Alexei Shirov's 'Best games in the Sicilian'

by ChessBase
6/9/2006 – International Master Jovan Petronic has spent many hours with Alexei Shirov’s new DVD “My best games in the Sicilian”. In his review he tells us what you can expect from this multimedia course, pointing out not just the quality of games and analysis, but also Shirov’s candid and honest style of presentation. Review.

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DVD contents

ChessBase 9 Reader with seven page manuals in English and German language in PDF format. A readme.txt file. ChessBase Videos (in ChessBase WMV format):

  • Intro & Kan Variation (40:33)
  • Taimanov Variation (34:51)
  • Paulsen System (30:03)
  • Sveshnikov Variation ( 23:10 )
  • Rossolimo Variation 1 (31:04)
  • Rossolimo Variation 2 (30:48)
  • Richter-Rauzer Attack 1 (16:38)
  • Richter-Rauzer Attack 2 (23:19)

    Total playing time: approximately 3h 50 min.
    Total DVD size: approximately 897 megabytes.


The installation of a special ChessBase Reader starts automatically. After the one-minute installation is complete, you’re prompted to restart your computer.

This DVD comes in a colorful, well designed DVD box. The system requirements for the DVD are pretty low, ensuring all users can benefit from installing and experiencing the videos.

Here is where you start. One click will open a video.

I recommend choosing the figurines notation and enabling “Material” in the Options area.


(Super) GM Shirov starts with a friendly “Hello”. ChessBase’s new video recording technology is at it’s best. In the Reader, among many other, you have a useful option of pausing the video and continuing later, during the session. Hitting the “play” or even the “pause” again will get you back into the game.

Rewinding is not precise, so listen carefully! As Shirov moves the pieces on his studio PC, the moves are magically being replayed on the board and in the notation window, analysis and other commentary included!

Shirov: “In the Sicilian defense, although I played it through all my chess career, I still feel that I cannot call myself an expert….” Wow, you may seem surprised, as I was, but only for a few seconds, as Shirov continues explaining his secrets on the Sicilian defense. It is unlikely that you can hear such honest explanations and super GM comments elsewhere. His experience in playing the Sicilian with Black pieces and challenging the same as White, makes ground for exceptional enjoyment waiting ahead.

Shirov comments that the best games he had played, the ones that gave him the most aesthetical pleasure, may just have happened in the Sicilian ones! Middlegame ideas, sharp sacrifices and certain opening explanations are the basis of Shirov’s personal annotated game selections.

Below are some highly interesting topics, which may be interesting to a wide range of chess fans and professionals alike. Shirov briefly comments them, in his own unique way, while showing us his truly brilliant games. I have chosen to review his lectures and best game analysis, by suggesting what you will be able to learn, while carefully listening to one of the strongest chess players in modern history.

  • Where does Shirov get his inspiration, home preparation or over the board?
  • When in lack of time, how does Alexei choose his opening moves?
  • What is the difference between the “Paulsen” and the “Taimanov” system?
  • As White, does Alexei use the same systems today, as he did ten years ago?
  • How much does intuition play a part of Shirov’s games?
  • How does Shirov cope with “tempting moves”?
  • Does Shirov spend time on “special studies”, regarding opening theory?
  • Does Shirov always follow the main lines, or adapt other ones which may lead to sacrifices?
  • Sacrificing “out of the sudden”, is this an option for Shirov?
  • Should one look at “joking moves” during the game?
  • Are three connected pawns always a convincing equivalent for a piece?
  • Are some moves in chess difficult to explain?
  • How fast does opening theory develop?
  • What was the famous story on the Korchnoi-Planinc game about?
  • What do Shirov’s masterpieces have in common?
  • What feelings does he experience after winning his best games in the Sicilian?
  • How can you avoid the Sveshnikov system with White?
  • Do all Sicilian systems have opening names?
  • What does he think about “logical moves”?
  • ”Best”, “natural” or the most “joyful” move, which one might Shirov prefer?
  • Does Shirov use Fritz for post-game analysis?
  • What impact did GM Sergey Rublevsky have on Shirov’s opening moves choices in the Sicilian?
  • Can you always play the ideas you find during preparation?
  • What is the standard setup for White in Paulsen positions?

These are only a few of the hundreds of questions and topics discussed, to which the answers await you on this exceptional DVD.


After a long time I have been confronted with a chess resource that requires not only the full attention of my eyes, but my ears, too. This DVD contains many hours of entertainment and grandmaster chess training. High concentration is necessary for optimal viewing. While commenting his games, one cannot help but notice how Shirov is experiencing once again the feelings he had. "To be completely honest…” is the trademark of his DVD, which makes it so special. I can recommend this DVD to all chess fans and professionals. I also recommend watching all the videos more than once, as their value will remain very high even in the years to come.

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