Huschenbeth: Tactic Toolbox Najdorf

by Diana Mihajlova
6/16/2014 – Niclas Huschenbeth, 22, is a German grandmaster and the 2010 national champion. Since 2012 he has been studying psychology in Baltimore, where he leads the University's team. In a new DVD Niclas shows us the important tactical motives and sacrifices in the Najdorf. It is a uniquely interactive suite of lessons that requires serious work on your part. Review by Diana Mihajlova.

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Review by Diana Mihajlova

The Najdorf System in the Sicilian Defence is one of the most frequently used defensive weapon. It is a 'first choice' of many a top player when the goal is a full point. Two famed world champions, Fischer and Kasparov, were promulgators of this defence with which they achieved victories on numerous occasions.

The extensive ChessBase educational library recently has added to its collection a new DVD treating this well loved, meaning largely played, opening in the Sicilian – the Najdorf Variation. But this one has a special twist – it brings out tactical themes and sacrifices camouflaged in the Sicilian Najdorf. It shows that the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 is not only about carefully chosen, soundly calculated moves, but that there are also hidden tactics and sacrifices, for both Black and White, that can create complex and unexpected manoeuvres.

As usual, the DVD exists in both English and German; the English version is entitled 'Tactic Toolbox Najdorf'. The German one has even a more explicit title: 'Turbo Najdorf'. Presenting this new DVD gives us the opportunity to present also its young author, GM Niclas Huschenbeth.

Niclas is a young German grandmaster, 22 years old, with a rapid succession of prestigious titles gained over only a couple of years: in 2005 he was a German Champion U-14, his first breakthrough; in 2008 he got the title of International Master and entered the National Team (at the Mitropa Cup); in 2010 he became a German Champion and a member of the Olympiad team; at the beginning of 2012 he was granted his grandmaster title (2533).

Since August 2012, Niclas has been studying psychology at the University of Baltimore, Maryland in the USA where he continues his success spell as a leader of the University's team. The UMBC was among the four best in the 2014 'Final Four of College Chess' and won the second place, behind the Webster team that included Wesley So, Ray Robson and Le Quang Liem.

In the biography included in his website Niclas says: "At the age of five my father began teaching me the chess rules, because he noticed that I would always arrange my toy cars in a nice symmetrical order.'
Hmmm... a well known psychology case attributed to chess players, perhaps. Indeed, Niclas' sense for precision and order is noticeable throughout Tactic Toolbox Najdorf. However, his presentation is playful and jovial. His fresh approach, a well researched material and interactive exercises will not disappoint even the harshest critics.

The aim of the 'Tactic Toolbox Najdorf' is to demonstrate the typical tactical themes of the Sicilian Najdorf for both Black and White. Familiar tactical motives and sacrifices, like the popular exchange sacrifice on c3, are included, but Niclas has dug up some new ones, too. You can find out if studying the densely presented material, which abounds with practical examples. You would award yourself with a well of knowledge to help you recognize snares and avoid pitfalls in this variation.

Niclas' method applied in this training DVD consists of choosing a model game upon which he builds up a number of examples and exercises. And here we come to the main point you need to be aware of when deciding to include this excellent DVD into your training manuals: it is an interactive tool and demands largely your own involvement.

In order to gain most benefit, you need to do your part of the job: you must try to solve the problems presented conscientiously, not just sit back and wait for the solution to be presented on a tray. Yes, this DVD demands 'studying', which means taking an appropriate length of time when you can truly concentrate on it without being distracted by other duties. The author even advises you to simulate a tournament situation, with a board, a clock and all your tension and desire to win... while going through the exercises.

After six hours of video running time, exclusive database and 50 selected games, you should be able to learn to inflict or to guard against unpleasant surprises lurking in the Sicilian Najdorf.

One thing you should be warned about – do not be distracted by Niclas' charming speech and enthusiastic, lively gesticulation; behind his disarming smile, a serious staff awaits you and you better sit down with a firm resolution to perform your task in a disciplined manner. The result would be an improved understanding of the typical tactical themes of the Sicilian Najdorf and experience gained through the many interactive examples.

Sample video: Niclas Huschenbeth – Tactic Toolbox Najdorf

Niclas Huschenbeth:
Tactic Toolbox Najdorf

  • Video running time: 6 hours (English)
  • Interactive training including video feedback
  • Exclusive database with selected 50 games
  • Including CB 12 – Reader

Price: €29.90
€25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$34.01 (without VAT)

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

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A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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