Monday 21 October 2013

Chess Reviews: 225

ChessBase Magazine # 156
The unmistakable features of Vladimir Kramnik peer out from the cover of the new ChessBase magazine. He had two excellent tournament results during the period covered this time, namely at the FIDE World Cup in Biel and the annual Dortmund event. He had to be content with second place at the latter - due to a magnificent performance by Michael Adams - but the World Cup was a smashing success for the former World Champion.

Issue 156 in the long-running ChessBase magazine series provides exemplary coverage of the tournaments in Biel and Dortmund (complete with annotations by the champions) and, of course, lots more besides. Other tournaments covered include the Breisacher Memorial (won by Vachier Lagrave, on tiebreak) and the FIDE Grand Prix in Beijing (won by Mamedyarov ahead of 11 other 2700+ rated stars).

Other features include the usual high quality opening surveys, this time shining the spotlight on the following:

Budapest Gambit
Sicilian Kan
French with 3 Nc3 a6
King's Gambit with 3 ...Ne7
Ruy Lopez with 5 ...b5, 6 ...Bc5
Exchange QGD
Grunfeld Defence, Prins Variation
Tango Part 1
KID Saemisch
KID Bayonet Attack

There's plenty of training material too, covering all phases of the game. It is, however, the annotations by the world's top players that always grab my attention more than anything else.

Vladimir Kramnik's notes always strike me as being totally honest. In his key game against Andreikin he already criticizes his own play twice in the first 15 moves, saying:

(Move 12) ''Trying to be clever and avoiding a4 for the moment, but I'm not sure now it is so clever after all.''

(Move 15) ''The right idea with a slightly wrong move order.''

It's good know that even World Champions feel the same frustrations we all do when running our games through an analytical engine. This is the position after White's 22nd move.

Kramnik vs. Andreikin
Black to play
''It looks nice visually for White and I thought I must be slightly better, but Houdini always finds equalizing resources for Black and claims that it is balanced.''

We witness some real human class a few moves later.

Kramnik vs. Andreikin
White to play
31 dxc6! Rxe1+ 32 Nxe1 Qc7 (32 ...Qb6 33 Rxb5!) and the queen sacrifice gave Kramnik a serious advantage (1-0, 63). However, the game continued to provide interesting moments right until the end and Kramnik's instructive notes are well worth investigating.

The second big standout feature on CBM 156 is the series of videos in which Daniel King picks out round-by-round highlights from the Breisacher Memorial. Daniel's polished style is perfect for such a feature and I hope it becomes a regular part of the magazine.

As impressive as always, ChessBase Magazine remains one of the must-buy items on the chess market.

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