Daniel King's simple opening repertoire

10/9/2012 – "I have yet to see one of Daniel King's Power Play DVDs that I did not enjoy," writes Steve Goldberg in Chess Cafe, "and PowerPlay17: Attack with 1.e4 is no exception." It provides you with systems that will put your opponent on the defensive. "Thanks to King's 'ideas-based' approach rather than pure memorization, viewers will find it easy to recall the basic considerations." Review.

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Daniel King: A Simple Opening Repertoire

Review by Steve Goldberg

PowerPlay17: Attack with 1.e4, by GM Daniel King (DVD), ChessBase 2012; Playing Time approximately 6 hrs. $34.95 (ChessCafe Price: $29.95)

I have yet to see one of Daniel King's Power Play DVDs that I did not enjoy, and PowerPlay17: Attack with 1.e4 is no exception. No matter the topic at hand, King manages to find relevant game examples to illustrate his points, and his commentary generally flows at an appropriate pace, keeping the viewer's interest and attention.

In this DVD, some six hours long, King's goal is to provide a useful opening repertoire for the white player who chooses to open with 1.e4. To make it interesting, he pushes a generally attacking repertoire, as opposed to quiet positional struggles. It is worth noting that King makes no claim that 1.e4 is the only way to expect good attacking chances. He simply says that he is looking at 1.e4 because that is the opening move with which he is most familiar.

It is unrealistic to expect anyone to cover every likely response to 1.e4, so King chooses four of the more likely continuations: 1…e5, 1…c5, 1…e6, and 1…c6.

"What I am providing you here are systems that will put your opponent on the defensive," he states. "If you put your opponent on the defensive, then there's more chance that they'll make mistakes. This is a practical repertoire that I'm suggesting here. I've selected systems where you can dictate the play after just a few moves."

Some opening books and DVDs have featured offbeat moves or systems that require a specific series of moves to achieve. In practice, it may be that a player is rarely able to utilize these because his opponents do not play into the position where a trap may be set. Instead, with this DVD, a player will frequently be able to utilize King's recommendations. Not always, but frequently.

Against 1…e5, King advocates a delayed-castling line of the Italian Opening, and is careful to explain the importance of move order, informing why a given move in one position is advantageous, while in a slightly different position, the same move is a mistake.

King is more interested in having his viewers understand the basic ideas with each of the opening systems he presents, rather than pushing straight, unquestioning memorization.

Against, the Sicilian response of 1…c5, King recommends the Grand Prix attack, which generally involves keeping the center firm, and attacking with the f-pawn.

"There are lots of attacking variations that you can play against the French," King says when discussing how to respond to 1…e6. But King says that he thought long and hard which variations to include here, and he's pretty happy with what he is presenting. He notes that many variations can become very complex, for both sides, and he wanted to find lines that are more "clear cut."

King primarily looks at two French variations: the Winawer, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4; and the Classical Variation, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6.

With the Winawer, he suggests an exchange of pawns on d5, leaving an open game, which might not appeal to some French players. In addition, King maintains that in this variation, the black dark-squared bishop is not well-placed on b4.

For the Classical continuation, King avoids exchanging on d5. He maintains that in this case, it is not as effective, since the black dark-squared bishop is not on b4, and will simply come to e7 if White plays Bg5. He also says that in this variation, the white knight at c3 seems misplaced. Instead, he recommends 4.Bg5 as "an excellent attacking weapon."

Against the Caro-Kann, King suggests 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3, which he admits "is not a fashionable system" at the present time. "But this is to our advantage," he continues, because it's not one that is widely known. As with the French Winawer that King advocates, this is a system with a relatively fixed pawn structure, in which White hopes to have active piece play, superior to his opponent.

King devotes several video segments to each of these four major categories (Italian, Sicilian, French, Caro-Kann), and the database contains about thirty complete games covering these openings. Furthermore, many of these contain multiple games within the annotations.

Curiously, the game database appears to include a repetition of itself, so it makes it look as if there are some sixty games in the database, but this oddity is only noticed if one clicks on the "Games" tab at the top of the opening screen.

I finished the DVD ready to go online to try out some of King's recommendations, and I suspect that many other players will as well. Even players who already have well-defined repertoires will likely find helpful nuggets here. Thanks to King's "ideas-based" approach rather than pure memorization, viewers will find it relatively easy to recall the basic considerations for these opening systems. And they will have fun as well.

My assessment of this product: Great (five out of six stars)


Sample lesson by Daniel King - Power Play 17: Attack with 1.e4


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