Learning by viewing

6/30/2010 – Nigel Short's new DVD "Greatest Hits vol. 2" like his first one is far more than a mere playback of the best games of his career. Other than with classical opening or middlegame DVDs you will learn new strategies and motifs en passant because it is "both instruction and fun", as Michael Jeffrey put it in his review. Buy Greatest Hits vol. 2 now or read more.

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Nigel Shorts Greatest Hits Volume 2

Review by Michael Jeffreys


GM Nigel Short, looking quite dapper

Question: What Grandmaster has beaten 12 World Chess Champions?

Answer: Nigel Short!

Most of us “older” folk remember Nigel’s tough fight against Kasparov back in 1993 after the two gave FIDE the middle finger and broke off to conduct their own World Title Match. However, few would have guessed that Short has played a dozen (this includes simuls when he was a youngster) world champions.

I have always been a fan of Nigel’s, even going so far as reading the hardback book his father, David, wrote about him when he was a child prodigy in the 1970s. (It’s a good read and worth getting for both the games and the father/son commentary on what it was like to play on the English tournament circuit back then.)

One thing I like about this Vol. 2 Greatest Hits DVD from Chessbase is that (like on Vol. 1), Nigel jumps straight into the games without any fanfare. Life is short (no pun intended), get to the games! And indeed, the first game on the DVD is Short’s first win over a GM, which happened to be against England's first Grandmaster (and certainly most colorful), Tony Miles. And Nigel did it with the black pieces!

Throughout the 15 videos (5 hours), Nigel is very candid about his thoughts on certain positions/moves. If he (or his opponent) played a stinker, he freely admits it not hiding his contempt. On the other hand, if he played a crusher, his pride is palpable. There is no doubt that Short has a healthy ego, however this, along with his frankness and world class chess strength, is what makes this DVD so entertaining as well as instructive.

For example in game three, which is against Israel’s powerhouse GM Boris Gelfand, Nigel talks candidly about how badly his match preparation had been. He says that the reason for this was his daughter’s birth and her subsequent coming home. It had proven to be so disruptive to him, that he shipped his wife and 14 day old baby off to her mother’s house, so he could get some sleep and watch the football matches on the telly to relax.

While on the surface this sounds pretty harsh, if not insensitive to his wife and new born, I can’t imagine the type of pressure one must feel playing against the very best chess minds in the world.

In this candidates quarter final third match game from 1991, Short, playing White, wanted to avoid Gelfand’s Najdorf, which he got destroyed by in game one. And so he wheeled out my personal favorite against the Sicilian, but a rarity at the highest levels, The Grand Prix Attack!

After 19 moves, we reach the following position with White to move:


Nigel Short - Boris Gelfand,
Candidates qf1, Brussels, 1991 White to Move after 19…Qc5

Here, Nigel explains that he wants to play 20. Rae1, but this would allow Black time to start his queenside counterplay with 20…b5. So, Nigel proudly (and rightly!) shows us the solution he found: the lovely 20. Bc3!

This is a clever intermezzo, as the bishop can’t stay there forever, but for the moment it directly attacks Black’s d4 pawn and thus doesn’t allow Black time to do what he really wants to, which is play 20...b5.

Gelfand responded with 20…Nc6, to defend d4. (Note that 20…dxc3? is out due to 21. Qxc5). And now Nigel had time for 21. Rae1. After Black’s 21…b6, which guards the Queen and now really does threaten 22…dxc3, Short coolly dropped the bishop back to d2, as its work was done. Thus, he niftily got his off-rook developed whilst holding up Black’s counter-play for a move. Short went on to win in 31 moves!

Watch a sample video on Short-Khalifman (1991)

Other top level players Nigel does battle with on this second DVD include: Seirawan, Khalifman, Ljubojevic, Kasparov, Timman, Adams, Korchnoi and Gligoric.

Opening DVDs can be instructive, especially when you want to learn a new opening or improve on an existing one. However, if you are looking for both fun and instruction then having a world class (and championship finalist) GM explain his own games, in his own words, while sharing a few colorful stories and opinions about his different opponents along the way is the way to go! It’s the old “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down,” in that you are learning about top level chess, but it doesn’t feel like work because you are engaged in watching a heavyweight battle of ideas right before your eyes. Nigel Short’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is one DVD you won’t be disappointed with.


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