Friday, 8 January 2010

Chess Reviews: 122

Magic of Chess Tactics

By FM Claus Dieter Meyer and GM Karsten Muller

Three hours and 30 minutes


This is a revised, updated and reformatted version of the 2002 American book by the same name (published by Russell Enterprises).

The presenter says there are two ways to look at the material: by player - the tactical magicians - or by theme. Both methods are catered for.

Particular attention is paid to the games and methods of Tal, Nezhmetdinov, Spielmann, Stein, Bronstein and Shirov and the material is presented via 38 video lectures, by an animated GM Müller, who is clearly very much enjoying the subject matter. Only so much of the material could be made to fit onto the DVD and there are planty more game snippets provided in a text file (384 in all).

Shirov’s original foreword is included from the 2002 book (he was a good choice) and other bits and pieces from the printed version are here also, including photos of some of the payers and various text files.

The viewer is advised to turn off the notation window and try and enter into the spirit of the tactical positions to develop their own vision. The DVD is‘...primarily…aimed at aspiring players from club to master level who seriously want to improve their chess understanding’.

Here's an impressive example of a magician in action. White sacrifices twice on f6 in the same game - against a fellow magician!

Nezhmetdinov - Tal

USSR 1961

17 Rxf6!!

...and then later on...

Nezhmetdinov - Tal

USSR 1961

23 Nxf6+!!

1-0 (29)

Tactics can occur at any stage of the game.

Some of the endgame exmaples are just as stunning, such as this one:

Szypulski - Silbermann

Cologne 1992

1 Rxg5!! hxg5 2 h6 Ke7 3 Nd5+!

Here's one for you to try.

Bronstein - NN

Simultaneous Display, 1959

White to play and win

This is an inspirational DVD and a real treasure trove of tactical play.

1.e4 Repertoire

By IM Sam Collins

8 hours


IM Collins makes his ChessBase DVD debut with this King’s pawn repertoire.

There’s a huge amount of material here; approximately 8 hours, split into 53 video clips.

The ‘Introduction’ introduces the basic philosophy behind the recommendations. The general idea is to play lines which go against the grain of the opponent’s intentions. For example, a player adopting the Sicilian is angling for positions with an extra centre pawn, something White tries to ensure won’t happen with 1 e4 c5 2 c3. There are similar plans to sidestep Black’s desires in all the major openings.

The material is split into these sections:

Sicilian Defence: 20 video lectures (1 e4 c5 2 c3)

1 e4 e5: 13 lectures (including the Italian Game, Two Knights’ Defence, Petroff Defence and Philidor Defence.

The French Defence: six lectures. The recommended Tarrasch Variation involves a pawn sacrifice:

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 Bd3 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Ngf3 Qb6 8 0-0 cxd4 9 cxd4 Nxd4 10 Nxd4 Qxd4

Does White have enough play for the pawn? That is the question. Sample games are provided to show what happens when it goes well and White is able to launch a decisive attack, such as here...

Trent - Deslandes


19 Bxh7+ and 1-0 (25)

The Caro-Kann: six lectures, looking at The Panov-Botvinnik Attack 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4

After the 'big four' come the minor defences:

Alekhine Defence: three lectures

Scandinavian: one lecture

Pirc/Modern: two lectures

There are some interesting choices and I like the psychological aspect of thwarting the opponent's desires. IM Collins is a good presenter and his quiet, Irish-accented voice exudes calm and confidence in the material.

Winning Structures

By GM Adrian Mikhalchishin

Five hours


GM Mikhalchishin’s new DVD on the chess strategy takes a good look at various pawn structures on the first alf of the DVD, followed by a larger section devited to the Isolated Queen’s Pawn (‘I.Q.P.’).

The first half looks at 'Champion Structures' and primarily discusses the games of Rubinstein, Keres and Geller, linking each Grandmaster with a specific favourite structure.

For Runbinstein, this involves accepting a doubled f-pawn, such as in this example:

Swiderski - Rubinstein

Vienna 1908

9 Bxf5 exf5

He liked the structure so much that even did it when more obvious moves beckoned:

Rubinstein - Kmoch

Vienna 1922

12 gxf4 (most of us would play the normal 12 Nxf4)

The ideas behind all of the featured structures are very well explained and I felt I had learned a great deal.

The subject of the 'Isolated Queen's Pawn' is covered in eight substantial lectures. It is‘…one structure that stirs so many emotions. Some players enjoy it - to play and handle this sort of positions. Some players hate it, simply. Some players are afraid of it; some of them avoid it.'

Instead of fearing it, this DVD tries hard to persuade viewers to embrace the opportunty to take on an IQP and enoy the resulting freedom. When the action starts, there is lots of fun to be had...

Keene - Miles

Hastings 1974

18 Nxg6!! hxg6 19 Bxg6 fxg6 20 Qb1 1-0 (26)

Petrosian - Balashov

USSR 1974

15 d5! exd5 16 Bg5 and as 16 …g6 fails to 17 Rxe7!, Black tried 16 …Ne4 but lost after 28 uncomfortable moves.

Despite the pronounced Russian accent and habit of occasonally going over things a trifle too quickly, the presenter does a very good job and coneys a lot of wisdom. It's a very good DVD and one which will probably be of most benefit to serious players, county standard and above.

The Trompowsky - The Easy Way

Second Edition

By IM Andrew Martin

4 hours


This is an updated edition of an older disc. The original 30 lectures are augmented by seven new ones featuring games from 2007-2009.

The illustrative games start with pioneering play by Vaganian back in the mid-1970s, with Julian Hodgson picking up the baton in the 1980s.

There's good General discussion on the value of a giving up a Bishop for Knight early on to compromise an opponent's pawn srtructure (Rubinstein would have very happy with the Bishop pair and doubled f-pawn!) and other matters, such as the importance of building a big pawn centre, are covered too.

Then there's a systematic survey of the main options: 2 …d5, 2 …e6, 2 …c5, 2 …Ne4 and a summing up of loose ends.

A lot of the play is still sharp and original. The recent games generally show White prodicing the goods, whether Black chooses a thoeretically good line or not.

‘Trompowsky graveyards, the world over, are littered with corpses of guys who go in for the pawn snatch in the variation…’

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 c5 3 d5 Qb6 4 Nc3 Qxb2

Konenkin - Airumian

Chigorin Memorial 2008

This line is apprently ok for Black, but over the board it can end up looking like this...

Konenkin - Airumian

Chigorin Memorial 2008

‘…a typical demolition job in this variation’.

Love it or loathe it, the Trompowsky is here to stay. I would say this DVD presents an optimistic assessment of White's chances, but few will resist giving 2 Bg5 a try after IM Martin's motivational presentation.

Fritz Powerbook 2010

The brand new Powerbook ‘…represents the state of the art of current theory’.

It features 1.6 million games, all from a very high level. It is possible to load a tree of variations and then with one click find all of the game relevant to a particular position and assess the success rate before deciding to add a line to one’s existing repertoire.

The 'Strongbook', also included on the DVD, features 87355 games from players with an ELO rating of 2550 or above.

A definite boost to the strength of your Fritz and ChessBase programs.

For further details of Chessbase products, please go to:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:


TAover said...

Arena has some pretty strong opening books available as well and they are free of cost there is that old SCID as well. I like Chessbase but their pricing is pretty expensive. I also recommend you do a review of they also have good blog and susan polgar also talked about them.

Signalman said...

In the Rubenstein-Kmoch example, should it be 12. gxf rather than Bxf4 ?
Is this direct from the DVD, or a publishing transposition ?

Sean Marsh said...

Thanks Nick, I have corrected it to gxf4. The error was mine, not the DVD's.