Is the Veresov really wicked?

by Davide Nastasio
1/4/2018 – Openings teach us the value of the pieces as well as tactics, patterns, and of course most important of all: pawn structures. They are really the backbone of a player's knowledge, because they open our minds to different middlegame structures, which in turn brings us into different endgames. Openings teach us how to play with different pawn structures — things like when one needs to open the game, and when it is better to keep it closed. The Veresov as taught by IM Andrew Martin can become a good weapon in everyone's repertoire, while helping the player to improve! Davide Nastasio has the review

The wicked Veresov Attack The wicked Veresov Attack

This DVD is an ideal introduction to this opening for players below 2000 or busy players who would like to play aggressive chess, but do not have time to learn the main lines. The Veresov is worth studying and playing!

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The Wicked Veresov Attack by Andrew Martin

A review

DVD coverI would like to relate a funny omen which I experienced in relation to this opening. I wanted to know more about the Veresov, and Andrew Martin is a very pragmatic teacher, he really provides a broad base, basic knowledge, and then if one wants to go deeper there are more theoretical works available as well, including the heavy stuff we generally use to keep books from falling down from bookshelves.

When I got this title I just had the time to download and install it, but unfortunately it was a Tuesday: life, work, and family are quite hectic. So at some point in the day when I had a few minutes off, during my lunch break while reading a blog for which I write from time to time, I saw a game of a very young American expert (someone who is around 10 years old, and already rated over 2000!) and he used this opening! The young kid lost in the endgame due to time trouble but the position was equal, and he was playing against a veteran master player, showing that the opening is quite good if one can draw easily against someone 300 points stronger.

I do have a repertoire with 1.d4, but I play in a limited geographical area, three different nearby states in the USA, and the other players do pay attention to how I open, and do prepare. Clearly one needs something which is considered solid, and not dangerous by those playing with black, but which can be quite aggressive if taken lightly, and not studied.

What I like of Andrew Martin is his dynamic style in presenting games. He doesn't take one hour to show you a game, but like a sketch artist in less than 10 minutes he is able to show all the important points of a game one must know. Then of course it will be up to the individual to do the rest of the homework.

In the introductory video, Martin shows a game by GM Alburt, saying he is one of the experts in this opening. But when I searched Megabase 2017, I found less than 20 games played by Alburt with the Veresov.

Generally to learn an opening, one must find a hero, a player who adopts it consistently. The database which comes with the DVD has 50 essential games, and among these games the only name which stands out is Hikaru Nakamura. But also for Nakamura the number of games he played with this opening can be counted on the fingers of two hands.

Hikaru Nakamura World Cup 2017

Hikaru Nakamura at the 2017 World Cup in Tbilisi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

I was a little annoyed by not finding a hero for the opening. Once again I opened the universal answer to my chess problems, also known as Megabase 2017, and just set the filter to D01 the ECO key which defines this opening, and in the blink of an eye more than 16000 games were found, from classical times through today.

Savielly Tartakower (source https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ksawery_Tartakower.jpg)

(By the way, how did I discover D01 was the ECO key for this opening? Simple — as mentioned before the DVD comes with a database of 50 essential games, and 46 out of 50 had D01 as code.)

I began to see the classical players using this opening, because before watching Martin's skilled and extremely good opening videos, I wanted to form an idea for myself, unbiased.

Once I was following a lecture by GM Daniel Naroditsky, and he said that one should watch 50-100 games on the opening he wants to play, in this way he gets a feeling, and understands if that opening is really for him. And so I did it. I watched the games played by Reti, Tartakower, Alekhine, Bogoljubov.

Tartakower (pictured) was a champion for this opening. Sometimes using it for short draws, and some games were fought hard like the following:

 

Gavril Veresov - Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gavriil_Veresov.jpg

Note that Tartakower used this opening till the end of his chess career, as in the second game, above.

In reality the opening should be called Richter-Veresov in honor of the two masters that played it often, and added most theoretical novelties.

Gavriil Nikolayevich Veresov (pictured) was a five-time winner of the Belarusian Championship in the Soviet Union. He died in 1979.

Kurt Richter was born at the turn of the 20th century, and played for Germany in the early Chess Olympiads of the 1930s. He died in 1969.

Both were awarded the International Master title in 1950, when the title was instituted by FIDE. I watched many of the games played by these two masters.

The following by Veresov is quite interesting:

 

Richter played many exciting games, here are two:

 

Instead, in more modern times, a GM who championed the Veresov was the late Tony Miles, a highly creative player, who is worth studying and learning from.

Tony Miles in 1979

Tony Miles in 1979 | Photo: Rob Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

 

By the way, before the reader thinks I didn't do my homework...Likely the first player to use the Veresov, in a kind of hybrid form, was Stepan Levitsky (sometimes the opening is called the 'Levitsky Attack'), a contemporary of Mikhail Chigorin, who was the Russian champion in 1911. For those who have passion and time, please look at his games. It is interesting to learn about the genesis of an opening.

But enough preamble...

Let's review the DVD

I like Andrew Martin because he is quite clear when speaking, and like a soccer commentator, he inspires passion for the game and clearly explains what's going on. He focuses on the critical moments of each game and identifies them for us. He has a system for teaching the opening. He begins with a couple of games for inspiration that show how exciting this opening can be, and then he also shows the dark side, when one makes mistakes and loses using the opening.

I felt the absolute key to this opening is related to when one should play some pawn levers, and Martin does an exceptional job in explaining when and how.  But he also conveys important ideas. For example, in the following position, Martin was explaining why the middlegame was better for White, but he also added an idea for the endgame, since there is a clear target.



While explaining the game Martin also shows some common moves, like g2-g4, and explains their meaning, in this case a cramping move, which prevents Black from liquidating the h6-pawn weakness.



Now, these common moves, highlighted by Martin, are important, because when we watch other games with the Veresov, we will spot them and understand the reasons behind them right away.

Of course Martin also highlights the important tactical moments in a game. The following one was played between Bellin and Prins. Can you see why Black cannot take the pawn on b4 with the e7-bishop?

This DVD is huge! 36 videos of commented games which is what I love, because they are easier to remember. One video of theory, and a final video are also included.

The 36 videos are followed by 8 videos of test positions; plus 50 essential games one should know in order to play the opening. The videos are quite short, often less than 10 minutes each, and this helps to keep the attention high and the student focused! When a video is 30 minutes or longer, I find one tends to forget the important points.

I'm quite excited about this opening, and I wish to be able to incorporate it as soon as possible in my own repertoire!


The wicked Veresov Attack

This DVD is an ideal introduction to this opening for players below 2000 or busy players who would like to play aggressive chess, but do not have time to learn the main lines. The Veresov is worth studying and playing!

More...


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Davide Nastasio is a novel chess aficionado, who has made of chess his spiritual tool of improvement, and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."
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