2016 Christmas Buyer's Guide: Openings

by Albert Silver
12/19/2016 – With Christmas just around the corner, you might be tempted to give someone a cool ChessBase DVD from the extensive catalogue, but with hundreds of items, and new ones coming out all the time, it can be daunting to know which item has their name written on it. With this in mind, we have put together a few Buyer’s Guides to help you choose. In this Buyer's Guide you will find suggestions for all styles and strengths on Openings, whether it be a full repertoire or openings taught by World Champions.

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Of all the DVDs in the ChessBase Shop, Openings are unquestionably the most popular topic as players of all strengths try to find that perfect Goldilocks opening that will be easy to understand, yet assail their opponent with insurmountable problems. Needless to say that perfect utopian opening does not exist, but the rich landscape of openings does ensure that with a bit of persistence and diligence everyone should be able to find an opening that fits their style and taste.

Beginner Openings

In five volumes, a wide variety of openings are each presented in short videos that share the ideas and main lines to give you a taste of what they are like. If one of the openings really clicks, you can then look for a more thorough DVD on it. There is nothing quite like innocently laying a trap in the opening and watching your 'poor' opponent find himself wondering what hit him. This fun DVD shares 1000 opening traps for you to test yourself, and perhaps play at the board.
A good game of chess is made up of three phases; the opening, the middlegame and then the endgame. However, if you do not play the opening well, you will not get to see the other phases! ‘First Steps in Opening Play’ attempts to equip the viewer will all the information he or she needs to tackle this tricky area and to emerge into the middlegame with a good, playable position. It can be a scary and frustrating thing to face a gambit in the opening and not know what to do. In 'Meeting the Gambits Vol.1', FIDE Senior Trainer Andrew Martin provides answers on what to play against openings after 1.e4 such as the Evans Gambit, the Smith-Morra Gambit, the Blackmar-Diemer and many more.


Constructing an opening repertoire is one of the chess player’s most difficult and time-consuming tasks. If you just wanted a simple and efficient reportoire designed by a professional, then the following items should be at the top of your Wish List sent to Santa.

In this DVD, Sam Collins prepares a repertoire with White for 1.e4. He breaks down each position into its key components and explains the core plans and ideas, together with enough theory to avoid any accidents and catch your opponents by surprise. With over 8 hours of top-class instruction, he helps lay the foundation for a repertoire to last for your whole chess career. Are you a 1.e4 player wanting to include 1.d4, but afraid of all the theory it means learning? If so, this DVD is for you, as GM Davies provides an easy to use repertoire designed precisely for players wishing to switch with minimal stress. The run time is about five hours.
The King’s Indian Attack is a unique opening system in that it offers White a dynamic and interesting game but without the need to know reams of theory. In addition to being easy to learn it has an excellent pedigree, leading exponents including great players such as Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, and many more. IM Lorin D'Costa and Nick Murphy team up to answer specifically the question, what can one play againstt eh Sicilian without having to memorize entire textbooks on theory. With over 6 hours of video instruction in A repertoire against the Sicilian, you will have no reason to fear it anymore.

Open and Semi-Open

There is no way this comes even close to a complete picture of what you can find, so if you don’t see what you are looking for here in this Buyer’s Guide, by all means enter the ChessBase Shop and use the Search function. You may be surprised at how many items come up in answer to even your most obscure opening questions.

In a day when the King's Gambit seems all but swept under the rug, it is such a rich opening with fun positions, that one cannot help but take one's hat off to GM Simon Williams who filled two DVDs with over 11 hours of delightful games and analysis. Fantastic.  Bologan's material to be as intimidating as they are thorough. I cannot fault it of course, but it was never really for me.... until this. Instead of a DVD on how to neutralize one opening, he proposes to neutralize threethe Alekhine, the Scandinavian, and the Pirc. His explanations are clear, the lines he chooses are simple and efficient. Superb.
Continuing his well-researched openings presentations on gambts that are no longer played at the top, but remain fun choices for club players, GM Simon Williams answers all your questions on the Evans Gamit. GM Erwin L'Ami provides an extensive series on gambits from the Open Game in two volumes spanning over 13 hours of videos. Don't let that intimidate you, as you can just choose the ones that interest you, such as the infamous Frankenstein-Dracula Gambit or the Cochrane Gambit.

Closed and Semi-Closed

The Semi-Slav has decided World Championships, and is one of Black’s most fascinating replies to 1.d4. Peter Heine Nielsen, second of World Champion Magnus Carlsen, and author of this DVD says: "I want to use my experience to guide you through the labyrinths of this line. I try to improve your understanding of this position in particular and chess in general, and hope to inspire you to play the opening of Champions!“ Garry Kasparov took to the Queen’s Gambit at a relatively late stage of his chess career, but then had the best training anyone could imagine: in his first match for the world championship against Anatoly Karpov, this opening appeared on the board no fewer than 19 times. Now he shares his knowledge with you, and with great eloquence speaks about variations and ideas of the Classical Queen’s Gambit.
Spanning two volumes, this work on the English Opening is presented by GM Simon Williams. He explains, "I used this opening to progress from the rank amateur to 2400+ International Master. I will now share my secrets of this opening with you. I will teach you some simple yet effective set ups, without the need to rely on memorising numerous complicated variations. I have explained what you are trying to achieve with each move and set up, then you will know what plans to put into motion in the middlegame and endgame." The Nimzo-Indian was Aaron Nimzowitsch's greatest contribution to opening theory, and it justly carries his name. It is one of the openings that has long been playable for both sides. The Moldavian grandmaster Viktor Bologan recommends it because it’s complex and simple at the same time. It teaches one very important thing in chess - how to play with the knight against a bishop. This four hour DVD covers both theory and the concepts of this classic struggle.


ChessBase Account Premium 1 Year
The Opening Encyclopaedia is a bit of a hybrid with a huge database, not quite as vast as Mega, but containing thousands of openings surveys and articles coming from over 15 years of ChessBase Magazine articles. In it are also tens of thousands of commented games. You lose the year of free updates Mega has, but get the amazing wealth of openings material. Premium subscription used to 'only' offer a one year access to Playchess with right to rating, simuls, ChessBase TV, and the interactive live GM commented games (you can ask the GM questions). Now that also includes everything in ChessBase Account, with the Cloud database features, Fritz, and the utterly brilliant online Video catalogue with hundreds of hours of material, some of which are for sale in the ChessBase Shop.

There is no way this comes even close to a complete picture of what you can find, so if you don’t see what you are looking for here in this Buyer’s Guide, by all means enter the ChessBase Shop and use the Search function. You may be surprised at how many items come up in answer to even your most obscure opening questions.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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