Review by Sebastian Vigl
Translation: Johannes Fischer
Solid and aggressive
When I saw that English Grandmaster Daniel King had published a DVD with a repertoire against 1.d4, based on the Queen's Gambit Declined, I was enthusiastic. Finally something solid against 1.d4! Though admittedly I first had some worries that the repertoire might be too dry. Solid, but without chances for counterplay. However, knowing Daniel King, I soon stopped worrying. After all, his name stands for counterplay, initiative, attack. Finally, I said to myself: let's give it a try!
King presents his repertoire against 1.d4 (2.c4) on two DVDs:
• Power Play 23 - A Repertoire For Black With the Queen's Gambit Declined
• Power Play 24 - A Repertoire For Black Against the Catalan
I started with the first DVD, Power Play 23, which I want to review here: after an introductory video follow 10 interactive illustrative games with which King substantiates his repertoire. Each illustrative game is complemented by a small database with model games, inviting to study the repertoire lines further.
Alternatives to the main course (2 videos)
Against the set-up with Bg5 King recommends the Tartakower. A decision I fully welcome. However, the first two videos deal with alternatives to the Tartakower Variation. One is Andersson's treatment of the Lasker system (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 Ne4) and Alekhine's favorite line (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 a6).
Admittedly, at first I found it a bit confusing to start the DVD with alternatives to the main repertoire offered in which the Tartakower plays a crucial role. Moreover, two illustrative games are not enough to explore these alternative lines deeply. This is particularly true for the line in the first video in which White plays the opening a bit awkwardly. However, these two illustrative games show typical maneuvers and pawn structures Black should know.
Here is a position from a game of former World Champion Boris Spassky,
one of the great Tartakower-experts.
Black to move - how does he counter White's minority attack?
Hint: White would like to have the square a4 for his minor pieces...
But now let's turn to the main part of Power Play 23, the "Repertoire For Black With the Queen's Gambit Declined".
The Tartakower Variation (4 videos)
In the position after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Qe2 (see diagram) King shows how Black can solve some of his problems with ...Ne4.
...Ne4 helps to reduce White's pressure and after 11.Bxe7 Qxe7
Black's queen found an almost ideal square on e7.
As the illustrative game shows this structure might easily lead to a position with "hanging pawns". But Black also has an interesting alternative strategy, indicated in one of the model games: he can take on c3 which might help Black to a pawn majority on the queenside.
In the system with 8.Be2 Bb7 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.cxd5 exd5 King indicates a strategic concept that hitherto has been seen relatively rarely. On first sight it does indeed seem to be everything but convincing - Black blocks the bishop on b7 by putting pawns on c6 and b5. However, a closer look reveals that this set-up offers Black good chances.
And in the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 I see why an active player like King finds the Tartakower system so appealing. He likes the dynamic positions in which Black has "hanging pawns" but active possibilities which often allow Black to seize the initiative.
If White plays 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 King likes Black's prospects. Black has the pair of bishops and in a lot of lines he can bust open the long diagonal a1-h8 to lend power to his black-squared bishop.
White plays Bf4 (1 video)
Recently, a lot of top players prefer to play the lines with Bf4 - instead of lines with Bg5 - with White. But when you look at King's recommendations after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 you will notice how harmonious the repertoire is he proposes. He recommends the less popular 6...b6, striving again for positions with "hanging pawns".
S'il vous plaît: in lines with 5.Bf4 King also strives for "hanging pawns".
In this position Black is to move: what would you play?
Exchange variation (3 videos)
An early exchange with cxd5 is considered to be promising for White. Recently, at the Norway Chess Tournament 2016, even Vladimir Kramnik failed to hold with Black against Magnus Carlsen.
If White here opts for a set-up with Bg5, King recommends the mysterious knight sortie to h5.
Well, if you recommend Black to put the knight on h5 you need a good explanation.
King has an excellent one.
However, as King shows, Black can also avoid the main lines of the Exchange Variation if he plays 3...Be7 instead of 3...Nf6. If White now insists to exchange on d5, he has to put his bishop to f4. But here the white bishop can be easily neutralized.
Interactive illustrative games are excellent for studying a new opening. They help to keep your mind from wandering during the video lectures. In his lectures King often puts the ball into your field, saying "Now it´s your turn!" I like this method. After all, you do not learn swimming by watching others swim.
I also would have liked it if the model games in the database had more comments. A simple statement by King why he decided to include this game into the database would have sufficed.
The repertoire itself is very harmonious and in the various lines King strives for similar structures (e.g. "hanging pawns") which helps to learn the opening.
There was a time when I considered positions with "hanging pawns" as too risky for Black. Now I cannot get enough of them.
A Repertoire For Black With the Queen's Gambit Declined
This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.
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