ZOOM 001: Zero Hour for Operative Opening Models

Together with Steffen Zeuthen, the late Bent Larsen authored this enterprising book, which adopts an academic approach to an opening system which can be played with both colors.ZOOM 001: Zero hour for operative opening models
The so-called ZOOM 001 model, is the grunfeld defense, played with either color, no matter what the opponent attempts to play. Surprisingly, this turns out to be entirely viable and often transposes into many other openings. The book begins with an introduction that reads like the back of a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle. “The basic theme is: Pressure against d4! Please do not forget that!” The first few pages are bullet points- all of which begin with “ZOOM 001 is…” For instance: “ZOOM 001 is a minimax system- once you have grasped the basic ideas your chess becomes powerful, logical, coherent, flexible, dynamic, – well, funny.”

“ZOOM 001 is a masterfile for thinking. ZOOM 001 is pattern-recognition.”

Then we are told that “Chess is by nature a game built on communication – a language marked by aggression – a discussion.”

The book argues that the basic structures of the Caro Kann, Scandinavian, Alekhine’s defense, and French defense all overlap in the ZOOM 001 system.

“And in the Alekhine defense you will find many of the Grunfeld ideas repeated. It is rather interesting to know that the Grunfeld Indian Defense was born in the 20’s – and so was Alekhine’s defense! – and both GMs were very pleased playing each other’s defense!! A provocative defense – interchangeable ideas – A LANGUAGE – a way of thinking, a powerful way of discussing!!!”

That’s not a typo, it’s a triple exclam. The whole book reads like something hastily written by someone high on stimulants. It’s perhaps the most hilariously bombastic text I have ever read that manages to actually make some coherent points here and there. It breaks up the opening “patterns” into 8 “sub-models,” lettered A-H, and offers a massive game collection ordered accordingly, with the first half being ZOOM 001 with black and second half ZOOM 001 with white. By choosing this approach, the authors hope to leave behind previous opening names which seek to hide the fact that many identical positions appear in the ECO under different codes, and instead focus simply on recurring patterns and themes. There is no question that the half of the book dedicated to the Grunfeld with black is an interesting, if out-dated game collection. Nor is there any doubt that the simple 1.d4, 2.Nf3, 3.g3 opening is entirely playable. But I have to say, if the Grunfeld has the reputation of being a fighting defense, full of vigor, piece activity, and interesting counter-attacking lines- than the same system with white seems a bit stilted, a little less dynamic. In any case, Larsen loved to play stilted systems with white- such as his 1.b3/english/reti/KIA systems, so it comes as no surprise to see his name on the cover of a book that advocates such a solid if simple setup for white. Honestly, I have to say the book is a fantastic game collection and I would recommend picking up a copy if you find one somewhere that isn’t insanely overpriced.