The Slovakian grandmaster Lubomir Ftacnik begins this DVD by modestly telling the viewer that he will attempt to explain the ideas behind this fascinating line in the Sicilian, and that he will be happy if he accomplishes this goal, because he is constantly surprised by the new ideas that keep emerging, even though he has played the opening for many years. He also states that if you understand the Scheveningen variation, you will also understand many other openings, as the pawn structure and typical ideas share several similarities.
Ftacnik is best known nowadays for being a keen annotator for ChessBase Magazine. He has been out of the limelight for several years, but he is a rather strong grandmaster whose rating has hovered close to 2600 for nearly two decades. In the early 1980s, when he first gained his grandmaster title he helped Czechoslovakia win silver medals at the 1982 Luzern Olympiad with the following stunning game:
Polugaevsky,Lev (2610) - Ftacnik,Lubomir (2535)
Luzern (Men) 1982 Symmetrical English [A30]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Rd1 a6 10.b3 Nbd7 11.e4 Qb8 12.Bb2 0-0 13.Nd2 Rd8 14.a4 Qc7 15. Qe3 Rac8 16.Qe2 Ne5! 17.h3 h5! 18.f4 Ng6! 19.Nf3 d5! 20.cxd5 h4! 21. Nxh4 Nxh4 22.gxh4 Qxf4 23.dxe6 fxe6 24.e5? Bc5+ 25.Kh1 (diagram)
Now Ftacnik finishes the game in style, making it a true classic.
25…Nh5! 26.Qxh5 Qg3!! 27.Nd5 Rxd5! 28.Rf1 Qxg2+! 29.Kxg2 Rd2+ 0-1 White resigned because of 30 Kg3 Rg2+ 31 Kf4 Rf8+, with mate on the next move.
The starting position of the Scheveningen variation is reached after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6
But a variety of other variations and move orders can transpose. The material is divided into the following segments:
● Division of the material
● English Attack with 11 Bd3
● English Attack with 11 h4
● English Attack with 12 Na4 Qa5
● English Attack: Alternative defences
● English Attack with 9 Qd2 b4
● Alternatives to the main line
● Early 10 g4 line
● White’s plan Qe1-g3
● Main Scheveningen position, various
● Main Scheveningen position, 12 a5
● Main Scheveningen position, 12 Bd3 - click here for replay a sample video !
● Main Scheveningen position, 12 Bf3
● Main Scheveningen position, 12 Bf3 Rb8
● Plan with 6 Be3 a6 7 f4
● Keres Attack 6 g4 h6
● Keres Attack very sharp, 7 g4 e5
● Keres Attack very sharp, 7 g4 h6
● Yugoslav Attack 7 Bb3 b5
● Yugoslav Attack 7 Bb3 Nbd7
● Yugoslav Attack 11 Rhg1
● Quiet line 6 g3
The above list is long, but in all honesty, so is the entire disc. The running time is seven hours! While Ftacnik has an eastern European accent, he speaks very clearly and without a robotic, sleep-inducing intonation that some other presenters are prone to when English is not their first language.
While it is impossible to cover all of the lines in this strategically complex variation of the Sicilian Defense, even in seven hours, Ftacnik takes an amazingly thorough and deep stab at it, methodically explaining the typical ideas, and often using games that I had never seen before.
What amazes me most about this DVD is the clarity and consistency in Ftacnik’s presentation. He doesn’t quickly bypass anything important or critical, rather he takes his time, presents the argument from both sides, and explains why the play continues as it does. Similarly, he doesn’t linger over a beautiful variation if it isn’t particularly relevant to the overall picture. Even veteran presenters of these DVDs occasionally make this mistake, but not Ftacnik.
This DVD is remarkably good. It is an absolute must-see for anyone playing the Open Sicilian as white or the lines without …g7-g6 as black. You will, as I have, walk away with a deeper understanding and knowledge about navigating these complex positions, which can be incredibly difficult to understand without proper guidance. It has been quite a while since anything has been written specifically on the Scheveningen, which makes this DVD even more crucial, even if it only scratches the surface of the theory. My message, if the above isn’t clear enough: Hurry up and get it.
Click here for rhe full and original review.