A day with Queen of Katwe and Daniel King (2/2)

by Sagar Shah
11/11/2016 – In part I we brought you, how the plan was made for all the chess players of Mumbai to meet and watch the movie Queen of Katwe. In the second part we bring you the details of how Daniel King managed to not only teach the children a new opening but also made their day with jokes and superb anecdotes! Yes, there was a live question and answer session with Power play man himself and we have the full 31 minutes of video footage.

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Part I of A day with Queen of Katwe and Daniel King

Queen of Katwe ended at around 11.30 a.m. People were given some time to have their lunch and come back to my place for the chess session. Our plan was to watch Power Play 23, but as previously mentioned we had invited a strong British grandmaster.

Different chess players, different styles of footwear!

People started filling in pretty quickly, but until everyone arrived we all watched the video of Anand thinking for 1 minute 43 seconds on his fourth move against Ilya Smirin. If you haven't watched it already, I recommend that you leave everything and invest seven minutes in this highly entertaining video!

The DVD that we had selected was Daniel King's Power Play 23 - A Repertoire for Black with the Queen's Gambit Declined

When everyone was seated in the room, I asked, "How many of you hate the Queen's Gambit Declined?" Many of the kids raised their hand, and almost all of them had the same reason. "It's a boring opening". It was exactly this perception of QGD that I wanted to change. Many strong players, including Garry Kasparov, have said in the past, "Studying Ruy Lopez and QGD is a must in order to improve your chess understanding."

The Queen's Gambit Declined is an opening for World Championships. Black is not overambitious. He calmly takes the centre with his pawns, develops his knight on f6 and bishop on e7 and gets castled quickly. It's true that you do not get double-edged play like the Grunfeld or the King's Indian, but it is also 100% certain that you will sleep well at night! The chances of your opponent finding an earth-shattering novelty against the Queen's Gambit Declined is much less than against Grunfeld, KID, or Benoni.

All of them added a new opening to their repertoire!

The best part about Daniel King's presentation are the interactive questions. He asks you to find moves at very normal moments during a game. Because the position is not forcing in nature, many moves are possible. And this becomes a perfect point for discussion and debate. Take for example the following position.

King asks, "If you were Black in the above position, what would you do?"

As most of you might already know, the new ChessBase Fritztrainers come in interactive format. The video is paused automatically when the author asks the question. You make a move on the board, and you get an instant video feedback saying why your move was good or bad!

So coming back to the above position. The most obvious move for me was 12...e5, but I was surprised to see the number of suggestions that came from the audience.

Some said that we must break with c5, others suggested normal development with Nf6 and b6-Bb7. There were also other whacky ideas like a5 - Ra6 followed by a rook swing to g6. I found that many of these suggestions were not bad. And when we actually made these moves on the board, Daniel would give his opinion about the moves. And he found all of these ideas to be quite acceptable. It's as close as you can get to a personal training session with a grandmaster!

But then there were some positions where only one move would be good and King would be quite strict in his choice at that point.

What should Black play?

It is clear that White threatens the move c5. With that he would get the excellent square on c4 for his bishop as well as the knight. This limits Black's choice and the answer is surely 16...c5! In this position there were suggestions like 16...a5, but then Daniel would explain as to why it would not be the best move.

This interactive format made sure that all the participants at the workshop were alert and involved, and no one dozed off to sleep! After one hour of viewing the Power Play 23, it was now time to speak to the man himself!

When I decided to hold this workshop, I mailed Daniel about the Queen of Katwe followed by the Power Play 23 plan. I asked him whether he would be able to come online on Skype for 30 minutes Q&A session with the kids. Dan replied, "This is a mad idea! I accept. See you at 9.30 a.m. (London time)."

The crowd greeted Daniel with a huge roar and he returned the favour with laughter and fun!

It was a dream come true for the chess fans, who got a chance to interact with one their heros. Many of the kids had watched King's DVDs as well as his Youtube videos, but to see him in person was quite unbelievable! Dan has an amazing sense of humour. He had the entire crowd spellbound with his stories and jokes!

There were loads of light hearted questions asked, like did he remember his first game of chess, how did the name Power Play come into existence, has he won any grandmaster tournaments and so on.

There were also some serious questions like how to motivate ourselves to work harder on chess, what to do when you aren't able to make tangible progress, and how to control your nerves (you must have a look at the video below where Danny misunderstands the word nerves for nose!). And don't miss out on a ten-year-old boy trying to mimic the way Daniel speaks on his DVDs. "You speak just like my son!" was Dan's reaction!

It was a perfect balance of fun, entertainment and learning

Here's the entire 31 minutes of screen recording of the Skype session with Daniel King

Half of the Daniel King show was also broadcast live on Facebook! This video will give you an idea about the atmosphere at my place.


The 30 minute chat with King was refreshing. We watched another clip of the QGD DVD, this time it was one of the best exponent's of the Queen's Gambit Declined, Nigel Short, getting the better of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

[Event "38th Olympiad"] [Site "Dresden GER"] [Date "2008.11.20"] [Round "7.7"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Short, Nigel D"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D55"] [WhiteElo "2731"] [BlackElo "2642"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "2008.11.13"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "GER"] [SourceTitle "CT-2936"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2008.10.21"] 1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 (5... O-O 6. e3 h6 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 {with transposition.}) 6. Bxf6 Bxf6 7. e3 (7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nc6 9. Nxf6+ Qxf6 10. Qd2 O-O $11) 7... O-O 8. Qb3 (8. Rc1) (8. Qd2) (8. Qc2) (8. cxd5 exd5) 8... dxc4 (8... c5 9. dxc5 (9. cxd5 cxd4 10. Nxd4 exd5 {1/2-1/2 (16) Kogan,A (2541)-L'Ami,E (2620) Bratto 2010}) 9... Nd7 (9... Na6)) (8... c6 9. O-O-O Nd7 {0-1 (46) Hernandez Onna,R (2395)-Spassky,B (2625) Tallinn 1975}) 9. Qxc4 (9. Bxc4 c5 10. dxc5 (10. d5 {0-1 (59) Krivoshey,S (2495)-Kasimdzhanov,R (2668) Germany 2003 CBM 099 (Dautov)}) 10... Nd7 11. Ne4 Nxc5 {0-1 (45) Reti, R-Tartakower,S Hastings 1926}) 9... b6 (9... Nd7) 10. O-O-O (10. Rd1 Bb7 { 0-1 (42) Kovalenko,I (2560)-Gabrielian,A (2573) Voronezh 2012}) 10... Bb7 11. Bd3 {[%tqu "En","What should Black play? Try to understand the dynamics of the position and come up with the best move.","","","c7c5","",10,"b8d7","",0]} c5 $1 {This is definitely the move in the spirit of the position. Many of us think that QGD is a boring and solid opening. That's not true. It depends on how you play it. Here, many people would go Qe7, removing the queen from the action of the d1 rook and prepare c5. But if c5 is such a good idea, why not do it immediately. It's these little difference which decide whether you will be able to score an attacking victory or not.} (11... Nd7 12. Bc2 $5 (12. Be4 c6 13. Kb1 b5 14. Qb3 Qc7 (14... Qb6)) 12... Qc8 13. Qd3 g6) 12. dxc5 (12. Be4 Nc6 13. dxc5 Qe7 $44) (12. Kb1 cxd4) 12... Qe7 13. Ne4 Nd7 (13... Bxe4 14. Qxe4 $18) (13... Rc8 14. Nxf6+ Qxf6 15. Be4 Qe7 16. Kb1 Rxc5 17. Qd4 Na6 $15) 14. Bc2 (14. c6 Bxc6) 14... Rfc8 (14... Nxc5) (14... Bd5 15. Qd3 g6 16. h4 Nxc5 $36 ) 15. Nd6 (15. Qd3 Bxe4 16. Qxe4 g6 17. Kb1 Nxc5 $36) 15... Rxc5 16. Qd3 Nf8 17. Nxb7 Qxb7 18. Kb1 Rac8 19. Rd2 a5 (19... b5) 20. Qe4 Qc7 21. Nd4 a4 22. a3 b5 23. f4 b4 24. axb4 Rc4 25. b5 a3 (25... a3 26. b3 (26. bxa3 Qa5 $19) 26... Rxd4 27. exd4 Qc3 $19) 0-1

QGD exponents are always in demand! Nigel Short at the Dresden Olympiad 2008!

Power Play 23+24 is available at the ChessBase shop.

Powerplay 23 deals with Queen's Gambit Declined and 24 deals with black replies to the Catalan

At the end of the day we had a small informal tournament where players had to compulsorily play 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6.

It's always good to have an arbiter around!

Raahil Mullick won the tournament and went back home with my Learn from the Classics DVD

The final game between Raahil Mullick and Shreyam Mishra. Chess can be really tough at times. Hard luck to Shreyam (Black) who played very well but was checkmated all of a sudden.


The day ended at around 5.30 p.m. Watching the Queen of Katwe, learning the Queen's Gambit Declined, interacting with Daniel King, and playing a blitz tournament, it was a day filled with chess to the brim. 

What the participants felt about the event:

Chanukya Krishna Chama 
Thanks Sagar for the invitation. The movie was interesting. After listening to the Power Play DVD on QGD I learnt to play pawn to c5 at right moment (or even sac b6 or a7 pawns for rapid development and attack). All the best for you and best wishes for promoting and popularizing chess.                                                                            

Karishma Daftary
It was indeed a pleasure to be a part of the session today. Getting back to the game feels so good. Initially I was feeling a little behind all present there, however I managed to settle down in a while. I'm hoping to catch up for a few more sessions like these to get my game stronger and better. Thanks again for having me over and also giving me the opportunity to meet so many people with similar interests.

Dilip Raval
Thank you Sagar for arranging this. The movie was very inspirational and provides motivation. Mr King was very informal and humorous. He answered all questions very well. Looking for next similar event. I learnt a lot from this. In all, the event was very well organised. Last but not least–your smiling face and hospitality of your family (mother, father and Amruta) are imprinted into my mind forever!

Daniel King
I really enjoyed it. Thank you for inviting me into your enthusiastic chess community!

Raghavan Iyer
Great thought on an auspicious day and beautifully executed!

Vaishali Bhuta
Thank you for organizing and hosting such an enjoyable session. It was fun filled and educational. 

This event was organized by ChessBase India and its co-founders Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal. Apart from paying for the movie ticket, everything else was free of charge for all the participants.



Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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X iLeon aka DMG X iLeon aka DMG 11/11/2016 08:25
Wow, the kid that did Daniel was really good actually, good ear! He should definitely consider more artistic pursuits too! :)
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