Lilov DVD: Tactics – From Basics to Brilliance

9/8/2012 – "I always wonder why opening trainers are so popular," writes Chess Cafe reviewer Steven Dowd, "until I find myself playing poorly in the opening – and then I wonder why there aren't more!" The latest DVD by Valery Lilov has sixty-two games, dealing with knight forks, weaknesses on files and diagonals, discovered attacks, overloading, and misplaced pieces. Steven gives it five out of six stars.

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Lilov: From Basics to Brilliance

Review by Steven B. Dowd

First, I want to thank all of you who wished me well during my last illness and regrettable absence from my column last month. I was especially pleased that so many old chess friends read this column, and it is always great to make new friends through chess; in fact that is one reason I love this game so much!

I always wonder why opening trainers are so popular – until I find myself playing poorly in the opening – and then I wonder why there aren't more of them! However, this month we feature two middlegame trainers, by the always competent Lilov, and only one opening trainer.


Tactics: from Basics to Brilliance, Vol. 3 (DVD) by Valeri Lilov, ChessBase, Playing time: 4 hours. $33.95 (ChessCafe Price: $27.95)

I consider Valery Lilov a master teacher in training. He is not as polished a presenter as Andrew Martin or Nigel Davies, but he is definitely on the path of continued progress. On this DVD, Lilov proceeds with his exploration of tactics in the Basics to Brilliance series. In sixty-two games, he moves from knight forks through weaknesses on files and diagonals to discovered attacks, overloading, and misplaced pieces. From the package insert:

"Topics start from "the hole in the fianchetto" and go as far as "the seventh rank." But that's not all we get! How about a combination juggling from a "decoy into a pin?" You will find everything you didn't find in other tactics books, all in one place, because it is now put together just for you! Enjoy FM Valeri Lilov's training once again and get your tactics to the next level now! "

A bit of hyperbole, but not inaccurate, at least for players below 1600 Elo or so. Lilov's explanation of motif versus theme is a bit of a struggle to comprehend at first and his differentiation may be a bit homespun, but it makes sense the more you consider it and that is what a good teacher does – shows justification for his own explanations. It not always necessary that the student believe it, it is only necessary that the student understand it – clarity of presentation is one of the hallmarks of a master teacher.

In explaining his use of motif and theme, he uses back rank (or weakness) as an example of motif. The theme is the execution of the tactic or combination, the "way we exploit it, the action that we take." Deflection is a theme. Consider the following:

The experienced player will note the rook on d2 and the lack of an escape square for the white king, the black queen's ability to "run down" the diagonal h5-d1, and the weak square e2. In fact, if you can't spot the motif – the weak back rank – you are a prime candidate for this DVD to get your tactics up to speed.

Now to the execution. Since e2 is a weak square, how is this exploited in combination with the back rank weakness? Lilov calls attention immediately to 1...Qe2!, which is indeed an "extraordinary move." The rooks are exposed as helpless and clumsy against the queen and knight. This is a powerful deflection (the theme). One thing I would have added is why 1...Ne2+!? is not as effective as the text move, but perhaps he considered that only noise in relation to the very clean execution of the theme.

All the examples are well presented on this DVD, which could serve as a great resource for any player below 1600 or for teachers looking for supplemental material for their students. It would also be a competent refresher for the stronger player looking to shake off the rust. A solid five-star presentation; I look forward to more Lilov, as always.

My assessment of this product: Great (five out of six stars)


Sample lesson by Valeri Lilov - Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance Vol. 3


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