"Developing the Initiative" by Timur Gareyev

by Albert Silver
6/2/2016 – By now you have seen and read the reports on GM Timur Gareev and his blindfold chess exploits. Aside from his unique focus, and fashion sense, his chess is also very attractive with a disregard for material and talent for attack that make for very enjoyable viewing. Sharing his understanding, he recorded a 60-minute masterclass on the initiative.

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Timur Gareyev is without a doubt the definition of "a character", but entirely in the good sense of the term. The first time I saw his pictures in US events, with the unique sense of fashion that seemed to appear in all his images, there was a friendliness that came  across, but one had to wonder whether this was some form of aggressive self-marketing to stand out in the crowd. Even were there a grain of truth in that, with time, and reading his own reports, it becomes clear that this sense of style is really a reflection of his personality: questioning the status quo in all things and embodying his own conclusions.

What does this have to do with the masterclass on "Developing the Initiative", you might ask? It is because this personality also comes across in his presentation, not only in his occasional chuckles and laughs, but the games and chess.

Gareyev's examples all display very provocative opening choices and games, not only choosing offbeat openings, but not hesitating to gamble material in order to take the fight to his opponent as quickly as possible. There is no hypocrisy in his suggestions and recommendations, and you won't see him pulling out examples of his own, of beating up players rated far under him, where his chances of success would obviously increase. Instead, we are shown tussles against other strong rivals such as 5-time US Champion and former Candidate Gata Kamsky or newly minted GM Samuel Sevian.

While analyzing the games in detail, including one where he was on the defending side of this approach, he never fails to come back to the main topic: the initiative and the various factors involved, whether fighting for it, or defending against it. He is also careful to highlight the important points in both situations, noting Dos and Don'ts when aggressively pursuing the initiative as well as when fending someone off.

Timur Gareyev's presentation is entertaining and engaging

I found his examples well-chosen, and they do cover the gamut of his course. Personally, I might have preferred more examples, albeit with shorter presentations, but in the end he does get all his points across, which is really what matters. At the end there are three interactive quiz questions, certainly worth doing and viewing, but the crux of the value here are the grandmaster's lessons.

The examples present all the main calculations and tactics, as well as the plans and maneuvers

Gareyev's games were a refreshing break from the "by the numbers" chess one so often sees, and what helps make it so compelling is the knowledge that his "live by the sword, die by the sword" explanations are not just for show, but his personal modus operandi. Whether you wish to adopt this approach or not, viewing it is certainly an enriching experience that can broaden horizons.

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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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