Great Short stories

5/26/2010 – Nigel Short is an artist of more than one talent. His greatest of course is chess. On his first "Greatest Hits" DVD he shows you his wins e.g. against Karpov, Kasparov, Anand, and also the immortal king march against Timman. GM Hedinn Steingrimsson spent four joyful hours with the DVD and recommends it to "all who want to witness how lively and imaginative chess can be". Buy now or read more.

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Nigel Short: Greatest hits Volume 1

Review by GM Hedinn Steingrimsson

Nigel Short is well known to all chess enthusiastic. He was Great Britain’s nr. 1 for many years and played a World Championship Match against Kasparov. He is also known for not exactly having a tight tongue and for telling entertaining stories where nothing is held back. On this DVD he presents the highlights of his career including, as he put it, the game that will be all over the chess press when he dies. Which game that exactly is we will see in a moment. Although Nigel is 45 years old, he is by no means retiring and had some excellent results last year reaching over 2700 ELO for the second time in his live, regaining the Britain’s nr. 1 position for a while.

It is not surprising that during such a long and successful career, such a direct and to the point player has played many highly interesting games that made the headlines in the chess press. Some of these are presented on this DVD along with games, even secret ones that have not been previously published, that Nigel found especially memorable. All in all 14 games are presented.

The first game is from Hastings 1979 when Nigel was 14 years old and became an international master. Jon Speelman included this game in his book “Best games of a decade”. Especially Nigel’s 25th move Nh5 moving the knight back middle in the attack was quite impressive.

The second game is the perhaps Nigel’s most famous game and the one that Nigel says will be all over the chess press when he dies. We are talking about the Kg1-h2-g3-f4-g5-h6 forcing a mate game which he played against Timman in Tilburg 1991 in case anyone has not already guessed it.

Click here for replay a video sampler on Short-Timman.

The third game is his first win over “the champ” that is Garry Kasparov. Using a novelty from John Nunn he managed to surprise Kasparov in the opening. Kasparov spent a lot of time and did not find the right antidote. In a clearly better position, however, Nigel went astray and the game was still complicated, but roughly balanced. Kasparov though that he had spotted a mating attack right before the time control and scarified a piece, overlooking that Nigel’s queen protected a key attacking square for Kasparovs rook. Nigel thus managed to beat “the champ” and gain a plus score against the player that many consider the best of all times (this was their second game, the first game was a draw). Quite dramatic and complicated battle with high tension from the beginning to the end.

The fourth game is very special because it has never been published before. It was part of a secret match which Nigel played against Ponomariov when the latter was preparing for meeting Garry, in a World Championship match that unexpectedly never happened. Seeing this game most chess players would guess that the finger prints of someone like Shirov or Tal where all over it, because white basically sacrifices everything possible and even uses a theme that I have never seen before, that is self forks a whole rook playing Rf4 with a black pawn on g5 and a white bishop on h4. Black can take both pieces after which white has nothing too direct, but fair compensation mainly based on better development in a messy position. The rook and specially the bishop stay on these square hanging for many moves and later more white pieces are hanging. Fortunately for Nigel, as I think Tal used to say, black can only take one piece at a time. Truly an amazing game which displays the vast possibilities, where the players imagination is the limit, that chess has.

The fifth game is against the current World Champion Anand. Nigel playing white just like in all the games for far. He came up with an interesting new idea in the opening which gave him some initiative. After sacrificing an exchange for quite good compensation in the form of a very strong pawn center and a bishop pair, he managed to put Anand und tremendous pressure. Anand tried to sacrifice the exchange back and achieve some kind of a blockade, but in the end Anand lacked one crucial tempo to consolidate his position and was overrun by Nigel’s pawns. This is less than half of the games, but the other games are in the same style and not less entertaining.

Nigel is very frank and honest and describes the context of each game on and off the board in a lively manner. He talks about the atmosphere and circumstances in which the game was played, mentions the stand of the opening theory at that time and what happened on the board. The focus is pretty much on the moment when the game was played and not on post mortem analysis or what the current state of opening theory has to say about the variations played. Thus this atmosphere from the past when the games where played is very much the focus of the DVD and Nigel does not try to look at the games too much with the glasses of current time e.g. cover the latest nuances of opening theory that happened later. His remarks and analysis are easily understandable for a very broad audience. He is not too much focused on scientifically pointing out where each side could have played better or on going into much detail finding out the truth about each game, but lets the games flow and describes quite well what is happening on and off the board.

The bottom line: An entertaining and interesting DVD. In some cases e.g. the Anand game I was really wondering how Anand could have played better and would have appreciated a little bit more truth seeking approach. Nigel, however, keeps a clear line in his presentations and his line is both entertaining and makes the games accessible for basically every chess enthusiastic. Nigel’s greatest hits gets 4.5 out of 5 possible stars. I can recommend it to chess players of all levels which want to witness how lively and imaginative and simply fun chess can be.


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