ChessBase Magazine 166: Always evolving

by Albert Silver
6/23/2015 – Over the decades, ChessBase Magazine has evolved into a unique full-fledged multimedia magazine, always true to its roots, and always bringing more high quality content. In this latest edition, the subscriber or buyer will find everything they could want, from opening articles, powerful novelties, tactics and strategy lectures, and a fantastic Benko Endgame video course.

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It is quite fascinating to see just how much ChessBase Magazine has evolved over the years, undergoing significant changes and yet remaining true to its self. The first issues, only on floppy disks, contained games, surveys, and whatnot, then came the CDs and DVDs with multimedia material, mostly in the form of video footage from events, and even short videos embedded within the games. This was before the current format integrating video and chess notation, and instead you had to play through the moves, and upon seeing a small video symbol, a small player would open playing back the snippet.

The current ChessBase Magazine, still appearing six times a year, is a wealth of material, going far beyond its origins, and truly fulfilling its promise. Trying to review it all is far more daunting than a 6-7 hour video course because of the sheer variety. Consider the basic list of contents, and as you see just how much material lies behind each of those bullets, you will understand:

  • Booklet of CBM 166 in PDF
  • Gashimov Memorial 2015
  • Team World Championship 2015
  • European Championship 2015
  • Recent Tournaments
  • Openings
  • The Opening Trap
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Endgames
  • Move by Move
  • CBM-Test
  • Opening Videos
  • New Products (with videos)
  • Tournament Database
  • Opening articles - Overview
  • Opening videos - Overview

When you look at such a list, you might easily feel overwhelmed, but don’t. Like any magazine, you should absolutely feel free to only select the items that interest you, guilt free, and peruse others with a cursory glance. There is a bit of everything for everyone, and that is as should be.

If you are not sure where to start and don’t want to work your way down the list, you can
start at the Contents link which gives a small list of highlighted items chosen by the editor.

The top item is Anand-So, the memorable game from the Gashimov Memorial, in which Anand uncorked a powerful innovation and then defeated the young American after a powerful sacrificial attack. The Indian annotates it in incredible detail, describing not only all the finer points of the novelty, but also the key aspects of the attack itself, and finally the queen endgame that he himself explains is winning but only with extreme attention.

Look at the above from Anand's endgame analysis. Look overwhelming?
Perhaps to some, but for advanced student or teachers, it means perfect
material to analyze and then compare notes. After all, if you are going to
learn or refute, who better than with the five-time world champion?

Of course, it is not all so exhaustive, and there are thoroughly annotated games by Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and so many more. Each with their style in both their play and how they annotate.

The Openings section brings no fewer than thirteen opening articles, with authors from IM Max Illingworth to GM Krasenkow (a former 2700 player), and covering a wide array of lines. Almost all deal with sidelines that deserve a deeper look for original explorations, and all analyzed seriously and in detail.

In the above, labeled the ‘Kangaroo Opening’, you find a form of accelerated Bogo-Indian designed to sidestep White’s invitation to a Nimzo-Indian. In this detailed article, GM Mihail Marin tries to avoid precisely this with his suggestion for Black.

In the Strategy section, GM Ragozenco continues his lecture on converting advantages, and while his previous lesson dealt with converting a positional advantage, this video lecture is on a material advantage. As he explains over the course of 16 minutes, while large advantages can be fairly elementary to win with, smaller ones such as an exchange for a pawn, can be more subtle, and he provides some examples with commented games highlighting the theme and guidelines. Excellent and a very good primer.

If you want tactics, you can always open the ChessBase Magazine booklet, included in PDF format, or try your hand at the selection of test positions provided by IM Oliver Reeh, also presented in interactive videos.

If you want to bask in the endgame enlightenment of GM Karsten Mueller, there are two full sections, one with five video presentations, plus two interactive quiz videos, and a second one, linked at the top, specifically on the Benko Gambit. This in particular drew my attention, since this actually shows just how deep these articles can get.

This is no longer a generic lesson on endgame technique, or a fun selection of positions from practice (nothing wrong with either of course), but the type of course one usually finds reserved to specialized books (Shereshevsky’s two-volume work comes to mind).

As GM Mueller explains: “From the point of view of the endgame expert, a particular strength of the Volga Gambit consists of the fact that even after he restores the material balance Black retains the initiative and thus if he has good endgame technique can often play for the win.” In this article, there is a 22-minute video lecture, followed by numerous examples from practice. Just superb.

The next item on the list is a fun theme that has been made into so many books, and which is ideally suited for the new interactive videos by ChessBase: the Move by Move. The concept is simple: a good game is chosen in which the reader/viewer will try to find the moves of one side. GM Simon Williams does the honors of choosing the game, and after a four-minute video introduction, explaining the themes and ideas behind the first opening moves, challenges the viewer to find Carlsen’s next move.

Want to play like Carlsen? Here is your chance in a fun and instructive manner.

You enter your choice, and if wrong, the grandmaster will give you a tip to put you on the right track. Once the move is done, he continues with his commentary of more moves, what is going on, and again a question is made. It is a time-honored concept and one that has always been extremely popular, and fits the video format perfectly.

Concluding the overview of the latest edition of ChessBase Magazine, CBM 166, there is a section with three video lectures on opening theory, by authors GM Mikhalchishin, Erwin L’Ami, and Dejan Bojkov. If you are a player of the French Winawer, as black or white, L’Ami not only provides a fascinating overview of the state of theory, but also shares an important novelty pawn sacrifice that may give Black a serious headache. Dejan Bojkov looks at the Sicilian Nimzowitsch, a variation Black employs to avoid mainstream theory, and offers a complete repertoire for White to combat it. The 23-minute video lecture is of Bojkov’s usual high standard.

If you choose the digital version, rest assured you will not miss out on the booklet as it comes in PDF in all its glory.

As someone who literally has original ChessBase Magazine editions dating back to the floppy disk era, there is no need to tell you what I think of the magazine as a rule: it is unique, and unmissable. It has evolved over the years, and the quality of the content has only gotten better, making it a true bargain for its asking price. You can buy individual editions of course, but will find a subscription to be far cheaper (per edition) if you go that route.

As to me, I just love it.

ChessBase Magazine 166 can be purchased at the ChessBase Shop



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.
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miguel.ararat@gmail.com miguel.ararat@gmail.com 6/30/2015 03:50
Thank you Albert for the article.

I bought the magazine just to watch Muller's Benko endgames video. The video was really good.
Do you know if Muller is going to continue with more Benko endgames next CBM?

Thank you for your time.
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