Lessons for life

by ChessBase
11/22/2008 – Sometimes most of your pieces are in good position but you need that last piece to get into place before everything just clicks together for the final attack.  But what piece is it and where to put it? In his latest Powerplay DVD Daniel King shows you how to 'Improve Your Pieces'. Sean Marsh watched the new course and found a good deal of eternal wisdom. Buy it now or read more.

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Daniel King: Powerplay 7 - Improve Your Pieces

Review by Sean Marsh

Grandmaster King starts the latest DVD in his impressive series by jumping straight into 16 test positions, encouraging the viewer to use a set of real pieces with which to conduct the analysis.

He also recommends playing through all of the moves up until the point that each test position is reached, to appreciate the flow of the game and provide an instructive link between the different phases of the game. Such an approach will help the student build up a series of clues towards the correct continuations.


Having made the viewer work, GM King then introduces the content of the DVD.

The path to improving one’s pieces relies on manoeuvring, often in a general sense. Particular attention is paid to pawn structures and their influence on various pieces, in the context of whether they are good or bad; for example, the hypothetical bad ‘French Bishop’.

The test positions are explained, one by one, with follow-up lectures to broaden the picture with further instructive illustrative games. GM King breaks things down to the basics, piece by piece, but impresses the need to keep a sharp tactical eye despite the outwardly positional nature of the games.

Little anecdotes are often given too, such as the presenter reminiscing about GM Keene announcing loudly - Victorian-style - checkmate in three against him!

Here are a couple of samples from the test positions to give an indication as to what to expect.

Illescas Cordoba - Short (Linares 1995)
How should White continue?

King - Larsen (Hastings 1990)
What should White play here?

This one is a cautionary lesson. White eventually won after 73 moves, but sometimes deep manoeuvring can lead to curious oversights by even the great players.

There are 28 lectures with the length of each one varying between two and a half minutes and 27 and a half minutes. The total run time is just under 5 hours; excellent value for money, as always with ChessBase.

A run of five games by Kramnik towards the end of the DVD show the former World Champion on rather better form than he was in his recent title challenge.

The ‘Afterword’ makes good use of a Fischer game, highlighting the temptation to win material mid-way through the unfolding of a plan.

Taking material can win a game, but can also be a distraction, destroying concentration and changing a formerly favourable trend of play. It’s a tricky problem and one we’re prone to get wrong over the board. Fischer’s powerful game should help us all think twice before stalling a good plan to pick up sundry booty.

It is possible to play all of the video clips without analysing the test positions, and the viewer would definitely learn a lot. However, by the far the most rewarding experience would be to enter fully into the spirit of the presentation; trying very hard to assess the given positions before moving on and comparing one’s findings with the chess secrets revealed by GM King.

This is another excellent addition to a very fine series. Products on the middlegame might not have the quick-fix appeal as a manual on an opening but the lessons given here are for life; no amount of developing theory is ever going to dilute the wisdom provided here.

The full original review by Sean Marsh can be found here.

More Powerplay:

Powerplay 1 - Mating Patterns
Powerplay 2 - Attacking the King
Powerplay 3 - Pawn Storm
Powerplay 4 - Start Right
Powerplay 5 - Pawns
Powerplay 6 - Pawns, Pieces & Plans

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