New in the Library

April 3 2013

From the blurb given on the ChessBase web site:

Know the Terrain Vol. 4: The advance French structure

by Sam Collins

The information explosion has led to a massive increase in opening theory. But how often do you win a game with a prepared line? What gives strong players the edge over their opponents is not some blockbuster novelty, but a deep understanding of the pawn structures to which their openings lead – an understanding that lasts into the middlegame and endgame, and is transferable between different openings with similar structures. In this DVD, Sam Collins looks at the Advance French Structure (white pawns on d4 and e5 against black pawns on d5 and e6, with an open c-file) which, while characteristic of 3.e5 in the French, is also typical of other French variations, the Advance Caro-Kann, the Queen’s Indian, the Catalan, the Slav and various Anti-Sicilians. The blocked centre forces play to the wings. White will normally concentrate on furthering his kingside ambitions, supported by the space advantage conferred by his pawn on e5, either by piece play or by the typical pawn advances h4-h5 and f4-f5. Black, for his part, seeks queenside counterplay, simplification, or a well-timed break with …f6 leading to a central battle. The relatively closed nature of the positions leads to strategic play where knowledge of typical plans for both sides is of decisive importance. Video running time: 3 hrs. 36 min.

Sam Collins has given us the 4th of his DVD’s on typical middle-game pawn structures (1st = the Carlsbad Structure; 2nd = the “Capablanca” Structure (white pawns on c4 and d4 against black pawns on c6 and e6), and 3rd = the Central Majority structure (white pawns on a2, d4 and e4 against black pawns on a7, b7 and e7); Wwqlcw maintains the complete set, of course), this time dealing with the structure arising most commonly from the Advance Variation of the French Defense.  It’s obvious he was going to get here at some point or other; he has an entire book on the Advance Variation in the French and plays it in his own games.

I’ve never liked this particular variation myself, although it has come up for me more than a few times.  My brother, who plays the French, always looked particularly happy when I played it (and I must admit that a great calm descends upon me, playing the Caro-Kann, when someone assays the Advance Variation against me, a possibility also addressed by Collins in this DVD).  The “thumbnail sketches” of these Advance Variations are singularly uninformative: “White divides the board in two and develops an attack on Black’s Kingside; it the attack fails, Black wins on the Queenside.”  Well, Collins goes to incredible lengths to put some flesh on these bones.  And, as he has in the other videos in this series, he succeeds.

The Advance Variation is the darling of many respected theorists.  Nimzovitch advocated it (in My System), and Sveshnikov put out a two-volume treatment of it a couple of years ago.  In our library we fully have 8 different books on this single variation.  So it has its advocates.  But I suspect all French Defense players react more-or-less like my brother: “Bring it on!”

I’m about half-way through his detailed and engaging presentation – far enough, in fact, to realize that this is what I’m going to play tonight at the club if anyone chooses to defend with the French.  That is, Collins has considerably increased my confidence in my capacity to handle the kinds of middle games that will arise in such circumstances.  Frankly, I read his book and it didn’t instill the same confidence in me as his DVD has brought about.  Maybe it’s the pseudo-“face to face” thing one gets from watching a DVD.  I don’t know.  But if confidence has anything to do with successful chess playing, then Collins has already helped me with that.  Who knows?  I may be able to wipe that smile off of my brother face, at least once…


February 21 2013

From the ChessBase website description:

Power Play 18: The Sicilian Najdorf – a repertoire for Black by Daniel King

The Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence is the opening of champions. Kasparov, Anand and Bobby Fischer all made this uncompromising opening a central part of their repertoire – with success. Grandmaster Daniel King is a life-long practitioner of the Najdorf. On this DVD he explains the fundamental principles of the opening and offers a repertoire of systems for Black against all of White’s major alternatives. Whether you are new to the Najdorf or already have experience with the opening, this DVD is suitable for you. The Najdorf has a reputation for complexity, but this is undeserved. Strategy is often determined by pawn structure, and as Black’s structure is often the same in many variations of the Najdorf, this opening is actually much simpler to understand compared to others. King demonstrates that an understanding of positional principles can lead Black through this seemingly complex opening, into the middlegame and right through to the endgame. As well as up-to-date theoretical information, classic games are examined, putting theory in context and demonstrating typical strategies. Video runningtime: 6 hours.

Daniel King has added yet another video to his series for ChessBase video media, and it’s a doozy.  It’s difficult to characterize his series overall; he starts from some exceedingly introductory-level initial videos, but has been getting progressively more advanced in his presentations.  This one is on the Najdorf Sicilian, a subject about which King previously has published an interesting, even seminal book.  While the book is, of course, more detailed (if somewhat dated now), the video complements it well.  I remember Kavalek complaining that he thought he had been learning to play chess, though he’d only been learning to play the Najdorf… and today’s neophytes seem more interested in learning how to avoid mainline open sicilians in general.  But we shouldn’t forget the general principles learning the Najdorf taught us: unbalanced positions from move 1; tactical firestorms erupting from a clear sky; dogged resourcefulness in the face of overwheling pressure; and so on.  I must admit, I’ve advised the youngsters in our club to avoid either side of the Najdorf Sicilian, but that was more an indication of my own limitations and fears.  Now that King has transcribed his Najdorf excellence from print to video media, I’ve done a 180.  All our kids are now learning it, and if they’re given the chance, they’ll be playing it.  Get this video!  Or come watch it at the club!

Infant Wwqlcw

October 30 2012

In the ChessBase video library, I have the updated DVD version of Lubomir Ftacnik’s older CD, 1000x Checkmates.  We’ve all been waiting for the update of Renaud and Kahn’s classic The Art of Checkmate, promised by Russell or Mongoose or someone, but Ftacnik’s CD has done a good job since its original publication.  Now we have Ftacnik himself doing introductions to the sets, pointing out patterns and tactical hints about what to look for.  Jazzier, classier, a bit of work getting used to his accent and cadence, but worth the time on task, especially for youngsters who need a bit of focusing on checkmating.

NIC Yearbook 104 is in.   Do you play either side of any of the below?  Then saddle up and sit down.  To study, that is:

Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation 6.Bg5 – SI 9.7 – Vilela
Sicilian Defence – Najdorf Variation 6.Be3 – SI 14.8 – Cabrera Pino
Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation 9.g4 – SI 17.3 – Olthof
Sicilian Defence – Dragon Variation 9.Bc4 – SI 18.3 – Rojas Keim
Sicilian Defence – Rossolimo Variation 3…Nd4 – SI 31.1 – Ikonnikov
French Defence – Chatard-Alekhine Attack 6.h4 – FR 6.2 – Eingorn
Caro-Kann Defence – Classical Variation 4…Bf5 – CK 12.3 – Tuncer
Ruy Lopez – Jaenisch Variation 5…Nf6 – RL 6.6 – Tiviakov
Ruy Lopez – Delayed Cozio Variation 4…Nge7 – RL 9.1 – Van de Oudeweetering
Ruy Lopez – The Accelerated Gajewski 9…d5 – RL 17.2 – Kaufman
Various Openings – Sokolsky Opening 1.b4 – VO 10.1-5 – De Dovitiis
Slav Defence – Early Divergences 4.Qc2 – SL 1.4 – Palliser
Slav Defence – Alapin Variation 7.f3 Bb4 – SL 4.3 – Wang Sheng/Tay
Slav Defence – Chebanenko Variation 5.e3 – SL 8.1 – I. Almasi
Slav Defence – Chebanenko Variation 5.e3 – SL 8.1 – I. Almasi
Tarrasch Defence – Rubinstein Variation 6.g3 – TD 4.10-14 – Aagaard/Ntirlis
Catalan Opening – Open Variation 6…dc4 – CA 5.5 – Scherbakov
Nimzo-Indian Defence – Rubinstein Variation 8…Bd7 – NI 5.12 – Lukacs/Hazai
Queen’s Indian Defence – QI 4.Bd2 Bd2 Line – QI 1.2 – Antic
Grünfeld Indian Defence – Exchange Variation 7.Bb5 – GI 4.1 – Finkel
Grünfeld Indian Defence – Flohr’s 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qa4 – GI 7.4 – Vegh
King’s Indian Defence – Fianchetto Variation 3.g3 – KI 71.6 – Lemos Sarro
Benoni Defence – Benko Gambit 4.Bg5 – BI 18.4 – Grivas
Benoni Defence – Benko Gambit 5.b6 – BI 23.14 – Fogarasi
Dutch Defence – Early Sidelines 4.h4 – HD 5.14 – Pliester
English Opening – Rubinstein-Botvinnik System 6.Bg5 – EO 8.9+10 – Sulskis/Sakalauskas
English Opening – Symmetrical Variation 3…g6 – EO 34.3 – A. Kuzmin


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