ChessBase DVDs – The Battleground of Ideas

1/7/2012 – This month in Chess Cafe Steven B. Dowd is reviewing opening, middlegame, and endgame DVDs by ChessBase, starting with Sergei Tiviakov's Scandinavian. "This is one of those rare trainers that actually gives insight into the grandmaster's lab" he writes, adding that for counter-punchers who like activity as Black the opening is perfect and the six-star DVD too good to pass up.

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Tiviakov's Scandinavian

By Steven B. Dowd

Scandinavian with 3...Qd6 (DVD), Sergei Tiviakov, ChessBase, Playing Time: 4 hours 16 minutes (two databases) $34.95 (ChessCafe Price: $28.95)

This trainer is interesting, idea-packed, and thorough. The package insert boldly states that this system may well be called the Tiviakov system, and that may well be true – after all, the Benko Gambit was, once upon a time, called the Benoni Countergambit. The DVD contains a database of Scandinavian games, and another database of games by the author, of which many were unpublished. ChessBase calls this a bit of "added sweetener," but I wish all DVDs offered something of this sort. It is a great way to plunge into study – let a grandmaster tell you what he thinks of an opening, and then go study games by him and others to see whether the opening really meets your needs.

I do suppose it is an added sweetener in that the DVD is so well done. The presenter speaks English with an accent, but with great command, and is a good presenter to boot. There are none of the irritating editorial flubs you too often find on these trainers – none of the others reviewed here will pass muster on that account, unfortunately – and the author captivates you from the start and doesn't let up until the end.

There are fourteen chapters here. The first three cover what to do if White doesn't play 3.Nc3. This part is a bit short, but this is understandable, given the content. You may need a supplemental text on the Scandinavian if you intend playing this opening.

It was a game Tiviakov played as white in 2005 that opened his eyes to the potential of this system:

Tiviakov,Sergei (2678) - Almeida,Omar (2462) [B01]
Open Internacional del Solsones, 2005
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 a6 6.g3 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.Bg2 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0-0 10.Bf4 Qb4 11.d5 e6 12.a3 ½-½

You don't need to be a grandmaster or to fire up your engine to see that White is in a terrible way after only twelve moves – in fact, this position is objectively already lost. Black can happily ignore Marshall's old admonition to never grab the b2-pawn with the queen and sail to victory. Tiviakov admits he was lucky that his opponent accepted the draw here.

Interestingly, though, Black does not usually play this aggressively in this system. Often you get something similar to a Caro-Kann (Black plays ...c6), sometimes with a fianchettoed king's bishop, and waits for the counter-punch. If White gets too aggressive, some of the positions resemble weaker versions of a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, with its concomitant positional weaknesses. But Black's position is always solid and never overextended.

My favorite game was the following:

This is one of those rare trainers that actually gives insight into the grandmaster's lab, and how he formulates ideas in the opening. If you are a patient counter-puncher who likes activity as black, in an opening your opponents probably won't know very well, you need to consider this DVD and opening. It is too good to pass up.

My assessment of this product: Excellent (six out of six stars)

Sampler from Sergei Tiviakov – Scandinavian


Sample lecture: Sergey Tiviakov - Scandinavian with 3...Qd6

Sergei Tiviakov, born in 1973 in Krasnodar (Soviet Union), was a member of the Smyslov school and gained the titles of World Youth Champion at the U16 and U18 levels. In the PCA World Championships he reached the Candidates' Matches in 1994; in the same year he represented Russia in the Chess Olympiads. Although he has considered himself a professional chess player since 1989, Tiviakov also finished a degree in agricultural economics. Since 1997 Tiviakov has been living in Groningen and has become a naturalised citizen of the Netherlands. With his new home country he won the title in the European Teams Championships in both 2001 and 2005, and was victorious in the championship of the Netherlands in 2006 and 2007. Tiviakov celebrated his biggest success in 2008, when he won the Individual European Championship.


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