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Andrew Martin: The Queen's Gambit Declined

4/19/2012 – 'International master Andrew Martin is a natural teacher, especially for those below 2200,' writes Setven Dowd in this Chess Cafe review. He gives the software six out of six stars (excellent) and says: 'This trainer is a hit with me for its ability to supply the club player, in slightly less than five hours, with a repertoire that can be used for the rest of one's chess-playing career.'
 

Andrew Martin: The Queen's Gambit Declined

Review by Steven B. Dowd

The Queen's Gambit Declined (DVD) by Andrew Martin, ChessBase, Playing time: 4 hours 23 minutes. $35.95 (ChessCafe Price: $29.95).

International master Andrew Martin is a natural teacher, especially for those below 2200. This trainer is a hit with me for its ability to supply the club player, in slightly less than five hours, with a repertoire that can be used for the rest of one's chess-playing career. The material is organized so well, you could carry this one to your next tournament and review the opening suggestions before the next round. The analysis is clean, clear, and straight to the point, with only a few omissions.

The package insert notes: "The Queens Gambit Declined, Orthodox Variation is an opening choice for Black which will never be refuted. It perhaps has an unjust reputation of being solid and passive, but this all-new ChessBase DVD will challenge that perception. Basing his Black repertoire on the Cambridge Springs variation, Andrew Martin takes you on a tour of classic games, showing how Black may conveniently sidestep the dangerous lines with Bf4, whilst retaining good chances and providing comprehensive coverage of the lines where White captures early on d5. This is a repertoire which will suit all levels of player."

And it does just that. By the time I had finished the two short introductions, I knew exactly what was in store: coverage of the Cambridge Springs, coverage of the Exchange Variation, and coverage of lines where White decides to play Bf4.

The Cambridge Springs may seem surprising those who do not believe it is good in modern practice. Martin believes that the defense is as viable as any, and the only reason it is not seen much these days is simply a matter of fashion:

[Event "Queen's Gambit Declined"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Martin, Andrew"] [Black "Cambridge Springs"] [Result "*"] [ECO "D52"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "2012.01.14"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCategory "21"] [SourceDate "2012.04.19"] {The Cambridge Springs, of course, arises after the moves} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. Nf3 (5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nxd5 $2 {is the well-known Elephant Trap.}) 5... c6 6. e3 Qa5 {The reason I, and many other players, moved on from the Cambridge Springs to other openings, is the main line} 7. Nd2 {Martin calls the knight move "peculiar looking," and indeed, since many of Black's traps focus on the bishop being unprotected, it does seem odd. However, it is the most effective move in this position. He believes it stops the ideas of ...Ne4 and ...Bb4, losing "some of the point of ...Qa5."} {After 7.Nd2, Martin recommends} dxc4 {and White usually recaptures with the knight after trading off the g5-bishop.} ({7.Nd2 doesn't really stop, of course, either} 7... Bb4 {or}) (7... Ne4 {Both moves have been played frequently. The aggressive 7...Ne4 looked really good to me until I started analyzing the various games in my Mega Database 2011 - one needs to double-check the teacher's pontifications after all. There were a few neat tricks and traps, but Martin ends up being correct in his assessment.Both moves have been played frequently. The aggressive 7...Ne4 looked really good to me until I started analyzing the various games in my Mega Database 2011 - one needs to double-check the teacher's pontifications after all. There were a few neat tricks and traps, but Martin ends up being correct in his assessment.}) 8. Bxf6 Nxf6 9. Nxc4 {Now all sorts of queen moves are possible, but certainly} Qc7 { appears best. This is where the rubber meets the road and why I gave up the variation. White has a slight pull here, and has various ways of proceeding: 10.g3, 10.a3, 10.Rc1 and 10.Be2, amongst others. If Black is patient, Martin notes, he should be able to weather the storm (White has an initiative, but there are few ways to provoke a weakness in the Black camp), and has the bishop-pair to look forward to. The position is solid but passive, and Martin provides a number of ways for Black to "gradually come forward."} 10. g3 (10. a3) (10. Rc1) (10. Be2) {Consider some of the ideas he presents in Van der Sterren-Timman, Donner Memorial 1994, which continued} 10... Bd7 11. Bg2 c5 { - going for a break right away and now White is faced with how to keep the initiative -} 12. d5 exd5 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 14. Qxd5 ({White can capture with the bishop here:} 14. Bxd5 {but then} O-O-O $1 15. Qf3 f5 16. O-O Kb8 17. Rad1 h5 { and Black has chances for an attack.}) {The game continued} 14... Rb8 15. O-O-O {(games in which both sides can consider either castling always hold some interest)} Be6 {and now White is forced into} 16. Nd6+ {which allows all the pieces to come off.} (16. Qe4 {is tempting, but} Be7 {and now queenside castling looks like something of a mistake, as ...b6 will soon follow. Timman used his considerable endgame skill for a later win.}) *

In the Exchange Variation, as in the Cambridge Springs, you have to be patient. I'd always thought that Black could counter-punch back to at least a slight advantage in the line. But this takes time, and well-timed counter-punches, and Martin provides them.

The most interesting variations these days are those with Bf4, where, if Black cannot prove the bishop to be misplaced, White gets a good game and Black has little ability to fight back. One encounters Bf4 quite often at the amateur level, and Martin considers this section one of the most important of the DVD. The following game was particularly instructive:

[Event "Marianske Lazne Czech Coal m"] [Site "Marianske Lazne"] [Date "2010.11.27"] [Round "8"] [White "Caoili, Arianne"] [Black "Portisch, Lajos"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2242"] [BlackElo "2544"] [Annotator "Martin,Andrew"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2010.11.20"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "8"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2011.01.05"] [WhiteTeam "Snowdrops"] [BlackTeam "Veterans"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 ({Superior to} 4... Be7) 5. Bf4 { Martin considers this inferior. Makes good sense to me; the knights are ready to work in cooperation against that bishop, whereas 4...Be7 is really best as a counter to Bg5.} dxc4 6. e3 Nd5 7. Bxc4 Nxf4 8. exf4 Bb4 (8... Nb6 {may well be better, and the f8-bishop will be fianchettoed after the c4-bishop moves. The knight move also neutralizes any d5 threat. Relying on the queen check trick leads to positions like} 9. O-O Nxc4 10. Qa4+ c6 11. Qxc4 Be7 {The engines rate this as equal, Martin notes, but one important factor: White's position can only get worse, and Black's can only get better. Finding these sorts of positions that engines evaluate poorly are as important to the amateur as the grandmaster these days.}) 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 O-O 11. Bd3 Nf6 12. Ne5 c5 13. Qf3 cxd4 {Again, the engines tend to see this position as better for White. Martin disagrees.} 14. Rad1 Bd7 15. cxd4 Ba4 16. Rc1 Rb8 { Now Portisch has to survive the next ten moves, and not fall prey to a kingside attack. But there simply "isn't enough firepower" and Portisch knows that. The rest is a typical grandmaster versus "ordinary master" win.} 17. Qh3 g6 18. Qh6 Rc8 19. Rxc8 Qxc8 20. h4 Qd8 21. Re1 Qxd4 22. h5 Nxh5 23. Re4 Qa1+ 24. Kh2 Bc6 25. Nxc6 bxc6 26. Re5 Nf6 27. Qg5 Kg7 28. Re3 Qd4 29. Rg3 Rd8 30. f5 exf5 31. Qxf5 Rd5 32. Qf3 Nh5 33. Be4 Nxg3 34. Bxd5 Nf1+ 35. Kg1 Qxd5 36. Qc3+ Kg8 37. Kxf1 Qd1+ 0-1

Other trainers may have greater depth of material, but this one is "just right" for the club player looking for a solid defense to the Queen's Gambit that offers chances of coming out on top. It is good enough to be used as an opening reference as well. It is incredible that Martin doesn't waste a single second here in presenting the material. Highly recommended for those rated below 2200, with a target audience of 1400-1800. The one caveat is that you have to be willing to accept a middlegame that might taper off into a draw, but if you are careful, patient, and know the main ideas, you have good chances to win.

My assessment of this product: Excellent (six out of six stars)


Andrew Martin - The Queen's Gambit Declined


Andrew David Martin (born 18th May 1957 in West Ham, London) is an English chess player with the title of International Master. He has won various national and international tournaments and has been playing for years in the Four Nations Chess League, at present (July 2009) for Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher, previously for the Camberley Chess Club. Martin received his IM title in1984. He earned his first grandmaster norm in the British Championship of 1997 in Brighton. Martin was a commentator on the chess world championship between Kasparov and Kramnik in 2000.

On the 21st February 2004 Martin set a new world record for simultaneous chess. He faced 321 chess players at the same time. His result was: 294 wins, 26 draws and only one loss. Martin is known as a professional chess teacher and head trainer of the English youth team. He trains eight schools (Yateley Manor, Aldro, Millfield, Sunningdale, Waverley School, St Michael’s Sandhurst, Wellington College, Salesian College). Martin is a chess columnist, an author of chess books and the author of various instructional videos. He was the publisher of the series Trends Publications. Martin lives in Sandhurst, England, is married and the father of two daughters and two sons. His present Elo rating is 2423 (as of July 2009).


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