The Real Grünfeld!
Review by Bob Long
If one were to make a movie about chess, like the Cincinnati Kid was about poker, then Alexei Shirov would be the equivalent of Steve McQueen’s character! Shirov ponders, he reflects, he acts, and he has a pretty incredible memory despite his reliance on some chess notes.
And, he has that touch of aggravation, caused by the screwing he took when he beat Kramnik in a match (1998) by 2 points, and yet Kramnik went on to play Kasparov and become the world chess champion. (Shirov’s record against Kasparov was terrible and it became clear that sponsorship was what mattered—money).
Shirov doesn’t say much about this, but after he shows games with the Grünfeld he says he wants to get on with some other games. But, Shirov is the guy, somewhat brooding, Mr. Fire on Board, and brilliant. His English is in the heavy Russian brogue but he is totally understandable though sometimes he seems to mutter. He’s THE guy.
These games are from the black side. He has about 5-6 wins on the DVD and the rest are draws—some hard fought draws. He unashamedly talks about certain losses and lots of sidelines. In the middle of such a sideline he can STOP and begin thinking making you wonder if he will come back to the game. And right there on the DVD he will announce a better move than the one in the notes or played—he’s just checking out the variations—his mind is really traveling.
While he complains about his games against Topalov, who has beaten him may times with the white pieces, he shows a nice game with mutual mistakes where Shirov wins. This is the ver y amazing …Bh3 game which flashed all the way around the world AND Alexei says he will be proud of this game until he is no more. Not only that, but at the time this DVD was made, he said NO chess engines were finding this move—so as I’ve said before, they don’t know everything yet (problems with candidate moves shifting on them).
But there is a lot of depth in this DVD as Shirov discusses plans, bold moves, and what he thought his opponent was going to play and what he was prepared for. Even though Shirov has played against the Grünfeld, those games are not presented on this platter. While there are meat y Grünfeld Defense Exchange variations, there is a 3. g3 line too (Kramnik wasn’t getting anywhere with the Exchange) and two of the 4.Nf3 games (Piket and Radjabov).