Daniel King's Interactive Coaching Session

1/4/2014 – "Test Your Attacking Chess was the first time I experienced the new interactive training with video feedback feature of the Fritz Training DVDs," writes Chess Cafe reviewer Chris Wainscott. "I had no idea what a treat was in store for me." He found it a very dynamic tool that "comes as close to emulating a lesson from a GM as anything I have seen," – and gives it five out of six possible stars.

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An Interactive Coaching Session

Review by Chris Wainscott

Power Play 20: Test Your Attacking Chess
by Daniel King

Fritz Trainer DVD, ChessBase,
Video running time: 4 hours 40 min. $34.37

Test Your Attacking Chess is the twentieth installment in GM King's Power Play series, but it was a first for me. It was also the first time I experienced the new interactive training with video feedback feature of the Fritz Training DVDs. I had no idea what a treat was in store when I began watching. The one main feature that sets this apart from other materials I have trained with is that the viewer is asked to solve exercises using an interactive board.

For example, a video clip shows the first several moves of a game, complete with explanations, and then at a certain point the viewer is asked what move they would make in a given position. You then play a move with your mouse on the GUI chessboard, and if your move is correct, the next clip plays explaining why the move is good. If the move is incorrect a text pop-up informs you of that fact; but if your move is an interesting alternative or particularly poor for a reason that might not be so obvious, another clip will play explaining why.

The format of the DVD is very useful for this type of training because it consists of complete games rather than just tactical fragments. The intention is to show the viewer how to conduct an attacking game from start to finish rather than just focusing on how to solve a tactical situation.

The DVD is divided into ten segments, which naturally are the ten complete games:

  • Kasparov-Begun
  • Sadler-Hawkins
  • Kjartansson-Fedorchuk
  • Popovic-Cvetkovic
  • Miladinovic-Kovacevic
  • Svidler-Ivanchuk
  • Kramnik-Fressinet
  • Hector-Rapport
  • Sanikidze-Ivanisevic
  • Norwood-King

There is also a bonus database of fifty attack test games, which GM King describes as follows:

"In this database you will find the ten test games with annotations, and underneath each one I have selected some related games (but mainly without annotations). Sometimes you will find the same opening as the test game, but one of the players varies; sometimes you will find a similar theme, for example a pawn break or a piece manoeuvre; sometimes I show how the defender might have improved his play. If you study the test games well, it should be clear where the similarities lie. I hope that the supplementary games will deepen your understanding of the attacking concepts presented on this DVD."

The DVD runs as stand-alone software, though it does require the bundled newest version of the CB 12 Reader, or ChessBase 12, or Fritz 13 (or higher). Other system requirements are as follows:

Minimum: Pentium III 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Windows Vista, XP (Service Pack 3), DirectX9 graphic card with 256 MB RAM, DVD-ROM drive, Windows Media Player 9, and internet connection for program activation. Recommended: PC Intel Core i7, 2.8 GHz, 4 GB RAM, Windows 7 or Windows 8, DirectX10 graphic card (or compatible) with 512 MB RAM or better, 100% DirectX10 compatible sound card, Windows Media Player 11, and internet connection for program activation.

One of the nice features of modern day living is that you can purchase a DVD and then download it instead of having to wait for it to arrive in the mail. So if you are sitting around one afternoon wondering what you should do, you have the option to purchase a DVD and watch it within just a few minutes rather than having to wait several days.

Now, let's get on to the content of the DVD.

In the introduction to Game One, GM King says, "Every chess player should have the ability to play a direct attack against their opponent's king or to sense when it's possible to play a direct attack." He then explains that the point of this DVD is to show players how to identify the key themes that run through all attacking games. He notes that after seeing those themes (i.e. lack of king safety, open lines, etc.) there will come a time when calculation is key.

I found it interesting, especially considering that it was advice being given on a DVD, that GM King recommends the viewer set up the positions on a real board so that when it comes time to do the calculation exercises the viewer is under game or tournament conditions.

Game One, between Garry Kasparov and Sergei Begun, dates from the Sokolsky Memorial in 1978. (Yes, that Sokolsky; the one who popularized 1.b4.) At this point Kasparov was still a relative unknown, as this was prior to his first international tournament in Banja Luka 1979. (An interesting historical side note is that when Kasparov was sent to the grandmaster tournament in Banja Luka he had no Elo rating. He won the event, emerging with a rating of 2575.)

After the first ten moves in a Semi-Tarrasch this position is reached:

It is at this point that the viewer is asked their first question: Can you find a way for White to seize the initiative?

It was now my turn to make a move on the interactive board, so after calculating for a bit I thought 11.d5 was a reasonable choice. After all, the pawn does not hang as after 11...exd5 12.exd5 Qxd5 Black's queen would be lost to 13.Bxh7+, so d5 looked like a good way to grab some space.

However, 11.d5 was incorrect and a video pops up where GM King indicates that after 11...exd5 12.exd5 Nb4 13.Bc4 Bf5 White now has some serious issues to deal with, not to mention that Black's dark-squared bishop will simply go to d6 to stop the pawn.

The correct move is 11.dxc5, as after 11...Bxc5 12.e5 White now has the threat of playing 13.Qc2 with a double attack on the h7-pawn and the bishop on c5 so Black is forced to waste time by playing 12...Be7

GM King points out that the pawn on e5 is a common attacking theme. It serves the dual purpose of opening the b1-h7 diagonal, and helps lock in the bishop on c8. Here the viewer is again asked to find the most logical continuation.

The next moves were 13.Qe2 Nb4 14.Bb1 Bd7 and once again it is time for the viewer to find the continuation:

Here, 15.Qe4 looks logical as Black would be forced to play 15...g6, but after 16.Bh6 Black can play 16...Bc6, rather than the immediate 16...Re8, and after a move like 17.Qg4 comes 17...Re8 18.a3 and now Black has the zwischenzug 18...Bxf3 19.Qxf3 Nc6. Now, as pointed out by GM King, one of Black's main problems a few moves earlier, his light-squared bishop, is no longer an issue and Black is OK.

Therefore, the correct move is 15.a3, driving the knight away prior to playing Qe4. The game continues in this question and answer format until Kasparov wins on move twenty-four after a withering attack.

Another game I particularly enjoyed was Miladinovic-Kovacevic, Serbian Ch. Vrnjacka Banja 26.04.2013. (Talk about the inclusion of topical games!) One reason that I enjoyed this game is that Miladinovic is one of my favorite lesser-known GMs. I spent a bit of time last year studying the Taimanov Sicilian and he is a devoted adherent of that opening, so I became familiar with many of his games. Another reason that I enjoyed this game was that it was very interesting.

After twenty-one moves in a rare line of the Trompowsky the following position is reached:

Here, as GM King points out, White has no structural problems and his pieces are placed very harmoniously. It is at this point that the viewer is asked to find the smoothest way for White to continue.

The move here is 22.Qd1, with the idea of being able to expand on the queenside by freeing up the b-pawn to advance. In fact, after the next two moves in the game, 22...Bc8 23.Rc1, there is a threat shown by making the "nothing move" 23...Bf6 and then the attacking idea White has is brought to fruition via 24.b4 Rxc3 25.Rxc3 Qxc3 26.Rc2 Qxb4 27.Nc6 which is winning for White.

Later, after several more tests of your attacking acumen, the following position is reached upon Black's forty-first move:

Here White is gathering for the final attack and now it remains only to figure out how to best bring home the point. I will not spoil this one for you, but will leave you to find the solution on your own.

Having worked with this DVD, I find myself eager to explore more of these interactive Fritz Trainers. Rather than a static product, like most books, articles, and DVDs, this is a very dynamic tool that will help most aspiring players on their journey towards improvement. This DVD comes as close to emulating a lesson from a GM as anything I have seen, and will be particularly useful for those rated between 1400 and 2000. In addition the production value is on par with what you would expect from ChessBase. I give this a very enthusiastic five out of six stars.

My assessment of this DVD: Great

Source: Chess Cafe

Sample video


Power Play 20: Test Your Attacking Chess

By Daniel King

ChessBase PC-DVD
Running time: 4 hours 40 min
Languages: English
Delivery: Download or Post

Price: €29.90 – €25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU); $34.15 (without VAT).

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