Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Chess Reviews: 160

ChessBase Magazine #138

Andre Schulz's magazine editorial focuses on the troubles facing chess in Germany, who were unable to field their top team at the recent Olympiad due to financial reasons.

'In brief: to achieve success you need to have constancy and a plan. It is well known that a plan is always necessary in chess. Unfortunately, we cannot see any plan in German chess'.

It was a surprise to me; I thought a country which has hosted top events such as a World Championship match and an Olympiad in recent years would have seen some benefits from having high-profile encounters on their home patch.

Three top tournaments - Shanghai (won by Shirov), Amsterdam (Youth v Experience - a triumph for the former) and Dortmund (a wonderful success for Ponomariov) receive full coverage. Shirov provides four video lectures about his Shanghai success. These are terrific (as always) and are the highlights of this issue. Shirov is always honest about his preparation, his thoughts during the game, what he was able to see and what he missed.

Shirov - Wang Hao
Shanghai 2010

Having calculated 23 fxg4 and been happy with the advantage it gave, Shirov made the mistake of touching the Bishop on d4 and had to play 23 Rxd4 instead. Black played 23 ...Ne3+ 24 Kf2 fxe4 25 Kxe3 e5 and the game was clearly turning. However, it still ended in a win for White after further adventures.

There are standard opening surveys on:

Old Indian Defence
Nimzowitsch Defence
Caro-Kann (Advance)
Sicilian (Grivas)
Sicilian Najdorf (2)
Ruy Lopez (2)
Slav Defence
Queen's Indian Defence (4 a3)
King's Indian Defence (Samisch)

Fritztrainer videos are included on the Catalan (Stohl), French Steinitz (Kritz), Alekhine Defence (Lilov) and Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation (Martin).

ChessBase Magazine continues to offer excellent coverage of the World's top chess events, plus a lot more besides. There's something for everyone and offers great value for money. It's a product I can recommend to chess fans and serious students alike.

Chess Endgames 6
Endgame Principles: Domination and Prophylaxis
By GM Karsten Mueller

Karsten Mueller's fine series continues with a new volume looking at four key principles of endgame play:

'Domination and Prophylaxis', 'Don't Be Over-Hasty', 'Zugzwang' and 'Schematic Thinking'.
Sub sections include 'Waiting for the Right Moment', 'Realization of an Advantage', 'Sidestepping the Opponent', 'Kramnik's Technique', 'The Knight's Achilles' Heel' and 'Target Positions'.

The importance of prohpylaxis is demonstrated by the illustrative study given in the introduction, which sees Black making the only drawing move.

Study by Dvoretsky (inspired by a Karpov - Kasparov game)

White's threat is 2 Kg5, which leads to a domination of the Black forces (as shown later on the DVD). Black has only one way of preventing it, but it involves the loss of two pawns. Nevertheless, 1 ...Kf6!! draws, as after 2 Nxd5+ Ke6 3 Nc7+ Kd6 4 Nxa6, there is a path for Black's King to invade the Queenside via d5 and c4.

Prophylaxis is clearly a strong weapon in the arsenal of Magnus Carlsen.

Carlsen - Adams
World Cup 2007

Black looks set to use the open c-file to great effect, but White has a plan...

13 ...Rc2 14 Rb1 Rac8 15 Nb3!! Bc4 and now 16 Na1!

After 16 ...Ba2 17 Nxc2 Bxb1 18 Na1, Black's apparent control of the open file meant nothing; all entry points were covered and White's Bishop gradually outplayed Black's minor pieces (1-0, 77).

Grandelius - Hector

Try this one for yourselves, which will give a further indication of the trickiness of the material on offer. Black, to play, has only one way to draw...

This is a DVD offering tough material for serious, experienced players.

ChessBase Tutorials
Openings #1: The Open Games

This is the first volume in a brand new Chessbase series. Physically, the package resembles ChessBase magazine, with a magazine in both the English and German language (one flips it over to switch) and an enclosed DVD featuring video lectures.

A team of four commentators - namely, Lawrence Trent, Valeri Lilov, Lars Schandorff and Adrian Mikhalchishin - present material on the following openings:

King's Gambit (Lilov)
Vienna Game (Lilov)
Bishop's Opening and Centre Game (Trent)
Italian Game (Trent)
Evan's Gambit (Lilov)
Four Knights Game (Trent)
Two Knights Defence (Trent)
Scotch Game (Lilov)
Ruy Lopez (Trent, Schandorff and Mikhalchishin)
Petroff Defence (Schandorff)
Philidor (Trent)

There are 24 video lectures in all, with an average running time of just under the 15 minute mark. Each lecture takes the viewer through the theoretical basics of each opening and is aimed at club players.

The delivery is perhaps a shade on the speedy side. Judicous use of the pause button will be necessary to avoid being overwhelmed by a torrent of information. Mikhalchishin comes off worst with the shortened time slots; his accent is rather strong. Schandorff has the most relaxed style of delivery and I enjoyed his lectures most of all. It may have been better to have fewer lectures and given each one a little bit longer in terms of time, allowing the material more room to breathe.

100 unannotated games, all starting with 1 e4 e5, are included on the DVD. These stretch from 1610 (with Polerio demolishing the Two Knights Defence with a Fried Liver Attack) through to Carlsen's use of the Scotch game to beat Leko in 2009.

Needless to say, further study will be required to bring meld the instruction offered here - which serves to whet the appetitie - into a workable repertoire.

Further volumes are promised, focusing on semi-Open, Closed and Flank Openings.

Tricks and Traps Vol.1
1 e4 Openings
by GM Nigel Davies

1 e4 is also the subject of another new series.

'It's human nature for players to want to win their games as quickly and as efficiently as possible and for this reason there's a great interest in tricks and traps, especially very early on in the game.'

Things start off at a very basic level, with the four-move checkmate, before moving on to the famous Fried Liver Attack.

In all, there are 31 video lectures, featuring ideas from the Philidor, Fried Liver, Two Knights Defence, Ruy Lopez, Petroff, Italian Game, Vienna, Modern, Pirc, Caro-Kann, Sicilian and French.

There's plenty of food for thought here and some of the ideas will be startling to those who have not encountered them before. One such line was seen in the game Kindermann v Gass from 1978.

1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Bc4 Bg7 5 Qe2 Nc6

6 e5 Nxd4 7 exf6 Nxe2 8 fxg7 Rg8 9 Nge2

With three minor pieces for the Queen, this is indeed tricky stuff.

The classics are well represented. It's good to see Tarrasch getting a section all to himself, covering his traps in the Ruy Lopez.

In a couple of games, Tarrasch's opponents played the natural 11 ...Qd7 but can you, dear readers, see why this is a blunder?

The psychological aspect of tricks and traps receives attention too. The final lecture, 'Look Alikes', focuses on positions in which players mistakenly think they are on safe ground but fal to appreciate impoertant differences in specific positions.

The delivery by GM Davies is up to his usual high standard. He breaks the material down into easily digestible, bite-sized chunks which should suit improving but relatively inexperienced club players. Juniors will do well to study the examples too; they are exactly the sort of things they need to annoy their older rivals down at the chess club.

Corr Database 2011

This database contains 834,849 games from the world of correspondence chess, covering the years 1804-2010. Games are included from all of the World Correspondence Championships, Olympiads and other top events.

Correspondence chess has moved on from the days of sticking stamps on envelopes and the mercy of the postal service. Email has changed the way of the world and computers have added incredible depth to chess analysis. This means that games such as these can be a fruitful place for those seeking very sound opening choices.

These days, minor slips are mercilessly punished at the top levels. Sicilian Najdorfs are popular against 1 e4 (anything other than an Open approach by White is considered as letting Black get away with an easy life) and the Nimzo and Queen's Indian are frequent sights for 1 d4 fans.

A minority of the games feature annotations. There's an occasional appearance by top Grandmasters; Leko, Karpov and Yusupov are amongst those making rare forays into the world of email chess.

Over the board players can treat correspondence with suspicion and will probably see this as a non-essentiual purchase. Those with broader minds will be able to pick up valuable ideas from these lesser-known games.

For further details regarding ChessBase products, please visit their website.

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