Old Indian systems is leaving a lot to be desired. If he had more to work with he could have presented the fianchetto variation of the Benko, which at the time of writing was a virtual refutation. Some of the variations are off the wall and involve needlessly exposing the King. Why get so sharp in minor openings?
Overall, a mixed bag and hardly anytime for verbal explanations. But worth getting if you don't mind or can afford combining it with other books and materials.
More About the Author
Angus Dunnington (born 9 August 1967) is an English poker and online gambling specialist and former professional chess player with the title of International Master (IM).