Daniel King: "Power Play 10 - Calculation"

by ChessBase
3/21/2015 – Richard Teichmann's quote "Chess is 99% tactics" exaggerates but it also emphasizes how important tactics are in chess. Just have a look at your computer. It might not know what a fortress is but its calculating power more than compensates this lack of positional refinement. But how does a human train tactics and the ability to calculate? Daniel King has the answer.

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A review

By Daniel Fisher

Daniel King has been spying on my games. In the description to his training video Power Play 10:  Calculation, he states, “You play 20 moves of elegant positional chess – but throw the game away by miscalculating.” It is like he has been looking over my shoulder recently. The description reminds me of those advertisements in the back of comic books asking if you were tired of bullies kicking sand in your face at the beach. Well I’m tired of throwing games away on the desolate sandy beach that is my middle game. So, it is off to Daniel King’s gym to build up my calculating muscles.

The training video starts off with Daniel going over five puzzles that he has randomly pulled from a German chess magazine. He then proceeds to analyze each position as you watch.  There are several good things about the way he does this.

First, this is the first time he is looking at these puzzles. He is not regurgitating hours of analysis that he has already done. He is giving you his first impression, which helps you to see how a player of his level approaches a position.

Second, the DVD format allows you to see the position, pause the DVD, analyze the position yourself and then see how your analysis stacks up against Daniel’s.

Finally, as Daniel goes through each puzzle, I enjoyed listening as he verbally analyzed each position. Again, it helps to see how a player at his level approaches his analysis. In addition, it helps to break down that misconception that has developed over the years that higher-level chess players have these gigantic computers for brains and their analysis is very deep and something that we mere mortals could never strive to accomplish. As Daniel talked through his analysis, I frequently found myself thinking “I saw that” or “I thought about that too.” 

From there we moved on to some various positions in several different games. It was here that he started to build on two key ideas.  The first was finding the best next move by the process of elimination.  He focused on finding the next best move over and over, rather than trying to calculate many moves ahead down a given line.  The other key idea he focused on was knowing when to calculate: when there is plenty of piece interaction, when the king is under attack, when you are simplifying into an endgame, and when you’re finishing off an opponent.

Daniel King, thinking...

He really hammered home the idea of the process of elimination over and over. He would walk through a series of moves and for each move go through the process of elimination to find the best move. In what was probably the best quote of the video, he promoted using the process of elimination and warned against just guessing by saying, “Guessing is like walking across a motorway with your eyes shut.  It’s not worth it.” That is a great example of the wisdom and wit of the English Grandmaster. 

Speaking of hammering, during one section of the video, you will begin to notice that someone was hammering a nail into something nearby. Despite the foam wall behind Daniel and the appearance that he was in some sort of a sound-proof recording studio, this was obviously not the case.  I was waiting for Daniel’s reaction, but like the professional he is, he plowed on with his analysis.

Finally, he gives a series of test positions for you to work through and then goes through them in detail. Again, I like this format as it gives you a good amount of homework to “keep you off the streets” as Daniel’s former teacher would say. Then once you have done your homework, Daniel goes through the analysis and you can see you stack up. I should apologize to Daniel, as I did not set up the test positions on a real chess board as he desired. Instead, I plugged them into my smartphone so I could go through them as I rode the train to work. Given the circumstances, I didn’t think he would mind.

...and explaining

Overall, I really enjoyed this video and think it will help me to improve how I think when I play. I liked his use of the process of elimination in the different studies he looked at and his emphasis on not trying to calculate too deeply down a given line of play.  This could be very helpful to me in my games. I also thought Daniel did a good job of verbalizing his thought process as he looked at various positions.  Typically when he said “and this move loses immediately,” he went on to show you why. During the video, I never found myself lost and saying, “I don’t see what he’s talking about.” 

The only thing I wished he would have done differently was when he was going through the puzzles at the very beginning, I wish he would have gone through the solutions for each one immediately after his analysis, rather than waiting until after completing the analysis of all five puzzles. Maybe he was trying to improve our visualization and memory. I guess I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this one thing.

So, if you are finding your calculation muscles to be very weak and that your opponents are constantly kicking sand in your face, I would recommend this video. After watching it and putting the ideas in it to practice, hopefully you’ll be able to return to the beach that is your chess game, beat those bullies that were kicking sand in your face, and impress the ladies with your improved calculating.

Daniel King: Power Play 10 - Calculation

€25.20 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$26.73 (without VAT)

This DVD can be be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

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