Merci, Nigel

3/21/2010 – Did you know that when White plays 5.Nf3 in the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7) that indicates he is going to play against Black’s “hanging pawns” on e6 and d5? It is strategical knowledge of this kind that Nigel Davies presents on his new DVD on the French Defence. Bob Long has gone through the entire course and regards it 'the most useful DVD I have seen in a long time'. Buy it now or read Bobs review with sampler.

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Nuts and Bolts Chess Strategy!

Nigel Davies: French Defence Strategy - reviewed by Bob Long

Nigel Davies new DVD French Defence Strategy is very reminscent of the material in am reading in the upcoming Purdy book I am about to publish. In Purdy’s book he spends quite a few pages on pawns in front of the King, isolated pawns, hanging pawns, and so on. When proofing I have to concentrate (no watching DVDs, listening to music, talking on the phone and so on). When I concentrate I learn or understand what I have read before, much more.

Hence, as I was watching Nigel’s new DVD the thought returned, “I’ve just been reading this!” This IS how strong players think. What I need to do is inculcate this into my chess play instead of paying due attention 85% of the time. I would win MORE games against weaker players and definitely some more games against stronger players who automatically “know” this stuff. Why would I win more? Because as the stronger player saw that I could see his shenanigans and nuances almost as well as he, he would have to play harder which often entails RISK! Risk is a twoedged sword, even for stronger players.

I mentioned on my Blog that I would spend the weekend looking at this video and I have, though not all at once (then I become sleepy). There are so many good things I don’t want to overlook any of them:

  • The Pawn Wedge (d4- e5)
  • The Classical French
  • The Winawer ideas
  • The Advance
  • Isolated d-pawn.

Click here for replay a video sampler (Timman-Seirawan (1978)).

There are several Karpov games (using the Tarrasch). In one Karpov takes W. Uhlmann apar t in an isolated d‑pawn game and in the very next, IM Sergio Tatai gives Korchnoi an isolated d-pawn from an Exchange French and he gets clobbered in 14 moves with one of the most devastating K-side attacks you will ever have the chance to play over.

In those games where one side wins (there are a few draws) Davies shows us improvements for the other side. In the French did you know that when White plays 5.Nf3 (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7) that indicates he is going to play against Black’s “hanging pawns” on e6 and d5 (when Black goes …c5 and …f6)? Davies fills us up wiht these little nuances such as this one from Spassky-Petrosian, 1966 WCCM.

Other subjects also covered are the “Little Center” and the Fort Knox variation. For those who can’t stomach 2.d4, he gives as his last game Romanishin- Bareev, 1994 where 2.d3 is played.

There are 26 video clips on this four hour DVD. Davies moves right along, sometimes too quickly (as I am still absorbing), but then we can always pause and think about it. He gets a few jokes in here and there, and yes, I did watch and listen to ALL clips. This, perhaps, is the most useful (for me) DVD I have seen in a long time.

Even though the subject is the French Defense, many of these ideas are applicable elsewhere when it comes to pawn structures. The games are well chosen as they are very instructive; games I should know, but do not. (Maybe the only game I know is Botvinnik-Capablanca 1938 AVRO—just kidding.) Chess Reports #101

I like most of the games but Planinc-Timman, 1974 is terrific. It seems reminiscent of Andy Rea’s stuff in Chess on the Ledge. Another wow(!) game was Spassky-Korchnoi 1977 with tripled pawns.

If you play White (and I have) there are some gem ideas here also, but again Davies offers tips on improve Black play but they would have great surprise value even in a serious contest. Davies says he plays the French now and then but may play it more in the future (is this consumption for his future opponents?). In 2009 he takes Lawrence Trent apart at the Staunton Memorial.

One reason I recommend this DVD is that Mr. Davies knows quite a bit about the French. If you really want to get the most out of this DVD, I really recommend watching in 2-4 times andplaying what you’ve learned. Davies had done an excellent job of explaining the French. 


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