A Fresh Look at Robert the Eleventh

7/11/2014 – "I have always been an admirer of Bobby Fischer the chess player," writes Chris Wainscott, "and also of the ChessBase FritzTrainer DVDs. So it was with some delight that I sat down with Volume One of the Master Class series, the subject of which is none other than Robert James Fischer." He gives this product the maximum six stars ("Everyone should own") in his Chess Cafe review.

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A Fresh Look at Robert the Eleventh

Review by Chris Wainscott

Master Class Vol. 01: Bobby Fischer – by Dorian Rogozenco, Dr. Karsten Müller, Mihail Marin, and Oliver Reeh, ChessBase FritzTrainer DVD, Video running time: approx. 5 hours, $34.60

As someone who learned to play chess in the U.S. in 1977, I have always been an admirer of Bobby Fischer the chess player; and, as someone who rediscovered the love of the game in 2011, I have become an admirer of the ChessBase FritzTrainer DVDs. So it was with some delight that I sat down with Volume One of the Master Class series, the subject of which is none other than Robert James Fischer.

Most DVDs offer a series of video clips with some analysis and an accompanying file of the analyzed games. Yet, this one is a special treat because of the included bonuses:

  • A tree of Fischer games with white.
  • A tree of Fischer games with black.
  • A series of 100 timed training questions (i.e. guess the move).
  • A selection of annotated Fischer endgames by Karsten Müller.
  • All Fischer games in the database, including many with annotations.

The main content of the DVD is as follows:

  • Openings: Dorian Rogozenco (video)
  • Strategy: Mihail Marin (video)
  • Tactics: Oliver Reeh (video)
  • Endgames: Karsten Müller (video)
  • Short Biography (text only)

What I found nice about this format is that instead of one presenter trying to be all things to all aspects of the game, the content was divided by specialist. Each of the sections could most likely form the basis of a standalone product, so to get all of them together is terrific.

Let's take a look at the openings segment of the DVD. It is further broken down into four subsections:

  • With White: 1.e4 e5
  • With White: 1.e4 c5
  • With White: 1.e4
  • With Black

Fischer had a somewhat narrow repertoire for the majority of his career, so it is possible to dig deeply into his games to find examples of ways in which he fought for the advantage right from the start. This survey does exactly that.

Each clip contains a few examples of how Fischer achieved a better position in the opening. Rather than showing the entire game, as soon as an advantage is achieved Rogozenco moves on to the next example.

Here is a position from the first clip. The game is Fischer-Korchnoi from the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal.

At the time, the normal move was 9.h3. Decades prior 9.d4 had been popular, but it was thought that Black could achieve an advantage with proper play. One game illustrating this was Capablanca – Bogoljubow, London 1922 where Bogoljubow neutralized Capablanca's advantage in the center, although White still went on to win.

However, Fischer studied classic games endlessly, and in classic Fischer-style he discovered a new idea. After 9.d4 Bg4 10.Be3 exd4 11.cxd4 Na5 12.Bc2 Nc4 13.Bc1 c5 14.b3 Na5 the following position was reached:

Capablanca-Bogoljubow continued with 15.Bb2 Nc6 16.d5 Nb4 and Black had a nice position. Fischer played 15.d5 and was able to achieve a nice game upon 15...Nd7 16.Nbd2 Bf6 17.Rb1 c4 18.h3 Bxf3 19.Nxf3 cxb3 20.axb3

Fischer went on to win in forty-four moves.

The next section of the DVD is authored by GM Mihail Marin. The subject is Fischer's strategic play. One of the things that Marin strives to show is that Bobby had a rather Karpovian side to him. One game that demonstrates this is Fischer-Taimanov, Palma de Mallorca 1970. In fact, the game features a rather early Karpovian move, as in the following position Fischer plays 6.c4.

A few moves later the following position was reached:

As GM Marin explains, the plan normally undertaken by White in those days was to play a combination of Qe1/Qf2/Rfd1 and only then try to get the knight on a3 back into the game. However, Fischer decided to clamp down on the queenside to prevent Taimanov's plan of a ...b5 break.

14.Nc2 Rd8 15.Qe1 Be8 16.Qf2 Rb7 17.a4

Taking away the immediate option of ...b5 for Black. Play then continued 17...a5 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Nd7. Black clearly wants to put his knight on c5 at the right moment, so Fischer went 20.Qg3.

This practically forces 20...Bf6 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 and now Fischer played 22.Rfd1. This prevents Taimanov's knight on f6 from the maneuver f6-d7-c5 as the d-pawn would fall.

Many moves later the following position arose:

Here Fischer won an important tempo with 40.Bf3, and after 40...Rd7 the attack grew with 41.Rb5. Following 41...Rd4, Fischer completely changed the position, as he saw a way to gain a solid advantage: 42.c5 Rxh4+ 43.Kg1 Rb4 44.Rxb4 axb4 45.Rc4 bxc5 46.Rxc5.

Fischer went on to win a nice ending that GM Müller covers in the endgames section of the DVD.

The tactics section by Oliver Reeh is interactive. The viewer is given a position from one of Fischer's games and asked to make a move. If you enter an incorrect move, you will be able to try again. If you are correct, then a clip will play that explains the concept behind the move.

For example, here is Fischer-Benko from 1963, one of Bobby's more famous moves was played in this position:

Of course the move here is 19.Rf6! which prevents Black from defending h7 by playing ...f5 had 19.e5 been played immediately.

In addition to the sections on openings, strategy, and tactics, GM Müller's section on Fischer's endgames and the section of 100 Fischer training questions add further quality content. Here is a sample video:

I cannot wait to see future volumes in this series. This DVD is useful for almost any rating range, from 500-2500. It is a tool that can be used time and again as additional information will be gleaned from multiple viewings and as the viewer's rating increases. For the first time I am rating a product with six out of six stars.

My assessment of this product: six stars ("Everyone should own")

Order Master Class Vol. 01: Bobby Fischer
by Dorian Rogozenco, Karsten Müller, Mihail Marin, and Oliver Reeh

Source: Chess Cafe


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