Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Chess Reviews: 102

ChessBase Magazine 130
June 2009

ChessBase Magazine continues to provide extremely impressive coverage of top chess events. The tournament highlights this time are undoubtedly those at the European Championship (Budva) and the Grand-Prix tournament (Nalchik).

Numerous other events are covered too, including the USA Championship. 2,260 games are given in all, featuring stars all the way up to Shirov, Aronian, Anand and Kamsky. It's not just the best games by the top players, it's all the games by the top players.

A good number of games come with annotations by luminaries such as Gelfand, Ftacnik and Marin.

Of course, ChessBase Magazine isn’t merely a database. The other features are universally excellent. There's so much on the disc that it's impossible to do it all justice in a short review, so here's a few snippets which really caught the eye.

Of particular interest are the Fritz Trainer video lectures, covering some unusual opening ideas.

GM Rogozenco provides some real food for thought with a look at the Queen’s Gambit Accepted.

1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 Nf3 a6 4 e3 b5 5 a4 Bb7 6 b3 e6

It looks just the sort of thing Black shouldn’t be doing. After White smashes up the Queenside pawns, the second player is left with a sickly looking isolated pawn on c7. However, according to the lecture, Black can play …c7-c5 relatively easily. This gives total equality once it is swapped for the White d-pawn. This line definitely needs further analysis. Can it be that Black can equalise so painlessly?

The other major eye-catcher comes after:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Bg5 Ne4 6 cxd5 Nxg5 7 Nxg5

Now Black has the surprising move:


...when the game will inevitably open up for the Bishops, but it’s not without risk.

GM Rogozenco also provides two further video lectures, picking out key moments from recent events.

Other regular columns include Peter Wells on strategy (dealing with weak squares), Karsten Muller on endgames (liquidating to pawn endings), 12 opening surveys and some audio annotations by Anand.

Fans of every stage of the game will find plenty of interesting material. A noteworthy feature is the facility to load up tactical positions and try to solve them. A clock counts down the time available for a successful answer. One feels drawn into the action more than when studying a diagram in a printed magazine.

Here's a sample for you to try:

Kovacevic - Porat
European Championship 2009

White to play. Something to do with the h-file, perhaps…?

The next tactical test comes at the end of the same game:

Kovacevic - Porat
European Championship 2009

Black resigns after the correct White move. Find it!

ChessBase Extra 130
July 2009

The ‘Extra’ editions bridge the gap between the standard releases. These are much more basic affairs, lacking the main features of the regular magazines, but are useful to provide substantial database updates. No fewer than 27,122 games can be quickly added to your own ChessBase with the minimum of fuss.

Events covered are as diverse as the Anand - Leko match, Azerbaijan v Rest of the World Rapid Match (in which Kramnik and Anand both played), the Southend Open, Russian Junior Championships and many others. The games are unannotated.

Two video lectures by Mikhalchisin are a nice bonus. He demonstrates two of his most enjoyable games, against Beliavsky and Kasparov.

Serious, professional chess players will aleady be aware that ChessBase magazine is an essential purchase. For the rest of us there's no shortage of instruction and entertainment.

The amount of material is tremendous and I can't think of any other chess product which offers such value for money.

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