ChessBase Tutorial: Indian Defences

by Albert Silver
11/6/2011 – This month in the Chess Cafe Steven Dowd looks at "an ingenious way for people to become acquainted with an opening." He confesses he has never seen this type of product before and "being an old-school skeptic, I wondered how well a video could introduce a player to opening structures." After working through the product he comes to the conclusion that the DVD deserves five stars out of six.

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ChessBase Tutorials: Indian Defences

By Steven B. Dowd

ChessBase Tutorials, Openings #04, Indian Defenses (DVD) , ChessBase. Playing Time: 5 hours. $35.95 (ChessCafe Price: $29.95)

This month I review an ingenious way for many people to become acquainted with an opening, the ChessBase tutorial system.

I'd never seen this type of product before, and being an old-school skeptic, I wondered how well a video of this nature could introduce a player to certain opening structures. The accompanying booklet, excellently produced, with plenty of interesting facts on the openings it covers, purports the DVD as "all you need to know about" the Nimzo-Indian, Queen's Indian, Bogo-Indian, King's Indian, Grünfeld, Budapest Gambit, Trompowsky, Torre, Old Indian, Benoni, Benko, and Blumenfeld Gambit. There are a total of twenty-four videos.

Manufacturer hyperbole aside (I don't believe a five hour video on any one of these could cover "all you need to know"), each lesson does cover in sufficient detail what you need to know to start playing that opening successfully and have a decent basic overview. Igor Stohl examines the Queen's Indian and Nimzo-Indian Defenses, Lawrence Trent does the King's Indian, Lars Schandorff presents the Grünfeld, Daniel King addresses the Benoni formations and the Budapest, and Valeri Lilov handles the Benko and Blumenfeld, along with the Bogo-Indian, Torre, and Trompowsky.

I found Stohl a bit quiet and hesitating, and Schandorff as well. It was somewhat harder to follow their presentations, although not impossible. King, Trent, and Lilov were all great as far as presentation style goes; Lilov struggles with English at times, but it does not detract from his enthusiastic presentation of his material. What is great, if you also know German, is that the DVD also contains the same theoretical discussions by (mostly) other speakers, the exception being Daniel King, who does a great job in German or English.

So how much detail is presented? The best analogy I can come up with is a video version of Abby Marshall's column here at ChessCafe.com, "The Openings Explained." If you don't know much about these openings, the presenters give you what you need to get started. And like Abby, the DVD doesn't just have a presentation on the opening. Included is a database with 100 famous games (according to the booklet, but there actually are 101) that feature these openings. The drawback is that they aren't organized by openings nor are they annotated. Adding even brief annotations would have been a great plus.

I'll confine myself to one example since it relates to a system I sometimes play when my normal ones aren't working (always good to have something in reserve), the Bogo-Indian. Most of my knowledge of it relates to an article I read many years ago by Bent Larsen. I was attracted to the fact that it was not often-played and was idea-based, with several ways to proceed for Black. Lilov presents the main ideas behind the lines confidently and quickly (he is almost too quick for me at times, but I suppose that is what "rewind" and replay" are for!). Breutigam, is a bit more "variation-based" in his discussion, although there is not much difference between the two.

After the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+, I am comfortable with all continuations except 4.Nbd2 and that is simply because I have been too lazy to look in the book at what is recommended. But Lilov believes I can give up the b4-bishop here and secure a good game: 4...b6 5.a3 Bxd2+ 6.Qxd2 Bb7 7.e3 0–0 8.Be2 d6 9.0–0 Nbd7 10.b4 Ne4 11.Qc2 f5 12.Bb2 Qe7 13.Rad1 Rf6 14.d5 Rh6

Lilov indicates Black may already be better. I am not so sure, but it is a line I would like to try: it looks to me like 15.Bd3! is best here for White, when Black will have to sacrifice a pawn for what will be a dynamic game for both sides.

And if he recaptures with the bishop? 6.Bxd2 Bb7 7.Bg5 d6 8.e3 Nbd7 9.Qc2 Qe7 10.Rd1 h6 11.Bh4

And two possibilities emerge, 11...g5 or 11...a5. Pushing the g-pawn signals the possibility of queenside castling (there are some other openings with a queenside fianchetto where I occasionally castle on the queenside and this position looks better than most of them) Pushing the a-pawn signals that you are prepared for White's b4-push, and will try to use the a-file to your advantage. Although I am sure there is more to the story, I really am anxious to try this out, both possibilities in fact.

I'll briefly note one other section that impressed me. As a youngster I played the Budapest Gambit, so I was very interested in what King had to say. I was surprised how little had changed in forty years, but also very impressed that King avoided the tricks and traps in this opening and concentrated on the two most telling White responses – holding the pawn or returning it for a positionally better game. For the adventurous, he also showed a means by which they might imbalance the position: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Bf4 g5 – probably dubious, he notes, but worth an attempt if you want to mix it up.

What level of player will benefit here? Well, any player with tournament experience will find these to be a useful introduction, perhaps barring those rated more than 2200. I normally play, for example, classically, and thus, the Tarrasch defense has been my defense of choice. But there are times when the defense just doesn't work for me, and it is always useful to have a back-up. In these cases, I play Nimzo/Queen's Indian/Bogo-Indian defenses, so I know something about them. Still, I found Stohl's material very useful in telling me a little more about an opening I rarely play, but know at least a little about. And of course, I already mentioned Lilov's little piece of theory I am dying to try out in my online games. For someone brand new, it would be a good introduction, for those who know a bit about openings, a useful review. This tutorial system is a great idea.

My assessment of this product: Great (five out of six stars)


Sampler from over five hours of video on the Tutorials DVD

Previous articles and reviews

Monokroussos: ChessBase Tutorials 1 – Open Games review
05.01.2011 – The new ChessBase Tutorials have been top sellers in this Christmas season. Rather than focusing in great detail on a particular variation or opening, each opening tutorial offers a broad overview of an entire family of openings. The discs include 24 video clips (actually, 48: 24 in English and 24 in German) running approximately five hours. Review by Dennis Monokroussos + video sample.

A comfortable way to reach comfortable positions
16.12.2010 – The series of the ChessBase Tutorials belongs to the top-sellers in the Christmas season. Like ChessBase Magazine, it combines a fully packed DVD with a carefully designed booklet that includes a precise introduction to each opening line covered on the DVD. An experienced customer, Dr. Leonard F. Koziol, send us comprehensive feedback on #01 and 02. Buy the CB Tutorials now or read more.

ChessBase Tutorials Open Games review
26.10.2010 – The new ChessBase Tutorials series on openings aims to provide amateurs and club players with a concise, working overview of the openings, providing a booklet, and 24 video lectures in both English and German, presented by eight masters and grandmasters. Each lecture presents the main theory and ideas behind the lines making openings study easier than ever. Review by Albert Silver.


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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