Chess Prodigies Uncovered: Sergey Karjakin

11/27/2013 – This is one of a brand new range of DVDs, with Sergey Karjakin being subject of the first volume. The big difference between it and other ChessBase DVDs is the interactive aspect. Questions follow the main games: author Lorin D’Costa asks the viewer questions, and the answers must be played as moves on the on-screen board. "This is solid start to the new series which will probably evolve favourably as time goes by," says reviewer Sean Marsh.

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Chess Prodigies Uncovered: Sergey Karjakin

By Lorin D’Costa

Review by Sean Marsh

Chess Prodigies Uncovered is a brand new series from ChessBase and Sergey Karjakin is the subject of the first volume. This DVD presents 26 main illustrative games featuring Karjakin on top form, all the way from showing himself to be a very impressive ten-year-old, with some excellent endgame technique against Vladimir Klamanski, up to his current status as one of the world’s finest grandmasters with an eye on the world title. His victims in these games include Kramnik, Topalov and Shirov.

There is also a database of 1,729 games which can be accessed via ChessBase reader. The vast majority are without annotations and those that do have notes, including 24 by Karjakin himself, are generally dealt with in very light fashion. Nevertheless, it is good that all of the games are there; the diligent student can search through the collection to pick out further examples of Karjakin’s style, opening repertoire and the like.

The big difference between this and other ChessBase series is the interactive aspect. Six questions follow the 26 main games. Each one starts with a little explanation of the position from D’Costa, who then asks the viewer a question. Answers can be played as moves on the on-screen board; incorrect answers are met with a “try again” and correct moves unlock the next part of the video. Typically, another question or two will soon follow before the game’s dénouement is eventually revealed.

Here’s an example.

S.Karjakin-J.Radulski Calvia Olympiad 2004

White’s last move was 37 Na5-c6 and Black replied with 37...Qb4-b7. What did Karjakin play next? Of course, I tried out a few incorrect moves at first, just to test out the interactive element. I don’t want to reveal the answer here as it will take away some of the value of the DVD.

The interactive approach is, of course, nothing new, even on chess DVDs (GingerGM did something similar with their popular Play Like Tal ). I would have gone further with this DVD and reduced the number of illustrative games to free up space to extend the number of questions to push the interactive side of things more. It’s the best way of keeping the viewer engaged, so more should be made of it.

Finishing with a 2013 game against Magnus Carlsen (which Carlsen won) gives rise to D’Costa’s conclusion regarding Kar-jakin’s title hopes: “For now, we can see that Carlsen will be a real problem for him.” For everyone else, too, I might add. Overall, Lorin D’Costa shows promise as a presenter and does a good job here, although the number of “erms” should be reduced to provide a more flowing narrative. Another thing to consider would be a selection of photographs of the subject and perhaps a text version of his biography, to make it an all-round store of information on Karjakin.

Quibbles aside, this is solid start to the new series which will probably evolve favourably as time goes by.

Source: CHESS Magazine December 2013

Sample video


Chess Prodigies Uncovered:
Sergey Karjakin

By Lorin D’Costa

ChessBase PC-DVD, running time: five hours
Languages: English
Delivery: Download or Post

Price: €27.90 – €23.45 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU); $31.84 (without VAT). In England: RRP £23.99 Subscribers £21.59

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